Blogmas Day Fifteen: Christmas Spirit Book Tag

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We found this book tag over at Words & Stitches. We did this tag last year and thought it was a super fun book tag for the time of year. It’s great to get into the holiday spirit. So, we decided to do it again! Feel free to participate, but don’t forget to tag back to Words & Stitches!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer // A book you love, even though it’s not perfect

Amanda – The Art of Losing by Lizzie Mason

Antonia – Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Frosty the Snowman // A book that melts your heart

Amanda – Check, Please! Book One: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Antonia – A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

The Grinch // A book about a sympathetic villain

Amanda – Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Antonia – The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Christmas Prince // A guilty pleasure book

Amanda – I don’t like calling books ‘guilty pleasure’ but Nora Roberts can always get me out of a reading slump.

Antonia – I agree with Amanda but would probably choose Julia Quinn. They’re so silly but always make me laugh out loud.

Naughty List // Three books you can never forgive

Amanda –

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi (because of the ending)
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson (also because of the ending)
Beartown by Fredrik Backman (for all the tears)

Antonia –

Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Earth’s End by Elise Kova
The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Nice List // Three books you can’t be mad at

Amanda –

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
The Disasters by M.K. England
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Antonia –

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Eggnog // A book you’re saving as a holiday treat

Amanda – The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. It’s my only ‘Christmas book’ and I’m saving it for the last week before the holiday.

Antonia – Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

We tag you! Yes, you reading this! Feel free to play too!

Blogmas Book Review: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

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GoodReads Summary:
In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.
Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.
What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.
Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
The Way I Used to BeReview:
I really thought I was going to rate this book five stars when I first started it, but the longer I read it, the less I liked it. There were a lot of things I liked about this book though, so I’ll start with those.
Eden, though I’ve never experienced what she went through, was very relatable. I saw a lot of myself in her with her destructive behaviors, like smoking and drinking. I was a reckless teenager and did a lot of the same things she did. But Eden was mean. She was lashing out at anyone that showed her attention, anyone that was kind to her. It made her really unlikeable, but at the same time, with the things she went through her behavior was understandable.
I thought the writing was excellent. I also thought the characters and interactions were well done. The relationships between the characters were interesting too.
The thing that really bothered me was the pacing. This book follows Eden through all four years of high school. This was an interesting way to tell the story in theory, but for me personally, it made me feel like huge chunks of the story were missing. At the end of Sophomore year, it’s Christmas time and then suddenly it’s her junior year and the same in the transition between Junior and Senior year. It really bothered me. Also, when Senior year comes around things are obviously different. Eden has started calling her mom and dad by their names, which is not explained at all. The reader is just left to figure that out.
This was my biggest issue with the book. But aside from that, I really liked the characters, even Eden. The relationships and the disagreements were realistic and compelling. It was hard not to feel sorry for Eden, but it was equally hard not to want to yell at her for her behavior. This would have been a five star book for me had it not been for the bizarre pacing and time jumps.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Nine: Harry Potter Christmas Book Tag

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Hello bookish people! Blogmas is one of the best times of the year for book tags because there are just so many fun Christmas and holiday themed ones to do. So, of course we had to do the Harry Potter Christmas Tag. This tag was created last year by Charleigh @ Charleigh Writes. There are a few rules she’s created to go along with this tag, so let’s go over them before we get into the questions.

Rules:
1. Link back to Charleigh so she can read your answers!
2. You can’t choose Harry Potter for any of the answers.
3. Tag however many people at the end
4. Have fun!

It’s your first Christmas at Hogwarts. What’s one book you’ve asked for this year?

Amanda- The collectors edition of Crooked Kingdom. It’s stunning.

Antonia- Starsight by Brandon Sanderson.

You spot Hagrid hauling the Christmas tree through the grounds. What is the longest (or heaviest!) book you own?

Amanda- Without looking, I’d guess The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.

Antonia- I think it’s my copy of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It’s the entire series in one book.

It’s time for the famous Great Hall feast. What’s one book you can’t read without snacks?

Amanda- All books. I love to snack while I read.

Antonia- I’m also always snacking.

Well done, you’ve brewed your first Polyjuice Potion. What’s one book you’d change the cover of?

Amanda- The Vampire Academy series. I hate book covers with faces on them.

Antonia- Ooh, there’s so many. I’ll choose the Bloodlines series because I agree with Amanda.

You receive a brand new Firebolt for Christmas. What’s one book you read super quickly?

Amanda- All of Lynsay Sands Argeneau romance novels. They’re so fun and I can never stop until I’ve read it in one sitting.

Antonia- I really don’t read very fast. I guess I tend to go through Nora Roberts’ books quickly though. Even when rereading I get so invested in her characters.

You join Harry for his first proper Christmas. What’s one book you’d love to receive this year?

Amanda- Honestly, I’d love for someone to surprise me with a book they loved that I’ve never heard of.

Antonia- I like Amanda’s idea. Surprise presents are the best way to find books outside your usual niche.

You get hit by one of Fred and George’s flying snowballs. What’s a book you wanted to throw across the room?

Amanda- The Dragon Republic becasue it used addiction as a plot device and I was pissed.

Antonia- Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It’s been awhile since I’ve been so disappointed by a book ending.

You’ve just visited Hogsmead for the first time. What’s one popular book you haven’t read yet?

Amanda- Lots? But I’m going to list a graphic novel for this one, Heartstopper Vol 1 by Alice Oseman.

Antonia- Oh wow. So many. Divergent by Veronica Roth comes to mind.

Congratulations! You’ve been invited to the Yule Ball. What book about Christmas do you love?

Amanda- If I was allowed to use the Harry Potter books for this book tag, I would use them here. But since I can’t, instead I’ll name The Polar Express. 

Antonia- Hmm, I don’t read a lot of Christmas books.

You find Ron’s deluminator. What’s one book that’s helped you through dark times?

Amanda- Looking for Alaska by John Green. It’s a book that came to me right when I needed the message it shared.

Antonia- The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory.

We tag:

Alana @ The Bookish Chick

Kelly @ Struggling Bookaholic

Blogmas Day Eight: Debut Authors

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Hi, lovelies! Today I want to talk about the books I read this year by debut authors. I read quite a few debut novels and absolutely adored them. So, I want to let you know which books they were and give you a few reasons why you should go by them, or add them to your christmas wishlist.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This book was so good. It got me out of my fantasy slump, which I’m so glad for because I’ve read some great books since this one. This has a Narnia type feel with traveling through magic doors, but more, so much more. I adore the main character and the friends she makes along the way.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This book was hilarious and sweet in all the best ways. A prince and the son of the president falling in love, what could go wrong? I was literally laughing out loud while reading this book, and I know you will too.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

While the main character can be pretty unlikable, most teenagers have their moments where they can be punks. I know I was a punk when I was in high school. I loved Norris’s story of moving away from the life he knew to Texas and trying to figure out where he fit in there. Plus, I met the author and I thought he was super awesome.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

If the tag line of ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling’ doesn’t immediately make you want to read this, let me tell you a bit. Murder, dancing, magic, and falling in love. This book was atmospheric as hell and I loved every page.

The Disasters by M.K. England

Looking for diverse science fiction? Look no further. This is the unlikeliest squad of strrangers you’ll ever encounter. They have to save the universe becasue well, everyone else that knows what’s going on is dead.

We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund

Ghosts and tornados. Do you need anything else? If so, this follows three outsiders, the kids that just don’t fit in at school. They end up finding each other and when a tornado hits on the anniversary of a tornado that killed most of those in attendance at the local drive in more than fifty years ago, they meet on the side of the road and realise that there may be something spooky going on.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Stirling

Queer Witches, yes please. This was full of mystery and teenage angst and I loved it. There was heart break and loss, but also growth and of course, magic.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

A diverse cast of kids with magical abilities, also they’re trying to fight a scary ass monster. The small town drama and grudges were some of my favorite parts of this. Seeing these kids try to work through their personal and family histories in order to keep their town safe was the best. It was spooky and fun at the same time.

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this book. It covers important mental health topics, but also is full of summertime fun and a bit of a mystery about the main characters ancestors. I flew through this book and loved every page of it.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Renasance Faire romance, sign me the hell up. This was a dislike to love romance, full of small town feels, great new friends, and making sister relationships stronger. I read this in one sitting and loved to with my whole heart.

The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

This book was really important to me personally. It follows the story of a girl who’s sister is in the hospital after getting in the car with a drunk driver. It talks about so many different themes that are so very important to think and talk about in the teenage years. Please go read it.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Love, mistakes, and a little bit of time travel. A sort of Groundhog Day story where the main character tries over and over to get that happy ending and learns so much along the way.

The Birds, The Bees, & You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

A fun story about the importance of safe sex. If I had read this book when I was in high school, my life would have been very different probably. I also got to meet the author and she was just amazing. Plus, she has the same name as my daughter.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Are you looking for a book that is going to make you scream with rage but also cry your eyeballs out? Look no further, you have found it. I swear I cried for half of this book. I cannot recommend it enough.

Have you read any of these debut novels? If not, get shopping or to your local library right now! Let me know if any of these books are on your radar in the comments.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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GoodReads

Blogmas Day Six: New to Me Authors

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Hello bookish friends! Last year, our first year of Blogmas, we talked about authors we discovered during the year. I thought this was super fun and wanted to do it again this year. (Check out last years list here.) Let’s talk new to me (Amanda) authors!

Helena Hunting
Meet Cute & The Good Luck Charm

S.A. Chakraborty
The City of Brass

Christine Lynn Herman
The Devouring Gray

Brittany Cavallaro
The Charlotte Holmes Series

Alix E. Harrow
The Ten Thousand Doors of January

M.K. England
The Disasters

Katie Henry
Heretics Anonymous & Let’s Call it a Doomsday

Amanda Foody
The Shadow Game Series

Mark Lawrence
Book of the Ancestor series

Roshani Chokshi
Aru Shah and the End of Time

Lisa Maxwell
The Last Magician

Jeff Zentner
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee

Courtney Summers
Sadie

These are some of the authors who’s books I picked up for the first time in 2019 and loved. I am looking forward to reading more of their work. I also hope that 2020 is filled with just as many new to me authors!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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GoodReads

Blogmas Day Five: Anticipated 2020 Releases

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Hello all! For today’s blogmas post we will be talking about the books we are excited for their release in the upcoming year. As there are so many books that come out each year, we will just be listing a few that we are the most excited about. We do already have a page with all of our anticipated 2020 release, so click here to see the full list.

Amanda’s Anticipated Releases

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence
My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Lobizona by Romina Garber
Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro
Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody

Antonia’s Anticipated Releases

Hideaway by Nora Roberts
First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green
Love, Jacaranda by Alex Flinn

Leave us a comment and let us know some of your most anticipated 2020 releases that we might not know about!

Blogmas Day Four: End of the Year Book Tag

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Hello bookish friends! Blogmas, of course, means getting a few book tag posts up for the month. They’re always a fun time, especially the end of the year ones. This tag was originally created by Ariel Bissett, but we found it on Bookbinder Way. Let’s get into it!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Amanda- I have picked up, read a few pages, and put down a couple books. I don’t know that I’m planning to read them before the end of the year but I’ll list a couple. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon,

Antonia- Definitely a few. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini is the main one. I got several chapters into it and just haven’t been able to convince myself to pick it up since.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition to the end of the year?

Amanda- Nothing specific. I tend to read a lot of romance going into the holiday season. I’m all about those feel-good reads.

Antonia- Not really, I bounce around between genres so much. I’m currently reading a scifi series, an adult dystopian series, and a children’s fantasy series.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Amanda- Waiting to release, no. Waiting to buy/arrive in the mail, yes. The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts and Starsight by Brandon Sanderson are the two highest on my priority list at the moment.

Antonia- I’m also (im)patiently waiting for Starsight by Brandon Sanderson. I made the mistake of putting it on my Christmas list so now I’ll have to wait for the holiday to read it.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

Amanda-

The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts
These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch

Antonia-

The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

Amanda- It’s a very likely possibility. There are tons of potential five star reads on my TBR.

Antonia- I definitely have very high hopes for The Rise of Magicks and Starsight but I wouldn’t say they’d shock me because I fully expect to love them both.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

Amanda- Yes. In 2020, I want to focus on my physical TBR and take a step back from social media. Not the blog, but twitter and Instagram and the like.

Antonia- No. I barely have an actual plan for reaching my book goal by the end of the year.

We tag anyone that feels like doing this one!