Blogmas Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.
Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Black Sun was such a detailed and involved fantasy. Just as the synopsis says, it’s an epic adventure that explores power, history, and characters that are not what people assume they are. I think that’s what I liked most about this book. The characters were so well developed and fascinating. They were all people trying to live outside of what they’re ‘supposed’ to be.
The story follows several characters Xiala, Serapio, and Narampa. Xiala is Teek, which is a culture that has many stories surrounding them. This was clear in the way that others treated Xiala. She’s an excellent captain, but her crew still treats her as other because she is Teek. I really liked seeing Xiala and Serapio develop a friendship because while that was happening, we got to learn more about Xiala and the Teek. I just genuinely liked Xiala. She’s fierce and powerful. She doesn’t take anyone’s shit. Serapio was a fascinating character. For him, we got to go back and forth between the present (where he’s traveling with Xiala) and his past to see how he got to be traveling with Xiala. I think the mythology (I don’t know that his character’s story is actually based on real myths, but there’s definitely mythology about him in the story) surrounding him and his destiny was incredibly interesting. I thought it was really interesting to see him learn the things he needed to complete the destiny that his mother set in motion. Serapio is blind, but that doesn’t hinder him in any way. He can see through the eyes of crows, and his other senses are very well developed. I liked Serapio because he knew what his mission was and did his best to follow through. I like his relationship with Xiala and I feel like it developed very naturally. Finally, Narampa (or Nara). She’s the Sun Priest, but she’s also a girl from a not so good part of town. Many were surprised when she was named successor to the last Sun Priest. I liked Nara because she knew she was facing challenges, but she still really wanted to make positive changes to the world she is a part of. But she’s faced with many people that do not agree with her. Her challenges just grow greater as the story progresses. I’m very intrigued with her backstory and her criminal brother. I am eager to see how that will play out in the rest of the series. There is one more character I should mention, he isn’t introduced until something specific happens in the story, but I have a feeling he will play a larger role in the rest of the series. Okoa is the son of someone important. He returns from what is essentially college for warriors and is thrown into the politics of his clan. I wanted to know more about him, mostly where his story will go from here.
Overall, the first half of the book was a bit slower than the second half. The world was so intricate and fascinating. There was so much detail from the setting to the different parts of the world and the politics within each part. The ending absolutely slayed me and I’m dying to know what will happen now that things didn’t go the way Serapio planned or expected. I am definitely a huge fan of this book and highly recommend it for fantasy lovers. I do also want to mention that it’s a really diverse story. It’s inspired by pre-Colombian America’s, so it’s almost exclusively Indigenous peoples. It is also filled with casually queer people. Xiala is bisexual and there are several trans or nonbinary side characters. I am definitely eager for the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Seventeen: Series to Start in 2021

Hi, bookworms! We have been talking a lot about series to one another lately, series we want to finish, series we want to start, and series we want to reread. We have posts about all of these scheduled for blogmas this month. Today we’re going to be talking about series we want to start in 2021. We both have tons of series we want to read, so this is just going to be series we own (or at least own the first book in the series) that we really want to pick up in the new year.

Amanda’s Series to Start

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Jade City by Fonda Lee
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Antonia’s Series to Start

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Feverwake by Victoria Lee
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Blogmas Book Review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

GoodReads Summary:
Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.
How to Walk AwayReview:
How to Walk Away was a beautiful story. Margaret has a fear of flying. So, her boyfriend surprising her with a plane ride shortly before he was supposed to test for his pilot’s license is like her worst nightmare. She agrees to the ride despite her fears. He proposes while flying, but instead of a happy celebration they had planned, the plane crashes as they’re trying to land.
This story focuses on Margaret’s time in the hospital after the plane crash as she’s recovering. Everything she had planned for her life has changed. I can’t speak to the accuracy of what Margaret goes through as I’ve never been through a traumatic life altering event like her. But as an outside observer all of the things Margaret was thinking and feeling seemed realistic. She has ups and downs, feels good some days and despairs others. I think the writing was well done and really made me feel what Margaret was feeling.
I didn’t expect this to turn into a romance, but I’m not mad about it. I really liked that this story continued after her time in the hospital. We learned about the plan she had for herself, but then we got to watch her figure out what to do next, to think about what she really wants from her life. I liked seeing her get as better as she was going to get and doing what she needed to do to create a new plan for her future.
Overall, I enjoyed this story was more than I thought I was going to. It was a beautiful story about finding a new path, and maybe finding love on that path. I will definitely be reading more books by Center.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Sixteen: WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, and listening to The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu.

Antonia- I’m currently still reading The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I most recently finished reading The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco.

Antonia- I recently finished House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- I’m going to pick up Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins next.

Antonia- Next, I’ll continue with my winter TBR.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

Blogmas Day Fifteen (Part Two): Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is a list of books on my winter 2020/2021 TBR.

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The Awakening by Nora Roberts
Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam
Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno
To Sleep in A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Stain by A.G. Howard
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

What’s on your winter TBR?

Blogmas Book Review: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

GoodReads Summary:
Would you give up everything to change the world?
Humanity clings to life on January–a colonized planet divided between permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other.
Two cities, built long ago in the meager temperate zone, serve as the last bastions of civilization–but life inside them is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.
Sophie, a young student from the wrong side of Xiosphant city, is exiled into the dark after being part of a failed revolution. But she survives–with the help of a mysterious savior from beneath the ice.
Burdened with a dangerous, painful secret, Sophie and her ragtag group of exiles face the ultimate challenge–and they are running out of time.
Welcome to the City in the Middle of the Night.
The City in the Middle of the NightReview:
The City in the Middle of the Night was an impulse buy for me. I was at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. in 2019 and I got to meet Charlie Jane Anders and see her give a talk on science fiction. I really enjoyed what she had to say, so I impulse bought this book and even got her to sign it! I don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up because I really love science fiction, but I’m an imperfect human so sue me.
I really loved this book for most of the time that I read it. The story follows two different points of view, Sophie and Mouth.
Sophie is a poor girl that got the opportunity to go to a better school. But not too long into her schooling, she makes the mistake of covering for her friend, Bianca, (who she is infatuated with). Sophie is exiled, but she survived and comes back into the city, hiding with an old friend of her mothers. We get this brief introduction to Sophie and the story really starts after Sophie is exiled. While she’s out there, she comes in contact with aliens that the humans call crocodiles, but their actually called the Gelet. Sophie realizes that they can be communicated with and develops a friendship of sorts with this Gelet that she names Rose.
Mouth is a smuggler that still struggles with the death of her entire tribe that happened years ago. I liked Mouth, a character that very clearly has issues. Mouth goes through this story and eventually learns more about their (I’m not sure that this is the right pronoun because Mouth is literally just referred to as Mouth the whole book. I don’t think there was a single pronoun for them) tribe and learns that all of these ideas that they had might not be accurate. I thought this was a really interesting addition to the story. Mouth was such a different character from Sophie, from personality to history, the two were both very different.
There are two side characters that should be mentioned. I already named Bianca, who I thought I was going to like, but her story ended up going in a really different direction. I think Anders did a great job making me like Bianca, only for her character development to go somewhere I didn’t expect. Bianca is motivated by the loss of Sophie, but she connects with Mouth not too long into the story. Then there’s Alyssa, Mouth’s sleepmate. The don’t seem to be friends when the story starts, but as it goes on, it’s clear they are friends, just not very good ones. I liked Alyssa. She was fierce and clear about what she needed from those in her life. She didn’t hesitate to call Mouth out and I liked that.
The biggest problem that I had with this book was the ending. The book just ended. It felt like there were a few chapters missing and I assume that was done on purpose, but I was not happy about it at all. There were so many things left unresolved and so many questions left unanswered. Sophie’s path led her on a mission and we never found out what the results were. I was very frustrated by the ending and it really dampened my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, I enjoyed the heck out of this book right up until it ended with little to no conclusion. I will probably be reading more of Anders work in the future, but I’m hoping for better endings. I will say that the world and the characters were so vivid (except the Gelet. I could quite grasp an image of them in my mind). The different cultures of the humans and the Gelet’s culture were so interesting. This book probably would have been a five star read if not for the hugely disappointing ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Fifteen (Part One): Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is Books On My Winter 2020-2021 TBR (or summer if you live in the southern hemisphere).

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Crier’s War by Nina Varela

Bloodsworn by Scott Reintgen

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Middlewest, Book One by Skottie Young, Jorge Corona, & Mike Huddleston

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

The Awakening by Nora Roberts

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

These are the books I’m hoping to read this winter! What books are on your winter TBR?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.
Our story begins on a frosty night…
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.
But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.
Whichwood (Furthermore, #2)Review:
I absolutely adored Furthermore, but Whichwood just hit something different for me. This is a companion story to Furthermore. We do indeed get to see my beloved Alice and Oliver again, but to story is focused on a new character.
We meet Laylee who lives in the village of Whichwood. It’s another magical town similar to Furthermore. Laylee is Whichwood’s mordeshoor, which means she prepares the bodies of the dead and their souls for the afterlife. This is a very important job. But Laylee is just a girl and it’s too much responsibility for just one young girl. The people in her town either don’t care that they’re neglecting her or don’t realize what their actions are doing. Alice and Oliver travel to Whichwood because Alice has been given a task to help Laylee. But Laylee doesn’t want help from them. She’s pretty unhappy and I didn’t blame her for a moment. Her father just up and left after her mother died and she was left all alone with this huge responsibility. So, Laylee’s anger and frustration was completely justified. I would have felt exactly the same if I were in her position. So, it’s understandable that she isn’t super excited to have Alice and Oliver butt into her life and tell her that she needs their help.
The best part of this story was Laylee getting past her hurt and her anger and letting Alice and Oliver help her. We also get to know another character from Whichwood, Benjamin. He’s Laylee’s closest neighbor and I loved his part in this story.
Overall, I adored Whichwood even more than Furthermore. It was definitely darker than Furthermore, but it was filled with great themes like friendship, forgiveness, persistence, and responsibility. I really enjoyed getting to see more of this magical world. I really hope that Mafi is going to write more books set in this world, maybe in other magical towns. I loved the magic, the setting, and most of all the characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Fourteen: The Anti-TBR Book Tag

Hello, bookworms! As you can tell by the title of this post, this is the Anti-TBR book tag. Amanda saw a few of these on BookTube and thought it would be a fun tag to do here on the blog. So, we’re going to talk about the books we don’t want to read. The original creator is on BookTube and her video is linked here.

A popular book everyone loves but you have no interest in reading?

Amanda- The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu. I love Lu’s books, but this one just doesn’t seem like it’s for me.

Antonia- Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Amanda, my husband and several friends loved this series but I’m just not interested.

A classic book (or author) you don’t have an interest in reading?

Amanda- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’ve seen several adaptations and I’m not big on historical fiction to begin with. Sorry, but it’s a no from me.

Antonia- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

An author whose books you don’t want to read?

Amanda- Kerri Maniscalco. So many people love her Jack the Ripper books and I have no interest in reading them.

Antonia- Kiersten White. I honestly don’t know why I’m so uninterested in her books but Amanda’s recommended a few of them and I just can’t get into them.

A problematic author whose books you don’t want to read?

Amanda- Rainbow Rowell. All I have to say about that is that you need to look up the controversy surrounding Eleanore & Park.

Antonia- I don’t keep up enough with things like this but pretty much all of my books are recommendations from Amanda and she’s good about checking things like this.

An author you’ve read a few books from & have decided their books are not for you?

Amanda- Kevin Kwan. I just didn’t love the Crazy Rich Asians books and I think I’ll probably pass on future books.

Antonia- Bella Forrest. I read like the first five of her Shade of Vampire series before I just had to stop.

A genre you have no interest in or a genre you tried to get into and couldn’t?

Amanda- Does non-fiction count? I occasionally find stuff I like, mainly memoirs, but generally I don’t enjoy it.

Antonia- I have zero interest in horror, thank you very much.

A book you have bought but will never read? (can be a book you have unhauled/returned to the library unread)

Amanda- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett.

Antonia- The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. I can’t explain this one. I bought it years ago and somehow can’t get myself to start it even though I’ve loved all of his other books.

A series you have no interest in reading OR a series you started & have dnf’d?

Amanda- The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh. It just doesn’t excite me, so I probably won’t read the series.

Antonia- The Origin series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I didn’t hate the first book but definitely didn’t like it enough to continue the series.

A new release you have no interest in reading?

Amanda- House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess.

Antonia- Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer.

If you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged. Have fun!

Blogmas Book Review: Crystal Caged by Elise Kova

GoodReads Summary:
One way or another… she will be the end of the world.
With powers that weren’t supposed to be touched by mortal hands, Vi Solaris is determined to free herself and the world from the deadly vortex it’s trapped in. This mission has taken her to forbidden lands and has transformed her from a sheltered princess to a fearsome warrior.
But the ultimate triumph requires the ultimate sacrifice, forcing Vi to choose between the last tethers to her humanity and the very people she’s sworn to protect.
Vi’s story of magic, sacrifice, triumph, and love reaches its epic conclusion in Crystal Caged.
Crystal Caged (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles, #5)Review:
Crystal Caged is the finale to the Vortex Chronicles. It’s been a while since I read the previous books and I waited even longer to finally pick it up because I wasn’t ready for this world and these characters to be done. But thankfully, Kova seemed to know that. She provided a wonderful summary of each of the previous books at the beginning of this one.
So, all the years of Vi’s efforts are finally coming to an end. Once way or another this vortex will end. I liked Vi a lot, but I didn’t totally understand why she was so determined to make this the last time, whether she succeeded or not. Why would she condemn the world to a thousand years of darkness? I didn’t get that, so every time she mentioned that this was the final attempt it rubbed me the wrong way a little. Other than that, Vi’s choices were smart and usually thoughtful. I liked that she didn’t just tell her friends what to do, the three talked about it and then Vi did whatever she wanted (haha).
Overall, I think this was an incredible conclusion to a series that I love so dearly. I also am so excited for Kova’s next series, following different characters, but set in the same world. I think she did an incredible job weaving this story into the first series. I loved all of the things from the Air Awakens series that we got to see from a different perspective. Kova’s writing is excellent and she creates characters and relationships that you can’t help but love.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.
Furthermore (Furthermore, #1)Review:
Furthermore is the story of Alice finding adventure. She lives in the town of Ferenwood where color is everything. It’s a magical town, where the people care for the land and the land cares for the people. Alice’s father disappeared a few years ago and since then Alice’s life has only gotten worse. Her mother is not outright neglectful, but she’s certainly not super caring and attentive. So, Alice spend much time on her own. She loves her town of Ferenwood, but she longs for adventure.
When Oliver comes to her and asks her to help him, she refuses because when they were in school together, he said something mean about her and she doesn’t want to help him. She is also very focused on her Surrender, a presentation of abilities that the children of Ferenwood participate in. They can be tasked with something. Alice thinks this will be the adventure she’s been waiting for. But when her Surrender doesn’t go the way she’d hoped, she’s left with the possibility of helping Oliver.
The two set off on an adventure outside of Ferenwood. When the two leave is when the story really gets started. I don’t want to talk too much about what they’re actually trying to do because figuring out their journey is most of the fun of this story. I do want to talk about Alice and Oliver. Oliver grows and develops so much in this book and I loved it. He really learned some lessons and did his best to grow from those lessons and do better. I really enjoyed that we got to see that. Alice was so brave. She jumps into this adventure head first, with no regard for the things she doesn’t know. I adore Alice.
I also really enjoyed the magic. It wasn’t super clear what exactly the magic did aside from each person’s special ability. But once Alice and Oliver leave Ferenwood, we see different types of magic and it was fascinating to see all the different ways that magic was used in the place that they travel to.
Overall, I adored this book. I don’t know why I put off reading it for so long. I loved every page and I flew through the story. I loved Alice and eventually loved Oliver. I want more books set in this world please Tahereh Mafi, pretty please.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Thirteen: 2020 Debut Authors

Hello, lovelies! Today I want to talk about some 2020 debut authors that I read this year. I did a similar post last year (2019 Debut Authors) and I thought it would be fun to share the debut authors that I found and definitely plan to read more of their work.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
This science fiction debut about traveling between alternate realities blew me away.

Reverie by Ryan La Sala
A new and unique YA fantasy debut that had great characters development. La Sala’s next novel, Be Dazzled, comes out January 5th, 2021.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
Probably my favorite novel I read in 2020, angry lesbian witches and the sequel, The Scratch Daughters, comes out September 21st, 2021.

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Berkley’s first ever f/f romance and it was excellent. Work place romance, slow burn, and fun banter. Wilsner’s next novel (which doesn’t yet have a title) comes out May 25th, 2021.

Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass
A queer YA thriller that I could not put down until the very last page.

What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
A sweet and entertaining YA contemporary filled with cupcakes and family dynamics I enjoyed. Kanter’s next novel, As If On Cue, comes out in September 2021.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
A delightful YA contemporary about a queer Black girl running for prom queen as a last ditch effort to get a scholarship for college. This is another book that will make my favorites of 2020 lists. Johnson’s next book, Rise to the Sun, comes out July 6th, 2021.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
This was a YA contemporary that has a science fiction feel to it (because most of the parents are astronauts in training). It has a m/m relationship and depression representation. Stamper’s next novel, As Far As You’ll Take Me, is set to come out February 9th, 2021.

I read a fair amount of debut novels this year, but these are the 2020 debuts that I read and really loved. Have you read any of these or any other 2020 debuts?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
Love grows such strange things.
For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.
The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.
Wild BeautyReview:
Every time I read a book by McLemore I am completely blown away by their ability to write such stunning prose. The writing was beautiful and lyrical. The setting was stunning and so vivid. I am in awe of this authors ability to tell a story and create such a vivid world.
I feel like I won’t be able to succinctly or accurately explain what this book was about and my feelings about it. So, I think I’m going to keep this review short and sweet. This story focuses on a family of women, three generations, that live on and care for the grounds of La Pradera. These women have power over flowers, each able to grow a different flower or plant (some grow trees and other plants, but it seemed to mainly be flowers). I loved the magical aspect of the story. It was unique and compelling and I wanted to know more. I loved the family dynamic. I thought it was great that the story focused on the youngest generation, but I loved that the mothers and the abuelas were still a big part of the story.
Their world changes when in an attempt to protect their neighbor, Bay, brings a boy, Fel, to La Pradera. This family is cursed with not being able to keep the ones they love. The women either send them away or La Pradera takes them away. So, the girls worry that this is a past lover given back to them, or perhaps it’s something else.
I didn’t realize that this was going to be as much of a mystery as it was. I think aside from the magic and the family, the mystery was my favorite part of the story. The questions of who Fel was, where he came from, why he has no memory, and what his being there meant, were a great way to build suspense in the story.
Overall, McLemore did not disappoint with this book. It was full of beautiful prose, incredible and diverse characters (they are all or mostly Latinx and quite a few of them are bisexual.) The setting was stunning and so vivid I could picture it perfectly (which isn’t something I can usually do.) I’m excited to read more books by McLemore.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Twelve: Five Star Predictions – Round Two

Hello, bookworms! Today’s post is going to be a continuation of one of our blogtober posts (find it here.) For blogtober, we talked about some books that we thought would be new favorites and that we would probably rate five stars. So, we’re going to wrap up those five predictions, whether we managed to read them and what our actual ratings were.

Amanda’s Predictions Wrap Up

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
I did indeed rate this book five stars. I think I also rated the sequel five stars. This book was amazing and I highly recommend it.

The Love That Split the World  by Emily Henry
This was my last Emily Henry book that I needed to read and I completely loved it.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
I haven’t managed to read this one yet, but I’m planning to get to it in early 2021.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
McLemore’s prose is nothing short of incredible. This book was a balm on my soul, full of bisexual, Latinx women and flower magic.

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
I stand by the fact that every single Rick Riordan Presents book is perfection. Tehlor Kay Mejia blew me away with this middle-grade debut. I loved every minute of the audiobook.

Antonia’s Predictions Wrap Up

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
I absolutely LOVED this book. It has such a unique setting and fun, flawed characters. So many crazy things happened at the end that I can’t wait to see where the series goes next. It definitely met my five star prediction.

Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam
I wasn’t able to get around to reading this one but I still have high hopes for it.

Rules for Being a Girl by Candice Bushnell & Katie Cotugno
I also wasn’t able to read this one but I’m hoping to very soon.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
I’ve already bought this one so I’m definitely reading it soon but work has been crazy so I haven’t been able to read as much recently as I wanted to.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to finish this one. I’m about halfway through and so far I’m mostly loving it. I’m really enjoying the characters and setting. Right now, I just feel like I’m getting more questions than answers but in the good way that keeps you hooked into the story. It’s hard to say where the story will take me next but so far I think this one’s fitting with my original prediction.

Now, that we’ve wrapped up the five predictions we each made and attempted to read, we’re going to make five more predictions. We thought this was a super fun post idea and want to continue it. We’re thinking it’ll be a seasonal thing or we’ll just check in once we’ve read all of our predictions. I guess you’ll find out when we post our next round, hah!

Amanda’s Predictions

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Ravens by Danielle Paige & Kass Morgan

Antonia’s Predictions

Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam

To Sleep in A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

The Awakening by Nora Roberts

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Do you have any books that you thought would be five stars and they were?

Blogmas Book Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

GoodReads Summary:
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
The Once and Future WitchesReview:
Last year, I read Harrow’s debut novel (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) and it was easily one of my absolute favorite books of 2019. Well, Harrow has done it again. I’m glad I picked up The Once and Future Witches before 2020 was over so that I can happily say this book is absolutely one of my top favorite books of 2020.
Harrow created such an incredible story. I first want to talk about the powerful and stunning writing. I don’t often sticky tab my books, but I went through three packs of sticky tabs just marking lines that really stuck out to me. I cannot get enough of Harrow’s writing. I was in awe after her debut, but I am doubly in awe now. She has the ability and creativity to write such stunning prose that really packs a punch. I adored all of the little things too. The chapters starting with each sister and mimicking how they were all introduced, this continuing through the book when the sisters were apart. I just cannot get over how beautifully written this book was.
Now, the plot. It was just as excellent as the writing. We follow three sisters, James Juniper (June, the youngest sister), Agnes Amaranth (Agnes, the middle sister), and Beatrice Belladonna (Bella, the eldest sister). The sisters grew up in the south with a father that was abusive and a mother that died giving birth to June. When June was still just a kid, Agnes and Bella left and June felt abandoned. The two older sisters both had their reasons for leaving (yes, I did absolutely love how this aspect of the story came full circle when the two finally talked about it). Flash forward to present day, somehow, all three sisters have ended up in New Salem. June is hiding from the law, so of course, the first thing she does after arriving in New Salem is join in at a Suffragist protest where women are demanding their right to vote. Agnes is newly pregnant and works in a mill, living in a quiet boarding house. She’s unsure about keeping the baby and knows the father cannot love all of her. She’s walking home from work and also finds herself at this protest. Bella, a librarian, (yes, this is exactly the shit I live for, so thank you Alix Harrow) finds hidden words she remembers her grandmother, Mags, saying to them and she finds herself drawn to the protest and saying the words. Suddenly, there is a link between the sisters and Bella is saying the words. A tower appears and this is where the story starts. I don’t want to go too much into the plot except to say that it was a slow story, but I devoured every page. I loved the meandering story that showed us who these sisters really were and would become. All three have issues from their childhood that they need to overcome, grudges to forgive one another for, and secrets they’re not sure they’re ready to share. I love these three with my whole heart.
I do want to mention that the side characters are just as incredible as the sisters. There are a diverse cast of supporting characters, from black female love interests (yes, there is indeed a female/female romance, thank you again for this), to a trans woman. I love that though this is a historical story, there were still diverse characters that were included. I can’t speak to the representation as I am not trans or black, but from an outside perspective these characters seemed to be portrayed thoughtfully and with purpose. I liked that the female love interest was black because it brought this new perspective of what life in New Salem during this time period was like for people of color, something the sisters might not have thought about.
The magic in The Once and Future Witches was absolutely fascinating. Each chapter was started with a spell. In this story, you must know the words, the ways, and have the will. I thought this was such an interesting way to do magic. I really liked the messages that were shared with the magic. That women are powerful and smart. They know not to write these things down and instead pass them to their daughters in songs, children’s rhymes, and things that men wouldn’t even suspect. I adored the magic and the way that women came together to work this magic and teach one another the few things they’d learned in their lives.
Overall, this is absolutely one of my favorite books of 2020. Harrow is easily a favorite author of mine and I am dying to know what she will publish next. This book and everything about it was nothing short of a stunning master piece and I already cannot wait to reread so I can highlight and underline all of my favorite parts. If you like witches, historical fiction, women empowering other woman, and diverse stories, then this is the book for you.

Quotes:

“One witch you can laugh at. Three you can burn. But what do you do with a hundred?”

“If he peeled back her pretty skin he’d find nothing soft or sweet at all, just busted glass and ashes and the desperate, animal will to stay alive.”

“That’s all magic is, really: the space between what you have and what you need.”

“A girl is such an easy thing to break: weak and fragile, all alone, all yours. But they aren’t girls anymore, and they don’t belong to anyone. And they aren’t alone.”

“Because it’s easy to ignore a woman.” Juniper’s lips twist in a feral smile. “But a hell of a lot harder to ignore a witch.”

“Seems to me they’re the same thing, more of less. Witching and women’s rights. Suffrage and spells. They’re both…They’re both a kind of power, aren’t they? The kind we aren’t allowed to have.”

“She is a silhouette on the windowsill, an apparition in the alley, a woman there and gone again. She is a pocket full of witch-ways and a voice whispering the right words to the right woman, the clack of a cane against cobbles.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.