Blogtober Book Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?
Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.
But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants.
Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.
Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga, #3)Review:
Wow, this finale was a wild ride. Like the second book, Lada somehow managed to be even more savage. If you read this, the scene where she’s meeting with all the boyars and that’s all I have to say about it. I still loved her. She was fierce and absolutely apologetic about it. Though, I was very sad about all of her friends. I mentioned in my review for book two that her friends and fellow soldiers were some of the best parts of her chapters and that was slowly lost in this book. Knowing Lada as well as we do in this book, I wasn’t surprised by her choices but they definitely made me sad for her.
Radu is the best soft boy there ever was. He really struggles with the choices he’s made in the past, but he’s working toward being better and making more choices for himself rather than for others. I really loved the way that Radu’s story ended. He did the best he could with what he had and he managed to make a beautiful family from it. I’m not sure that I mentioned it in my previous reviews, but Radu is gay. This is something he struggles with within the first two books. But he manages to find another love, after finally making the choice to move on from his feelings for Mehmed. He married a woman who was a lesbian and the three of them lived together, but when Radu’s love finally came to him I was so happy. Radu deserves all the happiness in the world.
Overall, I loved this book and I loved this series. I thought this was a mostly satisfying conclusion to such an incredible series. I’m left with questions that are mostly to do with how Lada’s story played out and the in-between bits we didn’t get to see before jumping to the epilogue, but as a whole, this was an incredible conclusion. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Quotes:

“That is the thing with giving your heart. You never wait for someone to ask. You hold it out and hope they want it.”

“Lada had always known exactly what shape she would take. She had never let it be determined by the people around her. But Radu could not escape the need for love, the need for people in his life to help him see what he should—and could—be. Lada shaped herself in spite of her environment. Radu shaped himself because of it.”

“She drummed her fingers on the arms of the throne, looking out at the empty room. She was not stupid enough to think men would stop trying to take it from her. They would always be there, waiting for weakness, waiting for her to fall. They wanted what she had because she had it. And one day, eventually, someone would defeat her. But until that day she would fight with tooth and nail, with all the fire and blood that had formed her into who she was. She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was a woman. It was the last that scared them most of all.”

“There was something to be said for having his heart broken so many times. Broken things healed thicker and stronger than they were before. Assuming one survived long enough to heal.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)Review:
Where to start? If I thought Lada was savage and fierce in the first book, she is ten times that in this second book. She basically kills her way to the throne and I loved every single page of it. I love her friends and fellow soldiers that she takes with her on her path back to the Wallachian throne. I love that, while she is their leader, she listens to them and considers them friends. She takes their advice into consideration. She really cares about them and them about her. They make her more likable because it’s clear that she loves them all.
Radu is off in a completely different part of the world than his sister and with his own mission. Radu’s part of the story honestly just made me sad. Both siblings struggle with their feelings for their childhood friend, Mehmed. But with Radu, it’s worse because he’s doing things he never would have if not for Mehmed, while Lada has proven, again and again, she’ll do anything to get her throne. Radu does things he is very ashamed of but continues doing them all because of his love for Mehmed. It made me sad because of the life that he could have had. But he made his choices. It’s made very clear that everything he does is a choice that he’s thought about.
I thought it was very interesting to see how the siblings both handled the struggle that was their love for Mehmed. Honestly, I was hoping Mehmed would die most of the book so they could both be free. I also liked that we got both Radu’s and Lada’s stories even though they were both in different countries. Though it did make me sad they weren’t together. I’m hoping they get to reunite in the final book.
Overall, just like book one, I was blown away by Kiersten White’s writing. The history was fascinating, but the way that White brought these characters to life, made me care about them even though they’re both pretty terrible was amazing. I’m typing this on my phone so that I can continue on to the final book right now and not worry about mixing details up for whichever book. Please go read this series if you like historical fiction, savage female leads, and soft boys doing terrible things for love.

Quotes:

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

“I cannot imagine a god who hates anything that is love, any way we find to take tender care of each other. I want you to find that same love, and I never want you to hate yourself for any love that is in you.”

“I think if you had been born a boy, perhaps you would have been satisfied with what the world offered you. That is how we are alike. We saw everything that was not ours, and we hungered. Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything. Any weakness will undo everything you have accomplished. They will see any crack as evidence that they were right that a woman cannot do what you do.”

“He was no longer a lost little boy in a strange new city. Now he was a lost man in a broken old city, and no amount of prayers and kindness could undo what had been done.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

GoodReads Summary:
Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
The Woman in Cabin 10Review:
Ware’s books have been pretty hit or miss for me, but I enjoyed this one. It was interestingly formatted. The story starts with our main character, Lo, experiencing a break-in and assault (she’s hit by the intruder with her bedroom door) in her own apartment. This leaves her really unsettled. Her significant other is out of town and she doesn’t really have any other sort of support system. So, she’s obviously struggling after this event, but just days later she sets off for a week on a luxury cruise for her job. She’s not as excited about this cruise as she should be. Especially when she hasn’t slept more than a few hours at a time since the break-in.
The first night she spends aboard this luxury (but small!) cruise ship, she thinks she hears the guest in the next room (that she met before dinner) thrown overboard sometime during the night. She calls the head of security and they work together to try and figure out who went overboard. But when all the staff and guests are accounted for, the mystery remains. Instead of doing the job Lo was sent on this cruise to do, she becomes a little obsessed with solving the mystery of what she heard and saw.
While this story progresses following Lo, we also get a bit of outside information in the form of emails sent to Lo that she never received. We also, once the story gets going, start getting news articles that up the suspense of the story and bits and pieces of social media from Lo’s loved ones. I really liked this method of storytelling. We’re getting the beginning of the story and what we think is the end of Lo’s story, but the middle is a mystery. I think telling the story this way was a really effective way of keeping the reader in suspense and really wanting to know what was going to happen next.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. It was mysterious and suspenseful. The main character was one that I had a lot of empathy for. I really enjoyed the creativity of the story too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)Review:
This is an alternate historical fiction retelling of the story of Vlad the Impaler. In Kiersten White’s story, Vlad is a girl named Lada. And damn is she fierce. She is vicious and unforgiving. She cares for no one and nothing except for her home country Wallachia (and sometimes her younger brother, Radu). But being a girl in the 1400s her father doesn’t care much about her at all. She lives to prove her worth and to get his attention. Her life changes forever when her father leaves Lada and Radu with the Ottoman Empire as a sort of collateral to ensure that he sticks to their treaty.
This story was tough because it follows Lada from her birth to her later teenage years. So, there are slower parts of the story and more fast-paced parts. But throughout, you can’t help but like Lada because she doesn’t want to be just another girl to be used to secure a politically advantageous marriage. She wants to be a ruler. She will be in charge of her life. I liked that she was supposed to be unlikable and ugly. I’m definitely excited to see where the next book in the series will go for her.
Now, sweet Radu. I loved and pitied him. It wasn’t hard to feel sorry for him for the first 100 pages or so. He was horribly bullied for being small and sensitive. Lada and her childhood friend were pretty horrible to him, but Lada occasionally stuck up for him against others. It was a confusing relationship. I liked the sibling aspect of the story even though it was certainly not a traditional sibling dynamic. I really enjoyed Radu’s story once he learned more about Islam. I thought that was a great addition to the story as we got to learn a bit about it alongside him. And it’s obvious how he changes after finding faith.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were diverse characters, Radu is in love with his and Lada’s closest friend in the Ottoman Empire (but Lada loves him too which makes it a little weird) and there is another character that’s friends with Radu that mentions being with both genders. There is also a lesbian couple (in hiding because it’s the 1400s, but it’s there). I liked that even though it’s not a time period that these things were generally accepted, White still included them. These relationships would have existed whether out in the open or not. The story was well written and interesting. The characters were both likable and unlikable at the same time (which was weird for me to flip back and forth so many times). I cannot wait to continue onto the next book in the series.

Quotes:

“The last time she was up here, she had been… staring up at the sky and dreaming of stars. Now, she looked down and plotted flames.”

“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”

“And that is why you become a dealer of death. You feed death as many people as you can to keep it full and content so its eye stays off you.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

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GoodReads Summary:
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
Girl, Serpent, ThornReview:
I have to shout a huge thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an advanced audio copy of Girl, Serpent, Thorn. It was my first advanced audiobook and I really enjoyed being able to listen to it via the new NetGalley app.
This story, I really don’t even know how to put my thoughts into words. I was a bit disappointed by the last book I read by this author, but this synopsis sounded too good to pass up. So, I didn’t have super high hopes about loving this one. I definitely thought I would enjoy it, but I liked it way more than that.
The story follows Soraya as she’s trying to figure out a way to rid herself of the curse she’s had since she was a baby. She is poisonous. Her skin has the power to kill. Her family hides her away. Her only happiness is when her mother visits and her gardens. But this year, when her family arrives, they bring a demon with them and keep her in the dungeons. This is when Soraya’s life starts to change. She meets a soldier that comes into town with her brother and they become friends. She opens up to him in a way she’s never been able to before. He helps her go to visit the demon, then to figure out how to get rid of her curse.
There’s so much I can’t talk about because I don’t want to give anything away. So, I’ll say that I really loved this soldier. He’s a very complex character and I thought he was a great addition to the story. But even more, I loved how dark the story was. A poisonous girl? Hell yes. A poisonous girl falling in love with a demon? Even more hell yes. I loved the mythology and the Persian folklore. The author talks a bit about the stories she drew inspiration from and the things that she changed in an author’s note after the story ends and I really enjoyed getting to know more about the inspiration.
Overall, I loved this book. The narrator was incredible. She really inserted emotion into the characters and told the story beautifully. This story was dark and twisted and complex. There were characters that had so much love for others, but were also extremely selfish which I thought was just fascinating. I’m sorry that this review is sort of nonsense, but as I said at the beginning, I really don’t know how to put my thoughts for this story into words other than saying that I loved it.

Quotes:

“Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not. There is possibility in those words, the chance for hope or despair.”

“I was always afraid the poison would make me a monster, but what if trying to get rid of it makes me more of a monster than I was before?”

“She had read enough stories to know that the princess and the monster were never the same. She had been alone long enough to know which one she was.”

“Beautiful yet deadly, he had called her. Somehow, he made one sound as sweet as the other.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

GoodReads Summary:
What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.
Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?
I Killed Zoe SpanosReview:
If you need a mystery/thriller for spooky season, this is the one you need to pick up. This book is almost 400 pages but I had to keep reading until it was finished. I needed to know what really happened and how the story ended. I didn’t love how it concluded, but I loved everything else.
I Killed Zoe Spanos follows a few different perspectives. We get to see ‘now’ and ‘then’ chapters. The story starts with our main character Anna in a juvenile detention center. But then we go back and see her spending her summer in Herron Mills working as a nanny. I think this was of storytelling was so effective. We get to know a bit of the present and a bit of the past and are left wondering the details of what happened in the middle. Frick did an amazing job of giving little bits of the relevant details here and there, just enough to leave the reader wanting more. I don’t usually come up with theories or predictions, but with this book, I had so many that were constantly changing. My first theory that I was so sure was right was completely wrong, but I did have a second one that turned out to be true.
I really liked Anna. She’s a girl that’s let her life get a little out of control. She parties too much and has more nights that she can’t remember than she would like to admit. This is something I can relate to because parts of high school were like this for me as well. So, she moves to Herron Mills for the summer to try to get away from it all. She needs a break and this is her chance. But while she’s there she gets a weird sense of déjà vu, like she’s remembering things that she shouldn’t know. I thought she was an interesting character. She wanted to do the right thing, which led her to get arrested for Zoe’s murder.
We also sort of follow Martina who is best friends with Zoe’s younger sister, Aster. Martina has a podcast all about what happened to Zoe. We get some chapters that are transcripts of the podcast, which I really enjoyed. Martina interviewed people and gave a new perspective to the mystery of what really happened to Zoe. I liked Martina too. She’s Aster’s best friend, but they have issues about the podcast, especially in the later episodes. We also get to see Martina and Aster in the past when they meet Anna for the first time and hang out with her at other points.
Overall, I liked this book so much. It was so good. The different aspects of the story kept me sucked in. I also thought it was interesting that the story for Anna’s ‘then’ chapters were in the first person, but all of the chapters for ‘now’ were in the third person (until the past catches up with the present of course. I am just so impressed by this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

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GoodReads Summary:
Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma.
In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them.
Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction–it’s a bright light, something massive hurdling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate…everything changes.
When the Sky Fell on SplendorReview:
I am officially a huge fan of Emily Henry’s books. I’ve read three of her books now, and one that she co-wrote with Brittany Cavallaro. When the Sky Fell on Splendor is a story that may or may not be about aliens, but it also might be about ghosts and I still really don’t even know. So, if you’ve read this, please let me know. We follow The Ordinary while they investigate small town things like ghost stories and legends. I loved this premise. The Ordinary’s are a weird found family. They’re 100% dysfunctional and not always in a good way. I think that’s what I liked most about them though. Franny and her brother have a complicated relationship. Their older brother is in a coma and their mother walked out on them. Their dad isn’t really a dad, just an adult that lives with them. So, they’ve been through some hard things. But the love they have for one another is so obvious. The rest of the gang has also each been through their own hardships. I’m not going to get into the details of each of them, but this is a found family for a reason. They’ve all had their share of grief, and that’s what keeps them together but not in a way where they talk about their past. They are a family that avoids, which was so relatable.
What I loved about this story was that I really had no idea what was going on most of the time. Something crashes nearby while The Ordinary’s are working on their next ghost story documentary for their YouTube channel. Obviously, they go to investigate. They encounter something weird and electrical and wake up with several missing hours. Things sort of just get weirder from here. There are some ghost story mysteries, but also maybe some alien intervention. There’s also a murderous neighbor that gave the story a thriller vibe. It really just kept me guessing and once I got to end and everything was revealed it was sad and wonderful.
Overall, I’m very excited to read the one last book by Emily Henry that I haven’t gotten to. I loved the characters. I loved how bizarre this story was. I loved the dysfunctional and hurting found family. There was such a heartwarming talk about grief and what it means to lose people, whether they die or just leave. I loved this book.

Quotes:

“How many billions of things had to happen just right to give me this ordinary life.”

“There were still pieces of us we so badly wished each other could see and yet couldn’t make ourselves ask for, and there was anger and resentment and it still all hurt, but right now, we were here, and if we stayed long enough, things might start to heal, even a little bit.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

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GoodReads Summary:
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
Burn Our Bodies DownReview:
First, I want to say a huge thank you to my wonderful friend over at Books in the Skye for gifting me the audiobook for Burn Our Bodies Down for my birthday. I found a new narrator that I really enjoy and this story was wonderfully weird. The story follows Margot as she’s searching for answers. She lives with her mother and has never known any other family. She wants to know who her family is and what her mother is hiding. She absolutely gets more than she bargained for.
Margot was a really interesting character. Her drive was just to find her family, to find someone that would show that they loved her. She just wanted her mother to choose her. I don’t think I really understood her though. When she finds and goes to her grandmother, she gets almost the same treatment as she did when she was with her mother. Her mother and grandmother both lied and hid things from her. I understood her desire to ferret out the secrets that she knew were hiding in her grandmother’s home, but I personally would have gotten the hell out of there and written off the whole family.
Overall, this book was spectacularly creepy. I didn’t see the end coming and it was absolutely disturbing. The mystery and suspense kept me going. I loved that Margot was a lesbian, but there wasn’t really any romance in the story. She made a friend, but there wasn’t a romance plotline and I appreciated that. I definitely cannot wait to see what Rory Power comes out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

GoodReads Summary:
In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
The Night Olivia FellReview:
I’m having a hard time while thinking about this book. I don’t think I would say that I enjoyed it, but I really needed to know what happened. I think the author did a good job writing this story. The twists and turns were not ones I predicted. I think I would have liked this book if Olivia had just died. But her being in the hospital with no brain activity, but being kept alive because she was pregnant made me uncomfortable. I think that’s because I have a daughter and since having her, I have a tough time with bad things happening to kids.
I liked that the story went back and forth between Olivia’s perspective in the past and Abi’s perspective in the present. I thought this was a good way to create more suspense. We follow Abi as she tries to figure out what happened to Olivia, but we also get to see the events from Olivia’s point of view leading up to that night.
Overall, this was a well written and interesting story. Certain parts didn’t sit well with me, but that’s a personal thing for me. The book was suspenseful and I couldn’t put it down until I knew exactly what had happened. I was also really happy with the ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

GoodReads Summary:
The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.
The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.
But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.
Blanca & RojaReview:
This is the first of McLemore’s books that I’ve read and let me assure you, it won’t be the last. I am eager to read more of their books. Their writing is nothing short of stunning and I was so awed by this story. Blanca & Roja follows two sisters, Blanca and Roja, and then two others, Page and Yearling. I loved all four of these characters. The sisters are part of a family that has been cursed. There are conflicting stories about where it started, but every generation there are two daughters and one of them is chosen by the swans to become one of them and leave their family.
Blanca is a fierce protector of her younger sister, the one everyone thinks will be chosen by the swans. Blanca is the fairer sister, the sweeter sister, the nicer sister. But Blanca isn’t going to just let the swans take Roja. She loves her sister and will do anything, including making a deal so that the swans will take her instead of Roja. But she keeps a secret and this changes their relationship.
Roja is fiery. I adored Roja, always the other sibling. Her hair is dark brown with red in it, she is darker than Blanca. She is full of fire and anger. I loved every second I got to spend with Roja. She’s always expected to be the ones that the swans chose, despite what Blanca tries to tell her. She loves her sister dearly. But she realizes that Blanca is keeping a secret and things sour. But these two girls love each other so much that they are both willing to sacrifice themselves to the swans to save the other.
Then come Page and Yearling. The two boys disappear into the woods one day and aren’t seen again until the swans come for either Blanca or Roja. They are an unlikely set of best friends. They both have issues with their family’s but different sorts of issues. Yearling comes from a wealthy family, but he really doesn’t like how his family acquired that wealth and he wants to get the truth out to the public. Yearling is another person that has anger inside him. He gets in fights often. He’s a conflicted young man. He’s changed after he comes out of the woods. He’s having to figure a lot of things out and I liked his story. Page is a genderqueer boy that uses he/she pronouns but prefers male-gendered language. I loved Page. He was so soft and sweet and full of love. He was struggling with his family because he wasn’t sure they could give him what he needed.
I adored the relationships. The sisters were full of love but complex and interesting. I loved how much they loved one another. Both girls find themselves with feelings for the boys that came to them from the woods. Blanca and Page’s relationship was so sweet, much like the characters. They are both full of softness and love. Yearling and Roja are the opposite, full of spit and fire. Both couples find something of themselves in the other, someone that understands the things they feel.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was beautiful. The characters were wonderful. The plot was slow and quiet, but there was so much emotion and love within these pages. There was magic and romance, sacrifice, and mystery. I cannot wait to pick up another one of McLemore’s books.

Quotes:

“I was a girl who would never exist in a fairy tale, not just because of the brown of my body but because of my heart, neither pure enough to be good nor cruel enough to be evil. I was a girl lost in the deep, narrow space between the two forms girls were allowed to take.”

“We find what is beautiful in what is broken. We find what is heartening in what is terrifying. We find the stars in the woods’ deepest shadows.”

“My sister and I had been born fair and dark, her looking like a girl in a fairy tale who would grow up sweet, a princess, and me like one who would grow into a cruel witch. I had seen the pictures in storybooks. I knew what I was, with my bloodstained hair. Girls like me were marked for the swans. How could they ever take a girl like Blanca?”

“Page set her hand on the small of my back. She did it like it was only to guide me around rocks or fallen pinecones. But when she did it, I was that glass jar with a candle set inside. The heart of me was as soft as the wax of the tea light.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

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GoodReads Summary:
The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.
Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.
May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.
Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.
With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.
But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…
The Deck of Omens (The Devouring Gray, #2)Review:
The Deck of Omens was everything I wanted it to be. Check out my review which talks about how much I loved the first book here. In this second book, the Gray has started to corrupt the rest of Four Paths. Some really weird stuff is going on and no one seems to have noticed other than May. May is a troubled girl. She’s under her mother’s thumb, mostly because there is nothing more May wants than her mother’s approval and praise. Despite that, she’s starting to do things that she knows her mother wouldn’t like. One of those things is to call her father. He comes to town to help May, but there’s so much about May and Justin’s father that we (and they) don’t know. I thought the addition of the Hawthorne dad was a really interesting twist, especially when we learn all of his secrets.
I would still die for Violet and Harper. I thought Harper’s challenge of learning how to manage her abilities was a good one. She is pulled between Violet’s mom and Justin’s mom because they both want to train her. I loved the stand that Harper took in this situation. She made it clear that she was in control of her own life and her own abilities and I really appreciated that. Violet is still my favorite. She’s finally trusting her mom and they have a good relationship. But the more she learns about the history of the town and her ancestors, the more she realizes that she still doesn’t know the whole truth. I loved that Violet and Isaac spent more time together. Seeing Isaac open up to Violet literally set my heart on fire. I loved everything about their relationship. Isaac has had some really terrible things happen in his life. But he’s finally working toward doing better for himself, getting what he actually deserves rather than punishing himself for the past. But his brother, Gideon, comes back to town and that brings up all sorts of emotions for him. I liked seeing Isaac and Gideon because we get a new perspective on Isaac’s past from Gideon that we didn’t have before. I think Isaac had some tremendous character growth and I am so proud of him. I just really didn’t care about Justin at all. Christine Lynn Herman really hurt him, but I still couldn’t find it in myself to care.
Overall, I loved this story. I think it was a great conclusion to this duology. I loved these characters with my whole heart. They all grew so much and ended in a way where they made the best choices for themselves and I thought that was amazing. Please read this and love it as much as I do.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and among the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe…and kill those judged corrupt.
But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, the Gatherer Ehiru must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering innocent dreamers in the goddess’s name, and Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.
The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, #1)Review:
The Killing Moon is a book that honestly might be a little over my head. I’ve finished it, but I still feel a little bit confused. From what I understand this is a world inspired by ancient Egypt. There are people that are trained to be Gatherers and they essentially kill people that are corrupt, or also those that are old or sick (this confused me because there’s also Sharers that heal, so I didn’t get why Gatherers killed the sick too). But Gatherers are only a part of society in Gujaareh (Don’t ask me how to pronounce that). There is a neighboring kingdom (I don’t think that’s the right word, but I’m going with it) that does not believe the way that those of Gujaareh do. When an ambassador from this neighboring kingdom is selected to be gathered, Ehiru (the Gatherer) listens to what she has to say and starts thinking that there are secrets he isn’t privy to. He does not gather her. Instead, he travels with her to her kingdom to find the truth to the things she’s told him.
I’m going to be honest; I was extremely confused for the first 100 or so pages. But once the story got going, I couldn’t put it down. The world was vivid and beautiful. It was full of complex and interesting beliefs. I liked the characters but couldn’t get as invested in them as I would have liked. I enjoyed them all, but I just didn’t care as much as I did with Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. I liked that this story was so dark. It wasn’t outright gory or anything, but there were so many dark themes and concepts that really interested me. It really brings a great conversation to the topic of morality and specific people having the power to kill others under the concept of religion.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I’m very eager to see what happens in the next book. It’s not my favorite book by Jemisin that I’ve read, but it was an incredible story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

GoodReads Summary:
The Library of the Unwritten in Hell was saved from total devastation, but hundreds of potential books were destroyed. Former librarian Claire and Brevity the muse feel the loss of those stories, and are trying to adjust to their new roles within the Arcane Wing and Library, respectively. But when the remains of those books begin to leak a strange ink, Claire realizes that the Library has kept secrets from Hell–and from its own librarians.
Claire and Brevity are immediately at odds in their approach to the ink, and the potential power that it represents has not gone unnoticed. When a representative from the Muses Corps arrives at the Library to advise Brevity, the angel Rami and the erstwhile Hero hunt for answers in other realms. The true nature of the ink could fundamentally alter the afterlife for good or ill, but it entirely depends on who is left to hold the pen.
The Archive of the Forgotten (Hell's Library, #2)Review:
The Archive of the Forgotten is the second book in the Hell’s Library series. I don’t know for sure if there will be a third as I haven’t looked into it at all, but the ending of this book suggests there will be more. I had to pick this one up as soon as I got it in the mail because I absolutely loved the first book. I’m happy to say that I loved this book just as much. There is one thing I didn’t like about this book, but I’ll get into that.
Our story follows my favorite people, Claire, Hero, Ramiel, and Brevity. Sadly, we don’t get any Leto, which wasn’t a huge surprise but still was a little disappointing. Instead of Leto, we got a new character, Probity. Probity is a muse and Brevity’s sister. She visits the library and I didn’t like her from the moment we met her. This is all I’m going to say about her because the details would spoil things and I don’t want to do that.
So, the story starts off when Claire finds a damsel in front of what I pictured as a pool of ink. They can’t figure out where this ink came from. I wish the team had just worked together the whole book instead of letting things come between them. I think the story did a great job with the action. There were some really exciting and suspenseful moments, but there was also a good balance of character development and growth through some dialogue and sweet moments.
I think my favorite part of this book was that we got to see the other sorts of libraries that were mentioned in the first book. Some of the characters travel to Elysium and that was a fascinating library. We also get to see a different sort of library, one that made me a bit sad. I think this world (underworld) was absolutely fascinating. I really enjoyed the fact that there wasn’t just Heaven and Hell, there were all sorts of afterworlds and I really thought it was interesting.
Overall, I flew through this story and I’m still eager for more. I loved the characters. They grew even more in this book, and there were some romantic developments that made me completely fangirl. I’m obsessed with the world and the different libraries. Plus, the covers for this book and the first are both absolutely stunning.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

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GoodReads Summary:
Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.
When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.
Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?
This Coven Won't Break (These Witches Don't Burn, #2)Review:
My job opened back up when I found that my library had this audiobook. So, basically, I listened to it while I was working (which I’m not supposed to do) and listened to it in almost one shift.
I really enjoyed this book. Probably my favorite part about this book was all of the kissing. Morgan and Hannah’s relationship was the best. They were sweet and new, but also made progress to become a more serious relationship. I liked that their relationship also helped others see how the other witches can use their magic together.
Hannah was very brave. She feels a little responsible for what’s going on and she wants to be a part of the team of agents that are working to take the Hunters down. I really liked how Hannah’s grief over her father was present in the story. She lost her father which is part of her motivation to help, but she also let herself feel that grief. I liked that she ended up being a key part of taking down the Hunters. It was nice to see the adults listening to her ideas.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the first one better, but this one was still good. There was a diverse cast with different sexualities and a trans character. I loved the diversity. I loved, even more, the way the story concluded with the three different types of witches learning that they can use their magic together.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

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GoodReads Summary:
The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.
Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.
Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone….
The Loneliest Girl in the UniverseReview:
I buddy read this book with one of my favorites, Alana @ The Bookish Chick. I think we both felt similarly. This book was a wild ride.
We’re following Romy as she’s traveling alone through space. She was born in outer space to two astronauts that were on a mission to go to a planet thought to be able to support human life. But some mysterious something happened and Romy ended up alone. I think the suspense was done really well. For the first half of the book, I was really interested to find out what had happened to Romy’s parents and the rest of the astronauts on the mission. Sadly, the further into the book I read the less I liked it. I thought the mystery of Romy’s parents and the other astronauts was great, I also liked the representation of anxiety that we get from Romy. But I just really didn’t like the last third of the book.
So, for this last third of the story, we are anticipating another ship joining with Romy’s. Earth has sent another space ship to help her so that she isn’t alone when arriving on the planet she’s headed for. J is the astronaut from the other ship. J and Romy exchange messages while they’re waiting to meet. I liked this at first, but then it sort of felt icky. Romy is only sixteen and she’s falling in love with a 20-something-year-old. It just got worse when they finally met. I won’t go into too much detail because of spoilers, but I didn’t like it.
Overall, I wanted to like this book more than I did. I think Romy was a great representation of anxiety, but that and the mystery of how Romy ended up alone were the only things I liked about the story and they weren’t the main focus of the book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.