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 Day Twenty-Seven (Part Two): Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Freebie

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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. For this freebie I’m going with Top Ten Villains in honor of spooky season.

The King of Hybern from A Court of Thorns and Roses  by Sarah J. Maas

Levana from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

King Leck from Graceling  by Kristin Cashore

The Darkling from The Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Capricorn from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Queen Savilla from The Obsidian Mountain trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Gavan Bayar from The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Jared Sage from Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

The Dragon King from The Last Namsara by Kristin Ciccarelli

The Chandrian from The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

What villains did you love or hate?

Blogtober Day Twenty-Seven (Part One): Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Halloween Freebie

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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 a Halloween Freebie! The topic I chose was books I would reread during spooky season.

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The Belgariad The Malloreon by David Eddings

The Alchemyst by Micheal Scott

The Cellar by Natasha Preston

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Zodiac by Romina Russell

Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle

Ancient Magic by Linsey Hall

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

Most of these are books that I borrowed from others or books I discovered after signing up for Kindle Unlimited and binging so many books. What books made your list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Six: The Nightmare Before Christmas Book Tag

Hey, bookworms. Today we have another book tag for your enjoyment. We found this Nightmare Before Christmas one over at Erica Robyn Reads while searching for a fun one. This definitely fits that. This tag was created by The Butterfly Reader. Check out her post here!

Jack Skellington
Jack – A book character who longs for more

Amanda: Zachary Ezra Rawlins from The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. He misses his chance for more when he was a kid and it lingers into his adulthood.

Antonia: Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. She spends her whole life stuck by herself floating in the middle of space and just wants to see the world and meet people.

Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas
Sally – A book character who loves someone so much and actually gets them in the end

Amanda: Amani from the Mirage duology by Somaiya Daud. Forbidden love that ends with a happy ending is always a good time for me.

Antonia: Alina from The Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. She’s loved Mal for so long and even though I kind of hated him for most of the first book, I ended up being so happy they got together.

Nightmare Before Christmas Zero & Jack
Zero – A book with a loyal sidekick

Amanda: Lehaba from House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas. She’s literally just fire. I adored her.

Antonia: The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Not only is Shalkan the most sarcastic, hilarious best friend but he’s also a freaking unicorn. Like literally. It’s amazing.

Nightmare Before Christmas Oogie Boogie
Oogie Boogie – A book with one hell of a wicked villain

Amanda: The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty. The villain is trying to retake her city, a place her ancestors used to rule. She was complex and interesting, but took things too far.

Antonia: The Dragon King from The Last Namsara by Kristin Ciccarelli. Seriously, he was just awful.

Halloween Town – A book that’s creepy or has a scary theme

Amanda: The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher. I read this in September and it was creepy and suspenseful and everything I wanted for Spooktober.

Antonia: I never read scary books because I will definitely give myself nightmares.

Christmas Town – A book that left you feeling warm and fuzzy inside

Amanda: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. A man goes to an orphanage filled with some of the more dangerous supernaturals. He isn’t sure what to expect. He finds a family and I loved every page of this book.

Antonia: Anything by Julia Quinn. Her books are just so funny and I always love the romance.

What’s This? – A book that took you by surprise

Amanda: Furyborn by Claire Legrand. I actually pulled this book out of my ‘to be unhauled’ pile and it was a 5 star read for me.

Antonia: The Martian by Andy Weir. I watched the movie first and really enjoyed it but it’s outside of my normal book genre so I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. Mark’s voice is just amazing. I really felt like I could hear him while reading this.

That’s all the questions! Feel free to consider yourself tagged if this looks like fun to you! Happy Spooktober!

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 Day Twenty-Four: Five Star Predictions

Hello, bookworms! Today we are here with a fun topic: books we think will be 5 star reads. We both have so many great sounding books oon our TBR’s so we thought it would be fun to list a few that we think will be five stars. We’re thinking that when Blogmas comes around we will do a wrap up post where we talk about what the actual ratings of these predictions are and maybe even predict a few more!

Amanda’s Predictions

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Antonia’s Predictions

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam

Rules for Being a Girl by Candice Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

These are the books we think we will love (that we plan to read relatively soon). What books on your TBR do you predict to be new favorites?

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 Day Twenty-Three: Backlist Book Recommendations

Hi, lovelies! This list is all books that I’ve been wanting to recommend but couldn’t manage to find a way to include them in any of the other recommendations posts so far this month. There are quite a few books on this list, so I’m not going into overly long descriptions or reasons why you should read them. I just want to do a quick list post with maybe a sentence for two for each book.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – Confusing and magical and a love story to literature.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – Dark and gritty. Yale but with magic.

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw – A girl that lives near a creepy, maybe magical, forrest.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver – Did they murder their best friend? Or is there something else going on?

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, but make it sort of horror.

The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black – Interesting twist on vampires. Also sort of dystopian.

Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter – Summer camp for supernaturals.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows – Jane Eyre but with ghosts.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl – A girl meets with old friends and they all die.

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman – Four family’s with supernatural powers basically fail at protecting their town.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Unreliable narrator with memory loss and something about a fire.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand – An evil rock, queer girls, and creepy legends.

When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry – Maybe aliens have arrived on Earth? Let’s YouTube it.

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes – A girl in denial about her mother’s death and a boy who may or may not fail out of school adventure to find out truths about the past.

So, these are some books that I think would be perfect to read this October but couldn’t figure out how to put them in any other list. These are all books that I really enjoyed and have read during past spooky seasons. Just making this list makes me want to reread them all. What backlist books are on your list for spooky season recommendations?

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: Slayer by Kiersten White

GoodReads Summary:
Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.
Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.
Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.
As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…
But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.
One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.
Slayer (Slayer, #1)Review:
I’ve really enjoyed most of White’s books, but I was never a huge Buffy fangirl. I’ve watched and liked it well enough, but I’m not wild for it like some people are. So, I wasn’t super excited about this book when it was released like some people were. I definitely wanted to read it (obviously, because I bought it). I actually really enjoyed this book.
The story follows Nina. She’s training to be a medic for the Watchers. The supernatural world isn’t what it once was. Buffy has done something that has eliminated magic, and also changed the way that Slayers come into their power. There’s a rift between the Slayers and the Watchers, so when Nina realizes that she is the last Slayer that will ever be chosen, she really struggles with it. Nina’s dad was Buffy’s first Watcher. He died, and Nina really holds a grudge against Buffy for it. She doesn’t particularly care for any of the Slayers. So, when she learns that she is one, she has some really mixed feelings. She’s impressed and excited about her new abilities, but she doesn’t want to be a Slayer.
Eventually, Nina realizes that it isn’t about what she wants. It’s about what she’s supposed to do. There are complications in the form of Nina’s relationships. Her mother has been trying to keep Nina from realizing that she’s a potential Slayer for Nina’s entire life. Nina’s twin, Artemis, is also a complication because they’ve always been close but Artemis has always been the one to look out for Nina and protect her. But Nina doesn’t need protection anymore and this changes their relationship dynamic.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were really interesting and complicated relationships. There were demons and monsters. There were teenagers doing their best to save the world. And there were also some moments where we got to see Buffy. I sort of hope she makes an appearance in the second book, even if it’s just for a minute. I loved the action, but most of all, I loved the characters and their friendships.

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 Day Twenty-Two: Series on my TBR

Hello, bookworms! For one of last year’s Blogmas posts (find it here) Amanda talked about series that she owned and needed to finish. In August, she finally finished the last series on that list. So, drawing inspiration from that success we decided for one of this year’s Blogtober posts we would make a list of new series that we’ve started and not yet finished. This post will double as Blogtober content and as a way to keep us accountable to finish these series before the end of the year! We’re planning to do a follow up post for Blogmas. This list is only for series that are completed, not series that are sill being published.

Amanda’s Series To Finish

The Empirium Trilogy by Claire Legrand: I read the first two books of this series in August for Tome Topple. It’s for sure going to make the list for my 2020 favorites. The final book comes out October 13th and I’m very eager to get my hands on it.

The Kendra Chronicles by Alex Flinn: I’ve been working on reading my physical TBR this year and Alex Flinn’s books have been high on that list. I’ve read a few of them, so some have been rereads. But I’ve never finished this series, so I’m looking forward to finally getting back into this series. Especially since it’s a favorite of Antonia’s.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I started this series years and years ago. It was actually Antonia’s mom that recommended it to me and let me borrow her copy. But I made it to the fourth book and then lost said book. I never did find it, so I bought Antonia’s mom a new copy (she was rereading the series) and then never managed to finish it.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson: This is one that I plan to pick up this month. The graphic novel series follows twelve Gods who reincarnate into humans every ninety years. This series is dark as hell and I fucking love it. It’s only gotten more bizarre with each installment and I’m excited to read the five volumes I have left.

The Dark Elements by Jennifer L. Armentrout: This is actually a reread. I reread the first two books this past spring because of Armentrout’s new series, The Harbinger, which is set in the same world. I just have the third book left and they’re pretty quick reads. So, I think I’ll probably pick it up this month.

The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa: This is another reread. It was announced earlier this year that Kagawa is writing more books set in this world. Puck is finally going to get his own story and I’m so excited for it. I also only have the final book in this series to read, but then I’m going to read the Call of the Forgotten series which is also set in the same world. Hopefully by then, The Iron Raven will be released.

Antonia’s Series To Finish

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa: This is going to be my next read after I finish the book I’m on now. I’ve been so excited for this one and Amanda hasn’t been helping- she’s told me multiple times the ending is going to tear my heart out and I can’t wait.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand: Amanda recommended this one, it’s probably a little overambitious for me to try to read the whole series before the end of the year given how big my TBR list is but I want to at least start it.

The Air Awakens series by Elise Kova: I read the first three books forever ago after Amanda’s insistence but the end of the third book made me so sad and angry that I couldn’t make myself continue. I’m hoping to get back into it soon.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini: Amanda and I were buddy reading this series last year and then life got in the way and I never got around to finishing the last one (it’s a reread). I really want to actually finish it finally.

Feverwake by Victoria Lee: Another series Amanda recommended that I’m really excited to start.

What series are you hoping to finish up before 2020 ends?

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.