On This Unworthy Scaffold by Heidi Heilig

Jetta’s home is spiraling into civil war.
Le Trépas—the deadly necromancer—has used his blood magic to wrest control of the country, and Jetta has been without treatment for her malheur for weeks. Meanwhile, Jetta’s love interest, brother, and friend are intent on infiltrating the palace to stop the Boy King and find Le Trépas to put an end to the unleashed chaos.
The sweeping conclusion to Heidi Heilig’s ambitious trilogy takes us to new continents, introduces us to new gods, flings us into the middle of palace riots and political intrigue, and asks searching questions about power and corruption. As in the first two books, the story is partly told in ephemera, including original songs, myths, play scripts, and various forms of communication.

On This Unworthy Scaffold (Shadow Players, #3)

I want to start by saying a huge thank you to Heilig’s publicity team that reached out to me to see if I was interested in reading an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. On This Unworthy Scaffold is one of my most anticipated releases in 2021 and I literally screamed a little when I got the email asking if I was interested.
On This Unworthy Scaffold is the third and final book in the Shadow Players series. I won’t go too much into a summary of the book because there is a summary above and also this is the third book in a series. If you haven’t read the first two books you can read my reviews for For a Muse of Fire and A Kingdom for a Stage. This series follows Jetta, her family, and the friends she makes along the way. I’ve come to really love all of the side characters that make up the main group. Jetta and the rebels have a plan. But as things usually go, nothing goes according to plan. The plot of this story was really compelling. Jetta and Theodora go off on one mission. With this we finally get to see Aquitan. I liked this part of the story. We get to see Jetta think on her feet. She’s still often worried that her malheur. I liked that there was talk of her taking the elixir, a version of modern-day medication. I liked that she was aware of it and questioned herself sometimes to wonder if she was making good choices or not. I also really liked Jetta’s problem solving. She’s not afraid to stand up to those in power. I thought it was really clever the way that she brought things full circle when she finally performed in Aquitan. I just genuinely enjoyed seeing her in her own element, making choices on the fly to get herself out of the situation that she found herself in. I also loved Theodora. She’s an engineer/inventor. I feel like I didn’t get to see as much of her as I would have liked, but I still liked what we did see. She’s smart and unafraid to say what she thinks. Jetta and Theodora working together was really fun to read.
The other team is the Tiger, Leo, Akra, Cheeky, and Tia. Cheeky and Tia are absolutely the comedic relief of the story. But they bring good conversations to the table. They are sex workers and it’s always talked about in a positive way, never with any shame. I also still love Akra. He and Jetta have their ups and downs that come from her bringing him back from the dead, but I loved their relationship. And my dear sweet Leo. I hate the way his story ended. No, I don’t hate it. I hate how fitting it was for his part of this story to end that way. Leo has tried so hard to do good and be loved. He faces his own challenges through this series, but he never lets anything get him down for long. His love for Jetta is so clear. Jetta and Leo lift one another up and I couldn’t help but root for them.
Overall, this was a beautiful and heartbreaking finale to a series that I will reread and love for years to come. I love these characters. I love this story. It includes a lot of important things, like colonialism and bipolar. It’s filled with diverse and queer characters. It’s also written in a unique format, with sheet music, play scripts, myths, and prose. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

GoodReads Summary:
Two star-crossed magicians engage in a deadly game of cunning in The Night Circus, the spellbinding bestseller that has captured the world’s imagination. 
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
When I started this book it was as an audiobook that I got from my library. I found with the audiobook that I had a really hard time focusing and noticed that I had to rewind and listen again because I would lose focus and miss important details. About twenty percent into The Night Circus I decided to see if the ebook version was available from my library and it was, so I made the switch. I had a much more enjoyable time once I switch to the ebook.
I ate this story up. The Night Circus is a book that I heard about through the bookstagram world (thank god for the bookish community.) I honestly didn’t even read the summary of the book until after I’d already started the audiobook. But by then my attention had already been caught, so it didn’t really matter what the book summary said.
By then I had already started to become attached to Celia after seeing her meet her father as a little girl and have no idea what her father was signing her up for. After watching her train herself and learn more about her abilities and how far she can take them. I only grew more attached as I read instead of listened to the story. I fell more in love as she became a young woman who learned how to stand up to her father, while still learning the things he wants her to. I love Celia. She’s intelligent, caring, clever, and mysterious all at the same time.
While falling in love with Celia I was also learning to love Marco. Adopted as an orphan for the sole purpose of being trained for this challenge, but never being given the full story, he was a very compelling character. I so enjoyed watching him try to figure things out on his own and the way he learned to teach himself and take care of himself because he knew that no one else would. I liked Marco most of the time. There were a  few moments that had me shaking my head wondering why he thought that was the best course of action  (it wasn’t). Regardless, I enjoyed Marco especially once he and Celia started interacting directly rather than just through the circus.
There were some excellent supporting characters in this story. Many others that got their own side story that only added interest to The Night Circus as a whole, like the clockmaker and the fortune-teller. I love when authors give me supporting characters that have stories to tell. I think it makes the book just that much better overall. This was one thing that made it hard for me to listen to this as an audiobook. There were so many different stories being told within this one book that listening to it had them blending together and it wasn’t always clear when we were moving to a new perspective. I really like books with multiple perspectives, especially when they’re complex like this one. I just might not recommend the audiobook over the ebook or paper version unless you know you’ll be able to focus.
Another thing I really liked was that this story was set in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. Over the period of many years. Too many stories have timelines that just aren’t realistic or don’t make sense. This book didn’t do that. We read through many many years of our characters lives. I think that just gives the reader a feeling of really knowing the characters and as if we’ve been on this journey with them. I also have to compliment the author on her writing skills because I don’t think I would be able to write a multi-perspective book with this complex story.
As a whole, I liked The Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern is a very talented writer and I hope to be able to write a story like this one day. This book was complex and interesting. Extremely detailed and involved but not to the point where it was hard to get through, just enough to hold my attention and keep me dying to know what’s going to happen. I loved that while it was romantic, with forbidden love (my favorite), there were also some pretty dark aspects to this story. This was a nice touch because what’s life without a little darkness?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

GoodReads Summary:
A thrilling and original coming-of-age novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.
He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.
At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.
I found this book available as an ebook from my library. I’ve been getting ebooks from my library on my phone ever since I had a baby because reading on my phone is the best for those late night breastfeeding sessions. I was planning to spend time with my Kindle, but it’s a bit hard to hold while trying to keep the baby in the right position to feed so I mostly read on my phone. Because of this, I have found a few new books that weren’t on my TBR list. The Magicians was one of those. I did want to read this eventually because I wanted to read it before I watched the Netflix show. I’m excited to watch the show now that I’ve read the book and see what the differences are.
This book is totally not what I expected. It was way more detailed and the story was way more in-depth and involved than I was anticipating. The Magicians follows our main character, Quentin, on his journey to find happiness. On this journey, he finds magic, love, and some interesting adventures. Much of this book focuses on a book series that has stuck with Quentin for his whole life. It’s a series that reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia in a few ways. He dreams of visiting this far off world one day and going on a quest to save the world. Quentin ends up on several different adventures of his own, though none of them are what he expected at all. The storyline of this book was a little bizarre to me. We spent so much time following Quentin through his schooling and the copious amount of time he spent drinking and not nearly as much time on the crazy situations that he finds himself in. I spent more than half of the book wondering where the story was going and what the real plot of the story was. I definitely didn’t predict what ended up happening in any way.
As for Quentin, he annoyed me many times. He’s so stuck in his depression that anytime he gets what he thinks will make him happy it never lasts long. He finds out he’s a magician and that’s not enough to keep him happy despite the fact that he’s learning new things every day and he’s found himself in this incredible new part of the world that he never knew existed. He finds a good group of friends that he has fun with and that’s not enough to keep him happy. He somehow manages to get a girlfriend who is smart and caring and loves him but still, that’s not enough. It was honestly just annoying. Instead of doing something or trying to figure out why he’s never happy he just accepts that he’s not meant to be satisfied or happy no matter what he has in his life. It was an interesting addition to the story, the whole idea that maybe magicians aren’t meant to be happy and all that (there’s more to this idea). But Quentin was just a little annoying in his misery.
The supporting characters added a little extra to the story. While they could have been a little further developed with more backstory and maybe their own personal development aside from being students with Quentin and learning magic. I liked their personalities but they were a little shallow as their own characters. They had personalities, but they weren’t fully developed. I think they could have been done better.
Overall, this story was totally not what I was expecting. I liked the story well enough. It was certainly interesting; though I think certain parts of the story could have been done a little differently it was a great read for sure. I would have liked more development for the supporting characters and a little less of Quentin complaining about being unhappy. The storyline was creative and kept my interest.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

GoodReads Summary:
As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.
Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.
Much like the first book in this series, (Sleeping Giants, find my review here!) I have nothing but good things to say. I listened to this story as an audiobook from my wonderful library.
The narrators, there are several that read this book, did an incredible job making this book sound more like a performance than a story. They really brought the characters to life. I cannot say enough about how great the audiobook narration was done. This series is for sure one that I will recommend as part of my favorite audiobooks to listen to. They will be hard to knock out of first place.
The storyline was incredible, so interesting and creative. This book never has a dull moment. There wasn’t a single point where I lost interest or was in any way bored. There was so much action and drama and I just needed to know what was going to happen next. I was left guessing through the whole story. I had no clue what I was in for. Waking Gods is written just like the first book, as a series of interviews, personal journals recordings, radio broadcasts, and recorded speeches. I think this was such an excellent way to tell this story. The plot twist that we were left with at the end of Sleeping Giants was a big one and we get some answers and follow through when it comes to that, though this sequel takes place about ten years after the ending of the first book. We also get a few more big twists. Waking Gods essentially ripped my heart out and stomped on it, like five times, but I loved every second of it. I would say more than that but I don’t want to give any spoilers.
The characters are still fabulous. I love Rose and the drama that comes along with her. We’re basically seeing a totally different Rose in this sequel. I loved getting to know this new Rose and seeing her deal with the craziness that is going on around her. Kara and Vincent were still super entertaining. I love how far their relationship has come in the last ten years. They ended up exactly where I wanted them to be. I think my favorite part of Waking Gods was FINALLY getting to know more about our mysterious interviewer, though we still haven’t learned his name. We find out his backstory and how he got into the influential position that he’s in. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters better.
Overall, I loved Waking Gods. I loved every minute of my listening experience. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the third (and I think final) book in the series. With the way that the second book ended (yes, cliffhanger!) I am super anxious for the audiobook to be available from my library. I don’t want to have to wait for Only Human. I need to know what happens and I need to know now. I’ve come to care for these characters. I am invested in this story. Read it and you will be too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Book Tag – The Summer Tag

I found this book tag over on Boston Book Reader who has all the fun book tags! I thought this would be a fun one now that summer is coming to an end.

What book cover makes you think of summer?

Amanda- Meant to be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow.

Antonia- Island of Glass by Nora Roberts

What book has brightened your day?

Amanda- The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich. This series never fails to make me laugh.

Antonia- How am I supposed to choose? Books from my childhood are usually the ones that make me happiest.

Find a book cover with yellow on it.

Amanda- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Strong Larsson.

Antonia- Warrior Rising by P.C. Cast.

What is your favorite summer beach read?

Amanda- Pretty much anything by Nora Roberts or Janet Evanovich.

Antonia- I love reading Julia Quinn’s books at the beach. They make me laugh so hard.

What action book had you running to the ice cream man for some snacks?

Amanda- Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts for sure had me running for snacks to keep my hands as busy as my brain was.

Antonia- Hmm… I pretty much always have snacks no matter what so I can’t really answer this.

What book has left you with a bad or painful ending like a summer sunburn?

Amanda- Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. The events that occurred in this book were not okay.

Antonia- Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. I loved this series but the ending killed me.

What book gave you happy feelings at the ending like a sunset at the end of a wonderful day?

Amanda- Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. This book was too good and I totally loved the ending.

Antonia- Beheld by Alex Flinn. This book had me grinning like a lunatic.

What book cover reminds you of a sunset?

Amanda- Come Sundown by Nora Roberts. It actually has a sunset on the cover.

Antonia- If I Should Die by Amy Plum. It also has a sunset on the cover.

What is one book or series you hope to read this summer?

Amanda- The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin. Summer is basically over at this point so my hope of reading this series is quickly dwindling.

Antonia- I’d like to finish the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova.

Meant to be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow

GoodReads Summary:
Rayne Davidson is perfectly happy fading into the background. Her mama’s antics garner enough attention in their small Southern town for the both of them, but when Rayne catches the eye of all-star QB, Preston Howard, she’s enamored with the possibilities. Too bad Preston doesn’t make her heart thump—but his brother does.
Gage Howard doesn’t mind the town’s stares, probably because he doesn’t get them. Growing up in his older brother’s shadow, Gage shrugs off the endless parade of girls Preston brings home—until Rayne.
But there are unwritten rules that shouldn’t be broken, like cheating on your boyfriend or betraying your brother. Rayne and Gage deny their growing attraction, neither willing to hurt Preston—until the town finds out.
They think overcoming the gossip will be the hardest obstacle.
They’re wrong.
Rayne’s mama has a secret, and its revelation could divide the town, the families, and the new couple.
Can love really exist if it’s all built on a lie?

I received this book through an awesome opportunity offered to me through Filles Vertes Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I love opportunities like these because I get made aware of books that I would necessarily choose for myself or hear about through the normal channels.
Meant to be Broken was a book I was excited to get once I read the synopsis. It definitely caught my interest and was the perfect change of pace that I needed. I’ve been on a fantasy kick for what feels like forever. I flew through this story. I started it last night because I couldn’t sleep and I can read my Kindle without the light bothering my husband trying to sleep.
I got so much more from this story than I expected. I expected a high school drama about a girl falling in love with her boyfriend’s brother. I got so much more. I got a bit of one of my favorite bookish tropes, forbidden love. It sort of alternates between forbidden love and a really dysfunctional love triangle, but I forgive the triangle because the forbidden love part is done so well. I was way more invested in these characters than I thought I would be. I may or may not have cried more than once (but it’s possible that’s just the pregnancy hormones).
I loved the setting that Meant to be Broken takes place in. A small town in the south while it doesn’t have a lot of physical descriptions, most of the things that take place just make it so realistic and believable, one example is the gossip that spreads like wildfire. There are little touches throughout the story, such as certain activities the kids do for fun, that make the setting authentic.
I loved the characters. Rayne was funny and mostly down to earth for a high school girl. She was the nice girl in the group of snotty cheerleaders. So when she hears that the popular boy in school, Preston, is interested in her, her first question is why? I liked that Rayne wasn’t a typical girl who had wicked self-esteem issues. She wondered why Preston liked her because she didn’t look like most of the girls he usually chose to date, not because she thought there was something wrong with her.
As for Preston, I almost felt bad for him. Everyone puts him up on a pedestal. He’s the golden boy, the good boy. But they all make him sounds so shallow and like his whole life is based on pleasing others, specifically his mother. I have many more thoughts on Preston but I’m not going to go into them so I avoid giving any spoilers.
This story is told from two points of view. We alternate chapters between Rayne and Gage. I really liked Gage. He’s definitely swoon-worthy. The boy in school that is indifferent to everything except football and his car. He becomes best friends with Rayne and acts as her number one defender. He sticks up for her when he feels that she’s being treated or talked about in a way that she doesn’t deserve. But he also knows when not to get involved, when to let Rayne learn for herself that she’s trusting the wrong people or making a mistake.
The relationship between Preston and Gage is one that I liked. It was a heartwarming relationship between two brothers that do their best to look out for one another, but not without making sure to poke fun back and forth when the opportunity arose.
So like I said, there was way more drama than I originally expected, way more, and I loved every page of it. I was given characters that I easily fell in love with and became way too invested in and plot twists that completely took me by surprise. This is something I love in a book. I really like being surprised. There’s nothing better than when I’m completely blindsided by the events in a book.
As a whole, I really don’t have anything bad to say about Meant to be Broken. I thought the characters were fabulous. They were likable and realistic and reacted to the situations in the story in ways that made sense. I loved the little town that this book took place. The story was more than I was expecting in every way. I would for sure recommend it to anyone looking for their next contemporary read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!