Blogtober Book Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

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Summary:
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.
Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
StepsisterReview:
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Donnelly while she was doing the book tour for Stepsister. She was honestly so inspiring. I’ve been so excited to read Stepsister since that event. I finally managed to listen to the audiobook for the NEWTs.
Stepsister is the story of Cinderella’s sisters and what happens to them after Ella marries the prince and becomes Queen. I am in awe of Donnelly with the complexities of this story. Isabelle is being guided by two characters, Fate and Chance. It took me way too long to realize the significance of Chance other than it just being his name. Chance steals Isabelle’s life map from the Fate’s, and does everything in his power to change her path.
Isabelle was a really unlikable character. Which I’m pretty sure was the intention. This wasn’t a happy story. It was a story about growth. How to find the pieces of your heart and escape the title of ‘ugly step-sister.’
I am really not sure how to explain this story. But it was one of loss and regret and learning to love yourself. The things that Isabelle and her family endure could break anyone. But she doesn’t let it. She tries and tries, again and again, to do the right things, to be a better person. But she learns that it’s not that easy. Isabelle’s path is not an easy one, but despite the forces trying to hinder her, she finds her way.
Overall, this was a fascinating story. It was filled with unlikeable characters that learned how to be better, how to change their ways before it was too late, and how to love themselves even though they may not be traditionally pretty. Fate and Chance pulled the path in countless directions, keeping things interesting. If you’re a lover of fairytales, this is the story for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)Review:
This Savage Song was a wild ride. It was fast-paced and everything I never knew I wanted in a book. I went into the story with as little expectations as possible. I’m glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it. It would have been a five-star read aside from the questions I was left with.
Kate was everything I could have wanted in a kickass female main character. She doesn’t take shit from anyone and does whatever needs to be done to reach her goals. I loved everything about her. She’s smart and fierce. I am very interested in what she does in the next book.
Then there is August, poor sweet August. He’s one of the rarest of the monsters. But he fights his nature every day. He’s good at heart, despite what he really is. I was really intrigued by August. He’s complex with how he feels. He loves his siblings even though he knows they are not all there. He loves his mother and father, and really just wants to do whatever he can to help in the never-ending fight against the monsters.
Once Kate and August meet, things get exciting. Seeing them try to figure out how to trust one another was beyond interesting.
The only complaint I have is that I still have so many questions about the monsters. I’m still not totally sure how they are created. Are they a whole new being? Or are they the person that sinned turned monster? I’m eager to get into the next book and learn more.
Overall, I loved this book. The world was fascinating. The characters were complex and held my attention. There was so much more to this story that seems to be outside of my ability to articulate at the moment. But I loved it. That’s all.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Summary:
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
AutoboyographyReview:
Autoboyography is the first book I have received in a bookish exchange that I am doing with a few of my closest book friends. This is a favorite of my friend Jenny @ So She Tries. It’s a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while and even more so after reading The Unhoneymooners. (What’s up with these book titles?)
I loved so many things about this book. Let’s start with Tanner. I love his family and their relationship. Despite moving to a not so queer-friendly town, they’ve made their home a safe and welcoming place for him to be himself. They support him in every way that they can. I loved that his parents were present and involved in his life, always giving their opinions and trying to guide him in the right direction, but still mostly letting him make his own decisions.
The next relationship I really loved was between Tanner and his best friend Autumn. I didn’t love that he took so long to come out to her, but I also don’t know what it’s like to be in that kind of situation. I was happy when he finally told her the truth and loved her reaction. He and Autumn reminded me so much of myself and my husband when we were in high school. They made me laugh and the nostalgia was real. I loved the way things were left with them at the end of Autoboyography.
Finally, the love interest. I had a love/hate relationship with Sebastian. I loved him and Tanner together, but I didn’t love how his religion got in the way. I think some really interesting conversations were brought to the table. I liked the way that things worked out in the end, but I struggled with their relationship. It was hard because Tanner knew exactly who he was and what he felt and Sebastian was in a different place. He wanted to be someone that his family wouldn’t accept and that was hard to digest at times.
Overall, I adored this story. I am so happy that I was able to finally read it and I definitely will be reading more by Christina Lauren. I cannot wait to see what else they come up with for their young adult readers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Summary:
Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.
War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?
In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.
War Storm (Red Queen, #4)Review:
I wanted to like this finale more than I did. As with most books, there were things I liked and things I didn’t. I think I’m going to organize this review like I have with a few other series conclusions in the past because there’s just too much going on for me to talk about it in my traditional format.

Things I liked-

The changing perspectives was probably my favorite thing about this book. It was done in the previous book too (see my review for King’s Cage). I really felt like we got to see into the heads of the rest of the characters that play a part in this story. I started to really feel for certain characters (read: Evangeline) instead of hating them like I did in previous books. Seeing things from her point of view, what her thoughts and opinions were rather than just the face she puts on for the world was really interesting and was the best part of this book. The same goes for Iris. I liked seeing her plans and thoughts. The way that her country works and what her values and ideals were.

I liked seeing the different parts of the world. We get to see the Lakelands and more of Montfort. I enjoyed exploring more of the world. Along with this, we’re learning more about the Newbloods and how the world is changing.

Finally, I liked the action. The fighting was exciting and fun. I thought the battles they chose and the places they strike were good choices. I was convinced that Aveyard was going to kill a certain character, but she didn’t thankfully.

Things I didn’t like-

The ending. I wanted more. This was not very satisfying to me.

Mare and Cal. I remember being pretty broken up with their drama in the last book, but reading this one and the choices they both make just annoyed me. I wanted them to just get over it all. I didn’t care if they ended up together or not. I didn’t care about them in general.

Which leads me to the rest of the characters. For a book so thick, there was so much focus on characters I didn’t care about. In the first few books, we’re learning all about these Newbloods. Rescuing them and training them, but then we just get two or three sentences here and there about them and no further development. I really didn’t appreciate that.

Overall-

I’m happy for the series to finally be over and to see it concluded (though I am excited for the novella collection coming out in May.) I found myself really struggling to pick this book up and actually want to read it. I think maybe pushing myself to finish it despite these feelings made me enjoy it less but I didn’t want to keep waiting and then forget everything from the first three books. I’m glad I read the series because I did enjoy it, but I’m equally glad for it to be over.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

GoodReads Summary:
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.
Daisy Jones & The SixReview:
There were so many things I loved about Daisy Jones and the Six that I honestly don’t even know where to start. Taylor Jenkins Reid is so incredibly talented. I can only hope to be as skilled as she is one day. I listened to the audiobook for this story and I’m very glad I did. I’ll talk about that first. This audiobook was narrated by a full cast. Each character had its own narrator which is one of my favorite things. I adore audiobooks with full casts. Each narrator bought life and personality to their character. I loved the interview formatting of the story as well. Bringing up an event or time period and then letting each of the characters tell the story of that event the way they remembered it was so complex and captivating. Which brings me to one of the things that really fascinated me about this story. Because it was the memories of all seven of the band members, plus a few other characters, no one characters told the same story. They each told things they were they remembered so the experiences varied from character to character. I think that added so much complexity to the story. It really made you think about how no two people have the same memories or experiences of the same events. Another thing that Taylor Jenkins Reid does really well is writing a story that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until she’s finished. After reading this book, it was hard not to think that these were all real people and a totally true story. The fact that Reid can make me think, “wait this didn’t happen?” really just blows me away.
I’m not going to talk about each character because there were entirely too many and that would make this review way too long. The characters each had their own personality and their own voice which I appreciate. They were distinct and vibrant, each in their own ways. They all had different goals and motivations which really made for a great story. They brought such fun and excitement and life into the story. I think the character were really what made Daisy Jones and the Six was it was. The story was all about the characters and their experiences and their feelings. There wasn’t really a specific plot outside of following the band members and other miscellaneous people as they rose to fame and then eventually fell apart. I think this story was written beautifully. I loved the whole experience. I cannot wait to see what Taylor Jenkins Reid comes up with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Summary:
It’s been only months since Eragon first uttered “brisingr,” the ancient language term for fire. Since then, he’s not only learned to create magic with words—he’s been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.
When danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices—choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimaginable sacrifice.
Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?
Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3)Review:
I’m going to be honest here. I had a really hard time with this book. It didn’t keep my interest like the first two did. I don’t know if that’s because of the different perspectives or something else, but I kept putting it down and really had to convince myself to pick it up again. Part of me is wondering how I’m going to get through the final book.
Things I liked are as follows; I love that we’re seeing some really great character development from Eragon. He’s grown so much from the annoying boy he was in the first book. I’ve really grown to care about him and his journey. He’s making better choices and really thinking about the effects that his actions have on the world around him. I also really enjoyed the big reveals we were given. We learn a few things that pull the story together. I thought they were unexpected and I really enjoyed the plot twists. I also enjoying seeing more of the world this story takes place in. Eragon travels all over and I love seeing the world because it’s full of so many interesting characters and places. There are some great relationships that have been developed over the time line of the story and the just get better and better.
What I didn’t like; no surprise here. Roran, Eragon’s cousin. I just don’t care about him. I think I might have cared had we learned about him in another way, but when the story is in his perspective it just makes me want to put the book down. I don’t care what he thinks or says. Katrina is annoying with always worrying and him never wanting to worry her. I just don’t care about him. I don’t know what it is.
Overall, I’m still hooked enough into the story, especially since I’ve read three of the four books. So, I’ll be continuing onto the fourth book because I need to know how Eragon is going to defeat the villain. I am excited to see how this saga is concluded and what Eragon comes up with to beat the big bad.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Summary:
A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but to never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?
Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spellbook of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.
When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As danger closes in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.
Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)Review:
If you’re new here, the first thing you need to know is that I’m complete and total Shadowhunter trash. If you’re not new here then you’ve probably read all my other reviews for all the previous Shadowhunters books. So, this won’t come as a surprise to you, but I absolutely adored this book. Check out my review for the first book in the series, Lady Midnighthere.
Just like in my review for the first book in The Dark Artifices, I’m going to say that I think these books are my favorite of all the Shadowhunter books so far. I attribute this fact completely to the fact that so many of the characters we already know and love are part of this story or at least make an appearance in the story. We see Clary and Jace, Tessa and Jem, and we even get a bit of Magnus and Alec. Though I still really adore the main characters that we follow in TDA.
Emma is sassy, fierce, loyal, and kicks butt. She’s constantly said to be the next Jace Herondale and I love that. She and Cortana are a serious force to be reckoned with and she proves that again and again. I can’t wait to see who’s butt she kicks in the final book. Then there’s her parabatai, Julian. I love Julian because he does anything and everything in his power to protect his family and to do the right thing. He is smart and charming. I adore these two as a pair and as individuals.
The rest of the Blackthorn clan add all the good things to the book. Livia and Tiberius are totally my favorites. Then add Kit into their madness and they’re the best squad out there. They get up to all kinds of trouble and I loved every page of their antics. They had me laughing and crying and my heart full of all the emotions. Livia and Ty’s relationship were so great. They just understand one another on totally another level. Then there’s Kit and Ty and they are the most dynamic duo there ever was. I can’t wait to see what they get up to next. Then there’s Drusilla. She is the character I can’t wait to see more from. She played her own part, but it just wasn’t enough for my liking. I’m excited to see what she gets up to in the final book. Also, there’s Mark Blackthorn. He is one of my favorites too. Honestly, I just love every single one of the Blackthorns. I would die for all of them.
There are so many other characters in Lord of Shadows that I could mention, but I’m only going to mention two more. Cristina is another that I just love. She’s so full of love for everyone. She wants good things for everyone and will help in whatever way she can. I wish that Emma and Cristina were parabatai instead of her and Julian. Finally, there’s Kieran. He’s the cause of so much conflict, but I can’t help but love him anyway. I just need to know where the story is going to go next.
The way that Lord of Shadows ended was NOT OKAY WITH ME. Not in the least. So, I’m really glad I already own Queen of Air and Darkness so that I can start it as soon as possible. If you haven’t read any of the Shadowhunter books, what are you waiting for?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.