The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

GoodReads Summary:
Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.
The Starless SeaReview:
I feel like I start all of my reviews for books that I really love the same way. And I’m going to do it again. I don’t know what to say about The Starless Sea. It was such an incredible story and I just don’t know how to convert my love and emotions into words. So, if you take one thing from this review, it’s that I loved this book and every single thing about it. It might have just become my new favorite book, definitely a favorite, but maybe even the number one favorite.
The Starless Sea follows Zachary Ezra Rawlins when he finds a door as a boy. He’s fascinated by the door, but for some reason, he doesn’t open it. When he realizes his mistake the next day and goes back to try to open the door, it’s no longer there. The story goes forward many years, and Zachary finds a mysterious book in the library. Little does he know; this is his key to finding another door (sort of). This book tells stories of the Starless Sea (an underground world that few find their way to. It’s home to stories, with many different moving parts which we get to learn all about.) After he’s read the book several times, he starts to do some research to try and figure out if he can find out more about what the book really is. It leads him down a rabbit hole of secret societies and many, many questions. I had so many questions throughout the story, and that’s something that usually drives me crazy because not many authors can slowly give the answers I want quick enough for me, but Morgenstern did it wonderfully. Just as I was getting frustrated with being so confused, I’d get a few pieces to the puzzle. This book was a story for all of the people out there that wished to escape into a world of stories. I dreamed of finding a place like the Starless Sea so many times when I was younger. I mostly liked Zachary. I liked that though he was so interested in finding the hidden world he missed out on when he first found the door, he was still skeptical. He asked questions and only sometimes let himself get pushed into stuff he wasn’t sure about. I loved all of the characters that Zachary met along the way. Dorian and Max were so different, but both made the story better.
I have to talk about the writing. It was nothing short of stunning on every single page. While we’re following Zachary, we also get other stories in between chapters. We learn about a pirate who is in love with a girl. We learn about Simon and Elenore who fall in love out of time. We get several fairytale-like stories that were beautiful and thought-provoking. But the best part was that every single one of these stories was relevant and added so much to the overall plotline. I loved how we didn’t know this, but while reading and putting the pieces together and thinks started clicking, that ‘aha!’ moment was fabulous. I loved how connected this story was. It was a beautiful way to learn the history of the characters (in a roundabout way).
Overall, I loved literally every single thing about The Starless Sea. It was pure perfection. I think I said it already, but this book may have bumped all other books out of their places for favorites. I loved all of the characters. I loved the in-between stories and how they were related to the rest of the story. The way the author managed to weave all of the stories and characters together I am blown away by the beauty of this story. It very quickly found its way into my heart and it will not be leaving any time soon. Please read this beautiful, stunning masterpiece so you can love it as much as I do.

Quotes:

“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.”

“But the world is strange and endings are not truly endings no matter how the stars might wish it so.”

“Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are. It’s nice to finally have someone read stories I know so intimately.”

“Be brave,’ she says. ‘Be bold. Be loud. Never change for anyone but yourself. Any soul worth their star-stuff will take the whole package as is and however it grows. Don’t waste your time on anyone who doesn’t believe you when you tell them how you feel.”

“For a while I was looking for a person but I didn’t find them and after that I was looking for myself. Now that I’ve found me I’m back to exploring, which is what I was doing in the first place before I was doing anything else and I think I was supposed to be exploring all along.”

“Once, very long ago, Time fell in love with Fate. This, as you might imagine, proved problematic. Their romance disrupted the flow of time. It tangled the strings of fortune into knots. The stars watched from the heavens nervously, worrying what might occur. What might happen to the days and nights were time to suffer a broken heart? What catastrophes might result if the same fate awaited Fate itself?”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)Review:
How am I supposed to explain how much I loved this book? I wasn’t going to read this because of all of the negative or average reviews. All I have to say is, what is wrong with you people?? This book has been (wrongly) compared to Six of Crows. I slightly understand the comparison, but this story was so different.
We follow several different characters who all have different goals, but they’ve become a family of sorts and I loved every single one of them. I’ll start with Severin. He’s our damaged boy. I adored him. He’s supposed to have inherited his parent’s ring and become the patriarch of his family, but that right was stolen from him. His goal is to change that and reinstate his family, to become the patriarch that he was always supposed to be. After his parents died and his birthright was stolen from him, he was moved from home to home until he came into his monetary inheritance. I really liked the bits and pieces we got about each of his foster fathers. He also has a brother, Tristan.
Tristan is an awkward nerdy kid and I freaking loved him. He has this horrifying pet spider that he loves dearly. I don’t like spiders, but I loved Tristan. He’s like the little brother of everyone in the group. I adored how much everyone loves him. He’s a sweet little bean and I would die for him.
Laila is from India. She’s a dancer and loves to bake. That’s my kind of lady. She has an interesting history that I won’t specify because I thought learning about her was a part of the journey that is this book. She has a really interesting ability that is to be able to see the history of any object. I thought this was really cool, but also, I’m still curious about whether or not she can do the same with living things. Laila’s goal is to find a book that helped create her. I’m very intrigued by this book and I think it has something to do with the events of the next book.
Enrique is biracial (Filipino and Spanish). He’s a historian that loves to learn about the past. I thought his internal struggle with appearing more Spanish than Filipino was really interesting. I really thought he brought an interesting point of view to the story. He’s also bisexual, though the word is never used he says that he’s interested in both men and women. I really liked Enrique. He was the comedic relief of this friend group and I’m always a sucker for the funny guy. I also totally ship him with Zofia.
Zofia was a little science nerd and I love her. She’s Jewish which I thought was nice because I don’t see all that much representation for Jewish people out there. She’s also Polish and moved away from her sister to go to school. I believe that Zofia is somewhere on the Autism spectrum but I don’t know whether that’s been confirmed anywhere. She has issues with certain social cues, clothing materials, and I loved her so much. She’s incredibly smart and is the mad scientist and mathematician of the bunch. She loves to create but was not treated well when she tried to go to traditional schools.
Then there’s Hypnos, who isn’t a part of this found family at the beginning of the story. He manages to worm his way in though. I didn’t know whether or not we could trust him, but I grew to love him. He’s the patriarch of one of the last two recognized Houses. He hires the group to steal something from the other House. Obviously shit hits the fan and nothing goes as planned. I liked Hypnos. He was flirty and fun, but never quite trustworthy for most of the story. I’m definitely interested to see where his story goes in the next book.
Overall, I adored this book. I love Roshani’s writing. It’s just absolutely beautiful. She built a fascinating world with characters I would die for. Please read this book right now.

Quotes:

“Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”

“Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.”

“Her mother’s voice rang in her ears: ‘Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.”

“I don’t want to be their equal. I don’t want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, as if they’d stared at the sun itself. I don’t want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

GoodReads Summary:
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?
There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness, #1)Review:
There Will Come a Darkness became a new favorite book of mine immediately after I finished it. I am blown away by all of the different aspects of this story.
Let’s start with the world, which leads to the plot. A hundred years ago, the Prophets disappeared. This is something I still want to know more about. Why did they disappear? Where did they go? Will they be coming back? They left behind one final (secret) prophecy that tells of the Age of Darkness. This prophecy is what brings our five characters together. I loved the magic system and the concept of the Graces. I thought it was unique and interesting. I have to say, I am in awe of Katy Rose Pool’s ability to tell this story in five different perspectives and still give each of them a very distinct voice and personality.
The Pale Hand or Ephyra is a mysterious killer that leaves behind the mark of a pale hand on her victims. We learn why she is killing people and it makes me feel for her. She has a younger sister, Beru, that is sick. So Ephyra kills terrible people for their esha and gives it to Beru to heal her. This moral gray aspect of her story made her that much more interesting. I went back and forth between hating her and feeling bad for her and the struggles she’s faced.
Beru is horrified by her sister’s actions to keep her alive. She’s at the point where she’s just ready to die. I was blown away by the secret that these sisters are keeping and what that secret means for the world. I loved the inclusion of the sibling relationship, especially since it was a complex and morally grey one.
Hassan was probably the character I cared about the least, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like him. I just loved all the others so much that he takes the bottom spot. Hassan is the heir to a kingdom taken over by a terrible, terrible person. He wants to take action to save his kingdom from the Hierophant (who is trying to rid the world of the Graced.) When he is convinced that he is the last Prophet that was named in the secret prophecy, things start to speed up. He gathers an army to take back their country and this is when things go wrong. I won’t go into detail about what exactly goes wrong, but it was exciting and full of action. The stakes were high and I loved every page of the climax of this story.
Now, for my favorite character, Anton. Anton is my little bean. He is running from his older brother, who was horribly cruel to him in their childhood. He lives life on the run, never getting close to anyone. He also can’t seem to use his Grace without being taken back to the moment when his brother tried to drown him (which is when he left home and has been running ever since.) I loved the mystery that surrounded Anton. We’re not sure why he’s running or what the problem is with using his Grace for quite a while. He teams up with the Pale Hand because she thinks Anton can find an object that will save Beru. His involvement with these two is how he gets dragged into everything else going on with Jude and Hassan. When Ephyra and Anton get arrested, Jude comes to save the day, sort of.
Jude was my second favorite. Jude is the Keeper of the Word, meaning it is his duty to protect the Last Prophet and help them prevent the Age of Darkness. Jude struggles with the duty he knows he has to fulfill and his doubting his ability to do this duty. I loved Jude. I was a little mad at him a few times when he did things that I really didn’t want him to do. But he came back around in the end and saved the Last Prophet. I loved Jude and his journey to figuring out what really mattered.
The characters were really what made this story. But the plot was exciting and surprising. There were several different times where I said out loud to myself, “WHAT” because Katy Rose Pool made me care and believe in all of these characters (even the bad ones) so I was floored by the betrayals and screaming with happiness for the characters that I so easily fell in love with. The development of each of these characters was so well done. The world was creative and so interesting. I’m left with questions, a fierce desire to want more, but not so many questions that I’m upset with a lack of answers. We were given enough to be satisfying but also left craving more of the world, more answers, more character interactions. I’m so invested in the romantic relationships and the friendships. I loved this interesting world and the diverse cast of characters.
Overall, this is a new favorite and I cannot wait for the second book in September. I will be picking it up immediately and devouring it because I need more of this world and the characters that live in it.

Quotes:

“Those who cannot own their choices will always be mastered by fate.”

“There was nothing to be frightened of when you were the most dangerous thing that stalked the streets”

“Those who abused their power would only continue the cycle, rewarding the ones who enabled them.”

“I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know about duty and purpose. But I know what people want. You may think you’re different, that you live by some special code that sets you apart, but everyone wants something Jude. Even you.”

“You can spend your entire life looking over your shoulder, waiting for your past to catch up to you. Or you can stop running and finally face it.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand

GoodReads Review:
A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.
Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…
Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.
But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.
Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.
The How and the WhyReview:
How do I put how much I loved this book into words? This story mostly follows Cass throughout her senior year. She’s a lover of theatre and is working on deciding where to college. She also is dealing with her mother being stuck in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant. She’s since turned eighteen and has become curious about her birth mother. No one could replace her parents, but it’s hard not to wonder about the woman who gave birth to her.
In between chapters, we get to read the letter’s that Cass’s birth mother wrote while pregnant. We learn about the relationship between her birth mother and father. I really loved these. It was fascinating to read about a pregnant sixteen-year-old that lived in a school for pregnant teens. Her experiences and thoughts were interesting but also snarky and entertaining. It was realistic and honest. I loved this aspect of the book.
I also loved that we’d read most of the letters by the time that Cass even finds out they exist. I really enjoyed the adoption topic and learning at the end that the author was adopted made it even better. It was clear that this was a really personal subject for her to write about and I loved every page.
There were wonderful friendships. Cass’s best friend, Nyla, was also adopted, but that’s not why their friends. I loved that they support one another and that their friendship was so realistic. They fought and argued, but always apologized and forgave. They were really a great part of this book. I also completely loved Bastien and didn’t pick up on his secret either. I shipped him and Cass so bad.
Overall, I thought this was an incredible book and I really hope others read and love it too. I haven’t seen many people talking about it and I hope that changes. I think it was realistically diverse (not in an obnoxious way). It was a heartbreaking but also heartwarming story. The ending also totally killed me. I think everyone should read this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 19 Favorites of 2019

Hellllo, lovelies! It is officially 2020 meaning that this is the start of all of the ‘best of 2019’ bookish lists. Yes folks, I will be participating in that as well. I’m going to have this overall list of favorites be 19 for 2019, but I also have a few other lists up my sleeve. These books are in no particular order becasue I don’t want to have to  choose the order.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

The Disasters by M.K. England

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

These are nineteen of my favorite books of 2019. I’ve linked all  their reviews for you’re reading pleasure, also to share why I loved these books. Link me your favorites lists so I can see what books you loved last year!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Summary:
In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1)Review:
I officially have a new favorite book. I won’t say favorite series until I read The Devil’s Thief, BUT, I completely adored The Last Magician. I’m sad that it’s been sitting unread on my shelf for so damn long.
I loved literally everything about this book. I cannot think of a single thing that I didn’t like. The magic system was intricate and interesting. I’m still not sure I totally get it but I’m excited to learn more about it in the second book. The writing was great. Not too simple but not filled with words I didn’t know attempting to sound smarter than necessary. The story was well paced. Nothing felt like it was dragging on or rushed to be wrapped up. The characters were well crafted and just incredible. I cared about them. They had me invested in their stories and I genuinely cared about what happened to them. There were parts that had me holding my breath in anticipation of what was going to happen. Other parts had me smiling to myself, or even swooning here and there. Things felt realistic with a modern girl going into the past where the culture was different. The difference in the times was mentioned and acknowledged.
I feel like I could go on and on and on. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you that if you like fantasy​ if you like historical fiction, or slow burn romance, or time travel or magic, or all of the above then you need to read this book. That is all. I need to go find out what happens in book two.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.