Blogmas Book Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

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GoodReads Review:
On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…
Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.
When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?
The Devouring Gray (The Devouring Gray, #1)Review:
Can my review for this book just say, “I loved this book” five hundred times? I don’t know why I took so long to pick up The Devouring Gray. I started this late last night and couldn’t put it down until I reached the last page. I am so beyond excited for the sequel.
I would die for Violet and Harper. Violet’s story was full of grief. She’s lost her father and her sister and losing her sister is not something she’s handling well. She and her mom move back to the town her mom grew up in, but her mom doesn’t remember the truth about this small town, Four Paths. So, Violet has to figure it out alone. I admired her strength and courage. She’s thrown into an age-old battle between good and evil with barely any knowledge, but she, with the help of some new friends, manages to figure out her powers.
Harper is my favorite and I would die for her as well. Harper lost her hand in The Gray. She was performing her ritual when things went very wrong. But the secrets of what really happened that night is horrifying. I hated and loved learning the truth. Despite the things Harper has had to deal with, she powers through and helps take care of her many siblings. Harper is brave and stubborn and I loved her.
Then there’s Isaac, the fandom favorite. I loved him, but not as much as everyone else seems to. There’s something about his poor little damaged soul that just makes me want to give him a hug. He’s unflinchingly loyal, to a point that may be damaging him more. I really liked his new friendship with Violet. My two little damages babies becoming friends was so sweet.
Finally, there’s the Hawthorne siblings, Justin and May. At the beginning of the story, I hated one and loved the other, but by the end of the book, my feelings flipped. I loved the one I first hated and hated the one I first loved. Talk about mommy issues with these two. Their mother was a nightmare. She was horrible and drunk on her power, convinced she was doing the right thing for the town. But she has her kids trained to follow her orders without questions until Violet comes to town. Violet changes everything. I liked seeing Justin learn that there was more going on than what he first knew. I’m very interested to see how things develop with the siblings in the next book.
Overall, I’m obsessed with this book. I want to reread it again right now. I loved the characters. I loved the town. It was atmospheric and creepy. I loved the mystery and suspense. I loved the diversity of the characters, the friendships they made, and even the weird love square. We don’t know love triangles in this book, it’s a square of unrequited love, which made for lots of great drama. I loved everything about this book so please go read it right now.

Quotes:

“People could hurt each other without being monsters. And they could love each other without being saints.”

“This was hurt it would never understand. This was hurt made from love. And she immersed herself in grief, embraced it, the parts of her that had been so lost and broken, so long her enemy, were now her savior.”

“She thought about heroes, and villains, and legends, and monsters. And decided that whoever told the story was more powerful than all of them. Harper would never let someone else tell her story again.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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GoodReads Summary:
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)Review:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a slice of life story about my new favorite cinnamon rolls. Ari is a teenager that feels he has an unknowable father. This was something I related to because for a long time I felt the same way. I loved this part of the story. Ari trying to get to know his father was my favorite. I really enjoyed all the family aspects of this book. Ari’s relationship with his mother, his curiosity about his brother, and his interesting relationship with is sisters.
Then there’s Dante who openly adores his parents. It’s a hope that every mother wants, including myself. Dante was the sweetest of cinnamon rolls. I adored just wholly himself he is. He is who he is and he isn’t ashamed or trying to hide any of it.
The relationship between these two boys is a hard one to explain. They are the best of friends, but even best friends can be complicated. I loved it. I loved the good times and the bad. The things they bring out in one another and the realizations they come to together.
I’m going to keep this review on the shorter side because I don’t know how to put my feelings into words about this story. I can see how it’s an important one for so many people. I fell in love, easily, with these two boys and I understand now why so many shout about this story from the rooftops.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry

GoodReads Summary:
There are many ways the world could end. There could be a fire. A catastrophic flood. A supereruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one. What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.
Despite Ellis’s anxiety—about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of the ones she loves—the two girls become fast friends. But time is ticking down, and as Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, their search for answers only raises more questions. When does it happen? Who will believe them? How do you prepare for the end of the world when it feels like your life is just getting started?
Let's Call It a DoomsdayReview:
After absolutely adoring Heretics Anonymous, I knew I had to pick up Katie Henry’s new release, Let’s Call It a Doomsday. I’m so so glad that I did because it was even better than I expected it to be.
We follow Ellis as she struggles to keep her anxiety under control. She has intrusive thoughts, some that we get to see on the page. Her biggest worry is that the world is going to end. So, when she meets Hannah at her therapist’s office and then sees her again at school, she’s interested. Especially when Hannah tells her she knows when the world is going to end.
I loved Ellis. She was realistic and thoughtful and I just enjoyed her character. She battled her anxiety every day. She’s Mormon and despite lots of factors, she says true to her faith which was inspiring. Being able to believe so fiercely in something is admirable to me because I don’t have that same faith. Her journey of self-discovery, learning about her sexuality and how to handle her anxiety.
Then there’s Hannah, who is quirky and eccentric. I really liked her at first, but the more I learned about her the more I wanted her to just leave Ellis alone. She was the cause of pretty much all of the conflict in the story and every single one of her motivations were selfish. Despite that, she managed to push Ellis out of her comfort zone, to try new things and of course, she introduced her to Sam, Tal, and Theo.
These three boys were one of my favorite parts. Pot smoking, deep conversation having, ‘five-word-book-title’ guessing kind of friends. I love that they just immediately accepted Ellis into their group. They never pressured her to do anything that they were doing. They were just a funny group of kids.
I really really loved Tal. I loved the conversations about religion they would have. I also loved how he helped her see that there’s more to sexuality than she thought. I thought he brought so much goodness to the story. I 10000% ship them with my whole heart.
Overall, this book was funny, and heartfelt, and just wholesome. It showed anxiety in a realistic way. It talked about religion in a thoughtful way. Sexuality was talked about by several different characters in an honest way. I think this book did just about everything right. It’s one I plan to recommend again and again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

GoodReads Summary:
Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.
But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.
These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn, #1)Review:
Hello, I loved every single thing about this book. That is all. Goodbye.
Just kidding, friends. The cover is what drew me to this book. Then I saw the synopsis. Salem and witches? Sign me the F up. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this one because it was everything I wanted and more.
I loved the magic that Sterling has created. It was very clear and had well defined limits. I really love a well explained magic system and that’s what we were given in this one. I also really loved that there isn’t just one kind of magic. I thought that was really interesting. I loved the family aspect of the magic and of course, the setting. I would have liked to see a bit more of Salem, aside from the woods and the store Hannah works in, but it’s not the end of the world. Just something I hope to see more of in the next book.
Hannah was an interesting main character. She’s not really afraid to speak her mind which is something I want in all my main characters. She stands up for herself when her ex-girlfriend, Veronica, continues to try to get her back. This part was really relatable for me because I’ve been with people like Veronica and it was nice to see Hannah stand up for herself.
Gemma, Hannah’s best friend, was adorable. I adored her. She’s a dancer (which I’m super jealous of) and meet’s Morgan when she moves to town. She introduces Morgan to Hannah, as a good best friend does. I really liked Gemma. She’s was everything a best friend was supposed to be. Supportive when Hannah wanted to rant about her ex. But not letting Hannah do something she might regret later on. I’m really glad certain things were revealed, and I’m interested to see what kind of a role she will play in the next book.
Morgan was the new girl. I was pretty suspicious of her at first, but once Morgan shared her secrets, I was really happy for the two to be together. I really enjoyed seeing their new love blossom despite all the craziness going on around them. Morgan also brings a whole new aspect to the story with her secret. I’m interested to learn more about her.
The mystery in this book was one that had me guessing. I thought I knew who the big bad was several different times, but each time I thought I had it figured out someone else became even more suspicious. Toward the end of the book enough hints were dropped that I had a good feeling of who the big bad was before it was revealed.
Overall, I loved this book. It challenged characters when they did or said shitty thigns. There were a wide cast of diverse characters. The magic was well defined and fascinating. I just loved it.

Quotes:

“It’s hard when the people we loved move on without us.”

“What must it be like, to pray to a god you believe can hear you, a god who could answer your prayers is only you tried hard enough?”

“Would you want to be constantly punished for something your creator did thousands of years ago?”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s September Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

Hi, lovelies! I really enjoyed the post I made last month with mini-reviews of all the graphic novels I read in August (check it out here), so I think I am going to continue doing that each month for all the graphic novels I read. So, this post will be mini-reviews for all the graphic novels I read in the month of September.

Moonstruck Volume One: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, & Kate Leth

This was the perfect graphic novel to start of the spooky season. There is magic and mystery and a wide cast of characters. I just adored the characters. There are some werewolves, centaurs, magicians, ghosts, and seers. This cast of characters was beyond diverse, too. There is representation for fat, POC, non-binary, and queer characters. There is a female/female romance that was so sweet. I loved the mystery and the friendships that we were given. I think Cass (the seer) was my favorite character. She was the perfect amount of weird. Overall, this graphic novel was everything I wanted it to be.

Oz: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

I enjoy this one the most out of this graphic novel series so far. It would have been a five star read for me, but I felt like it lingered on just a bit too much at the end. The gang finds themselves falling to the center of the earth after a series of massive earthquakes. I thought this was a really interesting story. I really enjoyed all the weird communities they found down there and all the ways they managed to get themselves out of trouble. It was a fun and quick story.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

I completely adored The Prince and the Dressmaker. I found this one through one of my library apps and I’m glad I decided to try it. I thought the art was vivid and absolutely stunning. I also really loved the story. Everyone getting a happy ending made my little heart warm. I also really like the way the story was told. There were only words when the art couldn’t tell the story on its own. I just loved this one and will definitely be recommending it in the future.

Moonstruck Vol. 2: Some Enchanted Evening by Grace Ellis & Shae Beagle

I really like the art in this series, but I’m having a little trouble with the plot. The story was kind of all over the place, but I enjoyed the characters well enough. I was a bit sad to not get as much Cass as the previous volume. She was definitely the most interesting character to me. Moonstruck is a diverse story, that was filled with fun characters on sometimes confusing adventures.

These are all the graphic novels I managed to read in September! Have you read any of these? Or any that are similar? Let me know below!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

GoodReads Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.
But then everything changes.
When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.
The Birds, The Bees, and You and MeReview:
This new release had me hooked from the cover. Then I read what it was about. After that, I found out that the author was going to be at the NoVaTeen Book Festival that I’m going to (or probably have already been to by the time this review posts.)
I wish this book had been available to me when I was in high school. I grew up in a single parent household. My dad raised me. Now, he did his best to be everything I needed but sex was not something either of us w comfortable talking about. So, we just didn’t. I learned from books and my friends. I would have loved this book even more than I do now have I been able to read it when I really needed it in my younger years.
Our main character, Lacey is so fierce and passionate about getting the facts out there and making people move away. Her mom has taught her all the right things and she feels that it’s her responsibility to share those things with her classmates. I thought she was a great main character. Even though she didn’t have the experience she had the knowledge and she didn’t hesitate to share that knowledge with everyone and anyone that wanted it. She advocated for all the right things. She spends this book learning while also pushing the limits and standing up for what she knows is right. I really enjoyed her learning to love being a doula and all things nursing.
Then there’s her best friend, Evita, who is on the ace spectrum and isn’t afraid to share what she knows and feels. She is the president of the LGBTQIA group at their school. She was sassy and unapologetic about who she is. She spoke her mind and I really liked her. She called people on their shit, stood up for what she believed in, and stood by her friends.
Theo was honestly my least favorite of the trio. He spent the first half of the book with a girlfriend that no one liked. I did like how he was used as a tool to explain certain things and ideas within the story. Plain and simple, he was a great guy. Considerate and kind and attentive to his friends but I just preferred the girls.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. My only complaint would be that in the beginning of the story the sex-positive stuff was a little heavy-handed and clunky. There was a lot of “my mom taught me” again and again. But as the story progressed it got much better. Really only the first few chapters had a bit of info dumping with the sex conversations.
Overall, I loved the characters. They were entertaining, funny, and passionate. I loved the message the story was sharing. It’s one I really could have used in a book when I was young and learning. I loved all the parental support the kids had from their parents. I only wish this book had been longer. I would have loved to spend more time getting to know these characters and being in their world. I can’t wait to see what this author comes out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.