Blogtober Book Review: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

GoodReads Summary:
Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.
Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .
Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears (Paola Santiago #1)Review:
Tehlor Kay Mejia is very quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I read her YA fantasy duology this year and I’ve already preordered her co-written book that comes out soon. If that’s not clear, I loved this book.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears follows Paola (or Pao) as she tries to find her best friend. Emma was supposed to meet Pao and Dante at the river to test out Pao’s new telescope, but Emma never arrives. This leads Paola and Dante on a wild ride to find their best friend. First, the pair go home and try to call Emma because maybe she was still at home? But when they talk to her parents and learn she’s not home they go to the police. I really liked that this was included in the story. When Pao and Dante go to the police station to wait for Emma’s parents they are treated unfairly because they are Latinx. I really liked the way this story showed this reality that many deal with daily. I think it’s a really important thing to showcase in books for younger audiences. When Paola realizes that the police are not going to be helpful, she decides that she’s going to go to the river and find out what happened and try to save Emma. This is where mythology comes in. I never learned much about Mexican folklore or mythology so this was so much fun for me. I’d heard of some, like the Chupacabras, but didn’t really know much else. I had so much fun with all of the mythological aspects of this book. It was spectacularly spooky and honestly warms my heart to think of the kids that will see themselves and their culture represented in this story. I think this story is the perfect one for October (but still great year-round) because there are ghosts and all kinds of other monsters that Paola and Dante encounter.
Paola was a character I really loved. She struggles with her relationship with her mother. Her mother is very superstitious and Paola doesn’t care for that. She doesn’t believe in any of the things her mother tries to instill in her. She is a huge science nerd and I loved that. She tries to solve her problems with facts and logic and I loved the representation of a young girl interested in STEM. I really related to Pao’s issues with her mom and their rocky relationship. I really enjoyed that it was clear she loved her mom, but that they didn’t have a perfect relationship. Paola is a character I found myself rooting for the whole time.
Dante was interesting because we only see him from Paola’s perspective. I really wanted to like him, and I did. But I also felt bad because he was getting older and finding new things that interested him and Pao sort of resented him for that. Despite Paola not always being kind to him, he stood by her and protected her when he had the chance. He went with her to search for Emma even though he didn’t really want to. He was a real friend and I ended up really liking him.
There are so many other wonderful characters in this story. I loved them all. I think this was an incredible story. The world was so well built and beautifully written. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in the series.
I do also want to mention that I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did such a great job telling this story. I will absolutely continue the series via the audiobooks if the next one has the same narrator.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus faces his most dangerous trial yet. His cousin, Annabeth, recruits her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, to give Magnus some pointers, but will his training be enough?
Loki is free from his chains. He’s readying Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, complete with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It’s up to Magnus and his friends to stop him, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfarbefore it’s ready to sail. Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon. But Magnus’s biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. Does he have what it takes to outwit the wily trickster god?
The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #3)Review:
I wish I was able to be more excited about this series. The Ship of the Dead was a good conclusion to an interesting series. I liked the characters. I mostly liked the story. And I really enjoyed the mythology. But I just didn’t love this series as much as I did Riordan’s others. I did enjoy it and I definitely love these characters.
The story continues following Magnus Chase as he and his friends (who are totally my favorite) try to stop Ragnarok. This story had the typical quests and action scenes and demigod hijinks. It was the characters that made the story good. I loved Magnus. He’s a huge goofball. But further, Sam was my favorite. She’s Muslim, but she’s also a Valkyrie. She holds firm to her beliefs despite the world potentially ending. In this book, it’s Ramadan. So, we get to see Sam fast while sailing around the world, trying to get to Loki before he sails Naglfar. I loved that this was included in the book. Then we have Alex, who was my favorite. She’s genderfluid and snarky as hell. I loved Alex a ton.
Overall, I don’t have a ton to say about this book. I’ve said already that I love the characters. I also really liked the message that was shared in the final ‘battle’ between Magnus and Loki. I think this was a great series for the middle-grade age group. It’s diverse and interesting. It focuses on Norse mythology, which isn’t nearly as popular as other myths. So, I liked that it has it’s own series now.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

GoodReads Summary:
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents the sequel to the critically acclaimed Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, a brilliant sci-fi romp with Cuban influence. Among many other challenges, Sal and Gabi have to try to make everything right with our world when there is a rogue Gabi from another universe running loose.
Sal Vidon doesn’t want to live a Mami-free life. Pulling different versions of his mother from other universes is how he copes with missing his own, who died years ago. But Sal’s father, a calamity physicist, is trying to shut down all the wormholes Sal creates, because Papi thinks they are eroding the very fabric of our world. All of Papi’s efforts are in vain, however, because a Gabi from another universe has gone rogue and is popping up all over the place, seeking revenge for the fact that her world has been destroyed. While Sal and Gabi work together to keep both Papi and Rogue Gabi under control, they also have to solve the mystery of Yasmany, who has gone missing from school. Could it have something to do with the wormhole in the back of his locker?
Readers who enjoyed Sal and Gabi Break the Universe will relish being back in the world of Culeco Academy and the Coral Castle along with such unforgettable characters as American Stepmom, the Gabi-Dads, Principal Torres, and the sassy entropy sweeper. With multiple Sals and Gabis in charge, it’s no wonder this sequel offers even more hilarious weirdness and love than the first book.
Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #2)Review:
I absolutely adored Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (read my review here), so I was beyond excited for this sequel. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to finally pick it up, but it was everything I expected.
So, in the last book, Sal and Gabi finally let their parents in on what they’ve been doing with the holes that Sal can make in the universe. That’s one aspect I really liked about this book (and series) the parents were actually involved in what was going on, for the most part. In this sequel, Sal is definitely hiding some things from his Papi, but he did it for what he thought were the right reasons. I really also loved the school that Sal and Gabi go to. There’s such a sense of community and it’s just such a wonderful place. I can only hope to find a school like that for my child in the future.
The thing I liked best about this story was the characters. Sal is a boy that has diabetes. He doesn’t let it hinder his life, but it’s very present in the story. I really liked this aspect of the story. On top of Sal’s diabetes, he’s Cuban (as are many of the other characters in the story.) I loved that the main cast of characters was diverse and interesting.
Gabi, Sal’s best friend, is equally one of the best parts of this book. She’s such a take-charge girl and I love her so much. She has such a huge heart and does anything she can for the people in her life. I love her caring personality and I love her family. She has such an interesting and wonderful family dynamic that I loved seeing in this book. She has many dads and I love how different and loving her family is.
Overall, this book was amazing. The story was interesting and kept me wanting to read non-stop, but also want to read it slowly so that it wouldn’t be over. This story is so full of love, supportive friendships, adventure, and a whole bunch of science I could never understand. This series is one I will scream about forever.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
It’s been six weeks since Magnus and his friends returned from defeating Fenris Wolf and the fire giants. Magnus has adjusted to life at the Hotel Valhalla—as much as a once-homeless and previously alive kid can. As a son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus doesn’t exactly fit in with the rest of Odin’s chosen warriors, but he has a few good peeps among his hallmates on floor nineteen, and he’s been dutifully training for Ragnarok along with everyone else. His days have settled into a new kind of normal.
But Magnus should have known there’s no such thing as normal in the Nine Worlds. His friends Hearthstone and Blitzen have disappeared. A new hallmate is creating chaos. According to a very nervous goat, a certain object belonging to Thor is still missing, and the thunder god’s enemies will stop at nothing to gain control of it.
Time to summon Jack, the Sword of Summer, and take action. Too bad the only action Jack seems to be interested in is dates with other magical weapons…
The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2)Review:
I have loved every single one of Riordan’s books I’ve read so far. I don’t know what it is about this series but I just don’t love it as much as his others. There are many things I do like. For example, Magnus was a homeless kid in Boston before he died and I think it’s so great that this is a thing that exists because homelessness is a topic generally avoided and Riordan didn’t do that. This series is also filled with a diverse cast of characters. The newest edition, Alex, is gender fluid. I can’t speak to the quality of the representation but I thought it was really interesting to read Magnus’s questions and Alex’s answers. I also love Samira. I love that even though she’s sucked into the world of Norse mythology, she still holds strong to her faith and beliefs. I thought this was a great part of the story.
My biggest issue with this book was that literally, everything was such high stakes. I guess I understand because it’s the second book in a series, but it was too much sometimes. Every step toward their goal was ‘complete this task or DIE’ and it just seemed a little unnecessary.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. The characters were 100% the best part. I loved the diverse cast and getting to see them learning more about one another. I plan to finish the series for sure to see how everything ends up. Also, the way this story ended had me screaming. I cannot wait for the two different groups to meet up.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.
One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus’s memory. But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents…
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die.
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)Review:
I’ve been slowly working on reading all of Riordan’s books for the last year or so. Next up was the Magnus Chase series. I waited for the audiobooks to be available from my library. I almost wish I’d just decided to read it physically because I didn’t care for the narrator. But by the end of the story, I really enjoyed it. I think the narrator made it harder for me to get into the story, but Riordan’s storytelling abilities pushed through.
The book follows Magnus, a homeless teen living in Boston who is grieving his mother. I really liked that Magnus was homeless, this is something you almost never see in novels for a younger audience, but it’s something that happens all too often in the real world. I also liked the Boston setting as I grew up in Massachusetts and recognized a bunch of the places Magnus went to. Then Magnus turns sixteen and dies.
From there he’s thrown into the world of Norse mythology. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story. Most of what I know of Norse myths are from Neil Gaiman’s book and from movies and tv shows. I know this story was fiction, but I also know that Riordan tries to stick to the truth of the mythology. I liked learning more about this mythology and I liked that (like all his other books) it’s turned into adventures.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’m excited to continue the series. I loved that there was a diverse cast of characters. I like the friendships and found family that we learned to become a part of. Riordan did it again with a story I couldn’t get enough of.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books for My Younger Self

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is Books for My Younger Self (These could be books you wish you had read as a child, books younger you could have really learned something from, books that meshed with your hobbies/interests, books that could have helped you go through events/changes in your life, etc.) These are all going to be middle-grade and YA books I wish existed when I was that age.

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Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

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

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

These are just a few books that were pretty impactful on me when reading them and I wish they’d been around for me to read at an earlier age.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

GoodReads Summary:
Thirteen-year-old Min comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.
Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.
Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.
Dragon PearlReview:
I have been loving the books that are coming out of Rick Riordan Presents publishing imprint. These stories are unique and diverse and Dragon Pearl was no different. This story was a mix of Korean folklore, science fiction, and a bit of magic. We follow Min, who has fox-magic (which is thought to no longer be around). She sets out to find her brother and ends up way over her head.
I really liked Min. She’s just a young girl, so she didn’t always make the best decisions, but most of the time she was really thoughtful about her choices and I appreciated that. I loved that Min was determined to find her brother. The family dynamics in this story were really interesting. The whole story is because Min sets out to find her brother. But she finds other adventure along the way. I really liked that Min was getting to be a part of the Space Forces, even if it wasn’t how she’s originally hoped it to be.
My favorite part of this book was the ending. When she finally makes it to the world filled with ghosts and everything finally comes out. It was such a satisfying ending.
Overall, there was action and adventure. There were really likable characters. There is a nonbinary character, which was something I really appreciated as this is a middle-grade book and I think that was so important for it to be included. I also really liked that there wasn’t any sort of romantic aspect of the book. Min was just a kid trying to do the right thing for the people she met and for her brother. I definitely think more people should be reading this story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

GoodReads Summary:
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.
Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the WorldReview:
Ivy Aberdeen’s life made me very sad. She’s the middle child (as was I) and her family loses their entire house after a tornado comes through town, leaving a path of destruction. On top of this, Ivy’s mom just had twins. One baby is a lot of work, but two? Two new babies don’t leave much time for other kids. Ivy feels neglected. At times, she even feels like her family would be better if she weren’t in it. I felt so bad for her. She just wanted more attention from her parents, to feel like she was loved. This made me so sad for Ivy. But even more so was the struggle with Ivy’s sister, Layla. Ivy thinks her sister will hate her for liking girls because she overheard Layla and her best friend, Gigi, fighting when Gigi came out to Layla.
This was such an important story for young girls that might be feeling the same way. I would be so happy to have been able to read something like this when I was younger. Ivy’s working through her feelings. She’s realized she has a crush on a girl, her first crush. I loved Ivy’s friendship with June. June just wanted a friend and Ivy really needed a friend too. I thought they were really good for one another.
Overall, this was a heartbreaking story. But it was one of self-discovery and love. The Aberdeen family is going through a really tough time, but I loved the way the story concluded. Ivy’s family showed how much they loved her and that she was a very important member of the family. I don’t want to say that I enjoyed this book, because it was really sad for most of it, but it’s a story that needs to be out in the world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
He’s b-a-a-ack! Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sadie Kane can’t seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos. The Kanes’ only hope is an ancient spell that might turn the serpent’s own shadow into a weapon, but the magic has been lost for a millennia. To find the answer they need, the Kanes must rely on the murderous ghost of a powerful magician who might be able to lead them to the serpent’s shadow . . . or might lead them to their deaths in the depths of the underworld. Nothing less than the mortal world is at stake when the Kane family fulfills its destiny in this thrilling conclusion to the Kane Chronicles.
The Serpent's Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, #3)Review:
This series was so incredible. This final book is the final battle against the chaos that was released at the end of the first book. I loved this story so much. Carter and Sadie are once again narrating their experiences to us. They’ve both grown so much since the start of the series. But they still have their faults. Though they face much responsibility, they still have teenage problems. I really liked this because they weren’t teenagers acting like adults. They were realistic. I liked that they had regular problems along with attempting to stop the literal end of the world.
The mythology was definitely my favorite part of this series. The Egyptian gods and goddesses are so interesting. We get to meet so many of them, some good and some bad. I liked that they weren’t totally idolized, but shown to have good and bad sides. They have their own motivations and I thought that was really interesting and added complexity to the story.
Overall, I loved this conclusion. The ending was really satisfying, but also the way Riordan left us with the possibility that these characters will potentially meet up with the characters from his other series has me so freaking excited. I would die to see Carter and Sadie meet up with Percy and gang. That would be a literal dream. I don’t think Riordan could write anything I don’t love. If you haven’t read this series, I would recommend it a million times.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Books & Baking – The Truth About Twinkie Pie

Hello, lovelies! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted another installment of Books & Baking. That’s not because of a lack of baking, but rather a very busy life with a two-year-old. My child takes up lots of time and energy which I’ve been focusing on keeping up with my reviews and other usual posts. But I’m bake today with something I baked back in April. This was a fun and pretty easy recipe (tasty too!) For this edition of Books & Baking, I’ve decided to make a recipe from The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh.

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Book: The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

Read my full review here!

This story is about two sisters that move to New York. GiGi is attending a new school (and a rather fancy one), so she’s trying to adjust to her new life. While all of this is going on, she learns some secrets about her family. I thought this book was so sweet and full of all the family goodness I could ever ask for. I definitely recommend this to those that love to read family centered, middle-grade stories.

“Now ya’ll stop sitting around wishing you were something you’re not and just get on out there and be.”

Baking: Impossible Pie

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This was a recipe I pulled right out of the book. So, I’m going to type it up here for you all. I picked this one because I had all the ingredients for it and I was in a baking mood, but didn’t want to run to the store for things I was missing.

“This is the thing. Sometimes you think something is impossible, but it turns out it’s completely possible. You just need to look. Seriously, in your pantry this whole time you’ve had the ingredients to make pie. Just look at this list. I will bet it’s all in there right now!”

Ingredients

2 cups milk

1/2 cup Mayflower baking mix (or Bisquick works fine, too)

1/2 stick butter, softened

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups sugar

7 ounce bag of sweetened flaked coconut

Instructions

“Put the first 6 ingredients into a blender in the order listed. Blend for 3 minutes. Add the coconut, and give it another quick blen till mixed. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Put a knife in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. See? You had it the whole time. You just never knew.”

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Here’s my final product! I liked it becasue it was sweet (thanks to the coconut) but not overwhelmingly so. I also added a bit of green food coloring for a bit of Earth Day festiveness. This was super easy to make. And fun becasue I got to use my blender to make it. If you like coconut, this is the recipe for you. I do also want to mention, all of this was taken directly from the book. Is this something you would make or enjoy? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.
And now their most threatening enemy yet – the chaos snake Apophis – is rising. If they don’t prevent him from breaking free in a few days’ time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it’s a typical week for the Kane family.
To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished.
First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly?
Narrated in two different wisecracking voices, featuring a large cast of new and unforgettable characters, and with adventures spanning the globe, this second installment in the Kane Chronicles is nothing short of a thrill ride.
The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles, #2)Review:
I loved this book just as much as the first. At this point, I really don’t think there is anything that Rick Riordan writes and publishes that I won’t love. In The Throne of Fire, we’re thrown right back into the chaos that is the Kane sibling’s lives. They defeated Set in the previous book, but the chaos allowed a bigger problem to arise. This is that story.
Like the first book, this story is told via Carter and Sadie. The siblings are recording the events after the fact in an audio recording so that it can be sent to those that might need to hear it. I thought this was a really interesting way to tell the story. Both siblings get to tell parts of the story and they just make it so fun to read. I bet the audiobook is incredible.
Carter and Sadie have both grown in this book. They’ve given up their godly powers and have mostly learned how to use their own abilities. They have also started teaching others. This was the only thing I didn’t love about this book. We weren’t really introduced to all the new students at the Brooklyn House. They were just suddenly there. We did get a bit more information about them as the story goes along, but two of them were right at the beginning of the story and I had no idea who they were. But as I got to know them, I got over that. Carter and Sadie both have to make some hard choices in this book, but I really liked how they each handled the situations they were put in.
Overall, I loved this book and I cannot wait to read the final book. Things were left sort of up in the air at the end. There was a conclusion, but there was a definite ‘to be continued’ implied. I loved the mythology. I loved all the characters, old and new. I just loved this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Since his mother’s death six years ago, Carter Kane has been living out of a suitcase, traveling the globe with his father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. But while Carter’s been homeschooled, his younger sister, Sadie, has been living with their grandparents in London. Sadie has just what Carter wants—school friends and a chance at a “normal” life. But Carter has just what Sadie longs for—time with their father. After six years of living apart, the siblings have almost nothing in common. Until now.
On Christmas Eve, Sadie and Carter are reunited when their father brings them to the British Museum, with a promise that he’s going to “make things right.” But all does not go according to plan: Carter and Sadie watch as Julius summons a mysterious figure, who quickly banishes their father and causes a fiery explosion.
Soon Carter and Sadie discover that the gods of Ancient Egypt are waking, and the worst of them—Set—has a frightening scheme. To save their father, they must embark on a dangerous journey—a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and its links to the House of Life, a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, #1)Review:
Rick Riordan could write anything and I would absolutely love it. My only complaint is that I couldn’t find the audiobook available anywhere other than for purchase (at a price higher than what the hardcover costs, plus I already own the whole series and I couldn’t justify buying the audio as well.) But this isn’t the fault of the book or author.
The Red Pyramid follows Sadie and Carter, but the unique part of this story (aside from literally everything else about it) was that Carter and Sadie are telling us what happened after the fact, as a warning of sorts. I loved that the story was told this way. It made it so fun to read. Carter and Sadie each have their own chapters, but the definitely butt into one another’s. These two had a really unique sibling relationship. Carter spent most of his life following his father around the world helping in whatever way is needed. But Sadie spent those same years living with her grandparents. One of the most interesting conflicts of this story was that both siblings wished to have the life of the other. Both were jealous of the other. I love this because it showed how much the two really lack in their relationship, but it was also a great chance for them to communicate and become closer.
Now, the adventures within this story were so fun and interesting. Carter and Sadie find out they are actually magicians within the Egyptian culture that was thought to have died out many years ago. I loved the magic in this story. It was unique and interesting. I liked getting to see the siblings try to figure out their own abilities and each fail and succeed in different areas. I loved all the mythology and culture included.
Overall, this story was wonderful in every way. The characters were diverse and realistic. I loved the mystery that they were involved in. I literally loved everything about this book and I cannot wait to continue the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Deceivers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

GoodReads Summary:
Until their mother vanished, the Greystone kids—Chess, Emma, and Finn—knew nothing about the other world.
Everything is different there. It’s a mirror image, except things are wrong. Evil. Their mother tried to fix it, but she and an ally got trapped there along with Ms. Morales, their friend Natalie’s mom.
Now the four kids—brave Chess, smart Emma, kind Finn, and savvy Natalie—are determined to rescue everyone.
To do so, they have to go back: into the other world, where even telling the truth can be illegal.
But in such a terrifying place, Chess doubts he can ever be brave enough. Despite all her brains, Emma can’t seem to break the code. With everything spiraling out of control, Finn has to pretend he’s okay.
And for Natalie, the lies of the other world include some she wishes were actually true. What if she’s gotten so used to lying she no longer knows what to believe?
The second book in the Greystone Secrets series, The Deceivers, by bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix, continues the twisty and suspenseful story of the Greystone kids and examines the power of the truth—or a lie—to alter lives, society, and even an entire reality
Greystone Secrets #2: The DeceiversReview:
While I really enjoyed this book, I definitely liked the first book better. (Read my short review of the first book here.) I think this book suffered from telling instead of showing, though this got better toward the end.
We’re following Chess, Emma, Finn, and Natalie as their living with Natalie’s dad and trying to figure out how to save their mothers. After everything went wrong at the end of the last book, they’ve lost their way into the other reality and need to figure out how to get back so they can rescue their mothers. I thought the kids being able to figure out their mother’s message and another way to get to them was interesting. But once they get into the other world, they spend much of their time watching and trying to decipher the rest of the letter from their mother. While Emma is decoding the letter, the others watch cameras trying to figure out what was going on around them. Chess, Emma, and Finn spend most of this book hiding inside secret passages while Natalie impersonated her doppelganger. So, while Natalie’s chapters were exciting and full of new things, the other three were left to watch and stew in their inner thoughts.
Overall, this was still a really fun story and I enjoyed it. I’m definitely excited to see what’s going to happen next in this series. I think this is a great middle-grade series and I wish I saw more in the book community talking about it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
War between the devas and the demons is imminent, and the Otherworld is on high alert. When intelligence from the human world reveals that the Sleeper is holding a powerful clairvoyant and her sister captive, 14-year-old Aru and her friends launch a search-and-rescue mission. The captives, a pair of twins, turn out to be the newest Pandava sisters, though, according to a prophecy, one sister is not true.
During the celebration of Holi, the heavenly attendants stage a massage PR rebranding campaign to convince everyone that the Pandavas are to be trusted. As much as Aru relishes the attention, she fears that she is destined to bring destruction to her sisters, as the Sleeper has predicted. Aru believes that the only way to prove her reputation is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned. If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish.
Careful what you wish for, Aru…
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes (Pandava Quartet #3)Review:
I have a fierce love for this series. I love Aru Shah with my whole heart. So, I’m not sure how I’m going to explain my feelings for this book. I might just keep this short and tell you to read it a hundred times and then end it. Just kidding.
We’re following Aru, Mini, and Brynn as their trying to save the world from the Sleeper. There’s also Aidan and Rudy that tag along with the girls. I love this found family so much. We find two new Pandava sisters at the start of this story. Twins named Sheela and Nikita, who have very interesting abilities. I loved how quickly the three pull Sheela and Nikita into their loving arms. I love that even though most of them have families to go back to that are loving and supportive, these sisters (and Aidan and Rudy) have made a family of their own. The found family aspect of this story was so wonderful.
The stakes have never been higher for this group. They’ve failed a few minor missions and are feeling lower than low. So, they take off on their own without permission from the higher-ups. I loved the nonstop action of the story, even while they were just traveling from one task to the next, they were met with challenges that they faced bravely and always together.
Overall, I adored this story just like all the previous books. I am already dying for the next installment to know what happens next. The friendships are wonderful, the writing is amazing. I adore the world and the mythology that this story centers around. I love everything about this book and the rest of the series. If you haven’t read it yet you’re really missing out.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Nico had warned them. Going through the House of Hades would stir the demigods’ worst memories. Their ghosts would become restless. Nico may actually become a ghost if he has to shadow-travel with Reyna and Coach Hedge one more time. But that might be better than the alternative: allowing someone else to die, as Hades foretold.
Jason’s ghost is his mother, who abandoned him when he was little. He may not know how he is going to prove himself as a leader, but he does know that he will not break promises like she did. He will complete his line of the prophecy: To storm or fire the world must fall.
Reyna fears the ghosts of her ancestors, who radiate anger. But she can’t allow them to distract her from getting the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood before war breaks out between the Romans and Greeks. Will she have enough strength to succeed, especially with a deadly hunter on her trail?
Leo fears that his plan won’t work, that his friends might interfere. But there is no other way. All of them know that one of the Seven has to die in order to defeat Gaea, the Earth Mother.
Piper must learn to give herself over to fear. Only then will she be able to do her part at the end: utter a single word.
Heroes, gods, and monsters all have a role to play in the climactic fulfillment of the prophecy in The Blood of Olympus, the electrifying finale of the best-selling Heroes of Olympus series.
The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)Review:
I cannot start this review any other way besides saying, WHAT THE F WAS THAT ENDING. I’m genuinely upset about the lack of reuniting with a certain friend group. To the point where I had to text Antonia and scream to her about it (with a context text to let me know I wasn’t talking about someone we knew in real life).
I really liked how everything was wrapped up with the big bad in this story. I thought the end result was full of action and drama. I loved the team that came together and ended up really loving one another, despite their many differences. I think Riordan is the king of lovable friend groups. I really liked how each of their stories ended (aside from the lack of the reuniting with on particular character that I mentioned above). They each made life-changing decisions and I really liked these choices.
I’m going to keep this review on the shorter side because I honestly feel like I’ve said everything and more in my previous four reviews. I love this series. I love these characters. I love Rick Riordan. I am very excited to keep reading his books. If you haven’t, start now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.