A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)Review:
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, though they are companion novels and not truly a series. I loved this second book much more than the first. All of the things that made me not totally adore the first book were resolved in this book. I’ll stop being vague and get right into it.
First of all, it’s an enemies to lovers trope which is always a good time for me. Gauri is the princess of her kingdom and Vikram the prince of his. They are at war. When Vikram gets invited to the magical Tournament of Wishes, but is told he must find and bring his partner. The moment he sees Gauri, he knows she is the one he was told about.
I loved Vikram. He seems like he doesn’t take anything seriously, but he does. He just has that positive personality that means he makes jokes at the wrong times and is just generally an upbeat person. I really loved him. I think the contrast of Gauri’s character was so well done. She’s a warrior and all she wants is to be the leader to her people she knows she can be. I really enjoyed both characters accepting their desires and facing their fears.
Their banter had me cackling. I really loved their constant teasing and shots at one another. It was definitely my favorite part of this story. We really got to see their relationship for and develop together as we also got to see them grow individually. This was something I missed in the last book because the characters already had a past together. Also, the timeline wasn’t at all confusing like it was in the first book which I appreciated. I also really loved that we get to see bits and pieces of the previous book. The characters didn’t play a huge part, but we saw them and I enjoyed that.
I loved this world that we were in. The magical and the mythical were well explained and honestly so fascinating. I was completely captivated by this world and all of the characters in it. I adored the romance, especially the ending. I have loved everything I’ve read by this author and I’m not really excited to pick up the first book in her newest series.

Quotes:

“A story had no owner ship. A story could break its bones, grow wings, soar out of reach and dive out of sight in the time it took just to draw breath. It meant we weren’t walking a cut path. We carved it into existence with
every step.”

“It felt silly to say that he couldn’t bear to lose her. He never had her. She was not a thing to be possessed. But her entrance in his life had conjured light. And losing the light of her would plunge him into a darkness he’d never find his way out of.”

“Surviving isn’t just about cutting out your heart and burning every feeling into ash. Sometimes it means taking what ever is thrown at you, beautiful or grotesque, poisonous or blissful, and carving out your life with the pieces you’re given.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.
The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)Review:
After reading Roshani’s middle-grade books, I was interested in picking up one of her YA releases. I loved her writing in her other books and short stories that I’ve read so I was excited about this one.
I did really enjoy The Star-Touched Queen, despite the few points that had me wildly confused. I liked our main character, Maya. She was the outcast daughter because of the horoscope she was born with. Most of the others avoided her and blamed bad things on her. Regardless of this, she’s trying to work on skills and learn. She spies on her father’s meetings and keeps up with the local politics. So, she already knows when her father comes to tell her that she must choose a husband. I really liked Maya. She’s swept up into an unfamiliar place and does her best to stay positive and figure out what she’s gotten herself into.
I also really liked Amar. I liked that we didn’t really know what he was hiding either, but that we were given hints to try and figure it out. I wish there had been an easier way for this pair. At first, I thought their relationship was sort of insta-love, but after learning the memories that Maya had lost, I really loved them together.
My biggest complaint about this book was that sometimes I found myself just wildly confused. I felt like the timeline was never very clear and that made bits and pieces of the story really confusing. It got better in the second half of the book.
I love the world and the mythology involved in this story. I really enjoyed all of the mythical beasts that were talked about and introduced. I also really love Kamala.
Finally, Roshani’s writing is absolutely stunning. I could have highlighted half of this book if I had gone into the story intending to annotate. I didn’t, but I love the writing. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and it would have been a five-star read had I not been so confused in the first half of the story.

Quotes:

“I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones. I wanted the impossible, which made it that much easier to push out of my mind.”

“The truth,” said Amar, taking a step closer to me, “is that you look neither lovely nor demure. You look like edges and thunderstorms. And I would not have you any other way.”

“My star-touched queen,” he said softly, as if he was remembering something from long ago. “I would break the world to give you what you want.”

“The worms do not take heed of caste and rank when they feast on our ashes,” the Raja said. “Your subjects will not remember you. They will not remember the shade of your eyes, the colors you favored, or the beauty of your wives. They will only remember your impression upon their hearts and whether you filled them with glee or grief. That is your immortality.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

GoodReads Summary:
You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.
You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.
Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.
You Are Not AloneReview:
What a wild ride this book was. I have to start by sending a thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this book. There were parts that were kind of confusing because there were so many characters. Let me explain. We start by meeting Shay. She witnesses a woman, Amanda, kill herself via jumping in front of a train. Shay is understandable thrown by this and through a series of events, meets Amanda’s friends. Enter the Moore sisters. The most interesting thing with this book was that I liked all of the characters. I understood and even cheered for their actions at times. But as the story went on things got darker and it was an uncomfortable feeling to have once cheered for the things these sisters did. Along with the Moore sisters, there were a few others in their friend group. Once we start to meet them, the chapters start to jump around in time to explain how these friends met the Moore sisters. This was where it was confusing. Trying to remember all of the names and the origin story of each of these women was a lot. This was a pretty short book, so to be given so much information about characters whose story would quickly be over was too much. I liked the chapters of Amanda’s final days that were included, but I think the history of the other friends could have just been explained in the Moore sister’s chapters.
This book was fast-paced and compelling. I liked all of the characters and really came to love Shay. I loved that Shay figured out what was going on before it was too late. I liked that the authors made the Moore sisters so likable that when their true colors were shown it was uncomfortable for me as the reader. I’m always impressed by this author duo and You Are Not Alone was no exception.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

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GoodReads Summary:
Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it-–is that a doll?-–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)Review:
I’ve only really started getting into middle-grade books this year. I’m so happy that I have because I’ve found some absolutely incredible books. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is one of those books.
We follow Tristian Strong as he falls into a world where all the myths he was taught growing up, actually exist and live. His entrance into their world had caused some pretty bad things, so he must stay and help fix them before he can figure out how to get back home.
I loved this. I loved Tristian, and I loved seeing him learn that all the stories are true. I also really loved all of the Gods and characters we meet. Specifically, Gum Baby. Gum Baby absolutely was the best part of this story. She was hilarious and sassy and I loved her so much. I really loved learning about African mythology that I’ve never known previously. They were just fascinating.
This story was action-packed. Every time the squad finished their latest task, something else goes wrong. I really enjoyed that because this book was almost 500 pages long, but I felt like it flew by. I was paced well and I didn’t want to put it down because so much was going on.
Overall, I cannot wait to read the next one. I loved the mythology this story is based on. I loved the messages brought up. I thought it was well written and more than entertaining. Also, I loved Gum Baby. I also really liked that this book can stand on its own as a whole story. There will be another book, but even if there wasn’t. This story had an ending that was good enough for this to be a standalone.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

GoodReads Summary:
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her friends—before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.
She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.
As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…
Everneath (Everneath, #1)Review:
I have to start this review by saying that I have read this book before. I know that I have read it, but I didn’t remember any of the story while I was rereading (which is the whole reason I reread it). Everneath was a very run of the mill 2012 paranormal YA fantasy story. I think the concept was better than its execution, but for a debut novel, it could have been much worse. I don’t want to talk too negatively about this book because I had fun while I was reading it but there were definitely some issues.
The pacing was pretty good. Each chapter started with a certain about of time left until her ‘return.’ But there were also flashback chapters that counted down until when she first vanished. I thought this was a fun way to tell the story.
There were a few things that I thought could have been further explained when it came to the world-building. I understand that we only got to know as much as Nikki knew, but I still think there were certainly more opportunities to fill out the world. I was left with too many questions.
The love triangle was…weird. It wasn’t really a love triangle because it was clear who Nikki really cared about. It was a little annoying too with Cole constantly trying to tell Nikki that he loved her, but never really showed it. I liked all the characters well enough, but I think the best friend Jules could have been further developed. I’m hoping we will get that in the next books.
Finally, I wish the author had shown more than told. There were a few times within chapters where there were mini headings that stated the location. Times that could have been shown to us rather than told in this way. There were a handful of other parts of the story that were told when they could have been shown.
Overall, this was a book that I enjoyed despite the things I didn’t love. It was a pretty average read for me. I will continue the series because I own all three books and I’m still a bit curious as to how things will turn out for our stubborn little Nikki.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

Summary:
Zane Obispo spends every day exploring the sleeping volcano in his backyard. “The Beast,” as he calls it, is the one place where he can escape other kids, who make fun of him because he has a limp and walks with a cane.
After a twin-engine plane crashes into the Beast, a mysterious girl named Brooks shows up at Zane’s doorstep insisting that they meet at the volcano, where she will reveal a terrible secret. Zane agrees, mostly because beautiful girls like her don’t usually talk to him. Brooks tells him that the volcano is actually a centuries-old prison for the Maya god of death, whose destiny is directly tied to Zane’s.
No way, Zane thinks. He’s just a thirteen-year-old nobody, and destiny or no destiny, he wants nothing to do with any of it, especially some god of death. But Brooks opens his eyes to the truth: magic, monsters, and gods are real, and Zane is at the center of an ancient prophecy that could mean the destruction of the world. Suddenly finding himself entangled in a web of dangerous secrets, Zane embarks on a quest that will take him far from home and test him to the very core.
Feisty heroes, tricky gods, murderous demons, and spirited giants are just some of the pleasures that await in this fresh and funny take on Maya mythology, as rich and delicious as a mug of authentic hot chocolate.
The Storm Runner (The Storm Runner, #1)Review:
The Storm Runner is a book that follows an unlikely hero on a quest to save the world. Where have I heard that one before? There were things I liked about this book and I wouldn’t say that there were things I didn’t like; I just think that this book didn’t hit the mark for me.
I liked the mythology that we learned about in this story. I thought it was the most interest part of the story. I would have liked to have more vivid and descriptive settings though. Zane finds himself in some pretty interesting places, but I think they could have been built up a little more.
I didn’t find myself connecting with the characters as much as I have with some of the others I’ve read that are middle-grade books. I’m not sure if that’s due to my reading so many middle-grade books that focus on mythology or that I’ve really loved the others that I’ve read.
I don’t want to say that there was anything wrong with The Storm Runner because there certainly wasn’t. It was fun to read. It was fast-paced, but not too much so. There was adventure and mystery. I just didn’t connect to the story in the way I expected to.
Overall, this was a fun story but it was average for me. I think it’s definitely worth reading. The mythology was fascinating and we follow the main character who has a physical disability. I liked this book and will be continuing the series without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Summary:
All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.
While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.
In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)Review:
This final book in the Percy Jackson series was everything I wanted and more. Though I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending, I’m alright with it because I know there are more books with the characters I’ve come to love so much.
My feelings on Percy haven’t changed. I still admire and adore him. His bravery is like no other. The same goes for Annabeth. I adore her so much. She’s clever and loyal. She never backs down from a fight. I’m so happy their relationship finally developed further and it’s not a minute too soon. Grover has grown so much and I love that too. He’s fulfilled his dreams and continues to work hard and help as much as he can. I love the whole cast. I loved seeing them all work together and save the world.
I cannot say enough how much I really enjoy the way Riordan brings the mythology alive and into the modern world. I think he does it so well. He gives these characters life and history and I enjoy reading about them so much.
Overall, I was happy with this final book. I didn’t love the ending because it didn’t really give closure. It left kind of open ended as if there was just going to be the next book in the series. I know there is more books following these characters, but I thought there would be a little bit more closure of the series. I still enjoyed reading it. I’m so glad I finally managed to read this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.