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 Beholder by Anna Bright

GoodReads Summary:
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.
But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.
From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.
The Beholder (The Beholder, #1)Review:
Honestly, I was really hoping this would be a new favorite or at least a four-star read. Sadly, I gave it three stars, but I could have given it two. I really just couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be historical fiction or fantasy and there was potential for a retelling aspect as well. It was just confusing. There were real places used, like England. Then there were “fantasy” elements that were very clearly based on Norse mythology of Asgard and Yggdrasil. Along with the main character being from Potomac, which may or may not be a real place in history but if so, it’s not one I’m familiar with. I just wanted some consistency. It’s one thing to borrow from history or mythology but to borrow from both in one story is too much.
Another thing I had an issue with was the main character, Selah. I listened to this on audio so I don’t know how to spell her title. But she’s the equivalent of a princess without actually being one. She’s next in line to lead her people. But I don’t know how she plans to do that because she is extremely naïve and also a huge pushover. She doesn’t even really object much when her stepmother informs her that she’s being sent away.
Then we get to the journey and Selah shows how much of a thirsty girl she is. She flirts with the ship’s captain. She has weird feelings she isn’t sure how to deal with. Then she gets to England and she “falls in love” with the English guard that is assigned to her. (By the way, I guess the plot twist with this like a day after she got to England.) She finds out some things and she’s embarrassed and “turned into a joke” which was just so ridiculous and overdramatic. I was so annoyed with her because the reasoning for the deception in England was honestly good and she acted like a child. After she arrives in Norge, suddenly she’s in love again. How does a girl fall in love (like deep, serious love) with two people she’s never previously met in the span of a month? It was annoying and very unrealistic. But then things happen and she has to leave the second prince that she’s fallen in love with.
Torn from the man she loves; she must continue on. She knows something is going on with her father and instead of, I don’t know BRINGING HIM A LEGITIMATE DOCTOR, she just continues on the journey she’s been assigned. I don’t know if I’ll continue. I liked the narrator and the book went by fast and I am a little curious as to how this will all come to an end. A lot of things bothered me in this book, but it was still kind of fun.

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.

Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

GoodReads Summary:
Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.
The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.
Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a BookReview:
I find myself picking up Beauty and the Beast retellings even though it’s not one of my favorites. Donnelly tells such an interesting version of this story. We follow Love and Death as they wager whether or not Belle will fall in love with the beast. Except that Death interferes and this is where Nevermore comes in.
Belle finds an alternate world inside Nevermore, but all is not as it seems there. I really enjoyed this twist, but the whole time I just wanted Belle to see what was really going on and go back to the Beast and her other friends in the castle.
Overall, this was a fun and creative retelling. I definitely loved Donnelly’s spin on this classic story. This is a good one for anyone that loves the story of Beauty and the Beast.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

GoodReads Summary:
On Christmas Eve five years ago, seventeen-year-old Holly Chase was visited by three Ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t. And then she died.
Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge—as their latest Ghost of Christmas Past. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year’s Scrooge is different. This year’s Scrooge might change everything…
The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a witty, poignant, and insightful novel about life, love, and seizing second (or third) chances, perfect for readers who loved Before I Fall or Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.
The Afterlife of Holly ChaseReview:
I picked this one up before Christmas because I was in the mood for a holiday book. This was only sort of that. I really enjoyed this even though it was a bit ‘Bah Humbug.’
We follow Holly Chase who has died and is now working to help others so that they don’t follow the same path that she did. I really enjoyed the twists on the original story.
I didn’t like Holly at all, but I think that was the point. I was also really not very happy about the romance aspect of this story, but the way the story ended made me a little more okay with it. I liked that there was a happy ending and Holly learned something from her experiences.
I’m going to keep this review short. Overall, I liked this but didn’t love it. It wasn’t the holiday read I wanted, but it was still a good book. I really enjoyed the retelling aspect of it. I thought the writing was well done to make Holly unlikable but somehow still make the reader care about her and her story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

GoodReads Summary:
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.
Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1)Review:
I’ve had this book on my shelves for months, patiently waiting for me to pick it up. I ended up reading it in one sitting (on a night my daughter wasn’t feeling well and kept me up all night).
I love the idea of a Cinderella retelling and I think that aspect of the story was well done. I think all the most important parts of the original story were included and modernized in an interesting way.
I also liked that this whole story was based on fandoms. This book was made for book nerds and just fandom nerds in general. I think because I’m not a huge comic or tv show fan, a bit of this book was lost for me.
I liked the modernization of the romance too. I thought it was sweet and relatable. I liked both of the main characters.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think many will absolutely adore it because it’s really written for fans.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.
Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)Review:
I have to start this review off by sending a thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest (and very late) review. I’m glad to have gotten this one, even if it was approved only days before the release date because I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get around to buying it. Now that I’ve already read (and loved!) it, I’m planning to go buy my own copy this weekend.
The Guinevere Deception is a retelling of the myth of King Arthur and Camelot, but with a more feminist focus. We follow Guinevere instead of Arthur. I know little to nothing about the original mythology (which I will talk about a bit later in the review), so for me, this was a fun and fantastical read with characters I vaguely knew of.
I loved Guinevere. She’s sent to Camelot to protect Arthur from something, but Merlin hasn’t told her what that something is. She has magic, which has been banned from Camelot. So she must keep her magic a secret. Of course, she doesn’t. But the few she entrusts her secret to are characters I really like. Guinevere is determined not to let Arthur down and even might fancy him a bit. But though she is his Queen, it is not real. Honestly, I was rooting for a little more romance between Arthur and Guinevere. I totally ship them and didn’t particularly care for the almost love triangle that was going on for a bit.
I loved all of the supporting characters too. Guinevere’s lady’s maid, Brangien. She was more than just a maid and I really liked that. She supported Guinevere and helped her with everything she was supposed to already know. Also, Brangien’s love interest and how Guinevere helps them see one another melted my little heart.
Now, the patchwork knight was my favorite. The mystery of their identity and whether or not they were involved in nefarious things was excellent. And I was more than pleased when we do finally figure out who the patchwork knight was.
I even liked Arthur, even though he wasn’t really center stage in this book. I’m hoping we get more of him with Guinevere in the next book because I totally want these two to love each other forever and ever.
I thought the writing was beautiful and the characters were loveable. So when I went to mark this book finished on goodreads I was more than surprised to see that it has almost a 3.5-star average. I think that has to do with how well-loved the original myth of King Arthur is. As I said above, I’m not overly familiar with it, so I wouldn’t know one way or the other how close it stayed to the original or didn’t. Many of the reviews I read that spoke negatively of this book were readers that pointed out they love the original mythology. But that wasn’t something that was a factor for me.
So, maybe don’t pick this one up if you’re a huge fan of the story of King Arthur, but if you’re like me and vaguely know it. You might love this one like I did.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.