The Toll by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.
In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.
The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)Review:
I honestly don’t even know where to start for this review. I loved this book so much. I was scared about two-thirds of the way through that so much was happening that the ending would be rushed, but that was not the case at all. Everything just came together for a perfect ending. What do I even say about this book?
There is so much going on in this story, so many pieces that need to come together. I’m beyond happy to be able to say that Neal brought these pieces together flawlessly. All the storylines slowly made their way toward one another and the suspense almost killed me. I was dying to know what was going on with the characters I wasn’t reading about, but I also couldn’t get enough of whoever I was currently reading about. I just couldn’t get enough period.
I loved Citra and the way her story played out. I loved seeing her fulfill the role that the Thunderhead shared with her. She was hugely influential and blew the lid off some very well-hidden information.
Then there’s Rowan, I really didn’t care about him in this book. He has captured the whole book and went from one group to another, being told what told to do and taken by someone else where they told him what to do too. I just didn’t care about any of it.
Greyson Tolliver was the second most interesting storyline. After becoming this hugely important symbol to the world, he’s realized that some things are not as important as he used to think. He’s made relationships and realized which ones he wants to keep and not. I think Greyson’s growth was the most significant and the most interesting.
My favorite parts of this book were the parts with Faraday on the islands. I was dying to get back to his parts to see what was going on in the blind spot. The suspense of only getting tiny bits of what was going on there killed me.
I am so impressed with Neal’s ability to create characters. Our villain, Goddard, was horrible and awful in every way, but I still found myself agreeing with some of his ideas. If I lived in this world, I think I could easily have been swayed to Goddard’s side of things even though he’s a horrible man.
Finally, Jerico. I think Jeri was my favorite character. They were just so casual in their gender fluidity and I loved it. I thought the way they identified was beautiful and poetic and exactly what the real world should be like. I loved the addition of Jeri to the story.
Overall, I loved this book and everything about it. They writing was incredible. The messages it sends and the conversations it invites are just such important ones. It brings up the morality of mortality. The conversation of what it means to take a life. Artificial intelligence and how much power they should have. I just loved this book and the entire series.

Quotes:

“We never know what choices will lead to defining moments in our lives.”

“It was not exactly circular logic. More like spiral. An accepted lie that spun in upon itself until truth and fiction disappeared into a singularity of who the hell cares, as long as I’m happy?”

“But the truth is, power for power’s sake is a consuming addiction. He would devour the world whole, and still be unsatisfied.”

“Important work often loses the spotlight to important people.”

“The tales we hear as children—the stories we then pass on—have happened, are happening, or will happen soon enough. If not, then the stories would not exist. They resonate in our hearts because they are true. Even the ones that begin as lies.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Review:
I don’t know why I read books that aren’t dystopian. I almost always end up with new favorite books when I read new things from the dystopian genre. Though with Scythe, I was actually rereading and falling in love all over again. I don’t know why or how I forgot how much I really loved this series. I’m rereading in preparation for the final book, which was just released on November the Fifth. I’m also lucky enough to be able to go one of his tour events with a friend of mine.
I loved the world that Schusterman has built. It’s so well explained, and never with any information dumps. We slowly learn more about how things are and why they are this way. It’s such an elaborate and well thought out world. I also really liked that there was still a resemblance to the world we know today. It made it mildly terrifying to think of this story as a possible future.
Now, our main characters, Citra and Rowan. I liked them both as individuals but I didn’t really care about their romantic relationship because it seemed like an afterthought. There was so much focus on their Scythe training and both trying to be the best apprentices they could be. There’s one event that happens about a third of the way into the story that infuriated me. If you’ve read this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But we get some resolution to that particular issue and I was very happy about that.
My favorite thing about this book is the way that Schusterman makes you think. His books all have elements of this. Scythe really makes you think about mortality and the things we may lose if/when we attain immortality. The characters talk about how there really are no new things created now that the Thunderhead knows all. They look at art from the Age of Mortality and the emotions that clearly shine through and how nothing like that has been created since beating death. Then there’s the Scythedom. It really makes the reader think about what it means to be in control of whether others live or die. What it means to literally be the hand of death and what kind of person should or should not be that hand. It was just a really thought-provoking story.
Overall, I absolutely love this book. I cannot wait to reread Thunderhead (which I’ll be doing as soon as I schedule this review). I love this story and I am dying to know how it ends.

Quotes:

“But remember that good intentions pave many roads. Not all of them lead to hell.”

“Isn’t it good to know that we are all safe from the threat of the inferno? Except, of course, when we’re not.”

“You see, there are some who seek celebrity to change the world, and others who seek it to ensnare the world.”

“Martyrs testify far more effectively than the living.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary:
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.
Review:
Mockingjay once again destroyed my soul. I knew what was coming for the most part, there were certain events that I had forgotten about, and even the parts I remembered destroyed my soul.
The conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy was thrilling and exciting and absolutely crazy. I almost don’t even know what to say about it. I loved all the characters. Finnick, Gale, Haymitch, the whole gang is entertaining, while also breaking my heart.
The trauma that these characters have endured during the war that’s going on, is just awful. I liked how the characters really experienced things though. They didn’t just get over the trauma and torture they’ve been put through. They are recovering, in whatever ways work for them. This made it all the more realistic.
Katniss was really just a hot mess in this book and it only got worse. The things she lost, the people she loved, she endured more than one person should ever have to. And on top of this, the one person that’s been with her through this story has been turned against her. It was so sad to watch her struggle with this. Peeta gets the worst of it, honestly. It felt awful to know what Peeta was being put through by the Capitol. All to get to Katniss.
I was pretty happy with the ending. It’s exactly what Katniss wanted. It leaves us with a sense of putting the world back together, though she is mostly just trying to put herself back together. After so much loss, fighting, and persevering through the hardest times of her lives, she needs time to put the pieces of herself back together. She needs time to figure out how she is going to move forward and live her life.
I love this series and I always will. It will live forever as one of my favorite series. If you haven’t read this series you definitely need to stop reading this and go pick up The Hunger Games and get your heart broken, too. I’m going to go binge watch the movies now!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogmas Book Review – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

GoodReads Summary:
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.
Review:
I feel like I have nothing new to say in this review. I continued listening to the audio for Catching Fire and it was amazing. I loved the narrator. She did an excellent job telling this story, giving it life. I was hooked, listening at every free moment.
I love the characters. Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Haymitch, Prim. I enjoyed getting to know all the older victors and seeing them come together to start a revolution.
The plot twists were just so good. I knew they were coming but they still surprised me. That’s how you know it’s a good book, when you’ve read it so many times but it still surprises you.
Check out my review for The Hunger Games here for more of my thoughts on these characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas Book Review – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Summary:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she wants to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Review:
How did I  forget how much I loved this book? I’m writing a paper for my popular culture class this term and I’ve decided to choose The Hunger Games trilogy as my topic. This series is an excellent example of popular culture because the books became movies and are still super popular today similar to the way Harry Potter blew up. So with this project, when I saw the audiobooks available I thought id reread the series to have it fresh in my mind.
The narrator did SUCH a good job telling this story. Each character had their own distinct voice and personality. I’m excited to continue listening to this narrator.
The story overall was still great, even better than I remember. Katniss is a strong-willed girl that fought tooth and nail to stay alive. Peeta is a boy resigned to his fate, in love with a girl he’ll never have. The supporting characters are lovable, relatable, and solid. They each played an important part in the story that made me love them, even Haymitch.
I actually could picture scenes from the movies in my head as I was listening to this story. Usually, I can’t reread a book after I’ve seen the movie but that was totally not the case here. I think because the movies were pretty well done and close enough to the story. But I’ll definitely rewatch the movies after I finish rereading all the books.
Overall, I still love this book 100%. Katniss kicks ass and does whatever she needs to in order to stay alive. The world she lives in is horrible, but so well built. It’s believable and terrible but also somehow I could see how our world may end up turning into the world in this book. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games where have you been? Go read them!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas Book Review – Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Summary:
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?
Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.
With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Review:
Okay, I legit just finished this book and I am DECEASED. These authors just PLAYED ME and my emotions in SO MANY WAYS. Like, I’m happy with how this ended but getting to that ending was TORTURE.
I loved this conclusion to an amazing trilogy. Like the first two, this was written as a series of instant messages, emails, surveillance footage transcriptions, and things like that. So it makes for a pretty quick read even though the books themselves are a decent size. I love the creative way this book was written. The story wouldn’t have been the same if it was told in the traditional format that’s for sure.
We meet new (ish) characters in this final book. Most of this story takes place where the series began, on the planet that all of our characters were illegally living on. So it’s only fitting that is where the story ends too. I liked this because we got to see so many characters that we’d thought were dead for the last two books, loved ones that our main characters were mourning. I loved even more now that all of my the players I’ve come to live in this story come together for the thrilling conclusion. Everyone is finally together to tell us how this all ends.
Katy as always is smart and caring and clever. I loved her twisted relationship with AIDAN even though it also sort of terrified me. Her and Ezra are the CUTEST. The OG couple and my forever favorites. Ezra proves that he’s still brave and determined and hardworking. I liked seeing how his past came to light.

“At least our lives will have been worth dying for.”

AIDAN – the AI that is pretty much just horrifying this whole series – is still absolutely horrifying but in like a train wreck kind of way where you know it’s all going to go wrong but for some reason, you still just can’t tear your eyes away. I would really really love AIDAN if I wasn’t so scared of him and his crazy ass ways.

“I am not trying to be anything except AIDAN. That is all I know how to be. Every story needs its villain. And its hero. And its monster.”

Hannah and Nik are the best. Hannah is kick ass and takes names and even though she’s constantly being condescended she holds her head high and does her best to help where and when she can. The same goes for Nik. Most still just think of him as a criminal, but he doesn’t let that bother him and he still does his part. I loved the constant flirtation between the two. They don’t take things too quickly in the face of death like in some other stories and I appreciate that.

“Because as I write up all this footage, the one thing getting clearer and clearer is that just about everyone I see is doing the best they can with what they have.”

Ella is bae. She’s a badass chick that proves again and again that she’s not to be messed with. She comes and saves the day over and over. I just love her and her hilarity. She keeps the story light and funny while also playing her serious role well.

“The beauty of the universe is in the grandest and smallest things.”

Asha and our new character were interesting. I really wasn’t sure what to think at first. I didn’t know how it would work out in a good way especially because the narrator of the video footage kept talking about how there was no way for this to end well.

“Be the pebble, Rhys.”

All the supporting characters, there are too many to talk about each of them like above. I loved every single one, even the ones meant to be ‘bad guys.’ They all have their own stories and play a specific role in the stories. I loved how realistic and relatable they all were.

“From the Latin verb Illuminare: “To shed light.” Also: “A ray of light.” Or female, plural: “Those who shed light,” “The shining ones.”

The story was insane. All the twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat for sure. I am absolutely still recovering from this emotional turmoil. But like, go buy this series and read them and die and love them like I do.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

The Heart Forger – Rin Chupeco

Summary:
No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge on the royals who wronged her-and took the life of her one true love.
But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…
War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.
Review:
I am super happy to say that I enjoyed this book WAY more than I did the first one, The Bone Witch (reviewed here.) I was hesitant to even read The Heart Forger because I was so disappointed with the first book, but I am happy to say that I liked it way better. Now that’s not to say that I didn’t think there was anything wrong, because I do have some negative opinions.
This book is told from two points of view, just like the last one. I liked the way that this story was told except that it leaves so much room for unanswered questions. A large amount of unanswered questions is honestly my biggest problem with this series so far. I totally understand the need for suspense and leading up to the big unveiling, but this is just a little ridiculous.
Let’s talk about our main character, Tea. She’s pretty much just a badass chick that’s out to burn the world down, at least, that’s how she wants us to see her. She spends so much time making herself out to be this big bad villain that the rest of the world is out to defeat. Yes, most of her ‘friends’ are trying to get her to come back to her city because of killing someone (we still don’t know who she supposedly did or didn’t kill, but it seems to be a huge deal in these books and I kind of can’t believe that we don’t get that little tidbit of information until the third book.) And yes, she’s raised and is controlling the daeva (big, scary, gross monsters that the whole world is afraid of, except Tea’s discovered that they’re just misunderstood.) So, Tea for sure makes a convincing villain, but only in the present. In the bits of the book that is her telling us her past, her being a villain just doesn’t make sense most of the time. It’s finally starting to make a bit more sense now that I’ve read two out of the three books in the series (the third doesn’t come out until March 2019, sadly.) Tea is someone that I genuinely like. She really cares about her friends, to the point where she does reckless stuff to try to protect them. She’s hard-headed, but not so much that she doesn’t listen to her loved ones when they’re trying to tell her she needs to chill out before she loses it completely. She’s just a girl that I can support. She’s flawed and isn’t ashamed to admit or talk about it. She makes mistakes and owns up to those mistakes trying to make amends when she does something dumb. She’s a realistic girl that I enjoyed reading.
Tea’s not the only character I liked. In this second book, we got to see some relationships develop further and some weird relationships develop that I didn’t even realize were happening. There were a few supporting characters that were developing relationships of their own (which I’m totally for) but it was weird because we didn’t really get to see how the characters got there. So it was kind of like all of a sudden these two characters actually love each other, surprise! We did get to see Tea and her brother, Fox, interact more and see what their relationship was like. This is something I complained about for the last book, so I’m glad we got to see them poking fun and messing with one another. We also got to see them worrying and trying to protect each other. They’re just a nice brother/sister pair and I liked them.
Now, prince charming, Kalen. This relationship kind of bugged me. Mostly because Kalen acted like a five-year-old for the entire first book and a good chunk of the second playing the ‘I’m going to be mean to her because I secretly like her’ game and I just didn’t like that at all. I get the whole ‘I have feelings for her but I’m scared to admit them to myself or anyone’ but c’mon, man up and at the very least stop being such a jerk to Tea all the time. Then, when he does stop, he goes from jerk to admitting that he’s in love with her in no time at all. I just feel like the progression of this relationship was a little off and wasn’t all that realistic. Though, once they both pulled their heads out of their butts and admitted that they cared about each other, I was all for it. They’re a way better match than Tea and the prince jerk-face who I’m not even going to talk about because I’ll just get mad all over again.
I do want to briefly mention the heart forger (apprentice) Khalad. I just really liked everything about this character and I can’t wait to read more about him in the next book. He’s just all around a good dude.
There were a few things I didn’t like about this story. The first being the time progression, this story is supposed to be two years after the start of the first book, The Bone Witch. That just doesn’t make sense to me unless we missed a big piece of time in between The Bone Witch and The Heart Forger, but there’s nothing that indicates that. So this was just a little confusing. The next thing was that there were some things in the first book that weren’t in the second. In the first book, after Tea has become a full blown approved and all that asha, she’s required to attend all kinds of parties and events and things like that. There’s none of this in the second book, which after a certain point it just wouldn’t make sense to have her doing this stuff, but at least at the start of this book, shouldn’t she be doing all of these things that are required of asha? It just didn’t make sense to me and left me a little confused.
I did really like the way this story was written, by that I mean that Rin Chupeco really has a way with words. Some of the pages I had to sit back and reread a few times and just take it all in. This was a beautifully written story. I’m not referring to the story here, but the actual words, the language used. It paints a very pretty picture in what is likely to be a pretty scary book world.
By the end of this book, I was fully invested. Invested in the characters and finally invested in the story. So, if you’ve read the first book and liked it, you will for sure love the second one. If you read the first one and didn’t like it, you should give the second one a chance because it was great. If you haven’t read either, you should.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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