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.

*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 – 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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Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Beach Reads

I’m not really big on “beach reads” For me a beach read is usually just whatever I’m currently reading (as long as it’s not super depressing because I don’t need to cry in public). So I’m just going to try to direct my list more towards lighthearted reads that go well with beautiful summer days.

4b6b0-toptentuesday

  1. Anything by Julia Quinn- Forget her story lines. Forget her strong, witty characters. What I love most about Quinn is how funny her books are. Like laugh-out-loud-and-make-strangers-stare-at-you funny. It’s fantastic.
  2. Beastly by Alex Flinn- This one isn’t the most lighthearted book but it’s a pretty fast read that you could probably finish in one sitting. And it’s my favorite so I always recommend it.
  3. The Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts- This is one of her series’ that revolves a great deal around the friendships between her main characters. I just love how Nora can take romance novels and make them more about badass women being badasses together than about love.
  4. The Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts- This is the second book in her Guardians Trilogy which comes out June 14. This series has a little bit of everything; magic, a treasure hunt, even a mermaid. To me it’s a perfect beach read.
  5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson- I read this one years ago and would love to read it again. It’s a great coming of age, summer adventure story.
  6. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson- I didn’t even know this book existed until about an hour ago and I would absolutely love to see where the story goes next.
  7. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- These aren’t lighthearted or beachy in any way. They’re just amazing books and I highly recommend them.
  8. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh- This is another book I learned about very recently but immediately decided I want to read. It’s not often you find books based on A Thousand and One Nights.
  9. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss– I’m not really sure this fits into what people normally consider a beach read but I’ve recently had several people recommend it to me and I’d like to finally get around to reading it.

Sorry there’s only nine this week. I managed to delete my entire post after I’d already written most of it out so I lost a lot of my motivation the second time around. Anyway, these are some of the books I plan to read this summer or just think you should read. Thanks for reading and let me know what your top ten are in the comments.

-Antonia

 

Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare

Summary:
In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word. A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other-but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and he best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on Sunset Strip, and faeries-the most powerful of supernatural creatures-teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge-and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the Faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents-and can she bear to know the truth?
The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imagination of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.
Review:
Oh my god this book. You know that feeling when you finish a book that you really really liked and you feel almost broken hearted that it’s over. That’s how I feel right now. I can’t believe I just finished it. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare was just shy of seven hundred pages. I read it in one day and all I can think is, “What the hell just happened?” I’m sure many of you have heard of her first series, The Mortal Instruments or even her second series, The Infernal Devices. Well, I read both and this book, Lady Midnight, the first book in The Dark Artifices Trilogy was by far, without a doubt my favorite out of all nine of her books in the first two series, which is really saying a lot because I’ve loved every book that Cassandra Clare has written so far.
Lady Midnight has many characters that we’ve met before; I think that was one of my favorite parts. I knew all these people already. I definitely didn’t love them as much as I do know, but they were familiar to me. I met them in The Mortal Instruments series during the huge battle in Idris. I also immensely enjoyed the fact that Clare brought characters from the first two series into the third. We got to see Clary and Jace from the first series, as well as Jem and Tessa from the second series. I love that she made all the characters that I loved in her other books interact with the newer characters that I just fell in love with in Lady Midnight. The Blackthorns are a chaotic bunch that you really can’t help but love, and there’s Emma Carstairs, who might as well be a Blackthorn. They’re all such relatable and funny characters that they pull at your heart until you spend your whole day off reading about them and falling more and more in love with the whole family and their craziness. I won’t go into extreme detail because you need to read this book and love them too.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve read any of Cassandra Clare’s other books so I either forgot or blocked from my mind how crazy good she is at completely blowing my mind. Lady Midnight was full of insane plot twists. I love books that can genuinely surprise me with where they’re going and this book did it more than once. Clare has a habit of leading you to think that you know exactly where the storyline is going until finally everything is revealed and you were completely wrong the whole time and you’re sitting there just yelling at the book because of the whirlwind of emotions running through you, or maybe that’s just me. I tend to get overly attached to fictional characters. Cassandra Clare is very good at making extremely attached to the story she’s telling.
Last I have to mention how crazy it makes me that I have to wait an ENTIRE YEAR FOR THE NEXT BOOK. The second book in this trilogy isn’t expected to come out until April of 2017. WHY DOES SHE DO THIS TO ME?! That’s really my only complaint about The Dark Artifices Trilogy so far. I’m going to keep this review short because its past midnight and I really should be sleeping already. That and my lack of details better make you feel the desperate need to go to the bookstore and buy this book so that you can love it as much as I did. I would suggest the library but this is a new book so I’m not sure they’ll have it yet.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is top ten books I’ve read so far this year. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been slacking on my reading this year (45 books total). I’ve also read a surprising number of books for the second time but didn’t want this list made up of just second-time reads. So I compromised: seven new reads and two second reads.

New Reads

1. Sun and Moon Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George- The writing style of this book is so different and unique. It’s based on a myth that I’d never heard of before and I loved the way everything worked together to give me a completely new reading experience.

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses series by Jessica Day George- Though these books followed more well-known fairytales, George still managed to make the plot unique and fun.

3. The Selection & The Elite by Kiera Cass- Though I haven’t been able to get The One yet, I found the first two books in this trilogy to be entertaining and light reads with just enough suspense and intrigue thrown in to keep me hooked.

4. Enchanted & Hero by Alethea Kontis- When I picked up these books I wasn’t expecting much out of them. I’m glad to say I was completely wrong. It combines tons of different fairytales and legends, most of which I wasn’t very familiar. I never knew what would happen next and I loved that.

5. Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James- I’ve read and loved every one of her books. My favorite character in the Desperate Duchesses series was Villiers and I was so excited that James wrote this book about his son.

6. The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn- I’ve also read all of Quinn’s books. They’re always quick, laugh-out-loud funny and this book was no exception.

7. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier- The final book in the Ruby Red trilogy. I honestly had no idea how this book would end. All of these books had fairly fast plots but the first two were also funny and not nearly as serious. While all the loose ends got tied up in this last book, the suspense was off the charts and I literally couldn’t put it down until I knew everything.

Second Reads

8. His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman- I read these when I was younger and finally decided to read them again. These books are funny, suspenseful, and heartbreaking. I will never not adore this trilogy.

9. The Witness by Nora Roberts- I read this book when it first came out and loved it. Elizabeth/Abigail is such a unique character but I could still relate to her in many ways. I think I can safely say this is my favorite Nora Roberts book of all time. (Fun Fact: This was the 200th book Roberts wrote.)

So what are your top ten books from this year?
-Antonia

Requiem – Lauren Oliver

Summary:
They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past. But we are still here. And there are more of us everyday.

Review:
I found Requiem to be almost a combination between the first two books. After finishing this book, I find myself able to say that Delirium was my favorite book of the trilogy. Requiem was past paced at times, but also had some slow points. I thought this was nice, I got a chance to process all the action. I really enjoyed the final book in the story of these characters. Oliver came up with a seriously unique story line. I liked having something new to read.
As for the characters, there was so much that happened in this book. Alex is back after Lena thought he was dead. She also has the guy she’s almost moved on with, Julian. My opinion of these characters changed quite a bit while reading Requiem. Lena makes herself seem like a flighty school girl. She can’t decide which guy to be with. She was always second guessing her thoughts and it was kind of annoying. Other than that, she was the same old stubborn, determined, hardworking female lead that I loved to read about.
When it comes to Alex and Julian my opinion of them kind of switches. I absolutely adored Alex in the first book, Delirium. I spent the second book wishing that the first had ended differently and that Julian would go away. In the pages of Requiem, Julian really proves himself to the rebellion. He shows that he’s willing to work for their cause, he was willing to help in any way. He also tried to hard to be supportive of Lena while he knows she’s struggling with her feelings. He stays a nice guy, just trying to do the right thing. Then there’s Alex. He was my favorite, then he came back a total douche. He spends most of the book being a complete asshole to Lena. I think he was really just hurt that Lena had feelings for another person. The book ends in Alex’s favor. He becomes my favorite again, thankfully.
Requiem was a pretty good ending to this very interesting trilogy. My favorite was totally the first book in the series. Any readers that like action and romance and chaos would enjoy reading these books. So go read them now!

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.

Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver

Summary:
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, pushing aside thoughts of Alex, pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push, push, push, like Raven taught me to do. The old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Review:
I’m sitting here trying to think of what to say about this book and all I can think is, “What the fuck just happened?!” Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver was a very interesting book. The second in the Delirium trilogy was much more fast paced than the first. There’s always something happening. I flew through these pages needing to know what happened next. Even now, I’m having a little trouble focusing on writing this when I have Requiem sitting right in front of me. So much happens in these pages. Good and bad, crazy and chaotic and I loved every page.
Lena finds herself in the Wilds. She is absolutely not the same girl as she was at the beginning of this trilogy. She’s become stronger emotionally, more determined. Lena no longer takes shit from anyone and I loved seeing this change in her. She spends most of the book trying to forget or block out the memories of her loved ones that are now in her past. This is something she struggles with throughout the entire book, right up until the very last page. She has lost quite a bit but she knows that she has a new life now. Her life in the Wilds isn’t what you would call easy, but Lena does her part and doesn’t complain too much. I really enjoyed seeing Lena live her life in a completely new and different environment. I liked seeing her grow with everything she deals with. She is a very resourceful girl. Lena’s strong willed, feisty, and seriously sassy. I definitely liked Lena better in Pandemonium.
Raven, Tack, Hunter, Sarah, and Blue have become Lena’s new makeshift family. Fellow “Invalids” they help Lena when she firsts arrives on the other side of the fence. They take her in and she becomes one of them. I wasn’t sure how I felt about some of these characters at first. But I’ve decided that I love them all. I really liked how developed their stories were. How well we got to know them in these pages. I feel like many authors focus more on the main characters and I liked how involved the secondary characters became.
Now, to talk about Julian. I don’t like him. Well, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t like him at first. But he seemed to grow on me. He’s still totally not my first choice, but I tolerate him. He reminded me very much of Lena in the first book. He was ignorant to how wrong their government is and by the end of the book he’s realized this. I think the only reason I ended up liking him more was because he realized that his father and the government are wrong. He’s so unsure of himself most of the time and that was kind of annoying, but he becomes more confident at the end of the book. Julian was not my favorite at all, but I’m curious to see what part he’s going to play in the last book.
Pandemonium has no lack of action or fighting scenes, but there’s also romance and suspense. I don’t think I could say that I liked either the first or second book better. The two were pretty different, which I really liked. I seem to find that with a lot of series’ the sequels are pretty much exactly the same at the first. As I said in my review of Delirium, all of you fellow readers need to go out and get these books now so that you can feel like I do right now.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.

Delirium – Lauren Oliver

Summary:
Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

Review:
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book for quite a long time. My library finally had all three books in the trilogy so I figured now was my chance to finally read them. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed in the least. Our main character, Magdalena, was one that I really enjoyed getting to know. When I started the books I didn’t think I was going to like Lena that much, and it almost ruined the book for me. I’m very happy to say that I was wrong and I absolutely adored her. She reminded me a bit of myself in the beginning. Always doing exactly as she’s told, just trying to follow the rules and go on with her life. Until Lena meets Alex and her whole world changes. I was infatuated with Alex from the first time we saw him. I knew I was going to see him again and I knew I was going to love him forever. The change that I saw in Lena after she meets Alex was such a good one. Before she’s really unsure of herself, always second guessing her every thought. She doubts everything she does and says and that really bothered me. Lena was very insecure before she met Alex, mostly because of their screwed up government. After Alex though, Lena gains so much self confidence. She believes in herself and her love for Alex. I really loved seeing Lena grow into a more confident young woman and start to make her own choices instead of following all the rules. Alex was a mystery in the beginning. I wasn’t sure what part he played in Lena’s story, until I read more. I loved seeing Lena and Alex together. He treated her like such a princess. The pair were so good for each other. And I just love him so much.
The world that Oliver has created was a very interesting one. I really liked the uniqueness of this story. It was something I hadn’t read before and that was really nice. A futuristic world where they have decided that love is a sickness that needs to be cured. I think my favorite part about the story line was what the characters were saying about our present time. Apparently we’re all idiots and need to be cured. The story was relatively fast paced with some slow points. I loved every page. I’m really excited to see where this story goes next.
I’d suggest these books to, well, everyone. Go to your local library or bookstore. Buy these books, and love them as much as I do.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.

Dream Trilogy by Nora Roberts

I just finished Nora Robert’s Dream Trilogy at Amanda’s prompting and I absolutely adored it. They had everything I enjoy in romance novels. To make things easier I’m doing my reviews for all three books in one post.
Daring to Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Margo, Kate and Laura were brought up like sisters amidst the peerless grandeur of Templeton House. But it was Margo whose dreams first took her far away . . .
Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn’t help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton’s stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not buy the thing she craved most — her mother’s acceptance.
Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura — or had Kate’s shrewd head for business. But all Margo knew how to do was be Margo, and that meant doing things her own way — no matter what the consequences . . .

While I loved this book, as I do of any Nora Roberts book, it was my least favorite of the trilogy. Entirely because Margo irritated the shit out of me. She acts like a spoiled brat half the time and though I understand it’s mostly just the persona she constantly puts on, her attitude bothered me. I just wanted to smack her. Josh entertained me from the start. I loved seeing his protective older brother side and his romantic side.
What I loved most about this book was Josh and Margo’s relationship. They grew up together and have always been really close even though each secretly had a thing for the other for years. Watching their relationship change and seeing them try to figure out the dynamics of it was seriously entertaining.

Holding the Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Surrounded by the sweeping cliffs and beauty of Big Sur, Kate Powell treasured her life at Templeton House…and the family who raised her like one of their own. Although Kate lacked Margo’s beauty and Laura’s elegance, she knew she had something they would never possess–a shrewd head for business. Driven by ambition, Kate measured her life’s success with each soaring promotion. But now faced with professional impropriety, Kate is forced to look deep within herself–only to find something missing in her life…and in her heart.
I liked Kate a lot. She’s very career oriented and is almost too meticulous in the way she plans things. Like Amanda, her complete disregard for her health bothered me. I’m not a nutrition/exercise nut, but I don’t understand how some people can pretend the way they eat (or don’t eat) won’t negatively affect their health. When she gets the state of her health slapped in her face (with some help from Byron), she does a complete reevaluation of her life. I loved watching Kate finally step back and look at herself. She grew into herself throughout this book and became someone I both admire and want to be friends with.
I adored Byron. He was the perfect Southern gentleman and I loved the way he took care of Kate when she needed someone to take care of her. They were perfect together and I loved watching the way they stubbornly avoided their feelings until Byron realized what he wanted and kept pushing at her to try to get her to see his way of things. This obviously made Kate push back harder but that only made it even funnier.

Finding the Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Laura Templeton found out the hard way that nothing in life is guaranteed. The daughter of a wealthy hotelier, she had always known comfort, privilege, and security. But by the age of thirty, her storybook marriage had been destroyed by her husband’s infidelity. Laura’s divorce left her both emotionally and financially devastated–but determined to rebuild her life without the Templeton fortune.
Laura had always defined herself as a wife, a daughter, or a mother. Now, she must finally discover Laura the woman…

Laura and Michaels story was, by far, my favorite. I wanted them to end up together from the first moment I saw them interact; in the prologue…of the first book. I loved Laura from the beginning. She’s sweet, romantic and generally sees the best in everyone. But she’s not weak and she’s not a push-over. She has a strong temper when it’s called for and I loved watching her let it go occasionally. She’s a fantastic mother who absolutely dotes on her two daughters. I hated seeing her hurt throughout the first two books because of her asshole ex-husband and seeing her grow more confident throughout this book was fantastic.
I’m pretty sure Michael is the new love of my life. He had so many different traits that clashed against each other but still managed to work. He was so unhappy because of his past and didn’t think nearly highly enough of himself. I just wanted to make everything better so he could be happy. I think I literally swooned watching him with Laura’s daughters, he was perfect with them.
Michael and Laura’s relationship fed into the hopeless romantic in me. They balance each other out perfectly.

Overall, I adored these books. My favorite part of all of them was Margo, Kate and Laura’s friendship. They love each other unconditionally and are there for each other no matter what. I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys romance. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
-Antonia

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Goodreads Summary: Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, Chloe happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be ‘cursed’?) friends are now running for their lives from the evil corporation that created them.
As if that’s not enough, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she’s leaning towards the werewolf…
Definitely not normal.


Oh my god. The Reckoning was one of those books that sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. On multiple occasions someone would have to say my name over and over until I heard them. I couldn’t have put this book down if I wanted to.
Chloe and Derek FINALLY realize they like each other. (I’m only slightly ashamed to admit I was more concerned about that than the fact they were running for their lives. I can’t help it; I’m a hopeless romantic.)
Chloe continued to impress me throughout this book. She’s come so far from the nice, shy girl she used to be. She’s become a bit of an expert at plotting and scheming and she’s not as afraid of her powers anymore. I loved watching Chloe grow throughout this series. She became someone I would love to be friends with.
I also loved watching Derek come out of his shell. He’s still quiet and brooding but he opens up so much to Chloe that I got to see how sweet he can be.
I still love Simon and Tori as secondary characters. They both add their own unique talents and personalities to the group. Simon might not have terribly strong magic but he sort of acts as the group’s optimism. He keeps everyone’s spirits up when things aren’t looking so great. Tori mostly adds her powerful witchcraft but she’s also fairly intelligent. She can hack computers and gets important information for the group.
This book had more action and more magic than the other two. There were quite of few rather shocking twists that actually had my jaw dropping. I don’t want to give anything away, but what the group thinks they know drastically changes a few times.
I was a little surprised by how things were resolved in the end. I’d sort of expected Chloe to suddenly come out with this crazy new power in order to save everyone but I’m glad she didn’t. It wouldn’t have been realistic. The group always gets out of situations by working together (and a decent amount of luck) so I ended up loving the way they worked together at the end.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was how many questions it left me with. When it ended, Chloe and her friends are safe but they’re stilling running. Their powers are still out of control, they still can’t fit in with humans, and the Edison group still wants to kill them. I also don’t know most of what the Edison group had been up to. We know why they started the Genesis II experiments but don’t know anything about the dozens of other experiments. It also hadn’t been clear about why the mafia-type group that plays a small part toward the end has any interest in the kids. I really hate when books leave me with questions. I understand it’s unrealistic for them to be completely happy and safe all of a sudden. I know their lives will be difficult for awhile. Despite that, I’d much rather be able to pretend everything’s perfect at the end.
Overall, I absolutely adored this series. It sucked me in and kept me on my toes. They’re funny, suspenseful, filled with action and make you think. They completely exceeded the expectations I had when I first picked them up. I’d recommend them to anyone who enjoys YA, action, paranormal, and romance. I’d love to hear your own thoughts.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!