The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

GoodReads Summary:
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
The Love That Split the WorldReview:
The Love That Split the World was my last Emily Henry book and I was not disappointed at all. I didn’t realize this was going to be as much of a romance as it was, but I still really loved it. The story follows Nat as she’s trying to figure out who needs to be saved. Natalie has seen Grandmother for most of her life. She sees her late at night and no one really believes that Grandmother is real. Nat tries a certain therapy to stop seeing Grandmother and it works, until one night, Nat sees Grandmother and she tells Nat that there are only three months to save him. Nat has to figure out who Grandmother is talking about. I really liked Nat. She was adopted and her biological mother is an Indigenous woman from a reservation in another state. So, not belonging and trying to figure out who she really is had been a bit part of Nat’s life so far. I really liked this aspect of the story. Nat’s journey to figure things out about herself was one of the best parts of the book. I also really loved all of the stories we got to hear about that Grandmother told her. I really loved all of the Indigenous cultures that was included. I can’t speak to the representation, but as an outside opinion, I thought the stories were beautiful and beautifully written.
Enter Beau. I feel like I only really liked Beau because most of the other people in Nat’s life sucked. Especially her ex-boyfriend. Beau was kind and had some issues, but he was there when Nat needed him and he could understand a bit of what Natalie was dealing with what Grandmother was trying to tell her.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t mind that it was mostly a romance. I loved how much it reminded me of my own high school experience. I liked the characters. But most of all I loved the twists and turns of the story. It was beautifully written and Emily Henry has solidified a place as one of my favorite authors.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?
Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.
But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants.
Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.
Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga, #3)Review:
Wow, this finale was a wild ride. Like the second book, Lada somehow managed to be even more savage. If you read this, the scene where she’s meeting with all the boyars and that’s all I have to say about it. I still loved her. She was fierce and absolutely apologetic about it. Though, I was very sad about all of her friends. I mentioned in my review for book two that her friends and fellow soldiers were some of the best parts of her chapters and that was slowly lost in this book. Knowing Lada as well as we do in this book, I wasn’t surprised by her choices but they definitely made me sad for her.
Radu is the best soft boy there ever was. He really struggles with the choices he’s made in the past, but he’s working toward being better and making more choices for himself rather than for others. I really loved the way that Radu’s story ended. He did the best he could with what he had and he managed to make a beautiful family from it. I’m not sure that I mentioned it in my previous reviews, but Radu is gay. This is something he struggles with within the first two books. But he manages to find another love, after finally making the choice to move on from his feelings for Mehmed. He married a woman who was a lesbian and the three of them lived together, but when Radu’s love finally came to him I was so happy. Radu deserves all the happiness in the world.
Overall, I loved this book and I loved this series. I thought this was a mostly satisfying conclusion to such an incredible series. I’m left with questions that are mostly to do with how Lada’s story played out and the in-between bits we didn’t get to see before jumping to the epilogue, but as a whole, this was an incredible conclusion. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Quotes:

“That is the thing with giving your heart. You never wait for someone to ask. You hold it out and hope they want it.”

“Lada had always known exactly what shape she would take. She had never let it be determined by the people around her. But Radu could not escape the need for love, the need for people in his life to help him see what he should—and could—be. Lada shaped herself in spite of her environment. Radu shaped himself because of it.”

“She drummed her fingers on the arms of the throne, looking out at the empty room. She was not stupid enough to think men would stop trying to take it from her. They would always be there, waiting for weakness, waiting for her to fall. They wanted what she had because she had it. And one day, eventually, someone would defeat her. But until that day she would fight with tooth and nail, with all the fire and blood that had formed her into who she was. She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was a woman. It was the last that scared them most of all.”

“There was something to be said for having his heart broken so many times. Broken things healed thicker and stronger than they were before. Assuming one survived long enough to heal.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)Review:
Where to start? If I thought Lada was savage and fierce in the first book, she is ten times that in this second book. She basically kills her way to the throne and I loved every single page of it. I love her friends and fellow soldiers that she takes with her on her path back to the Wallachian throne. I love that, while she is their leader, she listens to them and considers them friends. She takes their advice into consideration. She really cares about them and them about her. They make her more likable because it’s clear that she loves them all.
Radu is off in a completely different part of the world than his sister and with his own mission. Radu’s part of the story honestly just made me sad. Both siblings struggle with their feelings for their childhood friend, Mehmed. But with Radu, it’s worse because he’s doing things he never would have if not for Mehmed, while Lada has proven, again and again, she’ll do anything to get her throne. Radu does things he is very ashamed of but continues doing them all because of his love for Mehmed. It made me sad because of the life that he could have had. But he made his choices. It’s made very clear that everything he does is a choice that he’s thought about.
I thought it was very interesting to see how the siblings both handled the struggle that was their love for Mehmed. Honestly, I was hoping Mehmed would die most of the book so they could both be free. I also liked that we got both Radu’s and Lada’s stories even though they were both in different countries. Though it did make me sad they weren’t together. I’m hoping they get to reunite in the final book.
Overall, just like book one, I was blown away by Kiersten White’s writing. The history was fascinating, but the way that White brought these characters to life, made me care about them even though they’re both pretty terrible was amazing. I’m typing this on my phone so that I can continue on to the final book right now and not worry about mixing details up for whichever book. Please go read this series if you like historical fiction, savage female leads, and soft boys doing terrible things for love.

Quotes:

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

“I cannot imagine a god who hates anything that is love, any way we find to take tender care of each other. I want you to find that same love, and I never want you to hate yourself for any love that is in you.”

“I think if you had been born a boy, perhaps you would have been satisfied with what the world offered you. That is how we are alike. We saw everything that was not ours, and we hungered. Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything. Any weakness will undo everything you have accomplished. They will see any crack as evidence that they were right that a woman cannot do what you do.”

“He was no longer a lost little boy in a strange new city. Now he was a lost man in a broken old city, and no amount of prayers and kindness could undo what had been done.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

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GoodReads Summary:
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
Girl, Serpent, ThornReview:
I have to shout a huge thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an advanced audio copy of Girl, Serpent, Thorn. It was my first advanced audiobook and I really enjoyed being able to listen to it via the new NetGalley app.
This story, I really don’t even know how to put my thoughts into words. I was a bit disappointed by the last book I read by this author, but this synopsis sounded too good to pass up. So, I didn’t have super high hopes about loving this one. I definitely thought I would enjoy it, but I liked it way more than that.
The story follows Soraya as she’s trying to figure out a way to rid herself of the curse she’s had since she was a baby. She is poisonous. Her skin has the power to kill. Her family hides her away. Her only happiness is when her mother visits and her gardens. But this year, when her family arrives, they bring a demon with them and keep her in the dungeons. This is when Soraya’s life starts to change. She meets a soldier that comes into town with her brother and they become friends. She opens up to him in a way she’s never been able to before. He helps her go to visit the demon, then to figure out how to get rid of her curse.
There’s so much I can’t talk about because I don’t want to give anything away. So, I’ll say that I really loved this soldier. He’s a very complex character and I thought he was a great addition to the story. But even more, I loved how dark the story was. A poisonous girl? Hell yes. A poisonous girl falling in love with a demon? Even more hell yes. I loved the mythology and the Persian folklore. The author talks a bit about the stories she drew inspiration from and the things that she changed in an author’s note after the story ends and I really enjoyed getting to know more about the inspiration.
Overall, I loved this book. The narrator was incredible. She really inserted emotion into the characters and told the story beautifully. This story was dark and twisted and complex. There were characters that had so much love for others, but were also extremely selfish which I thought was just fascinating. I’m sorry that this review is sort of nonsense, but as I said at the beginning, I really don’t know how to put my thoughts for this story into words other than saying that I loved it.

Quotes:

“Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not. There is possibility in those words, the chance for hope or despair.”

“I was always afraid the poison would make me a monster, but what if trying to get rid of it makes me more of a monster than I was before?”

“She had read enough stories to know that the princess and the monster were never the same. She had been alone long enough to know which one she was.”

“Beautiful yet deadly, he had called her. Somehow, he made one sound as sweet as the other.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

GoodReads Summary:
In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida Córdova and Anna-Marie McLemore, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival.
At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.
Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.
And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.
Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?
We Set the Dark on FireReview:
We Set the Dark on Fire totally blew me away. I bought this book as a kindle daily deal a few months ago and I’m so glad that I did. It was basically what the synopsis said the story is, but it was still so good.
The story was a bit predictable, but honestly, that made it better. The anticipation of the things I predicted happening was the best part of this story. Dani is picked to be the Primera of an up and coming politician. His family is one of the most powerful in the country. Dani was struggling with many emotions. She was trained that Primera’s don’t show those emotions. They are strong, logical, and strategic. They are equals with their husbands, there to support their careers and households. Dani was trying to pretend to be the perfect Primera when in reality she was anything but that.
Which brings us to Carmen, Dani’s rival at school. Carmen is chosen as Segunda. This was a challenge for Dani because Carmen was never very nice to Dani and now the two live together and are married to the same man, and essentially each other. They grow closer while they live together. I really loved these two getting to know one another better outside of their school rivalry.
Overall, this book was excellent. There was a female/female romance that I am totally obsessed with. They also attempt to overthrow the government. Dani is more or less forced to join the resistance and I love stories like that. Women fighting against a corrupt system is something I always want to read about.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

GoodReads Summary:
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the “wrong” side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the girls are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And now it’s up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more.
The Weight of the Stars is the new LGBT young adult romance from K. Ancrum, written with the same style of short, micro-fiction chapters and immediacy that garnered acclaim for her debut, The Wicker King.
The Weight of the StarsReview:
The Weight of the Stars was such a wonderful story. I really adored the characters the most. We follow Ryann Bird as she tries to collect another friend into her circle of “delinquent friends.” Alexandria is the new girl at school, but more so she’s the daughter of an astronaut that caused quite a stir when she set off into space. Ryann and Alexandria grudgingly become friends because Ryann doesn’t give Alexandria much choice otherwise. They spend their nights on Alexandria’s roof trying to catch radio signals from her mom.
I loved this story. It was full of love and immediate acceptance. Ryann and her friends were just a great group. They’re all a little weird in the best ways. They’re also a really diverse group ranging from Ryann, who is Black and also the legal guardian to her brother James and James’s baby, to Ahmed who had two dads and a
mom that are all currently together. I really enjoyed these friends. They were funny and caring and all a bit odd.
The only thing I didn’t like was the chapter titles, but that’s only because I didn’t understand them. They seemed like they were supposed to specify something but I wasn’t quite sure if it was supposed to be how much time had passed since the end of the last chapter or not.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The characters were absolutely the best part. Their antics were hilarious, occasionally illegal, and they just loved one another so purely.

Quotes:

“We’re all made of the same stuff. Even if you arrange it in different ways or make puzzles of it.”

“Diversity is a flower that blooms with greater beauty and greater strength each time it is cross-pollinated.”

“They don’t want the danger, and the darkness and loneliness,” Alexandria interrupted softly. “They want the heat and the light, but they don’t want the radiation.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig

GoodReads Summary:
Jetta is a prisoner. A prisoner of the armee, a prisoner of fate, and a prisoner of her own madness. Held captive in Hell’s Court—now the workshop of Theodora, the armee engineer and future queen of Chakrana—Jetta knows she needs to escape. But Theodora has the most tempting bait—a daily dose of a medication that treats Jetta’s madness.
But the cost is high. In exchange, Jetta must use her power over dead spirits to trap their souls into flying machines—ones armed with enough firepower to destroy every village in Chakrana. And Theodora and her armee also control Le Trépas—a terrifying necromancer who once had all of Chakrana under his thumb, and Jetta’s biological father. Jetta fears the more she uses her powers, the more she will be like Le Trépas—especially now that she has brought her brother, Akra, back from the dead.
Jetta knows Le Trépas can’t be trusted. But when Akra teams up with Leo, the handsome smuggler who abandoned her, to pull off an incredible escape, they insist on bringing the necromancer along. The rebels are eager to use Le Trépas’s and Jetta’s combined magic against the invading colonists. Soon Jetta will face the choice between saving all of Chakrana or becoming like her father, and she isn’t sure which she’ll choose.
Acclaimed author Heidi Heilig creates a rich world inspired by Southeast Asian cultures and French colonialism. Her characters are equally complex and nuanced, including a bipolar heroine and biracial love interest. Told from Jetta’s first-person point-of-view, as well as chapters written as play scripts, and ephemera such as songs, maps, and letters, A Kingdom for a Stage is a vivid, fast-paced journey that weaves magic, simmering romance, and the deep bonds of family with the high stakes of epic adventure. It will thrill fans of Stephanie Garber, Renée Ahdieh, and Sabaa Tahir.
A Kingdom for a Stage (For a Muse of Fire #2)Review:
I fucking love this series. Can that be my whole review? Because really, I just loved everything about this book. Jetta is really coming into her own. She’s still really worried about her madness and that’s prevalent for most of the book. But I think she does really well with it. She’s strong and brave. She uses her abilities to keep her family safe, and that might just mean siding with the rebels. I loved the complexities of the choices she had to make. She learns new things, but also sometimes from people she doesn’t trust and deals with unexpected consequences. Jetta is a complex and fascinating girl. I’d also love to know more about her parent’s history in this world’s past.
Then there’s her brother, Akra. She’s brought him back from the dead and he’s still trying to figure out what that means. I loved how close Jetta and Akra are in this book. It was clear in the last book that Jetta really loved her brother, but in this one, we get to see it and I’m always here for good sibling relationships.
Leo was an interesting character. He’s invested in helping the rebels, but doing that means he’s against his brother and sister. I thought this was a really interesting aspect of the story and I really enjoyed all the complications it brought.
There are so many other characters I could talk about, but there are just too many. I loved them all. They each brought something unique to the story.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved the way it was written and the story itself. I loved the world and all its complications. I love each and every one of the characters. I just loved this book. I cannot wait for the next (and I think the last) book in the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

As the Shadow Rises by Katy Rose Pool

GoodReads Summary:
The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead.
In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness.
As Jude, Keeper of the Order of the Last Light, returns home in disgrace, his quest to aid the Prophet is complicated by his growing feelings for Anton. Meanwhile, the assassin known as the Pale Hand will stop at nothing to find her undead sister before she dies for good, even if it means letting the world burn. And in Nazirah, Hassan, the kingdom-less Prince, forms a risky pact to try to regain his throne. When the forces of light and darkness collide in the City of Mercy, old wounds are reopened, new alliances are tested, and the end of the world begins.
As the Shadow Rises (The Age of Darkness, #2)Review:
How can I put my love for this series into words? I really don’t know. I’m going to read my review for the first book (which I’m pretty happy with so I’m going to link that here) and try to sort out my thoughts from there. Also, I want to mention that I won an eARC of this book through Katy Rose Pool’s newsletter giveaway (via NetGalley) so here is my honest review in exchange.
I mentioned the world in my review of book one so I’m going to start there for this one too. This world is run on the belief in the Prophets. They disappeared long ago but left one last prophecy that predicted the end of the world. But there would be one more Prophet, one who has the potential to save the world from ending. We learn more about the lost Prophets and what happened to them and boy were they twisty. I really loved the way Katy Rose Pool told this story. There were things I expected to happen, but also some stuff that totally surprised me. I just really loved this story. It was written well with fast-paced action scenes and just enough drama, but not constant. There were slower scenes for traveling where I really loved getting to know the characters even better.
Ephyra was hard for me. She was still the morally grey girl I loved from the first book, but without Beru, she seemed a bit lost. I definitely thought her storyline was interesting, especially with what we knew from Beru’s perspective. There were definitely some things she did that were super unexpected. But with the way the book ended, I’m really excited to see where her story ends in the final book.
Beru is one of my favorite characters. She’s such a little bean, but she’s also really not. She’s fierce and determined. She knows what she wants for herself and she’s going to get it, even if it kills her. I loved Beru in the first book because of the strong sister relationship and how she brought the good in Ephyra out. But in this book, we get to see her stand on her own and I really loved that.
Hassan was hard for me. I really loved him in the first book. But in this book, he’s a bit all over the place. He failed in his mission in the first book, and he’s trying to figure out what his next steps are. So, when he finds a rebel group, he thinks they’re perfect to help him take back his city. As per usual, things aren’t always that easy. I didn’t love the way his story played out, but I didn’t totally hate it either. I really hope I like the way his story plays out in the next book.
Anton, my sweet baby Anton. He has grown so much. I’m honestly so proud of him. He starting to really give a shit about the world and might have figured out how to stop its end. I loved every page of Anton’s chapters. I will protect him at all costs. I really loved his character development and the way that he pushes the characters around him to grow as well.
For Jude, all this book was for him was character development. He’s struggling with who he is after certain events in the previous book. His whole identity is based on being the Keeper, but things are different. Nothing is going according to plan, so Jude is basically just trying to make sure Anton stays alive. I loved the relationship between the two. They push one another. Anton gets Jude out of his comfort zone and that’s when we really see him develop and get to know him even better.
Overall, I loved this book. The more of this series I read, the more it’s solidified as a new all-time favorite. I’m blown away by Katy Rose Pool’s ability to have five different points of view and make them each so distinct. They’re all loveable and chaotic in their own ways, but they are so very different from one another. I loved this book and you will too.

Quotes:

“Because as far as I can tell, power is madness.”

“As far as he could tell, home was just whatever hurt most when you left it behind.”

“Kissing him felt like waving a hand through fire, wanting and wanting not to be burned. Like diving off the top of a lighthouse, without hope or sight of safe landing. Like sinking to the bottom of the sea, knowing he would surely drown.”

“They’ve spent their whole lives trying to uphold the rules. The natural law of life and death. But you’re more powerful than they are. And you don’t follow their rules. That’s what separates the powerful from the weak. The powerful get to make the rules, and the weak have to follow them.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

GoodReads Summary:
The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.
At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.
Final DraftReview:
I’m going to be honest here. I almost DNF’d this book. Laila, the main character, was pretty unlikeable at first. I think that’s because I am also someone who really enjoys writing. But she seems to take it a bit too far. Writing seems to almost be problematic for her. She doesn’t do much other than writing and occasionally see her friends outside of school. But I pushed through because it’s a short book and I was reading it for the weekend edition of the ContemporaryAThon.
We follow Laila as she’s dealing with a new creative writing teacher. Her last teacher is out sick for the rest of the year and he was the only person she’d ever shared her writing with. And as I mentioned above, Laila’s sort of obsessive about her writing. So, getting a new teacher (mind you, she’s an award-winning author) really rocked her world. The best part about this book was the character development of Laila. Dr. Nazarenko’s feedback really pushes Laila to get outside of her comfort zone and experience new things to make her writing better. I liked this, but she went too far at times (which she realized and dialed back, but also, she’s a teenager and from my experience, I always took things a step too far.) I really loved Laila’s exploration of sex and attraction. It was really well discussed and things like this just aren’t in enough books. She identifies herself as pansexual and kisses both guys and girls on her journey to experience more things. She also gets drunk and even does molly once. I also really liked that we got to see bits and pieces of her writing as she developed. It was interesting to see how these new things were changing her writing.
Overall, I ended up really enjoying this book. I really related to Laila in the sense of being on the outside (because we put ourselves there) and then getting outside of our box to try new things. I didn’t really write much in high school, but I was a huge book nerd like Laila. I also really appreciated the exploration of her sexuality because it’s something I’m going through right now. I definitely think this is a book that’s going to stick with me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

GoodReads Summary:
Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.
As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.
In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.
Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2)Review:
I have put off writing this review for so long. It’s time for me to suck it up and attempt to get my thoughts into mostly coherent sentences and be done with it. I listened to the audiobook for Ruthless Gods. It had two narrators. One female for Nadya and Katya and a male for Serefin and Malachiasz. I really didn’t like the male narrator sadly. It made listening hard because I couldn’t always focus on the boy’s chapters and found myself relistening to whole chapters because I had no idea what was going on. Despite this struggle, I ended up really liking this book.
This is not a story for the faint of heart. These monstrous babies really live up to the hype. I’m really struggling to explain my thoughts so I’m going to keep it brief. All of these characters are dealing with so much, emotionally, politically, and occasionally even physically. Nadya in particular is one that I felt for. She’s confused about her faith in the Gods that spoke to her most of her life. But now she’s not sure what to believe and the more that the characters learn, the less sure she is.
Overall, this story was a wild ride. It blows me away that Emily Duncan wrote this story without outlining or planning. The characters get separated and find themselves on opposing paths (again) but their journeys back to one another were complex and fascinating and dark. I loved every minute of this story. The ending completely slayed me and I cannot wait to read the series finale.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

GoodReads Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
The Hate U GiveReview:
The Hate U Give made me cry and then laugh and then cry again. I waited to read this because I knew it was going to be an emotional story. I loved every minute. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did an incredible job bringing Starr to life. I’m going to keep this review a bit short because I just loved this book.
Starr was faced with so many hard choices. Should she speak out or keep quiet? Should she fight for justice or try to keep her anonymity? I really liked how she made her choices and how much thought she put into them. I just really liked Starr.
Overall, this is such an important story. I could not stop listening. The grief was so real. I cried so many times. This story is something that happens all too often and this story will definitely be considered a classic in however many years makes a book a classic.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

GoodReads Summary:
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.
Heidi Heilig creates a world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism.
For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, #1)Review:
I loved this book. I put it off for so long because it’s a pretty thick book. But I’m mad at myself for waiting. I enjoyed the hell out of this story.
Jetta is a shadow player. But she’s more than that. She has a magical ability that is forbidden. She’s trying to help her family get a better life by showcasing their talent as shadow players to gain a place on a ship. I loved Jetta. She wanted to do more. But she was scared because her mother trained her that she’s never to show or tell about her abilities. But when they’re present when the rebels attack, she chooses to help instead of hiding. I liked her because she almost always tried to do what was best for her family, even if that meant defying them and making hard choices.
I loved all the other characters too. They were complicated and not a single one of them was one thing. They were so complex and well developed. I am dying for the next book to see what’s going to happen in this world.
The world was so interesting. There’s an author’s note in the back of the book that explains it’s not supposed to be historical. But it’s drawn from both Asian and French culture. I really thought this was so interesting. The French was a bit tough only because I don’t speak it, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all. The world was so interesting and well developed. The world is large but has many issues. The politics were fascinating and took turns I wouldn’t have seen coming a million miles away. I loved that I was surprised and I loved the intricacies of the world and politics.
Overall, I was easily sucked into this world. I’m craving to know more about the magic and the history. I also am dying to know what will happen with all the chaos that Jetta has created. I love this book and I wish more people were talking about it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The 100 by Kass Morgan

GoodReads Summary:
Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents—considered expendable by society—are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.
CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves—but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.
Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.
The 100 (The 100, #1)Review:
I have to start this review with a little backstory. I have been wanting to read this series for quite a few years because I watch (read: am obsessed with) the tv show. The final season of the 100 tv show is starting and I thought I would try to catch up with the books before I finish the show. I might even rewatch the whole show after I read the whole book series. Okay, onto the book review.
The 100 follows 100 people that are under 18 and have been arrested. The space station they grew up on is running out of air, so the higher-ups need to figure out if Earth is livable again or not. We follow four different points of view and their stories. I really enjoyed the science fiction parts of this story. The concept of the human race destroying the Earth is not out of the realm of possibilities, and I’ve always been fascinated by space. I would love to travel in space and live there as well. I didn’t love the class issues that still lingered in space. This was something that was changed in the show, there were different stations, but none were better than another.
Clarke is the first point of view we see. We get her backstory as well as where she currently is. I really liked her. She’s smart and creative. She’s good in hard situations. I thought she was strong and well developed. I thought the backstory with her parents (which is different in the book from the show) was dark but somehow fascinating.
Wells is the chancellor’s son. He’s also Clarke’s ex-boyfriend and the reason that her parents died. I thought that Wells had the hardest journey. He purposefully committed a crime so that he would be sent to Earth alongside Clarke. Was that choice worth it? He’s made to be ‘other’ because he is the son of the chancellor. He’s familiar with leadership, but when he tries to share what he knows, he’s shunned. Wells is determined and continues trying to be helpful which I liked. I’m interested to see how his story compares to the show in the next book.
Bellamy is my favorite. I love him in the book and the show. I also totally ship him with Clarke. Bellamy did whatever he needed to get onto the ship that held his sister, the one going to Earth. His sister, that he doesn’t know as well as he thinks he does, that never should have been born. Bellamy isn’t afraid of making waves or pissing people off. But he quickly proves that he’s probably the most prepared to survive on Earth. I will love him forever.
Then there’s Glass. She’s not even in the show so I was interested right from the start. Glass was supposed to be one of the 100, but snuck off the ship through the air vents to see her boyfriend, Luke. I had a love/hate relationship with her story. Her history is not pretty. She’s a part of the wealthier station and Luke is not. So, when certain events happen, she says hateful things and breaks up with him to protect him. But once she sees him again, the truth starts to come out. I’m definitely interested to see where her story goes. There are more secrets to be spilled and I thought it was an interesting choice to keep one of the perspectives on the space station.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book. I’m very excited to continue the series and see what happens to these characters that I love dearly.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

GoodReads Summary:
Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
InternmentReview:
What a horrifying potential future this story was. I cried for most of the beginning of this book. I chose to read this via audiobook and I just have to mention that it was incredibly well produced. Though there’s only one narrator, there were all sorts of interesting effects included. I don’t want to say that I enjoyed this story because it was terribly hard to listen to and it was a very hard topic, but it was a fascinating story.
We follow Layla as her family is removed from their home and forced into an internment camp. This was the hardest part of the story. Samira Ahmed did an incredible job of filling Layla’s experience and internal thoughts with emotions. I couldn’t help but cry at the things that Layla was made to see and experience. The hardest thing for me about this story was how easily this “five minutes in the future” could come to pass. As someone who was born and raised as a white girl in America, I kept saying to myself, “this could never happen because of xyz.” Then, minutes later, Layla would say the same thing to her parents. I think that was the worst part for me. Layla was born in America, she was a citizen, and yet all of these horrible things were happening to her because her family wouldn’t hide their religion.
I really loved Layla’s spirit. She refused to be beaten down while in the internment camp. Surrounded by horrible things, seeing people speak out getting taken away or literally beaten didn’t stop her from plotting a rebellion. I really liked this aspect of the story. Hope in the face of something so hopeless was the highlight. Along with this, I really liked that this wasn’t an “I hate America” story. There were guards that were on the side of those imprisoned. There were protests all over the country. The people that weren’t hateful and horribly racist stood up for the Muslims that were being taken from their homes. I liked that all of the people came together to change what was happening.
Overall, this was a hard story to read, but an important one. It’s a story sure to make you cry, but by the end of it you will see that hope and resisting those with hateful beliefs will not win.

Quotes:

“What’s that thing people always say about history? Unless we know our history, we’re doomed to repeat it? Never forget? Isn’t that the lesson? But we always forget. Forgetting is in the American grain.”

“But it’s also a reminder that being quiet doesn’t always signify weakness. Sometimes it takes great strength to find that silence. Sometimes it takes incredible strength to survive.”

“It’s not about danger. It’s about fear. People are willing to trade their freedom, even for a false sense of protection”
“Then I glance beyond the fence at the sea of people. In this place where I thought I was lost, the world has found me. Hope courses through my veins.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

GoodReads Summary:
Genie Lo thought she was busy last year, juggling her academic career with protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as the Heaven-appointed Guardian of California, she’s responsible for the well-being of all yaoguai and spirits on Earth. Even the ones who interrupt her long-weekend visit to a prestigious college, bearing terrible news about a cosmos-threatening force of destruction in a nearby alternate dimension.
The goddess Guanyin and Genie’s boyfriend, Quentin Sun Wukong, do their best to help, but it’s really the Jade Emperor who’s supposed to handle crises of this magnitude. Unfortunately for Genie and the rest of existence, he’s gone AWOL. Fed up with the Jade Emperor’s negligence, Genie spots an opportunity to change the system for the better by undertaking a quest that spans multiple planes of reality along with an adventuring party of quarrelsome Chinese gods. But when faced with true danger, Genie and her friends realize that what will save the universe this time isn’t strength, but sacrifice.
The Iron Will of Genie Lo (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, #2)Review:
Wow, this book was an adventure. I adored this series so much. I chose to listen to this book via audiobook and I’m so glad I did. I waited for my library to order it. The narrator did such an incredible job with all the different voices for all the characters and she really made it such a fun story to listen to.
We’re following Genie after the events of the first book. She’s gained a position of power on Earth as the person in charge of the demons leftover from the last book. I thought these parts of her being the guardian were really interesting. I thought she made a good leader, if not a bit impulsive. I really loved her growth in this story. She’s grown so much from the driven and obsessively focused girl she was in the last book. She also continues to grow in this story.
My favorite parts of this book were definitely her relationship with Quentin. They have a big fight and say hurtful things to one another, but the parts where they work through that and get back to a good place were just so fantastic. My next favorite part of this book was Genie’s relationship with Guanyin. They went from a sort of awkward intimidating relationship in the first book to more equals (as much as a human and a god can be). I really enjoyed their almost sister-like relationship.
Overall, this story was action-packed and chock full of mythology. I loved the mythological parts of the story. They were so beyond interesting. I loved Genie and everything else about this series. I really don’t know why more people don’t read and talk about this series. It was diverse and so much fun.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.