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.

Blogtober Book Review: Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

GoodReads Summary:
The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.
The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.
But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.
Blanca & RojaReview:
This is the first of McLemore’s books that I’ve read and let me assure you, it won’t be the last. I am eager to read more of their books. Their writing is nothing short of stunning and I was so awed by this story. Blanca & Roja follows two sisters, Blanca and Roja, and then two others, Page and Yearling. I loved all four of these characters. The sisters are part of a family that has been cursed. There are conflicting stories about where it started, but every generation there are two daughters and one of them is chosen by the swans to become one of them and leave their family.
Blanca is a fierce protector of her younger sister, the one everyone thinks will be chosen by the swans. Blanca is the fairer sister, the sweeter sister, the nicer sister. But Blanca isn’t going to just let the swans take Roja. She loves her sister and will do anything, including making a deal so that the swans will take her instead of Roja. But she keeps a secret and this changes their relationship.
Roja is fiery. I adored Roja, always the other sibling. Her hair is dark brown with red in it, she is darker than Blanca. She is full of fire and anger. I loved every second I got to spend with Roja. She’s always expected to be the ones that the swans chose, despite what Blanca tries to tell her. She loves her sister dearly. But she realizes that Blanca is keeping a secret and things sour. But these two girls love each other so much that they are both willing to sacrifice themselves to the swans to save the other.
Then come Page and Yearling. The two boys disappear into the woods one day and aren’t seen again until the swans come for either Blanca or Roja. They are an unlikely set of best friends. They both have issues with their family’s but different sorts of issues. Yearling comes from a wealthy family, but he really doesn’t like how his family acquired that wealth and he wants to get the truth out to the public. Yearling is another person that has anger inside him. He gets in fights often. He’s a conflicted young man. He’s changed after he comes out of the woods. He’s having to figure a lot of things out and I liked his story. Page is a genderqueer boy that uses he/she pronouns but prefers male-gendered language. I loved Page. He was so soft and sweet and full of love. He was struggling with his family because he wasn’t sure they could give him what he needed.
I adored the relationships. The sisters were full of love but complex and interesting. I loved how much they loved one another. Both girls find themselves with feelings for the boys that came to them from the woods. Blanca and Page’s relationship was so sweet, much like the characters. They are both full of softness and love. Yearling and Roja are the opposite, full of spit and fire. Both couples find something of themselves in the other, someone that understands the things they feel.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was beautiful. The characters were wonderful. The plot was slow and quiet, but there was so much emotion and love within these pages. There was magic and romance, sacrifice, and mystery. I cannot wait to pick up another one of McLemore’s books.

Quotes:

“I was a girl who would never exist in a fairy tale, not just because of the brown of my body but because of my heart, neither pure enough to be good nor cruel enough to be evil. I was a girl lost in the deep, narrow space between the two forms girls were allowed to take.”

“We find what is beautiful in what is broken. We find what is heartening in what is terrifying. We find the stars in the woods’ deepest shadows.”

“My sister and I had been born fair and dark, her looking like a girl in a fairy tale who would grow up sweet, a princess, and me like one who would grow into a cruel witch. I had seen the pictures in storybooks. I knew what I was, with my bloodstained hair. Girls like me were marked for the swans. How could they ever take a girl like Blanca?”

“Page set her hand on the small of my back. She did it like it was only to guide me around rocks or fallen pinecones. But when she did it, I was that glass jar with a candle set inside. The heart of me was as soft as the wax of the tea light.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

GoodReads Summary:
In this nail-biting sequel to Tehlor Kay Mejia’s critically acclaimed fantasy novel We Set the Dark on Fire, La Voz operative Carmen is forced to choose between the girl she loves and the success of the rebellion she’s devoted her life to. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Anna-Marie McLemore.
Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.
Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.
There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?
We Unleash the Merciless Storm (We Set the Dark on Fire, #2)Review:
We Unleash the Merciless Storm was a great ending for the story of Dani and Carmen and the world they live in. I realize that I didn’t really explain much in my review of the first book (read it here if you feel like it). I’m going to spoil a few things from the first book, so please don’t continue this review if you don’t want spoilers for We Set the Dark on Fire (just know I absolutely loved both books and they’re super gay and you should read them.) This story takes place in a world where the inner island and outer island are at odds. In the first book, Dani and Carmen are both just finishing school. They end up married with Dani as the Primera and Carmen as the Segunda. The man they marry is high up in Medio’s government. Which is great as both girls are working for the resistance organization that goes by La Voz. La Voz is working to bring down the Median government which basically is just run by the wealthy people on the island and leaves the rest to live in poverty. So much more happens in this story, but that was a quick overview.
One of the best things about this book was that, unlike the first book which was entirely from Dani’s perspective, this story is told by Carmen. I loved this because there was so much that was unknown about Carmen with where the first book ended. I really loved getting to know her history. Carmen also really struggled between her feelings for Dani and coming back to a home that she doesn’t totally recognize anymore. At the end of book one, Carmen is taken back to La Voz home base and that’s where this book starts. Carmen has been gone from La Voz for several years while she was deep undercover going to school to become a Segunda. So, when she comes back, she doesn’t totally recognize the La Voz that was her home before she left. Her best friend, Alex, is angry with her. And there’s someone new, someone, that is whispering into the Vulture’s ear. The Vulture is the leader of La Voz, but he isn’t acting like the leader that Carmen knows him to be. I loved the mystery of the ending which I’m not going to say anything further about because of spoilers. I also really enjoyed the conclusion in general. I would have liked to have gotten a ‘ten years later’ or something, but I was still satisfied with the ending. I really enjoyed all of the parts with Carmen and Dani reuniting, but also Carmen’s journey to get to Dani and find out what was going on was just as good. As much as I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see Dani until a decent way through the story, I think the anticipation of her and Carmen reuniting is what got me through.
Overall, I loved this book and I wish more people talked about this series. The world is fascinating and diverse. The relationship is queer and I’m so obsessed with it. There are wonderful friendships and a found family. I just think this is a great book and a great series.

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 Black Veins by Ashia Monet

GoodReads Summary:
In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.
Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?
She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.
Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.
The Black Veins (Dead Magic Book 1)Review:
The Black Veins was a really fun and diverse story. In this world, magic is real. But it’s a secret. There are spells to hide magical places (like Blythe’s family’s coffee shop) from those without magic. I thought the world itself was really interesting. There is a government to the magical world. But there’s also more than one. The Black Veins is one and the other is newer, the Trident Republic which is painted to be the enemy. Blythe hears a song one night, a song that leads her almost right off the edge of her roof. This is when the Black Veins steps in and decides it’s time for the Guardians to go somewhere safe. So, Blythe gets ready to leave her family and to be taken in by the Black Veins, but before that can happen her entire family is kidnapped by the Trident Republic. Blythe goes with the Black Veins when they come for her, but she has a different mission: to convince the other Guardians to help rescue her family by going to the most dangerous place for them.
The best part of this book was the characters. Each of the Guardians was so different. I really loved them all. I think a part of that was the fact that they didn’t really get along at first. None of them wanted to be there, leaving their homes and family. Some were snarky, some scared, but I loved all of them. And I grew to love them as they grew to one another.
Overall, this book was wonderful. It was diverse and full of amazing relationships. There was action and adventure, grief, and emotion, all of the best things. I cannot wait to read more of this series.

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.

Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody

GoodReads Summary:
Return to the City of Sin, where the final game is about to begin…and winning will demand the ultimate sacrifice.
Only days after a corrupt election and brutal street war, one last bloodthirsty game has begun. The players? The twenty-two most powerful, notorious people in New Reynes.
After realizing they have no choice but to play, Enne Scordata and Levi Glaisyer are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But while Levi offers false smiles and an even falser peace to the city’s politicians, Enne must face a world where her true Mizer identity has been revealed…and any misstep could turn deadly.
Meanwhile, a far more dangerous opponent has appeared on the board, one plucked right from the most gruesome legends of New Reynes. As the game takes its final, vicious turn, Levi and Enne must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies.
Because in a game for survival, there are only losers…
And monsters.
Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game, #3)Review:
Thank you to HarperCollins for letting me be a part of this blog tour. The finale to the Shadow Game series was one of my most anticipated releases, so I was beyond excited to be able to read an eARC (thanks NetGalley!).
Queen of Volts is the conclusion of this series, so I don’t think I’ll be going into too much detail about the plot because I want you to read this series and not be spoiled. I love the world this story takes place in. New Reynes is chaotic and the characters I love so much are doing their best to make it a better place, a place no longer filled with violence and people being thought of in a specific way because of their abilities. I would love to live in the City of Sin. It’s such a fascinating place, filled with so much history and so much potential. I would read so many more books set in this world just because I love the politics. I think that’s what I liked the most about this book. It was more political than the others. Well, we get more of the actual government rather than the mobsters we get to know in books one and two. We still deal with some of the same families, but they’re working with the government now. There are so many different players in the story. I was impressed that Foody managed to give them all distinct and unique voices.
Enne is really struggling with her identity. She learns that most of her life was a lie and she created a new persona that is more fitting for the City of Sin. But it’s led her to make some choices and do some things that haunt her. Haunted, that’s a great word for Enne. She’s trying to work through her guilt while losing too many of the people that she cares about. By the end of the story though, she’s grown so much and I was so proud to see it.
Levi, my poor, sweet, Levi. He’s lost so much. And he loses more in Queen of Volts. But he accomplishes dreams he never thought he would, but also realizes his dreams were not what they used to be. Levi also really struggles with his feelings for Enne. She’s not the same girl he fell in love with and she’s done things he doesn’t know if he can accept. I loved how adaptable Levi was. He takes life in stride and always has another plan, even when it looks like there’s no way out. I just love him.
There are honestly too many characters to talk about. Lola’s perspective made me sad. She learned important information but lost so much. I loved how her story was resolved though. Grace, my poor little Grace. She did not deserve how Foody did her dirty. I love Grace with my whole heart.
Overall, I’m sad to see this series end. I loved being in this world. It’s a dark and gritty place. It’s a place where you kill or be killed and I loved every minute I spent in it. I loved these characters so much. They changed and grew so much in these pages. They loved one another and they lost friends along the way. I cannot recommend this series enough. Also, all three of these covers are freaking stunning.

Quotes:

“Lola wouldn’t throw her life away to become a legend—she’d die to make sure the legends were finished.”

“Everything in his life was a performance, but if he had, in fact, come here to die today, then he would die a gangster or a king?”

“That was the problem with loving someone. Once you let someone into your heart, they could take a sledgehammer to it.”

“The City of Sin was a game, and you couldn’t win if you played nice.”

“But Sophia had come to realize that she was the type of girl who some respected but few liked—like a shot of something bitter and strong. And she’d always clung to those who’d been willing to tolerate the burn.”

“It was the sort of power that made her broken throne feel sturdy enough to support her. Whatever her mistakes, whatever her story, she would not fall.”

“It felt as though the City of Sin was out there, and them in here. Or maybe it was the other way around. New Reynes wasn’t lights and cards and debauchery—it was the blurry line between friends and enemies, the smile of someone you used to know, the ghost of a victim gone, the dagger edge of a legend.”

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.

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 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.

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco

GoodReads Review:
When a hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, and a legendary firebird come together…something wicked is going down.
Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left encased in ice when the Snow Queen waged war. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them.
A new hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala must unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.
Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic, #1)Review:
Rin Chupeco became an auto-buy author for me after I read the first two books of the Bone Witch series. I didn’t love the first book in that series, but I’ve loved everything of hers I’ve read since. So, when I didn’t love this, I was a bit disappointed. I want to say that I did enjoy this book, but I felt similarly about this that I did with The Bone Witch.
For the first 50-100 pages, the story pretty much dumps history and world-building into the story. I understood little because we’re coming into this story many years after the Kingdom of Avalon was encased in ice. So, there’s so much the reader needs to know before we can actually get to the part of the book where the characters try to get their kingdom back. But it was a bit too much for me. The backstory was just dumped in there and left me a little confused rather than over informing me. The confusing part of this story was that while it’s sort of set in modern times, it’s not set in the world as we know it. In this world, all the fairytales exist in the world in their own kingdoms. Every story from Snow White to Alice in Wonderland. I thought this was really creative and interesting, but it was a bit confusing at first.
Despite my trouble with the start of the book, I pushed through and was really here for the characters. Our main character Tala was the best. She has the ability to negate magic and I thought that was so freaking cool. I liked watching her develop and test her ability, including the times she accidentally negated magic and it had negative effects.
Then there’s the crown prince, Alex. I didn’t like him very much. I did at first, but after they leave Arizona, he’s kind of a dick to everyone around him and I really didn’t appreciate that. I guess we will wait and see if he’s better in the second book.
Then there are the bandersnatches. I’m not going to name them all but they were the friend group/guards of this story. I loved them. They added diversity and excellence to the story. They have unique abilities and personalities. Their histories are different, but some of them went to the same school. I really loved them as a group.
Overall, this wasn’t my favorite book by Chupeco (that honor goes to The Never Tilting World) but I still enjoyed it enough that I’ll be continuing the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)Review:
How am I supposed to explain how much I loved this book? I wasn’t going to read this because of all of the negative or average reviews. All I have to say is, what is wrong with you people?? This book has been (wrongly) compared to Six of Crows. I slightly understand the comparison, but this story was so different.
We follow several different characters who all have different goals, but they’ve become a family of sorts and I loved every single one of them. I’ll start with Severin. He’s our damaged boy. I adored him. He’s supposed to have inherited his parent’s ring and become the patriarch of his family, but that right was stolen from him. His goal is to change that and reinstate his family, to become the patriarch that he was always supposed to be. After his parents died and his birthright was stolen from him, he was moved from home to home until he came into his monetary inheritance. I really liked the bits and pieces we got about each of his foster fathers. He also has a brother, Tristan.
Tristan is an awkward nerdy kid and I freaking loved him. He has this horrifying pet spider that he loves dearly. I don’t like spiders, but I loved Tristan. He’s like the little brother of everyone in the group. I adored how much everyone loves him. He’s a sweet little bean and I would die for him.
Laila is from India. She’s a dancer and loves to bake. That’s my kind of lady. She has an interesting history that I won’t specify because I thought learning about her was a part of the journey that is this book. She has a really interesting ability that is to be able to see the history of any object. I thought this was really cool, but also, I’m still curious about whether or not she can do the same with living things. Laila’s goal is to find a book that helped create her. I’m very intrigued by this book and I think it has something to do with the events of the next book.
Enrique is biracial (Filipino and Spanish). He’s a historian that loves to learn about the past. I thought his internal struggle with appearing more Spanish than Filipino was really interesting. I really thought he brought an interesting point of view to the story. He’s also bisexual, though the word is never used he says that he’s interested in both men and women. I really liked Enrique. He was the comedic relief of this friend group and I’m always a sucker for the funny guy. I also totally ship him with Zofia.
Zofia was a little science nerd and I love her. She’s Jewish which I thought was nice because I don’t see all that much representation for Jewish people out there. She’s also Polish and moved away from her sister to go to school. I believe that Zofia is somewhere on the Autism spectrum but I don’t know whether that’s been confirmed anywhere. She has issues with certain social cues, clothing materials, and I loved her so much. She’s incredibly smart and is the mad scientist and mathematician of the bunch. She loves to create but was not treated well when she tried to go to traditional schools.
Then there’s Hypnos, who isn’t a part of this found family at the beginning of the story. He manages to worm his way in though. I didn’t know whether or not we could trust him, but I grew to love him. He’s the patriarch of one of the last two recognized Houses. He hires the group to steal something from the other House. Obviously shit hits the fan and nothing goes as planned. I liked Hypnos. He was flirty and fun, but never quite trustworthy for most of the story. I’m definitely interested to see where his story goes in the next book.
Overall, I adored this book. I love Roshani’s writing. It’s just absolutely beautiful. She built a fascinating world with characters I would die for. Please read this book right now.

Quotes:

“Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”

“Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.”

“Her mother’s voice rang in her ears: ‘Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.”

“I don’t want to be their equal. I don’t want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, as if they’d stared at the sun itself. I don’t want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

GoodReads Summary:
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
The Darkest Part of the ForestReview:
The Darkest Part of the Forest takes place in the same world as the Folk of the Air trilogy. Many were disappointed by the finale of that series and to those people I say, READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. The Darkest Part of the Forest was everything I wanted from the Folk of the Air series. There were interesting and complex sibling relationships. There were romantic relationships that I was quickly invested in. Plus, there was all the fae drama that I loved from her other series, but more interesting.
The fae aspect of this story was so fascinating. This story takes place in the town of Fairfold where the fae come out to play with tourists. I loved this aspect of the story. The concept of magic in the world as I know it is so interesting to me. The fae in town don’t mess with the locals, only the tourists that come to see the horned boy in the glass coffin. The horned boy’s coffin is also the local’s party spot. This hit me in the high school feels because I totally partied in the woods during my high school years, so, I could totally see my friends in the party scenes with the horned boy.
When the coffin is found shattered and the horned boy awakes, life in Fairfold changes. I loved the relationship between Hazel and Ben. I really enjoyed getting to see their history. When they were children, they hunted fae with Ben using his musical ability and Hazel fighting them. There were some hard to read parts with these parts, but it just made the story that much better. Their relationship was so complicated and tangled, there were a lot of issues between them but I loved seeing them work through these issues and develop their relationships.
The romances were wonderful. I’m not going to specify who is with who because the wondering (for me) was a great part of the book. Both siblings find romance in these pages. Ben is gay and his romance was everything I wanted and more. The way his path led in this story was everything I wanted from Jude and Cardan. Hazel’s romance was also right up my alley. It was my favorite romance trope and I love how things turned out for them.
Overall, this book was so freaking good. I don’t know why more people haven’t read this. To all of the people that read and loved The Cruel Prince, please read this book because you will love this even more. The supporting characters were amazing. The mix of real-world and fae was great. I just loved everything about this book.

 

Quotes:

“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.”

“Every child needs a tragedy to become truly interesting.”

“Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin. It rested right on the ground, and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.”

“There don’t have to be first dates and second dates. We’re not normal. We can do this anyway you want. A relationship can be whatever you want it to be. We get to make this part up. We get to tell our own story.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

GoodReads Summary:
A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts— even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.
An Enchantment of RavensReview:
Absolutely everyone in the book community raves about this book. So, after reading her other novel (Sorcery of Thorns) and really enjoying it, I thought I’d finally give this book a try. I liked this book well enough.
I thought the characters were interesting. I liked that Isobel absolutely did not want to become a faerie. I think so many books are out there where the main character is human but wants to be anything but. So, Isobel is one of the few that doesn’t want that for herself, even after she fell in love with the autumn prince. I really thought it was interesting.
Sadly, I didn’t feel like I really connected with the characters as much as I could have. I liked them all well enough and I liked the romance well enough, but I wasn’t overly invested. I was happy with the overall outcome and things were exciting and action-filled, but I just wasn’t super attached to the story or the characters.
Overall, this book was fun. I enjoyed it even though I didn’t love it. I can completely understand why so many people love it, but I just wasn’t as invested in the story or characters as much as I wanted to be. I do also have to mention that the writing in this book was absolutely stunning. It was beautiful without being overly flowery. That was definitely one of my favorite things.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

GoodReads Summary:
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?
There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness, #1)Review:
There Will Come a Darkness became a new favorite book of mine immediately after I finished it. I am blown away by all of the different aspects of this story.
Let’s start with the world, which leads to the plot. A hundred years ago, the Prophets disappeared. This is something I still want to know more about. Why did they disappear? Where did they go? Will they be coming back? They left behind one final (secret) prophecy that tells of the Age of Darkness. This prophecy is what brings our five characters together. I loved the magic system and the concept of the Graces. I thought it was unique and interesting. I have to say, I am in awe of Katy Rose Pool’s ability to tell this story in five different perspectives and still give each of them a very distinct voice and personality.
The Pale Hand or Ephyra is a mysterious killer that leaves behind the mark of a pale hand on her victims. We learn why she is killing people and it makes me feel for her. She has a younger sister, Beru, that is sick. So Ephyra kills terrible people for their esha and gives it to Beru to heal her. This moral gray aspect of her story made her that much more interesting. I went back and forth between hating her and feeling bad for her and the struggles she’s faced.
Beru is horrified by her sister’s actions to keep her alive. She’s at the point where she’s just ready to die. I was blown away by the secret that these sisters are keeping and what that secret means for the world. I loved the inclusion of the sibling relationship, especially since it was a complex and morally grey one.
Hassan was probably the character I cared about the least, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like him. I just loved all the others so much that he takes the bottom spot. Hassan is the heir to a kingdom taken over by a terrible, terrible person. He wants to take action to save his kingdom from the Hierophant (who is trying to rid the world of the Graced.) When he is convinced that he is the last Prophet that was named in the secret prophecy, things start to speed up. He gathers an army to take back their country and this is when things go wrong. I won’t go into detail about what exactly goes wrong, but it was exciting and full of action. The stakes were high and I loved every page of the climax of this story.
Now, for my favorite character, Anton. Anton is my little bean. He is running from his older brother, who was horribly cruel to him in their childhood. He lives life on the run, never getting close to anyone. He also can’t seem to use his Grace without being taken back to the moment when his brother tried to drown him (which is when he left home and has been running ever since.) I loved the mystery that surrounded Anton. We’re not sure why he’s running or what the problem is with using his Grace for quite a while. He teams up with the Pale Hand because she thinks Anton can find an object that will save Beru. His involvement with these two is how he gets dragged into everything else going on with Jude and Hassan. When Ephyra and Anton get arrested, Jude comes to save the day, sort of.
Jude was my second favorite. Jude is the Keeper of the Word, meaning it is his duty to protect the Last Prophet and help them prevent the Age of Darkness. Jude struggles with the duty he knows he has to fulfill and his doubting his ability to do this duty. I loved Jude. I was a little mad at him a few times when he did things that I really didn’t want him to do. But he came back around in the end and saved the Last Prophet. I loved Jude and his journey to figuring out what really mattered.
The characters were really what made this story. But the plot was exciting and surprising. There were several different times where I said out loud to myself, “WHAT” because Katy Rose Pool made me care and believe in all of these characters (even the bad ones) so I was floored by the betrayals and screaming with happiness for the characters that I so easily fell in love with. The development of each of these characters was so well done. The world was creative and so interesting. I’m left with questions, a fierce desire to want more, but not so many questions that I’m upset with a lack of answers. We were given enough to be satisfying but also left craving more of the world, more answers, more character interactions. I’m so invested in the romantic relationships and the friendships. I loved this interesting world and the diverse cast of characters.
Overall, this is a new favorite and I cannot wait for the second book in September. I will be picking it up immediately and devouring it because I need more of this world and the characters that live in it.

Quotes:

“Those who cannot own their choices will always be mastered by fate.”

“There was nothing to be frightened of when you were the most dangerous thing that stalked the streets”

“Those who abused their power would only continue the cycle, rewarding the ones who enabled them.”

“I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know about duty and purpose. But I know what people want. You may think you’re different, that you live by some special code that sets you apart, but everyone wants something Jude. Even you.”

“You can spend your entire life looking over your shoulder, waiting for your past to catch up to you. Or you can stop running and finally face it.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.