Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Summary:
“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.
Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1)Review:
Wings of Ebony was provided to me via NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This is a story about Rue, who, hours after her mother died, her father (who she doesn’t remember) comes to take her to where he is from. He is from a magical place, Ghizon, where she is given magic and trained how to use it. But on the anniversary of her mother’s death, she goes back to her neighborhood to leave a gift for her sister, Tasha. Her visit doesn’t go as expected, no one was supposed to see her. But things in her neighborhood are not good. There’s a crew that’s forcing high school kids to deal drugs and killing them if they refuse. Rue is determined to help her neighborhood, but it isn’t that simple. There’s more going on in both places than she realizes.
I liked Rue. She doesn’t always make the right choices, but she always makes them for the right reasons. She does everything because she wants to protect her family. I didn’t love that it took so long for her to let her father in, but it’s realistic. I can understand why it took so long. But I would have liked to gotten to see them getting to know one another more. I liked that after all Rue has been through, she managed to find one good thing in a place she had no desire to be in. She makes friends with a girl named Bri, who is who is really good with tech. Bri is how Rue gets back to her neighborhood for the anniversary. Their relationship isn’t always perfect, but I really liked them.
Overall, I liked this book. I think the worldbuilding was excellent. It spoke really well about colonization and racism (systemic and otherwise). I think there are so many people that will love this book. It’s full of adventure and love, but it also tackles tough topics in a really accessible way.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco

Summary:
After a treacherous journey and a life-shattering meeting with a twin neither knew they had, Haidee and Odessa expected to emerge from the Great Abyss to a world set right. But though the planet is turning once again, the creatures of the abyss will not rest until they have tasted another goddess’s sacrifice.
To break the cycle, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyond the seven gates of the underworld, within the Cruel Kingdom itself. The shadows of the underworld may hunger to tear them apart, but these two sisters are determined to heal their world—together.
The Ever Cruel Kingdom  (The Never Tilting World, #2)Review:
I love this series. I’m going to keep this review short because this is a sequel and I don’t want to spoil much. This book is the conclusion to The Never Tilting World, which follows a set of twins, except neither knows that the other exists. They found one another and tried to undo the Breaking that their mothers caused. The Ever Cruel Kingdom is the events after Haidee and Odessa thought they fixed the Breaking. The world has started turning again, so there are days and nights, rain, and other things that many have never experienced. This book was basically chaos and I loved it.
The Ever Cruel Kingdom was very fast-paced. There were many fighting scenes, as well as hastily planned searches to find what is needed to actually fix the Breaking. But there wasn’t a slow moment, aside from a few romantic and sisterly moments that the girls took for themselves. I think the action scenes were so well done. The magical abilities were always well explained when they were using their magic. They were so clearly explained that I could picture Odessa and Haidee using their gates (I’m usually terrible at picturing things from books). I also really appreciated how the characters worked together. There wasn’t anyone that tried to be the hero and take on the more in the fights. The twins worked their magic together and the love interests, Lan and Arjun, work together to fight alongside them.
The romances were excellent. Odessa and Lan were so sweet. I loved the female/female romance between them. Lan was the one that could bring Odessa down when she was struggling with her magic. I loved how this was shown by Lan using things she knew about Odessa (like her love for romance novels) to help Odessa come back to herself. To me, this showed how well Lan and Odessa knew each other. Haidee and Arjun were fierier. I loved the passion between them. I think they were a great bit of levity to the story. While there were serious moments between the two, they brought humor and happiness to a tense story.
Now, the world. We learn so much more about the Breaking and how it happened. Latona and Asteria play a part in this story too. Haidee and Odessa’s mothers make an appearance and I was riveted by their anger toward one another. Their history was so compelling and opened up the reader’s knowledge to why the world is the way it is now. We also learn a bit more about the original Goddess that was unknown to most of those that lived in this world. I think Chupeco did a really great job of sharing this information in small bites as it was relevant to the story.
Overall, I loved this book and I love this series. I adored the characters. The world-building was fascinating. The romances were swoon-worthy. I also really enjoyed that the side characters got their own page time too. There were great new friendships, old relationships that were renewed, and relationships we knew from the first book that were further developed and they were all wonderful. I cannot say enough good things about this book. So, stop what you’re doing and go read it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

GoodReads Summary:
For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…
Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.
Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.
In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.
Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl, #1)Review:
A Crown of Coral and Pearl follows a pair of sisters that live in Varenia. Their village is one that depends on the water. The people dive for pearls in the sea. They fish, but they also value beauty an unreasonable amount. Every time there is a prince of Ilara of age, the girls of this village have a chance to be selected as the prince’s bride. The most beautiful girl in the village is the one that will be chosen. So, no one is surprised when Zadie is chosen to be Prince Ceren’s bride.
The story gets going after Zadie has been chosen and realized that she can’t go through with it and injures herself. Nor takes Zadie’s place and travels to Ilara. I think the world was pretty interesting. The history of why the Ilaran princes marry women from Varenia was interesting, if a little silly. But the way that the people live in Varenia was my favorite. I love world building that involves water.
I think the audiobook was really well done with the narration. I enjoyed the narrator. I think they did a good job of distinguishing between characters and giving the story some emotion.
I mostly liked the characters. Nor was incredibly brave. She just wanted to see the world, but she also wanted to help her people. So, she had all kinds of ideas about ways to do that when she came to Ilara, but was quickly shown that she had more of a challenge ahead of her than she realized. I think the politics that Nor dealt with were pretty interesting. The way that society worked within the mountain castle in Ilara was fascinating.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were a few things I could have done without, like the romance. I think this book would have been even better without any romance. Nor’s love for Verenia would have been enough for me. I liked the world and the characters well enough.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

GoodReads Summary:
Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.
She will reign.
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.
All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth, #1)Review:
All the Stars and Teeth is the story of a princess that is about to come into her crown, but the night that’s supposed to start everything doesn’t go as planned. Amora loses control of her magic and she’s thrown into the dungeon to await trial to see if she will be given another chance or be put to death. But this does not go as planned either. Bastian comes to her in the dungeon and offers her a chance to prove that she is fit to be the High Animancer, as long as she will help him with something that he needs.
Amora takes Basitan up on his offer and the two flee to his ship. Tagging along on this mission is Amora’s fiancé (in an arranged marriage), Ferrick, and later on in the journey is Vataea (a mermaid). This is the core four that the story focuses on. Amora, Bastian, and Ferrick are traveling to Bastian’s home, somewhere that has been deemed no longer a part of Visidia. I think one of the more interesting parts of this story was Amora realizing that there was so much about her own Kingdom, that she was about to start ruling, that she didn’t know. She mentions that her father must have been keeping secrets and she couldn’t understand why. This is actually mentioned quite a few times and seemed a bit repetitive. Amora’s general lack of knowledge was obvious in her reactions when seeing other parts of Visidia for the first time. I don’t think it needed to be said that her father kept things from her so many times. I really liked Amora. She had a really good heart. She wanted what was best for her kingdom. She just wanted to be a good ruler. But there was more going on than she knew and she didn’t quite know how to handle that. As for Bastien, his past was a bit of a mystery and I think Grace did a really good job of revealing his secrets slowly and at the perfect moment. Bastien was fascinating. He’s a pirate (sort of?) and his ship has magic, but we’re not sure why or how. I liked the mystery of his character, but the more I learned about him, the more I liked him. Then Ferrick, he honestly annoyed me. But I think that’s because the audiobook narrator made him sound like he was twelve-years-old. I think there were definitely issues that Ferrick was not prepared to deal with once he left his home to follow Amora. There were issues with their relationship that got addressed as needed and I liked this part of the story. I liked seeing the pair work through their issues and come to a different sort of understanding. Finally, Vataea. I wish we’d gotten to know more about her. I liked that she was fierce and powerful, but I wanted to know more about what made her tick. I just wanted more.
The magic in this world is incredibly interesting. There’s time magic, soul magic, curse magic, and a few others that we didn’t really get to explore. I think Grace did a great job not dumping the information about the magic into the story. We learn about the different magics as we see them and in bits and pieces. I also thought the world was really interesting in general. There is the island that Amora grew up on, but there are a few others as well. I really hope we will get to see more of the islands in the next book.
Overall, this was a fun book. I listened to the audiobook and I think the narrator did a great job with this story. They gave the story all the right emotions when they were called for. My only complaint about the audio is what I mentioned about Ferrick sounding like a child. Other than that, this story was action packed, filled with secrets, history misremembered (it’s written by the victors as they say), and I am absolutely going to continue the series with the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Black Wings Beating by Alex London

GoodReads Summary:
The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.
Brysen strives to be a great falconer–while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She’s nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.
Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he’s long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother’s future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.
Black Wings Beating (Skybound, #1)Review:
Black Wings Beating follows two siblings, Brysen and Kylee. The grew up with an abusive father and a mother that never did anything to stop the abuse. After their father dies is when the story starts. This world is focused on birds from hawks to eagles to owls, we see all different kinds of birds play a part of this story. I thought the world built around birds (though there’s another people that are the opposite of the sibling’s people, who believe that the way the people of Uztar work with birds is unnatural) was really interesting. There are all these beliefs about how the people of Uztar came to cross the mountains with the help of birds. I thought it was really interesting even though I’m not someone that’s all that interested in birds in my regular life.
Brysen is gay and his boyfriend has gotten himself into trouble. So, Brysen volunteers to capture the well-known Ghost Eagle. This is seen to be an impossible task, but Brysen takes it on to save the boy he loves. Kylee doesn’t want any part of this, she just wants to get away from falconry. But when she sees how her brother goes up into the mountains with little to no preparations, she knows she must follow him to help or he will not succeed. So, Kylee goes along on this mission for a different kind of love. I liked both of these siblings. Brysen was kind of annoying and I totally saw the twist involving him coming. He had a good heart, but because of the way his father treated him, he felt as if he had something to prove. Kylee was more likeable. She has a rare ancient gift that she despises. But on this journey to capture the Ghost Eagle, both learn more about themselves, about one another, and about secrets they both have been keeping.
Overall, this was a fun and easy to follow story surrounding birds and falconry. There were a few side characters that I really liked too, but I felt like they could have been a bit better developed. I will absolutely be continuing on with the series. I listening to the audiobook, which I recommend. I enjoyed the narrators. I enjoyed this book and I’m glad I finally picked it up.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Crystal Caged by Elise Kova

GoodReads Summary:
One way or another… she will be the end of the world.
With powers that weren’t supposed to be touched by mortal hands, Vi Solaris is determined to free herself and the world from the deadly vortex it’s trapped in. This mission has taken her to forbidden lands and has transformed her from a sheltered princess to a fearsome warrior.
But the ultimate triumph requires the ultimate sacrifice, forcing Vi to choose between the last tethers to her humanity and the very people she’s sworn to protect.
Vi’s story of magic, sacrifice, triumph, and love reaches its epic conclusion in Crystal Caged.
Crystal Caged (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles, #5)Review:
Crystal Caged is the finale to the Vortex Chronicles. It’s been a while since I read the previous books and I waited even longer to finally pick it up because I wasn’t ready for this world and these characters to be done. But thankfully, Kova seemed to know that. She provided a wonderful summary of each of the previous books at the beginning of this one.
So, all the years of Vi’s efforts are finally coming to an end. Once way or another this vortex will end. I liked Vi a lot, but I didn’t totally understand why she was so determined to make this the last time, whether she succeeded or not. Why would she condemn the world to a thousand years of darkness? I didn’t get that, so every time she mentioned that this was the final attempt it rubbed me the wrong way a little. Other than that, Vi’s choices were smart and usually thoughtful. I liked that she didn’t just tell her friends what to do, the three talked about it and then Vi did whatever she wanted (haha).
Overall, I think this was an incredible conclusion to a series that I love so dearly. I also am so excited for Kova’s next series, following different characters, but set in the same world. I think she did an incredible job weaving this story into the first series. I loved all of the things from the Air Awakens series that we got to see from a different perspective. Kova’s writing is excellent and she creates characters and relationships that you can’t help but love.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.
Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.
Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.
The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart’s unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.
Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury, #2)Review:
This sequel was just as good as the first book. I had some of the same issues, but also loved mostly the same things.
The story picks right back up where the first book left us. I really loved both Nomi and Serina. They’ve both grown so much. Serina is learning that in order to survive she needs to do the opposite of what she was taught while growing up. Nomi has learned that she needs to keep her calm and that she is too easily trusting. Seeing the sisters reunite was the best. Both sisters seeing how the other had changed in their time apart was a shock for them. But I loved seeing them together again. All too soon, they both went off on separate missions again.
But their missions were both important ones. I really liked the pacing of the story. There was action and danger, but there were also periods of travel, planning, and preparation. I liked that we got to see the women training on Mount Ruin. Nomi’s part of the story was heartbreaking, but it was interesting to see her become almost as ruthless as Serina.
The only issue I had with this book was the romances. I really could have just completely done without them. Even Serina’s which was developing since book one, I just wasn’t invested in the romantic aspects of the book. Especially for Nomi, because she trusted someone she shouldn’t have in book one because of romance and then she has a totally new romance in this book. I would have much preferred for the story to focus more on the sisters than any romance.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I flew through the story and couldn’t put it down until I got to the ending (which I also would have liked a “five years later” chapter or something to see how things really changed.) I’m very happy I finally picked this series up and I can’t wait to see what Banghart comes out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.
Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.
Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.
Grace and Fury (Grace and Fury, #1)Review:
Grace and Fury follows two sisters, Nomi and Serina. Serina has trained all her life to become a Grace (essentially a concubine to the rulers) and Nomi has followed to be her handmaiden. Serina is happy to have this chance to serve the Heir and to help the rest of her family live a better life, but Nomi hates the restrictions put on women in her world. They’re not allowed to learn how to read or write. They are mostly only allowed to toil away in factories or be married off. Nomi doesn’t want any of that. She has a secret. And this secret causes both sisters lives to change in ways they never could have imagined.
Nomi is chosen as one of the Heir’s Graces instead of Serina. And soon after, Serina is sent to a mostly barren island that serves as a women’s prison, after she takes the blame for Nomi’s actions.
The best part of this book were the sisters and their love for one another. Even though they’ve been separated, they both think of the other often and wished things to be different. They both took inspiration from the other. Nomi did her best to think about what Serina would do in situations Nomi was unsure of and Serina though of how Nomi would be strong and would fight when Serina needed to survive.
I really enjoyed the world, but I would have liked a bit more information about it. The world building was pretty basic, though I’m excited to see these sisters tear their way through this society and change it for the better. They live in a world rules by men where women are allowed to do very little. Nomi has always thought this was unfair but Serina doesn’t feel that way until she’s out on the island where it’s survival above all else. Serina draws parallels to what she sees on the island with Nomi’s thoughts before they were separated. I’m excited to see where the next book will go because the ending of this one was so excellent.
The only thing I didn’t like was a part of Nomi’s storyline. I think the story could completely go without romance. But I understand why it was done this way. Nomi’s romance and the twist involved with that made the story feel a bit rushed because her realizing the truth and trying to stop certain plans all had to happen very quickly, but as the reader I saw it coming a fair bit ahead of Nomi.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I read it in one sitting. It was easy to get into the world and understand what was going on. Nomi was easy to love right from the start. She’s a girl that just wants to be allowed to read and to have choices. Serina was a bit harder. She was alright with how things worked. She’s accepted her world the way it was, until she was in a whole different world. Once she got to the island I really started to like her. If you like sibling relationships I think you’ll like this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Fable by Adrienne Young

GoodReads Summary:
For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.
Fable (Fable, #1)Review:
I received Fable from NetGalley and the publishers and I’m so glad because I loved it. I don’t know that I’ll explain exactly how much I loved it or why. But I’m going to do my best.
Fable lives on an island that is a very dangerous place. She’s working on saving enough money to travel and face her father. The father that left her on said island four years ago. He left her to fend for herself and told her she wasn’t meant for his world. She is ready to prove him wrong. Once she’s finally saved enough money, she begs passage from West, the man she trades gems she finds while diving. As this is a novel, things don’t exactly as planned when Fable finally comes face to face with her father again. I’m going to stop there with the plot details. I loved Fable. She kicked and screamed and clawed her way off the island. She said and did whatever it took to come back to face her father. And when he didn’t respond in the way she wanted she made a new plan. She finds herself a new family in West and his crew. I absolutely adored the whole crew of the Magnolia. I loved their secrets, their hopes and dreams. I am beyond excited to see what the crew will do in the next book. We got to see them work together as a unit, a family, and I loved it. I loved getting to know West and Willa, Paj and Auster. I loved that there were queer characters.
The writing and the world building were stunning. The writing was lyrical and descriptive. The world building was so well done. I could see this world in vivid colors. At times, I felt as if I was somehow in the story alongside Fable. I will absolutely be picking up more books by Young. I was enthralled by this story, by the writing, by Fable’s fire. I couldn’t put it down until the final page. I cannot recommend this book enough for lovers of YA fantasy, or other sorts of ‘pirate’ stories.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

GoodReads Summary:
Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.
A Song Below WaterReview:
I loved everything about this book. A Song Below Water follows Tavia and Effie, two girls that have adopted one another as sisters. I think that was my favorite part of this story. The relationship that Tavia and Effie have was so wonderful. They may not have been sisters by blood, but they were sisters in every way that counts. This was absolutely the highlight of the book. But there were so many other things I loved.
Tavia is a siren. This is something she really struggles with. It’s a part of her identity, just like being a black girl in America is. But her father has always drilled it into her head how dangerous it is to be both of those things. You see, the world knows about the mythological creatures that exist in the world. They know about sirens (and they do not treat them well), but the world also knows about pixies and gargoyles and other myths that we meet in the story. Most of these creatures are accepted, but sirens are not, at all. So, Tavia struggles every day keeping her identity as a siren a secret. She struggles to keep her siren voice inside. This sometimes means that she just can’t speak. She has learned sign language so that she can speak that way. She and Effie are a team, and Effie comes in to translate (with their parents and sometimes even in class). It was heartbreaking to see the anxiety and stress that being a siren causes Tavia, but I really loved all of the things she did to help herself. I loved how Tavia worked through these things and eventually made some really good progress with her family too.
Effie is dealing with different issues. She’s still dealing with the grief of losing her mother. She has moved in with Tavia and her family. But she has other issues. She can’t stop thinking about her dry skin and her head itching. She’s been to doctors and they have not been helpful. But things are getting worse for her. Her grandmother is acting weird and Effie just wants some answers. Faire season is coming up and it’s Effie’s favorite time of year. She plays a mermaid and this year she’s gotten a bigger part. But while Effie’s trying to figure out what secrets are being kept from her, her priorities start to change. Swimming is something she loves and always calms her, but it’s usually been related to the faire. This year is different. Effie is different. I thought the author did a great job keeping the reader guessing as to what exactly was going on with Effie.
Just real quick, also. I totally loved the gargoyle parts of this story. The mystery of why the gargoyle perched on Tavia’s roof every night was great and got even better when Tavia befriended him.
I loved both of these girls so much. They’re both dealing with their own really have shit, but they never fail to be there when the other needs support. They hold each other up and I loved every minute of their relationship. I just really loved this book. The writing was stunning and the story swept me away. I listened to the audiobook which had two narrators and I thought they did a wonderful job telling this story. I cannot wait for this series to continue.

Quotes:

“We should all speak like sirens. Use our voices to make a difference, because all of them matter.”

“What we need isn’t dissuading, or discouragement, or consoling. We don’t need to be told we’re all helpless. What we need is action.”

“I’m not a monster because I live in a world that gives me impossible choices.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

GoodReads Summary:
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.
Furyborn (Empirium, #1)Review:
I’ve tried to pick up Furyborn twice now and this time I actually finished it. The last time I picked it up I only made it barely through the prologue before I put it down. I’m so glad I picked up the audiobook on a day my child didn’t want to nap because it pushed me to listen to a solid two hours. After that, I was hooked. I was enjoying it so much I went back and forth reading physically and listening to the audio.
Furyborn follows two powerful (and unlikable) women, Rielle and Eliana. I liked Rielle right from the start. We get a bit of how her story ends in the prologue so I was fascinated once the story jumped back to her being a teenager. I needed to know how her story led to what we saw in the prologue. And the more I read about her the more I loved her. She had a terrible father, who was terrible for a heartbreaking reason (but didn’t make him any less terrible). She had wonderful friends, except she was in love with one of them and the other was going to marry the one she loved. Also, she’s powerful as all hell, but she has to hide it from everyone. I thought her story was complex and interesting and I loved her so much.
Eliana was a different story. I really didn’t like her for quite a while. When this book starts, Eliana is finding and turning in rebels for the Empire. They are executed and she gets paid. She does this for her family’s survival. But it’s terrible and sad and I didn’t like it. But everything changes for Eliana when she has to find the Wolf. I really appreciated her growth and acknowledgment of her past. She will do anything to protect her mother and brother and she proves that again and again. I did grow to like her by the end of the story and I’m very excited to see what she will do next. Also, I do want to mention that she is bisexual.
I hate Corien with my whole heart and that’s all I’m going to say about him.
Simon was one of my favorite aspects of the book. He’s involved with both queens and his story is just complex and intricate and weaves between both timelines. I really enjoyed putting the pieces together to figure out what was going on with him. I one million percent ship him with Eliana.
Overall, this story took some getting used to. It was definitely jarring to go back and forth each chapter between two completely different time periods. But I think once I got used to that and got a better handle on both worlds, I really enjoyed the story. They are so interwoven and tied together. I think this book was incredible. I loved the characters (eventually). I loved the different magic systems. I loved it all.

Quotes:

“Dread,” he murmured, his breath caressing her cheek, “is only a feeling, easily squashed. But wolves, my dear, have teeth.”

“We all have darkness inside us, Rielle,” he said, his voice rough. “That is what it means to be human.”

“Some say the Queen was frightened in her last moments. But I like to think that she was angry.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.
Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.
As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.
A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.
Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever in The Silvered Serpents.
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)Review:
Chokshi is easily one of my favorite authors, so it was no surprise that I really loved The Silvered Serpents. I ended up borrowing the audiobook from my library because my preorder hasn’t arrived yet and I couldn’t wait any longer to get more of these characters and their antics.
This book was tough for me because that found family that I so quickly fell in love with in The Gilded Wolves isn’t very recognizable to the characters in this book. I’m going to try to keep this spoiler free, so if you’ve read The Gilded Wolves, you know the big terrible thing that happens which sort of splinters this group. They’re all dealing with the loss and none of them are dealing very well. It was really sad to see this group so split apart.
Severin is pretty much unrecognizable from who he was in the first book. He’s still very focused on his mission, but his goals have become twists and he will pay any cost to reach that goal. It was really sad to see how his grief had affected him. It was especially hard to see all of the others trying so hard to reach out to him with no positive results. Though I did enjoy learning more about his past.
Laila has secrets, she always has. But now this secret has a time limit that is quickly coming. I think her time limit was an interesting way to set the pace for this story. We see how many days until her birthday toward the beginning and it seemed like so much had happened in such a short number of days because by the end of the book, her birthday still hadn’t come. I love Laila, but it was really sad to see her and Severin’s relationship be so different. It was hard to see them both fight what they were feeling. I absolutely love that she shared her secret with Enrique and Zofia and that sharing this made them closer. I loved that they reacted in a way that she didn’t think they would. They’re true friends and I’m glad that at least stayed the same.
Enrique made me sad because he was struggling with his passion. He’s a historian and was trying to find a new job when the story started. But he was stood up, and then Severin needed him. He has lots of doubts about himself because his potential new job stood him up. It was really hard to hear his inner thoughts about why he wasn’t good enough for this new organization when it wasn’t his fault at all. I also liked learning more about his past. We learn about stories that show how hard it is for Enrique to be both Filipino and Spanish. I love Enrique and Chokshi really did him dirty in this book.
Zofia, who I think is my favorite, tries so hard to not be a burden on any of her friends. She’s just returned from visiting her sister, who has been very sick. But she doesn’t lean on any of her friends. She doesn’t tell them about her worries. It made me sad that Zofia couldn’t see how much her friends want to be there for her, if only she would let them in. I loved Zofia and really enjoyed reading her chapters. She just tries so hard to be helpful and act like those around her.
Finally, Hypnos. He wasn’t originally a part of this found family, but he’s trying so hard to become a part of it. I mostly liked Hypnos (except for his relationship with a certain someone because he was mean and I didn’t like that). I liked that he tried really hard to get thought to Severin, even though that meant he sort of treated someone else badly. I wanted him to be accepted into this family because he’s certainly shown he wants it and that he’s willing to do what needs to be done for them.
After writing all of this I’ve realized that this book just made me really sad. The found family I grew to love so much in book one, isn’t in this story. We see bits and pieces of it between one or two characters occasionally, but it wasn’t there like it was in the first book. I will say that I absolutely loved the plot. I loved getting to see a different part of this world and the ice creatures were absolutely fascinating. I really loved seeing these characters work together despite not being as close as they used to be. There was so much yearning and I loved it. I love these characters. I loved the magic. I love the diversity. I love the world. Roshani Chokshi can do no wrong. Her writing is incredible and I loved this book even though it made me very sad.

Quotes:

“When the devil waged war in the heavens, even angels had to fall.”

“–perhaps monsters were misunderstood gods; deities with plans too grand for humans; a phantom of evil that drank from the roots of good.”

“Enrique had brought her a cookie and made her laugh, and it felt like sitting beside a fire in one’s own home, knowing exactly where everything was and who would come to the door.”

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.

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.