Blogmas Book Review: The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julie Drake

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GoodReads Summary:
The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.
But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.
Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece – the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.
She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.
The Last True Poets of the SeaReview:
I have to thank Chelsea Dolling for hyping this book up. I was intrigued by the cover before even knowing what it was about. So, I bought it when it was on sale. I am so glad that I did because it was way better than I was anticipating. I thought I was going to like it, but boy I loved it so much.
We follow Violet as she’s sent to spend the summer in Maine with her uncle. Violet has spent the past year drinking, partying, and sleeping around. But everything changes when her brother Sam tries to kill himself. Sam is sent to a treatment facility and Violet is sent to Maine. She thinks she and her whole family are cursed, that wrecks are something that happens to them.
Violet makes friends with Orion at the aquarium she’s working at for the summer. Orion introduces her to the rest of his friends, Liv, Mariah, and Felix. I absolutely adored this group of friends. They were such a fun bunch. I liked that Orion just genuinely cared about people. This friend group reminded me of my own friends and that’s why I liked them so much.
Violet and Liv decide to start searching for the shipwreck that Violet’s great-great-grandmother survived. I really liked that the girls had something they were passionate about and a goal to work toward. I think Violet definitely used the shipwreck search to avoid her problems, but I still loved the outcome of their search.
During this time, Violet is remembering and regretting the way she treated her brother. I think this part of the story was captivating. I thought their complicated relationship was interesting and the mental health aspect of it all was well handled and talked about in a thoughtful way.
This book tackled so many complicated issues like mental health, sexuality, underage drinking and substance use, promiscuity, and cigarette smoking. I think it discussed all very well. The bad things were challenged and the good things were addressed thoughtfully. I think this is a new favorite of mine.

Quotes:

“Orion cared in a way that made my chest ache: For music, for fish, for friends. For the moon and the ocean, for these forces that knit us together.”

“I didn’t think it was possible to be blindsided by a truth you’ve always suspected, but there you have it. As it turns out, it’s devastating.”

“Maybe there is no right thing. Maybe there are just things, plural, and you have to try them all.”

“That night, it didn’t matter what had come before and what was going to come after. In that moment, we were the last true poets of the sea, and what mattered more than anything else was our quest.”

“No one could fix us, because no one thing was wrong. The fixing would be in keeping going, in trying. Survival was its own quest: we need to choose to survive over and over again. We had to wash up on shore, and we had to choose to keep washing up every single day.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

Blogmas Book Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

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GoodReads Summary:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the wolds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.
In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her…
But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.
Pulses will race throughout this smoldering fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.
The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)Review:
I’ve been rereading the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series via audiobook over the last month and I’m just so happy that I still love these books just as much as I did when I first read them. It really had been so much fun getting sucked back into the incredible world that Richelle Mead has created. I can’t help but love these characters with my whole heart and feel like I’m just a part of the gang.
The Fiery Heart might be my favorite of the series (we’ll find out after I finish the last two books), because everything for Sydney is just perfect, right up until it isn’t. Mead has a way of pulling you into the story with her writing and not letting you go until the very last page. And even then, those last pages are always filled with things that leave you screaming and rushing to pick up the next book. I’d forgotten about this talent of Mead’s until I needed to stop listening to write this review before starting the next book.
Sydney has really grown and it’s clear in this story. She’s accepted that she might not agree with all of the things the Alchemists believe and that while she still agrees with some of the things, she was taught growing up, she knows that so much of the ideas and values instilled in her are wrong. I just adored this confident and clever Sydney that is finally starting to put herself and her wants first.
But then her sister Zoe is assigned to live with Sydney in her dorm and assist on the assignment of protecting Jill. Zoe complicates things because she still firmly believes in every Alchemist value and has a burning desire to please their father. This causes a bit of conflict now and again when Zoe unknowing rats on Sydney for doing things that aren’t entirely in her job description. I really wanted to like Zoe, but what she did in the last chapters of this book were unforgivable. I don’t remember anything that happens in the next books, so I’m interested to see whether or not the Sage sisters can fix their relationship.
Adrian is amazing. I love him. I will forever love him. He’s doing his best to stay away from drinking and smoking cigarettes. He tries to limit his Spirit use, and he even goes to therapy. He and Sydney are relationship goals. I was sad for them having to sneak around so much after Zoe comes to live with Sydney, but also very happy at the times they did get to spend together. They are just such a good team. They really bring out the best in one another and I adore them so much. My heart broke for Adrian with the cliff hanger in the ending.
The rest of the gang is as loveable as ever. Eddie is a forever favorite. He’s honorable and brave. Jill is finally starting to fit in. I would like to see a bit more interaction between her and Lissa, but I have a feeling that’s coming. Angeline was hilarious. She just adds the perfect amount of comedy to this series. She says ridiculous things and acts without thinking. Or with her own sort of thought process. The newcomer, Neil, was kind of bland, though I think that was intentional.
Overall, I would die any day of the week for every single one of these characters. Richelle Mead’s writing is so well done. Her characters are well developed and all around loveable. I cannot wait to dive into the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro & Emily Henry

GoodReads Summary:
Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.
Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.
Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.
One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.
Hello GirlsReview:
After finishing Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes series I knew I wanted to pick this one up next. It was definitely a bit different, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Really the only similarity was the surprising darker elements in the story.
Winona was…interesting. I really enjoyed her growing into herself and figuring out what it was she wanted from life. I hated her father. She had a few moments where I thought that maybe she should go and get some help, but Lucille always pulled her back down to reality. She’s eccentric and a little wild, which I loved. You never really knew what Winona would do or say next and that kept the story interesting.
Lucille was my favorite though. She takes care of her family even though they don’t really try to make the effort to take care of her too. I hated her brother. I liked that Lucille was the reasonable one of the duo. It made sense with the rest of her life. She’d always been the reasonable one and it was realistic for that to stay the same even though the pair had gone off on a wild adventure.
I really loved the message of the story. I saw a video of one of Cavallaro & Henry’s book tour Q&A’s and they told a story about a road trip they went on. Every single store they went into they were greeted with “Hello, girls!” despite them being at least in their late twenties. This was applicable to the book because even though Winona and Lucille are in their teens, they’re women and not girls. But men put assumptions on them, innocent girls who couldn’t possibly be robbing them blind or completely hustling them. I really loved it. I also liked that there wasn’t necessarily a happy ending. The mission they’d been on could be considered all for nothing. But along the way, they found themselves, learned that they both wanted freedom and just all-around more from life.
Overall, I was surprised by many things in this book. I really liked it. I liked Winona and Lucille as individuals and I really liked their friendship. I think it was all around a well-told story with interesting and important conversations.

Quotes:

“Hello, girls! Like we’re children. Like we’re the littlest of little girls in our prettiest princess costumes, and simultaneously hot and sexy ladies.”

“I just want to have a small place in the world that truly belongs to me. To not feel, for just one fucking second, like I’m wandering through someone else’s world with someone else’s permission to be there.”

“They tried to make us into them, to box us in, and maybe at some point we fit where they wanted us, but they pushed too hard and we’re not those girls anymore.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

GoodReads Summary:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
The Coldest Girl in ColdtownReview:
Honestly, I am living for all of these backlist vampire stories that I somehow never read. To those that think the vampire craze had ended, they are completely wrong and should go away. I will be obsessed with vampires forever. My husband likes to joke that I have a fetish. (Really a joke or not? We may never know).
Tana was a main character I could get behind. She’s got trauma in her past, and because of that she’s trying to the right thing for her dad and her little sister. But also, she’s beyond intrigued by Gavriel, the mysterious vampire that she rescued along with her ex-boyfriend Aidan. I liked Tana. She never gave up even when it seemed like things just could not get any worse, the did. But that didn’t stop her. She made this story what it was.
Gavriel was interesting. I really enjoyed that we got his history throughout the story. It really gave us a better understanding of who he was and how he got where he is now. I couldn’t help but like him, even though he was kind of crazy.
Adian was an idiot. He was also kind of a jerk. I just wanted him to F off. I mostly liked the rest of the supporting characters. They were well developed and added the right stuff to the story. Except Pearl. Every time I read about her I couldn’t help but shake my head. I get that she’s just a little girl, raised in a world that glamorized vampires, but she was just too much.
Overall, I really loved this book. It was perfect for October. I loved the twist on vampire lore and the way the vampires changed the modern world. The only thing I didn’t like was the final chapter. I was left with just one question. Which was better than lots of questions, but it was a pretty important question. Despite that, I still loved this book.

Quotes:

“Every hero is the villain of his own story.”

“Even from the beginning, that was the problem. People liked pretty things. People even liked pretty things that wanted to kill and eat them.”

“We labor under so many illusions about ourselves until we’re stripped bare. Being infected, being a vampire, it’s always you. Maybe it’s more you than ever before. You, distilled. You, boiled down like a sauce. But it’s you as you always were, deep down inside.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro

GoodReads Summary:
Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson think they’re finally in the clear. They’ve left Sherringford School—and the Moriartys—behind for a pre-college summer program at Oxford University. A chance to start from scratch and explore dating for the first time, while exploring a new city with all the freedom their program provides. But when they arrive, Charlotte is immediately drawn into a new case: a series of accidents have been befalling the members of the community theater troupe in Oxford, and now, on the eve of their production of Hamlet, they’re starting all over again. What once seemed like a comedy of errors is now a race to prevent the next tragedy—before Charlotte or Jamie is the next victim.
A Question of Holmes (Charlotte Holmes #4)Review:
A Question of Holmes is the final book in the Charlotte Holmes series. Part of me is really sad that this series has ended, and another part of me thought it was the perfect ending. This final book is told entirely from Charlotte’s perspective, which is something I wanted in the first two books. But in this one, I mostly just wanted to hear from Jamie again.
Charlotte had grown exponentially in this series. This final book is evidence of that. We see her trying to use the things she’s learned in therapy. She’s trying to not fall back into old habits, even though it would be so easy to do so. I really liked this new version of Charlotte. She’s always been really self-aware, but now was trying to get out of her self-destructive habits.
Jamie has also changed. We only see him from Charlotte’s point of view. But it’s still clear that he sees Charlotte for who she is. He no longer adores her without abandon. He still obviously loves her, but he also isn’t afraid to leave if she starts becoming self-destructive again. He knows she has flaws and encourages her to overcome them.
The mystery in this one was exactly what I was expecting the first book to be. It was a light-hearted, curious but mostly harmless mystery. It was not the life or death matter that the other books turned out to be. I really enjoyed that. The stakes were much lower for everyone involved. I liked that because while the high stakes made the story fast-paced and exciting in the previous books, I don’t think that would have been right for this final book.
Overall, I enjoyed this one so much. I’m still undecided on whether or not I love the ending. I liked it, but did I love it? I honestly don’t know. It wasn’t the happily ever after that I wanted, but I think maybe it’s what was best for Jamie and Charlotte. Not a solid ending, but hope for a better future for both of them. If you haven’t read this series, please stop what you’re doing and go read it now.

Quotes:

“Whatever Watson and I were to each other was our business, no matter how the world leaned in and breathed against the glass.”

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t love these moments—him looking at me like I had in my hands a curtain pull, that I could reveal the underbelly of the world.”

“A secret is something embarrassing. Something compromising, something with power. Secrets are what we make art from.”

“My past made me who I am. There is no way to wipe that clean.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

GoodReads Review:
It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken.
Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for.
Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.
Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time.
Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.
The Case for Jamie (Charlotte Holmes, #3)Review:
The Case for Jamie is the third book in the Charlotte Holmes series. It’s also the first book where we get dual perspectives through the whole book. In this latest mystery, things are…worse than they were in the other books. Things kind of went out of control in the final pages of the last book, and we are seeing the aftermath of that in this book. Charlotte and Jamie are no longer partners in anything and have gone their separate ways.
Jamie is just trying to get back to school. Trying to get his grades up and play rugby and try to get into a good college. But his dad and Leander keep dragging him back into the mysteries. Jamie was a little annoying in parts of this book. He clearly needs some sort of help, but just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t communicate, with anyone. And his relationships suffer because of this.
The same sort of goes for Charlotte. I wanted more from her perspective in the previous two books, but once I got it, it kind of makes me dislike her. She, like Jamie, clearly has issues. But we also learn her backstory, which ended up making me not dislike her. I really liked getting to see her back story.
Leander was my favorite of all the characters. He’s funny and wise, and mostly always does the right thing. I wish Jamie and Charlotte had gone to him for help sooner.
The ending of this book, like the last one, was pretty wild. I seem to have the same issue as the last one though. We don’t get anything from Jamie’s point of view after all the drama goes down and I don’t like that. So much of what happens involves him and people he cares about, but we don’t get to see any of what he’s thinking about it all in the aftermath, which bugs me.
Overall, this was another mystery that I really enjoyed. I like that Charlotte and Jamie are so flawed. They’re realistic characters with hard, real-life issues. I liked all of their friends and family. This series is complex and dark. One that I definitely recommend.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Series Review)

GoodReads Summary:
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.
After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.
Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Review:
I loved Vampire Academy just as much as I did the first time I read it. I love everything about it. I love the vampire lore, the characters, literally everything. I know this isn’t a perfect book. But it’s nostalgic and it’s perfect.
I love Rose. She’s kickass, loyal as hell, and doesn’t take anyone’s shit. I love how much she loves Lissa. I also really enjoyed the fact that she learned she was wrong, accepted it, and tried to make amends for it. Rose is just one of my favorite fierce females.
Lissa was more complex. She’s got some serious issues, and Rose is the only reason she gets through them. I don’t know why I’d completely forgotten about the self-harming aspect of this story, but it’s there and it really showed the severity of Lissa’s issues.
Then there’s my favorite, Dimitri. My favorite book boyfriend. I love him. He’s strong and powerful, plus really hot. I love that he looked out for and mentors Rose.
Overall, this is still one of my favorite books. I’m interested to see how well the rest of the series holds up. I loved this first book, and I’m excited to continue on with the next.

But wait! There’s more! — So, I managed to finish the rest of the series on audiobook while I was on vacation and didn’t really have time to give a review for each book. So, I’m going to do a series review for the rest of the book. There are potential spoilers for all the books after the first one. So, if you’ve only read the first and don’t want to be spoiled, STOP HERE.

I love everything about this series. The second and third books, Frostbite and Shadowkiss, are my favorite and I honestly believe they could have ended Rose and Lissa’s story right there. Rose had so much incredible character development. She really grew into herself. But then book four comes around and her life goes to shit and she regresses. I understand that parts of that were Rose taking spirit’s effect from Lissa, but it just made me mad. I also absolutely HATED the fact that they made Dimitri a Strigoi. I understand the reasoning behind everything in books four, five, and six. But I just don’t know that it was needed. I think Richelle Mead could have made VA a trilogy and then had another trilogy with other characters. That’s complicated and probably over convoluted though. If that was the case, I’d probably be complaining that I hadn’t gotten enough of Rose and Lissa and the gang.
The gang was definitely my favorite part of this series. I loved Mason and he deserved better. I loved Eddie (and I’m still loving him in Bloodlines). I even adored Christian. I hated it when he and Lissa weren’t together. I adored Adrian as well. I love the bond they all form and how they become their own little family.
I really really didn’t like Rose and Adrian together. I felt like this was added just to have a love triangle. It wasn’t fair to Adrian for Rose to do him dirty the way she did. I really feel for the guy because everyone in the world (not really, like at all) knew that Rose and Dimitri were endgame. I just feel bad for him.
Overall, this is still an all-time favorite series of mine and I’m really glad it’s held up so well over the years.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.