The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

GoodReads Summary:
On Christmas Eve five years ago, seventeen-year-old Holly Chase was visited by three Ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t. And then she died.
Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge—as their latest Ghost of Christmas Past. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year’s Scrooge is different. This year’s Scrooge might change everything…
The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a witty, poignant, and insightful novel about life, love, and seizing second (or third) chances, perfect for readers who loved Before I Fall or Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.
The Afterlife of Holly ChaseReview:
I picked this one up before Christmas because I was in the mood for a holiday book. This was only sort of that. I really enjoyed this even though it was a bit ‘Bah Humbug.’
We follow Holly Chase who has died and is now working to help others so that they don’t follow the same path that she did. I really enjoyed the twists on the original story.
I didn’t like Holly at all, but I think that was the point. I was also really not very happy about the romance aspect of this story, but the way the story ended made me a little more okay with it. I liked that there was a happy ending and Holly learned something from her experiences.
I’m going to keep this review short. Overall, I liked this but didn’t love it. It wasn’t the holiday read I wanted, but it was still a good book. I really enjoyed the retelling aspect of it. I thought the writing was well done to make Holly unlikable but somehow still make the reader care about her and her story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

GoodReads Summary:
The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.
And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.
Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.
Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .
Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer, #1)Review:
I liked The Raven Circle well enough. Call Down the Hawk was definitely better. It was darker. We follow Ronan and two others. I really liked Jordan Hennessy.
I was disappointed not to see more of Adam and the rest of the gang. We heard about them, but never really saw them. We got a bit of Adam, but not enough.
It was really interesting to see more of the process of dreaming as well as other dreamers and what they go through. I’m definitely intrigued to see how things go with the Lynch boys and the Hennessy girls. These four were definitely the best part of the book.
Then there’s Farooq-Lane. She was a very compelling character because she wasn’t totally sure she believed in the cause she was working for. She slowly starts to doubt because of the boy she is looking after.
Overall, this story was a bit confusing at times but still good. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator does such a great job of telling the story and giving unique voices to each of the characters. I’ll probably continue the series via audiobook as they come out.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

GoodReads Summary:
When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.
For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.
As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.
The Final Six (The Final Six, #1)Review:
I picked this book up because Alexandra Monir is one of the author’s that I’d not heard of until the lineup of authors was released for the NoVaTeen Book Festival. I was really intrigued by the synopsis for this one, but part of me didn’t expect to love this as much as I did. I listened to the audiobook. And the one thing I will say about the audio is that it threw me that Leo was Italian, like born in Italy and lived there his entire life, but the narrator for him didn’t have an accent? It’s a small thing, and I quickly got over it. I liked both narrators, but also, they didn’t talk at the same speed, so listening on 1.5x speed Leo’s narration was perfect but Naomi was a little fast. Again, a small thing and I quickly got over it.
I really enjoyed this story. I liked that it was science-y, but not so much that there were constant explanations about the scientific things that were going on. It was explained well and not overly so. Too many science fiction novels are too filled with over explanations and big science words when it’s not needed. I loved this story’s version of ‘the end of the world’ via extreme natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. I love dystopian and science fiction books that are mildly terrifying because of their potential to become our future. This was a great one. Twenty-four teens are selected from around the world to train and learn to maybe become a part of the final six that will be sent on a mission to terraform one of Jupiter’s moons that is habitable for humans.
Seeing the characters learn and train for this mission was interesting, but even more so was the contrast between Leo and Naomi. They’re two people that have connected when they otherwise wouldn’t have, all thanks to this program. Leo fiercely dedicated to doing his best and being a part of the final six, whereas Naomi is adamantly against the mission because she feels that those in charge of the space program are keeping secrets they shouldn’t be. I thought the fact that their relationship developed despite their very different views on the mission was really compelling, one always trying to sway the other.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Final Six and I am very excited to read the second book. The ending was killer in the sense of leaving the reader hanging. Many things were wrapped up but also left in a way so that the reader is excited about what is going to come next. I cannot wait for book two, and you lovely, have just enough time to read this book before its sequel comes out.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Jackpot by Nic Stone

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?
Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.
JackpotReview:
I loved Stone’s other novel, Dear Martin, so I was excited to read Jackpot when I picked it up at Target. Sadly, I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but there were some things that I didn’t enjoy.
Overall, I just really didn’t like Rico. I understand what it’s like to be poor, but she just complained about it and made Zan out to be a bad guy because his parents have money. Sure he doesn’t really get what she’s going through, but there are lots of poor people that don’t automatically dislike people with money just because they have money. She was really judgmental and I just didn’t like her very much.
I did, however, totally adored her little brother. He was so happy all the time despite the fact that his family was poor. He always had a smile on, even when he was sick.
Zan was definitely a little savior-ish, but he had good intentions and that was clear. I liked him right up until the big reveal about the missing lottery ticket. That really made me mad.
I enjoyed reading this book while I was reading it, but there were some things I didn’t like. I did like the diversity in this book. I liked the overarching theme, but Rico annoyed me and so did the ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

GoodReads Summary:
Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.
They picked the wrong girl.
Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.
Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.
Foul Is FairReview:
Huge thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I buddy read this ARC with my favorite twinny, Alana @ The Bookish Chick.
I absolutely adored this story. It was dark and gritty, murderous and magical, fast-paced and captivating. I loved Elle (or Jade). She was vengeful and I freaking loved it. I don’t even know how to explain it. She’s clever and devious in all the best ways. But I liked even more that we still got to see her when she was vulnerable. She was drugged and raped, but won’t take anyone’s bullshit. She and her coven have a plan to get their revenge.
The coven. I adored them. They were magical and loyal. I loved the dynamic between these girls. They were some serious friend goals. I loved all the scenes with the coven doing their part to scare the boys of St. Andrews.
The writing in Foul is Fair was incredible. Even during the slow points of the story, it felt like I was flying through it because of the writing. The author sucked me into the story, chewed me up, and spit me out. The writing was beautiful and dark. Never quite clear about whether the coven was actually casting spells and flying with their wings. I adored it.
Overall, this book was incredible. I loved every single murderous page. I think this one will be a hit once it’s published and I know I will be shouting about it all year.

Quotes:

“Killing hurts worse if somebody you love is holding the knife.”

“It’s beautiful. We’re beautiful. This night, dark and deadly and stained with blood, is a masterpiece too perfect for any museum in the whole world.”

“As soon as I speak they’ll never see that same girl anymore, and knowing that makes my fingernails bite into my skin because I want it so hard, to rip those boys’ faces open. Tear their hearts out and hold them, still beating, in my hands.”

“We’re magic. I can feel it right now in the dark. We’re invisible when we need to be and then so firework-bright no one can look away. We’re patience and brilliance. We never forget. We never forgive.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

GoodReads Summary:
Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.
When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.
For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.
With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.
I Hope You Get This Message (Owlcrate Edition)Review:
I was taken in by the cover for this book. Then I read the synopsis and I was sold. Sadly, I found the story a bit lacking. We follow three characters, Cate, Jesse, and Adeem in the final seven days of humanity’s life (or not).
I liked Cate. She was doing her best to take care of her mom, but when her mom commits herself to a psychiatric hospital to get the help she needs, Cate finds herself on a mission to find a dad she’s never met. I liked how much she loved her mom. I liked her friendship with Ivy. But even more, I enjoyed seeing her get out of her comfort zone and do something for herself for once.
Adeem was probably my favorite. He’s searching for his sister that left home after coming out to her parents. He hasn’t heard from her in years and now that the world is ending, wants to find her. I thought his internal struggle was done really well. He was kind of a jerk at times, but I thought it was realistic.
Jesse was a character I didn’t like at all. He steals and lies and is just all-around unpleasant. People keep trying to reach out and connect with him, but he shoves them all away. I really didn’t like him. I wanted him to redeem himself, and he sort of did, but he was still a jerk.
Now, the ending is what really made me mad. We get these in-between bits of the planet that created humanity debating whether or not to kill off all humans or not, and then the sunrise of day seven comes and there’s no resolution. We don’t know if everyone lived or died and I hated it. On top of that, we’d just found out some really interesting connections between some of the characters and none of that was explored. It was just dropped into the story and not talked about again.
Overall, I think this book was doing too many things. It covered mental health in several different ways, LGBTQIA topics, the corruptness of humanity, and I was left unsatisfied with many of them. I think it was trying to talk about too many things and ended up inadequately talking about them all. While I had fun reading this book, the ending most of all is what ruined it for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

GoodReads Summary:
After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watches her fair share of reality television, and does the odd job or two, including trying to convince a cannibalistic faerie from hunting her own in the mortal world.
When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking of a favor, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal.
When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and uncover how to break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.
The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)Review:
The much-anticipated finale of the Folk of the Air trilogy was…disappointing. I’m not going to say I didn’t like it, because I did. I very much enjoyed being back in the world with Jude and Cardan, but it wasn’t what I wanted.
Jude was not Jude for the first half of this book. Instead of scheming her way back into power, she seems to have accepted her exile and I hated that. Accepting her fate is not something that Jude from the first two books would have done. She finds herself again when she makes her way back into Faerie, but right around then is when a certain event happened that completely made the first half of the book pointless as well as the ending to The Wicked King. I don’t know why this is a trend that keeps happening in YA books, but I’m over authors completely undoing things from their previous books. It just makes me not care at all. I liked it when Jude found herself again though.
I also really liked how all the siblings finally came together for once to work together on the same side. I don’t like siblings betraying one another.
Cardan also wasn’t quite himself. I’m all for a happily ever after and romance and all that, but he’s supposed to be a cruel prince and a wicked king and in this book, he is none of those things. I did like him and Jude finally figuring things out, but I just wanted more.
That about sums up everything. I just wanted more from this book. It’s a short 300 pages, and it was clear in the book. The story dragged in the first half but then we were rushed through the end. I don’t understand why more time couldn’t have been spent to make this book better. Had more things been developed, it would have been an incredible finale.
I still liked The Queen of Nothing, I just wanted more.

Quotes:

“He will be the destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.”

“Wondering if some part of him is cold inside, a kind of cold that can never be warmed, like a shard of ice through the heart. Wondering if I have a shard like that, too.”

“We have lived in our armor for so long, you and I. And now I am not sure if either of us knows how to remove it.”

“Plunge a heated sword into oil and any small flaw will turn into a crack. But quenched in blood as you were, none of you broke. You were only hardened.”

“Maybe it isn’t the worst thing to want to be loved, even if you’re not. Even if it hurts. Maybe being human isn’t always being weak.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.