Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Girls of July by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Four girls. One unforgettable July.
Britta is the bubbly drama queen. She needs to get away—and a peaceful cabin in the woods sounds like the perfect escape.
Meredith is the overachiever. She’s spent her entire life preparing for college, but at what cost? Now she’s wondering if that’s all there is.
Kate is the reluctant socialite. She’s searching for a reason to begin again after fleeing her small Georgia town—and a shameful family secret.
Spider is the quiet intellectual. She’s struggling with pain that has isolated her from her peers for much of her life.
When these four very different young women stay together for a month in the mountains, they discover that sometimes getting away from it all can only bring you back to who you really are.
Girls of JulyReview:
Alex Flinn has been an auto-buy author for me for years. She’s one of Antonia’s absolute favorite authors. So, when I saw she was coming out with a new contemporary novel, you could say I was excited. This was the first book I picked up for the Litha Witch-A-Thon because I just had to get into it as soon as possible.
In Girls of July, we follow four girls that are growing up and trying to figure out who they are and what they really want from life. They find themselves together in a cabin in the mountains. At first, they were all pretty unlikable characters except for Ruthie, the grandmother. The four girls, Britta, Kate, Meredith, and Spider, are all at points in their lives where they need change, even if they don’t know that they need it.
I really enjoyed seeing the four of them figure out how to live together and be around each other 24 hours a day. As the story progressed, they learned more about one another and became more likable characters. I really liked that they all had their own distinct voices. There was no confusion when going between the four perspectives.
We have Meredith, the Brainiac who’s not sure if she’s chasing her own dreams or her parent’s dreams. She finds romance and a new appreciation for nature. She learns that the things she thought she wanted may not have been her own dreams. The only thing I didn’t like about Meredith was that she gets a little lost in her romance. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the romance. But I thought it was going to be more of the girls being friends together.
Then there’s Kate. Southern belle, comes from a wealthy family, just trying to live up to her parents’ expectations. Except, she doesn’t want to live the future that they have planned for her. Instead, she spends the summer babysitting a little boy, giving help to someone that doesn’t want to accept it. Kate learns that sometimes asking for help is okay. I think Kate was the most likable at the beginning. She has a big heart and loves pretty freely. She struggles with family issues but comes out on top. I think she really learned the most this summer.
Britta, our Cuban firecracker. I loved that her culture was included in this story. We see her trying to teach the other girls (Spider) how to cook. She doesn’t shy away from who she is even if that is a loud and enthusiastic girl that not everyone likes. She grew the least I think. She learns that she needs to be honest with her mother. As much as I liked Britta, I was a little disappointed with the ending of her story. I would have liked a little more resolution with her mom.
Finally, Spider. She was the most unlikable. She’s the one that put the ad for roommates at her family’s cabin. But she was so grumpy and negative the first chunk of the book I wondered why she even bothered. But that question was answered. Spider is an aspiring filmmaker which is incorporated into the story. Her and Britta spend most of their time working on a short movie project and the two really bond. Spider lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. I think her story was such a good one. It really showed how strong she was and that she wasn’t just her illness. Spider has goals and dreams and I really grew to like her.
Overall, I liked this book just as much as I thought I would. Four girls that don’t know each other go into a cabin for a month and come out as lifelong friends. I think this story was so good. There were a diverse group of characters some rich, some not, some of color, some not, and one struggling with a lifelong illness. I also want to vaguely mention that there is talk of a female/female relationship but I can’t give too many details without spoiling anything. I love that these girls had adventures and learned things. I enjoyed reading this story so much. It’s almost five hundred pages and I read it all in one day. I would certainly recommend this to anyone that loves contemporary books. Plus, it has an absolutely stunning cover.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

Summary:
Marguerite Caine has done the impossible, traveling to alternate dimensions with the Firebird—the brilliant invention of her parents, her boyfriend, Paul, and their friend Theo. But she has also caught the attention of enemies willing to kidnap, blackmail, and even kill to use the Firebird for themselves.
When Paul’s soul is splintered into four pieces—pieces that are trapped within Pauls in other dimensions—Marguerite will do anything, and travel anywhere, to save him. But the price of his safe return is steep. If she doesn’t sabotage her parents in multiple universes, Paul will be lost forever.
Unwilling to sacrifice her family, Marguerite enlists the brilliant Theo to help. The two forge a plan to save Paul and the Firebird, but succeeding means outsmarting a genius and risking not only their lives but also the lives of their counterparts in every other dimension.
Their mission takes them to the most dangerous universes yet: a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each leap brings Marguerite closer to saving Paul—but her journey reveals dark truths that lead her to doubt the one constant she’s found between worlds: their love for each other.
Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird, #2)Review:
Ten Thousand Skies Above You gave me some of the things that I wanted more of in the first book, but it also gave me more of something I didn’t want. This book was a great sequel. I feel like it gave all the big reveals at the right times. Leaving the reader in suspense, but not for so long that it was frustrating. I think the story was complicated but compelling. There were so many different dynamics and questions that were brought up like the ethical and moral complications of inhabiting yourself from another reality and making choices for them. I thought it brought up some interesting conversations.
Marguerite was honestly a little annoying in this second book. She’s conflicted between the differences in the people she loves that she’s met in other realities. She’s not sure if the soul is consistent with every version that she meets. After meeting some less than nice versions of the man she loves, she’s unsure how to feel about the darkness she now knows lives in all the different versions of him. She’s also faced with some ethical complications that have arisen because of the choices she made while inhabiting another reality’s Marguerite. This provided interesting conversation about everything that they were trying to do. But despite these interesting problems there was a constant dialogue about whether she loved one boy or another. The dreaded love triangle. It’s here and it’s annoying.
Even though I didn’t enjoy the love triangle aspect, I did really like the two characters that are the cause of it. I love that they are friends with one another and are choosing not to let their feelings for Marguerite get in the way of their own relationship. I also really liked getting to learn more about their pasts.
My favorite thing about this book was the other universes we got to visit. They were all so different and some were just downright frightening. I enjoyed getting this view into the other kinds of worlds that could be out there and the effects that one choice could have on the world. I liked being able to meet all the different versions of the characters.
I thought the villain became way more complicated in this sequel. The person we thought was the big bad in the first book was actually working for someone else. It was really interesting because the reasoning behind their actions was out of love, even though their actions were not that great. I’m interested to see how things will play out in the final book.
Overall, this story was more complex than I was expecting. I think I liked this one more than the first and I’m excited to continue and see how the rest of the story will conclude. There were things I liked and others that I didn’t, but like I said in my review for the first book, this would be great for someone that is new to the science fiction genre or for those that like less science-y scifi.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday

Hey, bookworms! It’s that day of the week again where we participate in the wonderful bookish post that was formerly hosted by Should be Reading and was recently taken over by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer three questions to give an update about what you’re currently reading, going to read next and have read recently. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or link your post!

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What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, and Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Witness by Nora Roberts.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I most recently finished Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld.

Antonia- I just finished The Martian by Andy Wier.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- Next, I’d like to pick up This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron.

Thanks for reading our W’s this week. What are yours? Leave them in the comments or leave us a link to your post.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything · Top Ten Tuesday

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Tropes

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is top ten – Favorite tropes

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Childhood friends to lovers (probably because I married my best friend)

Enemies to lovers (who doesn’t love the tension and drama?!)

Unlikely hero/chosen one (Harry Potter anyone?)

Mixed/complicated families (Give me all the step-parents, adoptive siblings, etc.)

Small towns with big secrets (I love books set in small towns)

Artificial Intelligence as characters (terrifying but somehow also exhilarating)

Secret identities (hidden royals, missing Shadowhunter family lines, give it all to me)

This is all I could come up with for this week’s topic. Tropes are something I never really paid attention to until becoming a part of the Twitter book community. What tropes do you love?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Beastly by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
I am a beast.
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.
Beastly (Beastly, #1; Kendra Chronicles, #1)Review:
Beauty and the Beast has never been one of my favorite fairytales. Despite this, I always still seem to buy the newest B&tB retellings. Now, this retelling isn’t a new one but it is one of Antonia’s favorites. So, a few months ago I ended up buying all of the books by Alex Flinn that were available on Bookoutlet. I’ve been meaning to pick Beastly up for a while. I read it (part of it anyway) years ago. But the copy I had bought had a printing error and didn’t have all of the correct pages in it. So, I never ended up reading the full story.
Now that I have read the whole story, I’m glad that I did. Our main character Kyle is the most unlikable character. But as the story progresses, he learns the error of his ways. I think this was really well done. It wasn’t all of sudden Kyle was a nice guy now that he was a beast. He still struggled with doing the right things and not lashing out when he was upset. I think his development was done well.
I think the romance was done well also. Especially since this whole story is based on a girl being kidnapped. I think it wasn’t terribly cringey but also did it’s best to stay true to the original story.
Overall, this was a fun and quick read. I ended up really enjoying the romance even though I didn’t particularly like Kyle in the beginning.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

GoodReads Summary:
Behind its walls, the Convent of Sweet Mercy has trained young girls to hone their skills for centuries. In Mystic Class, Novice Nona Grey has begun to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the convent, Nona must choose which order to dedicate herself to—and whether her path will lead to a life of prayer and service or one of the blade and the fist.
All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the designs of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a knife, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.
As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she is sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pulls of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.
And in all this only one thing is certain: there will be blood.
Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2)Review:
I’m realizing that I did not like this second book as much as I did with the first one. There’s quite a bit more action in Grey Sister, but there were some odd time jumps and I just wasn’t sure about a few things.
Nona was still the best. I adore her in all her violence and wildness. I think Zeot was a weird addition and even weirder that it wasn’t mentioned at the end of Red Sister. I think he was an interesting way to give some mysterious history about the world, but it seemed odd how it was just there and then him leaving was pretty anticlimactic. Anyway, Nona was my favorite. She will kick and punch and snarl until she wins or dies. I love her determination and ferocity. I can’t wait to see how her story ends in the final book.
Abbess Glass is a character I really came to appreciate in this book. I liked her in Red Sister. She was always stood up for Nona and the other Novices. But in Grey Sister, we really learn more about her background and her motivations. I loved it. Glass is always up to something. Even when I thought it was all over for her, she managed to change the situation. It was very impressive.
All of the supporting characters were good, but I would have liked to see more. I guess part of me just missed the setting of the Convent. Also Hessa, I miss Hessa. Ara and Zole and Darla were my favorites. They’re loyal and fierce and unafraid to stand up for what they believe in. Also Sister Kettle. I adore her. She’s badass and I loved her perspective.
Overall, I still really enjoyed this book even though I liked the first better. I’m interested to see how this series is going to end in the third and final book. I’m interested to see what politics we will get to learn more about and what other parts of the world we may explore.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Summary:
It’s been five years since Mia and Brynn murdered Summer Marks, their best friend, in the woods.
Increasingly obsessed with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn and with their fan-fiction imagining of its sequel, the girls were drawn by an undertow of fantasy into the magical world they’d created. But eventually, their delusions turned sick, and the Shadow, Lovelorn’s central evil, began to haunt them.
Or so the story goes. The only thing is: They didn’t do it.
Brynn and Mia have both found different ways to hide from their notoriety, seeking refuge from a world that hates them—a world that will never feel magical, or safe, ever again.
On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as past and present, fiction and reality begin again to intertwine, Brynn and Mia must confront painful truths they tired for so long to bury—and face the long shadow of memory that has, all this time, been waiting.
In this engrossing, twisty novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver weaves an unforgettable, mesmerizing tale of exquisite obsession, spoiled innocence, and impossible friendships.
Broken ThingsReview:
Broken Things has been sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read, for entirely to long. This was such an interesting but also bizarre story. It ended up being way darker than I was anticipating (yes, I did know it was a murder mystery).
As with any book, there were things I liked and things I didn’t. I’ll mention the few things I didn’t like first. There were quite a few things that I think should be warned about in this book. There’s a pretty descriptive part that involved animal cruelty. And also just all around violence. But my issue with the story was that for most of the book I struggled to remember who was who. Mia and Brynn had such similar voiced I couldn’t remember who was who and which chapter I was in.
Despite that, I did really end up liking the characters. They were diverse in size, sexuality, smart, all the ways that matter. They were flawed and a realistic cast of characters. Each dealing with their own issues, but all tied together through Summer. Summer reminded me a bit of Alison DiLaurentus from Pretty Little Liars, but only in the sense that she was the thing the characters had in common and that she was dead.
I really liked the inclusion of the story the girls love and ended up writing their own fan fiction of. I thought this was a really interesting aspect of the story. A bunch of outsiders bonding through their desire to escape to the fictional world. Though the author ending the book on an unfinished sentence bugged me for a decent chunk of the book.
Overall, this book was darker than I thought it was going to be, but I still really enjoyed it. I didn’t predict the killer but after finding out their identity it seemed obvious to me with the hints that were left. I thought this was a fun story and definitely would be good for a Spooktober TBR.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.