Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Favorite Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week has a different prompt to which you make a top ten list. This week’s prompt is favorite heroines. Since my list of favorite heroines is infinitely long, I tried to choose the ones who had the biggest impact on me while reading. Here they are (in no particular order):

  1. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- She will forever be my all-time favorite heroine. She’s witty, tough, loves her family unconditionally and isn’t afraid to admit she’s wrong. She was who I wanted to be when I grew up.
  2. Maximum Ride from the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson- She’s badass and caring and makes tons of mistakes. But she’s always trying her hardest to fix them. It’s so easy to relate to Max that she instantly became one of my favorite characters.
  3. Elizabeth/Abigail from The Witness by Nora Roberts- I connected with Abigail from the beginning. I loved watching her grow into a strong, compassionate woman.
  4. Vestakia from The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory- From birth, she had everything working against her but she refused to let it control her life. She’s genuinely kind and brave even when she’s absolutely terrified.
  5. Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman- She was one of the first characters to have a real affect on me. She’s stubborn and talks back and impulsive but she always does the right thing.
  6. Wanderer from The Host by Stephenie Meyer- I will never stop loving Wanda. She’s an alien possessing a human girl and she still manages to be the most honest and caring character in the book.
  7. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore- Another character I related to instantly. Her uncle, the king, has used and controlled her since she was a child but she had the courage to fight back, even when she believed her powers made her a monster.
  8. Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead- One of the bravest heroines I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. She goes against everything she was taught to believe to save people who she was raised to think of as evil. She risks everything because she can see the best in people.
  9. Hyacinth Bridgerton from It’s In His Kiss by Julia Quinn- She’s one of the funniest characters I’ve read about. She’s sarcastic and smart and not afraid to speak her opinions during a time when women were expected to act a certain way. I wish I could be best friends with her.
  10. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling- I almost didn’t put her on this list simply because I knew so many others would. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t think of anyone else who met the standards she set. There’s a reason Hermione has shown up on so many lists this week. She’s smart, brave, funny, loving. She believes in herself and in her friends and even when she’s scared she’s always there for the people who need her. The great thing about Hermione is that she’s always true to herself and never lets anything change her.

Do any of your favorites coincide with mine? For the same or different reasons? I’d love to hear some of your own choices so leave them in the comments or link to your own post if you have one. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Summary: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the world between humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets-and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney an Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him…
Their worst fears now a chilling reality Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Oh. My. God. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK.
First of all, Adrian and Sydney are apart for most of the book and it pretty much just made me want to cry the entire time. (I settled for really weird, pathetic noises that Amanda got sick of fast.) The good thing about them being separated was that I was able to follow two completely separate storylines that kept the pace fairly steady even when nothing serious was happening.
But trust me, a LOT was happening. I started this book at around ten-thirty last night, and finished it around three this morning. There was no way for me to put it down; between the awesome characters, amazing writing, and the absolutely crazy plot, I was hooked.
As always, I adore Sydney and Adrian, both individually and as a couple. Though they both have somewhat extreme personalities, I’m able to relate to them while I read. I almost always love the characters in the books I read but in the Bloodlines series, I connect to them more than usual. I would absolutely love to have Sydney as my best friend and, much as I love her, I would totally date Adrian (you know, if I didn’t have a boyfriend…Love you, honey!). Mead gives such depth to her characters that it’s impossible not to care about them.
This book was much darker than the previous ones in the series mainly because Sydney’s in re-education, which is basically the Alchemists nice way of saying brainwash and torture. Even though Mead kept it from being terribly gruesome, some of the scenes with Sydney were harder to read emotionally.
It was the same way with Adrian. He might not have been tortured and starved but the love of his life was missing and he had no way to contact her. I’d loved watching the progress he’d made in previous books to overcome his addictions and the effects of Spirit so it was that much harder to watch him spiral back downward without Sydney to help hold him up.
The ending took so many twists and turns that I could barely keep up with what was happening and even when I thought everything would be okay, the last page threw another curveball and I no longer know what’s going to happen with the last book. All I know is that it really needs to come out RIGHT NOW. Next February is way too long to wait for The Ruby Circle.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my review or this book. Amanda hasn’t read it so I can’t talk to her about it yet. Did you see the end coming? Because I sure as hell didn’t.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine & Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Sorry I’ve been slacking on reviews. To make up for the past three months of barely reading (seriously, four books in April, ZERO in May, and three in June), I’ve spent the last two weeks reading constantly and not really stopping for anything. So in the next few days I’ll try to write a bunch in between books.
One thing I’ve noticed about the more than thirty books I borrowed from the library is that there’s quite a few that have very similar storylines. In order to consolidate the number of reviews I need to write, I’m going to do something a little different and group some of the books together and compare them instead.
For this first review I’m comparing two middle-grade books about princesses: The Two Princess of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine and Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Two Princesses of Bamarre Summary: When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy.

Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.

The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

Princess Ben Summary: “My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man–no man I would ever want to meet, surely–could fit his hands round my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm…”
Benevolence is not your typical princess–and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.

With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?

Plot:
I loved both plots equally. In Two Princesses, shy and timid Princess Addie has to go on a quest to save her sister. There’s magic, dragons, trolls, fairies, etc. I loved the way this was executed. Since it’s not a terribly long book, you might think too much information was crammed into it but Levine makes everything work together wonderfully. With the help of her Seven-League boots, Addie can move between different sections of the kingdom instantly and encounters tons of different creatures. Many of them, (trolls, specters, gryphons) are simply monsters but I was happily surprised to find the dragon was intelligent and had a complex personality. She was still evil, but the depth she gave to the story was fantastic. Though the story revolves around Addie, the secondary characters were well rounded and I felt like I knew them just as well as I knew Addie.

In Princess Ben, Benevolence must overcome unforeseen circumstances to save herself and her country. There’s magic, dragons, a somewhat evil queen, a war with neighboring country Drachensbett, etc. This was also executed fairly well and I enjoyed the little bits of history of Montagne that we were given. I also enjoyed the fact that the love interest started out as the enemy. I love when misunderstood characters are simply that: misunderstood. That probably stems from my long-standing love of Beauty and the Beast.

The Heroines:
I adored Princess Addie. At first I thought I wouldn’t because of how timid she was. Terrified of everything, she hardly ever left the castle and when she did, she stayed on castle grounds. I was expecting to be annoyed by her, but when her sister’s life is in danger, Addie pushes back her fears in order to save her. She doesn’t suddenly become fearless, but she doesn’t let her fears control her either and by the end of the story she comes to realize that some of her fears (not all of them) aren’t as scary as she thought they were. I loved watching Addie grow into herself and couldn’t help but admire her strength and resolve.

Princess Ben, quite frankly, annoyed the crap out of me for most of the book. I understand she’s young and I understand her parents didn’t raise her to act like a princess, but from what we learned of her parents I would have expected her to be a lot more mature than she was. She was petty and spiteful and made the same mistakes over and over again. No matter how many bad things happened, she never grew up or took responsibility until she became a prisoner of Drachensbett. After that, I liked her much better and she became someone I could relate to, even though she was still a little impulsive and stubborn.

Overall:
Two Princesses was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed immensely. Everything tied together to make an exciting, heartfelt story that I couldn’t put down.
I also loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting and was a little bittersweet, but I was glad there wasn’t a random and improbable miracle to make everything end perfectly. Even though I love reading about magic and fairytales, I also believe magic should have limits and while I want every book to have a happily ever after, I don’t particularly like when they become completely unrealistic.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales and strong, smart heroines.

Princess Ben didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The first half was slow and I didn’t like the protagonist at all. Murdock made up for it in the second half where the pace picked up and it became a story I couldn’t put down but I still can’t forget the fact I almost put it down in the beginning. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes fairytales, but if you’re the type of reader that needs a fast-paced book to hold your attention, this might not be the book for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on either of these books and what you think of this joint review. Should I do another like this or stick to regular reviews?
-Antonia.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Blogging Confessions

It’s Top Ten Tuesday time! This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and today’s prompt is Top Ten Blogging Confessions. I’ve decided to center mine more around books since I couldn’t think of that many blogging confessions. Here they are in no particular order:

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1. Sometimes, I think blogging is boring. I feel terrible saying that but doing the same types of posts over and over again drives me nuts.

2. Usually I read the last page or two of a book before I even start it. I try not to, I really do, but it’s gotten to the point where I’ll just be looking at how long the book is and find myself reading the end without even thinking about it.

3. I’m awful at liking and commenting posts. Whenever I look at someone’s post I always plan to at least like it even if I don’t have anything exceptional to say in a comment (unless I hate it for some reason which never happens). But most of the time I end up completely forgetting about it and closing the window before I remember.

4. I don’t care if the books in a series match. I was actually kind of taken aback when I realized people do. Books are books are books. I can’t imagine waiting to buy a book because a store doesn’t have the matching copy. I literally don’t have that much self control. I love books no matter what they look like. BOOKS HAVE FEELINGS, TOO.

5. I can be very judgmental toward other readers. I try not to. I’m a firm believer in reading no matter what that might be, but sometimes I judge people who read nonfiction. That sounds a little backwards because I’ve found it’s usually the other way around but I absolutely hate reading nonfiction. It’s not because I have anything against reality or learning or anything like that. I would just much prefer to watch a documentary than read about it.

6. I have no problem putting a book down unfinished. It’s not that I particularly like doing it but I’m very decisive in my opinions and if I don’t like the beginning plot or hate the main character(s), I won’t finish it.

7. I’m usually in the middle of several books at once. And I have no trouble keeping track of where I am in each. I could literally read a paragraph of one, then a paragraph of another, then the next and rotate between them simultaneously. (I don’t really do that though, it’d be kind of annoying.)

8. I almost never read a book if I’ve seen the movie first. I have no idea why. #2 obviously shows I have no problem knowing the ending first and movies always miss the little details but I can’t seem to stop doing it.

9. I don’t take care of my books as well as I should. And I love it. I’m not saying I rip them or leave them out in the rain or anything like that (I would die first), but I dog ear pages and don’t worry about bending the covers. I like the character it gives to books. I’ve actually had to laminate the covers of my favorite books because I’ve read them so many times.

10. I sometimes collect multiple copies of books. Mostly my favorites and sometimes by accident. The only ones I really deliberately collect are the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Between the four books, I have 31 copies total.

I had so much fun with this topic and could probably keep going for forever but here’s my top ten. What book/blogging confessions do you have?
-Antonia

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is top ten books I’ve read so far this year. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been slacking on my reading this year (45 books total). I’ve also read a surprising number of books for the second time but didn’t want this list made up of just second-time reads. So I compromised: seven new reads and two second reads.

New Reads

1. Sun and Moon Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George- The writing style of this book is so different and unique. It’s based on a myth that I’d never heard of before and I loved the way everything worked together to give me a completely new reading experience.

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses series by Jessica Day George- Though these books followed more well-known fairytales, George still managed to make the plot unique and fun.

3. The Selection & The Elite by Kiera Cass- Though I haven’t been able to get The One yet, I found the first two books in this trilogy to be entertaining and light reads with just enough suspense and intrigue thrown in to keep me hooked.

4. Enchanted & Hero by Alethea Kontis- When I picked up these books I wasn’t expecting much out of them. I’m glad to say I was completely wrong. It combines tons of different fairytales and legends, most of which I wasn’t very familiar. I never knew what would happen next and I loved that.

5. Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James- I’ve read and loved every one of her books. My favorite character in the Desperate Duchesses series was Villiers and I was so excited that James wrote this book about his son.

6. The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn- I’ve also read all of Quinn’s books. They’re always quick, laugh-out-loud funny and this book was no exception.

7. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier- The final book in the Ruby Red trilogy. I honestly had no idea how this book would end. All of these books had fairly fast plots but the first two were also funny and not nearly as serious. While all the loose ends got tied up in this last book, the suspense was off the charts and I literally couldn’t put it down until I knew everything.

Second Reads

8. His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman- I read these when I was younger and finally decided to read them again. These books are funny, suspenseful, and heartbreaking. I will never not adore this trilogy.

9. The Witness by Nora Roberts- I read this book when it first came out and loved it. Elizabeth/Abigail is such a unique character but I could still relate to her in many ways. I think I can safely say this is my favorite Nora Roberts book of all time. (Fun Fact: This was the 200th book Roberts wrote.)

So what are your top ten books from this year?
-Antonia

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other’s countries in the name of better political alliances–and potential marriages. It’s got the makings of a fairy tale–until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

Jessica Day George has done it again. Princess of the Midnight Ball sucked me in until I couldn’t put it down until I was done and now the same thing has happened with Princess of Glass.
I loved Princess Poppy from the start. She was a strong, quirky, funny character that I grew attached to immediately. I liked the fact that I already knew of Poppy from Princess of the Midnight Ball and was wicked excited to get to know her more in this book.
I also fell in love with Prince Christian immediately. He was a little awkward and shy. He never liked people fawning all over him because he’s a prince and was kind to everyone whether they had a title or not. I liked the fact he and Poppy became friends as soon as they met. He thought she was a little strange but in a good way. It was a nice way to start their relationship.
I loved the secondary characters as well. As I mentioned in my review of Princess of the Midnight Ball (which you can find here), George gives all her characters very distinct personalities. Because of this, I cared about everyone’s lives and what was happening to them instead of just Poppy and Christian.
George’s version of Cinderella was fantastic. It was nothing like any other version I’ve read and it kept me guessing the entire time.
Overall, I loved this book. It was funny, suspenseful and romantic. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairytales and romance. It’s a quick but fun read.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn…
Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

I finally managed to get my hands on Princess of the Midnight Ball and it lived up to all of my expectations. It was fast-paced, funny, romantic, and just suspenseful enough to be interesting. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past: I. Love. Fairytale adaptations. It might be just that they remind me of being a child but they always leave me in a fantastic mood afterwards.
This story was no different. I haven’t heard the story of the twelve dancing princesses as often as others and having a more unique fairytale to inhale has made me ridiculously happy.
First, I’ll start with the characters. I thought George did a wonderful job of giving all the characters very distinct personalities without making it seem too crowded. Often I’ve found that authors can focus too much on the main characters and the secondary characters end up being rather flat. She obviously delved deeper into the personalities of the few main characters but I liked that I wasn’t left wondering who all the secondary characters are.
I thought Rose made a wonderful cursed crown princess. She was constantly trying to protect all eleven of her younger sisters which is a particularly admirable trait to me (I was the youngest of five siblings, so I know exactly how annoying little sisters can be.) I also loved how she tried to protect Galen by trying to prevent him from helping them, knowing how dangerous it would be for him.
Which leads me to my favorite part of the book. Galen was wonderful. He was charming and sweet, sensitive and tough, serious and funny. He was such a well-balanced character that I really couldn’t help but love him from the first chapter.
I think Rose and Galen complement each other very well. It was great to see them finally work together at the end of the book.
I thought the concepts and storyline of this book were new and very interesting. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the books in this series will bring. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult, fairytales or romance. As always, let me know what you’d think. I would love to hear your own feedback on this book.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Dream Trilogy by Nora Roberts

I just finished Nora Robert’s Dream Trilogy at Amanda’s prompting and I absolutely adored it. They had everything I enjoy in romance novels. To make things easier I’m doing my reviews for all three books in one post.
Daring to Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Margo, Kate and Laura were brought up like sisters amidst the peerless grandeur of Templeton House. But it was Margo whose dreams first took her far away . . .
Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn’t help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton’s stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not buy the thing she craved most — her mother’s acceptance.
Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura — or had Kate’s shrewd head for business. But all Margo knew how to do was be Margo, and that meant doing things her own way — no matter what the consequences . . .

While I loved this book, as I do of any Nora Roberts book, it was my least favorite of the trilogy. Entirely because Margo irritated the shit out of me. She acts like a spoiled brat half the time and though I understand it’s mostly just the persona she constantly puts on, her attitude bothered me. I just wanted to smack her. Josh entertained me from the start. I loved seeing his protective older brother side and his romantic side.
What I loved most about this book was Josh and Margo’s relationship. They grew up together and have always been really close even though each secretly had a thing for the other for years. Watching their relationship change and seeing them try to figure out the dynamics of it was seriously entertaining.

Holding the Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Surrounded by the sweeping cliffs and beauty of Big Sur, Kate Powell treasured her life at Templeton House…and the family who raised her like one of their own. Although Kate lacked Margo’s beauty and Laura’s elegance, she knew she had something they would never possess–a shrewd head for business. Driven by ambition, Kate measured her life’s success with each soaring promotion. But now faced with professional impropriety, Kate is forced to look deep within herself–only to find something missing in her life…and in her heart.
I liked Kate a lot. She’s very career oriented and is almost too meticulous in the way she plans things. Like Amanda, her complete disregard for her health bothered me. I’m not a nutrition/exercise nut, but I don’t understand how some people can pretend the way they eat (or don’t eat) won’t negatively affect their health. When she gets the state of her health slapped in her face (with some help from Byron), she does a complete reevaluation of her life. I loved watching Kate finally step back and look at herself. She grew into herself throughout this book and became someone I both admire and want to be friends with.
I adored Byron. He was the perfect Southern gentleman and I loved the way he took care of Kate when she needed someone to take care of her. They were perfect together and I loved watching the way they stubbornly avoided their feelings until Byron realized what he wanted and kept pushing at her to try to get her to see his way of things. This obviously made Kate push back harder but that only made it even funnier.

Finding the Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Laura Templeton found out the hard way that nothing in life is guaranteed. The daughter of a wealthy hotelier, she had always known comfort, privilege, and security. But by the age of thirty, her storybook marriage had been destroyed by her husband’s infidelity. Laura’s divorce left her both emotionally and financially devastated–but determined to rebuild her life without the Templeton fortune.
Laura had always defined herself as a wife, a daughter, or a mother. Now, she must finally discover Laura the woman…

Laura and Michaels story was, by far, my favorite. I wanted them to end up together from the first moment I saw them interact; in the prologue…of the first book. I loved Laura from the beginning. She’s sweet, romantic and generally sees the best in everyone. But she’s not weak and she’s not a push-over. She has a strong temper when it’s called for and I loved watching her let it go occasionally. She’s a fantastic mother who absolutely dotes on her two daughters. I hated seeing her hurt throughout the first two books because of her asshole ex-husband and seeing her grow more confident throughout this book was fantastic.
I’m pretty sure Michael is the new love of my life. He had so many different traits that clashed against each other but still managed to work. He was so unhappy because of his past and didn’t think nearly highly enough of himself. I just wanted to make everything better so he could be happy. I think I literally swooned watching him with Laura’s daughters, he was perfect with them.
Michael and Laura’s relationship fed into the hopeless romantic in me. They balance each other out perfectly.

Overall, I adored these books. My favorite part of all of them was Margo, Kate and Laura’s friendship. They love each other unconditionally and are there for each other no matter what. I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys romance. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
-Antonia

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Rewind

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week we post our Top Ten for the weeks topic. This week’s is a rewind so we get to pick a topic we missed or wanted to revisit. I chose to do my top ten book I wish I could read again for the first time. Antonia chose a different topic, but also liked this one so her top ten is here along with mine. We hope you enjoy!
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Amanda’s Top Ten:

1)Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling– I’d like to be able to re read this whole series for the first time because well, it’s Harry Potter and I love them.

2)Looking for Alaska by John Green– This is my all time favorite book ever. I would love to be able to read this for the first time again. It was an amazing book and I’m going to try to put it on as many Top Ten’s as I can.

3)Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn– I read this book when my older brother was in school and he had to read it for one of his classes. I’m really glad I got to read this book and it’s one that I’ll keep rereading forever.

4)Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich– I would like to read this book for the first time again for purely x rated reasons. This is one of my favorite books in the now twenty book series.

5)Exit Here by Jason Myers– This is another book that has made it to my favorites list. I’d love to read this again for the first time so that I can fall in love with the story all over again.

6)Burned by Ellen Hopkins– Ellen Hopkins needs to be on this list somewhere. Burned is my favorite of her books.

7)The Book Thief by Markus Zusak– This book was amazing. I did just recently read The Book Thief, but I’d love to read it again and again.

8)Twilight by Stephenie Meyer– I know, haha. I put Twilight on this list because this saga was a huge part of my younger years and I read it so many times I could almost recite it to you. If I could read these books over for the first time, I wonder how I would feel about them.

9)Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith– I put this on this list mainly because I would love to be able to sit down with all of the books and just go crazy reading the whole series for the first time.

10)The House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristin Cast– This is also on the list because now that the whole series is out I would love to be able to have all of them and read them all for the first time. I think I lost interest in this series because I couldn’t keep waiting for the next one to come out.

Antonia’s Top Ten:

1)The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory– This is a given for me. It’s my favorite series of all time and I wish I could meet the characters all over again.

2)The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima– These books made me feel so many different emotions. I wish I could experience that all over again.

3)Twilight by Stephenie Meyer– I wish I could love this series like I did when I was fifteen before the movie and all the twihards ruined it for me.

4)The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis– I wish I could feel all the feelings these books made me feel before they ruined my childhood by ending.

5)The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks– It’s one of my favorite love stories ever. I wish I could read it again without knowing how it ends.

6)Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead– I wish I could fall in love with Dimitri again without knowing what happens to him.

7)The Shack by William Paul Young– This book literally ripped my heart out, stomped on it with steel toe boots and shoved it back into my body. As masochistic as it sounds, I wish that could happen again.

8)The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling– I shouldn’t have to explain this one to anyone.

9)The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini– I wish I could read all four of these books consecutively for the first time. So much time passed between the release dates that I ended up forgetting too many details between reading them.

10)The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout– I only wish I could read all of these consecutively for the first time, after the last book comes out this summer. I had so many feelings for all of these books.

These are our top ten books we’d love to read again for the first time. What are yours?

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.

I am so glad I discovered Jessica Day George and I can’t wait to read more of her books. I’d seen a review for Princess of the Midnight Ball a few months back but hadn’t gotten a chance to get it. When I was at Barnes and Noble the other day and saw her name, I knew I’d have to get at least one of her books. Unfortunately, they only had Princess of the Silver Woods (the third in the Twelve Dancing Princesses series) and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Though Sun and Moon wasn’t what I’d originally been looking for, it looked interesting enough so I decided to try it. I’m so happy I did. I read this book straight through and enjoyed every part of it.
First off, I loved the fact it was written the way an old legend would be told. I have a soft spot for legends and myths, so I immediately fell in love with the writing style.
The lass entertained me from the very beginning. She was quiet, but strong, brave and intelligent. She cares about people and animals in need even if she’d be better off ignoring them. She faces her fears instead of letting them control her. I admired the lass more with every page I read.
I also loved the bear though I wish I could’ve seen more of him. He remained pretty mysterious for the majority of the book and I would have enjoyed getting to know him better.
Rollo, the lass’s wolf pet, was hilarious. He acted and spoke exactly as I’d imagine a pet wolf really would. The other secondary characters didn’t play enough of a part for me to have grown terribly attached to but I loved seeing different types of creatures you don’t see often in other fantasy books.
Overall this book is a quick read but a very entertaining one. I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, young adult, or old stories and myths. As always, I’d love to hear your opinions on the book itself or my review of it.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Goodreads Summary: Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, Chloe happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be ‘cursed’?) friends are now running for their lives from the evil corporation that created them.
As if that’s not enough, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she’s leaning towards the werewolf…
Definitely not normal.


Oh my god. The Reckoning was one of those books that sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. On multiple occasions someone would have to say my name over and over until I heard them. I couldn’t have put this book down if I wanted to.
Chloe and Derek FINALLY realize they like each other. (I’m only slightly ashamed to admit I was more concerned about that than the fact they were running for their lives. I can’t help it; I’m a hopeless romantic.)
Chloe continued to impress me throughout this book. She’s come so far from the nice, shy girl she used to be. She’s become a bit of an expert at plotting and scheming and she’s not as afraid of her powers anymore. I loved watching Chloe grow throughout this series. She became someone I would love to be friends with.
I also loved watching Derek come out of his shell. He’s still quiet and brooding but he opens up so much to Chloe that I got to see how sweet he can be.
I still love Simon and Tori as secondary characters. They both add their own unique talents and personalities to the group. Simon might not have terribly strong magic but he sort of acts as the group’s optimism. He keeps everyone’s spirits up when things aren’t looking so great. Tori mostly adds her powerful witchcraft but she’s also fairly intelligent. She can hack computers and gets important information for the group.
This book had more action and more magic than the other two. There were quite of few rather shocking twists that actually had my jaw dropping. I don’t want to give anything away, but what the group thinks they know drastically changes a few times.
I was a little surprised by how things were resolved in the end. I’d sort of expected Chloe to suddenly come out with this crazy new power in order to save everyone but I’m glad she didn’t. It wouldn’t have been realistic. The group always gets out of situations by working together (and a decent amount of luck) so I ended up loving the way they worked together at the end.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was how many questions it left me with. When it ended, Chloe and her friends are safe but they’re stilling running. Their powers are still out of control, they still can’t fit in with humans, and the Edison group still wants to kill them. I also don’t know most of what the Edison group had been up to. We know why they started the Genesis II experiments but don’t know anything about the dozens of other experiments. It also hadn’t been clear about why the mafia-type group that plays a small part toward the end has any interest in the kids. I really hate when books leave me with questions. I understand it’s unrealistic for them to be completely happy and safe all of a sudden. I know their lives will be difficult for awhile. Despite that, I’d much rather be able to pretend everything’s perfect at the end.
Overall, I absolutely adored this series. It sucked me in and kept me on my toes. They’re funny, suspenseful, filled with action and make you think. They completely exceeded the expectations I had when I first picked them up. I’d recommend them to anyone who enjoys YA, action, paranormal, and romance. I’d love to hear your own thoughts.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Goodreads Summary:Chloe Saunders is on the run
and raising hell. Literally.
Chloe Saunders is not your average supernatural teenager. Genetically altered at birth by a sinister team of scientists, she can barely control her terrifying powers. Now the team that created her has decided it’s time to end the experiment. Permanently.
Now Chloe is running for her life along with a charming sorcerer, a troubled werewolf and a temperamental young witch. Together they have a chance for freedom – but can Chloe trust her new friends?


I really can’t stress enough how much I love these books. As good as The Summoning was The Awakening was so much better. The action has picked up speed and so has the magic.
I love Chloe even more than I did after the first book. She’s become a bit of a badass. When shy, I-apologize-every-minute Chloe feels threatened, she turns into I-can-raise-the-dead-don’t-fuck-with-me Chloe. She’s fantastic. Her powers are growing and she’s figuring out how to use them. She’s done letting the Edison group get away with treating her and the other kids like shit and she’s done letting them do their experiments. She really steps up in this book against the Edison group and in trying to protect her friends.
Which leads me to Derek. Now I know they’re going to love each other forever even if they still don’t understand. It’s not their faults; they have a lot on their minds. But I have no doubt it’s going to happen and I absolutely can’t wait. They’re so perfect together I can’t believe no one sees it.
Next I’ll talk about the secondary characters again. There aren’t any new ones but the previous ones have drastically changed. I hate Rae. She really is just a stupid little bitch and I hope I don’t have to read about her again. Also, I sort of love Tori. She’s gotten over herself a lot. Her mom’s even crazier than she thought and she’s not stupid enough to stick around and see what happens. She stays with Chloe, Derek and Simon because they all have a common enemy but I think she and Chloe are actually beginning to care about each other and become friends. I can’t wait to read more about her in the next book.
What I liked in this book was getting to see Chloe and Derek trying to blend in with humans. I hadn’t thought about the fact it might be hard for them. I guessed Derek might have a hard time because he’s antisocial, but Chloe was fairly normal before Lyle house. However, at least for the foreseeable future, Chloe can’t tell the difference between a ghost and a living person unless they do something ghost-y like walk through walls. There was a part when Derek and Chloe get separated from the others and they’re trying to get food from a coffee shop. A woman comes up to Chloe and starts talking to her. It’s not until Chloe notices everyone laughing and whispering about her that she realizes the woman’s a ghost. I didn’t think how difficult it could be for her and I liked being able to see some of that in this book.
You can expect a review for The Reckoning, the conclusion to the Darkest Powers Trilogy, soon. I absolutely cannot wait to see how it ends. Let me know what you think and how your opinions might differ.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Goodreads Summary: My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.
All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost – and the ghost saw me.
Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? it’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House…before its skeletons come back to haunt me.


I’ll confess. I honestly didn’t expect to like these books. I was at the library and didn’t want to bring only one book home and didn’t have much time to look. So I just grabbed The Summoning and The Awakening thinking I’d probably at least be able to get through the first at some point. I ended up reading them in a day each. I loved these books.
Chloe was a strong, interesting narrator who kept exceeding my expectations. She was really shy and sweet in the beginning. She could definitely be considered too nice. I’d assumed she would just slide along through the whole book letting everyone else do the hard work. (Unfortunately, I’ve found that many female MC’s in young adult books have an annoying lack of backbone and let their men take care of them. This is NOT the type of protagonist I enjoy reading about.) However, I found Chloe surprisingly resourceful. She was obviously scared when she started seeing ghosts and even more scared every time she learned something new about Lyle house and being a necromancer. But she never let it stop her from learning more and fighting back and I loved that about her.
I loved Derek almost instantly. He’s moody and quiet and a little bit of an asshole. But he’s also loyal, funny, and almost annoyingly protective of the people he cares about i.e. his brother, Simon, and eventually Chloe. Not long after I decided I loved him I also decided he and Chloe need to love each other for forever. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen during this book, though they’re pretty good friends now so I’ve decided to be hopeful.
There were quite a few secondary characters and I’m fairly undecided about most of them. Simon is funny and I’d like him better if I wasn’t worried he’d get in the way of Chloe and Derek loving each other. I really like Liz (a ghost) and can’t wait to see more of her. Rae was nice but a little on the annoying side. She never seemed to take anything seriously. I hated Tori. She was a spoiled little bitch. I get her mother is an even bigger bitch but that’s no excuse for the things she does.
I really liked the way Armstrong portrays the different supernatural races and the politics behind them. It made it different from the many other YA paranormal books. I also really loved that Chloe is a necromancer. It’s something that I haven’t seen a lot of in books and it made it really unique.
The ending of this book drove me nuts. Everything goes to shit… then it ends… I’m just happy I don’t have to wait for any of these books to be published because I can’t wait to finish them.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult, paranormal fantasy, and romance. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. Amanda hasn’t read these books yet so I have no one to talk to about them. If you’ve read them, I would love to know what you think of them.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

Goodreads Summary: Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.
She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.
This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate.

The only reason I picked up these books was because of the covers. Each one has the most gorgeous dress on it and I couldn’t keep myself from finding out what it was about. I loved the first two books in the Ruby Red trilogy and Emerald Green didn’t disappoint me. Everything was tied up perfectly, all my questions were answered, and there was a perfect mix of humor, suspense and action that I’ve come to expect from these books.
Since these books deal with time travel, there’s tons of information between the present and the past that can get pretty confusing. Gier filled in many of the blanks by providing information between chapters in the form of transcripts and articles from the Temple’s archives of the past. It really helped me to get a little bit more information because it drives me nuts when I don’t know any more than the characters do.
I’ll start with Gwyneth. I wasn’t sure how much I liked her at the beginning of the series. She’s fifteen so I know I can’t exactly expect constant maturity but her naiveté seriously irritated me. She got better in the second book and finally stepped up in the third and got the shit done that she needed to do. When I started the third book, I fully expected her to just lose all my respect. Gideon had just broken her heart and I figured she would curl up into a ball and have a weeklong pity party. I was wrong. The pity party lasted a few hours while she cried on the phone to her best friend before she got to work trying to find the message her grandfather left before he died. Being in love with Gideon didn’t make her weak like the Count expected. It made her strong. Yeah, her heart’s broken and she still has to look Gideon in the face everyday but instead of being pathetic about it, she’s mad. It reminds me of the quote “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. I loved the fact that everyone kept underestimating Gwen because it just gave her chances to prove them wrong.
Gideon. Irritated. Me. I loved him for the second half of the book once he finally decided to stop being an idiot. However, the majority of the time before that point he was just being a stubborn asshole. If he’d just talked to Gwen everything would have been fine. Maybe something like, “Hey, Gwen, I’m only pretending to hate you because the Count thinks he can use our relationship as leverage against us.” She probably wouldn’t have been particularly happy about it but she would have understood. Half the events of the first two books probably wouldn’t have happened if Gideon had just tried working with Gwen.
Lesley is Gwen’s best friend. I’ve loved her since the beginning. She’s really outgoing and funny and always throws herself into situations in order to help Gwen. She’s really smart and comes in handy decoding the many cryptic codes and prophecies that Gwen comes across. She was also Gwen’s rock throughout the entire series. Whenever Gwen had any kind of problem Lesley was there to help her through it.
Raphael is Gideon’s brother. He came in during the second book and played a small part. He was more important in the third book and although he’s funny, I’d mostly ignored him until he became a love interest for Lesley.
Xemerius is the ghost of a demon in gargoyle form. (Gwen can see ghosts.) I adored him. He was hilarious, sarcastic, and very overdramatic. He wasn’t particularly helpful most of the time. He would occasionally find something that was hidden or keep lookout for Gwen but for the most part he only added comedic relief.
Lastly, there are the Guardians and the people at the Temple. I hated all of them. They were ridiculous. They hated Gwen just because they’d always thought her cousin would be the Ruby and were pissed they were wrong. They don’t trust her, they ignore her and they underestimate her. If those assholes just got over themselves and decided to work with Gwen instead of against her everything would have been much easier. The fact they refused to listen to her over and over again only allowed the Count to continue his evil plans.
Overall, I loved these books. I would recommend them to anyone who likes romance, scifi/fantasy, and young adult. They are directed slightly more toward the younger side of YA but not so much to be childish. Please tell me what your own thoughts are.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

Goodreads Summary:He thinks she’s an annoying know-it-all…

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

She thinks he’s just plain mad…

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless…

I love Julia Quinn. Her books always, without out fail, make me laugh out loud even if I’m out somewhere public causing everyone to stare at me like I’m a lunatic. She uses the perfect mix of humor and sappy that I really can’t get enough of. I love the relationships between her characters. They banter and they fight and they love each other. It’s perfect. It never seems unrealistic. Sisters act exactly as my sisters and I act. Friends act just like Amanda and I are together. I always want to be best friends with the heroine and the hero always makes me swoon (well, he would if I knew how to swoon). I’ve read every one of her books and always await the next with as much patience as I can manage when books are involved. Her newest book (my Christmas present from Amanda) did not disappoint me.
I’ll begin by explaining the duel which is also explained in the other two books of the series. Approximately three years before the events of this book, Hugh, Sarah’s cousin Daniel, and a couple of their friends were drunkenly playing cards. Hugh accused Daniel of cheating, they argued, and Hugh challenged him to a duel. Still slightly drunk at dawn they meet and are still determined to go through with it. Neither actually wanted to shoot the other and were fully expected to just shoot past the others shoulder and be done with it. Except Hugh accidentally shoots Daniel in the shoulder. And Daniel accidentally shoots him in the legging, hitting an artery and almost killing him. Daniel’s forced to leave the country by Hugh’s father threatening to kill him until Hugh manages to convince his father to back off. Because of this, Sarah hates Hugh for causing her family so much pain.
I’ll start with Lady Sarah Pleinsworth. She knows how to act like a lady when she needs to, but when she’s with her friends or her family she’s dramatic, sarcastic and tends to exaggerate. I hadn’t been entirely sure how much I liked her at the beginning of the book. Then she met Hugh and my opinion did a complete 180. He really brings out the worst in her and vice versa. The conversations that ensue are nothing short of hilarious. They’re forced together for a few weeks for Sarah’s two cousins’ weddings. After spending time with him, Sarah begins to realize he isn’t the complete asshole she thought he was. He’s actually a decent person. And has nice eyes. And he’s very handsome. And Sarah is absolutely horrified that she’s thinking any of this purely because it’s Hugh and she’s supposed to hate him.
After the duel, Hugh becomes crippled and struggles to walk even with a cane. Between the duel and his disability, he holds an awkward place in society; he indirectly forced a popular member of the aristocracy to flee the country, it’s unlikely anyone would be willing to marry a cripple, and he can’t dance or hunt or do much of anything physical. Hugh feels terrible that he couldn’t keep his father from trying to kill Daniel and feels responsible for everything that occurred because of the duel, even the parts that weren’t his fault. He doesn’t want to hate Sarah, but he thinks she’s dramatic and silly and she was really quite a bitch when they first met. Until he realizes he’s attracted to her and she’s sort of cute when she’s dramatic and she’s actually pretty clever.
I loved Sarah and Hugh as enemies. I loved Sarah and Hugh as friends. And I love Sarah and Hugh in love. They’re adorable and funny and I just really want to be best friends with them. Hugh just wants to protect her even though he can’t even catch her from falling out of a carriage because of his leg. Sarah just wants to help him and make him happy because she doesn’t see him as a cripple at all.
I loved this book. It had the perfect amount of everything. I can’t wait to read the next book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance or books that make you laugh. As always, I’d love to hear your own thoughts and feedback.
-Antonia