Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything · The Readers Favorites

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary:
When popular radio personality West McCray receives a desperate phone call from a stranger imploring him to find nineteen-year-old runaway Sadie Hunter, he’s not convinced there’s a story there; girls go missing all the time. But as soon as West’s boss discovers Sadie fled home after the brutal murder of her little sister, Mattie, he sees the makings of something big and orders West to the small town of Cold Creek, Colorado, to uncover what happened.
Sadie has no idea that her story will soon become the subject of a blockbuster podcast. She just wants revenge. Armed with a switchblade, Sadie follows a meager set of clues hoping they’ll lead to the man who took Mattie’s life because she’s determined to make him pay for it with his own. But as West traces her journey to the darkest, most dangerous corners of big cities and small towns, a deeply unsettling mystery begins to unfold-one that’s bigger than them both. Can he find Sadie before it’s too late?
Alternating between Sadie’s unflinching voice as she hunts the killer and the podcast transcripts tracking the clues she’s left behind, Sadie, is a breathless thriller about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love and the high price we pay when we can’t. It will haunt you long after you reach the final page.
Review:
After hearing the endless hype for Sadie, I finally bought the book when it was on sale for black Friday. Shortly after buying it, my library informed me that they went ahead and bought the audiobook at my request. So, this led me to wait for the audiobook to be available instead of reading the physical book because I have heard nothing but good things about the audiobook. None of those things I heard were wrong. The audiobook and the story were so so much more than I ever expected.
This story follows two alternating perspectives. The first we follow is Sadie. We follow Sadie as she’s trying to deal with losing her sister, the one person she lived for. Sadie spent her life doing everything for Mattie. Taking care of her sister was her life’s purpose. I think I really related to Sadie because my own mother is one that struggles with addiction and wasn’t around for much of my life. So I know how Sadie feels toward her mother and I could understand those feelings. I cannot imagine what it wo0uld be like to lose a sibling like she did, in such a gruesome manner. I would be inconsolable and would likely attempt revenge, just like Sadie. Following Sadie on this mission was hard because it took Sadie to some dark places both physically and mentally. She had some dark thoughts, including but not limited to murder. I think that was one of the things I liked about this book. It was a mystery/thriller but the darker themes within it really made it just that much more exciting.
The second perspective we follow is West McCray who is a reporter, I think. I thought this was a very interesting way to tell this story. His chapters were so perfectly placed. Every time we switched away from Sadie it was always at the perfect place to just add that much more suspense. I really liked that we get to see into the process of West making the podcast instead of just the podcast episodes. I thought it was cool that we got to see how Sadie’s story was affecting West and the impact this project was having on him. I also really enjoyed the interview parts of the story that were included in the podcast. I feel like they really allowed the reader more insight into all the different pieces of the story.
I think my favorite part was the parallels in the storytelling. What I mean by this is that one chapter will be following Sadie going to a specific place or telling us about something and the next chapter will be the podcast where West is learning about the same things. I thought it was really interesting to see how Sadie saw or thought things and then seeing those same things from the perspective of another.
Finally, I have to mention the audiobook. It was freaking amazing. I absolutely adore audiobooks that are read by a cast of narrators. I think they make the story experience so much better and they’re my favorite kind of audiobooks. I actually waited to read this book despite owning the physical copy so that I could experience the audiobook because I’ve heard such good things. I was not disappointed in the least. I think this is even more important because the one thing I never see mentioned in the reviews I’ve seen is that Sadie has a serious stutter. I don’t know how that is portrayed in the book, but the audiobook you heard the stutter and felt the anxiety and anger that Sadie felt about it. I think the narrators for this story were absolutely incredible. They drew me into this book and spit me out in the last pages all used up and emotionally ruined.
If you haven’t read this book, you need to. If you’re not reading this book because of all the hype, don’t be silly.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything · The Readers Favorites

How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett

Summary:
On a warm, listless summer afternoon, Kyle Paxson sent five texts to a few chosen classmates. None of the girls responded-except one. Jamie was the only girl nice enough to give Kyle the time. And that night, deliberately and brutally, he killed her.
On the eve of Kyle’s sentencing a year later, all the other “chosen ones” are coping in various ways. But our narrator is full of questions, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.
Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie’s boyfriend-knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by the what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?
Review:
This was an impulse buy for me after my twinny, Alana, recommended it to me. She better keeps the recommendations coming because I gave five stars to the two books that I’ve read recently at her suggestion.

“But love and stupidity kind of go together, don’t they?”

How She Died, How I Lived was incredible. It was thought-provoking and hard-hitting and I just couldn’t put it down. This is a story that follows the main character as she’s dealing with survivors’ guilt and all of the feelings that come with knowing that she was almost the girl that got murdered. Being one of five girls that Kyle texted that day, it could have been any one of them that was killed. Our main character battles with the fact that she is still alive and Jamie is not. I really thought this was a powerful story because the things that she felt were so raw and real and parts of it were almost hard to read.

“You asked us to write about death. I want to write about love. They’re not the same, but the link us together in the same way. Death and love. They both wrap us up in their cords, and they don’t let go.”

I’m having a hard time thinking of what I want to say about this story aside from it being a good book because it was so much more than that. This story was thought-provoking with the idea that anyone can die at any time. It also really brings attention to justice and what that really means, specifically in regards to the death penalty. I was blown away by the final pages.

“This world. This preposterously beautiful world. You’d think we could live in it without killing each other.”

The characters were great. I think my favorite part of this story was the relationship between the main character and her best friend, another girl that Kyle texted that day, Lindsey. I really liked that these two girls became friends and are helping one another deal with their feelings about their shared experiences. I loved that they held one another up when they needed it, but they also weren’t afraid to call the other out on their shit. Their friendship was one that reminded me of some of my friends and I really enjoyed it.

“Our grief is our signature, with everyone dotting the i in their own special way.”

The romance in this book was the one thing I wasn’t really sure about. It ended up growing on me, but I didn’t like it at first. The main character ends up involved with Charlie, the boyfriend of the girl that Kyle killed. I thought it was just a little weird because it had only been a year since Jamie was killed, along with the upcoming trial bringing up all the emotions once again. I still don’t think it’s a relationship that will last, but it definitely grew on me. By the end of the book, I was okay with it because they can hold each other up when they need it, but also because they did their fair share of arguing about different opinions. Their differing opinions is where most of the thought-provoking ideas were brought up because they seemed to have the opposite opinions on quite a few things that really just made you think.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Taylor continues. “It was written in the stars.”

Overall, I loved How She Died, How I Lived. I wanted to read it again from the beginning as soon as I finished it. I definitely think this is a story that needs more attention. So if you haven’t read it, please go do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Summary:
Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her beloved brother really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her best friend and ex-girlfriend, Charlie.
As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future and how to move forward.
Confronting difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault, Girl Made of Stars is a timely, emotionally gripping novel that shines a light on the story of a survivor with sensitivity and hope.
Review:
My wonderful twinny, Alana, got me this book for Christmas off my wish list. Its one that I’ve heard nothing but great things about and I’ve been super excited to get to it. With the start of Contemporary January, I knew this book was at the top of my list. This was my first read of 2019 and I’m so glad for that. I could not put it down one I started. I read 180 pages in my first sitting and then read the rest in the car while I was traveling the next day.

“It’s as though the stars are breaking apart in the sky, nothing but dark underneath.”

Girl Made of Stars was hard hitting but realistic. This wasn’t a story about how rape is a thing that happens, but those that do wrong get what they deserve. This was a story for all those that have had these experiences with no closure. And I loved it. I thought it was an excellent story with characters you can really feel for.

“Secrets are safe in here. It’s our own little world, just you and me.”

Mara, the main character, was someone I could really get behind. I tried to imagine how I would feel is my brother had done something like this, let alone to one of my best friends, and what I would do. It really made me relate and care for Mara. She’s not the one that did anything wrong here, but she’s still basically being punished for her brother’s wrong doing whether she sides with her brother or her best friend. I loved Mara. I loved that she stood up for what she knew to be right, even though it was hard. I really loved how she grew and changed.

“How can I believe either one of them? How can I not believe them?”

I loved all the supporting characters too. They were interesting and compelling and I cared about them, even Owen (the brother). We don’t just go into the story knowing he’s done something wrong. We see him and like him, and then are dumped on with this horrible thing he’s done. Alex was Owen’s best friend, but he and Mara grew closer with all of the events in the book and I thought that was a nice touch. The two people that were not actually involved, but were still affected by this coming together was a beautiful thing to me. A new friendship coming out of such a horrible thing. Hannah was just, ugh. I was so proud of Hannah. She was so strong and held her head high and didn’t let anyone bring her down. Even after everything she’s going through, she sticks by Mara. I really appreciated that. There was one instance with them, the first time Mara sees Hannah after it all happens that has me in complete tears. I cannot imagine being in either of their shoes and I just have so much respect for them both.

“Freedom. Release. A sort of falling apart that felt like letting go.”

Then there’s Charlie. I liked her because she was new to me. She’s complex and interesting. She tries to please everyone despite being sure about who she is. There were parts where I was very frustrated with Charlie and Mara. I just wanted them to get over their drama and be there for one another. The fact that they dated brought a really unique dynamic to their friendship. They are figuring out how to still be the best friends they always were while also trying to deal with their breakup. It was an intriguing addition to the story where they are both trying to deal with their own shit while also help one another and Hannah.

“Eventually, Sister Twin realized that she has to tell her story. Because that story was hers. Because she was worth the telling.”

Overall, I really loved this book. It made me cry again and again. This is such an important story and I think everyone needs to read it. It talks about something that people don’t want to talk about, but it needs to be.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything · The Readers Favorites

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

Summary:
A gun is sold in the classifieds, bought
by a teenage for protection.
One week will bring six teens in Tuscon, Arizona,
into close contact in a town wrought with
political and personal tensions.
One person will shoot.
Someone will die.
Review:
Ellen Hopkins is an auto-buy author of mine. I own every one of her books and I will always buy them as they come out. She’s an author I’m constantly recommending. She’s a favorite for sure. So, when I saw that she was coming out with People Kill People in 2018. A book about gun violence in a time that this is such a relevant issue, I knew I’d love it. No surprise here that I, in fact, loved it. It was captivating and hard-hitting and relevant.

“See I’ve got this theory.
Given the right circumstances,
any person could kill someone.
Even you.”

The idea behind the story is as the title states, People Kill People. This story has an interesting narrator that follows a few different characters, each with very different life experiences and viewpoints. I think this story could not have been any better. We followed a diverse cast of characters. All of the characters meeting or having to do with one another in various ways. I will forever be in awe of the way that Hopkins weaves all of her character’s paths through one another in ways that always surprise you.

“Trust is important. Relationships can’t survive without it.”

I loved the characters. She found a way to make them relatable, even the ones that are so obviously in the wrong morally. She takes the serious issue of gun violence and shows how it can affect anyone from any culture with any political or personal viewpoints. The diversity of the characters in this book are what really makes it relevant. With one character that believes firmly in the white supremacy movement and several others that are actively protesting and supporting immigration issues, both male and female characters. It’s very telling to the fact that violence, gun violence, in particular, can touch so many different people.

“No such thing as happy endings. Everyone winds up the same way.”

I don’t really want to go too much into detail about the things that happen because I don’t want to spoil any parts of the story for those of you that may pick this book up. I think it’s important to go into this story not knowing a whole lot about it. The synopsis itself is pretty vague and it’s better that way. I also think it was so important for this story to take place in Arizona. The gun laws in Arizona are some of the more relaxed laws in the US so the things that take place really couldn’t have happened the way that they did if it had been written in another state.

“Revolutionaries are rare,
a breed apart from mundane
thinkers, and when they rise,
the world trembles
at their feet.

The final thing I want to mention is that Ellen Hopkins mentions​ at the beginning of the book before the story start that she grew up around guns. She has a healthy respect for guns and the Second Amendment. With this, I think she was the perfect person to write this story. She is writing about a political issue that needs to be discussed​ but doesn’t take the story to any extremes (whether extremely left or right.) I feel that she was the right voice to tell this story because she knows what she’s talking about.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.​

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Summary:
Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s-a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none.
No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.
Review:
It feels like I finished this book forever ago, but it was only last week. I haven’t been able to sit down and write this review until now. It’s a busy time of year, but also, I just haven’t known what to say about this masterpiece that is a YA science fiction novel. Brandon Sanderson is a very widely known and well-loved author. It’s a name I’ve heard time and time again the longer I’ve been involved in the bookish community. So, when I? saw this book at Barnes and Nobel, I thought I’d give it a try. I found a beautiful signed copy and the synopsis sounded interesting enough. I put off reading it for almost two entire months. Until I saw that one of my friends on Twitter had bought it and several other friends replied that they owned the book too but hadn’t read it yet. This is when I popped in and said, “Buddy read anyone?” So, a huge thank you to Alana @ The Bookish Chick, Rae @ Thrifty Bibliophile, & Steph @ Books in the Skye for choosing to buddy read this book with me. It was my first ever buddy read and I had so much fun reading together and discussing this story as we made our way through the pages. I’m so happy to have found you guys as friends and I’m excited for more buddy reads in the future.

“Claim the stars, Spensa.”

Now to talk about the book. I loved it. I really just absolutely loved it. I feel like this is a case of having nothing to say about a story other than, “I loved it, it was so good. Please read it now.” Because I’m really not sure what else to add. So I’ll be basic and talk about basic story concepts.

“Is anything fair?” He smiled. “Death is. He treats us all the same.”

The characters were great. Spensa was entertaining, slightly annoying, relatable, and an interesting perspective. I think she was a great voice for this story. She had something to prove and though she doubted herself at times, she wasn’t going to give up.
I loved all the other kids in her flight school class. They all just added unique and distinct personalities to the story. I grew to love the characters I hated at first and I think that says so much about an author’s storytelling skill. Jerkface is the one I grew to love. He’s so complex and interesting. I’m happy to say that Spensa quickly learns that there’s more to him than she thought.

“So willing to seize the stars with one hand and shove them in your pocket.”

I think my favorite character is tied between Kimmalyn and M-Bot. Kimmalyn is funny and sassy and I found myself laughing out loud at her parts of the story. The same goes for M-Bot though. I’m a totally sucker for anything related to artificial intelligence, so the minute M-Bot popped into the story, I knew he was going to be one of my favorite parts. There’s just something about technology trying to understand the complexity of human emotion that I really enjoy. M-Bot ended up really hitting me in the feels which pleasantly surprised me.

“I’d let you read the seven thousand pages I wrote, but I am programmed to avoid making humans feel inferior for their incredible weirdness.”

The setting was also incredible. I love space, so it’s not really a surprise that I liked the world this takes place in. Though I’m dying to get the second book that won’t be released until November of 2019 so that I can learn more about the world. I’m wondering how much we’re going to learn about the world that Spensa lives on. There are other communities that are lightly talked about, but I want to know more. I also can’t wait to learn more about outer space around the planet they live on.

“It’s not your fault you’re a bloodthirsty ball of aggression and destruction.”

The story progresses nicely. I love books that take place in school settings. I genuinely enjoy getting to see characters learn their skill rather than just seeing them know everything already. I think it makes the characters more well-rounded. Getting to see them before they think they know everything is always fun. I think Skyward was full of excellent world building. It created so much suspense and anticipation for the next book. I’m interested to see how these characters are going to behave and grow now that they are no longer students and with all of the new information they’ve learned about their enemies.

“It can appreciate things at a million times per second. So you could say your comment is likely the single most appreciated thing you’ve ever done.”

Overall, this is one of my favorite reads of 2018. I think you should all give this book a try. Brandon Sanderson wrote an incredible story that was entertaining and full of characters that I’m now fully invested in. I actually already ordered some of his other books so I can see if I enjoy his adult novels as much as this one. So, if you’re the opposite of me and you’ve read his other series, give this one a try for sure!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Summary:
Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Mariana’s Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by thee thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.
A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deepis a heartfelt tour de force by one of today’s most admired writers for teens.
Review:
I was unsure about this book at first. Honestly, it took me about a week before actually getting further than ten pages into it and that was mostly thanks to the audiobook. I ended up listening to the audio from my library because I really wanted to get into the story. Also because I was doing my Christmas baking and I needed an audiobook to listen to. The audiobook sucked me in so quickly. The narrator did everything right in this story.

“The things I feel cannot be put into words, or if they can bem the words are in no language anyone can understand. My emotions are talking in tongues. Joy spins into anger spins into fear them into amused irony, like leaping from a plane, arms wide, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can fly, then discovering you can’t, and not only don’t you have a parachute, but you don’t have any clothes on, and the people below all have binoculars and are laughing as you plummet to a highly embarassing doom.”

I had a hard time with this book in the beginning because I couldn’t tell what was actually going on. I didn’t know if Caden was actually on a ship or if that was a metaphor for something or what the hell was going on. After a while, I figured out what was going on and I think this confusion was likely intentional.

“We always look for the signs we missed when something does wrong. We become like detectives trying to solve a murder, because maybe if we uncover the clues, it gives us some control. Sure, we can’t change what happened, but if we can string together enough clues, we can prove that whtever nightmare has befallen us, we could have stopped it, if only we had been smart enough. I suppose it is better to believe that all the clues in the world wouldn’t have changes a thing.” 

Challenger Deep was honestly such an incredible story once I figured out what was going on. Once I realized what the story was actually about. It was really hard hitting. The things Caden feels and experiences and thinks were just so powerful. I’m definitely still reeling from the last hour or so of the audiobook. I went back and forth between the audio and the book.

“We are, however, creatures of containment. We want all things in life packed into boxes that we can label. But just because we have the ability to label is, doesn’t mean we really know what’s in the box.”

I really am not even sure how to form my thoughts about this book into real sentences. I think this was such an important story that everyone should read. This talks about mental illness in such a raw and interesting way. This was made even more powerful when I learned that this story was widely based on Neal’s experience with his son. To the point where his son’s artwork is inserted into the pages periodically.

“Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.”

I just think everyone should read this book and that is all, goodbye.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogmas Book Review – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary:
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.
Review:
Mockingjay once again destroyed my soul. I knew what was coming for the most part, there were certain events that I had forgotten about, and even the parts I remembered destroyed my soul.
The conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy was thrilling and exciting and absolutely crazy. I almost don’t even know what to say about it. I loved all the characters. Finnick, Gale, Haymitch, the whole gang is entertaining, while also breaking my heart.
The trauma that these characters have endured during the war that’s going on, is just awful. I liked how the characters really experienced things though. They didn’t just get over the trauma and torture they’ve been put through. They are recovering, in whatever ways work for them. This made it all the more realistic.
Katniss was really just a hot mess in this book and it only got worse. The things she lost, the people she loved, she endured more than one person should ever have to. And on top of this, the one person that’s been with her through this story has been turned against her. It was so sad to watch her struggle with this. Peeta gets the worst of it, honestly. It felt awful to know what Peeta was being put through by the Capitol. All to get to Katniss.
I was pretty happy with the ending. It’s exactly what Katniss wanted. It leaves us with a sense of putting the world back together, though she is mostly just trying to put herself back together. After so much loss, fighting, and persevering through the hardest times of her lives, she needs time to put the pieces of herself back together. She needs time to figure out how she is going to move forward and live her life.
I love this series and I always will. It will live forever as one of my favorite series. If you haven’t read this series you definitely need to stop reading this and go pick up The Hunger Games and get your heart broken, too. I’m going to go binge watch the movies now!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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