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

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

GoodReads Summary:
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.
Daisy Jones & The SixReview:
There were so many things I loved about Daisy Jones and the Six that I honestly don’t even know where to start. Taylor Jenkins Reid is so incredibly talented. I can only hope to be as skilled as she is one day. I listened to the audiobook for this story and I’m very glad I did. I’ll talk about that first. This audiobook was narrated by a full cast. Each character had its own narrator which is one of my favorite things. I adore audiobooks with full casts. Each narrator bought life and personality to their character. I loved the interview formatting of the story as well. Bringing up an event or time period and then letting each of the characters tell the story of that event the way they remembered it was so complex and captivating. Which brings me to one of the things that really fascinated me about this story. Because it was the memories of all seven of the band members, plus a few other characters, no one characters told the same story. They each told things they were they remembered so the experiences varied from character to character. I think that added so much complexity to the story. It really made you think about how no two people have the same memories or experiences of the same events. Another thing that Taylor Jenkins Reid does really well is writing a story that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until she’s finished. After reading this book, it was hard not to think that these were all real people and a totally true story. The fact that Reid can make me think, “wait this didn’t happen?” really just blows me away.
I’m not going to talk about each character because there were entirely too many and that would make this review way too long. The characters each had their own personality and their own voice which I appreciate. They were distinct and vibrant, each in their own ways. They all had different goals and motivations which really made for a great story. They brought such fun and excitement and life into the story. I think the character were really what made Daisy Jones and the Six was it was. The story was all about the characters and their experiences and their feelings. There wasn’t really a specific plot outside of following the band members and other miscellaneous people as they rose to fame and then eventually fell apart. I think this story was written beautifully. I loved the whole experience. I cannot wait to see what Taylor Jenkins Reid comes up with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

Deathcaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Summary:
A splintered allegiance.
Warrior Alyssa ana’Raisa would do anything to protect her home, the Fells, and her legacy, the Gray Wolf line. But as a prisoner of Empress Celestine, Lyss is forced to turn her fearsome talents as an army commander against her beloved homeland. Refusal would swiftly lead to her death, and her death would end the Gray Wolf line.
An ancient danger.
In Lyss’s absence, Fellsmarch Castle swarms with intrigue, deception, and a primordial threat. Destin Karn, a southern spymaster with a hidden agenda of his own, might be the queendom’s only hope of defeating the forces aligned against the Seven Realms…as well as the enemies within the castle.
The deadly cost of peace.
Master storyteller Cinda Williams Chima delivers spellbinding action, bittersweet reunions, and dazzling revelations in this indispensable conclusion to the Shattered Realms series.
Deathcaster (Shattered Realms, #4)Review:
I’m honestly a little sad to be writing this review. I cannot believe that this series has been concluded. After eight books and two series and more character deaths than I’d like to remember. I have loved the world of the Seven Realms for many years. They are the books that got me into loving fantasy as much as I do. (Read my review for the first series here.) So, I’m sad to see my time in this world come to an end (in terms of reading for the first time anyway). Okay, enough sadness. Time for the real review.

“She told me that love is not measured by the amount of time you spend together, it’s how that time is spent.”

No surprise here but I loved this book. Deathcaster was my most anticipated release of 2019 and I procrastinated reading it for an entire month because I didn’t want my time with these characters to be over. I still don’t feel like I got enough of their story. I loved this conclusion. I loved the way these characters ended their stories. I loved every single page.

“He said that all we can do is make the best decision  possible in that moment. Then move on. Because we can’t know how a different choice would play out, it makes no sense to beat ourselves up over what looks like a bad choice in retrospect.”

There are entirely to many characters to get into the details for each one of them. I love all of the characters that play a part in the chaos happening in the world. With princesses turned Queens, soldiers turned Kings, missing Princes reuniting with loved ones, pirates with powers, soldiers of all sorts, there really is not a dull moment in the almost 650 pages of this conclusion. I laughed, I cried, I squealed, I did all of the things. I have been on such a journey with Lyss, Ash, Hal, Destin, Evan, Talbot, Jenna, Lila, and so many others. I have loved them all, even the ones I have lost. I loved that each character had their own distinct personality, which I think is impressive with the large amount of characters. It’s a testament to Chima’s talent that each one of these people have their own personality and voice, they each play a vital part in this series. I do want to mention the dragons. I absolutely adored meeting more dragon’s after Cas. Cas raising the fledgling dragons was one of my favorite parts of Deathcaster. They were sassy and smart. They had me laughing every time they were on the page. I loved seeing the other characters learn about and interact with them.

“That’s how they get you-hope. That’s how they break you’re heart.”

The world of the Seven Realms is one that I will miss dearly and I will very likely revisit again before the end of this year. It has become such a well-loved story and I just cannot stop shouting about them from the rooftops about them. I think every lover of fantasy needs to read these books (starting with The Demon King). The world that Chima has built is incredibly intricate and complex. The history, the different cultures, the places we visit, its so in depth and fully envelops you into the story.

“I learned a long time ago  that it’s not our fault if our parents are monsters. We can’t take responsibility for that, or we’re twice damaged. All we can do is try to go forward in a different way.”

Overall, I loved this conclusion. I don’t know that it was my favorite of the Shattered Realms. I probably won’t be able to decide which is my favorite until I reread all of them together. But the characters that reunite. Winning the war on several different fronts. This book has everything I wanted. If you haven’t read these, you need to and that is all.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
A single choice can change everything.
Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications, and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.
Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.
Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.
For what she let happen.
With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when she and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?
If There's No TomorrowReview:
I loved everything about this book. Jennifer Armentrout has done it again. I have not read a single book by this author that I didn’t love. I don’t know why I took so long to read this because it’s no secret that I love her books.

“Waiting is too risky. There’s no bad time to tell someone you love them.”

If There’s No Tomorrow is the book I didn’t know I needed. It’s actually pretty similar to the book that I am currently writing. This book tackles the hard topic of underage drinking as well as drinking and driving. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because of some personal experiences. I cried on and off for the last 60% of this story. It really hit me in the feels.

“One choice has altered the course of what  we were all supposed to become.”

We follow Lena as she’s going to school and dealing with the aftermath of her dad leaving, loving her best friend and not having those feelings returned, and summer ending. Then it happens. One night changes everything. The rest of the book we follow Lena as she’s trying to live with the aftermath. She’s dealing with loss and acceptance and feelings that she doesn’t know what to do with. I felt so hard for Lena because I have been where she was. I knew what this poor girl was going through. She made her own life harder, pushing away her loved ones and isolating herself. She’s so deep inside her own despair and turmoil of emotions that she let the rest of her life fall apart. Watching her pull herself out of the hole of depression was hard but rewarding. Seeing her talk to a therapist and open up to him and to her friends was the best part of this story. It was so good to see her do better for herself.

“What does waiting do? None  of us are promised a tomorrow. We learned that didn’t we? We don’t always get a later.”

I really loved the friend group that Lena was a part of. The four girls reminded me very much of my friends. I thought they were realistic and fun. But when things got hard, they were still realistic. They fought and some pushed away while others tried to pull closer. I really liked the friend group.

“Blame isn’t about making someone feel terrible about their actions, and it’s not about hurting the person’s feelings. Actions and inactions have consequences. If we did not accept 

Then there’s Sebastian. Lena’s next-door neighbor/best friend/secret love. I’m a total sucker for the friends to lovers trope. Probably because it’s my real life. I married my best friend. We are a real-life friends to lovers trope and it’s wonderful. So yes, it’s one of my favorites. It was so well done in this book. I loved Sebastian. He was an amazing friend to Lena, even when she pushed all her friends away. I really appreciated him because he was loyal and honest and pushed Lena to be the best version of herself.

“I’m not leaving. You can get mad. You can get upset, but I’m staying right here, becasue whether you realize it or not, you shouldn’t be alone. I’m not going anywhere.”

I overall adored everything about this book. The characters, the story, the writing. If There’s No Tomorrow will be going down as a new favorite book of mine. I definitely think this is a book that should be more talked about because it covers an important topic that sometimes gets over shadowed by the more hard-hitting books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

Air Awakens: The Complete Series by Elise Kova

GoodReads Summary:
Air Awakens
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all–the Crown Prince Aldrik–she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
Fire Falling
Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?
Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?
Earth’s End
A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.
Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.
Water’s Wrath
Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.
The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.
Crystal Crowned
Long live Solaris.
One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?
Air Awakens Complete Digital Boxed Set (Books 1-5):

Review:
I’m going to do this as a series review because I’m reading it on my Kindle as a ‘boxed set’ so it’s basically like one GIANT ebook. So I’m going to just write some brief thoughts I had during each book and then do an overall how I felt about the series kind of idea. Also! This is a reread for me. I read this series about a year ago and LOVED it. So I’m rereading it because when Antonia finally started it, I really wanted to revisit this world

Air Awakens

Some thoughts while reading:

I literally wrote on GoodReads, “UGH, what a way to end the first book.” Because it’s so so true. The ending is killer. I also wrote, “I LOVE Vhalla. She’s a timid turned fierce girl who just wanted to work in the library. I’m usually kind of over the whole ‘woah I’m magical’ trope, but Kova does it well. I love the magic system in this series. It’s unique and interesting.”

Some quotes:

“I’m simply learning where I’m meant to be.” It was the only response because it was the truth.”

“‘Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other’s existence.’”

“He’s a much better a person than I’ve heard people give him credit for. He’s worth a lot more than many of the people in this room, and it’s not just because of the crown on his head.” She looked back at the Emperor. “He wanted to help. If I am guilty of anything, it was putting him in a position where he felt compelled to do so.”

“She would cut it away. She would cut away the anger, the pain, and the frustration. She’d cut and cut until she was sculpted into something better, something stronger. They wanted to kill her, so this Vhalla would die, she resolved, and a new Vhalla would be born from her ashes.”

Fire Falling

Some thoughts while reading:

I LOVE Fritz, Larel, and Vhalla’s friendship. They make me laugh and keep me entertained. They’re likable and Kova really makes me care about them. They’re great friends to Vhalla even when she thinks she doesn’t deserve it. I love watching them each develop but also develop together as a group of friends.
Slow burn romance is always good. Though the hot and cold, back and forth because he has to put on a show for the world was slightly annoying. I love their romance anyway. It’s slow and satisfying following them as they get to know all the deep dark things about each other.
The Golden Guard, Prince Baldair’s guards, were funny and kind to Vhalla. I loved their scenes.
Less about the plot. More about story progression and character development. We’re following the characters as they travel with the army. But the characters are training to fight with fists and magic, learning more about each other and themselves.
WHY DID YOU DO THAT. HOW COULD HAVE LET THIS HAPPEN ELISE KOVA.
I’m not sure how but Kova has broken my heart and then in the last pages of Fire Falling, broken it AGAIN.

Some quotes:

“There was something severed and rough about her, something tainted and, yet, at the same time those jagged pieces were the makings of something fearsome. She’d wanted to become someone the Senate would fear. Why not shatter the sky?”

“Magic, she was discovering, was like poetry. Once you understood the logic, the meter, the rhyme behind it, you could embellish upon it and make it your own.”

“Even something very small can cast a large shadow when it is close to the sun.”
“Unfortunately for them, one couldn’t break what was already broken.”

“You’re not someone to live in darkness or sorrow.” Larel reclined on the bed, inviting Vhalla to do the same. “You’re a light that can shine brighter than even the sun.”

Earth’s End

Some thoughts while reading:

Already so much more action. We’re finally getting into the thick of it. Vhalla is so fierce and really coming into her powers. In the fighting scenes, it’s so clear how much she’s grown from the timid girl in the library until now.
A slight love triangle in a yicky kind of way.
The emperor is TRASH.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO ME LIKE THIS ELISE KOVA TWO BOOKS IN A ROW.

Some quotes:

“I told you this would never be easy, I warned you. I begged you to spare my heart if you weren’t ready for this fight.”

“Truthfully, I think we both wanted the same thing: forgetfulness of the holes in our hearts left by other people.”

““I was raised in a world where I had thousands of friends, each one waiting for me on a shelf every day. While you practiced with the bow or sword, I read. The Imperial Library houses my confidants, and I spent nearly a decade hanging onto their every word. I know them well, and if you will stop questioning me, I will be so kind to impart their secrets to you.”

Water’s Wrath

Some thoughts while reading:

Vhalla what is you doing girllll?
Yaaas, Jax. He’s vulgar and entertaining but secretly a soft boy.
I’ll forever love Mohned for being a mentor to Vhalla. He did his best for her and I just love him.
I really love that Larel still plays her own special part in the story.
Vhalla’s “magic sight” is a little corny.
HOW DOES KOVA MAKE ME CRY IN EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE BOOKS SO FAR?! MY FRAGILE HEART CANT HANDLE THIS.
I like the northern princess, Sehra, she knows so much more than she’s letting on. I’m interested to see her role in the final book.

Some quotes:

“The fire burned too hot, and we didn’t notice until it consumed everything.”

“But never lose faith, never lose your beautiful heart. Don’t let them win, those wicked men and women who would do anything to cage you or kill you.”

“Love was bravery and-perhaps most importantly-forgiveness.”

“You can’t buy peace with war.”

Crystal Crowned

Some thoughts while reading:

How could you do this to Daniel? He got the short end of the stick again and again.
Even though the circumstances are pretty awful. I love the friend group (despite those that are missing). Jax is as vulgar as ever, Fritz is a cinnamon roll and I love him, Elecia is sassy and all sharp edges and Vhalla and Aldrik are perfect as usual. But all of them together is funny and sassy and full of love.
Vhalla seeing her childhood home and her father was so sweet and heartwarming. It was wonderful to see this sweet innocent moment amidst the chaos.
I really appreciate that Vhalla isn’t just suddenly good at leading. She’s learning from Aldrik. And while she does have people skills and good ideas, she still takes the time to watch him and learn from his example. She also doesn’t hesitate to ask questions when she’s unsure.
AGAIN WITH THE CRYING.

Some quotes:

“I crave peace, and I fear that I am a creature whose fate is written in bloodshed.”

“I suppose it’s a good thing I like books more than most people,” Vhalla muttered.

“You are trapped in a vortex. Time and again, you will repeat your fate dutifully. If we cannot change fate itself and save our world.”

“You have hopes that no one else would allow themselves to even dream of.”

“Every chance worth taking will make you a little scared. That means you’re taking a risk. And where there is risk, there is reward.”

“To kill a monster, you must become one yourself.”

Overall thoughts

I still adored this series. I still cried my eyes out at each of the heart-wrenching moments Kova wrote.
I really really enjoyed the seeds that Kova planted to lay the foundation for the next series (starting with Vortex Visions which I will be starting ASAP.)
I think the ending was perfect especially with what I said above. The fact that there’s another series and we’re going to see more of this world I think the way Crystal Crowned ended was excellent. It left me wanting more where I want to neglect all the other books I need to read and just go right to Vortex Visions.
Finally, I loved this series. I love these characters. The relationships are amazing. There is diversity and elemental magic and war and all of the things that make an incredible story. If you haven’t read these books please go do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Summary:
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall…and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely, #1)Review:
I loved this book. Brigid Kemmerer has done it again. She is certainly an auto buy author for me and the thought of waiting a year for A Heart so Fierce and Broken has me slowly withering away on the inside. There were so many things I loved about this book and really not a single thing that I didn’t like. The inside is just as beautiful as the cover of this baby.

“Not all scars can be seen, my lady.”

First, the story. I thought the time twist was interesting. The characters keep repeating the same season over and over in an attempt to break the curse. Next, the twist on the beast was also interesting. I liked that it wasn’t the traditional beast and was more of an actual terrifying monster. Beauty and the Beast has never been my favorite fairytale, but this was definitely one of my favorite twists on the classic story.

“The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but the are choices nonetheless.”

I really enjoyed the characters. We will start with Harper. She’s just trying to look out for her brother and help take care of her sick mother. She’s a fighter from the second that she’s introduced on the page. After being whisked away to Emberfall she basically does whatever she wants (and the complete opposite of what she’s told to do). She does her best to try to escape because she needs to get back to her brother. She proves again and again that her disability isn’t going to hold her back from anything. I thought she was sassy and funny. She also cared even when she didn’t need to and tried to stick up for people that couldn’t or wouldn’t fight for themselves, which is the whole reason she ended up in Emberfall in the first place. She didn’t let this stop her. She saved some villagers, proceeded to bring them food despite being told not to. She stole Rhen’s horse like five times (and I loved it more and more each time.) She sticks up for those that are vulnerable. (Enter Rhen.)

“This was  never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the though that we might find escape.”

Rhen is standoffish, sassy, and almost even rude when he sees how headstrong Harper is. He tries to be nice to her, but quickly realizes his usual tricks aren’t going to work on her. I really enjoyed the hopelessness that Rhen felt in this book. His inner dialogue was one of my favorite parts of the story. He talks so lightly of all the different ways he’s tried to end the curse, some more extreme than others. My next favorite part was his character in general. He’s already done his growing. He’s learned from the countless previous seasons and the things that have happened in them. His character growth isn’t dependent upon Harper and I really enjoyed that. The story was only sort of about breaking Rhen’s curse, it more focuses on being a better person and Harper encouraging/inspiring him to do better for the people he’s supposed to be ruling over. She shows him that even if he’s not meant to break the curse, he can still be trying to take care of the people in his kingdom.

“It is not the moment of passing that is most important. It is all the moments that come before.”

Then there’s all the supporting characters I loved. Grey, the ever-loyal commander. I love the friendship that Harper formed with him. I like that they became fast friends despite Grey being the one to take her to Emberfall, because he tried to be her friend. He taught her things and played cards with her and they talked about everything. I enjoyed their friendship even though there were hints of a love triangle. Then there’s Freya, who was sweet and motherly and always there when Harper needed her. I thought she was so sweet. The final character I want to mention was Zo, Harper’s female guard. They become fast friends and Harper wants to share where she’s really from with her, but doesn’t. They make me laugh with the silly things Harper teaches Zo and I wish she had come into the story sooner. I can’t wait to see these girls interact more (hopefully) in the next book.

“Failure isn’t absolute.  Just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”

Finally, I adored the combination of Emberfall, this fantasy world, meeting the real world of Washington, DC. I thought this was such an interesting idea, fantasy meshing with the real world. I would have liked to see a little bit more (maybe in the next book?) We really were just teased with it and then the ideas and knowledge that Harper brings into Emberfall. It definitely added something extra to the story and I adored this aspect of the story.

“I do not understand how she can fill me with such hope and fear simultaneously.”

Overall, this is a new favorite of mine. I loved every page. I loved the story, the characters, the world, even the cliffhanger. I read this almost five-hundred-page book in one sitting, which says a lot. I literally could not put it down. If you haven’t read this, I recommend it without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

GoodReads Summary:
After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.
Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.
As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.
Us Against You (Beartown, #2)Review:
This book is the sequel to Beartown, read my review for the first book here. I absolutely adored Beartown so when I saw there was a second one I knew I had to read it. It wasn’t as good as the first, but it was still very good. I only cried once as opposed to the several times I cried during the first book. Us Against You is just as important of a read as the first one, if not more. This book talks about many important and hard-hitting topics that are often talked around instead of about.

“Because sometimes hating one another is so easy it seems incomprehensible that we ever do anything else.”

There are many characters featured in these pages. Many from the first book and a few new ones. Theres no way for me to mention them all. Each character plays an important part in the story, whether they have positive or negative effects on the others. I think the mass number of players in Us Against You are a vital part of the messages that Backman is trying to get across.

“The truth about most people is as simple as it is unbearable: we rarely want what is best for everyone; we mostly want what’s best for ourselves.”

The book talks about so many things, but the most prevalent theme is violence. Violence is present in any society, in every person, but it takes action and hatred for violence to come to pass. I think it did an incredible job talking about all the different ways that people can become violent, that they can become full of hatred, that they can overcome these feelings. Another important topic discussed is family. There are several families we come to know and learn about. They’re all different, all going through their own problems. But in the face of real trauma and loss, they put aside their differences and feelings toward one another and help in whatever ways they can. I thought this story told of a really strong community brought together because of a shared love of hockey. With this shared love, they fight and cheer alongside one another despite personal issues. I really think Backman wrote an incredible story filled with so many important issues from surviving rape, sexuality, alcoholism, loss of a loved one, bullying, and surviving.

“Grief is a wild animal that drags us so far out into the darkness that we can’t imagine ever getting home again.”

The only complaint I have about Us Against You is that it’s kind of a long book to get through. It’s almost 500 pages filled with descriptions and explanations. There is a fair bit of telling, alongside the showing the story does have. It’s also filled with so many tough topics that it was harder to sit and binge read. The writing style is part of this, though I found myself enjoying the writing style. The author foreshadows, telling of things to come before they happen, while giving us hints of things that may happen in between and then actually telling us what happened. I thought this was a really creative way to tell the story and I think it added just that much more to the story. I definitely think Us Against You wouldn’t have been the same book had it been written differently.

“When guys are scared of the dark, they’re scared of ghosts and monsters, but when girls are scared of the dark, they’re scared of guys.”

Overall, I loved this book. There were a few parts that dragged, but I loved it anyway. It’s full of characters we love and characters we love to hate. We talk about hard hitting topics instead of shying away from them. It’ll make you laugh right before it breaks your heart. I definitely recommend these books to anyone that enjoyed reading about hard-hitting topics.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Summary:
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the cities dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)Review:
I honestly don’t know how I’m supposed to express my love for this book with real words. Aside from writing ‘I loved this’ over and over again I’m not sure what you people want from me. I’m just kidding friends. First off, I still love the setting here. In Ketterdam it’s a whole different world from the familiar Ravka from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. I love the dirty and grittiness of the Barrel. I love the gang aspect with these characters. They’re supposed to be criminals, low lives, and good for nothing. But they show us that they’re so much more over and over again. These friends prove that they’re more than their assumptions time and time again. This friend group is probably the most appealing thing in the story. While the plot is interesting, the characters are really what I’m here for. From the irreparably damaged Kaz to the ever-noble Matthias. They all are just the perfect combination of sass and anger and unresolved issues. They each bring something unique but essential to the friend squad and I loved every second of it.

“What you want and what the world needs are not always in accord, Kaz. Praying and wishing are not the same thing.”

Nina is probably my favorite and I’m excited/nervous for her story to continue in King of Scars because people have said they just didn’t care about Nina’s chapters. I feel like Nina really got the worst out of everyone. Leigh Bardugo really did her dirty and she didn’t deserve it. Despite this, she made me laugh. Her love of cake and waffles and sweets was so relatable and just put a smile on my face.

“She was the Queen of Mourning, and in its depths, she would never drown.”

Matthias made laugh with his attempts at restraint and Nina always messing with him. I really admired his strength for trying to fight everything he’s been taught his whole life and everything he’s ever known. Trying to come to terms with the fact that he and his home country are wrong, he really shows growth and I loved it.

“You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede. You are overwhelming.”

Jesper also had some great growth in this book and I’d love to see where he is now. I think he really comes to terms with who he is and the abilities and flaws that he has. I think he developed wonderfully after making some mistakes in the first book, he does anything and everything he can to make amends for the things he did. Despite him trying to make amends, he was full of jokes and sarcasm and sass and I loved it.

Mati en sheva yelu. This action will have no echo. It means we won’t repeat the same mistakes, that we won’t continue to do harm.”

Then there’s little Wylan. He’s probably not little, but the way that everyone talks to him I picture him as a small boy. He starts off as our designated soft boy but develops into so much more. I think Wylan is really just trying to prove himself and where his loyalties are. I think Wylan’s ending was the best. He really is the only one that got everything he wanted but I think he deserved it.

“You’re weak because you’re afraid of people seeing your weakness. You’re letting shame decide who you are.”

Our Wraith is next, the beloved Inej. She has a lot of inner conflict in these books and I really get it. It makes her relatable. She does what she needs to survive, even if those things don’t always sit well with her, even if those things don’t always align with her morals. I think she is the most interesting character because of this.

We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.”

Finally, our fearless leader, Kaz Brekker. The criminal mastermind bent on revenge. He’s incredibly smart and clever. He always seems to have a solution for everything and sometimes those solutions are so crazy they just might work. I found myself reading and thinking to myself, ‘Holy shit that was lucky’ and then ten pages later finding out that it was Kaz that planned it all along. There were parts that I thought there was no way Kaz has planned these things that everything is falling apart, but then it all works out exactly how Kaz wanted it to and it blows me away.

“I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

Overall this book was incredible. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I loved seeing these characters working together and growing together. They have the most fun and craziest adventures. They just have an incredible dynamic and I loved it. I loved seeing the characters we met in the Shadow and Bone books. I loved seeing the world just come together. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. It seemed a little lacking. There just wasn’t anything solid for any of the characters. It was so open-ended and I get that the books in this world aren’t over, so it makes sense. But it was just not a satisfying ending. Other than that, I loved everything about this book, even the heartbreak. I have to go read King of Scars now, bye.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.