Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas

Blogmas Book Review – Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

GoodReads Summary:
It is a companion novel to Dumplin’, which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean’s star turn in the Clover City pageant.
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
Review:
This book is the companion novel to the currently very popular book Dumplin’ that was recently made into a Netflix original movie. I listened to the audio for Dumplin’ not too long ago (read my thoughts here.) I liked it well enough so I requested Pudding’ from my library. When it became available, I wasn’t all that excited because I didn’t totally love the first book. I listened to this story in two days.
I listened to most of this book in one day while making dinner and baking Christmas treats. While baking I was literally laughing out loud causing my husband to ask me if I was okay and what was I laughing at because he couldn’t see my headphones in my ears listening to my book.
I loved learning more about Millie, I also loved getting to see the dynamics between the friend group of Ellen, Willowdean, Amanda, and Hannah. I also really enjoyed seeing how Callie was going to fit into this group. These girls had me laughing and crying, saying what the hell are you doing but also go girl! I loved the characters.
My favorite part about Puddin’ was all of the topics it touches on. All of the different characters experience different struggles from their weight to their race, being bullied and being the bully. This was an inspiring story that leaves you with the message of always chasing after your dreams and not letting anything (least of all societal expectations) get in you way.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Please go read it now. Or listen to it because that’s what I did. I listened to the audio which has two narrators, much to my surprise. I love books with multiple narrators, so I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the narrators both did an excellent job telling the stories of Millie and Callie. Okay, now go read this book and come back and tell me you loved it too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Click on the book cover! It’s an affiliate link so we will make a small percentage from your purchase, feel free to support us!

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Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Book Review – The Recovering: Intoxication and It’s Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Summary:
By the New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams, an exploration of addiction, and the stories we tell about it, that reinvents the traditional recovery memoir.
With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and journalistic reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction–both her own and others’–and examines what we want these stories to do, and what happens when they fail us.
All the while, she offers a fascinating look at the larger history of the recovery movement, and at the literary and artistic geniuses whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including John Berryman, Jean Rhys, Raymond Carver, Billie Holiday, David Foster Wallace, and Denis Johnson, as well as brilliant figures lost to obscurity but newly illuminated here.
For the power of her striking language and the sharpness of her piercing observations, Jamison has been compared to such iconic writers as Joan Didion and Susan Sontag. Yet her utterly singular voice also offers something new. With enormous empathy and wisdom, Jamison has given us nothing less than the story of addiction and recovery in America writ large, a definitive and revelatory account that will resonate for years to come.
Review:
I borrowed this as an audiobook from my local library. I’m always looking for new audiobooks to listen to because I’m pretty picky about which ones I like. I tend to really enjoy non-fiction and not so much fantasy. So I found this one through the recommendation of a BookTuber, I sadly don’t remember which one it was though.
This book was insightful and informative. Though it was very long, part of me felt that I couldn’t listen to it for long periods of time like I can with some stories. As an alcoholic myself, I love listening to stories written by others that struggle with the same things that I do. This story was so relatable. The shame, the desire, it was all there exactly how I feel it. On top of this, there was a whole other level. Leslie Jamison writes about what it is like to be a writer with a drinking problem. I am exactly that. The struggles of being a writer in today’s world, with all of the history between drinking and being an author, it so well portrayed in The Recovering.
This story was so well written. As the author says in the book, she didn’t want to write ‘just another story of an alcoholic that gets better.’ It is not that at all. This story talks about the stories of many other writers with drinking problems, alongside the author’s own story. I loved the combination of the past, the history of writing and drinking, the struggles of writers that came before us. I loved following the author’s journey to learn about these people, the places they went, while she was overcoming (and sometimes failing) her own personal struggles.
For anyone that likes non-fiction, this is for sure a book I recommend. It was thought-provoking, insightful, and I really just enjoyed every minute.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Book Review – My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Summary:
Jane has endured years of hardship and misery and is ready to embark on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. She’s rather poor. She’s rather plain. Also, she has terrible taste in men.
Charlotte is an aspiring novelist. (Yes, she’s that Charlotte.) And she’s determined to capture her friend Jane’s story even if it means worming her way into the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
Alexander is an agent of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits. He’s about to discover something very disturbing going on at a little place called Thornfield…
Reader, there will be murder. Mayhem. Conspiracy. And, of course, romance. Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, and a certain gentleman Mr. Rochester is hiding more than skeletons in his closet
Review:
This is the second installment in The Lady Janies series. I absolutely adored the first book, My Lady Jane, you can read my review here. Because I enjoyed the first book I totally thought I would adore this book too. Especially because my bookish twinny (The Bookish Chick) loved it and is the reason I picked up the series in the first place.
I am very sad to say that I didn’t adore this book as much as I did the first. Maybe because this was a retelling rather than historical fiction, I’m not really sure what exactly it was, maybe a few different things.
First, it was a little confusing at times. I started reading this book under the impression that the story was about Jane Eyre. But by the end of the story, I felt like the book was actually more about Charlotte Bronte. I think another reason I didn’t love it was that I ended up preferring Charlotte’s chapters. Jane was almost annoying until closer to the end of the book. She was so determined to just be a governess and it was honestly so annoying. I think part of my annoyance may be due to the fact that I haven’t actually read the original Jane Eyre so I don’t really even know what the story was trying to imitate from that book and what they changed.
I loved Charlotte. She was funny and curious and really just didn’t take no for an answer. She’s a girl with goals and won’t let anyone stand in her way of achieving them. Her part of the love stories seems the more realistic of the two. It seemed to happen more naturally and just was better than Jane’s.
Alexander was interesting. He made me laugh with all of his denials. He was so bent on solving his own personal mystery he couldn’t let anything distract him from that. He didn’t realize the things in his life that really mattered until they were almost lost to him.
I enjoyed the characters interacting with one another, Their personalities were all so different it was funny to see them be around one another all so strong-willed and determined to get their own way.
I think the pace of the story was another thing that wasn’t my favorite. The story didn’t really pull me into where I couldn’t stop until closer to the end of the book. There were definitely interesting parts right from the beginning, but nothing that really sucked me into where I just couldn’t stop reading.
Overall, I liked the story. I liked the characters. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it like so many others did. I’m definitely going to continue the series when the third is finally released. But I definitely preferred the first book of this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

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

Blogmas Book Review – Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

Summary:
Everyone’s going to remember where they were when the taps went dry.
The drought-or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it-has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a war zone of desperation; neighbors and families turning against one another in the hunt for water. When her parents don’t return, and she and her brother are threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
Critically acclaimed author Neal Shusterman teams up with Jarrod Shusterman in this story of survival, when the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions.
Review:
Dry was one of my most anticipated released of this year. I’m a sucker for any sort of dystopian. I’m also a sucker for books that take place in settings I’m familiar with. I lived in San Diego for a few years where the reality of the drought is slowly creeping up on people and its all too real. I also was so easily able to picture this story happening because I was familiar with the area the story happens in. I love stories like this, or ones with vague-ish settings so I can fill in the blanks with places I know.

“People can be monsters. Whether it’s just their actions, or whether it’s who they really are, it doesn’t matter. The result is the same.”

This story is told through a few different perspectives. I really enjoyed this because we got to see into the minds of all the players in our story. So we got to see what was going through their heads before/during/after some of the seriously crazy things that happened. We also occasionally had some updates from around the city from helicopter pilots, power plant employees, other minor characters we meet in the story, truck drivers transporting water, and various news outlets. All of these various snippets ended up being tied into other important parts of the story and I liked how creatively this was done.

“But there’s that moment when you realize they’re not superheroes, or villains. They’re painfully, unforgivably human. The question is, can you forgive them for being human anyway?

I liked Alyssa, the first character we meet. She’s just trying to protect her little brother. Even though she mostly has no idea what’s going on, she quickly realizes that things are just going to get worse and worse. She tries to stay positive for Garrett (her brother) even when things were pretty much consistently falling apart and I liked that about her. Being able to put on a brave face for her brother though she knew nothing good was coming is admirable. Her little brother Garrett was a little trouble maker. He kept disappearing which sometimes complicated things and sometimes ended up helping things. I liked him because he made me relate to Alyssa more. (I have two little brothers and a little sister. They’re all older than Garrett, though I’d want to protect them no matter their age.)

“Why don’t they do something about it instead if spending time blaming people?”

Kelton, the neighbor, was a character that grew on me. I feel like he had the most development. He went from putting up a front, acting like he was a big bad tough guy that knew everything to a kid that has seen some real bad shit and might actually be that tough guy. I felt really bad for Kelton. He got the shittiest end of the stick in this story. Though his family was the most prepared for the Tap-Out, the worst befalls them.

“Tomorrow is going to have to take care of itself for a while,” Alyssa says. Then she adds, “Yesterday, too.”

Jaqui was our designated bad girl. Independent, sassy, reckless, and a little wild. I think I wanted to like her more than I did, until the end. She didn’t want to get attached to anyone at any point. But in the end, UGH. I can’t even talk about it. She redeemed herself and that’s all I’m going to say.

“Wasn’t it Jacqui who told us the human body is sixty percent water? Well, now I know what the rest is. The rest is dust, the rest is ash, it’s sorrow and it’s grief…But above all that, in spite of all that, binding us together…is hope. And joy. And a wellspring of all the things that still might be.”

Henry is trash. 100% nothing but trash. Every time I started to like him, he would screw things up again. He was self serving and screwed up a really good thing. He could have been part of the squad, but instead messed shit up over and over again.

“The worst part of doing something inexcusable is that you can never take it back. It’s like breaking a glass. It can’t unbreak. The best you can do is sweep it up, and hope you don’t step on the slivers you left behind.”

Overall, Dry was one of my most anticipated released of the year and it absolutely did not disappoint me. I love a good dystopian and this was exactly that. Set in the distant-ish future, but realistic to really bring some fears to the surface. It’s a story about how quickly people can and will shed their humanity in the face of disaster. A story that touches on fears that are all too real. This is an incredible story that is so much more than it seems. Written by a father/son duo, the Shusterman’s have outdone themselves with this, one of my new favorites without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Book Review – City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Summary:
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her. His mother just found out that he’s a vampire and now he’s homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that’s wrecking his life. And they’re willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he’s dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.
When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.
Review:
Once again, I’m underwhelmed by this book. I honestly remember loving these books so much. I thought I would start to enjoy them more now that it wasn’t icky for Jace and Clary to love one another. That was not the case. Clary was still as annoying as ever and Jace joined her ranks in this book. It was one of my least favorite tropes where a character keeps information from another character ‘for their own good.’ But it’s NOT for her own good. It just causes drama and makes me annoyed at the characters I’m supposed to love. It honestly seemed like Clary developed more in City of Fallen Angels and Jace regressed into an insecure teenage boy. This was annoying because I previously liked Jace a lot.
I listened to the audiobook for this one and I think I will continue to do so with the rest of the series. I liked the alternating narrators. The only complaint was that the male narrator read a little bit faster than the female, so listening on 1.5 speed was perfect for the female narrator and just a smidge too fast for the male narrator.
I enjoyed seeing Clary develop further into her role as a Shadowhunter. I liked seeing her  finally come into this world she so desperately wants to be a part of. The fact that she is being trained in this story was something I enjoyed because all too often characters just are suddenly good at things, but that wasn’t the case here. She was taught things like fighting and languages and other essential knowledge.
Once again, I love the supporting characters. Alec and Magnus are goals, even when they’re fighting they’re still more interesting than Clary and Jace. Isabell is still a kick ass girl that exudes confidence and fearlessness and takes no shit. Simon is honestly my favorite. His story arc is the most interesting to me out of all the characters. He just wants to be a normal guy and can’t seem to catch a break.
The villain in this book is similar, but still different from the first books. He is such a hated villain. He’s honestly just pure evil and he’s up there with Voldemort for most hated in my opinion.
Overall, I didn’t love this book. I liked it, didn’t love it. I’m hoping I like the next books better or I might just lose faith in the reader I used to be.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Book Review – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Summary:
Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin through their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In, Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cumming; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki-son of a giant- blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
Review:
Norse Mythology was not what I was expecting. I was anticipating something along similar lines as American Gods, but that was not the case. This book was full of the adventures of the Norse gods based on accounts of others. It was essentially a book of short stories.

“Do you wonder where poetry comes from? Where we get the songs we sing and the tales we tell? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the sun rises and sets, as long as the moon will wax and wane? Have you ever wondered why some people make beautiful songs and poems and tales and some of us do not?”

I enjoyed it. I flew through the stories. They were entertaining and full of mischief and adventure. I actually feel like I learned something from this book. I’m not going to go crazy talking about this because there really isn’t all that much to say. This book is a creative way of retelling these stories. I thought it was interesting because so many portray the gods as superheroes, but this book does not do that.
As always, Gaiman’s writing is incredible. The way he phrases things is just excellent. He allows the reader to really see what he intends with his words. He makes the pages come alive. I appreciated this book more than I thought I was going to once I realized what it actually was. These stories were fun and interesting and entertaining, and also written beautifully.

“Now I shall tell you of the days to come. I shall tell you how it will end, and them how it will begin once more. These are the dark days I will tell you of, dark days and hidden things, concerning the ends of the earth and the death of the gods. Listen, and you will learn.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.