Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi

Summary:
Aru Shah is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing, when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, the culprit is turning people into heartless, fighting-machine zombies. And, if that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the weapon within ten days, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. Forever.
For better or worse, she won’t be going it alone. Along with her Pandava sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.
But Aru’s biggest challenge may be in her own mind, where the words of the sleeper resonate: You were never meant to be a hero…Will she be able to prove him wrong this time?
This second installment in the Pandava series has all the humor, action, and imagination that made Aru Shah and the End of Time sparkle. So tear open that packet of Oreos and pull up a chair.
Aru Shah and the Song of Death (Pandava Quartet, #2)Review:
Roshani Chokshi she has done it again and created a middle grade book that I just could not put down. I read this in two sittings. I borrowed the audiobook from my library and waited until I was driving back home from visiting my parents (which is an eight-hour drive) so I could listen to the whole thing in the one car ride. But I couldn’t wait. So, I listened to an hour or two and then the next day listened to the rest. There’s something about this series that I just really love.
Our main character, Aru, is flawed but learning. She acknowledges that she has flaws and maybe she isn’t doing the right thing. She’s clever and thoughtful and tries her best to make sure she’s doing the right thing. She’s learning about herself and learning to accept the new things she’s learning. I just adore her inner dialogue. She had a lot of insecurities that she tries to work through in this book and I appreciated that because it’s something that many struggle with.
Mini was missing for most of this story but the parts she was around for were great. She’s still nerdy. She’s still smart. She’s besties with Aru and I just think they’re the cutest friends.
Then there’s our new Pandava’s. Brynne is kick ass and doesn’t let anyone push her around. I thought Brynne’s fiery attitude was an interesting addition to this friend group. I think she really challenged Aru and that made for some good lessons. I thought Brynne was really interesting because she was a great example of a person that puts on a scary face and lots of attitude to hide her own fears and insecurities. She really brought attention to the conversation of making an effort to get to know someone before you just say their mean and leave it at that.
Finally, Aiden. The mysterious boy across the street. Aiden is dealing with a lot in his personal life, but still puts on a brave face and does his part to help the girls. He’s really the bridge between Brynne and the girls. He’s her best friend and I really enjoyed their friendship. He has his camera wherever he goes and I loved that. I think the twist that involves him was interesting. It definitely made me laugh.
There were a few things that I didn’t totally love about this book. But these things really didn’t detract from the book at all. The beginning had me a bit confused. The story jumps right into the action. The cast is battling some of the heartless and it was just chaotic and it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. Aside from that, there were so many pop culture references. This is something that I actually enjoy. It makes sense to have these things mentioned in a current story. But I think it’s really going to date the book in a few years. But I still liked it. The giant crab talking about Moana and The Little Mermaid really was my favorite.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved the characters. They were interesting and complex. The interactions they had with one another were the best and kept me laughing. I just love this friend group and I cannot wait to see who else we meet in the next book. I think the world that’s shown to us was incredible. The Otherworld was intricate and completely fascinating. I adored the mythological aspects of the story. I felt like I was reading and learning so much. I just adore this series, this world, these characters. Go read them asap. Find my review for the first book, Aru Shah and the End of Time, here.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Summary:
Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.
Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices, #3)Review:
Queen of Air and Darkness is the finale of The Dark Artifices. This is why I’m just now reading it five months after it was published. I was not ready to torture myself with the things I knew were going to slay me. I was absolutely correct. I somehow read this 900-page beast in three days. I did pretty much nothing but read. I just couldn’t bring myself to stop. I needed to know what was going to happen. This honestly was the whole mood for the book and I think it really says a lot about a book. The Shadowhunter world is one that never fails to do this. The story and the characters suck me in and I enjoy being in the world so much that I just can’t seem to stop until I’m finished with the story.

“You may not yourself be luminous, but you are an extraordinary conductor of light.”

There is so much that happens in Queen of Air and Darkness that it’s impossible for me to talk about each part. All of the characters each find themselves off on their own sort of missions. They all have a part they need to play to prevent a civil war among the Shadowhunters. Or if your Ty to completely ignore everything around you to do something that is the most unwise. Every time I found myself thinking about how the current plotlines were going to weird places they were soon brought back to the rest of the story and the other characters. This is why the book was so big. There were certain parts that I thought maybe this wasn’t really needed and could have been taken out to make it a bit shorter, but after finishing I knew that every piece of the story was needed and made it exactly what it is.

“None of us are okay,” she said. “Maybe that’s part of it. When you’re hurting, it’s sometimes hard to see how other people may be hurting differently or worse.”

I do have to mention that I’d love to live in Cassandra Clare’s brain. The things and ideas that she’s come up for this story were WILD. I cannot wait to see what she’s going to do next with the next (last?) series. I’ve heard it follows Kit and Ty and the fact that there is no release date or even year makes me die a little on the inside.

“We all stumble around in the dark and we cause each other pain and we try to  make up for it the best we can.”

The characters are as loveable as always. I don’t know what it is but I find myself loving the supporting characters more than those that are supposed to be the main focus. In TMI I didn’t care all that much about Jace and Clary, but now when they appear in this series, I freaking adore them. I didn’t love Emma and Julian. As the books went on, I liked them less and less. I adored Emma in the first book and then as they fall in love I just didn’t like them as much. I’m not saying I don’t like them, but I honestly prefer every everyone else.

“Grief can be so bad you can’t breathe, but that’s what it means to be human. We lose, we suffer, but we have to keep breathing.”

I wanted more of Drusilla and Ty and Kit. I still liked them and I was happy with how their story turned out, but I know I’m going to love them more when/if they appear in The Wicked Powers. We get to see so many characters I love from previous books like Magnus and Alec, Simon and Isabelle, Jem and Tessa. I loved every page that these beloved characters appeared.

“You made me understand that love creates far more joy than any pain it causes.”

Overall, Queen of Air and Darkness might be my favorite Shadowhunters book to date. I loved the full cast of characters, new and old. I love the wild adventures they found themselves on. I love the racially and sexually diverse characters that we get to know and love. I cannot think of anything that I did not like about this book other than the fact that it ended. I’m really sad that this story had ended but I’m excited to see what Cassandra Clare is going to come out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Circe by Madeline Miller

GoodReads Summary:
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
CirceReview:
I read this book for the BookTube SFF Awards. I wasn’t surprised to see it on the list on nominees after hearing everyone and their siblings talking about it. The wait to borrow it from my library was about a million years. So, I put a hold on the audiobook and waited.
I finally got the book from my library. I really enjoyed the narrator. She had a nice voice and didn’t go too fast or too slow. I just enjoyed her voice and her accent.
As for the actual story itself. I really just feel like I don’t even know what happened. I read this whole book and I learned all about Circe and her life and her feelings but I feel like so much happened but also nothing happened.
I don’t know if this is making any sense or if anyone understands what I mean, but I didn’t love it like everyone else did. I enjoyed it while I was listening and then it was over and I didn’t care anymore. I think this is about as coherent as my thoughts are going to get so I’ll just end things here.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Review:
I have been wanting to reread this series for years. I remember reading these books years ago when they first came out but it’s been so long, I barely remember anything from them. The audiobooks have been repeatedly recommended to me so I thought I’d give them a try. Cinder is the book I chose to fill the spot for Ancient Runes – Retelling in the Magical Readathon (read my whole TBR here.)
I really enjoyed the audiobook version of this story. I think the narrator did an excellent job of telling the story. The characters were easily identifiable, their voice was enjoyable. I thought it was a great listening experience over all.
As for the story itself, I remembered a few of the bigger plot twists so the story seemed almost predictable but that was just because I’d read it before. Regardless, this didn’t take away from the story at all, in my opinion. I think a science fiction Cinderella retelling is one of the more creative things I’ve heard of. I also think that the retelling aspect of the story is pretty good. Cinder’s backstory is the typical father figure dying and being left with awful stepmother/sisters. I really liked that in this retelling Cinder is actually friends with one of her stepsisters.
There was so much going on in this book, but I think it was paced well and each new aspect of the mystery and plot were introduced nicely and without seeming rushed or too much. Knowing the little bit that I know about the series already; it was interesting to see how some of the ideas shared in this book were going to play a part in later books in the series.
I really liked Cinder. She was sassy but awkward. She was extremely insecure about her cyborg parts which was sad but makes me excited to see her grow more confident and happier with who she is. There’s so much potential for character growth and I know it’s coming after learning what we did in the minutes of the book. The things we learned about Cinder have me so excited to finish rereading the series.
Overall, I had a fun time with this audiobook. I’m happy to have found another series that I like the audiobooks for. I can easily get sucked into this series and I can’t wait to reread the rest of the books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Summary:
The boy king. The war hero. The prince with a demon curled inside his heart. Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. The people of Ravka don’t know what he endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet with each day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built.
Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to honoring her deadly talents and rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary- and Ravka cannot survive a weakened king. Zoya will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne, but she also has new enemies to conquer in the battle to come.
Far north, Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha wiped from the earth forever. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face the pain of her past if she has any hope of defeating the dangers that await her on the ice.
Ravka’s king. Ravka’s general. Ravka’s spy. They will journey past the boundaries of science and superstition, of magic and faith, and risk everything to save a broken nation. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried, and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)Review:
I loved this book from the first page to the last. There are so many mixed reviews out there and I don’t understand how people didn’t like this. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I loved being back in this world. I loved being back with these characters. I have not a single bad word to say about King of Scars.

“You do not use it. You are it. The storm is in your bones.”

I adored getting to spend more time with these characters. Nina was, as always, fierce and fabulous. She was full of passion and a desire to fight for what’s right even if it’s hard. She doesn’t respect authority, probably from all her time in Ketterdam. I loved hearing her inner monologue, her mentions of our favorite Dregs and our dear, dear Mathias. I love Nina and all her sass and I can’t wait to see what happens with her next.

“All fuels burn differently. Some faster, some hotter. Hate is one kind of fuel. But hate that began as devotion? That makes another kind of flame.”

Then there’s the equally fierce but mostly terrifying Zoya. I seriously loved getting chapters from her perspective. This was something I wanted from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Getting to see Zoya reflect on things from the past was really interesting. Additionally, her point of view opposite that of Nikolai was a perfect balance. She isn’t a pessimist perse, but she’s a voice of reason and keeps things based in reality. I really liked getting to know her better and I’m dying to know what she does next.

“Most of us can hide our greatest hurt and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the  pain isn’t there, that we are  made of scars instead of  wounds.”

Finally, the King of Scars, Nikolai. I adore him just as much as ever. I think his character gets only more interesting and complex the more we learn about him. I liked getting to learn about the darkness within him and his battles with keeping it at bay.

“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world.”

The world of the Grisha is one that draws me right in until the very last page and then never fails to leave me wanting more. I wanted to start the book from the beginning as soon as I was finished. The world building that Bardugo does is intricate and incredible. The Grishaverse is one of my favorite places to be and I love it even more with each visit I make.

“They would build a new world together. But first they had to  burn the old one down.”

Last to talk about is the plot. I hate to say it, but the twist in the final pages of King of Scars was a smidge predictable. I think this was the intention because it was heavily foreshadowed throughout the book. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just something that I thought I’d mention because I’m usually pretty back at predicting things. I thought the writing was compelling and just added that much more to the atmosphere of the story. I think the different perspectives are going to bring some interesting things to the next book and I just cannot wait to see what Leigh will come out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Summary:
In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1)Review:
I officially have a new favorite book. I won’t say favorite series until I read The Devil’s Thief, BUT, I completely adored The Last Magician. I’m sad that it’s been sitting unread on my shelf for so damn long.
I loved literally everything about this book. I cannot think of a single thing that I didn’t like. The magic system was intricate and interesting. I’m still not sure I totally get it but I’m excited to learn more about it in the second book. The writing was great. Not too simple but not filled with words I didn’t know attempting to sound smarter than necessary. The story was well paced. Nothing felt like it was dragging on or rushed to be wrapped up. The characters were well crafted and just incredible. I cared about them. They had me invested in their stories and I genuinely cared about what happened to them. There were parts that had me holding my breath in anticipation of what was going to happen. Other parts had me smiling to myself, or even swooning here and there. Things felt realistic with a modern girl going into the past where the culture was different. The difference in the times was mentioned and acknowledged.
I feel like I could go on and on and on. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you that if you like fantasy​ if you like historical fiction, or slow burn romance, or time travel or magic, or all of the above then you need to read this book. That is all. I need to go find out what happens in book two.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

GoodReads Summary:
The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.
Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.
The Lost CoastReview:
I finished this book earlier today and I’m still trying to gather my thoughts and feelings. I will start off by saying thank you to NetGalley for providing me this ARC inn return for an honest review. I’ve heard so much talk about people being excited for this one so when I was approved for an early copy, I was pretty excited. Queer witches in the woods? Sign me up. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I hoped I would.
This story starts off and were quickly jumped around in time and perspective. I had a hard time figuring out what was going on for the first almost half of the book. There were so many different characters all introduced and several different time periods. I’m not a huge lover or stories that use flashbacks, I like ones that are done well. This was sometimes jarring and confusing. Despite this I finally got into the story a little over halfway and then it seemed as if it suddenly was just over at the end.
I loved the atmosphere of the story. It’s totally spooky and draws you in. This would be a great book for the spooky season this October. The magic was interesting and I’d love to have learned a little bit more about it.
There was a huge cast of characters that came from all different kinds of backgrounds. They were diverse and accepting and just full of love for one another. I really enjoyed this girl gang once I finally got into the story.
There was mystery and suspense and drama with a kickass girl gang, in the woods. Overall, it didn’t blow me out of the water, but I read it in only a few hours. I’d love to see more from this bookish world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.