Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

GoodReads Summary:
Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.
Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.
Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.
Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.
A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.
Here and Now and ThenReview:
Here and Now and Then had me hooked just from the premise. But once I actually started the book, I seriously could not put it down. The pacing was just right. There were times when things moved quickly and other times when things slowed down for a beat, but nothing was ever happening too quickly or too slowly. I honestly didn’t think I was going to like this book when I was about a third of the way through. I was liking it well enough, but after a certain time travel incident, I didn’t like some of the characters. But Chen really brought everything full circle.
I really loved Kin. I at first his ‘agent brain’ was a little annoying and at times, choppy. But that got better the further into the story we got. He really loved his family and that was my favorite part of the story. This whole book was based on one man’s love for his family. Kin was passionate and just trying to figure out what to do that would be fair to all of the people he loves. I really admired his quick thinking and the fact that he tried to considered all sides of any decision.
Penny was one that I didn’t like for the first half of the book. She’s his fiancé in his original timeline. But I preferred Heather and Miranda, his family he made in the 90s. But Penny proves herself worthy over and over and I really grew to love her. I would have liked to see her stand up for herself to her parents, but we can’t have everything.
Heather and Miranda were my favorite part of this story. The time travel aspect really created some wild dynamics. I’m not going to say too much about Heather other than I liked her. Miranda though, had a pretty bumpy life. All because her father was a time-traveling secret agent. I was so intrigued by the ways that Kin managed to communicate with Miranda from the future and how things came full circle in the end.
Overall, there was so much to this story. Ideas that are completely over my head, but they were explained well and without info-dumping. I loved this book. Time travel, family values, what more could I ask for? If you’re a light science fiction lover, this is the story for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Summary:
Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, she doesn’t believe that her mother killed herself three years ago. And since her father is about to be executed for his crimes, Molly is convinced that her mother will return to her soon. Finally, the hole in her heart will stop hurting.
Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with serious girl problems and the most embarrassing seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer…or fail out of school.
And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.
When Molly and Pepper are tasked with finding Ava’s murderer, they realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.
The ArsonistReview:
I found The Arsonist as my local Ollie’s Bargain Outlet store. I like to go there and check out their selection once in a while. I thought this book sounded interesting and the cover totally drew me in. I actually enjoy the cover even more after reading the book because there’s so much to the story that the cover tries to show.
The Arsonist was told in three perspectives. We follow Molly who is writing letters to an injured Pepper. She’s telling him her side of their adventures and everything she learned after he was injured. Hearing the story from both Molly’s side and from Pepper’s was a really interesting way to tell the story. We hear from Pepper as he writes ‘essays’ in an attempt to still graduate high school instead of just dropping out. So, Molly is writing to Pepper and Pepper is writing to his teacher. The third point of view is Ava Dreyman. She’s a girl that grew up in Germany during the time that the Berlin Wall was still standing. We’re reading her diary, learning about her life as we follow Pepper and Molly’s journey to find out what really happened to Ava.
This story was intricate and complex. There were so many different things going on and I’m awed by Stephanie Oakes ability to weave the different perspectives and timelines. The writing was interesting and authentic to each character. Ava’s chapters were accurate to her time, historically. I also liked how Pepper’s chapters showed errors in grammar and spelling because English was not his first language. I thought this was an interesting way to make the characters more authentic. I also really enjoyed that this was a story about ‘the weird kids.’ Molly was a girl that didn’t have any friends. Her mother killed herself and her father is in jail about to die via the death penalty because he killed six people when he burned down an abandoned house. Pepper was a boy that has a few friends, but is failing his senior year of high school and struggles with the death of his mother. Ava was a resistance fighter trying to take on the whole of Germany. These are kids that are just trying to make a difference.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but I’m really glad that I picked this one up. It surprised me a little that I’ve never heard anything about this book because it blew me away. I definitely recommend The Arsonist to anyone that likes a good mystery and also to those that like historical fiction. This one won’t disappoint.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

GoodReads Summary:
Some legends never die…
Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.
Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.
Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.
The Lady RogueReview:
The Lady Rogue was a fun and spooky read. I enjoyed all the different elements that made this story what it was. There’s magic and murder and mystery and I had fun with it. I really liked the characters and the romance.
Our main character, Theo, was fiery and fierce. She loved without abandon, even when she was feeling betrayed. I liked her obsession with crossword puzzles and her ability to translate ciphers. She’s clever and stubborn. She’s also wary of getting hurt, and it was interesting to watch her work through that.
Then there’s, Huck. I somehow loved him and hated him at the same time. I think that was because of Theo’s feelings. I liked that they had a history that took place before the events of this book. Huck’s just a little misunderstood and I’m a sucker for a boy with issues. I liked that Huck was such a contrast to Theo. Wildly skeptical to Theo’s desire to believe in the supernatural. I loved his fierce desire to protect Theo.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The characters were likable. The story was compelling and interesting. The only thing that was off to me was some of the characters dialogue. This is supposed to be a historical fantasy novel, but the characters use quite a bit of modern slang. This was alright, but it took me out of the story a little. Despite that, I still enjoyed the story. It was fun and fast-paced and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone that likes fantasy.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything · TBR Lists & Wrap Ups

Amanda’s Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews​

Hi, lovelies! I’ve been reading some graphic novels lately because I belatedly joined a Graphic Novel Read-a-thon that’s going on thanks to Lauren & her Books and Tea book club. Check out all the details here. I’m going to try to complete all the challenges, but I don’t usually write reviews for the graphic novels I read. So, I thought it would be fun to do a wrap up of mini-reviews for all the things I picked up!

Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle & Isaac Goodhart

This one was a bit underwhelming for me. I enjoyed the story, minus the animal abuse part that is toward the beginning. This story wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting her to fight crime and be a superhero. Which is not what I got. What I got was more of an origin story. I enjoyed the friendships and their backstories. But overall, it was average.

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige & Stephen Byrne

Another hero origin story, one that I enjoyed more than the Catwoman story. Mera’s story was one I’m not overly familiar with. I didn’t know there was so much to the story in this underwater world. The only issue I really had was the insta-love. Mera and Arthur happened so quickly. I was honestly rooting for Larken and Mera because they almost had the childhood friends to lovers trope going on, but Mera was just not having it. Overall, this was fun and sweet, but only a 3.5 star read for me.

Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect by Zander Cannon

I found this graphic novel at my local Ollie’s Discount Store. I checked the review on GoodReads and it had a pretty average rating, but I thought the art style looked interesting and I gave it a chance. I’m pleased to be able to say that I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. This story follows a group of monsters that have been essentially put in jail. Despite its fantastical genre, it still manages to touch upon relevant topics. Topics like drug use, rape, abuse of power, gangs, and I think it did this very well. I’m excited to continue on to Season Two of this series.

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo

I actually was lucky enough to meet both of the authors of this graphic novel. My copy is signed. So when I didn’t love the first two DC Ink adaptations, I was hesitant to pick this up. But I’m glad I got to it. I enjoyed this way more than the other two. I cannot wait to see Beast Boy’s story. I adored the art style and definitely want to see more of Picolo’s work. I also enjoyed all the different aspects, Raven’s amnesia, Max’s own unique abilities, the different romances. I loved it all. Overall, this has been my favorite of DC’s new adaptions for young adults.

Oz: The Marvelous Land of Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

I picked the third and fourth installments of this series not knowing that they were the third and fourth. So, I made a trip to a local comic book store and picked up all the ones I was missing but couldn’t find the first. Luckily, the first is just another retelling of Dorothy & the Wizard of Oz, so I’m not missing too much not reading it because I already know the story. Sadly, this was average for me. I enjoyed it overall, but it didn’t blow me away which seems to be the theme this month. It was a fun story and I will be finishing the series because I already own them all.

Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth, Megan Levens, & Marissa Louise

This was a graphic novel that I  found while searching through BookOutlet to see what gems I might find. Spell on Wheels was exactly that, a gem. I loved this one. It was witchy and diverse. It would have been perfect for the month of October. It challenges people when they say gross things, it has queer characters, and also a satyr. All of these elements were brought together in such a good way. Put this one on your TBR for sure.

Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk

I wanted to love this, but just couldn’t. The story was confusing and I couldn’t really identify with any of the characters. I really wanted to like this one, but it just fell flat for me. It seemed to jump all over the place while also trying to tell one long story. It just went over my head. Sadly, it’s a no from me. Henchgirl now lives in my unhaul pile until the next time I go and sell some books.

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So, I managed to read seven graphic novels for this reading challenge. I finished a graphic novel that matches Lauren’s hair (purple, blue, & turquoise) with Under the Moon, Mera: Tidebreaker, & Teen Titans: Raven. I read my newest graphic novel, Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect. I completed my oldest graphic novel, Under the Moon. I attempted to catch up with my favorite series with The Marvelous Land of Oz but only managed to read one of the series. I read a graphic novel that was recommended to me when I picked up Spell on Wheels. Mera: Tidebreaker counts as a new to me genre because I hadn’t read any superhero stories until I picked up the DCINK series. Sadly, I did not manage to read all my unread graphic novels, but I read seven and that’s a decent start!

Did you read any graphic novels in August? Let me know if you did or not below!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Summary:
They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.
The ice is advancing, the Corridor is narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are inn retreat.
Nona Grey faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that she and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.
Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.
The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.
A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.
Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)Review:
Holy Sister was everything I wanted and more. I am so glad to have found this series because it’s become an all-time favorite of mine, especially with this concluding novel. I have not a single negative thing to say about Holy Sister.
Nona, my girl, was kick ass and brave and loyal and kick ass just like she was in the previous books. I adored her and her relationships. She cares so deeply for the people she loves that she will risk her life for them again and again. She’s also so smart and somehow always managed to find her way out of the wild situations she gets into.
Holy Sister is told in two timelines. Three years ago, and present day. I liked this because ‘three years ago’ started us off right where Grey Sister ended. But we also got to see the current events and antics that the characters are getting into. I think Lawrence did the flashbacks really well, though I would have liked to seen more of Abbess Glass because she was a true Queen.
The world building was also incredible. We got to learn more about Zole and the ice people. I thought that was my favorite part. Learning about how her people have found things under the ice and learned how to use them to their advantage was so interesting. I wanted to know more about what was on the planet before the ice. All the talk about ‘the missing’ left me very curious to know more about them and the history of the world.
Overall, I adored this book. Nona will be one of my favorite characters forever. This world was fascinating and kept me interested the whole time. The magic was fun and complex but had limitations and rules. This is a series I will be recommending more often for sure.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

GoodReads Summary:
Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.
The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.
Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.
Two Can Keep a SecretReview:
Looking for your next audiobook? Well, you’ve found it. Two Can Keep a Secret had two narrators that read the alternating perspectives of Ellery and Malcolm. They did such a great job of putting life into their characters. Especially toward the end when all of the action was happening.
I have to start off by saying that the mystery in this story was so good. I had myself convinced it was someone different every fifty pages or so. But the actual reveal, there’s no way I would have predicted that. I think this story was so compelling. I didn’t want to stop listening whenever I put it on.
I also adored the characters. They were diverse and distinct. I didn’t feel like any of them were out of place. They all held my interest and made me want to know more about them.
Overall, I’m going to keep this review short and to the point. I really had fun with the different stories and all the different characters. I also really enjoyed all of the twists (there were quite a few that had me dropping my jaw). I already can’t wait to see where the mystery goes in McManus’ next book.

Keep reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Summary:
Magic passed down through generations…
Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has touched every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
An island where strange things happen…
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernweh’s what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm.
No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.
One summer that will become legend…
When tragedy strikes, what make the Fernweh women suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
Summer of SaltReview:
The only thing wrong with this book was that there wasn’t more of it. Summer of Salt was the group book for the Witch-A-Thon. I’ve had it on my TBR shelf ever since I saw Chelsea Dolling Reads talk about it on her channel. I didn’t really even know what it was about before I picked it up. Queer beachy and witchy? Sign me up.
So, being honest. I was slightly disappointed when I learned that most of this book centers around a bird. I know that the story is more than that. But it just seemed so silly to me. But as the story progressed and certain things happened, I came to appreciate this little bird.
I loved the characters. They were all so vibrant and interesting. The relationship between Georgina and her twin, Mary, was absolutely my favorite part of Summer of Salt. I have two sisters and sibling stories always seem to hit me in the feels. They were a realistic pair of sisters and I adored the family dynamic.
Right along with the family dynamic is the atmosphere of By-the-Sea. I want to live on this spooky and atmospheric island. Witchy and beachy is my preferred environment. I loved the way that the weather was brought into the story. I could help but smile at the tugboat scene.
Overall, I would have liked to learn more about the magic, more about the Fernweh family and their history, more about the island, just more. I also really liked the representation. Georgina acknowledged that the environment she’s in is likely more accepting than what others might experience. I liked that she was aware of the privileged she has growing up on a close-knit island with a family that isn’t totally normal themselves. I definitely will be reading more work by Katrina Leno and soon.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.