Amanda’s Fierce Female Readathon Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! I’m here (again) to share with you my wrap up for the Fierce Female Readathon! This month I and a few others had tons of fun sharing all kinds of fierce females. There was also this readathon! There were five challenges and a group book and two weeks for reading! Here’s how I did.

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Read the group book

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Read a book with girl/female/woman in the title

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (I’m stretching this one a bit)

Read a book written by a woman of color

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Read a fierce female recommendation from the book community

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Read a nonfiction book written by or featuring a fierce female
OR
read a book based off a woman in history

The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson (not pictured)

Read a book with a fierce female leading a resistance 

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

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These are the books I read for the Fierce Female Readathon. What books did you read?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t forget to use the hashtags #FierceFemaleReadathon #FierceFemaleReadsFebruary and #FierceFemaleFridays and tag Ashley and me in your posts! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and/or GoodReads to keep up to date with any announcements and see what I’m reading!

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Amanda’s February Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! Happy first day of March! I’m here today to share with you all the books I read this month. I am pretty proud of myself because I managed to read quite a few books in the month of February. I almost read a book a day. I read a total of twenty-five books. I only accomplished this by doing pretty much nothing other than reading, helped by a fair few snowy and rainy days. Let’s break down what I read.

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Physical Books
Sawkill Girls by Clair Legrand
Eldest by Christopher Paolini
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia
A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

eBooks
A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Shienmel
Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner
Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Air Awakens (series) by Elise Kova
The Dysasters by P.C. and Kristen Cast
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson

Audiobooks
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

As usual, I read mostly eBooks, but I read a fair amount of physical books. Seventeen of these were books that I own. Five of them were ARCs I was  very lucky to receive and three were from my library. I’m super happy about the physical books I read becasue I need to focus more on my physical  TBR list. Let me know below what books and how many you read in the month  of February!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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The Silver Queen by Josie Jaffrey

Summary: The last city on Earth is contaminated. Now blood is the only thing that can wash it clean.

Julia is trapped inside the Blue as the Nobles fight over the few humans who are still alive. When the dust settles and she finds herself shackled to a new master, she knows she must escape or die.

Meanwhile, Cam has gathered a handful of comrades and is on his way into the Red to rescue his queen. But not all of his friends can be trusted, and not all of them will make it back alive.

The Silver Queen is the second book in Josie Jaffrey’s Sovereign trilogy, set in a dystopian Europe where vampiric Nobles control the last remnants of the human race.

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
This is the second book in the Sovereign series. You can read my review of the first book here.
So I just reread my review of the first book to remind myself of which points I’ve already spoken about so I don’t repeat myself too much but I’ve just confused myself more. My feelings about the second book are practically opposite of what they were from the first; at least as far as the characters are concerned.
Originally I felt more connected with Cam and Felix’s relationship than I did Julia and Lucas’s. However, after the second book that’s been reversed for me. Maybe it’s because I started liking Felix less and less the more I read but I no longer support their relationship.
My favorite part of Julia and Lucas’s relationship is that, after he abandoned her in the Blue, she still loves him but no longer trusts him the same way. She’s learned to be independent and even after they’re reunited she questions their relationship. Not just because of the way he left her but because she realizes they’re different people now.
That being said, the romances are still my least favorite part of these books. They feel a little forced to me and I would’ve liked the story more if they weren’t part of it at all.
I like Julia even more now than I did after the first book. Things have changed. She’s had to learn things about herself and the world the hard way, make tough choices, fend for herself. I really admire the strength of her character after everything she’s been through.
Cam is still one of my favorites (except where Felix is concerned). Even after all this time he still tries to believe the best in people. He’s a soldier but doesn’t really want to be and I think those two aspects of his personality were blended really well. I can’t wait to see how the events of this book affect him in the next one.
Another problem I had was the maturity of the characters. Julia, Claudia, Lucas being immature sometimes I can understand. They’re young and emotional, it makes sense. Cameron and the other immortals being immature though? Many of these characters are close to a thousand years old. I could forgive it once or twice, especially where love is involved because people do stupid things when they’re in love and I don’t believe that gets better with age. That wasn’t the case here though. The immortals made the same kinds of decisions that the teenagers did and that didn’t seem realistic to me at all. It felt like some of their actions were forced to steer the plot in a certain direction and not because it was natural for that particular character.
My absolute favorite part of the book was the world-building. It really feels like a dystopian world. Travel takes weeks or even months because the closest thing to vehicles they have are horses and there aren’t many of them. There is no communication over distances because there’s no internet or mail system and they can’t train birds to send messages because animals have contaminated blood.
Even the different cures and contaminations were well thought out and interesting. (I won’t go into too much detail about that though to avoid spoilers.) I think Jaffrey did an amazing job on the world-building aspect of it and kept really great continuity throughout.
I only wish I could have seen some of what’s happening in other parts of the world. We really only get glimpses into a handful of settlements in what seems to be Europe. I’d love to know what’s happening in America and Africa and to find out how different places might be handling this new world. I can’t really be mad about it though because it would ruin that communication continuity I was just talking about.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I had a few problems with the characters but the plot and world-building more than made up for it. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA, dystopian, and paranormal. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Summary: When kingdom come, there will be one.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Review: I have very mixed feelings about this book. Overall I enjoyed reading it, but I had a few problems that kept me from loving it.
One of my main concerns before starting the book was how Blake would be able to make triplet queens who have to kill each other for the throne while also making them likable. I could never imagine harming my sisters so the idea seemed ridiculous to me, though it makes more sense when you find out the queens are separated as small children.
I found that it did make me like them less. Mirabella at least struggles with the thought of killing her sisters because she has memories of them as children (the others do not). Her fight between what she’s been taught her whole life and how she feels seemed more realistic to me. However, she still kills an innocent girl as a sacrifice to the goddess.
Katherine seemed sweet at the beginning but she’s killed many people and is the most willing to kill her sisters. She’s the only one by the end of the book to actively make an attempt to kill one of the others.
Arsinoe is my favorite of the three. She’s the most down to earth because of how she was raised; not like a future queen but more like the way children should be raised. She has actual friends and free reign of the village while her sisters have basically been locked up their entire lives. Unfortunately, her only real qualm about having to kill her sisters is that she’s the one most likely to die because she’s ungifted, not because murder is wrong.
Which is my main problem with this society. Literally no one thinks that a succession based on children murdering each other is wrong. People constantly look at the queens sadly because it’s just so tragic but no one ever says outright “Hey, this is wrong and we need to change”.
My other issue with this society is how the succession works. The last queen standing becomes ruler of Fennbirn; until she gives birth. So if they’re sixteen when they ascend the throne they rule for maybe about ten years since women had children at much younger ages in societies like these. Then once she’s given birth to the next queens, she immediately steps down as queen and leaves Fennbirn forever. Until the queens come of age at sixteen and start killing each other, the council rules and the council is generally made up of whichever people supported the last queen. So, since poisoner queens have sat on the throne for a few generations, this society has been ruled entirely by poisoners the entire time. Though it’s mentioned at the beginning that people with the poisoner gift can also heal, none of the poisoners are shown with any redeeming qualities. They’re only ever portrayed as ruthless murderers.
So generally, this council rules longer than the queens do and it only ever changes after three teenage sisters viciously murder each other. My main thought for the entirety of this book was that this society could not be sustainable.
I liked most of the other characters though some were a little two-dimensional. I liked Joseph particularly until he does something that seemed vastly out of character to me and for the rest of the book I found him extremely annoying.
Jules and Camden were amazing; I’d read a book just about them.
The story was a little slow, the only thing that kept it from dragging for me was that the POV changes happened pretty quickly so it felt like it was moving faster than it was. However, all the POV’s made it so that I didn’t get to know the characters as well as I’d like to.
The plot was certainly unique. There were several twists (especially the one at the end) that made me like the story more and more. Despite the problems I had, I’m definitely invested enough to read the next book and am extremely curious as to where the plot could possibly go next.
I’d recommend this to anyone who likes YA fantasy, especially those who enjoy darker themes. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Summary: Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

Review: This book was amazing, as all of Nora’s are. She’s been an auto-buy author of mine since the first time I picked up one of her books and I’ve never been disappointed. This book was suspenseful, heart-wrenching, funny, and romantic.
I especially loved that it followed these characters over a fourteen year period. It starts with the mall shooting, then shows glimpses of the survivors over the years as they learn to cope with what happened to them, until it reaches present day when most of the story takes place. It was amazing to see the way these characters grew over the years and the different ways they handled (or didn’t) the trauma.
Simone was an awesome character. She goes from a teenager who’s life is ruined because she got dumped to a strong-willed, confident woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. She tried to bury her feelings after the shooting; if she kept it locked up, it didn’t happen. I enjoyed watching her slowly open up and actually confront what had happened to her. She definitely has flaws but that only made her more relatable. I also loved how she dealt with her emotions through her art. Being a sculptor, she had a unique perspective that I found very interesting.
Reed is the best kind of male MC; he’s sexy, funny, romantic, tough and not afraid of his sensitive side. He’s perfectly comfortable going from the badass cop to chatting about art with Simone and CiCi. I really hate the super macho guys who think if they’re sensitive that makes them less of a man. Reed doesn’t have that hold-up and it made me love him even more.
CiCi is my favorite. She’s Simone’s grandmother, also an artist, and she’s basically the grandma we all wish we could have. She doesn’t act her age and is unapologetic about who she is. She was so quirky and fun that her character was definitely the highlight of the book for me.
The plot was intricate without being confusing. Since we got to follow the villain, Patricia’s, POV as well, we got to see both sides of the conflict. I like when a story does this because I still get the mystery and suspense that I want without being confused because I only have one side of the story. Patricia made an excellent villain. She was cold, violent, intelligent and psychotic, the kind of villain I adore but who still keeps me up at night.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery or romance. Nora blends the different themes perfectly in this book to make an amazing rollercoaster of a read.
I’d love to know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Earth’s End by Elise Kova

Summary: 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.

Review: I think this book is my favorite of the series so far. It was really fast paced for one; the first book had all the character and world-building necessary to lead up to all the conflict, and the second mostly consisted of the Imperial Army marching across the world for the first half. In this book, the war is here. The characters’ relationships have formed and you know how the world works so this book was mainly conflict of one type or another.
There’s tons of action; a combination of magical and traditional fighting (my favorite kind). There’s emotional conflict; Vhalla and Aldrik trying to figure out where their relationship is going while simultaneously keeping it a secret, Vhalla trying to come to terms with all the things she’s done and the loss of her close friend, Aldrik fighting his inner demons. And there’s political conflict. This is the type that I usually hate. I find politics so tedious and backhanded. Give me an honest fight any day. However I didn’t hate it as much in this book. Maybe because it was politics specific to the war; they’re in an army camp, there weren’t any courtiers, so it was a very basic form of politics rather than full-blown court intrigue.
Still, I hate the Emperor. Without him, none of this would have happened. He’s the reason the politics are necessary, he’s the reason Vhalla’s considered property of the crown, he’s the reason she and Aldrik have to hide their relationship. He’s the reason for the war. The more I learn about him the more I think he’s a horrible, irredeemable person. I don’t think I could forgive his actions at the end which resulted in something I know most readers are devastated about. (Sorry, no spoilers.)
Vhalla continues to amaze me with her strength. She’s grown so much since the first book. Part of her is twisted and dark, she kills and lies because she’s told to and to try to earn her freedom but she still tries to do the right thing when she can. I found myself sympathizing with her more than I have a character in awhile. I found some parts a little hard to read because her feelings paralleled some of my own recently. It gave this book a really personal connection for me.
Aldrik is amazing. Except when he’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I still love him but I found him frustrating at times too. He tries so hard to be a good prince and to do right by Vhalla but he doesn’t always make good choices. Sometimes his plans backfire and he doesn’t handle negative emotions well. His alcoholism gets brought up in this book as his coping mechanism and I particularly liked seeing it from Vhalla’s perspective. First off it takes her two and a half books to realize it’s a problem. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not just alcoholics who deny they have a problem but their loved ones do as well. They also try to justify it and make excuses because no one wants to believe someone they love is hurting so much they feel the need to self-medicate.
I still want Vhalla and Aldrik to have a happy ever after by the end of the series but there’s definitely some stuff they need to work on first, both individually and as a couple.
Overall I loved this book. I have no idea where the next book will lead because this ending of this one was crazy but I’m so excited for it. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA and fantasy. Please tell me what you think in the comments and thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Summary: 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?

Review: I CAN’T HANDLE THAT ENDING. I need to start the next book so badly but I’m making myself review this one first – under protest!
First off, I’m seriously beginning to love Vhalla. She is so broken in this book, traumatized by the events from the first. I’ve mentioned this in many reviews, but I love when authors accurately portray characters with PTSD. So often they show a little to further the story line but then the character is magically cured; Trauma isn’t like that, it’s continuous and debilitating. You don’t know when or what might trigger an episode and it usually gets worse before it gets better. Vhalla has nightmares almost every night which results in her being sleep deprived constantly. She’s never had much of an appetite but now she barely eats. When something happens that reminds her of The Night of Fire and Wind or her imprisonment, she freezes. None of these things further the story line, if anything they’re tedious and redundant; but they’re realistic. This woman is traumatized and having friends who support her or falling in love don’t suddenly make it okay.
That being said, Vhalla is also an extremely strong character. Even when she breaks down she picks herself up again. By the end, I had so much admiration for her determination and growth.

“She had to survive if for no other reason than to spite the world.”

Aldrik. I don’t even know where to start. He’s broken too but in different ways. For him, he started breaking so long ago that he’s more resigned to it than anything. He doesn’t feel worthy because of it and especially feels like he doesn’t deserve Vhalla. He absolutely does. I loved getting to see the real him, the side he shows Vhalla, behind the mask he needs in order to be the Crown Prince. That contrast made it feel like I really got to know him in this book and I love all of it. He’s unapologetically badass, sweet, and cruelly apathetic when he needs to be. I particularly adored the flashbacks of his life we got to see. It helped me to understand some of the mysterious aspects that surrounded him throughout the first book.
I loved Larel. She’s an exceptional friend to Vhalla. She’s the one always picking Vhalla up when she breaks, holding her when she wakes up screaming from her nightmares. She’s simply an amazing human and I loved getting to know her better.
Daniel was a really fun character as well. He was the first person Vhalla meets after her trauma that she feels comfortable with. They both grew up in the East and visited the same places as children which sparks an instant friendship. I was worried for awhile that this was going to turn into a love triangle but luckily it didn’t. They gain that sort of intimate affection that comes from leaning on someone for comfort but they remain just close friends. I’m happy about this because I don’t think we see enough male/female friendships in books that don’t turn into romances.
The Emperor increasingly pissed me off. I expect it’ll only get worse over the rest of the series.
I really enjoyed the plot of this book. I’ve read quite a few reviews from people who didn’t like it, saying it’s just a filler book and nothing happens; and honestly that’s mostly true. But that’s why I liked it. Most of the book the army is just travelling from the capitol to the war in the North. This gave Vhalla a chance to learn who she is now and begin to come to terms with everything that’s happened. It gave her a chance to make new friends. It gave her and Aldrik a chance to actually form a relationship. We always hate when characters fall in love too fast, well this book gave them a chance to do it slowly. By the time they kiss for the first time, it’s months since they first met. That’s practically unheard of in YA world.
Overall I freaking adored this book. I thought it was a significant improvement over the first (and I liked that one too). I’d recommend it to any YA and fantasy readers. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on these books. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Summary: 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.

Review: I’m so glad I finally listened to Amanda and picked up this book. It starts off pretty quickly, with enough mystery to keep me turning the pages. The world-building was gradual enough to seem natural without being tedious. There were a few things I was confused about in the beginning but they were explained shortly after.
This world is one I find extremely intriguing. I’m not sure what time period to try to relate it to; it’s certainly old-fashioned, with the society rules, sword-fighting, and a pre-industrial feel to it but there’s also some aspects that seem more modern, mentions of plumbing and a generally more feminist society.
The magical side of things is what really got me though. I’ve always adored elemental magic especially. In this world, different regions tend to produce sorcerers of each individual element; countries toward the East have Windwalkers, the South have Firebearers, etc. The Windwalkers were eradicated decades ago until Vhalla suddenly manifests as one. (Note: Yes, I saw the parallel to Avatar: The Last Airbender but I assure you the similarities end there.) I just love all the things you can do with elemental magic and Kova executed it really well. I also really enjoyed her showing a more negative side to the magic (nothing’s perfect right?), particularly the way sorcerers are treated in this society. To the point where Vhalla simply doing research on sorcerers and their history was enough to earn the judgement of her peers.
The storyline itself also had a darker side, especially at the end, and I’m really looking forward to more of that later in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lighthearted, happy reads when I’m in the mood for them, but when I’m reading about war I want to see traumatized, broken characters because war isn’t pretty and I don’t think it should be portrayed that way in media.
I liked Vhalla quite a bit and it seems like she headed for some really great character growth. She makes mistakes and her indecisiveness could be a bit annoying; I think if she’d just accepted her magic and took steps to join the other sorcerers, none of her problems would have occured. Even when she was annoying though it was understandable. She’s thrown into an entirely new world, kidnapped, thrown off a roof, and told she’s something that everyone treats basically like lepers. I totally don’t blame her for trying to crawl back into her old life and pretend none of it’s happening.
I want to hate Aldrik, I really do, but I can’t seem to make myself do it. He can be an asshole, he’s arrogant, and keeps tons of secrets but then he turns around and says something sweet and I’m like, “awwww”. Since he’s so mysterious, I didn’t get to know him as well as I’d like but I’m very excited to learn more about him in the next books.
One thing I noticed were some typos and the occasional sentence that was worded a bit oddly; this might just be on the Kindle version, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely something that caught my attention. After I got into the story I didn’t notice them much or was able to ignore them in order to continue reading but if you’re someone who gets easily annoyed with things like that, you might have trouble getting into this one.
Overall, this book was amazing. It was fast-paced, with complex characters and a crazy plot. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA, fantasy, and magic. I can’t wait to read the next book and would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

Summary: In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I’m so glad she reached out to us about it; this book (and the prequel series Solis Invicti) hadn’t been on my radar yet and I’m so excited about them.
The Gilded King is the first book in Jaffrey’s Sovereign series. One thought I had throughout this book was that I really wished I’d read the Solis Invicti series first. The Sovereign series is meant to be standalone but I had so many questions about the history of this world and the way everything worked. Usually I like when world-building is added gradually to a story. I hate when a book starts with a giant chunk to explain the basics of that world to you. It’s frequently tedious and boring. With this book though, those details were added too slowly; I didn’t understand important details about this world until very late in the book. This just left me feeling confused for a lot of it and I kept going back and rereading sections to try to understand.
That being said, once I understood the world better I really enjoyed how unique it was. We’ve all seen enough dystopians that start with terrible plagues and vaccines that have unforeseen consequences but I thought the twist with the paranormal added a lot to it. The fact that the cure for the humans made their blood poisonous to vampires was something I wouldn’t have expected.
Another thing I thought was unique (at least from books I’ve read personally) was that humans have essentially become a slave race in certain parts of the world. There are still human settlements but in places where the Nobles (also called the Silver, depending on who’s talking) live, humans are treated like dirt. They’re called Servants but they have no rights. They’re not paid for their services and they have no choice in what they do. When Julia’s sent to serve Lucas, she’s going so he can drink her blood and she’s not allowed to say no. If they do, they’re exiled from the city which, as far as they know, is a death sentence.
I liked Julia for the most part. She was tough and intelligent. I liked that she questioned what the Nobles told the humans. One of the biggest problems for the humans living in the Blue was that the only information they’ve been given for centuries has been what the Nobles wanted them to think. Julia doesn’t always ask the right questions but at least she keeps asking them. The only thing I didn’t like about Julia was her behavior where Lucas was involved.
Lucas was a good character. He’s sweet, considerate, and tries to be true to himself even if it goes against the way Nobles are supposed to act. I was mildly annoyed that Julia happens to meet the only Noble who’s kind to humans; it’s a trope I’m a little sick of. When you have an entire race of people it’s not logical to think only one of them is morally good.
My main problem with Julia and Lucas though is their romance. First of all, it happens too quickly. Julia’s terrified of Nobles but is instantly attracted to Lucas and vice versa. Their relationship makes the mistake so common in YA, in that it progresses at an unrealistic rate. I also felt that I was being told-not-shown, if that makes sense. For most of the book, the romances (I’ll talk about Cameron and Felix later) felt very forced. I was not emotionally invested in these relationships.
Cameron was a really interesting character. He’s a member of the Solis Invicti, basically the guards of the Blue. For centuries he’s been exploring the Red (anything outside the Blue) looking for the lost queen, his friend Emmy. I found myself sympathizing with him quite a bit. No matter how long it’s been, he never gives up on Emmy or stops looking for her even when everyone else has. I’ve seen other reviews from people saying they were bored during Cameron’s parts but I didn’t have that problem at all. He was my favorite character so far.
I liked Felix for the most part. Seeing the difference between humans of the Blue and humans of the Red was really interesting. His attitude is bitter and resigned because he understands more about this world than others, like Julia. I particularly enjoyed seeing the contrast between them. He was also so mysterious that I just wanted to know more. His relationship with Cameron was also more believable, at least after the beginning. There was a sudden twist at the end about Felix (no spoilers, I swear) that I was extremely frustrated about. It just seemed so unnecessary.
Now to the part I loved: the plot. It was surprisingly intricate for the genre. There were times when I brushed something off as irrelevant or unimportant then it would suddenly tie into something later. It was also really cool watching Julia and Cameron’s opposite journeys. They never meet in this book and a lot of what happens to one sort of parallels the other but they almost always have one-half of certain information and the other has the rest. By the end I was screaming “If they could just have a conversation then everything would be okay”. It was infuriating but in a good way. I always like when I know more than the characters do. The ending also left me with so many questions half answered. It feels like this first book was just an opening for the second; it set the scene for all the craziness that’s going to happen next.
I wasn’t sure how much I liked this book and I definitely had some problems with it, but the ending made me really excited for the rest of the series. I think I’ll read the Solis Invicti series before the next book comes out and hopefully that will solve some of my confusion.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes YA, paranormal, or dystopian, though if you’re a reader who doesn’t like being left with tons of questions, this might not be the book for you. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Book Tag – TBR

Huge thanks to Inkish Kingdoms for tagging us in this TBR Book Tag! It looks like fun. Besides who doesn’t love talking about books that they want to read? Let’s dive right in!

How do you keep track of your TBR list?

Amanda- I mostly don’t. It’s all in my head. I have a general ‘oh I want to read that in the near future’ list that lives in my brain. But I don’t read off of any list, I look at my shelves and pick whatever looks good. I have recently started marking books on GoodReads as ‘to read’ but they’re all books that I mostly already have at home.

Antonia- It’s mostly just in my head as well. The closest I get to an actual list is books I want to get but once I actually have them it depends entirely on what I feel like reading at the time.

Is your TBR list mostly print or ebook?

Amanda- Mostly print as of now. I recently have gone a little book buying crazy. Once I read some of the books I just bought my ebook TBR list will likely be longer because I’ve been neglecting my Kindle for sure.

Antonia- Mine probably leans a little more towards print but I go through random phases where I’ll just read kindle nonstop then switch to print for awhile.

How do you determine which book from your TBR list to read next?

Amanda- I mentioned above that I mostly just look at my shelves and pick whatever looks good at the moment. I don’t do well with specific lists. One it makes it to the “official TBR list” I’m actually less likely to ever read it.

Antonia- Whatever I’m in the mood for. Usually I’ll just stare at my shelves for awhile or read a few summaries and one tends to jump out and say “You have to read me now!”.

What book has been on your TBR list the longest?

Amanda- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I bought this months and months ago (at this point it’s probably closer to a year ago) and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, but for some reason, I just can’t get myself to pick it up.

Antonia- Hmm… Probably Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima. I got so mad at the beginning of the book that I never managed to finish it. Now that I have the second and third books I plan on picking it up again soon.

What book have you recently added to your TBR list?

Amanda- Why do all of these book tags want just one book as an answer? I’m a bookworm and I did just say that I bought a ton of books recently. So here’s a few I’m most excited about.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
War Storm by Victoria Aveyard
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Antonia- ^Same.
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
The Mythean Arcana series by Linsey Hall
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

What book on your TBR list is there strictly because of the cover?

Amanda- Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten. I love simple covers.

Antonia- Everneath by Brodi Ashton. The covers have such gorgeous dresses that I just had to get them.

What book on your TBR list do you never actually plan to read?

Amanda- The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz. I bought this only because I have all of the other books in the series. It sits on my shelf and begs me to read it but I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll ever get around to it.

Antonia- I don’t think I have anything right now. A couple years ago I moved and had to get rid of most of my books so everything I have now are either favorites or ones I’ve gotten recently.

What unpublished book is on your TBR list that you’re excited for?

Amanda- Again, just one book? Really you should just go check out the whole page we have dedicated to books that are being released this year.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare
Windrider by P.C. Cast

Just to name a few.

Antonia- Again, same. I’m really excited for both Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa and Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts.

What’s a book on your TBR list that basically everyone has read but you?

Amanda- Warcross by Marie Lu. I have this. It’s staring at me from my shelf as I type this, but I just haven’t read it yet.

Antonia- Probably Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve been seeing this for forever but never bothered with it until Amanda made me read A Court of Thorns and Roses which I loved so much I HAVE to read her other series.

What’s a book on your TBR list that everyone recommends?

Amanda- Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. I’ve heard amazing things about this book. I recently bought it and hope to get around to reading it soon.

Antonia- A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve heard a ton of good things about this one even though a lot of people (myself included) don’t like novellas.

What’s a book on your TBR list that you’re very excited to read?

Amanda- All of them? Otherwise, they wouldn’t be on my TBR list, right?

Antonia- Definitely all of them. None stand out more than the others right now.

How many books are on your GoodReads TBR shelf?

Amanda- There are 65 books that I have labeled as ‘Want to Read’ on GoodReads. Most of which are books that I’ve bought recently and plan to attempt to read in the near future.

Antonia- I don’t use my GoodReads TBR shelf. I could never keep track of adding books and taking them off.

That’s all for this one bookworms! We’re going to tag anyone who reads this and feels like doing the book tag! Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your TBR books in the comments!

Celtic Magic by Linsey Hall

Summary: I am the Druid

Finally, I know what I am. The Druid of the Dragon Gods. The knowledge comes at a price, however. Two new golden tattoos have appeared on my arms, and they’re blocking my magic. Magic that I need to survive. 

When two ancient druids show up at the Protectorate needing my help, it’s obvious there’s something big at play. A dangerous force has invaded the Celtic realm, and they say that only I can save it. I jump on the chance, and not just because I want to. If I can go to the Celtic realm, maybe I can learn more about what I am. Maybe I can save my magic.

With the powerful shifter mage Lachlan at my side, we encounter a realm of extreme danger—and mystery. It’s up to us to unravel it before the Celtic realm is destroyed and I lose my magic forever..

Celtic Magic is a fast-paced urban fantasy adventure starring a kick butt heroine, a powerful hero, and magic that will blow your socks off.

Review: Have I told you guys that I love Hall’s books? I can say all sorts of things about them (and I will) but mostly they’re just fun.
In this book, Ana has finally learned where her magic comes from and now has a chance to develop new powers and also learn to stabilize her old ones; up until now they’ve been a little chaotic inside her. She learns to do this in the Celtic Realm (basically where the Celtic gods live/ the Celtic afterlife) while also trying to figure out what sort of evil is attacking the realm.
I absolutely loved learning about the Celtic gods. It’s not a mythology that I’ve read about often and I’m really excited for more of it in the rest of the series.
Ana’s still awesome, especially now that she’s figuring out exactly how awesome she is. She’s finally gaining some well-needed confidence in herself. I especially love her relationships with her sisters, Lachlan, and the Cats of Catastrophe. Ana definitely isn’t one of those people who’s likes everyone they meet but when she cares about someone she goes all out. She and her sisters would do anything for each other, and have on multiple occasions. They’re banter is the best.
The Cats of Catastrophe are probably my favorite part of these books. The gang consists of three extremely different cats; Princess Snowflake III (fluffy, white, and bloodthirsty), Bojangles (an orange cat who Ana calls “a sweet moron”), and Muffin (the Cat Sith, a fairy creature from celtic mythology). These cats are entirely magical and can even speak to Ana with telepathy. “Cats of Catastrophe” is the name they received because they’re morally neutral and, before they met Ana, mostly spent their time as jewel thieves. I love them so much and not just because I’m a cat person. Muffin is the most sarcastic character in the books and Princess is just mean to everyone (except very occasional to Ana). Ana and Princess had a really sweet moment in this book and frankly, I cried a little.
I finally got to know Lachlan better. Now that he and Ana are seeing where their relatonship might lead, I like him a lot more. Even though he’s one of the most powerful mages in the world, he always treats Ana as his equal. He supports her and always has her back but he doesn’t try to fight her battles for her. It’s something I think we need more of in the way relationships are portrayed in all types of media.
Overall this book just made me want to read the next one more. It was fast-paced, funny, and action-packed. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA and mythology. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

WWW Wednesday

Hey, bookworms! It’s that day of the week again where we participate in the wonderful bookish post that was formerly hosted by Should be Reading and was recently taken over by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer three questions to give an update about what you’re currently reading, going to read next and have read recently. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or link your post!

WWW wednesday

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare in a print book. I’m doing a reread of all of Cassie’s books before Queen of Air and Darkness is released this December. I’m currently listening to Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I’ve heard so many book bloggers rant and rave about this book and I’m excited to be listening to it.

Antonia- I just started the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova. Amanda absolutely loved this series and she’s talked about it so much that I had to give it a try.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I recently finished listening to Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. It was a great listen and I will be posting my review later this month. I also recently finished Allies by Bella Forrest (book six in the Hotbloods series) and will be posting a complete series review once I’ve finished the last two books.

Antonia- I just finished Celtic Magic by Linsey Hall. I love all of these books so much and can’t wait for the next one. Expect to see a review soon.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- My next audiobook with be Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxaum. I started listening to this a few weeks ago and then got distracted by other stories. I will be reading Stargazers by Bella Forrest – the final book in the Hotbloods series – on my Kindle. I’m not sure what print book I’ll pick up next, but I have a small stack that I’d like to get through this month.

Antonia- I’m really not sure. I’m moving next week so all my books are currently in boxes and I’m stuck with my Kindle for a bit. I might continue the Air Awakens series or The Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg.

Thanks for reading. These are our W’s for this week! What are your answers? Feel free to leave them in the comments or a link to your post.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Summary: Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Review: Once again, I hardly know where to start. I have so many thoughts and feelings about this story and characters that I’m overwhelmed by it. In a good way. As soon as I finished I knew I had to get A Court of Frost and Starlight, and I never read novellas. My love for these characters is so great that I’ll take any chance to read more about them.
Let’s start with Feyre. I’ve liked her from the start but that’s somehow continued to increase throughout the books. First from her selfless bravery, then from the way she grew throughout the second book, and now because she’s an absolute badass. I spent the first few chapters just cheering her on while she spied on/ sabotaged Tamlin and the spring court. Later, when she was finally able to be High Lady of the Night Court, I only admired her more. She’s become confident in herself, her love, and her court and I loved watching her interactions with pretty much everyone. (Note: Unless you’ve read at least some of these books, you probably won’t understand what it really means that Feyre has become a High Lady; take it from me, it’s a really big deal.)
I still don’t like Tamlin. Some people think his actions by the end of the book are enough to redeem him at least a little but not for me. I think he’s a complete jerk who builds a “poor me” bubble around himself and how could anyone possibly believe the worst of him? How? Because you literally did everything possible to make everyone think you were the enemy. I don’t know how he could be surprised that people treated him as such.
Rhys is still my favorite book boyfriend. I adore his and Feyre’s relationship. They’re a team; they treat each other as equals and even when one of them goes off on their own or makes a mistake, they respect each others decisions whether they agree with them or not. Their love is what I think everyone should aspire to have.
Mor is amazing. She’s tough and fun and has the most tragic backstory. The one thing I didn’t like is the secret she’s kept from the group for hundreds of years. (Don’t worry, it’s not something that really affects the main storyline.) It just seems like, because the group is so close, that she should trust them not to judge her or to let it change the group’s dynamic. The fact that she doesn’t bothers me a little.
Cassian and Azriel are also fantastic. They have fairly opposite personalities; Cassian’s more in-your-face about pretty much everything while Azriel hides in his shadows and doesn’t really let anyone in. Getting glimpses of the softer side of Azriel is the best though. I just want to wrap him up in a bubble and protect him forever.
Amren is probably my favorite of the Inner Circle. She’s an all powerful being from another world trapped in a High Fae body. Her powers are limited in her current form but you frequently get glimpses of what she is by the way others behave around her. The fact that this tiny little person terrifies everyone she meets just makes me so happy.

**MINOR SPOILER ALERT**

What I don’t get is how anyone can believe Amren would betray them at the end. After seeing the way this family interacts throughout books two and three, I had no doubt that she had a plan and wasn’t actually betraying Feyre. Anyone who thought she would actually do that isn’t giving her enough credit.

**SPOILER ENDED**

I still can’t believe Hybern turned Elain and Nesta into High Fae. Elain just made me sad throughout the entire book. She’s like a tiny puppy being kicked. I really liked Nesta however. She’s still prickly and a little annoying and just mean to everyone but that’s just the shield she wears constantly. I think she grew a lot during this book and is one of the main reasons I want to read ACOFAS, to see how she’s doing after the war.
Lucien I really loved for the first half of this book. Then he disappears on his mission and you don’t see him until the end. I found this part irritating. It felt almost like Maas sent him on a wild goose chase so she wouldn’t have to figure out where he fit in with the rest of the Inner Circle. I would have liked to have seen more of him.
Overall I loved this book to the point where this series is definitely a new favorite of mine. It has the best characters and a really intricate plot. The final battle was intense, bloody and literally had me screaming at my husband to stop interrupting me. I’d recommend this series to everyone. The first book is a little more YA romance but the other two are far more complex and action-based. Tell me what you think in the comments because I could talk about this book for days. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Summary: Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Review: This book was a little hard for me to get into. Mostly I think it’s because I started it on audiobook and didn’t much like the narrator. The voices she gave the characters were weird and hard to differentiate between. Several times, I thought one character was speaking and it turned out it was someone else. It was almost as if the narrator forgot which voice she assigned to who and kept mixing them up.
Luckily I decided to switch over to Kindle and liked the story much better after that.
Ceony annoyed me a little at first. It seemed like she was alternately very intelligent or very naive, whichever was convenient to the story at the time. For instance, she worked crazy hard to finish years of schooling in just one year but then when Thane gives her a few books to read for “homework”, she complains about all the work. I found this ridiculous. If she managed to finish what’s basically a college degree in one year, then she would have no qualms about a little reading. It seemed to me that, because she’s supposed to hate her apprenticeship, Holmberg just made her complain about everything whether it was realistic or not. After a while she got better about it though and Ceony became I character I actually liked.
Emery Thane was fun. Unfortunately we didn’t get to know him as much as we normally would. For the better part of the book, Ceony’s basically walking through his memories but we don’t see him for real. It sort of gave us random glimpses of his character but it made it awkward for me to form real opinions about him.
Also the (potential) romance between them felt extremely forced to me, especially because everything happens in such a short amount of time. I’m hoping that gets better in the next book.
Despite not necessarily wanting the characters to be my best friends, I would like this book solely for the magic. In this world, magicians can control man-made substances; they bond to one substance in particular and that’s the only one they can ever work with. Ceony and Thane are paper magicians. She doesn’t want to be a Folder, they’re looked down on by other magicians because it’s not considered very useful. I loved watching Ceony slowly learn all of the amazing things she can do with paper. It’s an extremely unique magic system that I loved reading about.
Then Holmberg also made a dark side to the magic. Someone once figured out that since humans are technically man-made, they could be controlled by magic and Excision was created. These evil magicians use blood and flesh to control and torture people. It added a seriously dark aspect to an otherwise fun storyline.
Overall this was a very interesting read. I wouldn’t call it a favorite but I am excited to see where the rest of the series takes me. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories about magic. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Summary: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

Review: As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one more. I read it in about a day even though it’s over 600 pages long and I was a little overwhelmed when I was done. Not necessarily in a bad way, it’s just that so much happened and I had so many feelings that I was a bit lost when it was over.
In my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I talked about how I liked the fact that Feyre isn’t your typical hero; she does what she has to to protect those she loves even if it’s not “the right thing”. Some of these actions from the first book have resulted in her having PTSD. Partly because of the awful things that were done to her or that she saw in Amarantha’s court Under The Mountain, but a huge part of it is the things she herself did Under The Mountain. Even if we completely ignore the fact she’s been turned into High Fae (she’s literally not even human anymore and that’s an insane adjustment for anyone), everything that’s happened since the beginning of ACOTAR has been traumatizing. She’s trying, and failing, to cope as she comes to terms with who she’s become. This book had some of the best character development for her, particularly because it doesn’t happen overnight. Throughout this entire book she’s changing, growing, learning who she is and who she wants to be. A huge part of that growth is influence by Tamlin and Rhysand in vastly different ways but I’ll go into more detail about that later.
I slowly hated Tamlin more and more throughout this book. This seems to be the source of some contention for fans. Readers seem to either think his personality in ACOMAF is completely different from ACOTAR and that Maas forced it that way to make room for Rhys to be with Feyre; OR readers think it’s simply an extension of Tamlin’s personality that we didn’t see in ACOTAR but that was sort of amplified by the trauma of Under The Mountain. Honestly, I’m not sure what I think but it seems to fall somewhere in the middle for me. His change in ACOMAF definitely felt just a little forced but I’m also not surprised by it. As much as I loved him in ACOTAR, I definitely got that sense that he was a little controlling, a little possessive. Part of the problem might be that in the first book, that’s what Feyre wanted. She wanted to feel protected for once in her life, not have to do the protecting but after Under The Mountain she needed some semblance of control of her own life and Tamlin wouldn’t let her have that. I understand he watched her die and doesn’t know how to deal with that but even months later after Feyre’s tried telling him what she needs, after he’s promised to be better about it, he only gets more and more controlling. All that said, I still felt a little sorry for him right up until that last scene. I won’t spoil it for anyone but his actions at the end were the final straw for me. In my mind, there’s no excuse for what he did and I won’t forgive him for it.
Rhysand. Is. Perfect. Not that he doesn’t have flaws; of course he does. His flaws just made me love him more. Everything about Rhys’s story gave me all the emotions. It’s tragic and beautiful and funny. For me though, the main reason he’s my new favorite book boyfriend is for the way he interacts with Feyre. He works so hard to give her what she needs to deal with her trauma and he listens to her and respects what she says whether he agrees with her or not. He never tries to control her and actively gives her the freedom to act for herself to the point where, if there’s danger, he lets her handle it; he might step in when necessary but he never tries to fight her battles for her. This more than anything helps Feyre grow because she finally has the freedom to do what she needs to do for her own well-being. Rhys never treats Feyre as anything less than his equal and I absolutely adore that.
Rhys’s Inner Circle was one of my favorite parts of this book. Mor, Cassian, Azriel, and Amren are such unique, complex, lovable characters. I love that they, including Rhys and later Feyre, are a family first and the Night Court second. I’m beyond excited to see more of them in the next book.
Overall, this is one of my new favorite books. It had everything I want from a story; romance, friendship, complex character development, action, heart-wrenching moments, laugh-out-loud scenes, and an ending that just about killed me. I recommend this to everyone. Seriously. Just read this book.
I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia