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.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Summary:
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few dozen of them. Zeus’s master lightning bold has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
The Lightning Thief by Rick RiordanReview:
I have been planning to read The Lightning Thief for so freaking long that part of me is relieved to finally have done it just for the fact that I can now say I’ve read it. But I’m also glad I read it. It was such a fun story that held so many different kinds of people. I’m sure so many kids have read this and finally found themselves to be represented in a book, finally been able to really relate to a main character in a book. I’m so glad that this story exists.
I thought Percy was a fun main character. He was excited and full of adventure. He knew right from wrong and stood up for what he believed in. I really appreciated that about him.
Annabel was my favorite of course. If I were a demigod, I would definitely be one of Athena’s children. She was funny and smart. She never hesitated to call Percy out when she thought he was being dumb. She almost always had a plan. I love what she brought to the story. She went out of her way to help Percy even though they weren’t supposed to get along because of their parents.
I loved the mythological aspects of the story. I adore the way that Rick Riordan told this story with the Gods and the different parts they played. I loved the politics that he added. It wasn’t hard for me to get fully immersed in the world.
Overall, I had a good time reading this story. There were great lessons within told by believable, loveable, and entertaining characters. I can’t wait to see what other wild antics these characters will get up to in the next books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Review:
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1)Review:
I adored this book. I’ve recently tried out reading some middle-grade books because I’ve heard so many people raving about a handful of books that are in this age range. I picked Aru Shah up specifically because I’m trying to read all the books for the SFF Awards (more information on those here). I’ve always loved mythology and superheroes and things like that so it wasn’t a huge surprise that I enjoyed this book. But it surprised me just how much I loved it.
I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed it. The short chapters made it seem like the story was flying by. I felt like I was getting through the story so quickly, probably because I was just genuinely enjoying the story. I was laughing and just all around having a good time listening.
Aru Shah was funny and entertaining. But she was flawed and made mistakes. I loved her. She was silly and curious, passionate and fun. She made mistakes but never let those mistakes define her. She recognized what she was doing wrong and made a point to do better and try to make up for her mistakes.
I also adored Mini. She was nerdy and smart and exactly what Aru needed in her life. I think she was a great addition to the story. I loved the relationship that they developed in this story.
I don’t want to just go on and on about the relationships because those were my favorite things. (Yes, I’m thinking of our girl’s favorite pigeon.) Also, the way that the story ended let the perfect amount of wanting more; wanting to know what adventure the girls will go on next and how they will find their other brothers and sisters.
Finally, the mythology. I adored the parts of the story surrounding the Indian mythology because it’s not something I’m particularly familiar with. So, after finishing this story I feel as if I’ve learned a lot, but also had a great time while doing so. I can’t wait to learn more about the Pandava brothers and the other various gods mentioned.
Overall, I just enjoyed every minute of this audiobook and I cannot wait to spend some more time with these characters and go on more adventures with them.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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

“Not all scars can be seen, my lady.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson

GoodReads Summary:
In a Sweden wracked by war and haunted by folk stories so dark they can only be spoken of in whispers, Helvig has been raised by her brigand father to steal whatever treasure catches her eye. When her men ambush a girl on the road with hair pale as death and a raven perched on her shoulder, Helvig cannot resist bringing home a truly unique prize: a genuine witch.
Drawn irresistibly into the other woman’s web, Helvig soon learns of Gerda’s reason for walking the icy border roads alone: to find the Queen who lives at the top of the world and kill her. Anyone else would be smart enough not to believe a children’s story, but Helvig is plagued by enchantments of her own, and she struggles to guard the sins of her past while growing closer to Gerda.
As Christmastide gives way to the thin-veiled days when ghosts are at their most vengeful, the two women find themselves on a journey through forest and Samiland to a final confrontation that will either redeem them or destroy them entirely.
RobbergirlReview:
Robbergirl was sent to me by the author to read and review honestly. I read this book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. The setting was so interesting, which is funny for me because I don’t like the snow or winter. But this snow-covered story was perfect for this tale. We follow Helvig who is the princess of thieves. She is confident and strong, but also shows that she can be vulnerable and make mistakes. I really enjoyed learning more about her. She’s in charge of a gang of misfit thieves, trying to teach them and guide them. I thought the group dynamic was fun and I really would have been happy to see more of it. I also was happy with the father/daughter relationship that we saw. I thought it was a great part of the story to see her father accept her for who she is and make sure she knew how much he loved her regardless of who she loves.
Enter Gerda. I thought the mystery that surrounded her for a solid part of the book made her that much more interesting. The suspense of finding out what her history was and where her future motivations were was definitely something that kept me interested in the story. I delighted in the romance between Gerda and Helvig. I would love to see more of them in the future. I think the romance was probably my favorite part of the story after the creepy/atmospheric parts. The two girls were both just a little timid and that made their first kiss that much sweeter. I was definitely cheering them on the whole time.
My favorite part of Robbergirl was the myth and folklore involved. I’m not overly familiar with folklore from this setting (Sweden). I thought it was very interesting to learn about the many different things you really don’t want to find in the woods. These potentially spooky things really grabbed my attention and left me wanting more.
Overall I flew through this story and enjoyed every page of it. I will definitely be reading S.T. Gibson’s other book, Odd Spirits, and continuing to lookout for her future writings. Robbergirl was the wintertime creepy queer romance I didn’t know I needed.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone. In fact, her heart has never beat at all, but she’s always thought that was normal. Mina never guessed that her father had cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: Win the kings heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: A magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s orders. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her to wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do-and who to be-to win back the only mother she’s ever known, or else defeat her. Only one can win all, while the other loses everything-unless they can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
Review:
This was a buddy read for me with some of my favorite ladies, Alana, Rae, and Stephanie. We read Skyward together and decided that we wanted to do another buddy read. Girls Made of Snow and Glass was a book we all owned but hadn’t read yet. I’m always here for a good retelling, but this was sadly not that.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this story and despite that, I was a bit disappointed. I think this story could have been so much more than it was. I don’t want to say that I didn’t like this book, but it could have been better. It was just okay. The characters were entertaining, but I wasn’t overly invested. I thought the story was interesting even though there were things that I would have changed.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this book, so I’m not just going to go on and on about it. Overall, I was happy with the ending and where the characters ended up. I think this story had so much more potential and could have been done up so much better. I liked that there was a female/female romance. I liked the relationship with Mina and Lynet, especially the ending. It was an alright story, but I probably won’t read it again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

24Hour Read-A-Thon Review – Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Summary:
Darcy Fitzwilliam is twenty-nine, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones-one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she goes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.
Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is thirty-two and has never left home. He’s a carpenter who makes beautiful furniture and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one-night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand on their way?
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is a sweet, sexy, and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.
Review:
This was the second book that I read for the 24Hour Read-A-Thon that I did. (See my post about it here!) I was in the mood for some Christmas books and I don’t know that either of them actually hits the target for that.
There were things I liked and things I didn’t like, as there is with most books. I honestly just don’t feel like going into too much detail when it comes to this story.
It was a fluffy holiday romance that was a pretty loose gender bent re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. (You guys can thank Antonia for making me watch the million-hour movie which is how I even know anything about this classic story.)
I really didn’t think this story was anything too special. It was a cute romance that took place around Christmas. There was some mistletoe kissing, some gift unwrapping, and even some ice skating. There were proposals and engagements, but no actual weddings. Lots of kissing, but things are kept pretty innocent.
This re-telling takes place in America, which is an interesting twist, I think. We see characters in New York and also in Ohio. I enjoyed this aspect of the story. The setting was nice, minimally described but enough to set the stage.
The characters were alright. They had their moments where they annoyed me a bit, but other moments where they grew and got their shit together.
Overall, this story was probably the closest I’m going to get to a Christmasy book this year. I’m glad I read it. It was fun and entertaining for sure.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.