Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Summary:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Review:
I feel like I flew through this series up until I got to this book. Even though I did listen to this final audiobook (that is TWENTYFOUR hours long) in less than a week. Something about Winter just dragged. Though nothing in the story was actually going slowly. There were some periods of slowness where the characters needed to figure out what to do next and make plans and travel, but there was enough action to keep up the pace of the story. There was just something about it that dragged. I found myself about 80% through wondering if it was ever going to end. It’s not that I wasn’t interested.
I loved the characters of this series. There is such a fun and interested squad of characters. They are all so different and I loved each of them so much. They all grow and go through so much in these four books but especially in this finale. Cinder has come to take back her throne and everything she’s been planning is finally happening. I do wish that we’d gotten more of her and Kai, but I have a feeling that will be happening in Stars Above. Cress and Thorne were by far my favorite (Cress was my favorite book in the series). This doesn’t surprise me too much because Rapunzel is my favorite fairytale. I loved Thorne’s character growth and the happy ending that they get. Winter and Jacin were my second favorite. They had me cackling and laughing all over the place. I just loved Winter. She’s weird but courageous, putting herself last above what she things is the right thing. Jacin is not afraid to do whatever it takes to protect Winter. I just loved it. Then there’s Wolf and Scarlet. They go through so much being split up over and over and they manage to overcome it all again and again.
I also really liked the villain, Levana. She’s so interesting and intense. We see her as she goes from all-powerful to mostly just insane and it’s such a fascinating journey. She’s such a compelling villain. I’m excited to read her novel, Fairest.
I have to mention the retelling aspect of this series. I though Meyer did an incredible job putting her own twist on these classic stories. I just thought it was such a compelling aspect of these books.
Finally, the narrator. I have mentioned her in each of my reviews but it’s because she deserves it. She really becomes these characters. They each get their own distinct voice and I just am awed by this narrator’s ability to bring me into the story and put passion and ferocity into the voices. There were parts with Levana and Cinder that just wowed me.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved this series. I loved the narrator. I loved the characters. Everything about this series was well thought out and well excecuted. I adored the fairytale twists and the science fiction twists. This is a must-read series if you haven’t picked it up yet.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Everything & Anything · Amanda's Adventures

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Summary:
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Review:
I loved this book. I am just loving this series more and more the further into it we get. I love the characters. I love the world. I love the narrator. I love the story. I think this one might be my favorite of the series, partially becasue of it being a Rapunzel retelling. Rapunzel is one of my favorite fairytales. I think Meyer has done such a great job incorporating the retellings into this futuristic world she’s created.
So, it’s told in omniscient third person, which means that the narrator is all knowing and we get to see everything that is going on with all of the relevant characters. I really love this because I love to see what the other characters are up to since they’ve been split up from the whole group. I love Cinder more than ever. She’s clever and doing her best to be what everyone needs her to be. Then there’s the Doctor. His story was honestly so sad and I wish it had ended in a different way. I wish we had more time with him. But he’s done all he can for the players involved. I love Thorne. He’s really growing out of his smart ass, cocky attitude and starting to take things more seriously. I think his disability of being blind was really interesting and I’m glad that sort of representation was put into the story. Cress was honestly probably my favorite character. She’s crash landed on earth and literally has no idea what’s going on. So of course, she gets into all kinds of trouble. Wolf is still a bit of a mystery to me. I want to know more and I want to see more growth. What we do get to see of Scarlet was interesting. I can’t wait to see more of what’s actually happening on Luna. I wish we had gotten to see a bit more of her, but I know we will get that in Winter.
Finally, I really have to mention Levana. She’s such an interesting villain. I’m excited to read her novella and learn more about her history and motivations. I think she’s fierce and intimidating and sometimes a bit terrifying. She’s vicious and ambitious and won’t stop until she’s gotten what she wants.
Last, the narrator for this series is really incredible. Some of the scenes with Levana where she’s mad and yelling is done so incredibly well. Then there’s the final scene with the Doctor and he’s whispering/singing. I just was blown away at this narrator’s ability to really make each character sound different and have their own voice. I was bought into the story and couldn’t stop listening until I got to the end. This narrator made the story just that much better and I will definitely be looking into what else she has narrated.
Overall, I love this book more than the first two. I’m interested to see if it will become my favorite in the series or if Winter will beat it. I cannot wait to get to the conclusion of this series so I’m going to end this hear and go start the final audiobook.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Summary:
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted criminal.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he is to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Review:
As I said in my review of Cinder (READ HERE), I am rereading this series via audiobook because it’s been a long time since I read them. I don’t remember all that many details about the books and I’ve heard great things about the audiobooks. I’m glad I decided to do this because I’m having a great time. The narrator is excellent. The more I listen, the more I’m loving her narration. She really helps to bring me into the story. There were certain parts that really wowed me when she was narrating, she filled the story with emotion and drama and I’m really enjoying it. There were a few moments at the beginning where I was confused because I didn’t realize that the story jumped between perspectives. I don’t know why, but I thought it just followed Scarlet. So the first few times the narrator switched between points of view it took me a second to realize that we had switched.
I do have to say that Scarlet took a darker turn than anticipated. I know it’s a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, and the original tales are pretty dark, but this book got pretty dark pretty quickly. It was interesting for sure, just a little surprising.
I really loved Scarlet as a character. She was fierce and fiery. She would stop at nothing to protect and rescue the people she loves, even when she learns that those people have been keeping secrets from her. I can’t wait to see more of her.
Wolf is one that I’m still not sure how I feel about him. He has a bit of development, and see more coming. But I feel like we didn’t get to see it in this book. I’m interested to see his role in the coming books.
Cinder and Thorne are interesting. Cinder is one that’s starting to realize what she really needs to do. She needs to accept the responsibility that she has learned rests on her shoulders. She’s trying to take things one step at a time but one thing after another keeps getting in the way until she meets Scarlet. I think they’re going to make an interesting team for sure.
Overall, this book surprised me. I really loved all the characters, the plot twists, the development. Scarlet had all of the good things I wanted with a narrator that I just keep loving more and more. I can’t wait to start Cress next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The 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.