The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Schusterman

Summary:
Not every child who dies goes on to the afterlife. Some are caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no longer exist. It’s a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost kids run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.
Allie and Nick don’t survive the car crash, and end up in Everlost, where coins are more valuable than anyone knows, fortune cookies tell the truth, monsters are real, and the queen of lost souls lives in a once-beloved tower. Nick and Allie have to learn to survive in a world with different rules, and figure out who they can trust – and who they must oppose at all costs. At stake is nothing less than the fate of Everlost and the living world they have left behind.
In this gripping trilogy, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

Book Cover

Review:
The Skinjacker Trilogy is one of Schusterman’s series that I read years and years ago and remember nothing about. Honestly, I think I only ever read the first book. But I’m glad that I reread it and finished the trilogy. I’m going to review the whole trilogy in this one long post because I read them all back-to-back, so I’d rather just talk about it all overall. I managed to reread this whole trilogy over Mother’s Day weekend because it was super interesting and I just needed to know how everything ended. I made notes for each book, so I’ll briefly mention them before I talk about the series as a whole. The first book, Everlost, was interesting mostly because of the concept of this in-between place for lost souls. I liked the characters well enough, but I thought the plot was lacking. It felt like the first book was just world building and set up for the rest of the series. The second book, Everwild, is where things started to get really interesting plot wise. The story moves slowly, but it’s very clear that Shusterman placed building blocks, little bits and pieces, that would come back into the story later. This goes for the third book, Everfound, too. Some of the things we see and learn about in books one and two come back into play for book three. I loved this aspect where we get to see things come full circle. Everwild is where we really see the characters grow and we see what they’re made of. Oh boy, does Schusterman make his characters suffer in this series. I still loved them all though.
There were a few different romances in this series, I liked all but one of them. I just couldn’t get behind Nick and Mary as romantic interests for one another. I think this was really the only thing I didn’t like about the series. It was there through all three books and I just didn’t find it believable. I did, however, really like Allie and Mikey together, as well as the other couples we see get together. I also want to mention the historical sites that are mentioned and some that play a part in this story. In Everlost, we see the Twin Towers, the Hindenburg airship, In Everwild the characters leave the East Coast and move west across the United States. We get to see the World’s Fair in Chicago and Graceland. The final book we get to see the Alamo and the Trinity Vortex (the site of the first atomic bomb). I think the way that Shusterman included these bits and pieces of history was fascinating and thoughtful. I just overall had a fun time reading this series. It was silly and occasionally ridiculous, but it was also way more serious than I anticipated. There were some really dark plotlines that I was not expecting, but then there were things like Nick being named the ‘chocolate ogre’ so the serious and sometimes dark parts of the story were balanced with a bit of silliness and I liked that.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.  

Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire (Full Series Review)

Hello, lovelies! I don’t usually do reviews like this, but every now and then I can’t stop reading a series, even just to write a review. The Wayward Children series was one of those. I wrote these reviews for each book while I was listening to the next book in the series. I don’t know why I put off reading this series for so long. But after reading some of McGuire’s other work I found myself excited to try this series since everyone raves about it. I’m going to share the synopsis for each book and then my review of that book following the order of the series. As this series isn’t completed yet, I will add my reviews for future books to this post after I read them.

Book One – Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1)

Summary:
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.
No matter the cost.
Review:
This was a slow story about kids that had found doors and traveled through them to other worlds (think Alice going to Wonderland or Dorothy going to Oz). I like the concept of this one, but found myself bored here and there. I guess it was good that this was shorter otherwise i don’t think i would have lasted. I guess my problem was that this turned into a murder mystery and i wasn’t at all expecting that when i went into the story. I also listened to the audiobook and didn’t really care for the narrator, so i think that affected my enjoyment of the book. Overall, i mostly liked this but i think everyone naming this their favorite in the series gave me higher expectations. I liked all of the characters and I’m hopeful to get more about their stories and travels in the next books. 

Book Two – Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

Summary:
Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
This is the story of what happened first…
Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline. Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got. They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted. They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.
Review:
This is Jack and Jill’s story and I loved it. This is by no means a happy story. Jack and Jill are twins, but their dad wanted a son and their motherly wanted a perfect little girl. So Jack is made into their mothers idea of a perfect daughter and Jill is made into the closest idea of what their father wanted for a son. Their parents have done a number on the twins, but most of all they’ve not allowed the two to develop their own sisterly relationship. So when Jack and Jill find a staircase inside of a trunk that’s supposed to have dress up clothes in it, obviously they go down the staircase. When they arrive in the Moors they are greeted my the Master (a vampire) and promised safety for the next three days. But the Moors have a history with foundlings and the local mad scientist has claim to the newest foundling, but this time there’s two of them. This is remedied by one twin choosing to go with the scientist and one choosing to stay with the Master. I was a bit sad that the twins grew apart instead of growing together now that they were out of their parents influence, but it’s not a huge surprise because this was not a happy story by any means. I was very happy to see Jack’s relationship with her girlfriend play such a big role in the story (we love female/female representation). Overall, I liked this one way better than the first but I wanted more. I wanted to know more about these Drowned Gods and the werewolves. I think this world was fascinating and i would gladly read another book with this setting. 

Book Three – Beneath the Sugar Sky

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)

Summary:
Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world. When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.) If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests… A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do. Warning: May contain nuts.
Review:
This one is the story of Rini, who comes to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in search of her mother, Sumi. We know Sumi from the first book in this series. Rini needs her mother, but her mother died years ago. So, the gang from the school go in search of a way to bring Sumi back so that Rini doesn’t cease to exist. But this one isn’t just about Rini and Sumi. First we meet Cora, who struggles with being fat and also with anxiety. I can’t speak to the representation but I’ve seen others say that they liked it. Cora was a mermaid in her world which is talked about but I don’t know the story behind her coming to Eleanor’s. I think my favorite this about this book was that the group travels to several worlds. They visit some characters we know from the first book and we get to see Confection. This book was a bit more whimsical than the first two (probably because the first two were more logical worlds and Rini’s world is a nonsense world). As much as I liked the darkness of the first two books, I really enjoyed the silliness and nonsense that Rini brought to this book. Now, that’s not to say this story is all happiness and butterflies because it definitely has its dark moments. Overall, this was a fun and captivating story full of diverse characters who are all searching for the same thing, but work together to help others find it too. 

Book Four – In an Absent Dream

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)

Summary:
This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should. When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.
Review:
In an Absent Dream follows Lundy, a character we met in the first book at Eleanor West’s. I really enjoyed this one. We get to hear the story of Lundy finding her door and returning home, several times. I really liked the world that Lundy traveled to. It was a fascinating world of logic. I think the idea of always giving fair value for things is a really great one. I like that the Market was something sentient that will take its fair value if you think you can get around it. I think Lundy’s story wasn’t quite as dark as some of the others in this series so far, but it was filled with sadness and life lessons for Lundy. I also really loved the way that the story was told. (Jack and Jill’s story was told in this way too, but I forgot to mention it). The story is told by a narrator that chooses which parts of the story need to be shared. So, there are times when we jump forward and skip whole time periods of the story. I think it was a really captivating way to tell the story. Almost as if the details we’ve skipped aren’t deemed necessary by this narrator to get to the greater point. I am really interested to see more of Lundy now that we’ve heard her story. I almost want to go back and reread the first book over again now that I know some of the character’s backstory. It was so interesting to see Lundy find a home and friends in the Market, but eventually find happiness in her home world as well. The struggle that Lundy faces to stay at the Market or return home was a really heart wrenching one. This installment is definitely one of my favorites. 

Book Five – Come Tumbling Down

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

Summary:
The fifth installment in Seanan McGuire’s award-winning, bestselling Wayward Children series, Come Tumbling Down picks up the threads left dangling by Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones.
When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors. But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.
Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.
Again.
Review:
Come Tumbling Down revisits Jack & Jill and the Moors. While I did enjoy this one, I feel like it didn’t really add anything new to the overarching story of the series. It was nice to see how things played out after the twins left Eleanor’s. I also did really enjoy seeing the whole group go on an adventure together again. But it just felt like it maybe should have been a part of their first book. I think, as usual, the writing kept me interested in the story and I loved the characters. I just wish there was more. I wish we’d gotten to see more about the Drowned Gods, instead of just a tidbit. I feel like there wasn’t anything new here, it was the same bit of the Moors that we visited previously. I guess i just thought there would be more here, but I was interested in the ending of Jack & Jill’s story. 

Book Six – Across the Green Grass Fields

Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children, #6)

Summary:
A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-wining Wayward Children series.
“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late. When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes. But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…
Review:
This installment follows Regan, who is intersex, starting when she is a young girl. We get to know her a little in her home world, where she deals with all her friends developing and going through puberty. She sees the cruelty that some girls are capable of. When she learns that she is intersex, she makes the mistake of telling her best friend who reacts horribly to her. Regan flees her school and while walking home, she finds a door. Through this door is the Hooflands. I think this was a really interesting world. There are centaurs and unicorns and kelpies. Regan is taken in by a family of centaurs where she lives and grows up with them. I think what I liked about this one is that it was different than the others in the series. In this one, there’s the same great world building and characters to love, but we get more time to see what is going on with Regan in a day to day sense. I felt more like a full length story when some of the others in the series have felt like they skipped parts of the story to get to the end of the story. I really liked getting to grow up alongside Regan and the centaurs. I think it’s full of great themes and I definitely recommend it. 

Book Seven – Where the Drowned Girls Go

Book Cover

Summary:
Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you’ve already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company.
There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again.
It isn’t as friendly as Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
And it isn’t as safe.
When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her Home for Wayward Children, she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.
She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming…
Review:
I was approved for an early copy of this book, so huge thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for that. Here’s my honest review. This book follows Cora, who we know from Come Tumbling Down, has come back from her adventure with her friends and her time in The Moors with more issues than when she’d left school. Her experience with the Drowned Gods was not a good one and she’s haunted by them, so much so that she’s even struggling to spend time in the water. Which for a mermaid, is problematic? So, Cora takes extreme measures and requests to be transferred from Eleanor’s school to Whitethorn. But Whitethorn is a very different school and she still hasn’t managed to escape the whispers of the Drowned Gods.
I thought it was really interesting to see a different school from Eleanor’s. Whitethorn was a very different school, one that’s there to make the kids forget that they ever went through a door. They have many rules and Cora doesn’t always do well with them. I liked that we got to see Sumi again and the role that she played in the story. I also was really pleasantly surprised to see Regan from Across the Green Grass Fields. I liked that this is its own story, but also that we still get to see familiar characters and other elements from the rest of the series. I think Cora really struggled with the whispers of the Drowned Gods, but she was also treated incredibly poorly because she’s plus sized (part of the reason she found her door in the first place was because of being bullied about her weight her whole life). I liked Cora. She was abrasive and imperfect, but she knew her worth. It was sad to see her go to such extreme lengths as leaving Eleanor’s, but it was nice to see her do what she thought would help her. I also loved that she  had blue hair. I continue to be a huge fan of this series.

Now, as an overall for the series, I think Down Among the Sticks and Bones and In an Absent Dream are both in the number one spot. I just can’t decide which one I liked better, and also I don’t have to, so I won’t. I think McGuire has done an incredible thing with this series. Between the wide range of diverse characters and the themes and messages within the adventures of these children, there are so many things to love about this series. Thinking about it now that I’ve read all of the books that are currently published, I think certain types of people will like certain books in the series more than others. I think part of that goes right along with the different worlds that we get to see. There are logic worlds and nonsense worlds. I think both kinds of worlds will speak to different people. This series has a book for everyone and I finally understand why there are so many people that have nothing but good things to say about this series.

EDIT: I’ve since added my review of book seven (Where the Drowned Girls Go) to this post. Everything I said above still stands. I love this series and I’ll continue to love it. Where the Drowned Girls Go takes third place in this series. It seems that I prefer the darker stories for these books. With the way book seven ended, I’m incredibly excited to see what will happen in later books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Air Awakens: The Complete Series by Elise Kova

GoodReads Summary:
Air Awakens
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.
Fire Falling
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?
Earth’s End
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.
Water’s Wrath
Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.
The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.
Crystal Crowned
Long live Solaris.
One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?
Air Awakens Complete Digital Boxed Set (Books 1-5):

Review:
I’m going to do this as a series review because I’m reading it on my Kindle as a ‘boxed set’ so it’s basically like one GIANT ebook. So I’m going to just write some brief thoughts I had during each book and then do an overall how I felt about the series kind of idea. Also! This is a reread for me. I read this series about a year ago and LOVED it. So I’m rereading it because when Antonia finally started it, I really wanted to revisit this world

Air Awakens

Some thoughts while reading:

I literally wrote on GoodReads, “UGH, what a way to end the first book.” Because it’s so so true. The ending is killer. I also wrote, “I LOVE Vhalla. She’s a timid turned fierce girl who just wanted to work in the library. I’m usually kind of over the whole ‘woah I’m magical’ trope, but Kova does it well. I love the magic system in this series. It’s unique and interesting.”

Some quotes:

“I’m simply learning where I’m meant to be.” It was the only response because it was the truth.”

“‘Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other’s existence.’”

“He’s a much better a person than I’ve heard people give him credit for. He’s worth a lot more than many of the people in this room, and it’s not just because of the crown on his head.” She looked back at the Emperor. “He wanted to help. If I am guilty of anything, it was putting him in a position where he felt compelled to do so.”

“She would cut it away. She would cut away the anger, the pain, and the frustration. She’d cut and cut until she was sculpted into something better, something stronger. They wanted to kill her, so this Vhalla would die, she resolved, and a new Vhalla would be born from her ashes.”

Fire Falling

Some thoughts while reading:

I LOVE Fritz, Larel, and Vhalla’s friendship. They make me laugh and keep me entertained. They’re likable and Kova really makes me care about them. They’re great friends to Vhalla even when she thinks she doesn’t deserve it. I love watching them each develop but also develop together as a group of friends.
Slow burn romance is always good. Though the hot and cold, back and forth because he has to put on a show for the world was slightly annoying. I love their romance anyway. It’s slow and satisfying following them as they get to know all the deep dark things about each other.
The Golden Guard, Prince Baldair’s guards, were funny and kind to Vhalla. I loved their scenes.
Less about the plot. More about story progression and character development. We’re following the characters as they travel with the army. But the characters are training to fight with fists and magic, learning more about each other and themselves.
WHY DID YOU DO THAT. HOW COULD HAVE LET THIS HAPPEN ELISE KOVA.
I’m not sure how but Kova has broken my heart and then in the last pages of Fire Falling, broken it AGAIN.

Some quotes:

“There was something severed and rough about her, something tainted and, yet, at the same time those jagged pieces were the makings of something fearsome. She’d wanted to become someone the Senate would fear. Why not shatter the sky?”

“Magic, she was discovering, was like poetry. Once you understood the logic, the meter, the rhyme behind it, you could embellish upon it and make it your own.”

“Even something very small can cast a large shadow when it is close to the sun.”
“Unfortunately for them, one couldn’t break what was already broken.”

“You’re not someone to live in darkness or sorrow.” Larel reclined on the bed, inviting Vhalla to do the same. “You’re a light that can shine brighter than even the sun.”

Earth’s End

Some thoughts while reading:

Already so much more action. We’re finally getting into the thick of it. Vhalla is so fierce and really coming into her powers. In the fighting scenes, it’s so clear how much she’s grown from the timid girl in the library until now.
A slight love triangle in a yicky kind of way.
The emperor is TRASH.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO ME LIKE THIS ELISE KOVA TWO BOOKS IN A ROW.

Some quotes:

“I told you this would never be easy, I warned you. I begged you to spare my heart if you weren’t ready for this fight.”

“Truthfully, I think we both wanted the same thing: forgetfulness of the holes in our hearts left by other people.”

““I was raised in a world where I had thousands of friends, each one waiting for me on a shelf every day. While you practiced with the bow or sword, I read. The Imperial Library houses my confidants, and I spent nearly a decade hanging onto their every word. I know them well, and if you will stop questioning me, I will be so kind to impart their secrets to you.”

Water’s Wrath

Some thoughts while reading:

Vhalla what is you doing girllll?
Yaaas, Jax. He’s vulgar and entertaining but secretly a soft boy.
I’ll forever love Mohned for being a mentor to Vhalla. He did his best for her and I just love him.
I really love that Larel still plays her own special part in the story.
Vhalla’s “magic sight” is a little corny.
HOW DOES KOVA MAKE ME CRY IN EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE BOOKS SO FAR?! MY FRAGILE HEART CANT HANDLE THIS.
I like the northern princess, Sehra, she knows so much more than she’s letting on. I’m interested to see her role in the final book.

Some quotes:

“The fire burned too hot, and we didn’t notice until it consumed everything.”

“But never lose faith, never lose your beautiful heart. Don’t let them win, those wicked men and women who would do anything to cage you or kill you.”

“Love was bravery and-perhaps most importantly-forgiveness.”

“You can’t buy peace with war.”

Crystal Crowned

Some thoughts while reading:

How could you do this to Daniel? He got the short end of the stick again and again.
Even though the circumstances are pretty awful. I love the friend group (despite those that are missing). Jax is as vulgar as ever, Fritz is a cinnamon roll and I love him, Elecia is sassy and all sharp edges and Vhalla and Aldrik are perfect as usual. But all of them together is funny and sassy and full of love.
Vhalla seeing her childhood home and her father was so sweet and heartwarming. It was wonderful to see this sweet innocent moment amidst the chaos.
I really appreciate that Vhalla isn’t just suddenly good at leading. She’s learning from Aldrik. And while she does have people skills and good ideas, she still takes the time to watch him and learn from his example. She also doesn’t hesitate to ask questions when she’s unsure.
AGAIN WITH THE CRYING.

Some quotes:

“I crave peace, and I fear that I am a creature whose fate is written in bloodshed.”

“I suppose it’s a good thing I like books more than most people,” Vhalla muttered.

“You are trapped in a vortex. Time and again, you will repeat your fate dutifully. If we cannot change fate itself and save our world.”

“You have hopes that no one else would allow themselves to even dream of.”

“Every chance worth taking will make you a little scared. That means you’re taking a risk. And where there is risk, there is reward.”

“To kill a monster, you must become one yourself.”

Overall thoughts

I still adored this series. I still cried my eyes out at each of the heart-wrenching moments Kova wrote.
I really really enjoyed the seeds that Kova planted to lay the foundation for the next series (starting with Vortex Visions which I will be starting ASAP.)
I think the ending was perfect especially with what I said above. The fact that there’s another series and we’re going to see more of this world I think the way Crystal Crowned ended was excellent. It left me wanting more where I want to neglect all the other books I need to read and just go right to Vortex Visions.
Finally, I loved this series. I love these characters. The relationships are amazing. There is diversity and elemental magic and war and all of the things that make an incredible story. If you haven’t read these books please go do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Girl Who Dared Series by Bella Forrest

Summary:
How do you fight an enemy when they’re inside your mind?
A gargantuan glass-walled tower looms over a deadly wilderness. They say it’s all that’s left.
The Tower’s survival is humanity’s survival, and each must serve it faithfully…
Twenty-year-old Liana Castell must be careful what she thinks. Her life is defined by the number on her wristband — a rating out of ten awarded based on her usefulness and loyalty to the Tower, and monitored by a device in her skull. A device that reports forbidden thoughts.
Liana is currently a four, the lowest possible acceptable score, and despite her parents’ perfect scores of ten, she struggles to increase it. Rebellious ideas come all too easily, and resentfulness seems part of her being. She is an overseer-in-training, but her future will be dark if she cannot raise her worth…
Threes require drug treatment.
Twos are isolated.
Ones disappear.
When Liana’s worst nightmare comes to pass and she drops to a three, desperation spurs her down a path few dare to tread. A chance encounter with a cocky young man whose shockingly dissident attitude toward the Tower couldn’t possibly have earned him the perfect “ten” on his wrist, sets her on a trail to save herself–even at the risk of dropping lower.
Stalking the young man seemed like a simple enough task, but after events take an unexpected twist, Liana finds herself taking a treacherous dive into the darkest depths of the Tower… and the decades’ old secrets buried within.
In a society where free thinking can make you a criminal, one girl dares to try…
An unforgettable tale brimming with suspense, mystery and romance – The Girl Who Dared to Think will thrill fans of The Gender Game , Divergent & The Hunger Games.

Review:
The last book in this series (book seven) came out recently and I’ve been putting off reading it, mostly just because I wasn’t ready for the adventure to be over. Part of me right now wishes that I hadn’t decided to read it today on this 8 hour car ride because I’m really sick of my husband asking me if I’m okay when he realizes that I’m balling my eyes out and I have to explain to him (again) that I’m crying because of this book. I’m going to review this whole series in one post because this is a series I found on my kindle while I was taking a break from writing reviews, but it’s an amazing series that everyone should read. The Girl Who Dared series is one that will make you laugh and cry. It’s full of characters that will frustrate you, but also you will have to admire them for all the things that they deal with.
Let’s start with our main character, Liana. At the beginning we see Liana struggling with life inside the tower, to the point where she has to go to medica (their version of the doctor) and essentially get medication for depression that completely changed her as a person. Living with her parents who are forever disappointed in her and wishing her brother hadn’t moved departments and left her alone with them she can’t seem to get it together and do better. But the further we get into the story we realize that Liana isn’t in the wrong like she thinks she is. We learn that life in the tower isn’t what it was meant to be and everything isn’t fine and dandy like those in charge would like you to think. When this series opens, Liana seems to get find herself in bad situations all the time. Things just seem to happen to her rather than her making things happen. Even though she is trying to do better by everyone else’s standards, she still feels like she’s failing, until she realizes some important things. Liana is my favorite because she developed the most as a character throughout these books. She went from being a girl who couldn’t seem to keep her life together and trouble just fell into her lap to a woman that’s confident and fearless and an amazing leader. Some of this is absolutely due to the people around her. We get to meet some interesting people during this story and when Liana first meets them, it’s not under the best circumstances. but regardless of all of that, they become their own sort of family.
I love this little squad so much. I’m not going to name any names because they’re not a little squad from the start and it takes some time to get to where they end up but it’s worth the wait. They all compliment one another so well. Where some aren’t skilled, the others are. Each member of their makeshift family has an essential role to play in their survival. They also just work so well together. They do their best to lift one another when they’re feeling down, they say all the right things to inspire confidence and the desire to continue on regardless of the latest setback or horrible thing. It certainly takes them a few books to get to this well-oiled machine that they are in the final book, but that’s one of the things I loved about the story, watching these characters develop into their best selves was so enjoyable. There’s realistic and hilarious and traumatizing development with all of the characters and it’s just one of the many things that made this series as great as it is.
Another thing that made this series so fantastic was the actual story. The author, Bella Forrest, has become one of my favorite authors in the last year or so since I’ve discovered her books. The Girl Who Dared series is based in a futuristic world that she’s already written another series in (The Gender Game.) The worlds basically unrecognizable because of a long-ago war. This series was another group of “survivors” in this desolate world who believe that they only survive because of the tower they live in. They’re all led to believe that life outside the tower isn’t possible. The world that Bella Forrest has created inside the tower is so incredibly intricate. I would love to get inside her head just to see what other ideas she has in there that she isn’t sharing with us (she has like four other series that she’s written / still writing). So along with the crazy story that is life inside the tower, there are the details that just make the story better. I’m going to try to explain what I mean without giving anything away. The characters in this story are essentially fighting rebels within the tower that most people don’t even know exist. Because of this, there are quite a few really screwed up things that happen (from near deaths to actual deaths to learning that everything they’ve always been told is a lie), Forrest goes the extra mile to show her characters dealing with these horrible life events and what comes after them. Too many stories have terrible things happen to their characters and then their just fine a few days later as if nothing happened. That’s not how these books work, the characters deal with their traumas and struggles realistically. Liana not being able to feel anything or focus or really have any desire to get out of bed or continue on with their mission, and if there’s no time for the characters to deal with their emotions appropriately, Forrest shows the thought process behind it and the characters supporting one another through it. I just thought this whole series was written really well with characters that were realistic in their trials and tribulations even in a world so foreign from the one we live in today.
I could honestly go on and on and on saying wonderful things about The Girl Who Dared series because it was just that good (which yes, is how I feel about all of Bella Forrest’s books.) But I’ll stop while I’m ahead because I really don’t want to give too many details away because I would like anyone and everyone to read these books. I can say that I enjoyed getting lost in this uniquely creative story that’s full of so many extra little details that just make the story that much better. Forrest has really gone the extra mile to make her story something relatable even though the world is nothing like the world we know now, but just similar enough that we could see how today’s world could end up at that point. Please, go read these books so that you understand what I’m saying. Also so that you love these characters as much as I do and cry huge ridiculous tears while reading the last book only to find out that we were lied to and tricked. So please read them and feel the emotions that I’m currently feeling and can accept that the story of these characters that I’ve fallen so in love with is actually over.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.