Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Girls of July by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Four girls. One unforgettable July.
Britta is the bubbly drama queen. She needs to get away—and a peaceful cabin in the woods sounds like the perfect escape.
Meredith is the overachiever. She’s spent her entire life preparing for college, but at what cost? Now she’s wondering if that’s all there is.
Kate is the reluctant socialite. She’s searching for a reason to begin again after fleeing her small Georgia town—and a shameful family secret.
Spider is the quiet intellectual. She’s struggling with pain that has isolated her from her peers for much of her life.
When these four very different young women stay together for a month in the mountains, they discover that sometimes getting away from it all can only bring you back to who you really are.
Girls of JulyReview:
Alex Flinn has been an auto-buy author for me for years. She’s one of Antonia’s absolute favorite authors. So, when I saw she was coming out with a new contemporary novel, you could say I was excited. This was the first book I picked up for the Litha Witch-A-Thon because I just had to get into it as soon as possible.
In Girls of July, we follow four girls that are growing up and trying to figure out who they are and what they really want from life. They find themselves together in a cabin in the mountains. At first, they were all pretty unlikable characters except for Ruthie, the grandmother. The four girls, Britta, Kate, Meredith, and Spider, are all at points in their lives where they need change, even if they don’t know that they need it.
I really enjoyed seeing the four of them figure out how to live together and be around each other 24 hours a day. As the story progressed, they learned more about one another and became more likable characters. I really liked that they all had their own distinct voices. There was no confusion when going between the four perspectives.
We have Meredith, the Brainiac who’s not sure if she’s chasing her own dreams or her parent’s dreams. She finds romance and a new appreciation for nature. She learns that the things she thought she wanted may not have been her own dreams. The only thing I didn’t like about Meredith was that she gets a little lost in her romance. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the romance. But I thought it was going to be more of the girls being friends together.
Then there’s Kate. Southern belle, comes from a wealthy family, just trying to live up to her parents’ expectations. Except, she doesn’t want to live the future that they have planned for her. Instead, she spends the summer babysitting a little boy, giving help to someone that doesn’t want to accept it. Kate learns that sometimes asking for help is okay. I think Kate was the most likable at the beginning. She has a big heart and loves pretty freely. She struggles with family issues but comes out on top. I think she really learned the most this summer.
Britta, our Cuban firecracker. I loved that her culture was included in this story. We see her trying to teach the other girls (Spider) how to cook. She doesn’t shy away from who she is even if that is a loud and enthusiastic girl that not everyone likes. She grew the least I think. She learns that she needs to be honest with her mother. As much as I liked Britta, I was a little disappointed with the ending of her story. I would have liked a little more resolution with her mom.
Finally, Spider. She was the most unlikable. She’s the one that put the ad for roommates at her family’s cabin. But she was so grumpy and negative the first chunk of the book I wondered why she even bothered. But that question was answered. Spider is an aspiring filmmaker which is incorporated into the story. Her and Britta spend most of their time working on a short movie project and the two really bond. Spider lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. I think her story was such a good one. It really showed how strong she was and that she wasn’t just her illness. Spider has goals and dreams and I really grew to like her.
Overall, I liked this book just as much as I thought I would. Four girls that don’t know each other go into a cabin for a month and come out as lifelong friends. I think this story was so good. There were a diverse group of characters some rich, some not, some of color, some not, and one struggling with a lifelong illness. I also want to vaguely mention that there is talk of a female/female relationship but I can’t give too many details without spoiling anything. I love that these girls had adventures and learned things. I enjoyed reading this story so much. It’s almost five hundred pages and I read it all in one day. I would certainly recommend this to anyone that loves contemporary books. Plus, it has an absolutely stunning cover.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

Summary:
Marguerite Caine has done the impossible, traveling to alternate dimensions with the Firebird—the brilliant invention of her parents, her boyfriend, Paul, and their friend Theo. But she has also caught the attention of enemies willing to kidnap, blackmail, and even kill to use the Firebird for themselves.
When Paul’s soul is splintered into four pieces—pieces that are trapped within Pauls in other dimensions—Marguerite will do anything, and travel anywhere, to save him. But the price of his safe return is steep. If she doesn’t sabotage her parents in multiple universes, Paul will be lost forever.
Unwilling to sacrifice her family, Marguerite enlists the brilliant Theo to help. The two forge a plan to save Paul and the Firebird, but succeeding means outsmarting a genius and risking not only their lives but also the lives of their counterparts in every other dimension.
Their mission takes them to the most dangerous universes yet: a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each leap brings Marguerite closer to saving Paul—but her journey reveals dark truths that lead her to doubt the one constant she’s found between worlds: their love for each other.
Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird, #2)Review:
Ten Thousand Skies Above You gave me some of the things that I wanted more of in the first book, but it also gave me more of something I didn’t want. This book was a great sequel. I feel like it gave all the big reveals at the right times. Leaving the reader in suspense, but not for so long that it was frustrating. I think the story was complicated but compelling. There were so many different dynamics and questions that were brought up like the ethical and moral complications of inhabiting yourself from another reality and making choices for them. I thought it brought up some interesting conversations.
Marguerite was honestly a little annoying in this second book. She’s conflicted between the differences in the people she loves that she’s met in other realities. She’s not sure if the soul is consistent with every version that she meets. After meeting some less than nice versions of the man she loves, she’s unsure how to feel about the darkness she now knows lives in all the different versions of him. She’s also faced with some ethical complications that have arisen because of the choices she made while inhabiting another reality’s Marguerite. This provided interesting conversation about everything that they were trying to do. But despite these interesting problems there was a constant dialogue about whether she loved one boy or another. The dreaded love triangle. It’s here and it’s annoying.
Even though I didn’t enjoy the love triangle aspect, I did really like the two characters that are the cause of it. I love that they are friends with one another and are choosing not to let their feelings for Marguerite get in the way of their own relationship. I also really liked getting to learn more about their pasts.
My favorite thing about this book was the other universes we got to visit. They were all so different and some were just downright frightening. I enjoyed getting this view into the other kinds of worlds that could be out there and the effects that one choice could have on the world. I liked being able to meet all the different versions of the characters.
I thought the villain became way more complicated in this sequel. The person we thought was the big bad in the first book was actually working for someone else. It was really interesting because the reasoning behind their actions was out of love, even though their actions were not that great. I’m interested to see how things will play out in the final book.
Overall, this story was more complex than I was expecting. I think I liked this one more than the first and I’m excited to continue and see how the rest of the story will conclude. There were things I liked and others that I didn’t, but like I said in my review for the first book, this would be great for someone that is new to the science fiction genre or for those that like less science-y scifi.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Summary:
It’s been five years since Mia and Brynn murdered Summer Marks, their best friend, in the woods.
Increasingly obsessed with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn and with their fan-fiction imagining of its sequel, the girls were drawn by an undertow of fantasy into the magical world they’d created. But eventually, their delusions turned sick, and the Shadow, Lovelorn’s central evil, began to haunt them.
Or so the story goes. The only thing is: They didn’t do it.
Brynn and Mia have both found different ways to hide from their notoriety, seeking refuge from a world that hates them—a world that will never feel magical, or safe, ever again.
On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as past and present, fiction and reality begin again to intertwine, Brynn and Mia must confront painful truths they tired for so long to bury—and face the long shadow of memory that has, all this time, been waiting.
In this engrossing, twisty novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver weaves an unforgettable, mesmerizing tale of exquisite obsession, spoiled innocence, and impossible friendships.
Broken ThingsReview:
Broken Things has been sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read, for entirely to long. This was such an interesting but also bizarre story. It ended up being way darker than I was anticipating (yes, I did know it was a murder mystery).
As with any book, there were things I liked and things I didn’t. I’ll mention the few things I didn’t like first. There were quite a few things that I think should be warned about in this book. There’s a pretty descriptive part that involved animal cruelty. And also just all around violence. But my issue with the story was that for most of the book I struggled to remember who was who. Mia and Brynn had such similar voiced I couldn’t remember who was who and which chapter I was in.
Despite that, I did really end up liking the characters. They were diverse in size, sexuality, smart, all the ways that matter. They were flawed and a realistic cast of characters. Each dealing with their own issues, but all tied together through Summer. Summer reminded me a bit of Alison DiLaurentus from Pretty Little Liars, but only in the sense that she was the thing the characters had in common and that she was dead.
I really liked the inclusion of the story the girls love and ended up writing their own fan fiction of. I thought this was a really interesting aspect of the story. A bunch of outsiders bonding through their desire to escape to the fictional world. Though the author ending the book on an unfinished sentence bugged me for a decent chunk of the book.
Overall, this book was darker than I thought it was going to be, but I still really enjoyed it. I didn’t predict the killer but after finding out their identity it seemed obvious to me with the hints that were left. I thought this was a fun story and definitely would be good for a Spooktober TBR.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Summary:
Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.
He almost made valedictorian.
He almost got the girl.
Until…
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.
But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.
Opposite of AlwaysReview:
Opposite of Always was not at all what I was expecting. I think that might be becasue I didn’t really know anything at all about this book before going into it. I bought this purely for the cover and the hype. I’m so glad that I did.
I had so much fun reading this book. I loved Jack, our main character, even when he was being unlikable. He loves so much and so fully, but doesn’t always do the right thing to the people he loves. He makes mistakes but he learns from those mistakes and makes sure to do better. I loved him. He was caring and kind and passionate. He always had the best intentions even if things didn’t work out how he planned.
I loved his friends too. Jillian and Franny are the cutest couple, aside from Kate and Jack of course. In the beginning, when Jack talks about how he’s in love with Jillian I thought we were going to get some moping and pining. But I ended up really liking Jillian and Franny together but also the friend dynamic between the three of them. I enjoyed how their history was shown and how close they were.
Then there’s Kate. I liked her. Though there didn’t seem to be much more to her than being Jack’s love interest and being sick. I don’t feel like we got any backstory or history for her. Also, her brother was really annoying.
Overall, I loved this. I read it all in one day because I just could not put it down. The story was interesting and the characters were loveable and entertaining. I would definitely recommend this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

GoodReads Summary:
Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.
Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.
A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)Review:
A Thousand Pieces of You was a reread for me. I read this book years ago, closer to its release date. I borrowed it from my library because I loved Gray’s Evernight series when the vampire craze was still ongoing. Also, the cover totally jumped out at me because it is just stunning.
The premise of this story is an interesting one. Traveling to parallel universes sounds wild and exciting and slightly terrifying. All of that is shown in Marguerite’s adventure. I wanted more of that. We get to see her travel to three alternate realities. Some were almost identical to Marguerite’s home reality, and others were incredibly different. I wanted more of the different possible realities (though I expect we will get more in the next two books.)
I loved the science in all of it. We’re learning everything from Marguerite who is less involved in the sciences than the rest of her family and more interested in painting and the arts. I find myself really enjoying books that feature painters and artists as the main character because they just have a way of looking at the world in terms of colors and textures and it always makes a more beautiful and visual story. So, we get to know the science as Marguerite understands it and I think that was a great way to make it a more accessible story. I’m not one to understand physics or science in any in-depth manner, so this was great for me.
After finishing this story, I feel like so much happened but also like not much happened. It’s such a short book that things happened pretty quickly. It’s all action all the time right from the very first page. It was a pretty fast-paced story, almost rushed but right on the border of too fast and just fast enough.
Overall, I enjoyed this book but I’m excited to see where the next book goes and if we can delve further into the other realities. I’m interested to see where Marguerite’s story will go next and how the big bad will be defeated. If you’re a fan of lighter science fiction, or newly trying to get into science fiction this might be a good book for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

Summary:
Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.
Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.
Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.
As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.
These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1)Review:
These Rebel Waves completely blew me away. I read the majority of this book in one single sitting. I just could not put it down. The summertime is my favorite time to read pirate books. This didn’t completely satisfy that though. I thought there would be more pirates and more sea travel. It was more land-based and political than I anticipated. Regardless of that, I adored this book.
Adeluna or Lu, was such a compelling character. She’s torn between trying to be the good politician that her parents want her to be now that the war is over and being the spy that her father trained her to be during the war. She uses all of her skills to do what she feels is best for the island she calls home. She learns that things aren’t always exactly how she thought they were. I think it was really interesting to follow her as she learned more about the world she thought she knew and how those things change her. Learning about the things she’d gone through and done in the name of Grace Loray really made me feel for her. I just cannot wait to see how things play out with her in These Divided Shores, especially with what was in the final pages of These Rebel Waves.
Devereux or Vex was definitely my favorite. He’s a pirate with no alliances trying to escape the thumb of someone he doesn’t want to be controlled by anymore. I really enjoyed learning about him and his past. I liked seeing him admire Lu and her strength. I wanted more pirate business. I liked the view we got into his crew and the other raider syndicates but I wanted more of it. I was completely floored by the plot twist involving Vex, to the point where I actually sat up and yelled “WHAT NO WAY.” So, I cannot wait to see what happens next with him as well.
Now Benat or Ben. I really liked him as well. His story was probably the most compelling. He’s torn between falling in line with his religion, with his father, doing what’s expected of him and following what his heart is telling him, that his father is wrong and what he’s been told his whole life is wrong. I loved the inner struggle that he faced. I also loved what his decisions ended up being. I think he was the most complicated of the three main characters. I really enjoyed seeing his path finally intersect with Vex and Lu. His story, like Lu’s, was left hanging in the final pages so I’m dying to know what’s going to happen next.
Finally, the world. I was pretty confused about the world at first, but the further I got into the story the more the details came together. I think the world was interesting and I’m dying to know how things will be settled between these war-torn countries. The magic was a bit confusing. I wanted to know more. I want to know where it comes from and what it’s limits are. It is plant-based but too many things are left unexplained. I understand that it’s because the knowledge of the characters is limited and the reader only gets to understand as much as they do, but I think it would have been interesting to learn more about it.
Overall, I loved this book. These Rebel Waves was one that I devoured and I just could not put it down until I’d read every page. I suggest if you like political fantasy with a bit of pirates this is the book for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Summary:
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Welcome to Weep.
Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Review:
Alright lovelies, let’s talk about one of the most hyped books on the internet, Strange the Dreamer. I finally did it. I’ve been trying to get through all the nominees for the BookTube SFF Awards and this duology has been on the bottom of my list because I tend to procrastinate reading hyped books. Part of me is glad to finally be able to say I read this and another part of me is sad because I didn’t love it as much as the rest of the world seems to.
I’m happy to say that I loved the plot and the characters. I really was sucked into the world. I was so invested in Lazlo and then in Sairi and how their stories were going to turn out (spoiler alert: not in any way that I even slightly predicted). The relationship was a little instalovey but I didn’t really care. Lazlo and Sairi were both so insatiably curious about the world and the things they wanted from the world. I couldn’t help but love them, especially for each other.
The world was incredible and mostly well built. There was mythology and history and I just wanted to know more about the mysterious Weep. I thought the gods and the godspawn were fascinating. I loved learning more about the world as the story progressed.
Now, don’t hate me dear lovelies. I really didn’t like the writing. I think everyone in the world knows about Laini Taylor’s flowery purple prose. I’m sorry but I hated it. I can honestly say that I skipped pages here and there because it was filled with descriptions that I just didn’t think were needed. I skimmed constantly through the book. I had a hard time with it because sometimes it really pulled me right out of the story. I’m certainly going to be reading the sequel, but I’ll likely face the same situation.
Overall, I’m glad that I finally read this beloved book. And I mostly enjoyed the reading experience. Especially with that ending. I’m excited to read Muse of Nightmares and see how the story ends.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.