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

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Summary:
The boy king. The war hero. The prince with a demon curled inside his heart. Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. The people of Ravka don’t know what he endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet with each day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built.
Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to honoring her deadly talents and rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary- and Ravka cannot survive a weakened king. Zoya will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne, but she also has new enemies to conquer in the battle to come.
Far north, Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha wiped from the earth forever. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face the pain of her past if she has any hope of defeating the dangers that await her on the ice.
Ravka’s king. Ravka’s general. Ravka’s spy. They will journey past the boundaries of science and superstition, of magic and faith, and risk everything to save a broken nation. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried, and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)Review:
I loved this book from the first page to the last. There are so many mixed reviews out there and I don’t understand how people didn’t like this. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I loved being back in this world. I loved being back with these characters. I have not a single bad word to say about King of Scars.

“You do not use it. You are it. The storm is in your bones.”

I adored getting to spend more time with these characters. Nina was, as always, fierce and fabulous. She was full of passion and a desire to fight for what’s right even if it’s hard. She doesn’t respect authority, probably from all her time in Ketterdam. I loved hearing her inner monologue, her mentions of our favorite Dregs and our dear, dear Mathias. I love Nina and all her sass and I can’t wait to see what happens with her next.

“All fuels burn differently. Some faster, some hotter. Hate is one kind of fuel. But hate that began as devotion? That makes another kind of flame.”

Then there’s the equally fierce but mostly terrifying Zoya. I seriously loved getting chapters from her perspective. This was something I wanted from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Getting to see Zoya reflect on things from the past was really interesting. Additionally, her point of view opposite that of Nikolai was a perfect balance. She isn’t a pessimist perse, but she’s a voice of reason and keeps things based in reality. I really liked getting to know her better and I’m dying to know what she does next.

“Most of us can hide our greatest hurt and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the  pain isn’t there, that we are  made of scars instead of  wounds.”

Finally, the King of Scars, Nikolai. I adore him just as much as ever. I think his character gets only more interesting and complex the more we learn about him. I liked getting to learn about the darkness within him and his battles with keeping it at bay.

“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world.”

The world of the Grisha is one that draws me right in until the very last page and then never fails to leave me wanting more. I wanted to start the book from the beginning as soon as I was finished. The world building that Bardugo does is intricate and incredible. The Grishaverse is one of my favorite places to be and I love it even more with each visit I make.

“They would build a new world together. But first they had to  burn the old one down.”

Last to talk about is the plot. I hate to say it, but the twist in the final pages of King of Scars was a smidge predictable. I think this was the intention because it was heavily foreshadowed throughout the book. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just something that I thought I’d mention because I’m usually pretty back at predicting things. I thought the writing was compelling and just added that much more to the atmosphere of the story. I think the different perspectives are going to bring some interesting things to the next book and I just cannot wait to see what Leigh will come out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

GoodReads Summary:
The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.
Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.
The Lost CoastReview:
I finished this book earlier today and I’m still trying to gather my thoughts and feelings. I will start off by saying thank you to NetGalley for providing me this ARC inn return for an honest review. I’ve heard so much talk about people being excited for this one so when I was approved for an early copy, I was pretty excited. Queer witches in the woods? Sign me up. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I hoped I would.
This story starts off and were quickly jumped around in time and perspective. I had a hard time figuring out what was going on for the first almost half of the book. There were so many different characters all introduced and several different time periods. I’m not a huge lover or stories that use flashbacks, I like ones that are done well. This was sometimes jarring and confusing. Despite this I finally got into the story a little over halfway and then it seemed as if it suddenly was just over at the end.
I loved the atmosphere of the story. It’s totally spooky and draws you in. This would be a great book for the spooky season this October. The magic was interesting and I’d love to have learned a little bit more about it.
There was a huge cast of characters that came from all different kinds of backgrounds. They were diverse and accepting and just full of love for one another. I really enjoyed this girl gang once I finally got into the story.
There was mystery and suspense and drama with a kickass girl gang, in the woods. Overall, it didn’t blow me out of the water, but I read it in only a few hours. I’d love to see more from this bookish world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

Summary:
Blue skies. Green grass. Clear ocean water.
An island paradise like the ones that existed before the Melt.
A lucky five hundred lottery winners will be the first to go, the first to leave their polluted, dilapidated homes behind and start a new life. It sounds perfect. Like a dream.
The only problem? Marin Carey spent her childhood on those seas and knows there’s no island paradise out there. She’s corsario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him, and she knows a con when she sees one. So where are the first five hundred really going?
PacificaReview:
This is the second book by Kristen Simmons that I have tried because she is going to be at an event I am also going to be at. Sadly, I am once again disappointed. I liked Pacifica more than her other novel, but I don’t think I’ll be trying any other books by her.
I have the same issues with this story that I did with ARTICLE 5. The setting was incredible. A dystopian California full of political drama and ruined by natural disasters along with other human causes. The world was interesting and chaotic and filled with all the things I like (read: pirates, futuristic messed up America, hate to love).
Despite the potential this story had with the setting, I just didn’t care about the characters. They were alright. They weren’t anything special. The typical misunderstood poor girl and privileged boy from the nice side of town. One teaches the other how messed up the world really is and all the things that the rich people are doing wrong. I just didn’t care about any of it. I really wish I did because it could have been a story I really like but I just wasn’t invested in these characters.
I wish I had liked this story more, but I didn’t. It had all of the elements of a story I would like, but the characters just fell flat for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.
And then he opened his mouth.
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.
The hot alien living next door marks me.
You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.
If I don’t kill him first, that is.
Obsidian (Lux, #1)Review:
This book will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s the reason that Antonia and I started this very blog. We were inspired by the main character, Katy, who was a book blogger. We read this and thought, “What if we did that?” And so, Classy As F*ck Book Reviews was born. I have to shout out a thank you to the Trashback Book club for prompting me to reread this book this month. Each month we read a paranormal book from the early 2000s. And it’s honestly been so bad but so much fun.
This book objectively was not great. I enjoyed it immensely, for mostly nostalgic reasons. But I enjoyed it nonetheless and I’m excited to reread the rest of the series.
I still loved Katy in all her book blogging and gardening nerdiness. She was fiery and fierce even when she just wanted to escape into her current read or go home and get her book mail.
Daemon is trash and I love him for it. The hate to love trope is strong inn this one. I loved every page of Daemon and Katy bantering and swearing at each other. He’s such a jerk and I’m honestly so here for it.
Then there’s the whole aliens of light thing. Very interesting but also bizarre. I don’t remember as much as I would like to about the rest of the series so I’m in the dark about a lot. I’m interesting to relearn what has happened to Dawson and what will happen next with Katy and Daemon.
This book was honestly not great, I loved it despite its flaws. I have to say, also,  that I’m totally obsessed with  the new covers for this series. They were redone  to  match w ith the  cover of The Darkest Star (the spin off series) and I love them so much.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Summary:
Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.
War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?
In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.
War Storm (Red Queen, #4)Review:
I wanted to like this finale more than I did. As with most books, there were things I liked and things I didn’t. I think I’m going to organize this review like I have with a few other series conclusions in the past because there’s just too much going on for me to talk about it in my traditional format.

Things I liked-

The changing perspectives was probably my favorite thing about this book. It was done in the previous book too (see my review for King’s Cage). I really felt like we got to see into the heads of the rest of the characters that play a part in this story. I started to really feel for certain characters (read: Evangeline) instead of hating them like I did in previous books. Seeing things from her point of view, what her thoughts and opinions were rather than just the face she puts on for the world was really interesting and was the best part of this book. The same goes for Iris. I liked seeing her plans and thoughts. The way that her country works and what her values and ideals were.

I liked seeing the different parts of the world. We get to see the Lakelands and more of Montfort. I enjoyed exploring more of the world. Along with this, we’re learning more about the Newbloods and how the world is changing.

Finally, I liked the action. The fighting was exciting and fun. I thought the battles they chose and the places they strike were good choices. I was convinced that Aveyard was going to kill a certain character, but she didn’t thankfully.

Things I didn’t like-

The ending. I wanted more. This was not very satisfying to me.

Mare and Cal. I remember being pretty broken up with their drama in the last book, but reading this one and the choices they both make just annoyed me. I wanted them to just get over it all. I didn’t care if they ended up together or not. I didn’t care about them in general.

Which leads me to the rest of the characters. For a book so thick, there was so much focus on characters I didn’t care about. In the first few books, we’re learning all about these Newbloods. Rescuing them and training them, but then we just get two or three sentences here and there about them and no further development. I really didn’t appreciate that.

Overall-

I’m happy for the series to finally be over and to see it concluded (though I am excited for the novella collection coming out in May.) I found myself really struggling to pick this book up and actually want to read it. I think maybe pushing myself to finish it despite these feelings made me enjoy it less but I didn’t want to keep waiting and then forget everything from the first three books. I’m glad I read the series because I did enjoy it, but I’m equally glad for it to be over.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Summary:
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school-and her reputation-behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected-he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all of his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game, #1)Review:
Ace of Shades is a book that I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about, but I was still interested in the concept of the story enough to pick it up and give it a try. I’m glad I did.

“Respect and fear were two sides of the same card.”

The world that Amanda Foody has created is wild. Complex and compelling, I just need to know more. The only downside is that I’m still not sure I totally understand everything that is involved. There were parts that I think could have been elaborated on a bit more, but I still really enjoyed learning about this world and its culture. There’s gangs and Mafia bosses and magic, what more could a girl ask for?

“She’d strolled into the land of death with her head held high and left it a lord. She was an impossible player in a fixed game, the only person not playing to win.”

The characters were interesting enough, but I don’t know that I felt as connected to them as I could have. I liked them and by the end of the book I cared about them, but I feel like it took me longer than I would have liked to actually give a crap about what happened to them. Now that I’ve finished the book though, I’m obsessed with Levi but Lola and Jac are my favorites. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

“Sometimes we’re not who we want to be beacause we’re supposed to be something else.” 

As for the plot, there was a lot going on. Almost too much. They’re searching for Enne’s adoptive mother, but also Levi’s dealing with some shit and some other shit at the same time. Then Enne learns that anything she knew about her life was a lie but also in the mean time she’s been hired to do some unsavory shit. It was just a little all over the place. I have a feeling it’s all going to be pulled together nicely in the next books, but in the first it was a little messy.

“She was a pistol wrapped in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was interesting and exciting. I grew to love the characters as I learned who they really were. With the gangs and casinos and crazy magic I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next in King of Fools.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

GoodReads Summary:
Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.
One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death…and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.
Grendel's Guide to Love and WarReview:
This is another book I read because I will be meeting the author in the near future. I don’t think it’s something I would have gone out of my way to pick up and read otherwise. Despite this, I really enjoyed reading it. After reading the authors note at the end of the book, I learned that the goal was to create a loose retelling of Beowulf. Now, I have never actually read Beowulf but have a general understanding of the topics within. So, I cannot speak to the accuracy of the retelling.
Aside from all of that I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun and exciting read that I didn’t want to put down. I read it in a day or two because it was fun and the characters kept me wanting to come back and see how they defeated the neighbors. I thought Grendel was caring and quirky. I loved how much he loved his dad, his sister, and Ed. I liked how he cared about all the old ladies in his neighborhood. I thought he was sweet and hardworking. I enjoyed him immensely.
I found myself really enjoying Zipora, Grendel’s sister. She was sassy and wild. I thought she brought a slight bit of ‘over the top’ness to the story. The same goes for Ed. He was full of quirks and odd little tidbits. His job made me laugh, and his dream of making wine was interesting for sure.
Overall, this story was fun. The antics these characters got into were amusing and entertaining. I enjoyed learning all about the characters and seeing what kind of chaos would be created in their next plan to end the parties next door. It wasn’t anything that blew me out of the water but it was well written and enjoyable to read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.