Blogtober Day Twenty-One: Underrated October Recommendations

Hey, lovelies! I’ve done a few ‘underrated recommendations’ posts and I always love to share books that don’t get the hype that others do. My definition of an ‘underrated’ book is one that has less than 5 thousand ratings on GoodReads. While I definitely thing that GoodReads is an imperfect reader resource, many people still use it for recommendations and other things. I usually keep these kinds of lists strictly backlist books, but some of these are new releases that I haven’t really seen anyone talking about.

Book Cover

The Fell of the Dark by Caleb Roehrig
“The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.”

Book Cover

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
“One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about. Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets. When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found…”

Book Cover

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf
I am a dark spirit, the ghost announced grandly. I am your inheritance, your grandmother’s legacy. I am yours to command.
Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable. But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.”

Book Cover

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
“Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape. For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:
#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.
#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:
#3: Right after they enter bank, two guys start robbing it.
The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage…”

Book Cover

The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney
“Rose Colter is almost home, but she can’t go back there yet. When her car breaks down in the Nevada desert, the silence of the night is broken by a radio broadcast of a voicemail message from her best friend, Gaby. A message Rose has listened to countless times over the past year. The last one Gaby left before she died. So Rose follows the lights from the closest radio tower to Lotus Valley, a small town where prophets are a dime a dozen, secrets lurk in every shadow, and the diner pie is legendary. And according to Cassie Cyrene, the town’s third most accurate prophet, they’ve been waiting for her. Because Rose’s arrival is part of a looming prophecy, one that says a flood will destroy Lotus Valley in just three days’ time. Rose believes if the prophecy comes true then it will confirm her worst fear–the PTSD she was diagnosed with after Gaby’s death has changed her in ways she can’t face. So with help from new friends, Rose sets out to stop the flood, but her connection to it, and to this strange little town, runs deeper than she could’ve imagined.”

Book Cover

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
Welcome to Amontillado, Ohio, where your last name is worth more than money, and secrets can be kept… for a price.
Tress Montor knows that her family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. She might still be a Montor, but the entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo,” – a wild animal attraction featuring a zebra, a chimpanzee, and a panther, among other things. Felicity Turnado has it all – looks, money, and a secret that she’s kept hidden. She knows that one misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is… only that she can’t look at Tress without having a panic attack. But she’ll have to. Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity – brick by brick – as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. With a drunken party above them, and a loose panther on the prowl, Tress will have her answers – or settle for revenge.”

Book Cover

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo
“Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds. Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her. Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.”

Book Cover

The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
“Kira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home. But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child—one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months—the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone. But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past.”

Book Cover

They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman
“Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life, and she won’t let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course. The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers’ lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can’t help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie’s been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong–she’s someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she’d never be: distracted. With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won’t let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.”

There you have it, nine underrated books that I would recommend you read during the spooky season. What books do you think are missing from this list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Nineteen: Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Online Resources for Book Lovers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is the ten online resources I use to make my reading life better.

StoryGraph
I love this app to track my reading. It’s still pretty new so it doesn’t have all the features I like from GoodReads, but I think eventually it’ll be the way better option.

GoodReads
I still use this to track my reading. But I also use it to track new releases and upcoming releases since StoryGraph isn’t as specific as GoodReads with publication dates.

NetGalley
I’m not sure if this counts. But I read a lot of my anticipated releases via NetGalley and then review them here and on GoodReads.

Libib
I use this app on my phone to track what books I own. This is great for the books I’m collecting slowly and sometimes for series I don’t always buy in order.

Libby
This is one of a few apps that my library uses for ebooks and audiobooks. I use this one for both.

Hoopla
Another library app. This one has options for movies and music as well as ebooks and audiobooks. I use Hoopla mostly for audiobooks, but also for graphic novels.

WordPress
I love scrolling through my reader to catch up on blog posts from the other bloggers that I follow. Blog posts are a huge resource for recommendations and other bookish content.

YouTube
BookTube is a sub-community on YouTube that I love to watch. Now that I’ve watched for a while, I mostly watch for specific people rather than for specific topics, but it’s still a great place for recommendations and the like.

These are all the online resources that I personally use to enhance my reading. I’m sure there’s most out there, but these are the ones I use. What about you?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Cazadora by Romina Garber

Summary:
In Cazadora, Romina Garber weaves together Argentine folklore and what it means to be illegal in a timely, intimate, and emotionally powerful narrative.
Werewolves. Witches. Romance. Resistance.
Enter a world straight out of Argentine folklore…
Following the events of Lobizona, Manu and her friends cross the mystical border into Kerana–a cursed realm in Argentina–searching for allies and a hiding place. As they chase down leads about the Coven–a mythical resistance manada that might not even exist–the Cazadores chase down leads about Manu, setting up traps to capture and arrest her.
Just as it seems the Cazadores have Manu and her friends cornered, the Coven answers their call for help. As Manu catches her breath among these non-conforming Septimus, she discovers they need a revolution as much as she does.
But is she the right one to lead them? After all, hybrids aren’t just outlawed. They’re feared and reviled. What happens when the Coven learns of Manu’s dual heritage? Will they still protect her? Or will they betray her?
And after running this far, for this long–how much farther can Manu go before her feet get tired, and she stops to take a stand?

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. Cazadora starts off not long after Lobizona ends, which I liked (find my review here!) I prefer books that start right after the events of previous books. I don’t like when books jump a bunch of time and things supposedly happen in that time that the reader is just told about. I also really liked how the author refreshed the readers memory about events from the previous book. I was going to try to read Lobizona again, but I ended up deciding to just jump into Cazadora and see what happened. Garber reminded me of things from the previous book without dumping a bunch of information into the story.
We still follow Manu and friends, but they’re on the run and trying to figure out a plan for what comes next. It felt like there was a bit of aimlessness for the characters where they sort of just ran because they didn’t know what else to do. But when they find the Coven things picked up and I really liked that. Once the friends have a goal and a plan, the story was excellent again. I think once a plan was made the pace really picked up and stayed steady for the rest of the book.
I still liked all of the characters like I did from the first book. Manu, while still uncertain of who she really is, was brave and admirable. She’s had so many titles, but is still trying to figure out who the real Manu is. I liked this part of the story. I also liked that her friends had their own parts of the plot too. Some of them are struggling with their magic and others are working through relationship issues. I liked that they all had their own part to play in the story instead of just being there to support Manu.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I want more from this world and these characters. I’m sad to see that this is only a duology. But I’m hoping that this series does well enough that Garber will write more books set in this same world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Summary:
The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.
As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.
Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.
But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

Book Cover

Review:
For the Wolf was chosen by my book club for September. I’m so glad that we ended up reading this book because it’s going to be one of my 2021 favorites. This story really pulled me in and spit me out in a way that a book hasn’t in a while. I alternated between the eBook and the audiobook because I just could not story reading this story. I needed to know how it ended. I stayed up until way later than I should have so that I could finish.
There are two daughters. The first, Neve, will become Queen, in time. And the second, Redarys, was to be given over to the Wilderwood, and the Wolf that lived there. There hasn’t been a second daughter in many years, so when it’s finally time for Red to be given to the Wolf, the people hope that the Wolf will finally return their kings to them. But there’s so much in the legends of the Wilderwood that just isn’t true. That’s what the heart of this story really is, learning the truths behind the tales and how to right the wrongs that have been done.
The world really fascinated me. There was just so much of it that it was hard to get a handle on at times. The kings from legend, the ones supposedly trapped by the Wolf, brought all of the kingdoms together under one ruler, the first daughter. So, there are quite a few different places mentioned and once I just sort of ignored everywhere other than the Wilderwood and Red’s home, it was less confusing. This world felt vast, so narrowing it down felt necessary for me to enjoy it rather than get lost in trying to remember all the names that didn’t really need remembering. So, the Wilderwood is incredibly mysterious, but also endlessly fascinating. I was filled with so many questions. I think Whitten did a good job creating suspense and mystery by not answering questions, but I think some of those questions could have been answered a bit sooner and still had the same or a similar effect on the story. But the setting of the Wilderwood was stunning. I could picture it and I’m not usually very good at picturing settings, especially in fantasy stories.
The characters were ones that were easy to love. Red is a fierce woman that willingly goes into the Wilderwood to meet the Wolf because she has magic that she’s kept hidden, a magic that she’s terrified will hurt her sister if she cannot control it. But when she learns the truth of the Wolf, she falls for him, slowly. He tries to protect her, Eammon. But his protection is in the form of keeping secrets (one of my least favorite tropes). I think their romance was a little bit insta-lovey which I don’t usually love. But I think the way that it was set up worked for this story. I still liked them both individually and grew to love them together. By the end, I was definitely invested in their romance. I think the lack of clarity with the way the Wilderwood’s magic worked honestly just added to the story. I usually like well explained magic, but it somehow worked for this story.
Overall, I loved this book even with the few things that I didn’t like. I also might have died a little reading the preview we got of book two. I am beyond excited to learn more about the kings and what will end up happening with Neve. Plus, man is that book cover to die for and the cover for book two is just as stunning. I cannot wait to read more from Whitten in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Fifteen: 17 Audiobooks to Read in October

Hello, lovelies! We all know that I love audiobooks. But I think spooky audiobooks are my favorite. I have delved into horror in the past year. I’ve also started listening to more than just contemporary books on audio. So, I thought it would be fun to share some audiobook recommendations that I think would be great for spooky season.

Book Cover

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
This is one of my favorite horror stories and will be forever I think. It was suspenseful even thought it was so obvious what was going to happen. I loved the audiobook so much.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
Sapphic elemental witches that live in Salem. Do you even need to know more?

A Good Girls Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
This audiobook has a bit of mixed media. So, we get some interviews with multiple narrators. I also just liked the story. I didn’t guess where the story was going or what the big twist was.

Book Cover

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf
This was one of the first books I read in 2021 and I absolutely devoured it. The story was creepy and atmospheric. I was easily invested in the characters and their journey.

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
A girl gang of witches kill a boy and try to cover it up. This book is hit or miss for many. It was a miss for me. But I really enjoyed the audiobook and for those that will love it, it’s perfect for October.

Book Cover

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman
A murder mystery at a fancy prep school. I didn’t like most of the characters, but I did like the main character. I liked the setting of the school and I liked the not-so-secret society that plays a large role in this story.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
I love Stevie and her friends with my whole heart. I just recently finished The Box in the Woods (the newest installment which is a standalone mystery).

Book Cover

The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney
This book was weird as hell. I’ve also not seen a single person talking about it. But I really liked the narrator for this book. I was absolutely gripped by the story. I highly recommend this completely bizarre story that I really enjoyed.

Book Cover

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
I love this whole series. Most of the books have different narrators, so I chose to highlight my favorite one. It’s also an excellent story for October if you’re looking for a bit of a darker story.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
This was a tough story. It deals with grief, chronic pain after an injury, drug addiction, and solving the mystery of who killed Sophie’s best friend.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
If you haven’t heard of this audiobook before, you’ve probably been living under a rock. It’s told from Sadie’s point of view while she’s looking for her sister, but it’s also told via a podcast following the path that Sadie took. It’s an absolutely incredible audiobook.

Book Cover

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo
What an odd werewolf story. I really had no idea where the story or plot was going for such a long time. It did get there in the end and I totally think that listening to the audiobook kept me going until the end. The narrator did a great job.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A queer Latinx story about Yadriel trying to prove to his father that he is meant to be a Brujo. But at the same time, Yadriel is falling in love with a ghost. I really enjoyed this one as have many others.

Book Cover

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
I believe this is supposed to be a Red Riding Hood retelling of sorts. I absolutely adored this story. The fantasy and the magic were really well done. It was mysterious and suspenseful. The romance was to die for. I will go to the grave batting for Red and Eammon.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Angry, vengeful ghosts at a motel that are trying to help reveal a serial killer? But also a missing person mystery. There’s even a really great friendship and a romance that I thought totally fit into the story. But mostly I just wondered are there really ghosts or is there another explanation?

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
I realized this year that I really like the “ghosts or a logical explanation” trope. This one was excellently drawn out and suspenseful. It also includes a spooky ass murder house, a man that wrote a false memoir, and a girl that isn’t afraid to use some power tools.

Book Cover

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
This was not an easy read at all. It follows a court case surrounding a high school girl being raped. But it also follows the story of a girl who was used, abused, and then murdered 20-something years ago in the same town. We learn all the details via Rachel Krall, who creates a true crime podcast in which she’s covering the current court case.

These are some of my favorite audiobooks. They’re all stories that I would recommend for the spooky season. What audiobooks would you recommend?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Fourteen: If You Liked This, Then Read That

Hello, lovelies! I have had some great fun doing the ‘if you liked this book, then try that one’ in the past. So, no big surprise, here I am to do it again today. Today’s comparisons are all going to be recommendations for spooky season. Hopefully, you’ve read some of these so that you can try the books I’d recommend next.

If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers, you will probably like The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. Sadie follows a young girl named Sadie who is bent on finding her sisters killer and bringing him to justice. While we’re following that story from Sadie’s point of view, we’re listening to West’s podcast which is trying to find the truth about what ultimately happened to Sadie. The Night Swim follows Rachel who has a well known true crime podcast. For her third season, she will be covering an on going court case, a rape trial. While she’s in this small town, she’s approached via letters by someone who grew up there. Her sister was murdered in that town years and years ago, but it was ruled an accidental drowning. I think these stories are comparable because of the podcast element (I did the audiobooks for both of these and would recommend that you do too). Both books also cover some really heavy topics like murder, sexual assault, and rape.

If you liked Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, then you should try The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Home Before Dark is the story of Maggie alternating between the past and the present. Her father has died and she’s learned that she now owns Baneberry Hall (the house her family fled when she was a child). Her father wrote a non-fiction book about their time at Baneberry Hall (the book is what we get in the past parts of the story). There are so many secrets and deceptions about this book that Maggie’s determined to go back to Baneberry Hall and finally get to the truth for herself. The Sun Down Motel follows Carly, in present day, and Viv, in 1982. Viv went missing and was never found, this is something that her niece, Carly has fixated on. We follow Carly as she follows in her Aunt Viv’s path, coming to the town of Fell, working nights at the Sun Down Motel, trying to solve a mystery. Both of these books have the element of ‘is it ghosts or is there a logical explanation’ which is apparently a horror/mystery trope that I really like. Both stories also give us alternating chapters from the past and the present, with the present reflecting events that happened in the past. If you like spooky murder houses (or motels) you’ll probably like these books.

If you liked They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman, you might like How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao. They Wish They Were Us takes place at an expensive prep school with a “secret” society that everyone knows about. Jill’s best friend died in their Freshman year. Now she’s a senior and it’s her turn to be in charge in this secret group. She’s vowed that she will do things differently. But she’s starting to suspect that her best friends killer might actually be innocent and if he is, then who actually killed her best friend? How We Fall Apart also takes place in an elite prep school. Nancy’s best friend goes missing, and later is found dead. Nancy’s friend group each have secrets, so when an anonymous person named “The Proctor” starts revealing these secrets, the friends band together to try to uncover The Proctor’s identity. The common element for these books is exclusive prep schools and murder. They were both relatively fast paced stories who’s twists I did not guess.

If you liked Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, you will probably like Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. Small Favors goes through the seasons of a year. And over this year, strange things are happening in the small town she lives in. They’re surrounded by a forest that has legends of being filled with monsters. It’s been years since anyone has seen these monsters, but they might be returning. People are dying and things are getting weirder as the seasons are changing. This book was just full of weirdness in the best way. Plain Bad Heroines follows a few different time periods, but all taking place in the same place: a creepy house/school. This house might actually be cursed. Murder and mystery are what this house is all about and unraveling what’s real and what isn’t is absolutely the appeal of the story. Both of these books follow creepy, atmospheric settings where people are dying and the reason why is unclear.

If you liked Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw, then you should try Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. Winterwood is about a magical (maybe even haunted) forest. Nora and the women in her family have a special connection with this forest. When a boy survives his time in the forest, Nora needs to find out what really happened. Wild Beauty is about a lush garden estate that is cared for by the Nomeolvides family. They all have flower magic. But their curse is that the men they love always leave them. Until one day, the gardens give them a boy instead of taking one. Both of these stories involve magical nature. They also involve boys mysteriously appearing from the flowers and the forest. I think the biggest difference is that Wild Beauty is a story that feels like spring and Winterwood is a fall/winter story. Both are magical and mysterious.

These are the books that I’ve chosen for comparison and recommendation today. Have you read any of these? Would you agree or disagree with any of my comparisons? Are there any books that you would recommend with the books I’ve chosen? Let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twelve (Part One): Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Book Settings

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is my ten favorite book settings.

Boarding scools

Small towns

On a boat

At the beach

In outer space

In the woods

That’s all I’ve got for this week’s topic. What did you pick?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Summary:
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Book Cover

Review:
Cemetery Boys follows Yadriel, a brujo that just wants to prove to his family that he’s a real brujo. He’s transgender and his very traditional family hasn’t really done their best to accept that. His family members are brujos and brujas, the men summoning and banishing ghosts and the women doing healing magic. But Yadriel is determined to prove that he’s a real brujo, so he performs the correct ceremony with his cousin (who is truly my favorite character in the book) and is granted his brujo powers from Lady Death. But then he accidentally summons Julian Diaz while he’s attempting to find out what happened to another cousin that was murdered. But this is a YA book, so obviously things don’t go as planned.
I really liked Yadriel and Julian. I also liked Yadriel’s cousin. I thought that Yadriel’s goal was one I could easily get behind, but it felt like it took forever to do what he needed to. I didn’t really understand why he kept going to school when there were such serious and time sensitive things going on around him. I understand having strict parents. I was raised by a single dad that was incredibly strict. There was a sense of urgency that was talked about, but it wasn’t shown with the character’s behaviors.
I loved the magic. I really liked how the Latinx culture was included and how it was turned magical. I’ve heard of things like the day of the dead, but I really liked the magical elements that were added.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I can absolutely see why so many people have raved about this book. I did the audiobook and the physical copy. So, I liked the narrator, but around halfway found myself losing focus (I think this was me and not the narrator though). Once I picked up the physical copy, I flew through the rest of the story. I’m not sure if I had read the whole thing physically that I still would have felt that sense of urgency from the characters lacking. But overall, I had a great time with the magic and these characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Summary:
The Mayan God of Death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore, for readers of The Song of Achilles and Uprooted.
Here we shall begin to tell a story: a tale of a throne lost, of monsters and magic. A tale of gods and of the shadow realm. But this, our story, it begins in our world, in the land of mortals.
It begins with a woman. For this story, it is her story. It begins with her.
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan God of Death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
Mixing the excitement of the Roaring Twenties with Prehispanic mythology, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a vivid, wildly imaginative historical fantasy.

Book Cover

Review:
Gods of Jade and Shadow follows Casiopea, a young woman who lives in her mother’s childhood home. She’s treated like a servant, tasked with cleaning the house, attending to her grandfather and her cousin, Martin. Everyone, aside from her mother, treat her as less than because of who her father was. He wasn’t ‘good enough’ for Casiopea’s mother, so she is treated like she isn’t good enough for her family. All Casiopea dreams of is escaping the small town she’s stuck in and then suddenly, one night, she must leave. She pricks her hand on a bone shard she finds in her grandfather’s room. A bone shard that turned out to be Hun-Kame, a Mayan death god that was trapped, and now needs Casiopea’s help in reclaiming his throne from his brother.
This really was a beautiful story. The writing was beautiful and almost melodic. The pace of the story wasn’t so slow that I lost focus, but it also wasn’t a super-fast paced story either. I really liked the pacing of the story. It allowed me to feel like I was really getting to know the characters which was good because I could have easily felt left outside this beautiful story because of the world building and mythology. But it’s written in a way that I really felt like I got to know Casiopea, her dreams and wants, and how those things change the more time she spends with Hun-Kame. Casiopea was an incredibly courageous character. She does things that she’s afraid to do, but she does them anyway because she believes they’re the right thing to do. Doing what you believe is the right thing is usually the hard thing to do. I really liked the development of the relationship between Casiopea and Hun-Kame. I feel like we didn’t get to know him as well as we did Casiopea, but I liked him all the same.
The world building and mythology was just as good as the characters. The Mayan mythology was lush and fascinating. It’s not a mythology I know much about, so it felt like a whole new fantastical world for me, but it was incredibly interesting to be immersed in. Moreno-Garcia paints an incredibly vivid picture of all the magic and myths in the story. I just couldn’t get enough.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I had a great time getting to know the characters and getting invested in them and their journey. I really loved the settings and the mythology. I would definitely recommend this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Seven: Amanda’s September Book Haul

Hello, lovelies! No huge surprise really, but I bought more books in September. I’m happy with what I bought and how many of them I’ve already read. Some were belated birthday gifts, some were given from others that don’t hoard books like I do, and the rest were absolutely impulse buys.

Books I’ve Read

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Half Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

Books New to my TBR

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow

The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore

I bought a few of these so that I could reread them. And I’m incredibly excited to read the ones new to my TBR. Some of them are on my TBR for October, so hopefully I’ll have them read by the end of the month. Did you buy any new books last month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Five (Part Two): Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is my top ten bookish pet peeves.

Series that change cover designs mid way through publication.

Series with books of varying heights.

Sequels that continually have their publication date pushed back.

Dust jackets,

But also, books that don’t have dust jackets.

Books with incredibly small font,

And, books with very large font.

Sequel’s that spend an unnecessary amount of pages explaining what happened in the previous books.

Info dumping that’s disguised as world building.

Stickers on books covers (removable AND non-removable ones).

What are your bookish pet peeves?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

Summary:
For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.
In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.
In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.
In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.
In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.
Practical Magic meets Twister in this debut contemporary fantasy standalone about heartbreaking power, the terror of our collapsing atmosphere, and the ways we unknowingly change our fate.

Book Cover

Review:
The Nature of Witches is, for sure, going to make my list of 2021 favorite books. I have to admit that I bought this book because it has a stunning cover and it has a beautiful design under the dust jacket. I was also influenced by a friend of mine really loving it. I’m so glad that I gave in to my desires to buy this one because I really loved it.
The story follows Clara, and Everwitch (which means that she has the magic of all four seasons). The way the magic works in this world was one of my favorite kinds of magic systems I’ve ever read about. Witches have seasonal magic. So, they have magic all year round, but it’s significantly diminished outside of their season. I really liked this sense of balance that was a part of this world because there’s no one season of witches that’s most powerful, they all excel at different things, and they each get their turn to be ‘the most powerful.’ But Clara as an Everwitch, her magic changes as the seasons change. But being an Everwitch, there’s more responsibility on her, but also, there hasn’t been an Everwitch in so long that there is little to nothing really known about how they’re really supposed to help others. One of the downsides of the magic of an Everwitch is that their magic attacks those that they love. So, Clara killed her parents and her best friend. This was obviously traumatic, but it’s caused Clara to plan to obliterate her magic with the upcoming solar eclipse. Her plans are in place, so obviously something has to come in and shake things up and that’s when the story gets even better.
I really liked Clara. It could have been easy for her to be a ‘woe is me’ character that just pities herself, complains, and does nothing about it. But she wants things to change and has a plan to make that happen. I really enjoyed following her growth and development. I loved learning her backstory and what’s made her so fearful and cautious. I especially loved seeing Clara test the limits of her powers. I thought the concept of her personality changing with her magic (as the seasons change) was really interesting.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved the setting of a school for witches. I loved that the witches are what keeps natural disasters in check. I even loved the conversations about how humans are killing the Earth. I thought the romance (both past and present) was one I could easily care about. I will absolutely be recommending this book and I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Summary:
Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.
Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.
Pao’s search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them?
Once again Tehlor Kay Mejia draws on her Mexican heritage to tell a wild and wondrous story that combines creatures from folklore with modern-day challenges.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an early copy to read and review. I read this what feels like 100 years ago and forgot to write my review. So, this is going to be short and to the point. I really enjoyed this book. There’s really no surprise there. I loved all of Mejia’s other books and I’ve really enjoyed all of the Rick Riordan Presents books.
Paola is really struggling in this second book, so when she thinks that she needs to find her father, she gets the gang back together again.
I think the only thing I didn’t like about this book was that there was so much conflict between the three friends. Dante was just plain mean to Paola at times for reasons that we never got to see. All of the conflict happened off the page after the end of the first book and before this book started. I would have liked to have gotten to see that conflict rather than been told about it because it takes such a large amount of this book for Paola to work through these issues with her friends. So, this book was really missing the wonderful friendship aspect that we got from the first book.
Aside from that, I really liked this. Paola must stand up and face danger and adventure on her own this time. We get to see some familiar faces from the first book, which is always fun. I love the mythology and the world building that we get to see. I don’t know much about Mexican folklore, so all of the monsters and creatures were unique to me and so interesting to read about. I will absolutely be continuing this series and recommending it to others.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day One: Amanda’s October TBR Jar Picks & Gothtober Readathon TBR

Hello, lovelies! Once again, it’s a new month. It’s actually one of my favorite months, October! For me, spooky season starts in September, so I’ve been reading all the books I’ve saved for spooky season for the last month, but I’m excited to share what I’ve planned for this month. I’m going to keep this first Blogtober post as my TBR jar picks because I’ve really been enjoying picking books off my TBR shelf this way. I’m also doing a readathon which I’ll mention later in the post. I have lots of Blogtober content that I’m very excited to share with you all.

Fantasy
Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool

Backlist Book
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Thriller
The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Most Recent Purchase
The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

Young Adult
The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young

I’m a bit behind on my eARC’s from NetGalley, so I have a few I want to read this month, as usual. These are just the ones that I couldn’t fit into TBR prompts for this month.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman

I’m also participating in the Gothtober Readathon (find all their information here on Twitter) again this year. This year it’s Angels vs. Demons (or vs. Death if you don’t want to be on a team). I’m going for Team Demon, which should surprise zero people. The prompts are listed in the graphic below, but I’m also sharing each prompt with my book selection.

Mythology
Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

Omens
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Found Family
The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

Dark Romance
A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout

LGBTQ+ Representation
Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool

Murder
I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Classics
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

BIPOC Representation
Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Disability Representation
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

What will you be reading this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Twin Paradox by Charles Wachter

Summary:
With ten years passing for every three minutes on a remote stretch of Texas coast, planes fall out of the sky, evolved species are on the hunt, and people die inside one of the most vicious ecosystems ever grown—all a result of the government’s efforts to slow down time.
A lot can happen in ten years. That’s the point. Governments are always racing for supremacy, for scientific breakthroughs, for technological advantages—and these things take time.
Until something goes wrong.
With the grounded yet massive world building of READY PLAYER ONE, thrilling scientific questions of JURASSIC PARK, and the time-bending teen drama of BEFORE I FALL, Wachter’s THE TWIN PARADOX is a brilliantly plotted tale that is both intimate and massive, relentless yet deliberate, and explores the themes of self-acceptance, self- confidence, and natural selection in a richly hued and unforgettable world. Ultimately the eternal question of Nature versus Nurture is boiled down into this fast-paced thriller told over the course of five days and culminates in one single question:
Do we get to choose who we are?

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I wasn’t sure what to expect when going into this story, but I finished this book with the only thought in my head being, ‘what the fuck did I just read?”
The Twin Paradox follows a group of teenagers that are graduated from their honors program in high school early. The day of their graduation, they find out that they are clones of famous intellectuals like Albert Einstein, Catherine the Great, Martin Luther King Jr., and Leonardo Da Vinci to name a few. They’re invited to do an internship with Gene-E Corp (the company that created them). But this internship comes with few details. When they arrive and start to tour the facility, the teens realize that there’s more too Gene-E Corp than they could have imagined.
This brings me to my biggest issue with this book: the science. There is so much science, math, and physics in this story and most, if not all, of it went right over my head. I had to just skim read and pretend like I knew what any of it meant. I think the science could have been simplified even just a little bit and that would have made my reading experience a little better.
Other than that, I actually liked this book. It surprised me. There was darkness to the story that I wasn’t expecting from the synopsis. But there was also some excellent suspense and mystery that kept the pace of the story moving forward. I also liked all of the characters. And the ones I didn’t like, seemed to be intentionally unlikable. I think the teens were really interesting to follow and acted like teenagers despite being clones of some of the greatest minds in history.
Overall, I liked this book…I think? It really surprised me in a lot of ways. I will definitely be reading the sequel when it comes out next year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.