Blogtober Day Thirty-One: Amanda’s October Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies! It’s the end of another month and what a month it’s been. I read some great books and some not so great. But I’m happy with what I read.

What I Read

Physical Books
The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi – 5 stars
The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – 5 stars
Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee – 5 stars
Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool – 5 stars
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle – 4.5 stars

eBooks
Cazadora by Romina Garber – 3.75 stars
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling – 3.75 stars
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood – 3 stars
The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout – 4 stars
The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee – 3 stars
Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire – 4 stars
You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith – 3.5 stars
A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout – 4 stars
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen – 5 stars
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – 5 stars

Audiobooks
The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young – 4 stars
The Bones Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones – 4 stars
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave – 3.5 stars
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman – 3 stars
My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows – 3.5 stars
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis – 3 stars

Blogging Highlights

Amanda’s NetGalley Shelf #4

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (Book Review)

Why Everyone Should Read Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin (Book Review)

Amanda’s Autumn Book Recommendations

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten (Book Review)

Amanda’s October Anticipated Releases

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Book Review)

Series to Finish in 2021

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Book Review)

If You Liked This, Then Read That

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Book Review)

17 Audiobooks to Read in October

Underrated October Recommendations

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling (Book Review)

Spooky Book Covers

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood (Book Review)

6 Fall Romance Recommendations

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin (Book Review)

Other Blog Posts I Loved

Top Ten Spooky Reads from Alyssa @ Read Em’ And Weep

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl from The Elven Warrior

Top Six / Spooky Books Releasing In 2022 / Top Ten Tuesday from Vee_Bookish

Queer Latinx YA Recs from Gabi’s Book Reviews

My Friend Blurbs Books Based on Book Covers from Charvi @ Not Just Fiction

SciFi Month 2021 TBR from Caitlin @ Realms of my Mind

Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Ryka Aoki, Author of Light from Uncommon Stars – On Inspiration, Learning the Violin, and the Magic of Queerness in Speculative Fiction from Skye @ The Quiet Pond

Spooky Season Post #5 | 25+ Young Adult Horror: 2021 Book Releases from Sofii @ A Book. A Thought.

Well, that’s all I have for you this month. How’d you do for reading and blogging?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Summary:
What was it like? Living in that house.
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.
Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Book Cover

Review:
Here are five things I liked about Home Before Dark:

  1. I really liked that the story was told in alternating chapters. We follow Maggie, present day, but we also get excerpts from her father’s book (which is heavily talked about by Maggie in the present-day chapters). I thought this was a creative and interesting way to tell the story. I think it worked right up until the big reveal about the book.
  2. Along with how the story is told in both the present and the past, I thought it was really interesting how things that were happening to Maggie and Maggie’s actions were mirroring and reflecting many of the things that had already happened (or were claimed to happen in her dad’s book) in the past.
  3. I was surprised to find that I actually sort of liked that I had no idea what was the truth and what wasn’t. I don’t usually like books where I don’t actually know what’s going on. But Sager did an excellent job keeping up the mystery and the suspense until the big reveal. I spent most of the book flip-flopping between firmly believing that the ghosts were real or that they were definitely all made up.
  4. I listened to the audiobook which has two narrators. I liked both narrators. The male narrator that read Maggie’s father’s book did a great job and I will absolutely be seeking out more book narrated by him. I liked the narrator for Maggie as well. I think she did a great job telling the story and keeping up the emotion and suspense.
  5. The big reveal. I liked it because like I said above, I went back and forth for the entire book between believing and not believing that the ghosts were real. So, to finally have confirmation one way or another was almost a relief. I liked how things all played out to put it vaguely so that I don’t spoil anything.

Overall, I really liked this book. I’m not surprised since I’ve liked all of Sager’s other books I’ve read. I also discovered (partially because of this book) that I really like the ‘but are the ghosts real or not’ trope for horror and mystery books. I would definitely recommend the audiobook for this one to any audiobook fans, but I’m sure the physical or digital book was just as good.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Summary:
After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

Book Cover

Review:
I’m going to make this a list review because I’m once again feeling a bit burnt out on reviews. But I really loved this book. So, I still want to get a review posted for it. Here are five things I liked about The Night Swim.

  1. I really liked the audiobook. We got a few sound effects and such for the chapters where Rachel was narrating her podcast. There was also more than one narrator. I think the audio was just all around well done and did a great job keeping me engaged in the story.
  2. This book covers some series topics like rape and sexual assault. I think it did those things really thoughtfully and kindly. But it also did them realistically, which was heart breaking at times.
  3. I really loved how the past of Hannah telling her sister’s story and the story of the present were woven together. I think this worked really well as a storytelling device. It’s not always a good way to tell a story, but it really worked for this book.
  4. I liked Rachel. She loved creating her podcast, but she didn’t love the fame that came with her success. I thought her desire for anonymity was really interesting compared with how well her podcast did. I liked her as a character as well. She wasn’t really the focus of the story, but it’s told through her perspective so we got to know her and a bit about her past.
  5. The pace of this story was excellent. I think because it’s about tough topics, I was immediately sucked in. But it was the way the story was told with the characters and the two different timelines that really made it feel fast paced. I listened to the audiobook in one sitting.

Overall, I would (and already have) definitely recommend this book. I wouldn’t recommend it for just spooky season either. I think this would be a compelling and interesting story any time of year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Nine: Amanda’s Gothtober Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies! I know that there’s still a few days left in October. But I’ve managed to finish all of the books I was planning to read for Gothtober and I wanted to share that with you all! I had to change a few of my choices for the prompts because I DNF’d some of the books that were on my original TBR (you can find that here.)

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
The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Classics
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

BIPOC Representation
The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

Disability Representation
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

I’m pretty proud of myself for actually managing to complete all these prompts. I DNF’d two of my original choices, so it’s not identical to the TBR I shared at the beginning of the month. But I managed to read books for all the prompts and I think that’s what counts. How did you do?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Eight: Blogger Recommendations

Hi, lovelies! I feel like I haven’t done one of these in forever, so to close out one of the last few days of Blogtober 2021 I want to shout out some bloggers that I love.

Tea Cups and Torn Pages

Bookish Valhalla

Functionally Fictional

Howling Libraries

Vee_Bookish

Evelyn Reads

Journey Into Books

Jessticulates

A Book. A Thought.

The Quiet Pond

Books in the Skye

Way Too Fantasy

Reader Voracious

The Wordy Habitat

What Vicky Read

Who are some of your favorite bloggers?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Seven: WWW Wednesday

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 555fe0a6-11cc-4201-89d6-181166ac4922_1_201_a-edited.jpeg

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading Vampire Hearts & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston. I’m listening to the audiobook Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis. I’m also diligently working on clearing my NetGalley shelf, so I’m reading The Boy With Fire by Aparna Verma.

Antonia- I’m currently reading Furyborn by Claire Legrand.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao and I loved it so much. Please read it right now.

Antonia- I most recently read The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.

What will you read next?

Amanda- I have a few things I could read next, but I don’t have anything specific picked out because my November TBR is huge and I don’t want to be in the middle of anything when October is over.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Winterkeep by Kristen Cashore.

What have you been reading recently?

Blogtober Day Twenty-Six (Part Two): Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Spooky Season Show/Movie Wrap Up

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 halloween freebie. I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about the things I’ve watched for spooky season.

Lucifer – Season 6
This final season was released in September and I quickly devoured it.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Parts 3 & 4
I watched the first two parts last year in October, but the final two parts weren’t out yet and I waited for spooky season to finish the show. I really love this show. I love the actress that played Sabrina and I loved the fun cameo from Aunt Hilda & Zelda from the other show. This show is a perfect example of the kind of stuff I like to watch for spooky season.

The Haunting of Hill House
This show is actually pretty scary and I wasn’t expecting that. There were a fair bit of jump scares and just all around creepiness. I ended up watching most of this show during the day. I thought they told this story in a really compelling way. I loved that we saw what happened, but then we went further and focused on each sibling, seeing some parts of the story again and again through a new point of view each time. I’m a baby about scary things, so this was a day time show. But I really enjoyed it.

The Haunting of Bly Manor
I really liked this show. It wasn’t as scary as Hill House and I think it had a more interesting plot. It definitely was still creepy and haunting, but there weren’t jump scares like there were in Hill House. I liked getting to see some of the same actors too and seeing how they did with different roles.

Things Heard & Seen
This wasn’t on any of my original watch lists, but a friend and I watched it together. I was intrigued because it was based on a book and from the preview it looked like it had Home Before Dark by Riley Sager vibes. She really liked it until the ending but I’m not sure that I liked it at all. Both of the main adults in the movie were so beyond unlikable that it was hard to really care at all about what happened to them. It wasn’t creepy or spooky how I was wanting, but it was certainly weird as hell.

Fear Street Part One: 1994
I liked this. It’s definitely a teen slasher movie. But I liked it. There was emotional depth with the characters (also it was gay, so that’s always a plus). It wasn’t so much scary with jump scares, but it was definitely suspenseful and gory.

Fear Street Part Two: 1978
I love summer camp stuff, usually. I wasn’t sure how this would translate to slasher movies since that’s not a form of media I often consume. But I actually had fun watching this one. I really liked how it wasn’t a standalone movie. It connected to the first one. It was cool seeing the other things that had been briefly mentioned in the first part and learning more about the things that were purposefully left out of part one.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666
This one follows the infamous Sarah Fier. I loved learning about her backstory and how she was wronged. I wasn’t at all surprised to find that Sarah Fier was the victim, as was historically common in those times. I really loved that they recycled some of the actors. Seeing them play different sorts of roles, but also still in a slasher kind of movie was fun for me. Part three was the creepiest of all three of these movies. I think it might even have been my favorite.

Till Death
This only caught my eye because it’s a new movie with Megan Fox in it and I haven’t seen her in anything new in so long. I actually really liked this. The suspense was really good. The build up of the story and the ‘what the heck is going on’ feeling was really well done. The only complaint I have is that there was no aftercare. We are left to assume that she survived without actual confirmation. I was left with so many questions about what would have happened after the police arrived. But overall, I still enjoyed the movie.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
I watch this movie every year and I love it even more now that I get to watch it with my daughter. She actually sat and watched it with me this year and it was so adorable.

Did you watch anything for spooky season this year?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Six (Part One): Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Freebie

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. This week’s topic is Halloween Freebie. This week I’m going to pick my top ten characters I would bring back from the dead. *Spoiler alert: by sheer definition of this topic, this post has some serious spoilers for all the books listed so if you don’t like spoilers, stop reading.

Matthias from Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Danica from House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Everyone from Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Shadow from The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Idalia from When Darkness Falls by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

The Thirteen from Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Lee Scoresby and Hester from The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Max from Year One by Nora Roberts

Tristan from The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Alaska from Looking for Alaska by John Green

What characters would you bring back from the dead if you had the power?

Blogtober Day Twenty-Five: 6 Fall Romance Recommendations

Hi, lovelies! I am usually a summer romance reader, but while I was browsing my ‘read’ books for Blogtober ideas, I saw Well Met and thought to myself how perfect that book is for the autumn. I couldn’t help but wonder what other romances I read in the summer that would be perfect to read in the fall. So, these aren’t all books that take place in the autumn season, just books that I think have a fall vibe.

Book Cover

Well Met by Jen DeLuca
“All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.
Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him? The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying? This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.”

Book Cover

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
“With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that. This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows. When reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.”

Book Cover

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
“Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born. She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild. Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.”

Book Cover

The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morganthaler
“When Graham Barnett named his diner The Tourist Trap, he meant it as a joke. Now he’s stuck slinging reindeer dogs to an endless string of resort visitors who couldn’t interest him less. Not even the sweet, enthusiastic tourist in the corner who blushes every time he looks her way… Two weeks in Alaska isn’t just the top item on Zoey Caldwell’s bucket list. It’s the whole bucket. One look at the mountain town of Moose Springs and she’s smitten. But when an act of kindness brings Zoey into Graham’s world, she may just find there’s more to the man than meets the eye…and more to love in Moose Springs than just the Alaskan wilderness.”

Book Cover

The Next Always by Nora Roberts
“The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen. After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it. With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour – one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new – and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next . . .”

Book Cover

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
“Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him. Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare. But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.”

These are six romance novels that I think have some fall vibes in them. Some of them just have fall settings and others actually have fall events like Thanksgiving and what not. What do you think of my choices?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Summary:
What the heart desires, the house destroys
Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.
Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy. Here is my honest review. Within These Wicked Walls is pitched as an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre. I haven’t read Jane Eyre, so I won’t be sharing anything regarding that aspect of this story. I’m going to review it more as a regular fantasy story.
The story follows Andromeda, or Andi, a debtera that’s been hired to exorcise the Evil Eye in Magnus Rochester’s house. She creates different amulets to get rid of the Manifestations. But it’s a dangerous job. She must seek out her old mentor for help, which he might not give, if she wants to succeed in removing the Evil Eye from Magnus’ house.
There were some aspects of this story that I really loved and others that I didn’t like at all. So, I’m going to start with what I liked. The world building and the magic were really well done. The setting of the Rochester house was a really good one. It’s huge, and creepy as hell because each room has its own weird magical issues because of the Evil Eye. But the weird magical things were fascinating. The library had a ghost that would communicate with passages from books. There was one room that was covered in ghost spiders. I was fascinated by all the different Manifestations. The debtera aspect of the story was really interesting too. I liked learning about her past and her training with Jember (the previously mentioned mentor).
I liked Andi. She had an interesting backstory. She was amazing because despite all of the bad in that backstory, she was still mostly an optimist. There were some really well-done emotional parts of this story involving Jember. I loved their relationship. It wasn’t traditional and they both had their issues, but they loved each other. I really liked Andi, right up until she and Magnus pledged their love to one another.
The romance is the only thing I didn’t like about this book. I was coming up on 40% of the way through the story and thought their relationship was developing really well and naturally when all of a sudden, they’re making out in the hall and pledging their love to one another and that just came out of nowhere. It didn’t feel like they were anywhere near that point in their relationship, when suddenly, it happened. And in the next chapter after they’ve pledged themselves to one another, there’s a huge betrayal revealed. I felt like I was getting emotional whip lash and I didn’t care for it at all. I felt like I couldn’t get invested in their romance again after all of that because it genuinely made me mad.
Overall, I really did enjoy parts of this story. I loved the setting and the magic. I liked the relationship between Andromeda and Jember. I liked all of the characters as individuals. I just really didn’t care for the romance between Andi and Magnus after the halfway point.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Summary:
Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.
By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for an advanced copy of The Death of Jane Lawrence in exchange for an honest review. This story follows Jane, a woman that is seeking a platonic marriage of convenience so that she is no longer the responsibility of her foster family. She meets with Augustine Lawrence, a local doctor, who eventually agrees to her proposal. But she’s never allowed to stay overnight at his family home, Lindrige Hall. As things tend to go in stories, the first night they are married, Jane’s carriage is washed off the road on its way to town by a rain storm, so the only alternative is that Jane walks back and stays the night with Augustine at Lindrige Hall. This is when things start to get creepy.
I really liked Jane. I thought her backstory and character development were well done. We didn’t get her life’s story dumped on us, but instead got to know her as the story developed. We learned that she was a level headed, logical woman. But the things happening at Lindrige Hall were anything but logical. It was really interesting to see Jane in a situation where her brain couldn’t use reason and logic to explain what was going on around her. I liked Augustine, too. He had secrets that he never thought he would have to share with Jane. It was a marriage of convenience, after all. But when his secrets start coming out, the reader isn’t left with a clear idea of whether or not Augustine is a good or bad person. He was a complicated man and Jane’s growing romantic feelings for him didn’t make things any easier.
The mystery and weirdness of Lindrige Hall made this story excellently spooky. There are ghosts, we think. But they might not actually be ghosts. There’s magic, but is magic actually real? I guess it’s only real if you believe that it’s real. There was so much that defied the logic that Jane depended upon and this really added some confusion to the story, in a good way.
Overall, The Death of Jane Lawrence is the perfect book for October. It’s creepy and atmospheric. It’s weird and confusing. It leaves the reader wondering ‘what the heck is actually going on?’ But all the things that the reader learns are wrapped up for the most part by the end of the story. I liked the characters, the setting, and the magic. I would definitely recommend this one and I will be seeking out Starling’s backlist very soon.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Two: Spooky Book Covers

Hello, lovelies! I was running out of blogtober ideas and then I realized I haven’t done a post (outside of a Top Ten Tuesday) about book covers in quite a while. So, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite spooky/creepy covers that I love. I’m a sucker for a good cover and there are definitely some that have drawn me to mystery or horror books when the summary probably wouldn’t have grabbed me.

The Arsonist and Spellbook of the Lost and Found were absolutely books I bought because of their covers. They were also books that I enjoyed very much when I read them.

Please just look at these stunning purple covers. I’d recommend all of these for spooky season based on the cover alone (but the stories inside are also good spooky season stories).

Creepy weather. Creepy teeth. Creepy animals. Seriously, what more could someone ask for from these covers? Nothing, they’re absolute perfection.

The Valley and the Flood cover is the only reason that I read this book. It’s weird and I just had to know more about the story inside. The Inheritance Games is such a good cover because there’s so much going on that you don’t know where to look (which is really telling of the story inside). Mexican Gothic is such a simple cover, but damn does it make a statement.

Who knew that flowers could be horrifying? Well, they only really are for Horrid. Those flower eyes will haunt me. The other flowers are totally pretty, but with the other elements of the covers, there is a mysteriousness about both These Vengeful Hearts and Whichwood.

There are some books that I haven’t read yet that I wanted to share their covers, too. For some of them, the covers are absolutely the reason that these books are on my radar in the first place.

For the Throne has a stunning cover, much like the first book in the series. I’m reading it because I loved the first book, not because of the cover. But it’s cover was just released and it’s so beautiful that I had to include it. The Last Laugh is also a sequel that I’ll be reading either way, but oh jeez that cover. Lakesedge is one that grabbed me from the synopsis and the cover wasn’t released until very recently. There’s just something that screams spooky and atmospheric about it.

I don’t usually like books with faces on the cover, but these are creepy as hell and I’m absolutely living for it.

The Forest of Stolen Girls has what looks like two girls drowning in flowers and that sounds absolutely horrifying. I’m honestly not sure what is going on with The River Has Teeth but I just borrowed a copy from the library and I’m about to find out. Where the Drowned Girls Go is part of the Wayward Children series which I love, but that random door in the ocean is mysterious as hell.

What are some of your favorite creepy and weird covers?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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 Twenty: WWW Wednesday

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 555fe0a6-11cc-4201-89d6-181166ac4922_1_201_a-edited.jpeg

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently in the middle of a million things. So, get ready for this long ass list. I’m physically reading Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori Lee. I’m about 30% of the way into Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune. I’ve also just started A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout because it just came out yesterday.

Antonia- I’m currently reading Furyborn by Claire Legrand.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- Yesterday, I finished the two audiobooks I was in the middle of: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave.

Antonia- I most recently read The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.

What will you read next?

Amanda- I don’t know what I’ll pick up for my next eBook, but I’m planning to pick up Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool for my next physical book. I need to pick out a new audiobook too, but I’m going to see what my library has for that.

Antonia- Next I’ll read Winterkeep by Kristen Cashore.

What are your W’s this week?

Blogtober Day Eighteen: Five Star Predictions – Round Four!

Hi, friends! We’re back with another round of five star predictions. We only predicted three books in the last round and it still took us forever to do an update about them. Here’s our update!

Amanda’s Predictions

Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore & Tehlor Kay Mejia
I did give this one five stars! I loved the magical realism with a bit of a science fiction twist. The story was diverse and compelling. It was a slow and stunning story about self acceptance. I absolutely recommend this one.

Jade City by Fonda Lee
I haven’t read this one, but I am actually planning to buddy read the whole series with my friend Skye in November.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I loved this book. I didn’t give it five stars, but I did really like the story. I thought the mythology aspect and the historical aspect of the story were excellent and I didn’t feel like I was missing out going into the story with no knowledge about this mythology. I also just loved the characters. We follow an all powerful god and a girl that just wants to escape her small town. I loved them both.

Antonia’s Predictions

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
I haven’t actually gotten around to this one yet. I really liked the first book in the series but just haven’t been able to get myself in the mood for this one. I’m hoping to get around to it by the end of this year.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
I really liked this one but I’d have to give it four stars. I had some trouble connecting with the characters for most of the book and wasn’t in love with certain aspects of the plot but will definitely be continuing the series.

Legacy by Nora Roberts
I don’t think I can give this one five stars either. I loved it as I do all of Nora’s books but it wasn’t one of my favorites. I loved the characters and the relationships between them. My problem was with the overall storyline. The build up felt really slow for the majority of the book then the climax and conclusion just sort of dropped in suddenly at the end.

As usual, we are going to share some more predictions! We are going to stick with three since we continually didn’t read all five.

Amanda’s Predictions

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young

Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

Antonia’s Predictions

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Winterkeep by Kristen Cashore

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

We will check in again for Blogmas to see what we thought of these six books! What books are on your TBR that you think you’ll love?