Amanda’s 11 Favorite Adult Books of 2021

Hello, lovelies! The time is here for my list of favorites that I read last year! This year, I’m going to separate my lists into age ranges for each post. I also will be making these lists of books that I read in 2021, not just 2021 releases.

Romance

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Review

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Review

Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
Review

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
Review

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
Review

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Review

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Review

Mystery/Horror

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
Review

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Review

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Review

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Review

Which adult books made your 2021 favorites list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.
Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.
And Sam picks up the phone.
In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
You’ve Reached Sam follows Julie during her senior year of high school. There are only a few months before graduation and she and her boyfriend, Sam, have made so many exciting plans for their future together. But then Sam dies suddenly in a car accident and Julie’s future has changed forever. But then things get a little weird and Julie calls Sam’s phone one day and he answers. So, instead of trying to move on and figure out what she’s going to do now, she spends all of her time on the phone talking to Sam.
I’ve seen basically nothing but rave reviews for this book, so I was pretty excited to read it and be emotionally destroyed by it. But that did happen for me and it’s absolutely because I think Julie was pretty terrible. The story opens with her getting rid of all of Sam’s things less than a week after he’s died. I just couldn’t reason that away in my mind. I wear a ring that belonged to my grandfather every single day and he died ten years ago. I totally understand that everyone grieves differently but that was just the first of many things that Julie did that just made me feel really disconnected from her. I couldn’t reason away her behavior or feel attached to her as a character. I will say that Julie really does the work to make up for her incredibly crappy behavior. She’s hurt most of her friends and it was really good to see her do the work to make it up to them. But my initial reaction to her just stuck with me.
I loved the concept of the story. I loved the idea that Julie was talking to Sam on the phone even though he was gone. I liked the cast of characters (except Julie). I think they absolutely made the story better and more enjoyable.
Overall, I liked this book but I didn’t love it. It’s entirely Julie’s fault that I didn’t love this book. She was kind of terrible for the beginning of this book and even though she really grew and had some great character development, I just never felt like I could really get invested in her. I can absolutely see why so many people love this book and I will definitely be recommending it in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

We Are Meridians by S. Ghali

Summary:
Two human Civilizations
One will rise
One will fall
300 years ago, A small group of human left behind their violent past and human counterpart on Earth to create the most advanced civilisation in history.
Until now, when mercenaries steal a deadly artefact, the meridians have no choice but to send a military expedition back to Earth to retrieve it. However, the mission is compromised upon arrival and the crew members get separated on the surface of the hostile planet Earth that has never experienced alien contact.
Elmyra Conrad, a disgraced cadet; Effra Jones, a spineless xenoanthropologist and Zayn, a dangerous Antharian prince must work together to survive and find the other survivors before their demise…

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
We Are Meridians follows a cast of characters that are trying to stop a group of criminals who have stolen a very deadly object. The story takes so long to pull itself together to get to that aspect of the plot. I think there was a bit of info-dumping at the start of the story. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t push through, but it was noticeable. There were so many characters and things that had to be introduced before the story could really get going. I feel like the author took a bit too much time letting us get to know the characters and the world before pulling the actual plot of the story into play. But somehow, at the same time, I feel like there was so much that happened and we didn’t get enough of any of it.
I’d say there were three main characters: Elmyra, Effra, and Zayn. Much of Elmyra’s story is still a mystery. We get to know her and her backstory pretty well except one big secret. And when that secret was finally revealed, it wasn’t elaborated on all that much because the person that knows all the details was dying. So, there’s answers, but still a bit of mystery surrounding that particular twist in the story. I really liked Zayn. I wasn’t sure if he was going to turn on the humans or end up deciding to truly join them and help with their mission. I think he was the best developed character and I look forward to reading more about him. Finally, Effra. I feel like we got to know him the least because he’s not really introduced until way into the story. We don’t spend that first third of the story getting to know him. So, his backstory is dumped when he’s introduced. He also spent much of the story needing to be saved, so I guess that’s all we need to know about him.
Overall, this was way more of a science fiction thriller/mystery then I thought it was going to be. I actually really enjoyed it. The author’s writing was good. It was descriptive but still easy to follow. The characters were well developed and not hard to get invested in. The world was my favorite part, I think. The world building and history of the humans that live in space was really well done. I don’t see any news about a sequel but I would definitely read it if/when one is released.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Adult SFF Backlist Book Reading Challenge TBR

Hello, lovelies! I’m here today to share with you a wonderful and fun reading challenge that my friend Ari over at Bookish Valhalla is hosting (her announcement post is linked for anyone that wants to read it). For the last few months, I’ve really been trying to focus on moving away from YA fantasy and science fiction and exploring more adult SFF stories. I just haven’t been connecting with YA stories as much and I’ve really loved the adult SFF that I have read recently.

So! To say that I was excited when Ari shared this reading challenge is an understatement. This challenge focuses on reading backlist adult books that are fantasy and science fiction. Each month has a loose theme, so I’ve picked some books that I think will work for each month. I’m going to share all the options that I have on my TBR for each of these because I’m not sure which book I’ll end up reading for the months that have more than one option to choose from. Also, this TBR will only be the books that I own, I may end up reading books I don’t own for this challenge but as of now my goal is to focus on the adult SFF series that I already own.

January // Winter

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

February // Time

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

March // Oaths

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

April // Hidden Places

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

May // Starlight

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

June // To Sea

July // To Sky

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

August // Sacrifice

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

September // Fire

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

October // Ritual

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

November // Forest

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

December // Omens

I have some ideas about recommendations for this reading challenge, too. So, you can expect to see a post about that eventually. Share some recommendations for the themes that I didn’t list anything for please! What adult science fiction and fantasy books are you hoping to read in 2022?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blog Tour: Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Summary:
Falling in love is the ultimate payback in this delightful romcom about an interior designer who teams up with an enigmatic architect at her firm to get revenge on her ex the only way she knows how: by building a spite house next door
They say living well is the best revenge. But sometimes, spreading the misery seems a whole lot more satisfying. That’s interior designer Dani Porter’s justification for buying the vacant lot next to her ex-fiancé’s house…the house they were supposed to live in together, before he cheated on her with their Realtor. Dani plans to build a vacation rental that will a) mess with his view and his peace of mind and b) prove that Dani is not someone to be stepped on. Welcome to project Spite House.
That plan quickly becomes complicated when Dani is forced to team up with Wyatt Montego, the handsome, haughty architect at her firm, and the only person available to draw up blueprints. Wyatt is terse and stern, the kind of man who eats his sandwich with a knife and fork. But as they spend time together on- and off-site, Dani glimpses something deeper beneath that hard veneer, something surprising, vulnerable, and real. And the closer she gets to her goal, the more she wonders if winning revenge could mean losing something infinitely sweeter…

Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you also to HarperCollins for inviting me to be on this blog tour.
Love at First Spite follows Dani, who has just been cheated on by her fiancé. The story opens with her destroying her wedding gown in the absolute best way. Dani is an interior designer for a big company, so we get a lot of the details of her work life. But we also get to know her friends. Mia is Dani’s cousin and also her best friend. And there’s Iris who becomes Dani’s landlady/roommate. But most importantly, there’s Wyatt. He’s our love interest. He works with Dani at the same company, but he’s an architect. So, when Dani, Mia, and Iris buy the property right next door to Dani’s ex-fiancé to build a spite house, Wyatt ends up being the architect that helps design said spite house.
I really liked Dani as the main character. I loved her friendship with Iris and Mia. These three women were hilarious. Mia doesn’t hesitate to call Dani on her shit when she needs it. And Iris is delightfully vague and unhelpful when Dani goes to her for advice. The three together were absolutely one of the highlights of this story. Most of all, I enjoyed Dani’s growth and development. She’s learning that she shouldn’t compare things to her past relationships and that maybe building a spite house isn’t the healthiest way to move on from her ex.
The romance was one I was easily engaged in. The chemistry between Dani and Wyatt was obvious right from the start, despite Dani actively disliking Wyatt when the story started. I loved Wyatt more and more as we got to know him better through Dani. The two of them together were a couple that I became invested in right away. I also really liked the way that the third act break up was handled.
Overall, this absolutely was a fun story to read. All of the antics that Iris, Mia, and Dani got up to while planning and building the spite house made me smile and laugh. The romance was enjoyable and easy to root for. I will definitely be recommending this book in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blog Tour: The Kindred by Alechia Dow

Summary:
To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…
Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.
Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.
Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

Review:
Thank you, NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I was invited to be a part of the blog tour for this book by HarperCollins and I’m so glad. I absolutely adored The Sound of Stars and I had high hopes for Dow’s sophomore novel. I absolutely was not disappointed.
The Kindred follows Felix and Joy in alternating perspectives with the occasional memory included. Felix is a duke, but he shies away from any sort of responsibility. He wants to play music and travel. Joy is a poor girl that is about to marry Maxon (a huge jerk) because it’s what she’s “supposed” to do. But Felix and Joy are one another’s Kindred. In this society, everyone is paired with another, their Kindred, at birth. But due to the political maneuvering of others, Felix and Joy are not allowed to meet. They’re not allowed to love one another the way that many other Kindred do. And then all hell breaks loose when the rulers of this society are assassinated. Secrets are revealed and Joy and Felix must meet and flee to keep themselves safe.
I really liked both Joy and Felix. Joy really struggles with her sense of self. She doesn’t think very highly of herself. So, her gaining confidence and finally disregarding the things she’s believed about her body was incredibly satisfying to follow. Her emotional growth was one of my favorite things. I also enjoyed Felix starting to take things more seriously. He seems like a party boy when the story starts, but as the story picks up, we see him take charge and responsibility. I think both characters had really well-done development.
My favorite thing about this book was the world and the ways that it connected to The Sound of Stars. I think the world was incredibly well built. It’s clear that Dow put a lot of work into creating this universe and its history. The history and culture of this book were so interesting. I loved how intricate and detailed the story was about the settings and religions.
The plot of the story was engaging and compelling. We find Joy and Felix, two aliens, crash landing on earth and that’s when the connections to The Sound of Stars being to reveal. I didn’t realize that this book was going to be related to her previous book in any way, but this was almost a prequel and I absolutely loved it. I think the story was really fast-paced and I really liked that. It was a quick read or felt like it because of the pacing of the story.
Overall, I cannot wait for more books from Dow. I hope there’s another set in the same universe that includes all these characters that I’ve come to love. I think the characters were easy to care about. I think the world and culture were fascinating. I loved the outcome of the story. I also really loved the messages of the story. It’s a story that speaks to the necessity of compassion and love. We need these things in the world and this story is all about that. I absolutely recommend this book and I think it will be a very loved story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions to share you’re weekly reading update!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently buddy reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson with Books in the Skye. I’m also listening to The Humans by Matt Haig for book club this month.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty.

What did you most recently finish reading?

Amanda- I most recently finished reading Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins. You can see my blog tour review for that tomorrow.

Antonia- I most recently read The Becoming by Nora Roberts.

What will you be reading next?

Amanda- I have a few options. I’m really wanting to pick up Dustborn by Erin Bowman which is one of my TBR jar picks for January. But I also need to read Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee which is one of my NetGalley eARCs that I need to read this month.

Antonia- Next I’ll read The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty.

Thanks for reading another weekly reading update! Share your answers or your post in the comments below!

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – 2022 Anticipated Releases

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 ten of my most anticipated 2022 book releases for the first half of the year.

January
Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire
The Kindred by Alechia Dow

February
The Weeping Tide by Amanda Foody
The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa

March
Youngbloods by Scott Westerfeld
15 The Last Laugh by Mindy McGinnis

April
19 The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman
19 Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

May
Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire
24 The Inadequate Heir by Danielle L. Jensen

June
The Last Fallen Moon by Graci Kim
For the Throne by Hannah F. Whitten

What are your most anticipated releases for the first half of 2022?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: 2022 Anticipated Releases

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 Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the First Half of 2022.

January 18 Seven Mercies by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

February 15 House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas

April 1 The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

April 5 In A Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power

May 24 Nightwork by Nora Roberts

June 14 A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

June 28 The Song That Moves the Sun by Anna Bright

August 16 The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

August 23 Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

November 22 The Choice by Nora Roberts

What books are you looking forward to this year?

Amanda’s January 2022 TBR Jar Picks

Hi, lovelies! I really loved doing my TBR jar prompts last year so I’m going to continue them this year. And even though I’m pretty happy with where I’ve gotten my physical TBR down to, I think one of my goals this year is to read more of the books on my general TBR list, but borrow them from my library instead of buying so many new books. So! Let’s pick five prompts to start me off for the new year of reading!

Romance
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins

Young Adult
Dustborn by Erin Bowman

Reread
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Sequel
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Most Recent Purchase
Fresh by Margot Wood

There we have it. My first five prompts and the first five books that I will be reading in 2022. I do also have a few NetGalley books that I’m planning to read this month, so I’ll share those here too.

The Kindred by Alechia Dow
Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee
Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins
Light Years From Home by Mike Chen
Seven Mercies by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam
The Broken Tower by Kelly Braffet

What are you planning to start the year reading?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood

Summary:
Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they’re beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.
Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal’s old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever…

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Thousand Eyes starts off pretty soon after The Unspoken Name, meaning that everything seems like it’s all okay for once, but everything is actually about to go to shit. And that is indeed what happens. Csorwe, Shuthmili, and Tal are living and working together. I absolutely love these three and I would do anything for them. But things quickly take a turn when the three are on a job and they wake someone that they shouldn’t have. I don’t want to go into too much detail with the summary because quite a lot happens.
The plot of the story wasn’t as slow-moving as it was in the first book. I still haven’t decided if I like that or not because I loved the slower pace of the first installment. This one had so much more action and higher stakes. But it definitely made me read the story with more urgency because I needed to know what was going to happen. I’ve had an issue recently with other stories that do weird time jumps, but The Thousand Eyes made a fifteen-year time jump feel like it was a natural progression of the story. I liked how it was handled and I felt like it made total sense for the story.
Now, the characters. I grew quickly attached to them in the first book. I was very upset when the happily ever after that Tal, Csorwe, and Shuthmili got was completely upended. Larkwood absolutely created chaos for these characters in the most painful ways possible. All three of them are tested in different ways. I really loved them. My only complaint about the characters would be that I wanted smaller-scale interaction. I grew to love them in the first book, but in this one, it felt like they spend little to no time together so we didn’t really get to see them interacting with each other, mostly with other new characters. We mostly see Tal and Csorwe as the ‘frenemies’ that we’ve known from the first book. I wanted more of their banter but I also wanted them to reconcile and actually be friends. I think this was probably because they all ended up on different paths and there were new characters that were with the three main casts and where we’re getting to know them. But my favorite parts were still with Tal, Csorwe, and Shuthmili.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I devoured it as quickly as I could, falling asleep holding my kindle most nights until I finished it. I hope that we get to see more in this series but the conclusion was pretty well wrapped up and I would say I’m really satisfied with the way the story ended both plot-wise and for the characters. But I absolutely wouldn’t be mad about a companion with some of the immortal characters. I will be recommending this series often in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen

Summary:
A mystery about a girl whose family secrets are as threatening as the desert that surrounds her—but whose quest to expose the truth may tear apart reality itself.
Rylie hasn’t been back to Twentynine Palms since her dad died. She left a lot of memories out there, buried in the sand of the Mojave Desert. Memories about her dad, her old friends Nathan and Lily, and most of all, her enigmatic grandfather, a man who cut ties with Rylie’s family before he passed away. But her mom’s new work assignment means their family has to move, and now Rylie’s in the one place she never wanted to return to, living in the house of a grandfather she barely knew.
At least her old friends are happy to welcome her home. Well, some of them, anyway. Lily is gone, vanished into the desert. And Twentynine Palms is so much stranger than Rylie remembers. There are whispers around town of a mysterious killer on the loose, but it isn’t just Twentynine Palms that feels off—there’s something wrong with Rylie, too. She’s seeing things she can’t explain. Visions of monstrous creatures that stalk the night.
Somehow, it all seems to be tied to her grandfather and the family cabin he left behind. Rylie wants the truth, but she doesn’t know if she can trust herself. Are the monsters in her head really out there? Or could it be that the deadliest thing in the desert . . . is Rylie herself?

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say, this book was freaking weird, but in a good way, I think. The story follows Rylie just after her family has moved back to Twentynine Palms (a military base in California). Weird things are happening here and Rylie can’t be sure if she’s remembering things from the summers she spent staying with her grandfather, or if she’s just losing her mind.
I want to say that the mystery of this story was a good one, but I don’t know that it was. I was incredibly confused for most of this story and not in a fun, slowly putting the pieces together kind of way. I just genuinely had no clue what was going on. Rylie is having weird gaps in her memory, trying to remember with hypnosis, but remembering even weirder things that just don’t make any sense. I will say that when we find out what the big twist is, all of the confusion and weird puzzle pieces absolutely make sense. So, it’s a well-constructed mystery, I was just incredibly confused until the absolute last piece was revealed to the reader.
I think the setting of the desert was an interesting one. I feel like I don’t see much outside of the fantasy genre with a desert setting. But I think it worked really well for this story.
Overall, this story was absolutely bizarre. But I found myself unable to put it down until I learned what the heck was actually happening to these characters. Despite my confusion for most of the book, I was compelled to continue. The pace of the story felt quick even though things happened pretty slowly. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t feel any special attachment to them. I do think they were well developed with interesting personalities. I believe this is labeled as a horror story, but I don’t think it totally fits there. I think if anything this would be more science fiction than horror. But I want to know if anyone else has read this.  If you have, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Thirty-One: Amanda’s December Wrap Up & End of Year-A-Thon Wrap Up

Hey, lovelies! I honestly don’t know how, but we’ve made it to the final month of 2021. 2021 has been an absolute whirlwind and I genuinely cannot believe that it’s over. I am here today to share with you my final monthly wrap-up of the year. I read some good books and some not-so-good books, like every month. I’m also excited to share some of the Blogmas content that I’m really proud of and some blog posts from my fellow bloggers that I really enjoyed reading this month.

End of Year-A-Thon Wrap Up

A book that was published in 2021

Float Plan by Trish Doller

A book from a series you’ve already started, but haven’t finished

Lauren’s Barbarian by Ruby Dixon

A book by an own voices author

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Most recently acquired book (bought, borrowed, gifted, etc.)

The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan and various authors

A book with gold on the cover

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

What I Read

Physical Books
Game On: Tempting Twenty-Eight by Janet Evanovich – 3 stars
Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe – 3 stars
The God of Lost Words by A.J. Hackwith – 4 stars
Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez – 4 stars
Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan – 5 stars
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – 4.5 stars
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang – 4 stars
Float Plan by Trish Doller – 3.5 stars

eBooks
The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood – 4.5 stars
Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian Lover by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon – 2 stars
Ice Planet Holiday by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Prize by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Mate by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Touch by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Taming by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
The Apocolypse Suite by Gerard Way, Gabriel Ba, & Dave Stewart – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Heart by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Hope by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Choice by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Redemption by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Lady by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Rescue by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Barbarian’s Tease by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White – 3.5 stars
We Are Meridians by S. Ghali – 3.5 stars
No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen – 3 stars
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao – 3 stars
When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord – 3 stars
The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan and various authors – 4 stars
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria – 5 stars
Lauren’s Barbarian by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
The Barbarian Before Christmas by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard – 3 stars

Audiobooks
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah – 2 stars
In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner – 4 stars
The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet – 3 stars

Blogging Highlights

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle (Book Review)

10 Books I’d Gift to Fantasy Readers

The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen (Book Review)

10 Books I’d Gift to Science Fiction Readers

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (Book Review)

16 Books I’d Gift to Contemporary Readers

Roxy by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman (Book Review)

New to Me Authors 2021

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (Book Review)

2021 Debut Authors

The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen (Book Review)

22 Most Anticipated Releases of 2022

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart (Book Review)

Amanda’s NetGalley Shelf #5

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood (Book Review)

Other Bloggers I’m Loving

BLOGMAS DAY 20: Books I’ve been meaning to buy but haven’t .. yet! from Chelsea @ The Haunting Hours
Some books that she would love to have in her collection! There are some good ones on this list.

My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2021 from Holly @ Belle of the Library
Check out Holly’s 2021 favorites!

The Year in Review: A Look Back at 2021 and A Look Forward at 2022 from Caitlin @ Realms of My Mind
I love these year in review posts (mine is coming next month).

My Top 20 Books of the Year: 2021 from Asha @ A Cat, A Book, And A Cup Of Tea
Another top books of 2021 list! There’re some good ones on here!

2021 Bookish Jazz Awards Semi-Finalists! from Kal @ Reader Voracious
Come and vote in the Bookish Jazz Awards before it’s too late!

Joce’s Favourite Books of 2021 from Joce @ The Quiet Pond
Can you tell that I like favorites lists?

50+ 2022 Anticipated Releases: January through June! from May @ Forever and Everly
What a great list of new releases for 2022!

The books I read and loved in 2021 from Fadwa @ Word Wonders
Fadwa read some really, really great books this year.

#Blogmas2021 Day 28 – My Favorite Reviews from Books in the Skye
Come check out some great book reviews!

4 reasons why ebooks are better than physical books from Caesar @ Inkish Kingdoms
This was a really interesting read with some valid points!

Horror Poetry Mini Reviews: Monstrum Poetica, Exposed Nerves, Fanged Dandelion from Destiny @ Howling Libraries
I didn’t know that horror poetry existed until this post and I’m so, so here for it.

A Love Letter to All the Books that I Loved This Year – CW’s Favourite 50 Books of 2021 from CW @ The Quiet Pond
There are some amazing books on this list! Each with a mini-review. Check it out!

Best SFF books I read in 2021! from Evelyn Reads
What a great selection of SFF reads! Some of these I also loved and some of these are still on my TBR.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

Summary:
What if you knew how and when you will die?
Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.
But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.
But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

Review:
Shout out to whoever recommended that I buy this over on Twitter. I picked up The Unspoken Name for the Clear Your Shit Readathon because I bought this book sometime last year only knowing that it was a queer, adult fantasy. I’m so glad I finally picked it up because I think it’s going to be making my 2021 favorites list.
The story is a winding path down which we follow our main character, Csorwe (pronounced like doorway but with a ks sound like in the word books). Csorwe is meant to be the next bride for the Unspoken God. But what if she wasn’t? She runs away from the path her life has been on with Sethennai, a wizard that visits where she lives. We see them go from place to place and work toward completing Sethennai’s goals. But we don’t really get to know Csorwe until she realizes that she hasn’t been living for herself.
I loved all of the characters. The three most important are Csorwe, who really grows and develops. She realizes that she’s just replaced the Unspoken God with Sethennai and what he wants. She’s made his goals her whole life. So, getting to see her fall into that trap and then get herself out of it was really a ride. Then there’s Tal. Csorwe and Tal are the frenemies that I didn’t know I needed in my life. I laughed out loud so many times at the way they talk to and behave toward each other. I’m very interested to see how or if we will get more of them in the second book. Even though I understood why Csorwe hated Tal, I really liked him. He and Csorwe had more in common than they would ever admit. I liked seeing how differently he handled come out of making his whole life about Sethennai. Finally, there’s Shuthmili (our love interest). Like Csorwe, Shuthmili has a path planned for her because of her culture and her connection with a god. But she doesn’t have to choose that path and with Csorwe’s influence, she runs. I mostly loved Shuthmili because of how absolutely brainless Csorwe gets around her. Their interactions gave me so much joy. It took me a lot longer to actually care about Shuthmili because she was a little boring having accepted and seemed excited about the path that had been planned for her. But she definitely grew on me.
The world building was absolutely fascinating. We get to see Csorwe travel through these gates that take her all over for her travels, but I’m still not really sure if they’re going to other planets, or what the specifics are with that. But the places that we do see are wonderfully described from the settings to the culture. Each new place has a unique and interesting way of living (usually based on what god their people serve). I can’t wait to learn more about the gods outside of the three that this book sort of focused on.
Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this book. The world was compelling and kept my interest. I never really felt confused or overwhelmed with information. The characters were likable. The romance was swoon worthy. The yearning was absolutely top tier. The plot sort of meandered about, but I found that I didn’t really mind that. I am incredibly excited to read the second book (which I have an eARC of, so I’m going to go do that now!)

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Thirty: Amanda’s December Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

Hey, lovelies! I haven’t done one of these in what feels like forever. One of my goals for 2021 was to get my physical TBR list down to almost nothing (I’ll be happy with about 20-25 books on it). So, part of that was me wanting to read all of my owned but unread graphic novels. I’d like to go into 2022 with no physical copies of graphic novels on my TBR shelf. I want to make more use of my library when it comes to graphic novels since my library uses Hoopla and Hoopla has a really good selection of graphic novels and comics on there. Let’s get into all the graphic novels I read in December and my thoughts on them!

Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

I think all the hype has let me down for this one. The story is a romance between Hades and Persephone but it’s still in the very beginning stages. I just wanted more. I think if I continue this series it will be via the website where I can read the full webtoon for free. I didn’t love the art style and I just felt like I was left wanting for more.

The Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way, Gabriel Ba, & Dave Stewart

I bought this because I’m a huge My Chemical Romance fan and also because I wanted to read the graphic novels before I watched the show adaptation. I have to be honest, I genuinely have no idea what just happened. This was a quick read but the plot (aside from “save the world” was hard to follow. I didn’t understand what happened to them as kids other than not being treated well or loved. There were so many things references that weren’t elaborated on or explained which I think is why I was so confused. I’m going to combine the series only because I already borrowed them from the library and I still want to read them all before I watch the show.

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by Hope Nicholson, Marjorie M. Liu, Mariko Tamaki, Marguerite Bennett, Margaret Atwood, Trina Robbins, Noelle Stevenson, Carla Speed McNeil, Sarah Winifred Searle, & Stephanie Cooke

I sadly DNF’d this. It was entirely too much prose for me. This wasn’t what I wanted it to be, though I’m sure it’s still a very good book.

These are my mini-reviews this month. Did you read any graphic novels?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.