A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

Summary:
Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path? 

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
A Mirror Mended follows Zinnia, who we know and love from the first book. The story starts off with her telling us about some of the adventures she’s been on since we last heard from her and how she’s burnt out on happy endings. But then, she’s pulled out of her story and into the story of Snow White. The evil queen is asking for her help. What ensues is funny and heartwarming.
I loved with my whole heart that we got to see Zinnia get a happy ending. Even though it wasn’t a traditional happily ever after, I really loved the way it felt right for her after all the growth and learning her character had done.
I absolutely loved the romance. That shriek you heard? That what me squealing when I realized this book was sapphic. The banter had me smiling to myself and laughing. I really loved the two of them together.
The only complaint I have is just that I wanted more! I wanted to see Zinnia on all of the adventures she talks about at the beginning of the book. I wanted more banter and wild antics from Zinnia and the queen.
Overall, I loved this. I will definitely be recommending both this and the first novella. I think Harrow’s writing was beautiful and lyrical as always. I just love the way that she writes. I loved the main character and I was happy to see Charm again. You don’t want to miss out on this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

Summary:
Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.
To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.
As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.
This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I ended up reading this book via the finished audiobook instead of the eARC I was provided.
I think that This May End Badly was a fun and enjoyable YA contemporary. I liked the prank wars between the schools. I liked the romance between the main couple. I think the fake dating was silly but still made me smile. I liked the main character. Overall, I had a fun time listening to this book. It made me smile a few times. I was really engaged by the audiobook. But this wasn’t a new favorite or one that will likely stick with me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Summary:
Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.
Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Primal Animals follows Arlee who is being dropped off at the same summer camp that her mother went to when she was Arlee’s age. Her mother hopes that Arlee will make some life long connections, but Arlee is just hoping to survive her extreme bug phobia since she will be spending the summer in the woods. This summer camp is full of secrets and we follow Arlee as she reveals them and wishes she hadn’t.
I think this author nailed the horror aspects of this book. Definitely do not read this if you have any sort of issues with bugs. And while I liked the summer camp setting, I really wish the plot had gone a different way. I think the story would have been way better had the plot leaned into Arlee’s phobia of bugs. Things just escalated very quickly plot-wise. Also, I could really relate to Arlee, but I actually didn’t like her very much.
Overall, definitely, an atmospheric horror novel that involves a fear of bugs. The rich kid summer camp was a really engaging setting. I just wasn’t very compelled by the plot sadly. I also absolutely hated the ending. It had an ending similar to Wilder Girls by Rory Power or Horrid by Katrina Leno which is my least favorite kind of endings for books. I definitely think some people will really love this, but I’m not one of them.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Button Box by Bridget Hodder, Fawzia Gilani-Williams, & Harshad Marathe

Summary:
If a magical button and a mysterious cat could transport you to the past…would you save the future?
After Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her Muslim cousin Nadeem are called hateful names at school, Granny Buena rummages in her closet and pulls out a glittering crystal button box. It’s packed with buttons that generations of their Sephardic ancestors have cherished. With the help of Granny’s mysterious cat Sheba, Ava and Nadeem discover that a button from the Button Box will whisk them back in time. Suddenly, they find themselves in ancient Morocco, where Nadeem’s ancestor, Prince Abdur Rahman, is running for his life. Can Ava and Nadeem help the prince escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny, creating a legendary Golden Age for Muslims, Jews and Christians?

Review:
The Button Box was a fun and adventurous time travel fantasy. I thought this was a middle-grade novel, but it’s more of a chapter book. I think it was a short, but satisfying story. It had character development, world-building, and a fast-paced plot. I would definitely buy this for any chapter book readers in my life. It shared knowledge about Ava being Jewish and Nadeem being Muslim in an easy-to-understand way that felt like a part of the story instead of info-dumping.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Summary:
When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.
But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.
As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. But I did actually end up listening to the finished audiobook that I borrowed from my local library.
I didn’t love this book like I thought it was going to. I thought that it was lacking in a few of my favorite things about mystery/thrillers. There was a real lack of suspense and little to no stakes for the story to just go “ha ha no one did it?” It felt like nothing happened the whole book. A murder mystery should have the stakes slowly raised and I feel like that didn’t happen. It felt like we just did a character-by-character investigation with a backstory with each of the characters. I honestly could have gone for a little info-dumping over the oversharing that I feel like we got with this story.
I still liked the idea of a competitive scrabble community. I’m sure this is something that exists out there and I love it. Really niche hobbies like this are really interesting to me. I really liked how the main character had turned her love for scrabble into an incredible vocabulary.
I did like Najwa. The way that she thought was really engaging for the story. She’s the reason that I finished the book even though I didn’t really love the story. I did I love the casual mention of putting her hijab on and things like that which we get a few times in the book.
While I didn’t love this one, I think it was an issue with my reading lately, and not the fault of the story. I will still be recommending this one in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters

Summary:
Lady Emily Turner has been a debutante for six seasons now and should have long settled into a suitable marriage. However, due to her father’s large debts, her only suitor is the persistent and odious owner of her father’s favorite gambling house. Meanwhile, Lord Julian Belfry, the second son of a marquess, has scandalized society as an actor and owner of a theater—the kind of establishment where men take their mistresses, but not their wives. When their lives intersect at a house party, Lord Julian hatches a plan to benefit them both.
With a marriage of convenience, Emily will use her society connections to promote the theater to a more respectable clientele and Julian will take her out from under the shadows of her father’s unsavory associates. But they soon realize they have very different plans for their marriage—Julian wants Emily to remain a society wife, while Emily discovers an interest in the theater. But when a fleeing actress, murderous kitten, and meddlesome friends enter the fray, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience comes with rather inconvenient feelings.
With “an arch sense of humor and a marvelously witty voice that rivals the best of the Regency authors” (Entertainment Weekly), Martha Waters crafts another fresh romantic comedy that for fans of Julia Quinn and Evie Dunmore.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I was very excited to read this one since I rather enjoyed the first two.
To Marry and to Meddle follows Lady Emily Turner who, early in the story, is proposed to by Lord Julian Belfry. Emily agrees, but with a few conditions. They marry right away and then return to London soon after.
This was a slow-burn story that starts with a marriage of convenience. I liked both Emily and Julian, so this was an enjoyable story for me. We follow the two flirt and kiss and slowly fall in love. I liked seeing Emily figure out how to be free of her mother’s constant instructions and expectations. Julian was a really good influence on her breaking her out of those habits and doing whatever she wanted. I also really liked seeing Julian work on moving from the issues in his past. The two were a great couple that repeatedly made me laugh out loud while I was reading.
I absolutely recommend this one if you like slow-burn romance and character-focused stories. It’s also not a super smutty book. But it has a whole lot of heart and was really so much fun for me to read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

Summary:
Lee Stone is a twenty-first-century woman: she kicks butt at her job as a communications director at a women-run electric car company (that’s better than Tesla, thank you) and after work she is “Stoner,” drinking guys under the table and never letting any of them get too comfortable in her bed…
That’s because Lee’s learned one big lesson: never trust love. After four major heartbreaks set her straight, from her father cheating on her mom all the way to Ben Laderman in grad school—who wasn’t actually cheating, but she could have sworn he was, so she reciprocated in kind.
Then Ben shows up five years later, working as a policy expert for the most liberal governor in Texas history, just as Lee is trying to get a clean energy bill rolling. Things get complicated—and competitive as Lee and Ben are forced to work together. Tension builds just as old sparks reignite, fanning the flames for a romantic dustup the size of Texas.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I was supposed to be a part of the blog tour team, but I dropped the ball with this review.
Fool Me Once follows Lee, also called “Stoner.” She has been working toward getting a clean energy bill ready to be promoted and hopefully passed. But her ex shows up at the office that’s working with Lee. An ex that she treated pretty poorly.
I really enjoyed this one. I felt like I could really relate to Lee. She was almost two different people when she was working versus the rest of the time. She also had some serious trust issues when it came to cheating and she let those issues guide her actions which led to hurting her ex, Ben. But it had been 5 years since all of that happened, so, Lee and Ben have agreed to be friends.
The progression of their relationship was well done, in my opinion. I really like the second chance romance trope. This one had the potential to go wrong, but I was happy with how the author handled their past and made amends for things both of the main characters had done. Their falling back in love with one another was believable and enjoyable.
I genuinely laughed out loud while I was reading this. I absolutely will be recommending this in the future and buying a finished copy for myself.  

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

Summary:
Set in a gorgeous world of bone and shadow magic, of vengeful gods and defiant chosen ones, The City of Dusk is the first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses—each gifted with a divine power—as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war.
The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.
But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.
Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.
But their defiance will cost them dearly.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
The City of Dusk follows five main characters, each is the heir to a noble family. Each heir has their own issues with being the heir and the goals of their parents. But things are unraveling and the four heirs may need to take things into their own hands. They may need to work together despite some of them not liking one another. But the more they learn about what they might need to do, the more muddled things seem.
I really enjoyed this book. The fantasy world is interesting and well explained so I felt like I could easily understand how things were set up, geographically and politically. The politics were the main part of the plot of this book. I thought the backstory about the four families and the gods/their belief system was engaging and kept me interested. But most of all, I was compelled by the characters.
I’m not going to go in-depth on each one because I think what I have to say could be giving some stuff away, but only if I specify which characters. This book really surprised me with how dark things turned. As these four heirs (and a mysterious fifth character that I really loved) work together to try and save their world, they explore their abilities, their relationships, and the things they’ll do to reach their goals. Some of these characters turned pretty dark as they found the depths of their powers and I actually really loved that. I think one of the four main characters may end up turning into a villain in the future and I’m honestly so here for that.  
Overall, this was an engaging first installment of a fantasy trilogy. There was some good world-building, characters that I really got to know and care about, interesting magic, and an ending that left me excited for the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli

Summary:
No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.
When her grandfather disappears, leaving only a mysterious orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. She enters the forest she has spent years trying to escape, only to have Hawthorne Fell, a handsome and brooding tithe collector, try to dissuade her from searching.
Refusing to be deterred, Emeline finds herself drawn to the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of this eerie world she’s trapped in, along with the devastating boy who feels so familiar.
With the help of Hawthorne—an enemy turned reluctant ally who she grows closer to each day—Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Edgewood follows Emeline Lark who is a singer chasing her dream of getting signed and a record deal. But Emeline is being called back to her hometown, Edgewood. Her grandfather goes missing just before Emeline is supposed to set off on her first real tour. She returns home and gets pulled into the mystery and magic of the forest. But even though she finds her grandfather, she’s left with so many questions that she just can’t let go.
I really enjoyed this story. It was fast-paced and engaging. I was never bored or wondered where the story was going. I was eager to find out how all the pieces were going to come together. I think my only complaint is that the ending felt a bit rushed. I don’t know if that’s just because I wanted more or what. There were a few twists that I guessed early on, but those predictions didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. 
I think aside from the fantasy/fae aspect of the story the romance was my favorite part of the story. It was easy to see who the romantic pair was going to be, but I still thoroughly enjoyed following them as they came together.   Outside of the romance,  I liked the family aspects of the story. It was a compelling struggle for Emeline to feel guilt about leaving her grandfather even though he doesn’t remember who she is. And the mystery with her mom was an interesting one too.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a fast-paced story that had interesting world-building and characters that were easy to get invested in. I will definitely be recommending this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Last Exit by Max Gladstone

Summary:
Ten years ago, Zelda led a band of merry adventurers whose knacks let them travel to alternate realities and battle the black rot that threatened to unmake each world. Zelda was the warrior; Ish could locate people anywhere; Ramon always knew what path to take; Sarah could turn catastrophe aside. Keeping them all connected: Sal, Zelda’s lover and the group’s heart.
Until their final, failed mission, when Sal was lost. When they all fell apart.
Ten years on, Ish, Ramon, and Sarah are happy and successful. Zelda is alone, always traveling, destroying rot throughout the US.
When it boils through the crack in the Liberty Bell, the rot gives Zelda proof that Sal is alive, trapped somewhere in the alts.
Zelda’s getting the band back together—plus Sal’s young cousin June, who has a knack none of them have ever seen before.
As relationships rekindle, the friends begin to believe they can find Sal and heal all the worlds. It’s not going to be easy, but they’ve faced worse before.
But things have changed, out there in the alts. And in everyone’s hearts.
Fresh from winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards, Max Gladstone weaves elements of American myth–the muscle car, the open road, the white-hatted cowboy–into a deeply emotional tale where his characters must find their own truths if they are to survive.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Last Exit follows Zelda who is trying to protect the world from ending. When she was in college, she and four others that connected, discovered a way to travel to alternate realities. But while in their search for a better world, they discovered the rot. The rot is coming for the world they live in and Zelda has spent the last ten years combating the rot. But when Zelda learns that Sal, her girlfriend who disappeared ten years ago, thought to be taken by the rot, is still out there, she contacts her friends from college for one last trip.
I was so easily sucked into this story. The concept of a bunch of alternate realities was so interesting. I think Gladstone did an amazing job with the world-building and the setting descriptions. I’m not usually very good at picturing settings but Gladstone made it easy to picture the different alts (what the characters call the alternate realities they travel to). I would love a whole book just about these friends’ adventures in the alts when they were first traveling through them.
This is a friend group that I feel like I would fit right in with. Zelda and Sal were in a relationship before they discovered the alts. There’s also Ramon who seemed like a total cinnamon roll. Ish was the one character that I felt like I could never really put my finger on. And Sarah, the mom of the group. Sarah never wanted to travel to the alts but did so anyway because she knew someone needed to look out for her friends. I really liked all five of them. Plus the new addition of June, Sal’s cousin joins Zelda with the goal of learning the truth of what really happened when Sal disappeared. Each of the six bring something different to the group and I just really enjoyed getting to know them all.
This story is told in both the present, with everyone reuniting, and also in flashbacks to the past where we learn the stories that are mentioned in the present. I think this was such a good way to tell this story. It built up the suspense of the group traveling back to where everything went wrong by sharing small bits and stories from the past. We follow them in the present, but we also follow them in the past on their path to losing Sal.
Overall, this book was strange as hell and I really loved it. It’s angry and broken, but also full of healing from the past and characters that each find different ways to move forward from their past. I think the world was compelling and the characters were engaging. I will absolutely be recommending this book in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blog Tour: Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy

Summary:
Savvy Sheldon spends a lot of time tiptoeing around the cracks in her life: her high-stress and low-thanks job, her clueless boyfriend and the falling-apart kitchen she inherited from her beloved grandma—who taught her how to cook and how to love people by feeding them. But when Savvy’s world starts to crash down around her, she knows it’s time for some renovations.
Starting from the outside in, Savvy tackles her crumbling kitchen, her relationship with her body, her work–life balance (or lack thereof) and, last but not least, her love life. The only thing that doesn’t seem to require effort is her ride-or-die squad of friends. But as any home-reno-show junkie can tell you, something always falls apart during renovations. First, Savvy passes out during hot yoga. Then it turns out that the contractor she hires is the same sexy stranger she unintentionally offended by judging based on appearances. Worst of all, Savvy can’t seem to go anywhere without tripping over her ex and his latest “upgrade.” Savvy begins to realize that maybe she should’ve started her renovations the other way around: beginning with how she sees herself before building a love that lasts.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for a review. I am a part of the blog tour team for this book.
This story follows Savvy Sheldon, who has just been dumped by her boyfriend of several years. He tells her that she’s let herself go and says some pretty hurtful things as he’s breaking her heart. So, Savvy decides she is going to get herself a revenge body. She’s going to get herself back into shape and start doing the things she loves again so that he will see what he’s just lost.
This book is pitched as a rom-com and I sort of don’t think that’s accurate. It’s less a rom-com and more a story about Savvy finding herself. She’s rediscovering the things that make her happy. She’s doing only good things for herself. I enjoyed this journey so much. I really loved following Savvy as she rekindled her love for tennis and spent more time with her best friends. Honestly, Savvy and her friends were one of the best parts of this book. They were an absolute riot. I loved every page where the three friends were together.
There is a romance in this story too. It was one that I had no problems rooting for. I really liked how they took things slowly since Savvy had just gotten out of a relationship. They had some really believable chemistry. But also I couldn’t stop laughing at how Savyy thought he was homeless when she first met him.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved seeing Savvy find her happiness, happiness that didn’t depend on a man. I loved the food and cooking aspects of the story. I liked the romance. The friendships were hilarious and my favorite. I even liked the workout parts of the story. I definitely think this one will be well-loved by readers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sundial by Catriona Ward

Summary:
You can’t escape what’s in your blood…
All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.
She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.
Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…
The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Sundial was an absolutely wild ride with twists and turns that I did not see coming at all. The story follows Rob, a mother to two daughters. When she thinks that one of her daughters has tried to kill the other, she takes Callie to her childhood home, Sundial. Sundial is where it all started and Rob thinks she must finally tell Callie the whole truth now that she’s tried to kill her sister and has a room full of bones.
What a story this was. I genuinely never knew what was going to happen next. I made predictions over and over and every prediction I had was completely wrong. Ward really kept me at the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next and how the story was going to play out. I really liked how the story jumped between the past and the present. We mostly follow Rob’s point of view, in both the past and the present. But every once in a while we got a chapter from Callie, and every single one of them was creepy and chilling, filled with ghosts.
I definitely don’t think that I can say I actually liked any of these characters. But I was quickly invested in their stories. Ward has written an engaging and compelling story that was very difficult to put down. The story was well-paced and suspenseful. Sharing just enough secrets to let me guess at what might happen next, but never enough for me to guess correctly.
Overall, I’m very excited to read more of Ward’s writing. This was a well-written story that has characters I wanted to root for, even if I didn’t actually like them. The twists and turns were completely unpredictable but still were tied back to the plot bringing the story full circle. I will definitely be recommending this one in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The One True Me and You by Remi K. England

Summary:
Up and coming fanfic author Kaylee Beaumont is internally screaming at the chance to finally meet her fandom friends in real life and spend a weekend at GreatCon. She also has a side quest for the weekend:
Try out they/them pronouns to see how it feels
Wear more masculine-presenting cosplay
Kiss a girl for the first time
It’s… a lot, and Kay mostly wants to lie face down on the hotel floor. Especially when her hometown bully, Miss North Carolina, shows up in the very same hotel. But there’s this con-sponsored publishing contest, and the chance to meet her fandom idols… and then, there’s Teagan.
Pageant queen Teagan Miller (Miss Virginia) has her eye on the much-needed prize: the $25,000 scholarship awarded to the winner of the Miss Cosmic Teen USA pageant. She also has secrets:
She loves the dresses but hates the tiaras
She’s a giant nerd for everything GreatCon
She’s gay af
If Teagan can just keep herself wrapped up tight for one more weekend, she can claim the scholarship and go off to college out and proud. If she’s caught, she could lose everything she’s worked for. If her rival, Miss North Carolina, has anything to do with it, that’s exactly how it’ll go down.
When Teagan and Kay bump into one another the first night, sparks fly. Their connection is intense—as is their shared enemy. If they’re spotted, the safe space of the con will be shattered, and all their secrets will follow them home. The risks are great… but could the reward of embracing their true selves be worth it?

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
The One True Me and You follows two queer characters, Teagan who is a lesbian but not out because she also competes in beauty pageants, and Kay who is non-binary. These two meet at a hotel that is hosting both a beauty pageant and a fandom convention. Teagan is secretly also very into the fandom of this convention. So she and Kay meet when she sneaks out of her room to see some of the convention. From there, their romance blossoms.
I really liked Teagan. She’s driven and thoughtful. She knows who she is and what she must do to reach her goals. I didn’t love how she was to her friend Jess, who is supposed to be one of her best friends, who she blew off most of the weekend to see Kay. But I really actually enjoyed the behind the scenes of beauty pageant stuff. I felt like we got enough backstory to know who she was a character even though we weren’t seeing her in her day-to-day life.
Kay, on the other hand, is still figuring themselves out. They are trying on they/them pronouns for the first time. They want to kiss a girl for the first time. And they feel that this fandom convention is the best place for that. Being a part of the fandom feels like a safe place for them and I can absolutely appreciate this. I enjoyed following Kay as they learned so much about themself.
I think there were some really great comments about things that are wrong with beauty pageants. I think it did a great job with that. But I felt like the book was clearly biased in favor of fandom. I think there were some real chances to talk about the ways that fandom can be harmful (the amount of times I see people sending death threats to strangers because of fandoms is gross). But being a part of this fan base is only really ever described as a happy and safe place when I think in reality that isn’t always the case.
Overall, I think this was a wonderful story about a girl who competes in pageants to promote charity and win some money for college. And about a person finding themselves in a place where they truly feel safe. I think this book will definitely be well-loved.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blog Tour: The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa

Summary:
As Evenfall nears, the stakes grow ever higher for those in Faery…
Banished from the Winter Court for daring to fall in love, Prince Ash achieved the impossible and journeyed to the End of the World to earn a soul and keep his vow to always stand beside Queen Meghan of the Iron Fey.
Now he faces even more incomprehensible odds. Their son, King Keirran of the Forgotten, is missing. Something more ancient than the courts of Faery and more evil than anything Ash has faced in a millennium is rising as Evenfall approaches. And if Ash and his allies cannot stop it, the chaos that has begun to divide the world will shatter it for eternity.

The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This review is a part of the promotional blog tour for The Iron Sword’s release.
The Iron Sword follows Ash’s point of view. I was mistaken in my assumption (which I mentioned in my review of the first book) that this spin-off series was all going to be from Puck’s perspective. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bummed when I realized that this book wasn’t from Puck’s perspective, but I absolutely see and appreciate what Kagawa seems to be going for here with each book being from a different character’s point of view. It makes me very curious as to who we will be experiencing the third book through.
I think the plot of the story was compelling and engaging. We’re solving the mystery of “where did Kierran disappear to?” But that mystery brings up quite a few other questions and all of these things roll together into the plot of this book. I think it was engaging enough to keep my interest. But also, I had enough questions answered along the way that I never felt frustrated that getting the answers was taking too long. I do have to say, holy cliffhanger (also, like, literally, hahah.)
Overall, I thought this was a quick read and I really enjoyed being back with a cast of characters that I know and love. But, like I said in my review for the first book, I would have liked some new characters to follow and root for in this world. It felt like I was plopped right back into the original series aside from the fact that Ash emphasized that Kierran was his son, and brought up all the things they’d been through and struggled with in the previous books as reminders that this series now spans many, many years. We did get to see some other familiar faces (like Ethan and Kenzie) which was an absolute joy. I will forever love this world. So, I cannot wait to see how this trilogy will end.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Seven Mercies by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

Summary:
The second book in a feminist space opera duology that follows the team of seven rebels who will free the galaxy from the ruthless Tholosian Empire–or die trying.
After an ambush leaves the Novantae resistance in tatters, the survivors scatter across the galaxy. Wanted by two great empires, the bounty on any rebel’s head is enough to make a captor filthy rich. And the seven devils? Biggest score of them all. To avoid attacks, the crew of Zelus scavenge for supplies on long-abandoned Tholosian outposts.
Not long after the remnants of the rebellion settle briefly on Fortuna, Ariadne gets a message with unimaginable consequences: the Oracle has gone rogue. In a planned coup against the Empire’s new ruler, the AI has developed a way of mass programming citizens into mindless drones. The Oracle’s demand is simple: the AI wants One’s daughter back at any cost.
Time for an Impossible to Infiltrate mission: high chance of death, low chance of success. The devils will have to use their unique skills, no matter the sacrifice, and pair up with old enemies. Their plan? Get to the heart of the Empire. Destroy the Oracle. Burn it all to the ground.

Seven Mercies by Laura Lam, Elizabeth May

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Seven Mercies follows the same cast of characters that we followed in the first book. But in this one, we get a lot more of the present day and less of the past. There were still bits and pieces of the past, but I liked that it was more focused on the current mission. When the story starts, it feels like all is lost for the rebellion and that there is little that can be done to move forward. But the Seven Devils aren’t going to let that get them down. They’re going on supply runs and just trying to stay hidden and alive at this point. But then, there’s news and half the team is sent on a mission to discover more while the rest of the team ends up going on a mission or two of their own.
I think this was a story that was more character-focused than plot-focused, but I really enjoyed it. There’s action and risk, politics and secrets, high stakes and recklessness. The cast of characters was easy to root for. Eris has been through so much and still, she chooses to do the right thing (which isn’t always easy). I loved Eris and loved seeing her relationships with the rest of the Devils grow and mend. Rhea and Clo end up going off on a mission of their own. I loved them in the first book, but their parts of the story were the least exciting for me. I still liked them, but not as much as I did in the first book. Nyx had an interesting storyline. She battled with thinking she was dying and trying to keep that secret from everyone else. It was so nice to see her finally open up and lean on her friends. I loved how supported she was and the way that things played out for her. Cato’s story was interesting as well. We get. A few flashback chapters for him and I was absolutely fascinated by his history and how that affected the present for him. Ariadne is still the absolute sweetest bean and I hated to see how much guilt she felt for things she’d done as a child. She had so much responsibility and seeing her overcome that really warmed my heart. Our fearless leader, Kyla, was the other character that we got some flashback chapters for. I think Kyla was one of the more interesting characters for me. Her journey from the past we see to the present was certainly not an easy one. But she holds responsibility well.
Overall, I liked this book. I honestly cannot wait to reread the first book and then reread this one. I think this story was compelling and engaging. I think the authors did a great job taking time for us to know the characters in between the action and adventure. I would love to see more books set in this universe in the future. I think there was so much potential for things that went unexplored. I loved this crew and their missions. I loved the way the story ended, but I’m absolutely still hoping for more, eventually.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.