Blogtober Book Review: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

GoodReads Summary:
When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.
August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.
The Wicker King by K. AncrumReview:
The Wicker King was incredible and I’m not really sure how to explain why I feel that way. The writing was the first thing that caught my attention that I liked. It wasn’t quite a stream of consciousness but sort of reminded me of that style. I really liked the writing style. It made the story really easy to devour. This was not an easy story to read. We follow August’s perspective as his best friend, Jack, lets his hallucinations get worse and worse. At first, the story seemed like a fun not quite fantastical story where the two boys were going to quest for whatever it was Jack’s other world needed to be saved. But as things got more serious it was clear that the pair were in over their heads, even if they didn’t want to admit it. Both come from not great home lives. August’s mom has depression and he takes care of her more than she does him. Jack’s parents are basically nonexistent. Both Jack and August are basically just doing the best they can.
Despite their struggles, it was really hard not to like both of them. The relationship they share is clearly incredibly special to them both even though it isn’t always a super healthy relationship. I also really enjoyed the side characters (the twins were my favorite). All of the side characters added something important to the story and I liked them all.
Overall, this story blew me away. This review is short and that is intentional because there isn’t a whole lot I can say without spoiling things. I especially liked the color formatting that was done as the story and the character’s progress. I definitely will be reading all of Ancrum’s books in the future.

Quotes:

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

“Where we are, there is light.” The wind blew hard from the east and the trees rustled their branches. “From where I’m standing… it is warm enough.”

“You deserve to heal and grow, too. You deserve to have someone to talk to about your problem; you deserve unconditional support; you deserve care and safety and all the things you need to thrive. Just because you may not have them doesn’t mean you don’t deserve them.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Bewitching can be a beast. . . .
Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.
I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.
You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.
I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.
Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start… bewitching.
Bewitching (Kendra Chronicles, #2)Review:
I’ve been working my way through Flinn’s backlist that I haven’t read yet. So, Bewitching was next up on the list. I really liked parts of this story and not so much some other parts. I think going into this, I assumed it was going to more of Kendra’s story. We do get a bit of Kendra’s history at the beginning, and tidbits of things she’s done in the past, but I wanted more I guess.
The story mostly follows Emma. She lives with her mom and her step-father. Her parents married when she was three, so her step-dad is really the only father she’s ever known and she loves him dearly. But it turns out that he has another daughter around Emma’s age. Lisette’s mom dies and so Lisette comes to live with Emma. Emma is excited to gain a sister, but her mom puts doubts in her head about Lisette’s intentions. And Emma starts to realize that her mom was right all along. I really liked Emma. She was so excited to have a sister. She wanted someone to share things with and really tried to give Lisette the benefit of the doubt until that just wasn’t possible anymore. I liked how her story ended too. She never stooped to Lisette’s level.
Lisette on the other hand was completely horrible. She’s the Cinderella in this retelling, but instead of being kind and sweet, she was conniving and devious. She took away everything from Emma one piece at a time. I understood her backstory, it was sad, but no excuse to be the terrible girl she was.
There were also three stories outside of Emma’s story. In the beginning, we get a bit of Kendra’s story, her family, when she learned she was a witch, and all that. But we also get two stories aside from Emma’s (and a brief mention of Beastly) where Kendra intervened to help people. One is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea and the other was The Little Mermaid and I just didn’t care about either if them at all. They really completely took me out of my enjoyment of Emma’s story. I almost DNF’d this book because the little mermaid story was almost 100 pages and I just didn’t care about it at all.
I’m still going to push through and try to finish this series because I do enjoy Flinn’s fairytale retellings and Kendra is still a pretty interesting character.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

GoodReads Summary:
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Final GirlsReview:
Final Girls follows Quincy who is the most recent ‘final girl.’ Ten years later, she mostly has her life under control, but she still doesn’t remember most of what happened the night her closest friends were murdered. She currently works from home, baking for her popular blog (yes you can expect a Books & Baking post from this book). She lives with her boyfriend, Jeff. She has a pretty good life. But when Lisa, the first final girl, is found dead things start to change. Sam (final girl number two) shows up on Quincy’s doorstep and upends her life.
I liked Quincy for the most part. It was clear that she wasn’t actually okay and Sam brought out the worst parts of her. I liked that she had coping mechanisms, but they’re not working. I also wasn’t totally invested in her relationship with Jeff. He was mostly supportive but I just didn’t care about them. When Quincy starts to remember bits and pieces of what happened that night is when the story really gets interesting.
Overall, this story was a wild ride. Quincy does things that she probably never would have without Sam’s influence, but it also teaches her about herself. She learns that she is not as alright about her past as she thought she was. She’s also remembering what really happened that night, remembering things that changes everything. The ending of this book is not one that I saw coming (though I think others might have). I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author. This is a great one for the spooky season because it’s a little bit confusing, but also pretty dark.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

GoodReads Summary:
There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.
In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.
Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.
An Unkindness of Magicians (An Unkindness of Magicians, #1)Review:
This book is one I discovered from the bookish community on Twitter. It’s been raved about by so many people that I bought it. I bought it forever ago and it’s been on several TBR’s, but I finally picked it up because my library had the audiobook. I didn’t totally love the audiobook, but I liked it enough to listen to the whole story. I’m really picky about audiobooks, so this says a lot.
An Unkindness of Magicians was a bit confusing at first. There are a handful of characters introduced right from the beginning of the story and it was a little confusing between who was who and when we switched to a new character’s story. I think the audio did a great job of making it clear which was which (I started reading this physically before switching to the audio.)
I ended up really enjoying this story. The characters were diverse and interesting. This was a way darker story than I was anticipating and I loved it. The characters we follow are all dealing with different things, from planning to change everything about the magical world to attempting to keep a hold on power. I really liked the political complexities of the world and that there was more than one character trying to change the way the magical world was run. I liked the way the magic was written about as well. The author used vivid imagery whenever the characters were actively doing magic and I enjoyed that. I also liked that there were physical consequences for magic use and the big goal of the story was to change the fact that some of the more powerful houses had found a terrible way around these consequences.
Overall, this story was way darker than I thought it was going to be, but I still enjoyed it. I ended up really liking that there were so many characters that we followed. It felt like we really got to see all the different aspects of this magical world. The ending was sort of heartbreaking, but I think I’m alright with it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

GoodReads Summary:
Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.
Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .
Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears (Paola Santiago #1)Review:
Tehlor Kay Mejia is very quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I read her YA fantasy duology this year and I’ve already preordered her co-written book that comes out soon. If that’s not clear, I loved this book.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears follows Paola (or Pao) as she tries to find her best friend. Emma was supposed to meet Pao and Dante at the river to test out Pao’s new telescope, but Emma never arrives. This leads Paola and Dante on a wild ride to find their best friend. First, the pair go home and try to call Emma because maybe she was still at home? But when they talk to her parents and learn she’s not home they go to the police. I really liked that this was included in the story. When Pao and Dante go to the police station to wait for Emma’s parents they are treated unfairly because they are Latinx. I really liked the way this story showed this reality that many deal with daily. I think it’s a really important thing to showcase in books for younger audiences. When Paola realizes that the police are not going to be helpful, she decides that she’s going to go to the river and find out what happened and try to save Emma. This is where mythology comes in. I never learned much about Mexican folklore or mythology so this was so much fun for me. I’d heard of some, like the Chupacabras, but didn’t really know much else. I had so much fun with all of the mythological aspects of this book. It was spectacularly spooky and honestly warms my heart to think of the kids that will see themselves and their culture represented in this story. I think this story is the perfect one for October (but still great year-round) because there are ghosts and all kinds of other monsters that Paola and Dante encounter.
Paola was a character I really loved. She struggles with her relationship with her mother. Her mother is very superstitious and Paola doesn’t care for that. She doesn’t believe in any of the things her mother tries to instill in her. She is a huge science nerd and I loved that. She tries to solve her problems with facts and logic and I loved the representation of a young girl interested in STEM. I really related to Pao’s issues with her mom and their rocky relationship. I really enjoyed that it was clear she loved her mom, but that they didn’t have a perfect relationship. Paola is a character I found myself rooting for the whole time.
Dante was interesting because we only see him from Paola’s perspective. I really wanted to like him, and I did. But I also felt bad because he was getting older and finding new things that interested him and Pao sort of resented him for that. Despite Paola not always being kind to him, he stood by her and protected her when he had the chance. He went with her to search for Emma even though he didn’t really want to. He was a real friend and I ended up really liking him.
There are so many other wonderful characters in this story. I loved them all. I think this was an incredible story. The world was so well built and beautifully written. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in the series.
I do also want to mention that I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did such a great job telling this story. I will absolutely continue the series via the audiobooks if the next one has the same narrator.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Hideaway by Nora Roberts

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GoodReads Summary:
Caitlyn Sullivan, a daughter of Hollywood royalty, was already a star at ten, but still loved to play hide-and-seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared.
Despite her glamorous background, Cate was a shrewd, scrappy survivor, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bruised and terrified girl huddled in his ranch house kitchen—but when the teenager and his family heard her story they provided refuge and comfort, reuniting her with her loved ones.
Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years away in Ireland, sheltered and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul. Then, finally, she returned to Los Angeles, hoping to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night—one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance…
HideawayReview:
I will always love Nora Roberts. Hideaway was no different. I really loved that we got to follow most of Cate’s life. We follow Cate starting when she’s a child at her great-grandfather’s celebration of life. She gets kidnapped late into the afternoon. This follows her for the rest of her life. I really liked how this was worked into the story. It’s something that Cate experienced, but she doesn’t let it dictate the rest of her life. I also have to point out that Cate comes from a very wealthy Hollywood family, but she acknowledges the privilege that comes with this, which I appreciated. I also liked the diversity I’ve been seeing in Nora’s novels in the last few years. There’s a biracial relationship, there are LGBTQ+ side characters.
I really liked Cate. She really takes charge of her life and doesn’t let her childhood trauma define her. She goes after what she wants. She takes time to figure out what exactly she wants when she feels like she’s lost her direction. I also totally loved that she becomes a voice actress later on in her life.
Now, Dillon Cooper was amazing. He’s the ultimate gentleman. He’s a family man, raised by women. His dream to take over the family farm never changes. But he respects the women who raised him and goes to college at their suggestion. I liked that we got to see Dillon grow up as well.
I loved the romances that we got to see. As this book takes place over many years, we see Cate in a few different relationships. I really enjoyed them all but I was always sure that Dillon and Cate would be end game.
Overall, this was a wonderful mystery/romance novel. I liked that we knew what was going on (mostly) the whole time. There were a few details we didn’t know, but I liked that we knew most of the story. The only thing I didn’t like was that the ending seemed a little sudden. I felt like there was room for more of a conclusion, but we just didn’t get that. I still really enjoyed this story and I can’t wait for Nora’s new release later this year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

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GoodReads Summary:
Fried Green Tomatoes and “Steel Magnolias” meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresReview:
I read this book for my local book club. It’s not something I probably would have picked up otherwise. This book was really something else. I didn’t love the overly grotesque parts of the book (but that’s just why I don’t generally read horror.) But I was fascinated by the dynamics of the women we read about. Their relationships with one another and their relationships with their husbands. This book really made a strong statement about how the world was in the late 80s and early 90s and it honestly just made my heart sad.
Overall, this book was a wild ride. The twists and turns, the way the author had me back and forth believing the main character and then not believing her. I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t have all that much to say about it. But, dude this book was a ride I don’t think I’d ride again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

GoodReads Summary:
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.
The Death of Mrs. WestawayReview:
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is one of the last couple of mystery/thrillers that was on my TBR. I’ve been on a thriller kick this October so that I can clear out the books that have been sitting on my shelves for entirely too long (and so that I can start collecting new ones for 2021 spooky season). Ware’s books have been hit or miss for me, so I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy this or not despite being pretty interested in the synopsis.
I will start by saying that I totally guessed a part of this story pretty early on. I developed lots of theories and dismissed them just as often. This story was a really great one to guess what the truth really was. I liked Hal. I could understand the choices she made and why she made them. I probably would have done the same thing in her position. But I did find myself wanting her to just tell her new family members the truth. She did eventually tell the truth, which is when things got a little wild.
Overall, this story wasn’t super fast paced, but the suspense made it enjoyable. The desire to get answers to the questions that I had pushed me through the slower parts of the story. I think the ending was completely unexpected and a big part of the reason why I enjoyed this story so much. I never could have guessed the truth behind what was really going on. I thought this was a pretty good mystery and I would definitely recommend it for an October read.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

GoodReads Summary:
An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.
Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.
Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?
Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.
The Scapegracers (Scapegracers, #1)Review:
This is a review that if I could, I would love to just write ‘I loved this book’ a hundred million times. I bought this book because I saw two people that I follow on Twitter that just would not stop talking about how much they loved it. Then I read the synopsis and made it as far as ‘teenage lesbian witch’ and knew I had to have it. I am so happy with my decision because this series (which I didn’t know it was a series until the end of the book, but it’s totally okay because I loved it so much that I’m ecstatic to have two more books to look forward to) might just become one of my new all-time favorites. The story was full of teens that are stuffed full of emotions and trying to figure out who they are. I loved everything about this book.
We follow Sideways while she’s setting up a spell that she’s been paid to perform at the first Halloween party of the season. When things get weird at the party because of her spell she finds herself in with the three most popular girls in the school, Yates, Daisy, and Jing. The three become a foursome after they pull in Sideways. They want to figure out what happened, but they also want to learn how to use magic like Sideways does. While I loved everything about this story, from the magic to the things they do with said magic, and the plot, the characters, and their developing friendships were absolutely the best part of the story. The way that Sideways changes her perception of these girls as well as herself after she gets to know them better was wonderful. I also liked that this was a diverse group of friends. They live in a small town, but they’re still diverse in several ways. There was also a really great discussion about sexuality and some characters not really being ready to share their identities. But what I liked most was that these weren’t nice girls. They are girls that are filled with anger and fire. They are teenage girls who talk about how they aren’t supposed to be powerful and they find a way to change that. I really loved all of these characters.
Overall, I think more people need to read this so they can love it as much as I do. I loved that it was full of angry teen girls wanting to make something change. They want power but also happiness. I loved that they fought for what they wanted. I loved that they loved who they were and one another. I also loved the magic. It wasn’t based on a specific magic spell, but with intent. There were words spoken, but it was about feelings and following what felt right and I really liked that. I cannot say enough good things about this book. Please go read it.

Quotes:

“I used to underline passages in my English books, because certain lines crawled off the page, because those lines were magic and they meant something on a cosmic scale.”

“I guess my point is that teenage girls aren’t supposed to be powerful, you know? Everybody hates teenage girls. They hate our bodies and hate us if we want to change them. They hate the things we’re supposed to like but hate it when we like other things even more because that means we’re ruining their things. Were somehow this great corrupting influence, even though we’ve barely got legal agency of our own. But the three of us the four of us, counting you were powerful.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.
THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)Review:
I’m honestly not sure how to put into words how much I loved this book. I fell so head over heels in love with these characters and their stories. I really don’t know how I’m going to explain my feelings.
Let’s start with Lila. She’s my new all-time favorite female character. She’s pretty morally grey and I loved every minute of it. She’s selfish with her happiness and does literally whatever she can to grab it and keep it. I absolutely loved her and Kell together.
Kell really solidified his place in my heart in this book. He’s really struggling with the battle of his own happiness versus doing what’s best for the crown. He feels like a piece of property more than a person. But he really works through this in this book and it was so good. I love Kell and I’m sad we didn’t get to learn more about his past.
Like book two, we got to see more of Rhy and I loved it. I really loved his conflict of emptiness. I’m leaving this vague because of spoilers. But his struggle was interesting and heart wrenching. I love him so much. Most of Rhy’s parts were filled with his bravery and passion to be the best leader for his people that he can. He dealt with so much loss, my heart really hurt for him.
Then there’s Alucard. My wonderful pirate. I loved him so much. He’s made to be this all-knowing guy, but he’s so much more than that. He’s complex and caring. He has so much love in him, but he can’t show it. He plays many roles (much like Lila) and I loved all of them. I also totally loved his relationship with Rhy. They have a complicated history, but that just made it even better.
Now for my favorite, Holland. There’s just something about Holland that I really loved. I thought he was so fascinating. I don’t know what it was, but I looked forward to the parts of the story he was in. I especially loved the flashbacks that we got. I thought his story was such a good one and came to a beautiful conclusion.
Overall, I loved this book so much. The world is incredible. The link between all the Londons. The very complicated relationship between the three Antari was so interesting. I just genuinely loved everything about this story. I’m excited to read more in this world as I’ve heard she’s writing more and we will get these characters again. Excuse me while I scream.

Quotes:

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

“Magic made everything feel so impermanent, it was easy to forget that some things, once changed, could never be undone. That not everything was either changeable or infinite. Some roads kept going, and others had an end.”

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

“Myths do not happen all at once. They do not spring forth whole into the world. They form slowly, rolled between the hands of time until their edges smooth, until the saying of the story gives enough weight to the words—to the memories—to keep them rolling on their own. But all stories start somewhere, and that night, as Rhy Maresh walked through the streets of London, a new myth was taking shape.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

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GoodReads Summary:
In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true-crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way. When another little girl goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers, with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much is she willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth? Dee’s about to find out what’s really at stake in unraveling the mystery of the little girls who vanished.
I Hope You're ListeningReview:
I Hope You’re Listening was provided to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was a ride. I totally thought I had everything figured about what was going on, but boy was I wrong. This story follows Dee ten years after she witnessed her best friend, Sibby, get kidnapped. She was just a child, and powerless to stop her best friend being taken away. In an attempt to try to make a difference in the world (after being unable to help save or find Sibby) she creates a podcast, Radio Silent, that talks about missing persons cases and utilizes the public to help try and solve them. I loved the concept of this podcast. A real-life, true-crime podcast. I thought it was a fascinating idea. I just liked Dee. She never really got over what happened with Sibby. She goes to school and tries to keep a low profile. She has her best friend, Burke, and that’s about it. I liked Burke. He seemed like a good friend to her even though Dee wasn’t always the best to him in this book. I’m happy with how they worked things out toward the end of the book. Now, the romance in the story wasn’t totally necessary. That’s not to say that I didn’t like it. I did like Sarah and Dee together. But I feel like we didn’t get to know Sarah as well as we could have. It was also a bit of insta-love which isn’t my favorite.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It took turns that I wasn’t expecting. It had characters that I was interested to know more about. I think this was a great thriller.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Fell of the Dark by Caleb Roehrig

GoodReads Summary:
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.
The Fell of DarkReview:
The Fell of the Dark is a book that I knew I wanted to read from the cover alone. I also knew I wanted to read it because it’s about a queer teen and vampires. Those are definitely topics I’m always down for. I didn’t really read the synopsis before I went into the story and it so much more than I was expecting. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I was absolutely blown away.
We follow August (or Auggie), who is a gay teen in a very small town that’s close to a Nexus (which is great for magic and not so great for regular humans). So, running into vampires after sundown is a real issue in this town. August runs into one outside of his school one day after staying to work in the art room. Jude tells August that he’s special. Jude tells him about things he knows is happening or will happen to August. But August is very wary of vampires, he’s been trained to be aware of what vampires are capable of. And August doesn’t believe anything that Jude tells him, until a week or so later.
This story moves very quickly, but there’s also a lot of players. I’m not going to talk about all the players and I really don’t want to go into too much detail about what actually happens because I think the best part of this reading experience was not really knowing anything about the story and putting the pieces together as I read. The story had some really interesting historical aspects to it that I enjoyed. I also just genuinely liked all of the characters and the way the story worked out for August.
Overall, this was such a well written and involved story. The only thing I didn’t like was that the rules of magic and vampires weren’t totally clear. There were more than just vampires in this story. People that had the ability to use magic linked to the elements were also a big part of the story, but there were some of these people that were also vampires and it either wasn’t explained or just totally went over my head. Despite this one small thing, I loved this book. I loved the characters, the interesting and unusual romance, the friendships, the supernatural aspects, and I even loved that there was a bit of politics between the different vampire factions. I definitely recommend this book for those looking for spooky queer stories to read this October. I will definitely be picking up more of this author’s books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

GoodReads Summary:
Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that’s impossible to put down.
Witches of Ash and RuinReview:
I picked up Witches of Ash and Ruin forever ago when it was a Kindle daily deal. I’m so glad that I finally picked it up. I picked it up for Sapphic September and because I was ready to read some spooky books. This fulfilled both of those desires.
This story follows Dayna and several other characters. I liked that there were a few different points of view. Dayna is from a heavily religious family so she would much rather spend her time with her best friend and her family. It helps also that she’s training to become a witch alongside her best friend. I really loved how much of their friendship was in the book. They were so supportive of one another and that was an excellent dynamic is Dayna’s otherwise chaotic life.
Enter Meiner, more chaos for Dayna’s life. Meiner is a very angry person. She really struggles to control this anger and I thought that was fascinating to read about. I wouldn’t say I liked Meiner, but I liked what she brought to the story. When her and Dayna start flirting I wanted to scream in the best way possible.
This story does so many things. Dayna is bisexual and struggles with OCD. Meiner also struggles with OCD and her best friend (but also nemesis) keeps kissing her without her consent because they sort of dated in the past. There were so many interesting and complicated relationships, from romantic to platonic to familial. This book sucked me in and spit me out in pieces.
Overall, I highly recommend this story. The setting is in a small town in Ireland. So, there are tough conversations about Dayna’s sexuality. But the setting was beautiful and historic and I really felt like I was there, alongside the characters. I definitely will be reading more from this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)Review:
I just finished this book and I really would just like to leave the Earth or completely cease existing because of the final page. I am so mad at Victoria Schwab for the final chapter of A Gathering of Shadows. But, let me back up to the beginning of this book.
I loved this book. I had a hard time the first 200 pages or so, but that was my issue and not actually related to the book. I was still interested in the characters, the story, and the world while reading, but I just wasn’t having the burning desire to pick it up. This quickly changed the further into the story I got.
I’m still very fascinated by this world. I’m loving the small changes we got to see with Grey London and the very extreme changes with White London. I’m so interested to see how it’s all going to come together in book three.
I really try not to swear too much in my reviews, but I fucking love Lila Bard. She might be my all-time favorite female character. I love that she carves her own place in this new world she’s chosen. She makes hard choices for herself and owns every single one of those choices. I just really love everything about her. She’s sassy, smart as hell, and will literally kill you if you cross her. What’s not to love?
Kell, my poor baby Kell. I really didn’t like him all that much in book one, but now I love him very much. By the end of book one, I grew to love him. So, this book was easier in the beginning because I already loved Kell. He’s treated like crap by his so-called parents (the king and queen). I really hated them in this book. They treat Kell like his life only matters now that he is tied to Rhy and that really made me mad. Kell is struggling with his new bond to Rhy. I really felt for him.
Let’s talk about Rhy. After reading this book, I feel like we didn’t get to see Rhy at all in A Darker Shade of Magic. But in book two, we get so much more. We get to know him better as Kell’s brother, as a future king, just overall as a character. I really enjoyed this because in the last book it felt like we just got to know him from Kell’s thoughts and opinions.
We also get to meet a few new characters. One of which is Alucard, the captain of the ship Lila managed to get on when book one ends. I really loved him. He called Lila out countless times and it makes me screech every time. I loved the mystery surrounding him. I also loved the romance in his past and I hope it’s renewed because I love both of them so much. I cannot wait to see what kind of role he plays in the last book.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved it significantly more than the first and I will be starting the third as soon as I finish this review. So, I’m going to wrap it up so I can get reading. I loved the world, the characters, all the little bits and pieces that Schwab brought together. Though I totally am still mad about the ending.

Quotes:

“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”

“If anyone could make the strange seem ordinary, the impossible look easy, it was Delilah Bard”

“Perhaps power had to be tended, like Tieren said, but not all things grew in gardens. Plenty of plants grew wild. And Lila had always thought of herself more as a weed than a rose bush.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Horrid by Katrina Leno

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Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?
HorridReview:
Horrid was one of my most anticipated releases for the spooky season. I’m really upset to say that I was very disappointed with this book. This book was another that was completely ruined by the ending. I am going to have a bit of a spoiler rant after the last paragraph. I will clearly label when I start with spoiler complaints.
So, this story follows Jane and her mother Ruth as they move from Los Angeles to the middle of nowhere Maine. This is a huge adjustment for Jane. But she’s also dealing with the grief of losing her father. This grief is a huge part of the story and I really appreciated that. It wasn’t just her father is gone, but it really talked about what that meant for Jane. Her father was the one that could help her calm her rage. Now that he’s gone, she’s fallen back into old coping mechanisms: eating pages out of books. This aspect of her character was weird but I sort of understood it on a comfort level. I liked Jane. I felt bad for her, but I liked her. I didn’t like how she clearly knew something was wrong with North Manor (where she and her mother had just moved into) but she wasn’t willing to ask for any real answers about it. It felt obvious that something was wrong and everyone in town knew it. I liked Jane’s relationship with her mother, Ruth. She was obviously closer to her father, but the love between Jane and Ruth is clear and I appreciated that they were doing their best to be there for one another.
I also really liked the new friends that Jane made. She meets Alana and Susie at school. The three become fast friends. I liked them well enough, but the relationships weren’t too deep. I also like Jane’s friendship with her new boss at the coffee shop/book store, Will (who is also Susie’s older brother). They bond over books and coffee and I liked them even though it wasn’t a very developed relationship.
Overall, I enjoyed most of this book. I really liked the spooky aspects, the possibility of a ghost in North Manor. I thought the suspense and the mystery were interesting (though a little obvious). I didn’t love how oblivious Jane was being. She knew there was something wrong in her house and she never pushed when she asked questions and that really bothered me. The ending is what killed my enjoyment of the book. Without spoilers, the book ended at the climax of the story. We’re finally getting all the answers we’ve been searching for the whole story and then we’re still left with so many questions because of the players that were present in the final pages. I’m just really mad about how the story ended and that anger makes it really hard for me to say I liked this book. I felt similarly about Wilder Girls by Rory Power, so if you liked that book, you might like this one. This book has a pretty decent rating on GoodReads, so don’t let this deter you from picking up this book. But if you don’t like unsatisfying endings, this book might not be for you. Now, I’m going to get to spoilers about the ending in the next paragraph.
The spoilers are starting now. The final pages have Jane letting someone die, which is essentially murder, at the guidance of her sister ghost. But it’s never really clear whether the ghost is real or not. The ghost was pretty convincing, but there were hints here and there that made the reader think that there might never have been a ghost and it all could have been Jane. What I’m mad about is that we never got any sort of answers. The book literally ends in the climax of the story. Someone dies and the story just ends. The synopsis says “Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?” and the way that the synopsis is written makes it seem like we will find out whether it is one of those three things, but we don’t. We don’t find out what really happened or what happened in the aftermath and I’m very annoyed by this. I’m just angry and sad because I had really high hopes for enjoying this book. Okay, rage complaining is over. Thanks for reading!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.