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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Two: Spooky Book Covers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are some of your favorite creepy and weird covers?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-One: Underrated October Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty: WWW Wednesday

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

What are you currently reading?

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

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

What did you read most recently?

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

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

What will you read next?

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

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

What are your W’s this week?

Blogtober Day Eighteen: Five Star Predictions – Round Four!

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

Amanda’s Predictions

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

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

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

Antonia’s Predictions

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

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

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

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

Amanda’s Predictions

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young

Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

Antonia’s Predictions

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Winterkeep by Kristen Cashore

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

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

Blogtober Book Review: Cazadora by Romina Garber

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Fifteen: 17 Audiobooks to Read in October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Thirteen: WWW Wednesday

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

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi. I’m also reading Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood and I’m listening to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling and it was perfect for October. It just released, so check it out!

Antonia- I most recently read Legacy by Nora Roberts.

What will you read next?

Amanda- Next, I really want to read The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I also really want to read Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool. There are so many new releases that I can’t wait to read.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Furyborn by Claire Legrand.

What are your answers to these three questions?

Blogtober Day Eleven: Fall into Fall Book Tag

Hey, bookish friends. We found this fall themed book tag and knew it would be perfect for a Blogtober book tag. This tag was created by Silver Button Books and you can find their post here.

Apple Picking: A bright shiny book on your shelf.

Amanda- Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard. The gold cover is truly so shiny.

Antonia- The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi. This cover is seriously so pretty.

Pumpkin Spice: A book that everyone loved that just doesn’t sit well with you.

Amanda- A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee. From reviews I’ve seen so far, people either loved or didn’t love this book. I didn’t love it and there were some specific things that I really didn’t like.

Antonia- The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I’ve loved some of her previous books but was so disappointed by this one. I couldn’t connect with the main characters and didn’t like the romance at all.

Fall Leaf Tour: A gorgeously written journey.

Amanda- Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers. This is a stunning and lyrical story that I still haven’t stopped thinking about.

Antonia- Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Tristran goes on such a crazy journey throughout Faerie and learns so much about the world and himself. I loved every bit of it.

Pumpkin Picking: A book that reflects the pumpkin you always pick.

Amanda- The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. I like to pick big, chunky, round pumpkins that will be easy to carve and full of seeds. This book was chunky for sure, and I would say a nice round story with how the plot and characters are all tied together in a satisfying ending.

Antonia- This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I never pick a perfect pumpkin. It always has to be a little weird or flawed. This book was so unique and just a little odd but still so beautiful.

Halloween Costume: A book with a character whose style you admire.

Amanda- For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten. I’m thinking of Red’s cloak, but also, I love the fantasy dresses that sound so pretty.

Antonia- The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. I LOVE regency era fashion. I think it would be so cool to wear all those gorgeous dresses every day.

Fall Beverage: A book that reflects your favorite fall drink.

Amanda- My favorite fall drink is either hot chocolate or apple cider. So, I have an author instead of a book for this one. Nora Roberts is my go-to when I need a familiar and comforting book that makes me feel warm.

Antonia- The Witness by Nora Roberts. My favorite fall drink is apple cider so I picked a book that I find warm and comforting. This is a very old favorite that I can come back to anytime to make myself feel good.

Corn Maze: A book you can get lost in.

Amanda- I don’t often have an issue getting pulled into the story. But most recently, For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten really sucked me in and I had to stay up late until I finished it.

Antonia- All of them. It’s so easy for me to just lose myself in a book.

Hot Food: A book you waited all summer to read.

Amanda- Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. I preordered this one last year, but it was back ordered from my local indie store. So, I didn’t get it until after spooky season was over. It was the first book I picked up in September.

Antonia- I’ve been so excited for Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan to come out. I love all his books and this one sounds so fun.

What a fun fall book tag! We tag anyone that feels like doing this. Thanks for reading!

Blogtober Book Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

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

Book Cover

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

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

Book Cover

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eight: Series to Finish in 2021

Hey, friends! Last year, we did a post where we talked about series that we’ve started but haven’t finished. This was really helpful for Amanda to keep her accountable to eventually finish those series. We thought it would be fun to see what series are still on this list or are new to the list. Find our first list here! We did actually do a wrap up for this post last year, which you can find here.

Amanda’s Series to Finish

Age of Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I’m actually pleasantly surprised to see that I only have three series on this list. I’ve been much better than previous years with reading series finales when they come out. So, the series that are on my TBR are ones that haven’t been completely published or series that I haven’t started yet. I also don’t think I’ll finish Outlander but I felt silly just having two series on this list.

Antonia’s Series to Finish

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

I’m almost definitely overestimating my reading time with these but I’m really excited for all of these books and am hoping to get through at least two of them before the end of the year.

These are the series that we’re hoping to finish before the end of 2021. Do you have any series you want to wrap up before the end of the year?

Blogtober Day Seven: Amanda’s September Book Haul

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

Books I’ve Read

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Half Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

Books New to my TBR

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow

The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Six: WWW Wednesday

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

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi. I’m listening to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. I’m also reading an eARC of The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling.

Antonia- I just started The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I finished Cazadora by Romina Garner earlier this week.

Antonia- Most recently I read Legacy by Nora Roberts.

What will you read next?

Amanda- I’m planning to pick up Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool after I finish Chokshi’s book.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Furyborn by Claire Legrand.

What are your answers this week?