The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

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But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city.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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

Summary:
Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?
But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.
Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.

Review:
I’m going to preface this review with the fact that I listened to this book and wrote this review mostly while taking care of my six-week-old baby, so it’ll probably be a little more disorganized than my usual reviews. I’m not really sure if I have the brain space to write this review, but I really loved this book so I want to share that love and recommend it.
Crownchasers follows a group of characters that are racing around space on what was essentially a scavenger hunt for the ability to become the next ruler. That’s an incredibly simplified explanation of this book, but I don’t think I could coherently explain it all in more detail without spoilers.
I really enjoyed the universe. It was explained well and easy to understand despite the characters jumping around to a handful of different planets.
I thought the politics and plot were compelling. I was very interested to see what was going to happen next. The author did a great job of raising the stakes, leaving the reader in real fear for some of the characters and real anger at others.
I really grew to love the romance with one of the main characters. It felt really realistic and I felt my feelings for him growing alongside hers.
Overall, I highly recommend this book and I’m very eagerly awaiting my library hold for the second book. I listened to the audiobook and I really loved the narrator. She did a great job telling this story in a way that kept me interested. I’ll definitely be recommending this book on lists in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

P.S. I Love You by Kasie West

Summary:
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

Review:
I read P.S. I Like You at the recommendation of a friend for the 12 Challenge that went around social media in January. I hadn’t previously read anything by West and I will definitely be reading more by her in the future.
This book follows Lily, who loves music and playing the guitar, and writing songs. She writes one of her favorite song lyrics on a desk at school and a few days later notices that someone has continued the song. She’s surprised because she doesn’t know many people that know her favorite band. This leads to the pair passing notes back and forth, hidden under the desk they share in the same class, but during different periods.
I liked Lily. She comes from a big family and I really liked her family. I have lots of siblings, so I could really relate to her in this aspect. Having lots of siblings brings many challenges, but there’s also something great about coming from a big family. I really loved the different dynamics with the siblings and I loved all of the family antics.
Now, I will say that I absolutely predicted the identity of this mysterious person that she was passing notes with. But I’m very pleased to say that things didn’t play out how I anticipated. I was rolling my eyes at what I thought was going to happen with the romance, but I’m happy that West really surprised me.
Overall, I ended up really enjoying this book. I loved that the friendship between Lily and her best friend didn’t suffer because of the romance. I also loved the way that the romance played out despite the challenges set up for them. I will definitely be reading more books by West.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Summary:
The dinosaurs is back on earth–alive, now, in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.
The story, told with an almost documentary verisimilitude, is an account of the attempt, through a hair-raising twenty-four hours on a remote jungle island, to avert a global emergency–a crisis triggered by today’s headlong rush (virtually unchecked by any government or scientific watchdogs) to commercialise genetic engineering.
In Jurassic Park, Crichton makes brilliant and mesmerizing use of the unique amalgam of suspense and informed science (this time palaeontology, biotechnology, and chaos theory) that he originated in The Andromeda Strain. Of all his superb scientific thrillers–all of them best-sellers–Jurassic Park is in every way the strongest. It is certain to be his most widely read, talked about, and unreservedly enjoyed novel to date.

Review:
So, I’ve always been a fan of the Jurassic Park movies, but recently, I’ve binge-watched all the movies over again as well as the animated Netflix series. This prompted me to finally work on reading the book. I’m glad that I did because I really enjoyed the book.
Jurassic Park, if you don’t know, tells the story of what could happen if we recreated dinosaurs, but for what’s essentially a zoo. The why behind this is of course because of the potential to make money. But with dinosaurs, obviously, everything that can go wrong does. I was most interested to see the differences between the book and the movies.
I thought the things they’d decided to change from the book to the movie were really interesting. For example, the owner of the park Mr. Hammond was a total asshole in the book. He was greedy and rude and didn’t listen to any of the experts that he had hired. But in the movie, he is more of a sweet old man with a dream. There were a few other things that stood out to me as big differences, but I overall really liked the book. I had a good time picturing all of the actors as the characters. It felt like I was coming back to a familiar story. I’m glad that I finally read this.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Muted by Tami Charles

Summary:
For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown.
So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights — plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it.
Until they’re not.
Denver begins to realize that she’s trapped in Merc’s world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must make a choice: lose her big break, or get broken.
Inspired by true events, Muted is a fearless exploration of the dark side of the music industry, the business of exploitation, how a girl’s dreams can be used against her — and what it takes to fight back.

Review:
Muted follows Denver and her two best friends as they dive headfirst into the music industry, trying to become the next popular singing group. This is a novel written in verse, so I chose the audiobook because I always enjoy novels in verse more via audio. This was a quick book to listen to even though the story wasn’t action-packed or anything. Things go from everything that these teens dreamed of to an absolute nightmare. I think Charles did an amazing job drawing out this story. It was incredibly obvious that Merc (the musician that Denver gets involved with to hopefully make their big break) is bad news to everyone except for Denver. It was like watching a car crash, but in slow motion, because you know something bad is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when and how. But the author did a good job keeping me interested in the journey of getting to that point and still surprising me when things are revealed and we learn how bad things really are.
I liked Denver and her friends. They were a bit naive, but I couldn’t help but root for them to reach their dreams anyway. I think the friendships were the best part of this book. I loved the relationship between Denver and Dali even though it was complicated and not always happy. Despite these friends making super poor choices, I was impressed by their drive to make their dreams come true. But I also wasn’t at all surprised when everything went wrong because these were, in fact, teen girls making very poor and dangerous choices.
Overall, I had a good time listening to this book. It was a wild ride and I was mildly horrified and, at the same time, not surprised to learn that this book was inspired by true events. This was a tough book, at times, but definitely, one that I recommend for audiobook listeners.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.  

Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas

Summary:
Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.
The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.
In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it.

Review:
I’m genuinely not sure how I’m supposed to talk about my feelings regarding House of Sky and Breath outside of “holy fucking shit.” Normally, I would have powered through an exciting new release like this, pushing aside all other responsibilities. But I just had a baby, so my newborn obviously was my priority. Let me tell you, it’s not easy reading an 800-page book while feeding a baby.
House of Sky and Breath follows the same characters we came to know and love from the first book, plus a few more that play a bigger role in this sequel. I really liked the way that it was written. It’s written in the third person, so we follow along with a few different characters getting to see a wider view than just the main character’s perspective. I think it really allowed the world to be opened up more. I really loved learning more about the world. I thought that the bits of history about Midgard that we learned were absolutely fascinating and definitely made certain mysterious plot lines more engaging. Also, I’m absolutely dying to know more about the gates and how they work after that big reveal at the end.
The characters were absolutely what made this story for me. While I was engaged by the plot of the book and the adventures these characters went on, I was mostly here for the character development and the relationships. I would die for Bryce and Hunt. This book was pretty steamy when it came to the sex scenes. I actually really liked that Maas included more than just “traditional” sex. There were a lot of emotional challenges for both Bryce and Hunt in this book that I thought was really interesting. But most of all, I was excited to see more about Bryce’s other relationships. Her slowly healing relationship with her brother, Ruhn, especially. I loved seeing them train together and come to rely on one another. I also really liked that Ruhn got his own plot points for the book. I enjoyed his involvement in furthering the plot just as much as what Bryce and Hunt were doing.
Overall, I loved this book. That’s it really. And it’s no big surprise that I loved it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Summary:
The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.
Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

Review:
The Rage of Dragons is an adult fantasy with a vast world, but for the most part, we follow Tau as he finds himself on a journey for vengeance. He’s lost everyone he loves and this sets him on a completely different path than what he’d wanted for his life. He throws away all of his plans and completely dedicates himself to taking the lives of those that caused the death of his loved ones.
The world and magic was the highlight of this book for me. It’s such a detailed world full of politics that we’re absolutely horrible. There is so much that’s obviously wrong with how some people are treated. It was made obvious because we follow Tau who is a “lesser.” He’s not one of the lowest people in this society, but he’s certainly not treated very well. I loved the mythology of how the magic of this world was created. I think there’s definitely going to be some really compelling stuff related to the plot in the next book that has to do with the magic and I’m incredibly excited to see how it all plays out.
Tau was a tough main character to follow. He’s so full of anger and hatred. We get to see his mostly easy life. And then we get to see it fall completely apart. So, it was easy to see why he chose the path that he did. And it wasn’t hard to root for him as he walked his path of vengeance. I’m very eager to see where things will go in the next book with how this one ended.
Overall, I liked this book. It was a lot slower than I was anticipating, there was a lot of training and build-up before the plot and politics really took off. But there was a lot of focus on the characters and their developments and relationships. It was engaging and compelling to get to know the characters and follow their training. I’m very excited to start the next book. I ended up listening to the audio for this one and I think the narrator did an excellent job telling the story. I will be continuing the series via audiobook. I will definitely be recommending this one in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Last Exit by Max Gladstone

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen

Summary:
Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans. He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.

Book Cover

Review:
I have to be honest. I’d never heard of this book until I accidentally requested its sequel in NetGalley. I didn’t read the synopsis very carefully when requesting and once I was approved, I found Nophek Gloss from my library and borrowed it so that I could read Azura Ghost.
Nophek Gloss follows Caiden (also called Winn, which yes, was absolutely confusing now and again), as he manages to be the only survivor of the genocide of his people. He’s raised as a slave to the “overseers” and when his people no longer serve their purpose, they’re fed to the creatures named nophek which grow gems in their heads that are very valuable. Caiden manages to survive this slaughter and finds a ship, and also a crew searching for a ship, to escape the planet the nophek live on. Caiden makes a deal with the crew, they will get him to safety and he will give them the gem he pulled from the head of a dead nophek. But Caiden is set on vengeance, he won’t be dissuaded from his newly decided mission. And the story sprawls out from there.
Caiden was a tough main character to follow. He’s 14 years old when the story starts, but because of science capabilities in this world, he’s accelerated six years. He is physically 20 years old and has all the knowledge that he needs to survive implanted in his brain. He changes pretty drastically. But there are side effects and as the story continues, he essentially tortures himself to relieve those side effects and once again, he’s changed pretty drastically. It made sense with the plot and what was going on with the story, but his growth as a character never really felt organic or natural. He was forcing change upon himself and not always for the better. He also just wasn’t super nice. We’re supposed to believe that the crew who rescued him have become his found family, but I wasn’t really invested in those relationships. And even less so when we learn about Caiden’s genetic history and the abilities that come with that history. By the end of the story, I was a little bit more convinced, but I just didn’t feel convinced by the relationships as much as I think was supposed to be.
The world-building was top-notch. It was a little confusing because once Caiden accelerated his age and knowledge, we didn’t get everything explained to us as much as we did before then. But it’s clear that the author really build a detailed and intricate world for this series. There were just a lot of different species and people to learn and remember. I was pretty engaged by the politics of the world though. The concept of endless universes and the ability to travel through them was interesting. But the politics of the different leaders and governments were pretty compelling. I think we will be getting a lot more of that in the sequel and I’m excited to see it.
Overall, I liked this book. It’s not a new favorite or anything, but the world-building was interesting and the journey that the characters went on was engaging. Even though I wasn’t fully invested in the characters themselves, I still was interested to see what they did and what would happen next. I absolutely predicted the ending and set up for book two, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that all plays out. 

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary:
War is only the beginning…
From the desperation of golden crowns…
Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.
And born of mortal flesh…Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.
A great primal power rises…Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.
As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.

Review:
The War of Two Queens has created some controversy in the book community. I certainly have some thoughts, but I think the best way for me to write this review is going to be to do my what I liked/what I didn’t like kind of review. I think that I am going to talk spoilers for this review because there are some things that really impacted my thoughts of this book that I can’t talk about without spoilers. So, if you don’t want to read spoilers about this book, stop reading here.

What I Liked:

I liked Poppy. Poppy is powerful as hell and only continues to gain power as she completes the Culling. I absolutely loved seeing Poppy lose control and lose her shit on those that test her. But I also really liked seeing her able to pull back and control her abilities when she needed to. Poppy is a Queen in this book and since she and Casteel are separated, Poppy must stand as a queen on her own, and damn did she succeed. I also really loved seeing Poppy hold her own when she came up against Isbeth.

I really liked seeing the ties between the Blood and Ash series and the Flesh and Fire series. I liked that we got hints of what is to come for the next book in the Flesh and Fire series. I think seeing how deep the deception and misinformation about the Gods and the history of their world was fascinating. It’s kind of unbelievable that none of these people know the actual history of their own world.

Millicent. I honestly love her so much. I liked her in the last book, but I loved learning her secrets. I am incredibly eager to see what will happen next in regards to Millicent. I loved her connections to Poppy and I even liked the connections with Malik. There were so many things that Millie was a part of that were left open-ended for future books. I am very excited to see what she does next.

I loved the ending. Isbeth absolutely got what she deserved and I was screaming when she met her end. I was definitely surprised by a few things that happened at the end of the book, but I predicted early on that Kolis was the True King that Isbeth was talking about. But the way that Isbeth went about waking him really surprised me. Guessing the secret about Kolis didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story because I didn’t know all of the details of what needed to happen for him to return. This also is where a lot of the tie-ins come into play from A Shadow in the Ember and I really loved seeing things revealed about the Consort.

The joining. Okay, so, I liked that the joining happened, but I didn’t like the joining itself. I’ll explain that in the next section. I was always pro-joining, and I definitely think that there was foreshadowing leading up to the joining actually happening. I am happy that Kieran and Casteel are connected through Poppy so we will need to worry less about them dying since Poppy is practically impossible to kill.

What I Didn’t Like:

I’ll just dive right in and explain what I didn’t like about the joining. It was messy as hell. For someone that seems to write some really great sex scenes, this threesome was not good. Poppy basically has no idea what’s going on at all. She’s literally talking about how she doesn’t know whose penis is inside her and who is touching her where, like Poppy, open your eyes and look? The whole scene was just messy and I think it could have been much better.

The side characters that we’ve come to know and love felt like they were barely in this book. We’ve been missing Tawny for several books and once again, she was barely in this book. The same goes for Vonetta and Delano and so many others that I’ve really enjoyed seeing. I wish they’d played more of a role that we got to see in this book.

The dual points of view were not my favorite thing. We got back and forth between Poppy and Casteel and I just didn’t care for some reason. Every time we were in a Casteel chapter, I just wanted to see what Poppy was doing. I don’t know why that is, but I didn’t care for the alternating perspectives.

So, this issue is one that I didn’t actually notice until I read some of the reviews after I finished the book. But this might be why I didn’t really care about Casteel’s chapters. Casteel is such a flat character whose only personality trait is loving Poppy. He feels like he’s only in the story to be Poppy’s hype man and that’s such a difference from the first book. He just slowly lost any sort of purpose outside of loving Poppy.

I didn’t really like the repetition either. The countless jokes about Poppy asking questions, Poppy being stabby, and a few other things are jokes that are just getting a little old at this point. They feel a bit overdone.

Overall:

I’m still total trash for this series and I will be continuing on. I’m still very interested to see how things are going to play out. But I will probably be lowering my expectations for future books. I’m sure there are other things that I could talk about, but these are the highlights of my thoughts. I had a great time while I was reading, but it’s definitely not passing The Dark Elements as my favorite series by Armentrout.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Summary:
Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.
In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.
Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

Book Cover

Review:
Weather Girl was one of my most anticipated January 2022 releases. The story follows Ari Abrams who is a meteorologist in Seattle, Washington. She and a coworker, Russell, get drunk after their work holiday party and come up with a plot to get their bosses to fall back in love. Their bosses, Torrance and Seth, make working at KSEA almost unbearable even though both Russell and Ari love their jobs. The constant fighting and drama that come from Seth and Torrance is unprofessional and is creating a pretty toxic work environment. So, Russell and Ari come up with a plan to see if they can make things better by getting their bosses back together. And maybe Russell and Ari manage to find love along the way as well.
Ari is Jewish and struggles with depression. These are two things that play a big role in the story. Ari manages her depression with medication and therapy. I absolutely loved this inclusion in the story. I know that depression looks different for different people, but for me, I loved the thoughtful and caring way that it’s shown in this story. Ari’s childhood memories are often discussed because her mother also suffers from depression but her mother never did anything about it and Ari really resent that. I thought this was an interesting aspect of the story too because Ari is pretty harsh in her judgments of her mother, which is sometimes understandable. I loved the way things worked out with Ari and her relationship with her mother, though. We get to see quite a bit with Ari being Jewish as well. I can’t speak to this representation, but I’ve seen a few glowing reviews from Jewish bookstagrammers about the representation. So, I did want to mention it. I just genuinely liked Ari. She’s doing her best, and that’s all we can as of her. She grows a lot and I liked her “aha” moment when she’s talking with her therapist and she says “I didn’t think of it like that” and it makes her think about a situation in a whole different way. I love growth and learning like that.
Russell is also Jewish. He’s a single dad. And he’s fat. He was honestly just a cinnamon roll and I loved him. And then we got to some sex scenes and damn he has a filthy mouth and I absolutely loved it. He kept himself pretty closed off, so every time we learned something new about him it felt like a huge deal (like him being Jewish and again when we learned he has a daughter.) I really liked getting to know Russell. He was just genuinely such a nice guy (even when he needs to shove his whole foot in his mouth). I loved how his relationship with Ari developed. We only really got to see things from her perspective, so I feel like we got to know her way better, but I still really liked Russell.
Overall, I had such a good time reading this book. I loved the romance between Ari and Russell. I loved the romance between Seth and Torrance, even though that was a lesser focus of the story. I liked the way the story unfolded. I think this will absolutely be a huge hit with many of the romance readers that I know.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

Summary:
Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?
Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars.
Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. . .

Book Cover

Review:
I absolutely devoured the first two books in this trilogy, so to say that I was excited about the third is an understatement. As Good As Dead follows Pippa as she is once again solving a mystery. I don’t really want to share too many of the plot details (read the summary above for those if you want them.)
I chose to listen to the audiobook for this book just like I did for the first two books in the series and I just cannot recommend the audiobook enough. The cast for this series really does a stellar job telling this story and I loved that we got some more of the full cast and podcast elements that we didn’t really get in the second book. High fives all around to the narration team for this book.
The plot of this book was an interesting one. Pippa is back to solve another mystery, but that mystery leads in an opposite direction from the first two books. I think that was the strangest thing about this story compared to the first two. In those, Pippa is solving a murder and finding a missing friend, but in this one, she’s trying to solve a mystery to “save herself” and that mystery turns dangerous and wild about halfway into the book. The events in the second half of the book were a wild ride. They almost felt out of character for Pippa but the author made it so easy to understand how Pippa had gotten to the point she’s at where she’s making these choices. That sentence was incredibly vague and if you haven’t read this book it was probably confusing. But Pippa in this book is absolutely not the same Pippa we got to know in book one. She’s dealing with some serious PTSD and trauma, and not really coping with any of it very well. She’s convinced herself that she just has to solve one more mystery and she will go back to who she was before, which is absolutely not how stuff like that works. I think the character growth and development was really well done, but I do wish we’d gotten to see Pippa actually deal with some of her stuff outside of talking about her attempts with therapy that occurred between books two and three.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Pippa has changed so much in this series, it was incredibly compelling to see how those changes affected the choices she made in this book. I still think it’s interesting the way the mystery is sort of opposite from the mystery in the first book (and only people that have read this one will know what that means, sorry). I will definitely be reading more books from Jackson in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Constance by Matthew FitzSimmons

Summary:
In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. To anticloning militants, it’s an abomination against nature. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying.
After a routine monthly upload of her consciousness—stored for that inevitable transition—something goes wrong. When Con wakes up in the clinic, it’s eighteen months later. Her recent memories are missing. Her original, she’s told, is dead. If that’s true, what does that make her?
The secrets of Con’s disorienting new life are buried deep. So are those of how and why she died. To uncover the truth, Con is retracing the last days she can recall, crossing paths with a detective who’s just as curious. On the run, she needs someone she can trust. Because only one thing has become clear: Con is being marked for murder—all over again.

Book Cover

Review:
I read Constance for my local book club and I’m really glad we ended up picking this one. I voted for a totally different book, but Constance ended up being a totally wild ride that I devoured in one day. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by a narrator that I didn’t realize I’d listened to before. She did an excellent job telling this story. I will definitely recommend the audiobook in the future.
The story follows Constance who prefers to be called Con. We’re introduced to Con and her life, and the experience of going in for her monthly memory upload. You see, Con lives in the near future where cloning is common (for the rich), and her aunt is one of the scientists that made the big break into cloning, so even though Con isn’t one of the super-rich, she has a clone. But something’s gone wrong, Con wakes up from her normal monthly memory upload to learn that she’s not actually just done a memory upload, and instead she’s now the clone waking because the original Constance must have died. And also, the original hasn’t been in for a memory upload in almost two years, so Con has lots of missing pieces that need to be filled in. She’s determined to fill in those pieces but the more she learns, the more questions she has.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this story, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a sci-fi thriller. I didn’t really read the summary before starting the story, but once Con (the clone) wakes, I was absolutely hooked. The author did a really great job of building suspense and letting the reader think they were getting their questions answered before the big twist. The buildup of mystery and all the things that Con learned allowed for a lot of theories and speculation and I think that was part of the book that I liked the most, the wondering of who was really behind everything and what the real answers were.
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I loved that there were so many diverse characters. I loved the moral and ethical questions of cloning. I loved the mystery and suspense of wondering what the hell was really going on. I believe there is a sequel for this book and I will absolutely be reading it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s NetGalley Shelf #6

Hello, lovelies! I’m back with another NetGalley Shelf update! This is my first update of 2022 and since I did manage to catch up on all of the eARC’s that I’d gotten behind on last year, all of the ARC’s I’ve read and been approved for are 2022 releases.

Now, I’ll share my stats from NetGalley like I have for all the previous posts. My ratio is currently at 81% with 218 titles approved and 176 with feedback sent. I was approved for quite a few new books in the last two weeks, so I have some reading to do for sure.

Approvals I’ve Read

The Kindred by Alechia Dow
Publication date: January 4, 2022
I really loved The Sound of Stars by this author and I’m happy to say that I really loved The Kindred too. I was surprised and so pleased to learn that The Kindred has bits and pieces intertwined with The Sound of Stars. I think this universe was fascinating. The characters were easy to love. The story was engaging. I absolutely recommend this one.

Love At First Spite by Anna E. Collins
Publication date: January 4, 2022
I had so much fun reading this one. The main character and some of her friends buy a property to build a “spite house” to get back at her ex-fiancé that cheated on her. Meanwhile she’s having a fling (read: falling in love), with someone helping building the house. This was an engaging and enjoyable rom-com that I will definitely be recommending in the future.

Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee
Publication date: January 4, 2022
I loved Dragon Pearl. I didn’t love this one nearly as much, but it was still an engaging and enjoyable middle-grade story. It follows a non-binary main character!

Light Years From Home by Mike Chen
Publication date: January 25, 2022
Chen’s books have been hit or miss for me. This one falls right in the middle of that. I was expecting a little more science fiction and a little less family drama, but I still really enjoyed it. Chen did an excellent job creating these characters. I would totally recommend this one for anyone trying to get into sci-fi or those that don’t like hard sci-fi.

Seven Mercies by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
Publication date: January 25, 2022
This is the sequel to Seven Devils which I read and absolutely loved last year. I happy to report that I also really loved this conclusion. It was full of all the same characters (who I still adore) and the story was full of action and high stakes. I cannot recommend this duology enough.

The Broken Tower by Kelly Braffet
Publication date: January 25, 2022
I did a silly thing and requested this one not knowing it was a sequel. But I did manage to listen to the first audiobook and this eARC before the publication date. I felt similarly about both the first book and this sequel. Both were very character-focused and so it felt like not much happened plotwise. I didn’t mind that so much with the first book, but it was a little annoying for this sequel because there wasn’t much pushing the story forward. It felt like this was all build-up for a big conclusion.

Azura Ghost by Essa Hansen
Publication date: February 1, 2022
I am just genuinely not smart enough for this series.

The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa
Publication date: February 1, 2022
I really loved how the first book was from Puck’s point of view, so I was a little bummed that this one didn’t continue that. But I did really enjoy where this story went. We got a lot of new world-building and adventures with the same characters that I love with my whole heart.

Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher
Publication date: February 22, 2022
I was absolutely not the right audience for this book. Much of the story focuses on marching band (which my school didn’t have and it’s not something I’ve ever been interested in) and a small religious town (I’m not really religious at all). But also, the romance felt like insta-love and when I was finally invested in their relationship one of them dies, so I’m very upset with that choice.

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin
Publication date: February 22, 2022
I DNF’d this one at 20%. That’s completely a me thing and not the fault of the book. It’s very gory and gruesome and while I can handle a bit of gore sometimes, this one was just too much for me.

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist
Publication date: February 22, 2022
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was creepy and mysterious. It was very “eat the rich” and I was absolutely living for it. I really enjoyed all of the plant knowledge that the main character had. I also just plain liked the main character, Lena. I will absolutely be recommending this in the future.

The One True Me and You by Remi K. England
Publication date: March 1, 2022
I really enjoyed this book. It has a nice balance with one character who knows exactly who she is and goes after what she wants and another that is still figuring themself out. The contrast of the beauty pageant plot points and fandom convention plot points was also super engaging.

Sundial by Catriona Ward
Publication date: March 1, 2022
This was an incredibly twisty story that I never once predicted what might happen next correctly. The characters were engaging and the story was hard to put down. I definitely recommend this one, but not if you have a tough time reading about animal death.

Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli
Publication date: March 1, 2022
I really enjoyed this one. I liked how the fae element of the story was portrayed. I especially liked the romance between the main character and the love interest. I will absolutely recommend this one.

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
Publication date: March 8, 2022
I just couldn’t get into this one. Nothing about it was keeping my attention. I wasn’t finding the world compelling and I didn’t particularly care about either of the main characters.

Last Exit by Max Gladstone
Publication date: March 8, 2022
This book was weird as hell and I genuinely loved every page. The prose was vivid and sometimes a bit flowery. I felt like I flew through the book trying to find out what was going to happen, but I also read it so slowly because I didn’t want it to end.

Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy
Publication date: March 22, 2022
This was less of a romance and more of a story about Savvy Sheldon finding her best self after a bad breakup. I absolutely enjoyed every page of this book. I loved all the vivid food descriptions and the friendships were the best part, but there was also a romance and it was one that I easily rooted for.

Approvals on my TBR

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
Publication date: March 22, 2022
Honestly, this one was a cover request. The cover is beautiful, but also, it’s labeled at adult gothic fantasy and that’s absolutely something I want in my life.

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim
Publication date: March 22, 2022
This is Sim’s first adult fantasy, which I’ve been looking for more adult SFF books, so I’m excited to try this one out.

The Jade Setter oof Janloon by Fonda Lee
Publication date: April 2022
I just honestly don’t have self-control. I didn’t end up loving this series, but I’m still going to read this one.

The Button Box by Bridget Hodder, Fawzia Gilani-Williams, & Harshad Marathe (Illustrator)
Publication date: April 1, 2022
This was a random request. I thought it was middle grade, but I think it might be for an even younger audience. Either way, it sounds cute.

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T.L. Huchu
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I liked the first book in this series, so I’m interested to see what will happen next.

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead
Publication date: April 5, 2022
This is the third and final romance that I’m on a blog tour team for. Once again, I don’t know much about it but I love finding new romance.

Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and I’m very excited to see what’s going to happen next.

In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I didn’t really love Power’s previous two books. But this one sounds pretty different, so I’m going to give it a try. 

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I was sent an eARC of this one like I was for the first two books in the series. These are fun Regency romances, so I expect the same from this one.

This May End Badly by Samantha Markum
Publication date: April 12, 2022
The tagline for this book is “When a high stakes boarding school prank war leads to a fake dating scheme, two teens must decide if they are ready to take the ultimate risk — falling in love.” How could I not hit request after reading that?

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
Publication date: April 19, 2022
All I needed to know was ‘competitive Scrabble’ and I was sold on this one.

An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco
Publication date: May 3, 2022
I’ve loved most of Chupeco’s books. I liked the first book in this series and so I’m curious to see how the series will play out.

Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire
Publication date: May 3, 2022
I absolutely loved Middlegame so I am very eager to see what’s going to happen in this next book. I don’t think it’s a direct sequel, but I have high hopes that I’ll enjoy it anyway.

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
Publication date: May 17, 2022
I’ve seen this cover all over Twitter. So, I couldn’t help myself when I requested this one. But it sounds pretty good.

Hide by Kiersten White
Publication date: May 24, 2022
This is White’s adult debut and I’m incredibly excited about it just from what I’ve seen her share on Twitter. Hide and seek but deadly set in an amusement park? Oh heck yeah.

Primal Animal by Julia Lynn Rubin
Publication date: May 24, 2022
YA horror is hit or miss for me, but this one is set at a summer camp and I’m totally here for that.

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler 
Publication date: June 7, 2022
I saw this on NetGalley and wasn’t going to request it. But then I got an unsolicited email from someone at the publishers with a NetGalley widget. I loved Cool for the Summer so I figure I’d give this book a try too. 

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
Publication date: June 14, 2022
I really loved the first book so I immediately requested this sequel when I saw it come up on NetGalley.

Silk Fire by Zabé Ellor
Publication date: July 1, 2022
I really have to stop requesting books that I don’t know anything about. I just keep seeing this cover on social media and tweets talking about how it’s not a YA book.

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg
Publication date: June 14, 2022
I genuinely don’t know why I requested this. But I was approved, so here goes nothing.

What Moves the Dark by T. Kingfisher
Publication date: July 12, 2022
I really loved The Hollow Places by this author, so I’m excited to try something else by them.

Can’t Resist Her by Kianna Alexander
Publication date: July 19, 2022
A sapphic second chance romance? Sign me up, please.

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin
Publication date: August 9, 2022
I really loved Night Swim by this author. So, I thought I’d request her new release to see if I like more of her work.

I’m the Girl by Courtney Summers
Publication date: September 13, 2022
Honestly, I’ll read anything by Summers. So, I don’t really even know what this is about. But I do remember reading the synopsis at some point and thinking it sounded good.

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young
Publication date: September 27, 2022
I am beyond excited for Young’s adult debut. A spooky magical island? Yes, please.

Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
Publication date: October 4, 2022
Hogle has become an auto-buy author for me. So, I absolutely requested this holiday romance when I saw it.

Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner
Publication date: October 11, 2022
A queer rom-com where the main character hooks up with her best friend’s mom. How was I supposed to say no to that?

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang
Publication date: November 15, 2022
This was a cover request for me. The cover is stunning and then I read that it was about people with magical abilities and that is right up my alley.

Do you read books from NetGalley? Do we have any that you’ve been approved for too? Are any of these on your TBR?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.