Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – New To Me Authors

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten new to me authors I read in 2021. We did a post for this topic for Blogmas which you can find here, so I’m going to share 10 new to me authors I read in 2021 that I won’t be reading again.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
I just didn’t love this. I don’t plan to continue the series.

Axiom’s End by Lindsey Ellis
This had the potential to be right up my alley. But the second book was worse than the first and I don’t see myself reading more of Ellis’ books in the future.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
I didn’t love how the story played out. This was a book club pick, so I have other mystery/thriller authors that I’ll continue to seek out instead in the future.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I genuinely didn’t like this book.

The Graces by Laure Eve
I couldn’t put this series down, but in a ‘staring at a car accident’ as you pass by kind of way.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Another book club pick that I didn’t love. The parents were all horrible.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah
One last book club choice that I didn’t care for. I wanted this to actually be about aliens, but it wasn’t.

So, I’ll never say never, but these are the authors I read for the first time in 2021 that I don’t forsee myself seeking out again in the future. What authors did you have on your list this week?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s December 2021 Book Haul

Hello, lovelies! I have one final haul from 2021 that I wanted to share. It’s a big of a huge one and I’m a little mad at myself for going as overboard as I did. But, in my defense, some of these books were gifted to me and some were bought with gift cards that were sent to me. Regardless, I bought too much, and now I’m not allowed to buy any more books (aside from some preorders which I plan to do a post about in February) until after I move (later in 2022).

New to my TBR

The Girl and the Goddess: Stories and Poems of Divine Wisdom by Nikita Gil
The Name of all Things by Jenn Lyons
The Memory of Souls by Jenn Lyons
The House of Always by Jenn Lyons
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag
The Messengers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
The Helm of Midnight by Marina Lostetter
Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson
The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Read

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar (Illumicrate Special Edition)
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Imposters by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Brave by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Enemy by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Free by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim
The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
Fresh by Margot Wood
Dustborn by Erin Bowman
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins
The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan & others

What does your December 2021 book haul look like? Did you get any books as gifts or shop any of the sales?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Becoming by Nora Roberts

Summary:
The world of magick and the world of man have long been estranged from one another. But some can walk between the two–including Breen Siobhan Kelly. She has just returned to Talamh, with her friend, Marco, who’s dazzled and disoriented by this realm–a place filled with dragons and faeries and mermaids (but no WiFi, to his chagrin). In Talamh, Breen is not the ordinary young schoolteacher he knew her as. Here she is learning to embrace the powers of her true identity. Marco is welcomed kindly by her people–and by Keegan, leader of the Fey. Keegan has trained Breen as a warrior, and his yearning for her has grown along with his admiration of her strength and skills.
But one member of Breen’s bloodline is not there to embrace her. Her grandfather, the outcast god Odran, plots to destroy Talamh–and now all must unite to defeat his dark forces. There will be losses and sorrows, betrayal and bloodshed. But through it, Breen Siobhan Kelly will take the next step on the journey to becoming all that she was born to be.

Book Cover

Review:
Roberts will always be one of my favorite authors. I think her books are amazing and The Becoming is no different. This is the second book in the series, so I’ll keep my summary a bit vague. In this sequel, we follow the same character, but there are some new players. The story played out in much the same way that the first book did. Breen is still training with Keegan every day to work on fighting. She’s also still training with her Nan to work on her magical abilities. That’s honestly what most of this book was about. It’s a really character-focused story but the world is interesting and the characters are so easy to love.
I think if you’re going into this story expecting something brand new and totally different from Roberts, you’ll be disappointed. This book has the same feel as her previous romance trilogies. But this is mostly set in a fantastical world. That’s the biggest difference. But it still has the same feel as her older series. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that, at all. I really enjoyed that even though it was a story I was reading for the first time, it still felt familiar. I think the world-building is well done. The world is detailed and complex, but not ever confusing or unclear. I like that there’s a huge variety of different magical species and the small bits we learn about the other worlds are incredibly interesting. We get a bigger view into the politics of this world for this book.
The biggest draw for me was the characters. Marco, Breen’s childhood best friend, played a much bigger role in this story and I’m incredibly happy about that. Marco is black and gay. I was really worried he was going to be used as a “token diverse character” but I absolutely don’t think that was the case. Marco was way more of an active member of this story and I loved it. He gets his own romance and he just brings so much joy to the story. I also really loved seeing his friendship with Breen. The love they have for one another is so clear and they’re some of my favorite friends. Breen is really growing into herself in this book. She’s shed her past of being out down and made out as less than and is doing everything in her power to train and learn. But she also still makes time for writing and family. I loved the balance of “I need to save the world” with her other passions.
Overall, I can’t wait for the conclusion to this series. I love these characters and I love the world they’re fighting to protect. I absolutely have some theories about things that will happen in the future, but I guess we’ll find out later this year when the third book is published.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – 2021 Releases I Didn’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten 2021 book releases that I didn’t manage to get to. We actually did this list for Blogmas, so you can find that here. I managed to buy quite a few new 2021 releases since we wrote that post. So, you’ll see some new additions since our Blogmas post.

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
It Had to be You by Georgia Clark
The Messengers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Sistersong by Lucy Holland
As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson
Tarnished Empire by Danielle L. Jensen
The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien
The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter
The House of Always by Jenn Lyons
The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell
The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel
Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

These are all the 2021 releases that I own and haven’t read yet. They’re all pretty high on my TBR list to read in 2022. What books are on your list this week?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 12 Favorite Young Adult Books of 2021

Hi, lovelies! I’m back again with more of my favorite reads of 2021! For today’s list, I will be sharing my young adult favorites. Again, these are all books that I read in 2021, not just 2021 releases. I read so many excellent books this year, so the ones that made this list are truly top-tier books, in my opinion.

Mystery/Horror

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Review

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Review

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Review

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
Review

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
Review

Fantasy

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin
Review

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
Review

Science Fiction

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Review

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Review

Roxy by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman
Review

Contemporary

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield
Review

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
Review

These are my favorite young adult books that I read in 2021. Are there any on my list that made your list too?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

Summary:
Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently, the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honour to the clan.
Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and his assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battlecruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all…

Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

Review:
I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve read that’s come from the Rick Riordan Presents publishing imprint. So, I was incredibly excited when I got the approval email from NetGalley (thank you!) for Tiger Honor.
This is the sequel to Dragon Pearl, which I read in 2020 and really enjoyed. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much. I think a part of that is because it’s been so long since I’ve read Dragon Pearl that I didn’t recognize the characters from that book in Tiger Honor until almost halfway through the story. I think I might have enjoyed it more had I gone into the story knowing the connection between Sebin and their family and Min from Dragon Pearl.
This story follows Sebin, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, just before they have been accepted into the Thousand World Space Forces. They dream of following in their Uncle’s footsteps and becoming a ship’s captain. But on their very first day as a cadet, things go completely wild and the ship they are on comes under attack. The rest of the story is what follows and how Sebin handles this.

My biggest issue with this book was that I had no idea what was going on until more than halfway through the book. Sebin is out onto a ship and they rightfully see all sorts of suspicious things before even getting onto the ship. So, we’re left with a sense of something not being right, but what that something is isn’t shared until a decent way through the story. There’s so much happening in the first half of the story that it feels fast-paced, but I felt like I couldn’t enjoy all the action because I had no clue what was happening. I’m not sure if I would have felt differently had the first book been fresher in my mind.
Now, there were still many things that I liked about this book. I think the fact that this story follows a non-binary main character is absolutely amazing. I also absolutely loved all of the folklore and mythology that was included in the story. I think there was less of it than there was with Dragon Pearl, but I really enjoyed leaving about Sebin’s family and the traditions of Tiger shifters.
Overall, this was still an enjoyable and exciting story that I think will be well received. I really liked Sebin. They were such a different perspective from Min in the first book. I really think they bought something new to the story. And even though I felt like I didn’t know what was happening half the time, I think this was still a really engaging story and I will absolutely be recommending it in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Most Recent Books in my Collection

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten of the most recent additions to my book collection.

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Dustborn by Erin Bowman

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey

Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Fresh by Margot Wood

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart

The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim

I bought all but one of these at the Barnes and Noble 50% off hardcovers sale because I absolutely have no self-control. What are the newest books in your collection?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

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

Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – 2022 Anticipated Releases

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten of my most anticipated 2022 book releases for the first half of the year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Jade War by Fonda Lee

Summary:
In Jade War, the sequel to the Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award-nominated Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.
On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.
Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.
Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.
Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

Book Cover

Review:
Jade War is the second book in the Green Bone Saga. The story picks up a few months after the end of Jade City. So much happens that I don’t think I could do any sort of summary any justice. Basically, the goal for the characters is still a vague sort of “take down the Mountain clan.” Except there’s more to it than that since we’re following all the smaller things that are done to work toward that goal.
The world is expanding a bit because Anden is living in Espania going to school. I thought his part of the story was really interesting. He deals with finding his first love, but also with being separated from his family and feeling like he’s disappointed them. I really enjoyed the part of the story when he has visitors. I thought the conflict and goings-on in his small neighborhood were just as interesting as the much bigger conflicts going on in Kekon. We follow a lot of what Shae does as well in her position as the Weather Man. She’s trying to make No Peak more profitable but it’s coming at the expense of her personal life and her reputation. Hilo spends most of the book showing how he’s grown. He’s a family man now and he’s really settled into the position of the pillar. I liked his character growth the most. Especially getting to seeing him become a father. But I did enjoy that we still got to see the Hilo we first met come out now and then.
My biggest issue with this book was the pacing. This whole book spawned something like three years? I would start a new chapter and somehow it would be nine months after the previous chapter ended. Hilo’s wife birthed two children in this book and most of the second was skipped over. We’re told that Wen has the baby and then suddenly, a few pages later, said baby is six months old. It happened over and over for the whole book and I really didn’t care for that. I think it really threw off the pacing of the story. It could have been a shorter time period and it just would have felt like a fast paced and action-packed book. But instead, it felt like it was trying to be that, but it wasn’t because of all the random and out of nowhere jumps forward in time.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I loved these characters and oh man did Lee really put them through the wringer in this book. I still don’t feel like I have a firm grasp on the plot, but I’m interested to see how things are tied together for the third and final book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Summary:
Hugo award-nominated author Stina Leicht has created a take on space opera for fans of The Mandalorian and Cowboy Bebop in this high-stakes adventure.
Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds, becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.
Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drink at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who seek to employ them.
Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try.

Book Cover

Review:
Persephone Station follows a cast of characters that are a team of mercenaries. We follow them while they complete a job, but the job goes wrong and Angel and her team are blamed. So, they retreat to a not very well-known place for two reasons, to hide but also to protect the other people that live there.
I’m really not explaining this very well at all. But if I were to try to explain it more in-depth, I would have to go into a bunch of the world-building and more specific plot details and that’s too much for my brain right now.
So, I really liked the world-building. I think the setting of Persephone was well explained and its history was really interesting. There’s only one city where humans live on Persephone, but there’s much more to the planet than that one city. I thought the native species of Persephone was really compelling and I would have liked to have gotten to know more about them. I think Leicht pained a vivid picture of this planet and those that inhabit it. I liked the way society was portrayed. There was a lot of diversity and none of it was treated as “other.” There are lots of different characters, one of the main cast, Rosie uses they/them and another is bisexual. I’m forgetting something else too. But it was a wonderfully diverse story.
I liked all the characters. They all had different and distinct personalities. I really likes all of them, but I felt a little bit like I didn’t really get to know any of them super well because there were so many main people. I also didn’t see a whole lot of growth and development from the characters. They go through this whole ordeal but remain much the same as they were at the start of the story.
Overall, I had a great time reading this book. The world was interesting and kept my attention. The characters were funny and unique. The story was fast-paced and action packed. It was everything I want from a sci-fi story all packed into one book.

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.

Book Cover

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.”

Book Cover

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 Nineteen: Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Online Resources for Book Lovers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is the ten online resources I use to make my reading life better.

StoryGraph
I love this app to track my reading. It’s still pretty new so it doesn’t have all the features I like from GoodReads, but I think eventually it’ll be the way better option.

GoodReads
I still use this to track my reading. But I also use it to track new releases and upcoming releases since StoryGraph isn’t as specific as GoodReads with publication dates.

NetGalley
I’m not sure if this counts. But I read a lot of my anticipated releases via NetGalley and then review them here and on GoodReads.

Libib
I use this app on my phone to track what books I own. This is great for the books I’m collecting slowly and sometimes for series I don’t always buy in order.

Libby
This is one of a few apps that my library uses for ebooks and audiobooks. I use this one for both.

Hoopla
Another library app. This one has options for movies and music as well as ebooks and audiobooks. I use Hoopla mostly for audiobooks, but also for graphic novels.

WordPress
I love scrolling through my reader to catch up on blog posts from the other bloggers that I follow. Blog posts are a huge resource for recommendations and other bookish content.

YouTube
BookTube is a sub-community on YouTube that I love to watch. Now that I’ve watched for a while, I mostly watch for specific people rather than for specific topics, but it’s still a great place for recommendations and the like.

These are all the online resources that I personally use to enhance my reading. I’m sure there’s most out there, but these are the ones I use. What about you?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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.