Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

GoodReads Summary:
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.
The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
Red, White & Royal BlueReview:
I received and eARC of Red, White and Royal Blue via NetGalley I exchange for my honest review. After seeing everyone and their siblings absolutely raving about this book, I knew I needed to read it asap. I’m glad that I did because this book was funny and enjoyable from beginning to end.
I totally loved Alex. He was funny and someone I’d totally be friends with in real life. I loved the relationship he had with the White House Trio. The three were a well-oiled machine and I love sibling relationships and friendships like this one. Alex’s mom and dad were also characters I liked. A female president? Yes please. She was a mother and the most powerful woman in the world and I liked that we got to see a little bit of her trying to balance that.
Henry and Alex were the best hate to love relationship I’ve seen in a long time. They were hilarious and several times I almost woke up my sleeping child because I was laughing so hard while reading. They were both sassy but also heart meltingly sweet and I freaking loved it.
There was so much to this story that I don’t know how to put my words into thoughts. So I’m going to keep this short. Overall, I adored the story. It made me laugh. It held me in suspense. It worried and delighted me. I loved all the different relationships (including the security people) that were present and added just that little bit more. I can’t wait to see what Casey McQuiston comes out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

GoodReads Review:
From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.
Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.
Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.
Again, but BetterReview:
I was very kindly provided this ARC via NetGalley to read in exchange for an honest review. I’m an avid BookTube watcher and Christine is one of my favorites to watch. She’s just so full of energy and personality. I was very excited to see that she was coming out with a book.
Christine’s personality is very much present in this book. The main character Shane is definitely someone that reminds me of Christine, from what I know of her as an outside perspective. It also sounds like some of this was taken from her own experiences of studying abroad. This kind of annoyed me in the beginning, but I kind of enjoyed it by the end of the book. Shane was very young and even sometimes a little annoying at times in the first half of the book. She was quirky, but almost too much so. She definitely made me laugh a few times. And I really understood the struggle with her family. But I thought she had a little too much annoyance for her cousins and I’m glad of how she amended that in the later half.
I was surprised by the second half of this story. It went in a direction that I certainly did not expect. I really liked the second half. Everything about it was better. Shane had grown, the writing was better. It was just all around more enjoyable.
I’d say this was an average debut novel. I’ve already preordered it and I’m happy to support Christine. I’m excited to see her writing grow and get better the more that she writes.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

GoodReads Summary:
Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.
One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death…and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.
Grendel's Guide to Love and WarReview:
This is another book I read because I will be meeting the author in the near future. I don’t think it’s something I would have gone out of my way to pick up and read otherwise. Despite this, I really enjoyed reading it. After reading the authors note at the end of the book, I learned that the goal was to create a loose retelling of Beowulf. Now, I have never actually read Beowulf but have a general understanding of the topics within. So, I cannot speak to the accuracy of the retelling.
Aside from all of that I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun and exciting read that I didn’t want to put down. I read it in a day or two because it was fun and the characters kept me wanting to come back and see how they defeated the neighbors. I thought Grendel was caring and quirky. I loved how much he loved his dad, his sister, and Ed. I liked how he cared about all the old ladies in his neighborhood. I thought he was sweet and hardworking. I enjoyed him immensely.
I found myself really enjoying Zipora, Grendel’s sister. She was sassy and wild. I thought she brought a slight bit of ‘over the top’ness to the story. The same goes for Ed. He was full of quirks and odd little tidbits. His job made me laugh, and his dream of making wine was interesting for sure.
Overall, this story was fun. The antics these characters got into were amusing and entertaining. I enjoyed learning all about the characters and seeing what kind of chaos would be created in their next plan to end the parties next door. It wasn’t anything that blew me out of the water but it was well written and enjoyable to read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

GoodReads Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.
But then everything changes.
When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.
The Birds, The Bees, and You and MeReview:
This new release had me hooked from the cover. Then I read what it was about. After that, I found out that the author was going to be at the NoVaTeen Book Festival that I’m going to (or probably have already been to by the time this review posts.)
I wish this book had been available to me when I was in high school. I grew up in a single parent household. My dad raised me. Now, he did his best to be everything I needed but sex was not something either of us w comfortable talking about. So, we just didn’t. I learned from books and my friends. I would have loved this book even more than I do now have I been able to read it when I really needed it in my younger years.
Our main character, Lacey is so fierce and passionate about getting the facts out there and making people move away. Her mom has taught her all the right things and she feels that it’s her responsibility to share those things with her classmates. I thought she was a great main character. Even though she didn’t have the experience she had the knowledge and she didn’t hesitate to share that knowledge with everyone and anyone that wanted it. She advocated for all the right things. She spends this book learning while also pushing the limits and standing up for what she knows is right. I really enjoyed her learning to love being a doula and all things nursing.
Then there’s her best friend, Evita, who is on the ace spectrum and isn’t afraid to share what she knows and feels. She is the president of the LGBTQIA group at their school. She was sassy and unapologetic about who she is. She spoke her mind and I really liked her. She called people on their shit, stood up for what she believed in, and stood by her friends.
Theo was honestly my least favorite of the trio. He spent the first half of the book with a girlfriend that no one liked. I did like how he was used as a tool to explain certain things and ideas within the story. Plain and simple, he was a great guy. Considerate and kind and attentive to his friends but I just preferred the girls.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. My only complaint would be that in the beginning of the story the sex-positive stuff was a little heavy-handed and clunky. There was a lot of “my mom taught me” again and again. But as the story progressed it got much better. Really only the first few chapters had a bit of info dumping with the sex conversations.
Overall, I loved the characters. They were entertaining, funny, and passionate. I loved the message the story was sharing. It’s one I really could have used in a book when I was young and learning. I loved all the parental support the kids had from their parents. I only wish this book had been longer. I would have loved to spend more time getting to know these characters and being in their world. I can’t wait to see what this author comes out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Summary:
One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy of Arts.
The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.
Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.
Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?
Goodbye DaysReview:
Jeff Zentner has done it again. Goodbye Days had me laughing and crying and heartbroken. I loved every page. It was such an interesting story with so many different dynamics and perspectives. I thought it brought a really interesting conversation to the table. There are many different things I loved about this book.

“Funny how people move through this world leaving little pieces of their story with the people they meet,  for them to carry. Makes you wonder what’d happen if all those people put their puzzle pieces together.”

The first things were the characters. Carver was flawed but relatable. He starts having panic attacks after his three best friends die, then starts seeing a therapist, Dr. Mendez. I loved Carver as our main character. He was a really get voice to tell this story. With all of the grief he’s dealing with, he’s also trying to work through the guilt of thinking he’s the cause of their death. He goes through all the what if’s and maybes, all while dealing with starting a new school year, without his friends. I liked Carver because he showed that it was okay to be vulnerable and flawed. That you didn’t have to have it all figured out. He showed that therapy is something that’s okay and can really help. I thought that was a really great part of the story. It brought an interesting conversation about mental health and guilt and grief all together in one setting.

“Grief if weird. It seems to come in these waves out of nowhere. One minute I’m standing in the ocean, fine. The next minute I’m drowning.”

Georgia, Carver’s older sister, was a wonderful addition to the story. I love books with siblings in them and this was an excellent one. The relationship she and Carver had was realistic and warmed my little heart. I adored that Georgia was here for Carver when he really needed her. She looked out for him and I’m a sucker for a good brother-sister relationship.

“The more I consider the mysteries of the universe, the less I understand them.”

Jesmyn was Eli’s girlfriend and then became Carver’s friend. I thought she was sweet and funny and a great influence on Carver. She isn’t afraid to set him straight but she’s there to support him when he needs it. I like that she’s there to experience and move through the grief alongside Carver.

“Dignity is overrated. People can live without it. I know because I did. But people can’t live without laughter. I’ll gladly change dignity for laughter because dignity is cheap and laughter is worth everything.”

Then there’s the Goodbye Days. I thought this was a really interesting concept. A day to share memories and stories. I thought it was interesting how Carver talked about it before letting his guilt agree to it for him. I really enjoyed how the Goodbye Days kind of came full circle. The first was exactly what it was supposed to be, each becoming a little less positive until the third ended the way it should have been all along. That’s super vague but I don’t want to give anything away about the story.

“We assume that it’s better to survive things, but the ones who don’t survive don’t have to miss anyone.”

Overall, I loved every page of this book. It was sad but funny at times. It was thought-provoking, but also an enjoyable story. I loved all of the little things that came from Zentner’s real-life experiences that he talks about on social media and elsewhere. I also absolutely adored the tidbits from The Serpent King that we got to see in this story. This is a new favorite book without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

GoodReads Summary:
Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.
When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.
As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?
In Another LifeReview:
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley to read and review. I requested this book because I’m a fan of other books by this author. I was interested to see what else she was writing. In Another Life is scheduled to publish on March 26th, 2019. I also was drawn in by the cover. I’m a huge fan of simple but colorful book covers.
So, the actual storyline was super interesting. Chloe discovers who her biological parents may be and the big mystery is to figure out if she is the girl that went missing all those years ago. I thought this was really intriguing. It was paced well, slowly giving us all the answers. Creating suspense, but not in an annoying way.
I liked Chloe a lot. A girl with too many responsibilities. Her mom has just gone through cancer treatments and has finally been deemed cancer free. Her parents went through an awful divorce. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders. And she holds it up pretty damn well. She’s funny. She stands up for what she thinks is right. She does the best she can each day.
I didn’t love her relationship with her mom. I understand her mom is going through a lot but she should have gotten her shit together way sooner. She’s constantly badmouthing Chloe’s dad which is totally unacceptable. As a child of divorce, this really upset me because that’s a huge no-no. She also can’t seem to make it out of bed most days. She makes promise after promise to Chloe and doesn’t follow through with any of them. This means that Chloe ends up parenting her mother most of the time. I liked her after she got her shit together but it never should have gotten to the point that it did.
I really liked Chloe’s dad. He was pretty shitty at the beginning. Not really being the best dad he could, but he did his best to be better. I liked that he made the effort over and over even when Chloe wasn’t being receptive. He knows that he messed up, but he doesn’t want that to mean he loses his little girl. I’m a total sucker for Daddie/daughter relationships.
Now…Cash. I totally didn’t like him at first. He was weird and even a little creepy in the way that he got himself involved with Chloe. I understand why he did it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I thought we were going to have a case of extremely unnecessary secret keeping but Cash told Chloe the truth pretty quickly which I was happy about. I ended up really liking their relationship. They help one another to be better. They were really good for each other, both pushing the other to try to move out of their comfort zone. They just worked really well together.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a little cheesy at times, but I liked the story. The characters kept me interested and entertained. I’m definitely going to be buying this once it is released.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Summary:
Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.
The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at time comic vie of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.
The Serpent KingReview:
The Serpent King is a story that leaves a mark. We follow three characters Dill, Lydia, and Travis who are as different as different can get. But they are the best of friends. I enjoyed these three so much. They really drove the story. The plot was based on the actions and decisions of the characters. Really the whole storyline was these friends deciding their futures after high school. I thought this was a really interesting way to tell the story. It was very well written, well-paced, and interesting. Even when I didn’t like what the characters were doing or saying, I still understood and liked them overall.

“Nothing makes you feel more naked than someone identifying a desire  you never knew you possessed.”

Lydia is fierce and unapologetic about who she is. I loved her. She was witty and sharp, quick to spit back anything she was given. She was loyal and full of love for her people. Aware of the things that she has that others might not. She was ambitious and knew exactly what she wanted from life and how she was going to get it. She pushed her friends to go after what they deserve in life.
Travis was the nerd. Always with his face in a book (something I could relate to), and wishing he was in his favorite fantasy world. He really got the shit end of the stick with his family. I think I would have liked to see a little more of his perspective though. More of him dealing with his own issues. I think he had the best character development and I will forever be mad at Jeff Zentner for the way he ended Travis’s storyline.

“Why would God make such a universe in someone and then destroy it?”

Finally, there’s Dill. A kid that faces the consequences from his father’s actions every day. I think what I liked most about Dill was that he kept his faith despite his less than ideal circumstances. He still believes in God despite the things in his life that make have taken faith from another. I didn’t like Dill all the time. He too often threw himself a pity party because he wasn’t going to let himself make a better life because of others. But by the end of the story I loved him again and really respected him.

“And if you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.”

Overall, I enjoyed The Serpent King immensely. This story talks about depression and how to let others support you when you need it. It also talks about doing what’s best for yourself and your future without letting the ideas of others hold you back from your full potential. I loved the messages in the story told through realistic and relatable characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.