Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White

Summary:
Twelve-year-old twins Theodora and Alexander and their older sister Wilhelmina Sinister-Winterbottom don’t know how they ended up with their Aunt Saffronia for an entire summer. She’s not exactly well equipped to handle children. The twins are determined to make it a good vacation, though, so when Aunt Saffronia suggests a waterpark, they hastily agree.
But Fathoms of Fun is not your typical waterpark. Instead of cabanas, guests rent mausoleums. The waterslides are gray tongues extending from horrible gargoyle faces. The few people they encounter are very, very odd. And the owner disappeared under bizarre circumstances, lost to the Cold, Unknowable Sea—the wave pool.
When Wil goes missing, rule following, cautious Alexander and competitive, brave Theo will have to work together to solve the mystery of Fathoms of Fun. But are they out of their depth?

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Wretched Waterpark follows two siblings as they are weirdly dropped off by their parents at an aunt’s house. They’ve never met this aunt before and they spend the whole week at the local Waterpark. But it’s not like any Waterpark they’ve been to before. Something weird is going on and they just might be nose enough to figure it out.
I liked the siblings as the main characters. I love a good sibling story and this one definitely covered that aspect. I think the relationship between the siblings is what really made this book shine.
The setting was pretty good too. This weird-ass Waterpark was full of slides and such, but the restaurant served fancy food, and there didn’t seem to be many other guests. I think White did a great job making it obvious that something was wrong at the park.
Overall, I had a good time reading this one. I liked that the siblings could depend on one another. But they were also distinct, and I enjoyed getting to know them all.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire

Summary:
Melanie has a destiny, though it isn’t the one everyone assumes it to be. She’s delicate; she’s fragile; she’s dying. Now, truly, is the winter of her soul.
Harry doesn’t want to believe in destiny, because that means accepting the loss of the one person who gives his life meaning, who brings summer to his world.
So, when a new road is laid out in front of them—a road that will lead through untold dangers toward a possible lifetime together—walking down it seems to be the only option.
But others are following behind, with violence in their hearts.
It looks like Destiny has a plan for them, after all….

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Seasonal Fears is the sequel to Middlegame (which I read and loved last year). It’s set in the same world but follows new characters. We get to know Melanie and Harry. Melanie was created by alchemist parents. Her mother died while giving birth, along with Melanie’s twin sister. Harry is a local boy, one that Melanie has loved from childhood, and Harry loves Melanie just as much. But when the ruling Winter and Summer die, Mel and Harry are in for a big surprise.
I had a total blast reading this book. I feel like this one was a bit simpler than the first book only because the differences between the seasonal magic and whatever Roger and Dodger are, are many. Also, because of certain plot reasons, Harry just really struggles to understand what the hell is going on, so things are explained several times in a few different ways.
I really liked following Melanie and Harry. They were a really sweet young couple and their love was wholesome until it wasn’t. Their relationship progressed with the changes going on around them. They were both more mature than the other kids their age because Melanie was likely to die soon, so the pair knows how to deal with heavy things. But learning magic is real, and the lengths they need to go to in order to survive and stay together will take things down a darker path.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved the surprises and twists. I loved the world of alchemy. I loved the characters. I highly recommend both this and Middlegame.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s NetGalley Shelf #7

Hi, lovelies! I’m back with another NetGalley shelf update. I’ve read some good ones and some not-so-good ones. Let me know if you’ve read any of these!

As I always do with these posts, I’m going to share my NetGalley statistics for transparencies sake. Mostly because this looks like a large number of books, but I read them all and my numbers show that. I have 234 approved with feedback sent for 204 books. This gives me a feedback ratio of 87%, which I’m pretty proud of.

Approvals I’ve Read

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim
Publication date: March 22, 2022
I really enjoyed this one. It was a lot darker than I was anticipating. I loved all the characters that we followed. Their development was compelling and the story was engaging.

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
Publication date: March 22, 2022
I think I might not be smart enough for this story. I still had so many questions when I finished and now I remember nothing.

Always Jane by Jenn Bennett
Publication date: March 29, 2022
I very surprisingly DNF’d this book. I read about 25% and had no clue what was going on. So I restarted and then DNF’d at 10%. I couldn’t stand the main character’s boyfriend.

The Button Box by Bridget Hodder, Fawzia Gilani-Williams, & Harshad Marathe (Illustrator)
Publication date: April 1, 2022
I thought this was middle grade, but it’s more like a chapter book. I liked it. I thought it was a cute time travel fantasy that follows diverse characters.

In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I DNF’d this around 15%. I think Power’s books might just not be for me.

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead
Publication date: April 5, 2022
This is a second chance romance (one of my favorite tropes) with a hot mess main character and the ex that she cheated on. I loved the main character, Lee. She’s a hot mess in the best kinds of ways. This book had me laughing out loud quite a few times while reading.

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters
Publication date: April 5, 2022
This is my favorite book in the series so far. I laughed out loud so many times and just really had fun reading this one.

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T.L. Huchu
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I liked the first book in this series, but I just didn’t care about this one. I read about 30% of the eARC and then found the audiobook from my library after the book’s release. I DNF’d at 84% and when I still didn’t care while the big reveals were going on I wasn’t going to listen to another two hours.

Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I sadly DNF’d this one. I read 8% of the eARC and then restarted the story via the audiobook from my library. I just had no idea what was going on.

Very Bad People by Kit Frick
Publication date: April 5, 2022
I already remember little to nothing about this book. So, that’s not a good sign. What I do remember is not really liking the main character. This one just wasn’t for me.

This May End Badly by Samantha Markum
Publication date: April 12, 2022
I didn’t love this, but I didn’t hate it. It was an enjoyable and fun YA contemporary. I liked the main character. There were some moments that made me smile. But I don’t think it’s one that will stick with me.

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
Publication date: April 19, 2022
This was too slow for my liking. I ended up listening to the finished audiobook. I felt like the suspense and build-up were lacking and I didn’t like the twist at the end.

The Jade Setter of Janloon by Fonda Lee
Publication date: April 30, 2022
This felt weirdly unrelated to the rest of the books. I didn’t really like the main character very much.

An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco
Publication date: May 3, 2022
I had a good time reading this book but it’s not a series that I think I will want to reread again and again. I do think there were some things at the ending that maybe hinted at another installment of this series which I would read. This book is diverse and full of action.

Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire
Publication date: May 3, 2022
I really enjoyed this book. I think I liked Middlegame a bit more, but only because it was a total mindfuck. I still really enjoyed this one. The seasonal magic was interesting to learn about and I really liked the two main characters.

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin
Publication date: May 24, 2022
I think this author nailed the horror aspects of this book. Definitely do not read this if you have any sort of issues with bugs. And while I liked the summer camp setting, I really wish the plot had gone a different way.

Hide by Kiersten White
Publication date: May 24, 2022
This is White’s adult debut and I’m incredibly sad to say that I didn’t love this book. I loved the first half, but then things got a little too fantastical for me. I wanted to love it but there were too many character points of view and I didn’t like the way things were wrapped up.

Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper
Publication date: May 31, 2022
This was the most wholesome and heartwarming book I’ve read in a long time. A young gay boy comes out to his parents and they try to plan a pride parade so that he feels loved and welcomed in the small town he lives in and loves.

Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White
Publication date: June 7, 2022
I had a good time reading this one. I liked that the siblings could depend on one another. But they were also distinct and I really liked getting to know them all. I love a good sibling story and this one definitely covered that aspect. I also think White did a great job making it obvious that something was wrong at the park. The setting was weird and creepy, unsettling more than anything really scary. I thought she did well with that part of this book.

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler 
Publication date: June 7, 2022
I really enjoyed this book. I’m not a huge football fan, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment. I really liked that this wasn’t a sad story about the two main characters dealing with homophobia, but it also wasn’t a totally happy story. It had the realities that queer teens face all over the world, but it was also filled with joy and love.

January Fifteenth by Rachel Swirsky
Publication date: June 14, 2022
I don’t usually read novellas but I love science fiction. This was an odd book in the sense that I didn’t expect it to be so sad. I should have expected it since most near-future sci-fi’s are sad. I still liked it. It was a good story and the format was creative. I can’t say that I had a good time reading it because it wasn’t a happy story. But I would recommend it in specific genre lists.

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg
Publication date: June 14, 2022
I know everyone is calling this a self-insert Outlander story, but I thought it was pretty different from the Outlander books. There was a lot more magic. It wasn’t anything that blew me away but I had fun while I was reading it. The characters were a bit predictable and surface-level, but sometimes that’s fun.

Beneath the Starlit Sea by Nicole Bea
Publication date: June 14, 2022
Dnf’d @ 33% She fell in insta-love with her captor. Sorry, the writing is really beautiful but I’m not here for it.

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
Publication date: June 14, 2022
I really enjoyed this one. I loved seeing Zinnia again. I loved the romance. I loved all of it. I just wanted more.

What Moves the Dark by T. Kingfisher
Publication date: July 12, 2022
I think this was a good and creepy read. It’s quick and atmospheric and gave me the creepy crawlies a little bit. There was a little bit of gore when the character cut open a hare, but nothing worse than that.

Helltown by Casey Sherman
Publication date: July 12, 2022
I dnf’d at 8%. The book was incredibly graphic with describing the murders. No thank you.

Can’t Resist Her by Kianna Alexander
Publication date: July 19, 2022
This is a sapphic romance. I really liked the two main characters. They had vibrant and bold personalities. Their attraction to one another was believable. I love second-chance romances, and this one was a good one. I really liked how the story concluded.

I’m the Girl by Courtney Summers
Publication date: September 13, 2022
I was incredibly confused this entire book. I’m sorry but I don’t think this ever delivered on what it was trying to do.

Approvals on my TBR

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.

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows
Publication date: July 26, 2022
The synopsis sounds right up my alley. But also, this cover is stunning and I couldn’t help myself.

For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa
Publication date: July 26, 2022
I just couldn’t say no to the pun in the title. I’ve seen some friends on Twitter enjoy this one.

The Hookup Plan by Farrah Rochon
Publication date: August 2, 2022
I liked the first two in this series. So, I’m excited to be approved for the third.

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.

Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie
Publication date: August 23, 2022
This thriller sounds super good.

Silver Under Nightfall by Rin Chupeco
Publication date: September 13, 2022
Chupeco is an auto-buy author for me. I hit that request button so fast.

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?

Built to Last by Erin Hahn
Publication date: October 18, 2022
I’ve liked some of Hahn’s YA romance, so I’m excited to try her adult romance debut.

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.

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales
Publication date: December 6, 2022
A book where the main character goes on a reality dating show and falls in love with one of the fellow contestants? Yes fucking please.

What books are on your tbr?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s June 2022 TBR Jar Picks & Clear Your Sht Readathon TBR

Hello, lovelies! We have officially made it to the halfway point of 2022. Hopefully, the second half is as good as I’m expecting it to be! I hope 2022 has been treating everyone well and we’re all about to read some great books this month.

Romance
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Favorite Author
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Reread
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Young Adult
The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Most Recent Purchase
Book Lovers by Emily Henry

As usual, I’m going to share the books I need to read this month to try to keep up with my NetGalley eARCs.

Always Jane by Jenn Bennett
An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco
Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper
Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler
Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White
Breaking Time by Sasha Aslberg
January Fifteenth by Rachel Swirsky

Clear Your Shit

Walkman // a book you’ve been avoiding the longest
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

Breakfast Club // read a book with food themes or items
Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Love & Food edited by Elsie Chapman

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun // read a book with multiple POVs
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

NES // read a sci-fi, or a book with technology in it
The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Polaroids // read a book with characters on the cover
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Care Bears // read a comforting book
Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Manic Monday // read a book you can finish over the weekend to avoid a manic monday
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

Rainbow Brite // read a book with LGBTQIA+ representation
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

I’m definitely being a little bit ambitious with this TBR, but I think if I get some of the audiobooks from the library I can manage it. What are you hoping to read this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

Summary:
Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path? 

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
A Mirror Mended follows Zinnia, who we know and love from the first book. The story starts off with her telling us about some of the adventures she’s been on since we last heard from her and how she’s burnt out on happy endings. But then, she’s pulled out of her story and into the story of Snow White. The evil queen is asking for her help. What ensues is funny and heartwarming.
I loved with my whole heart that we got to see Zinnia get a happy ending. Even though it wasn’t a traditional happily ever after, I really loved the way it felt right for her after all the growth and learning her character had done.
I absolutely loved the romance. That shriek you heard? That what me squealing when I realized this book was sapphic. The banter had me smiling to myself and laughing. I really loved the two of them together.
The only complaint I have is just that I wanted more! I wanted to see Zinnia on all of the adventures she talks about at the beginning of the book. I wanted more banter and wild antics from Zinnia and the queen.
Overall, I loved this. I will definitely be recommending both this and the first novella. I think Harrow’s writing was beautiful and lyrical as always. I just love the way that she writes. I loved the main character and I was happy to see Charm again. You don’t want to miss out on this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

Summary:
Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.
To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.
As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.
This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I ended up reading this book via the finished audiobook instead of the eARC I was provided.
I think that This May End Badly was a fun and enjoyable YA contemporary. I liked the prank wars between the schools. I liked the romance between the main couple. I think the fake dating was silly but still made me smile. I liked the main character. Overall, I had a fun time listening to this book. It made me smile a few times. I was really engaged by the audiobook. But this wasn’t a new favorite or one that will likely stick with me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Summary:
Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.
Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Primal Animals follows Arlee who is being dropped off at the same summer camp that her mother went to when she was Arlee’s age. Her mother hopes that Arlee will make some life long connections, but Arlee is just hoping to survive her extreme bug phobia since she will be spending the summer in the woods. This summer camp is full of secrets and we follow Arlee as she reveals them and wishes she hadn’t.
I think this author nailed the horror aspects of this book. Definitely do not read this if you have any sort of issues with bugs. And while I liked the summer camp setting, I really wish the plot had gone a different way. I think the story would have been way better had the plot leaned into Arlee’s phobia of bugs. Things just escalated very quickly plot-wise. Also, I could really relate to Arlee, but I actually didn’t like her very much.
Overall, definitely, an atmospheric horror novel that involves a fear of bugs. The rich kid summer camp was a really engaging setting. I just wasn’t very compelled by the plot sadly. I also absolutely hated the ending. It had an ending similar to Wilder Girls by Rory Power or Horrid by Katrina Leno which is my least favorite kind of endings for books. I definitely think some people will really love this, but I’m not one of them.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Button Box by Bridget Hodder, Fawzia Gilani-Williams, & Harshad Marathe

Summary:
If a magical button and a mysterious cat could transport you to the past…would you save the future?
After Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her Muslim cousin Nadeem are called hateful names at school, Granny Buena rummages in her closet and pulls out a glittering crystal button box. It’s packed with buttons that generations of their Sephardic ancestors have cherished. With the help of Granny’s mysterious cat Sheba, Ava and Nadeem discover that a button from the Button Box will whisk them back in time. Suddenly, they find themselves in ancient Morocco, where Nadeem’s ancestor, Prince Abdur Rahman, is running for his life. Can Ava and Nadeem help the prince escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny, creating a legendary Golden Age for Muslims, Jews and Christians?

Review:
The Button Box was a fun and adventurous time travel fantasy. I thought this was a middle-grade novel, but it’s more of a chapter book. I think it was a short, but satisfying story. It had character development, world-building, and a fast-paced plot. I would definitely buy this for any chapter book readers in my life. It shared knowledge about Ava being Jewish and Nadeem being Muslim in an easy-to-understand way that felt like a part of the story instead of info-dumping.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Summary:
When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.
But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.
As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. But I did actually end up listening to the finished audiobook that I borrowed from my local library.
I didn’t love this book like I thought it was going to. I thought that it was lacking in a few of my favorite things about mystery/thrillers. There was a real lack of suspense and little to no stakes for the story to just go “ha ha no one did it?” It felt like nothing happened the whole book. A murder mystery should have the stakes slowly raised and I feel like that didn’t happen. It felt like we just did a character-by-character investigation with a backstory with each of the characters. I honestly could have gone for a little info-dumping over the oversharing that I feel like we got with this story.
I still liked the idea of a competitive scrabble community. I’m sure this is something that exists out there and I love it. Really niche hobbies like this are really interesting to me. I really liked how the main character had turned her love for scrabble into an incredible vocabulary.
I did like Najwa. The way that she thought was really engaging for the story. She’s the reason that I finished the book even though I didn’t really love the story. I did I love the casual mention of putting her hijab on and things like that which we get a few times in the book.
While I didn’t love this one, I think it was an issue with my reading lately, and not the fault of the story. I will still be recommending this one in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters

Summary:
Lady Emily Turner has been a debutante for six seasons now and should have long settled into a suitable marriage. However, due to her father’s large debts, her only suitor is the persistent and odious owner of her father’s favorite gambling house. Meanwhile, Lord Julian Belfry, the second son of a marquess, has scandalized society as an actor and owner of a theater—the kind of establishment where men take their mistresses, but not their wives. When their lives intersect at a house party, Lord Julian hatches a plan to benefit them both.
With a marriage of convenience, Emily will use her society connections to promote the theater to a more respectable clientele and Julian will take her out from under the shadows of her father’s unsavory associates. But they soon realize they have very different plans for their marriage—Julian wants Emily to remain a society wife, while Emily discovers an interest in the theater. But when a fleeing actress, murderous kitten, and meddlesome friends enter the fray, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience comes with rather inconvenient feelings.
With “an arch sense of humor and a marvelously witty voice that rivals the best of the Regency authors” (Entertainment Weekly), Martha Waters crafts another fresh romantic comedy that for fans of Julia Quinn and Evie Dunmore.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I was very excited to read this one since I rather enjoyed the first two.
To Marry and to Meddle follows Lady Emily Turner who, early in the story, is proposed to by Lord Julian Belfry. Emily agrees, but with a few conditions. They marry right away and then return to London soon after.
This was a slow-burn story that starts with a marriage of convenience. I liked both Emily and Julian, so this was an enjoyable story for me. We follow the two flirt and kiss and slowly fall in love. I liked seeing Emily figure out how to be free of her mother’s constant instructions and expectations. Julian was a really good influence on her breaking her out of those habits and doing whatever she wanted. I also really liked seeing Julian work on moving from the issues in his past. The two were a great couple that repeatedly made me laugh out loud while I was reading.
I absolutely recommend this one if you like slow-burn romance and character-focused stories. It’s also not a super smutty book. But it has a whole lot of heart and was really so much fun for me to read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

Summary:
Lee Stone is a twenty-first-century woman: she kicks butt at her job as a communications director at a women-run electric car company (that’s better than Tesla, thank you) and after work she is “Stoner,” drinking guys under the table and never letting any of them get too comfortable in her bed…
That’s because Lee’s learned one big lesson: never trust love. After four major heartbreaks set her straight, from her father cheating on her mom all the way to Ben Laderman in grad school—who wasn’t actually cheating, but she could have sworn he was, so she reciprocated in kind.
Then Ben shows up five years later, working as a policy expert for the most liberal governor in Texas history, just as Lee is trying to get a clean energy bill rolling. Things get complicated—and competitive as Lee and Ben are forced to work together. Tension builds just as old sparks reignite, fanning the flames for a romantic dustup the size of Texas.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I was supposed to be a part of the blog tour team, but I dropped the ball with this review.
Fool Me Once follows Lee, also called “Stoner.” She has been working toward getting a clean energy bill ready to be promoted and hopefully passed. But her ex shows up at the office that’s working with Lee. An ex that she treated pretty poorly.
I really enjoyed this one. I felt like I could really relate to Lee. She was almost two different people when she was working versus the rest of the time. She also had some serious trust issues when it came to cheating and she let those issues guide her actions which led to hurting her ex, Ben. But it had been 5 years since all of that happened, so, Lee and Ben have agreed to be friends.
The progression of their relationship was well done, in my opinion. I really like the second chance romance trope. This one had the potential to go wrong, but I was happy with how the author handled their past and made amends for things both of the main characters had done. Their falling back in love with one another was believable and enjoyable.
I genuinely laughed out loud while I was reading this. I absolutely will be recommending this in the future and buying a finished copy for myself.  

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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.

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.

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.

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.