Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

GoodReads Summary:
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
The UnhoneymoonersReview:
The summer time is my favorite time of year to read all the romance novels. So with all of the different people raving about this book, I knew I had to pick up The Unhoneymooners.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were funny and entertaining. I adored the hate to love trope, plus a little bit of fake dating thrown in there. I thought it was such a fun romance. It will full of the miscommunications and misunderstandings, which I usually don’t like, but in this case I did. I enjoyed it because they only hated one another because of these miscommunications and assumptions. Once they finally found themselves together and required to talk, they cleared some things up and realized they got along pretty well.
I’m going to keep this review short and sweet because that’s what this book was. It was sweet and realistic and I enjoyed it. It’s not my new favorite book in the world, but I had a fun time reading it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.
When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…
Storm and Fury (The Harbinger, #1)Review:
Jennifer L. Armentrout is an auto-buy author for me. She’s the reason that this blog even exists. So when I found out she was coming out with Storm and Fury I knew I had to have it. I have to send a huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book I exchange for an honest review.
Storm and Fury was everything I wanted. It was exciting and full of action but also swoony with some romance. I just adored everything about it.
The world building was incredible. This is a portal fantasy where these Wardens (basically gargoyles) exist to protect the world from demons. They’re kick-ass and can be pretty scary but I think it’s such a creative idea that I love it.
Enter Trinity. She’s living in a Warden community but she’s not a Warden. She’s also not totally human. Trinity was the best. She was sassy and funny and kick ass. She’s got a degenerative eye condition but doesn’t let that stand in her way of anything. I loved that about her. Despite the struggles in her life she still (mostly) does what she’s supposed too.
I loved Zayne. I read the other series with the Wardens years and years ago so I only vaguely remember it. But I remembered Zayne. Trin and Zayne were fiery and I loved every second of it. Their banter was my favorite part of the story. They were so argumentative and just hilarious.
I was so surprised by the plot in this story. I was blown away by the betrayal at the end. I thought the story was going to go one way and it went the complete opposite. I cannot wait to see where the next book will go. And in the meantime, I’ll be rereading the other series that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of.
Overall, this book was everything I wanted. If you want action, romance, kick-ass gargoyles, and a girl with an eye condition representing how strong she is this is the book for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Summary:
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life-or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum guard, Porter Roth-a.k.a her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than in the movies, especially when Bailey discovers those tricky fine lines dividing hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
Review:
After hearing nothing but rave reviews for any book that Jenn Bennett writes, I knew I needed to give her books a try. So seeing some of them on BookOutlet, I snapped them up without hesitation. Alex, Approximately is the first one of her books that I’ve picked up from the ones that I bought. It’s a favorite of one of my favorite bookish people, Jess, check out her blog here and her BookTube here.

“Sometimes you have to endure painful things to realize that you’re a whole lot stronger than you think.”

I read this story in one sitting. I was pulled into the story by these characters and they wouldn’t let me go until I hit the last page. I had so much fun reading this book. It was fun and lighthearted and entertaining. There was love to hate romance which I’m always here for. There was just the right amount of cheesy parts, and also just the right amount of serious parts. I want to mention here that I did not read the synopsis before reading this book, so I didn’t know that Porter was Alex going into it. I’m a little upset that the synopsis just drops this tidbit at all. I think the guessing game was one of the best parts. I totally guessed the Porter was Alex about 1/3 of the way into the story, but it wasn’t confirmed until way later in the story.

“It’s hard to think about next week when you’re not sure if you’ll even made it through today.”

I totally loved the characters. I loved their movie obsessions. I loved their sassiness. I loved the friendships that Bailey made with Grace. I loved the love to hate with Porter. I especially loved Bailey’s relationship with her dad. I have a similar relationship with my dad and I really loved seeing it portrayed in this book. On the other side of this, Bailey’s relationship with her mother upset me. I think this was because I can relate to that too. I had a mostly absent mother, so I understand the complex relationship, the disappointment, all of the feelings that come with this dynamic. I think my only complaint is that we didn’t really see any sort of resolution with this or really any sort of explanation aside from her mother being upset that Bailey moved to live with her dad. I didn’t like this because her mother is acting like a child and that made me mad probably because of my own personal experiences.

“We spend our lives trying to find other poeple. Sometimes we get confused and turned around by the distractions.”

Overall, I enjoyed this story. Binge reading it was so fun. It was entertaining and interesting and had all the right amounts of everything I love in a book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Book Tags & Challenges · Everything & Anything

Contemporary January Recommendations – Romance Edition

Hi, lovelies! In my announcement post for Contemporary January (read here) I mentioned that I would be coming with recommendations all month long! Some of these are favorites of mine and some of them are just books I liked for a quick fun read. This is going to be the first of four recommendation posts and I’m starting with romance because it’s an easy one for me because there are so many choices!

Check out Alana’s recommendations here!

Contemp Jan

Adult Romance

The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy by Nora Roberts & The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts
These are my two favorite series by Nora Roberts, though I’ve never read anything by her that I didn’t like, so really you could pick up any of her books and be happy. But these are my two favorites.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Anything that Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes is a good choice. Her romance novels are fun and quick to read and I’m never disappointed.

The Agreneau’s by Lynsay Sands
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include at least one sort of vampire romance on this list. Sands writes the Argeneau series and I love the twist she puts on the traditional vampire trope.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Who hasn’t heard of this book at this point? It’s excited and full of drama and diversity. I’ve heard great things about Reid’s other books too, but haven’t picked one up yet.

The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn
For those that love historical romances this series is set in the early 1800s and full of drama, romance, and a bit of smut.

Rose Gardner Mysteries by Denise Grover Swank
I love this series. Rose grows so much in the series and I just enjoyed every page of this series. Plus, she can see the future.

Young Adult Romance

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks
Would this even be a romance recommendations list without Nicholas Sparks?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
How can you not love Simon? This book was so great.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Teenage romance with a bit of a mystery thrown in. I loved it. The movie was okay too.

One Small Thing by Erin Watt
The main character is dealing with the loss of her sister and somehow manages to find comfort in the one that caused her sisters death. It was compelling and sweet at the same time.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
I love this book. The characters. The mystery. The interesting family dynamic. Read it. Love it. That is all.

Meant to Be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow
With a bit of a taboo romance, I could not put this book down until I got to the last pages. I was rewarded with so much more than I expected from it.

These are just a few of the ones I’ve read the most recently and really enjoyed. So I hope you will enjoy them too! Have you read any of these? What books are on your romance recommendation list!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ContemporaryJanuary and tag me & Alana if you’re joining in! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and/or GoodReads to keep up to date with any announcements and see what I’m reading!

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Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Summary: Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

Review: This book was amazing, as all of Nora’s are. She’s been an auto-buy author of mine since the first time I picked up one of her books and I’ve never been disappointed. This book was suspenseful, heart-wrenching, funny, and romantic.
I especially loved that it followed these characters over a fourteen year period. It starts with the mall shooting, then shows glimpses of the survivors over the years as they learn to cope with what happened to them, until it reaches present day when most of the story takes place. It was amazing to see the way these characters grew over the years and the different ways they handled (or didn’t) the trauma.
Simone was an awesome character. She goes from a teenager who’s life is ruined because she got dumped to a strong-willed, confident woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. She tried to bury her feelings after the shooting; if she kept it locked up, it didn’t happen. I enjoyed watching her slowly open up and actually confront what had happened to her. She definitely has flaws but that only made her more relatable. I also loved how she dealt with her emotions through her art. Being a sculptor, she had a unique perspective that I found very interesting.
Reed is the best kind of male MC; he’s sexy, funny, romantic, tough and not afraid of his sensitive side. He’s perfectly comfortable going from the badass cop to chatting about art with Simone and CiCi. I really hate the super macho guys who think if they’re sensitive that makes them less of a man. Reed doesn’t have that hold-up and it made me love him even more.
CiCi is my favorite. She’s Simone’s grandmother, also an artist, and she’s basically the grandma we all wish we could have. She doesn’t act her age and is unapologetic about who she is. She was so quirky and fun that her character was definitely the highlight of the book for me.
The plot was intricate without being confusing. Since we got to follow the villain, Patricia’s, POV as well, we got to see both sides of the conflict. I like when a story does this because I still get the mystery and suspense that I want without being confused because I only have one side of the story. Patricia made an excellent villain. She was cold, violent, intelligent and psychotic, the kind of villain I adore but who still keeps me up at night.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery or romance. Nora blends the different themes perfectly in this book to make an amazing rollercoaster of a read.
I’d love to know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

Earth’s End by Elise Kova

Summary: A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

Review: I think this book is my favorite of the series so far. It was really fast paced for one; the first book had all the character and world-building necessary to lead up to all the conflict, and the second mostly consisted of the Imperial Army marching across the world for the first half. In this book, the war is here. The characters’ relationships have formed and you know how the world works so this book was mainly conflict of one type or another.
There’s tons of action; a combination of magical and traditional fighting (my favorite kind). There’s emotional conflict; Vhalla and Aldrik trying to figure out where their relationship is going while simultaneously keeping it a secret, Vhalla trying to come to terms with all the things she’s done and the loss of her close friend, Aldrik fighting his inner demons. And there’s political conflict. This is the type that I usually hate. I find politics so tedious and backhanded. Give me an honest fight any day. However I didn’t hate it as much in this book. Maybe because it was politics specific to the war; they’re in an army camp, there weren’t any courtiers, so it was a very basic form of politics rather than full-blown court intrigue.
Still, I hate the Emperor. Without him, none of this would have happened. He’s the reason the politics are necessary, he’s the reason Vhalla’s considered property of the crown, he’s the reason she and Aldrik have to hide their relationship. He’s the reason for the war. The more I learn about him the more I think he’s a horrible, irredeemable person. I don’t think I could forgive his actions at the end which resulted in something I know most readers are devastated about. (Sorry, no spoilers.)
Vhalla continues to amaze me with her strength. She’s grown so much since the first book. Part of her is twisted and dark, she kills and lies because she’s told to and to try to earn her freedom but she still tries to do the right thing when she can. I found myself sympathizing with her more than I have a character in awhile. I found some parts a little hard to read because her feelings paralleled some of my own recently. It gave this book a really personal connection for me.
Aldrik is amazing. Except when he’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I still love him but I found him frustrating at times too. He tries so hard to be a good prince and to do right by Vhalla but he doesn’t always make good choices. Sometimes his plans backfire and he doesn’t handle negative emotions well. His alcoholism gets brought up in this book as his coping mechanism and I particularly liked seeing it from Vhalla’s perspective. First off it takes her two and a half books to realize it’s a problem. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not just alcoholics who deny they have a problem but their loved ones do as well. They also try to justify it and make excuses because no one wants to believe someone they love is hurting so much they feel the need to self-medicate.
I still want Vhalla and Aldrik to have a happy ever after by the end of the series but there’s definitely some stuff they need to work on first, both individually and as a couple.
Overall I loved this book. I have no idea where the next book will lead because this ending of this one was crazy but I’m so excited for it. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA and fantasy. Please tell me what you think in the comments and thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Summary: Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Review: I CAN’T HANDLE THAT ENDING. I need to start the next book so badly but I’m making myself review this one first – under protest!
First off, I’m seriously beginning to love Vhalla. She is so broken in this book, traumatized by the events from the first. I’ve mentioned this in many reviews, but I love when authors accurately portray characters with PTSD. So often they show a little to further the story line but then the character is magically cured; Trauma isn’t like that, it’s continuous and debilitating. You don’t know when or what might trigger an episode and it usually gets worse before it gets better. Vhalla has nightmares almost every night which results in her being sleep deprived constantly. She’s never had much of an appetite but now she barely eats. When something happens that reminds her of The Night of Fire and Wind or her imprisonment, she freezes. None of these things further the story line, if anything they’re tedious and redundant; but they’re realistic. This woman is traumatized and having friends who support her or falling in love don’t suddenly make it okay.
That being said, Vhalla is also an extremely strong character. Even when she breaks down she picks herself up again. By the end, I had so much admiration for her determination and growth.

“She had to survive if for no other reason than to spite the world.”

Aldrik. I don’t even know where to start. He’s broken too but in different ways. For him, he started breaking so long ago that he’s more resigned to it than anything. He doesn’t feel worthy because of it and especially feels like he doesn’t deserve Vhalla. He absolutely does. I loved getting to see the real him, the side he shows Vhalla, behind the mask he needs in order to be the Crown Prince. That contrast made it feel like I really got to know him in this book and I love all of it. He’s unapologetically badass, sweet, and cruelly apathetic when he needs to be. I particularly adored the flashbacks of his life we got to see. It helped me to understand some of the mysterious aspects that surrounded him throughout the first book.
I loved Larel. She’s an exceptional friend to Vhalla. She’s the one always picking Vhalla up when she breaks, holding her when she wakes up screaming from her nightmares. She’s simply an amazing human and I loved getting to know her better.
Daniel was a really fun character as well. He was the first person Vhalla meets after her trauma that she feels comfortable with. They both grew up in the East and visited the same places as children which sparks an instant friendship. I was worried for awhile that this was going to turn into a love triangle but luckily it didn’t. They gain that sort of intimate affection that comes from leaning on someone for comfort but they remain just close friends. I’m happy about this because I don’t think we see enough male/female friendships in books that don’t turn into romances.
The Emperor increasingly pissed me off. I expect it’ll only get worse over the rest of the series.
I really enjoyed the plot of this book. I’ve read quite a few reviews from people who didn’t like it, saying it’s just a filler book and nothing happens; and honestly that’s mostly true. But that’s why I liked it. Most of the book the army is just travelling from the capitol to the war in the North. This gave Vhalla a chance to learn who she is now and begin to come to terms with everything that’s happened. It gave her a chance to make new friends. It gave her and Aldrik a chance to actually form a relationship. We always hate when characters fall in love too fast, well this book gave them a chance to do it slowly. By the time they kiss for the first time, it’s months since they first met. That’s practically unheard of in YA world.
Overall I freaking adored this book. I thought it was a significant improvement over the first (and I liked that one too). I’d recommend it to any YA and fantasy readers. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on these books. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia