To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

Summary:
The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.
After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.
Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.

To Love and to Loathe (The Regency Vows, #2)

Review:
Thank you NetGalley and publishers for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed Waters’ debut novel, To Have and to Hoax. So, I was excited when I was approved for an arc of To Love and to Loathe.
This is an enemies to lovers, friends with benefits story. Diana and Jeremy aren’t really enemies, but they definitely don’t get along. When together, which happens often as Jeremy is good friends with Diana’s brother, all they do is argue. Neither of them can let the other have the last word and they both always need to be right. The banter and arguing (read: flirting!) was the best part of this book. Diana is witty and quick with her rebuttals. I really enjoyed their debates. They were always filled with sexual tension that’s obvious to the reader, but not the characters. I think both Jeremy and Diana were well fleshed out characters. Both had backstories that fit well with why they are the way they are. Their growth felt organic and not at all forced. I just genuinely liked their relationship.
I also want to mention that I really loved Diana’s friends. We know them from Waters’ previous novel. But I liked getting to see Violet and Audley, getting caught flushed and sweaty. I also liked seeing more of Emily and learning a bit more about her romantic prospects.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. I liked all the characters. The setting felt like a traditional historical romance, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it felt familiar. It felt like something I’d read before because there’s only so much that can be unique when it comes to these kinds of romances. I don’t think that lessened my enjoyment of the story because the characters were so entertaining and likeable. I will absolutely recommend this one for historical romance fans.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently rereading King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I’m also listening to the audio for We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal.

Antonia- I’m between books at the moment.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished rereading Bitterblue by Kristini Cashore.

Antonia- I just finished Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi.

What will you read next?

Amanda- Next, I’m going to continue reading things off of my May TBR (find it here!)

Antonia- I still haven’t decided what to pick up next as I’m in the middle of a few different series.

Share your answers for this week in the comments!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Reads

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is My Ten Most Recent Reads.

Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Alta by Mercedes Lackey

Joust by Mercedes Lackey

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

What books did you read recently?

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Most Recent Reads

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

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

On Writing by Stephen King

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker

Legacy by Nora Roberts

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

These are the ten books I’ve read most recently starting with the most recent first (I finished Bitterblue on Sunday.) What books have you read recently?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s May TBR Jar Picks

Hi, lovelies! I’ve been wanting to try and be better about making a loose TBR for each month. I think I’ve done okay so far this year without making actual posts about it. But that’s mostly because I’ve been rereading in preparation for new books (rereading the Grishaverse for the Netflix show and for Rule of Wolves for example). I’ve also been doing things like #ARCApril where I spent the month of April reading my NetGalley ARC’s (expect an update on my NetGalley shelf soon!) This month I want to finally use the TBR jar that I made in the end of December 2020. I have tried TBR jars in the past that didn’t work for me because they picked specific books, but this one is much more open. Instead of picking titles out of a jar I’m picking things like ‘most recently purchased’ or ‘science fiction’ so I will get to choose what book I want for each prompt. Let’s get into which prompts I pick out of the jar and which books I picked for them!

Middle-Grade

Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi
This one was obvious for me because if it didn’t fit a TBR jar prompt, I would have added it below to the books I’m reading anyway.

Adult

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
I found this one at one of my local independent bookstores and I couldn’t believe it. I want to make it a priority because I have heard nothing but good things about this author.

5 Star Prediction

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore
Antonia and I actually just did our next round of 5 star predictions, so I will just borrow from that post.

Sequel

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
I’ve been slowly working my way through this series and it’s been a bit since I finished book five. I think I’m ready to start the next book.

LGBTQIA

Flash Fire by T.J. Klune
I have an eARC of this one and I’m really excited to continue this series.

These are what I’ve picked from my TBR jar this month. So, I will check back in at the end of the month or after I’ve read all of these. I do have a few other books on my TBR as I usually read 10+ books each month and I wanted to start easy with only five picks from my jar. So, here are some of the other books I want to read this month.

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold
This is the book that’s been chosen for May’s book club. I meet with four local friends each month and we mostly just catch up. But I’m really excited for this one as I’ve heard some good things about it.

King of Scars and Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
I’m still waiting for my preorder of Rule of Wolves to be delivered, so I’m waiting to reread King of Scars until I get shipping information about Rule of Wolves. It might not happen in May, but I’m hopeful.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
I think I’m going to be buddy reading this one with Allison over on bookstagram. I’ve been meaning to read this forever, but I’ve seen so many mixed reviews that I’m nervous to read it.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I’ve been really wanting to reread either this series or the ACOTAR series. I think I’m going to choose this one because it’s completed.

That’s all that I have planned at the moment to read for the month of May. I’m really excited about all of these books. What will you be reading this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield

Summary:
The powerful and emotional debut novel from Riverdale and Locke and Key actress Asha Bromfield that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic—and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.
Hurricane SummerReview:
Thank you, NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Hurricane Summer follows Tilla while she visits Jamaica, where her father lives, for the summer with her younger sisters, Mia. I will say right now, there are explicit scenes of sexual assault, and quite a few other scenes of serious mistreatment that I would call emotional and verbal abuse from family.
Tilla has a really hard relationship with her father. She remembers the good times in Canada when her mom and dad were happy. She remembers the time where they fight and yell and then her dad goes back to Jamaica for periods of time before returning to her family. This time he’s been gone for a while and she doesn’t think he will be coming back. So, her and her sister are going to Jamaica for the summer and Tilla is so angry with her dad. She feels like he forgot about her, like he doesn’t want to be a part of their family anymore. But the moment she sees him at the airport, all that goes away. She’s happy to see him, to be with him. But the plans keep changing and she has to keep reminding herself that her father never sticks to what he says. Tilla and her sister end up at the family home in the country. They’re both excited to meet their family. Tilla is especially excited to reunite with her cousin Andre, one of the few cousins she remembers. The summer doesn’t turn out to be all sunshine and quality family time as she hopes. One of her aunts treats her horribly when her father isn’t around and tells lies when she reports back to Tilla’s father. Every time Tilla finds an afternoon of happiness, it’s torn down by her family, people that are supposed to love her.
This was a really emotional story. From the familial abuse, to the death of a family member, Tilla does her best to hold it together. She was such a strong main character. She always did her best to make the best situation she could for herself. I absolutely loved the moments she spends with her cousins, exploring the country. These were some of my favorite parts of the book. It was really hard to see Tilla just take the abuse from some of her cousins and aunts, and even her father. I was so proud of her when she finally stood up for herself. Even though she didn’t always get the results she wanted, I was so proud of her for speaking up.
Overall, this is not an easy story to read, but it was a stunning story about what it means to be a woman dealing with assault and abuse. It shows what it means to have a father that doesn’t believe in you, one that you feel just doesn’t love you anymore. It talks about racism within the community of Jamaica. I think this book did everything it was trying to do and it did it so well. I highly recommend this book to anyone that can handle these hard topics.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summary:
Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.
When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.
As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.
Westworld meets Warcross in this high-stakes, dizzyingly smart sci-fi about a teen girl navigating an afterlife in which she must defeat an AI entity intent on destroying humanity, from award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman.

The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Inifinity Courts is one of my most anticipated 2021 releases. The cover is what drew me in at first, but the summary also sounded like something I would really enjoy. After finishing the aARC, I can confirm that I was absolutely correct.
The story follows Nami during the last hours of her life and then continues after her death once she’s arrived in the afterlife. She learns that instead of Heaven or Hell, souls are sent to a play called Infinity. But all in Infinity is not as it should be. The AI that is commonly known and used on Earth, Ophelia, has found her way into Infinity and taken it over. Humans are treated as servants, their free will wiped away upon their arrival in Infinity with a pill. The Residents, all created by Ophelia, are the ruling class. But some of the humans have an instinct that something isn’t right when they arrive in Infinity, these are the Heroes. Nami is a Hero.
I really liked Nami. I liked her when she was alive and I liked her after she’d died. Even though she’s died, her character continues to grow. She gave her life to save a little girl, so she’s dubbed a Hero. But once she’s among the resistance, she’s not sure that she’s in agreement with their plan to wipe out Ophelia, which would mean wiping out all of the Residents as well. I liked that Nami played a sort of devils advocate. But she didn’t do it to cause trouble. She genuinely believes that there should be a way for the humans and the Residents to live together, to coexist. This brings a lot of really relevant conversations to the table about humanities ability to be peaceful and kind. In the eyes of the Residents, humans bring nothing but hate and war all in the name of love, or religion, or gender. I really appreciate how Bowman thoughtfully addressed the many issues that humans are dealing with today in a fantastical setting. I think she did a really good job with this aspect. The question of right and wrong or good versus evil is a theme in the story and I think that too was done really well. It’s shown that there may be redemption for those who do evil, but it’s not the job of the victims to redeem the villains. The gray area that exists in the question of good versus evil was where Nami stood. She didn’t think it was us versus them. She thought there could be a middle ground. I think this personal conflict of hers was a really compelling aspect of the story.
The world was absolutely fascinating. This afterlife, Infinity, is supposed to be paradise. But it’s been taken over by Ophelia and her four sons. Each of her sons have their own kingdom with Ophelia ruling in the capitol. Each kingdom serves a different purpose. I really would have loved to explore the other kingdoms more (even though they sound absolutely terrifying and awful) but I have a feeling we will be doing that in the next book.
Overall, this book was an incredible ride. It made smart and thoughtful statements about the hatred and prejudice that people deal with everyday. But it also asked the interesting question of whether or not people deserve the chance to learn and do better after making mistakes. I think the writing was excellent. There are so many quotable lines that will be sticking with me after finishing this story. I highly recommend this book and I will be doing so for the foreseeable future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s April Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies! April has come to an end, so I have another month of reading to wrap up for you. This month I want to try something a little different. I’m still going to share how many books, which books, and what format I read them in. But I want to do a bit more with my wrap up posts. I’m going to try it out this month and see how it goes.

What I Read

Physical Books
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria – 3.75 stars
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody – No Rating

eBooks
Between the Bliss and Me by Lizzy Mason – 4 stars
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman – 5 stars
To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters – 3.75 stars
Gilded Serpent by Danielle L. Jensen – 5 stars
Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders – 4 stars
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers – 4 stars
On This Unworthy Scaffold by Heidi Heilig – 5 stars
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 3 stars
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – 4.5 stars
Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan – 2.5 stars
Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton – 4 stars
Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler – 5 stars
The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout – 5 stars
Legacy by Nora Roberts – 3.5 stars

Audiobooks
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – 2.75 stars
Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen – 5 stars
Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen – 5 stars
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman – 3.5 stars
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – 3.5 stars
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour – 3 stars
Mirror’s Edge by Scott Westerfeld – 3.75 stars
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi – 5 stars
Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker – 3 stars

Blogging Highlights

This is one of the new things I want to try this month. Each month I’d light to highlight some of the content I’ve posted that I’m excited about or pleased with. So, I will be doing that here. Since this is new, I’m going to highlight posts from January until now, but in the future, I’d like to just highlight some of my favorite posts and reviews from the month I’m wrapping up.

Amanda’s Thoughts on How Vampire Novels Never Died

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas (Book Review)

Amanda’s Underrated Black Author’s Recommendations

Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire (Full Series Review)

21 Young Adult Anticipated Release in 2021

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (Book Review)

2021 Debut Novels Amanda is Anticipating

Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (Full Series Review)

Amanda’s 2021 Preorder Book Haul

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (Book Review)

Amanda’s Favorite Audiobook Narrators

Amanda’s Springtime Book Recommendations

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle (Book Review)

Other Bloggers I’m Loving

SEO Basics from Kal @ Reader Voracious
Kal is such a light in this community. She’s always giving us the best content, so follow her if you don’t already.

The Definitive Book Blogger List from A Book. A Thought.
Just imagine how much time this took to put together? Some bloggers really are out there doing the most for us.

Cover Reveal: For All Time by Shanna Miles from CW @ The Quiet Pond
CW & the rest of the crew at The Quiet Pond are always blessing us with amazing cover reveals, reviews, and reading challenges.

Most Anticipated Releases of Q2 2021 from Kate @ Your Tita Kate
If you’re looking for diverse books that are coming out in 2021, look to Kate to guide you.

Saturday Spotlight #10 (showcasing small press and self published books) from Vee @ vee_bookish
Vee does a great job highlighting some books that don’t get the attention they probably deserve.

April TBR – #ARCApril from Skye @ Books in the Skye
Skye is one of my favorite bloggers and I highly recommend you follow her. Check out how she planned to tackle her ARC’s this April.

Spring 2021 TBR from Jess @ Jessica C Writes
I love how Jess doesn’t always stick to strictly bookish content. She shares her life and experiences with college and other tips and tricks. Come see what her spring reading plans are!

That’s it for today. I hope I shared some new bloggers with you all today.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Between the Bliss and Me by Lizzy Mason

Summary:
Acclaimed author Lizzy Mason delivers a moving contemporary YA novel about mental illness, young romance, and the impact of family history on one teen’s future, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Robin Benway, and Kathleen Glasgow.
When eighteen-year-old Sydney Holman announces that she has decided to attend NYU, her overprotective mom is devastated. Her decision means she will be living in the Big City instead of commuting to nearby Rutgers like her mom had hoped. It also means she’ll be close to off-limits but dreamy Grayson—a guitar prodigy who is going to Juilliard in the fall and very much isn’t single.
But while she dreams of her new life, Sydney discovers a world-changing truth about her father, who left when she was little due to a drug addiction—that he has schizophrenia and is currently living on the streets of New York City. She seizes the opportunity to get to know him, to understand who he is and learn what may lie in store for her if she, too, is diagnosed.
Even as she continues to fall for Grayson, Sydney is faced with a difficult decision: Should she stay close to home so her mom can watch over her, or follow the desire to take risks and discover her true self?

Between the Bliss and Me

Review:
Okay, this was not an easy book to read. It centers around mental health and mental illnesses. So, I want to start by saying that because I think this was a really good story but it’s not going to be for anyone. Also, thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Sydney just turned eighteen. She’s getting ready to go off to college, except she’s not going to the college that her mom thinks she’s going to. Sydney, with the help of her grandparents, has decided that she wants to go to NYU. This is not what Sydney and her mom discussed and agreed to. Sydney’s mom has always been over protective. And she learns why when she visits her grandparents beach house. She learns that her mom has been keeping information about her father from her. Her father has schizophrenia. She also learns that there is a chance she could develop symptoms over the next few years. While all of this is going on, she meets a boy, Grayson. She has a crush on him and ends up seeing him while she’s staying with her grandparents. The only problem with her crush on Grayson? He has a girlfriend. He also has a really bitchy cousin.
So, I really liked Sydney. She’s anxious all the time, but she doesn’t let her anxiety stop her. She stands up for herself. She has all these doubts about herself, but they don’t really show on the outside. I really liked how Sydney was portrayed and how her emotions and reactions were shown. I don’t have personal experience with schizophrenia so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation, but it seemed it be handled thoughtfully from my outside perspective. I thought it was interesting the way that Mason managed to show how everyone reacts differently to mental illness. We see Sydney’s grandparents come to a slow realization that there’s nothing they can do for their son, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t try to help him in any way they can again and again. We see Sydney’s mom listen to her husband when he asks her to let him go. There’s also some really good conversation about the lack of support available for people with mental illnesses, about the unfairness of the courts and prison systems when it comes to caring for people with mental illnesses. I think these topics were well done.
Now, the romance with Grayson was the one thing in this story that I didn’t really care for. I think everything that was done could have been left the same, minus Grayson as a romantic interest. I think it could have been a completely platonic relationship and the story would still have had the same effect. I don’t think this needed to be romantic in anyway. I think it would have been an even better story had it just been Sydney’s story about learning to accept herself.
Overall, I think this was a really hard hitting and emotional portrayal about what it’s like to have a family member with a mental illness and feeling helpless to help them. I especially liked Sydney’s friends. Eliot is the light of my life and I loved every moment that he was on the page. I also really loved Magda. Magda reminded me of quite a few of my friends from my hometown, which is a beachy town like the one in parts of this book. So, we also get people from other countries that come over on a student visa and work for the summer. I always loved working with them. They, much like Magda were always so interesting and fun to be around. They also always threw the best parties. I think this will be a book that some will really love and others will not. So, take this review with a grain of salt and read it if the topic is one that you can handle.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey and I’m slowly working my way through The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim.

Antonia- I’m currently reading Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi.

What did you recently read?

Amanda- I most recently finished Legacy by Nora Roberts.

Antonia- I most recently read Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi.

What will you be reading next?

Amanda- I don’t know what I’m going to read next. I am in a reading slump, I think. So, maybe I’ll reread some romance or something.

Antonia-Next I’ll read The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.

Let us know your answers in the comments!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Animals

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is Animals from Books (these could be mythical, real, main characters, sidekicks, companions/pets, shifters, etc.) (Submitted by Paige @paigesquared and Jennifer Y. @ Never Too Many to Read).

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – Between the daemons and the armored bears, the animals in these books are so badass.

Redwall by Brian Jacques – If we’re talking about books with animals then I have to include the series I was obsessed with as a child.

The Search by Nora Roberts – The main character trains dogs but also owns three search and rescue dogs and they’re seriously the coolest.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron – This book made me cry pretty much constantly but Bailey was so amazing.

Maximum Ride by James Patterson – Total is the funniest, most ridiculous dog ever.

Alta by Mercedes Lackey – The dragons in this world are more like dogs or cats than anything except HUGE and it’s hilarious.

The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory – The unicorns are my absolute favorite.

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – Does Peaches count as an animal? Because he’s amazing.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini – I love Solembum. He’s definitely one of my favorites.

I had some trouble with this one so I didn’t quite get ten. What animal characters do you love?

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books With Animals

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

The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
This story has all kinds of animals, some are ‘beasts’ but the one that befriends Barclay is my favorite and a really important part of Barclay’s journey.

Ashlords by Scott Reintgen
Phoenix horses. That is all.

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe
The main character walks dogs for his job, so there’s lots of excellent doggies.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
I don’t know if this one counts, but there’s a boy that shape shifts into animals and I love him.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
The animal is a spider and I hate it, but I love this book.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Fleetfoot is my favorite dog.

Legacy by Nora Roberts
There is a doggie romance in this one and it’s adorable.

I’m just short of 10 this week, but that’s all I can think of right now. Let me know what books are on your list this week!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s April 2021 Book Haul

Hey, lovelies! It’s been a pretty good month for new releases. I’ve had a good time with catching up on eARC’s from NetGalley and other audiobooks. But I did finally do some book shopping. I’ve been trying to stop myself when I want to buy new books. I did some preordering at the beginning of 2021 and I’ve been trying to focus on getting my owned TBR down (so of course, this means that I only want to reread books). But, I ended up grabbing quite a few books when I made a Target trip for some new clothes. I also planned a trip to the bookstore to buy my next book club, but ended up grabbing some new and backlist books that caught my eye. So, I want to share all the new titles that I bought this month with you.

Aru Shah and the City of Gold (Pandava, #4)

Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi
“Aru Shah and her sisters–including one who also claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter–must find their mentors Hanuman and Urvashi in Lanka, the city of gold, before war breaks out between the devas and asuras. Aru has just made a wish on the tree of wishes, but she can’t remember what it was. She’s pretty sure she didn’t wish for a new sister, one who looks strangely familiar and claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter, like her. Aru also isn’t sure she still wants to fight on behalf of the devas in the war against the Sleeper and his demon army. The gods have been too devious up to now. Case in point: Kubera, ruler of the city of gold, promises to give the Pandavas two powerful weapons, but only if they win his trials. If they lose, they won’t stand a chance against the Sleeper’s troops, which will soon march on Lanka to take over the Otherworld. Aru’s biggest question, though, is why every adult she has loved and trusted so far has failed her. Will she come to peace with what they’ve done before she has to wage the battle of her life?”

Float Plan

Float Plan by Trish Doller
“Since the loss of her fiancé, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone. But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course. In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.”

First Comes Like (Modern Love, #3)

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
“Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast. There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is. The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her… When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?”

Life's Too Short (The Friend Zone, #3)

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez
“Vanessa lives life on her own terms — one day at a time, every day to its fullest. She isn’t willing to waste a moment or miss out on an experience when she has no idea whether she shares the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Besides, she has way too much to do, traveling the globe and showing her millions of YouTube followers the joy in seizing every moment. But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, she is housebound, on mommy duty for the foreseeable future, and feeling totally out of her element. The last person she expects to show up offering help is the unbelievably hot lawyer who lives next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. But as they get closer, Vanessa realizes that her carefree ways and his need for a structured plan could never be compatible for the long term. Then again, she should know better than anyone that life’s too short to fear taking the biggest risk of all…”

The Electric Kingdom

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold
“When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico’s father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and love in a world gone dark. The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another.”

The Serpent's Curse (The Last Magician, #3)

The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell
Evade the serpent. Heed the curse. Rewrite the present. Esta isn’t a stranger to high-stakes heists. She’s a seasoned thief who has no reservations about using her affinity for time to give her an edge, and she’s trained her whole life for one mission: travel back to 1902 New York, steal the ancient Book of Mysteries, and use its power to destroy the Brink and free the Mageus from the Order’s control. But the Book held a danger that no one anticipated—Seshat, an angry goddess was trapped within its pages. Now that terrible power lives within Harte, and if given the chance, Seshat will use Esta to destroy the world and take her revenge. Only Esta and Harte stand in her way. Yet in their search to recover the elemental stones needed to bind Seshat’s power, Esta and Harte have found themselves stranded in time with a continent between them. As Esta fights to get back to Harte, the Order is no longer the only obstacle standing in her way. Saving Harte—and magic itself—will put even Esta’s skills to the test. And all the while, another danger grows, one more terrible than both Seshat and the Order combined…”

Plain Bad Heroines

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
“Our story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, The Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way. Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded-Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins. A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations.”

The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
“Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human. From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.”

Axiom's End (Noumena, #1)

Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
“Truth is a human right. It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades. Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.”

Twice Shy

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
“Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start. Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future. Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.”

Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered, #1)

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
“Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means. Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?) Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.) Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?) Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!) Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite? Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…”

Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered, #2)

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
“Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be, anyway. Now, Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with 10 years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp. Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippie. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous – yet surprisingly helpful – assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.”

These are the books that I bought in the month of April. I’ve been trying to combat my book buying addiction by buying books I’ve already read. So, some of these are books that I’ve read rather than just more books for my TBR. Some of these were completely planned and some of these were spontaneous buys while I was browsing. I’m really excited to add all of these to my TBR and to read them, hopefully soon. Did you buy any books this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson

Summary:
Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in London as a young girl, Estella now runs wild through the city streets with Jasper and Horace, amateur thieves who double as Estella’s makeshift family and partners-in-(petty)-crime. How can Estella dedicate herself to joining the ranks of the London design elite when she’s sewing endless costumes and disguises for the trio’s heists?
When a chance encounter with Magda and Richard Moresby-Plum, two young scions of high society, vaults Estella into the world of the rich and famous, she begins to wonder whether she might be destined for more after all. Suddenly, Estella’s days are filled with glamorous parties, exclusive eateries, flirtations with an up-and-coming rock star, and, of course, the most cutting-edge fashions money can buy. But what is the true cost of keeping up with the fast crowd-and is it a price Estella is willing to pay? 

Hello, Cruel Heart

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I requested this because it’s a book by Maureen Johnson and I usually love Johnson’s books. Plus, Cruella? Sign me up.
I didn’t end up liking this as much as I thought I was going to. Cruella is actually named Estella. Her mom dies and she ends up all alone in London. She meets two boys that become her family. They survive by stealing. They steal food and money or whatever else they need to survive. I liked the relationship between these three. But I think we could have gotten more from it. I feel like I still know nothing about these two boys that are like brothers to Estella. I don’t know their history. I did like Estella’s backstory. Definitely enough to turn me into a villain.
I also just liked Estella, even when she was kind of being a jerk. She’s sixteen in this book and definitely still a bit naive. I saw the ending coming almost as soon as she made friends with Magda and Richard. Estella is swept up by the wealthy London scene and starts making clothes for everyone. And the whole time I was left thinking: why is she not asking anyone to pay for these clothes she’s hand making?
Overall, I had a tough time with this book. The ending felt rushed. I would have liked to see what her plans for her next steps were after reconciling with her brothers. I also had a hard time because of the eARC. There were weird images that I assume are going to be chapter designs that chopped up and even moved some paragraphs. It was manageable, but annoying enough to affect my reading experience. I will say that I think Johnson did a good job with the writing and the setting. She was consistent with the language used by the characters and while telling the story. London sounds like a blast during this period of time.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

On This Unworthy Scaffold by Heidi Heilig

Summary:
Jetta’s home is spiraling into civil war.
Le Trépas—the deadly necromancer—has used his blood magic to wrest control of the country, and Jetta has been without treatment for her malheur for weeks. Meanwhile, Jetta’s love interest, brother, and friend are intent on infiltrating the palace to stop the Boy King and find Le Trépas to put an end to the unleashed chaos.
The sweeping conclusion to Heidi Heilig’s ambitious trilogy takes us to new continents, introduces us to new gods, flings us into the middle of palace riots and political intrigue, and asks searching questions about power and corruption. As in the first two books, the story is partly told in ephemera, including original songs, myths, play scripts, and various forms of communication.

On This Unworthy Scaffold (Shadow Players, #3)

Review:
I want to start by saying a huge thank you to Heilig’s publicity team that reached out to me to see if I was interested in reading an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. On This Unworthy Scaffold is one of my most anticipated releases in 2021 and I literally screamed a little when I got the email asking if I was interested.
On This Unworthy Scaffold is the third and final book in the Shadow Players series. I won’t go too much into a summary of the book because there is a summary above and also this is the third book in a series. If you haven’t read the first two books you can read my reviews for For a Muse of Fire and A Kingdom for a Stage. This series follows Jetta, her family, and the friends she makes along the way. I’ve come to really love all of the side characters that make up the main group. Jetta and the rebels have a plan. But as things usually go, nothing goes according to plan. The plot of this story was really compelling. Jetta and Theodora go off on one mission. With this we finally get to see Aquitan. I liked this part of the story. We get to see Jetta think on her feet. She’s still often worried that her malheur. I liked that there was talk of her taking the elixir, a version of modern-day medication. I liked that she was aware of it and questioned herself sometimes to wonder if she was making good choices or not. I also really liked Jetta’s problem solving. She’s not afraid to stand up to those in power. I thought it was really clever the way that she brought things full circle when she finally performed in Aquitan. I just genuinely enjoyed seeing her in her own element, making choices on the fly to get herself out of the situation that she found herself in. I also loved Theodora. She’s an engineer/inventor. I feel like I didn’t get to see as much of her as I would have liked, but I still liked what we did see. She’s smart and unafraid to say what she thinks. Jetta and Theodora working together was really fun to read.
The other team is the Tiger, Leo, Akra, Cheeky, and Tia. Cheeky and Tia are absolutely the comedic relief of the story. But they bring good conversations to the table. They are sex workers and it’s always talked about in a positive way, never with any shame. I also still love Akra. He and Jetta have their ups and downs that come from her bringing him back from the dead, but I loved their relationship. And my dear sweet Leo. I hate the way his story ended. No, I don’t hate it. I hate how fitting it was for his part of this story to end that way. Leo has tried so hard to do good and be loved. He faces his own challenges through this series, but he never lets anything get him down for long. His love for Jetta is so clear. Jetta and Leo lift one another up and I couldn’t help but root for them.
Overall, this was a beautiful and heartbreaking finale to a series that I will reread and love for years to come. I love these characters. I love this story. It includes a lot of important things, like colonialism and bipolar. It’s filled with diverse and queer characters. It’s also written in a unique format, with sheet music, play scripts, myths, and prose. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.