Amanda’s 2020 Favorites: Blogging

Hello, lovelies! Today is a different sort of favorites list. I want to share some of my favorite posts that I wrote this year. I do mostly reviews, but I have a few posts from theme’d events that I am particularly proud of and I want to highlight them here today.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
I’m proud of this review because I think I managed to get my thoughts down in a descriptive way that really showed how I felt about the book. This was one of my favorite books of 2020, so I’m happy that I was able to write a review that I am proud of.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
This was another favorite of last year and again I was able to accurately get my thoughts down. But for this one, there were so many smaller things that really made this book was it was and I feel like I was able to convey that in a way that would make sense to those that haven’t read it.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand
This is the second book in the Empirium trilogy and I put the first book on my favorites list, but the second book was devastating and I literally wrote most of my review while I was still listening to the last hour or so of the book. I’m proud of it because I think I was really able to put my emotions into words and show how I was feeling about the book.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
I’m adding this one to the list because I really think this book was incredible and I’m confident that I shared all of the reasons why in my review. There were so many things that made this book as excellent as it was and I feel like I shared all of them.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
I’m putting this one on the list because it opened me up to a genre I’d previously written off: Horror. I’ve read like three horror books in 2021 and it’s thanks to this book. I don’t know that I really was able to get all my feelings down on the page, but I think I did a great job of explaining the story and the ways it made me react.

If You Liked This, Then Read That (Blogtober)
I wanted to try new posts for Blogtober and Blogmas this year. I didn’t want to just recycle the same posts I did in 2019. So, this was one of the new things I came up with. This is obviously not a brand new concept, but it was something I’d never done before and I was excited to give it a try. I’m really proud of this post because I think I gave some really good recommendations based on similar books.

Favorite Tropes in Science Fiction (SciFi Month)
This was a new topic for me because I don’t usually talk about tropes (aside from pointing them out in book reviews) unless it’s a topic for Top Ten Tuesday. I am really proud of this post all around. It looks pleasing with how I formatted and set it up. I also am happy with all of the recommendations that I shared.

If You Liked This, Then Read That (SciFi Month)
I had so much fun with this sort of post when I did it for Blogtober that I was beyond excited to do it again for SciFi Month (science fiction is my favorite genre). Like my Blogtober post, I’m really proud of the comparisons and my recommendations. I got to share books I really love and compare them to other books that I really love so that hopefully new readers will love them too.

Books & Baking – The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
Books & Baking is a newish feature on the blog, and I’ve definitely slacked a bit. But this was such a fun recipe to make that came from a book I really loved. I am really pleased about how this post looks. I think the pictures I took of my baked goods came out great. I always have fun with this blog feature and I really liked this one.

That’s all I have today friends. These are just a few posts that I wanted to highlight because I’m really proud of them. Let me know what you think!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Summary:
Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.
The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.
Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.
Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline BoulleyReview:
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for approving me for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Firekeeper’s Daughter, as the summary says, is a young adult thriller about a Native teen who witnesses the murder of her best friend by her boyfriend that was addicted to drugs. Daunis is no stranger to loss. She’s lost her father, her uncle, and her GrandMary isn’t doing very well. She’s lived a hard life. But she’s so strong because of that. She has such a big heart. But I think my favorite thing about Daunis was her brain. She’s so incredibly smart. I liked following her as she put the pieces together of the investigation that she’s helping the FBI with. Seeing her use her knowledge of the tribe and her culture to figure out what and who was bringing drugs into her community. It was a heart wrenching story about a community being changed by drugs, about losing friends you never thought would be involved, and how betrayal can come from those you thought closest.
I loved learning about Daunis’s experiences being Native. It was really interesting to see her life as an outsider that everyone knows isn’t really an outsider. The community she is a part of is one that has issues, like most, but is filled with so much history and culture that I really enjoyed reading about it.
I feel like I’m not accurately explaining how much I loved this book. It was heart wrenching, but I absolutely could not put it down. I definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves a good YA mystery/thriller. I had so many theories about what was happening and was almost never right. The story was complex, with several different things going on in the story. Daunis had family issues, there was the investigation, but there was also the question of her future and college and why she didn’t play hockey anymore. I think this was all tied together wonderfully, it wasn’t too much for one story, it was all connected. I really cannot say enough good things about this book. This is a new release you don’t want to miss.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2020

Hi, lovelies! As I said in my top ten favorite books of 2020 post (find that here), I’m going to have a few lists other than that one. Today’s list is my favorite middle-grade books that I read last year. These are not all only 2020 releases, just books I read in 2020. I cannot stop thinking about these books or they really touched me on an emotional level, which is why they’ve made this list. I do also want to mention that there may be repeats on this list from my first favorites post, but it’s just because I really loved them.

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega

Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

The Deceivers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Looking at this list, I realize I’ve mostly just read all of the books from the Rick Riordan Presents publishing imprint. I do not have a problem with that at all because they’re amazing books and I would shout about them from the rooftops if I could. So, go to your local library, borrow them from a friend, buy the ebooks, however you like to get books, get these and read them.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Summary:
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever―and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. SchwabReview:
There are some books I just don’t know that I’ll be able to succinctly write my thoughts and feelings about and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of those books. I’m going to do my best, but I’m sorry in advance if this review is mostly nonsense.
Addie LaRue makes a deal with a dark god (or a demon, honestly, I don’t know what the heck Luc is really.) But the deal isn’t what she thought it would be, so the story starts around 300 years later in 2014. Addie cannot be remembered. I think this part of the story was fascinating. The rules of how this worked were given to us slowly over time and I really felt for Addie. She’s lonely, but as we read more, we learn about her history with Luc (the dark god) when the story flashes back to the past. Their relationship is a complicated one and it was absolutely fascinating. But one day, Addie walks into a bookstore and the employee at the counter, Henry, does something odd. He remembers her. The story takes off from here.
Addie was a likable character. It’s easy to feel for her when she’s a young girl in 1714, she wants for so much, and is being offered the small life of being a wife and mother, things she’s never wanted. So, she prays to the gods after dark. Luc answers and grants her wish to be free. Except being ‘free’ has a cost. No one can remember her. Following Addie as she discovers the limits of her ‘freedom’ was heart wrenching but also fascinating. I really loved the contrast of Addie’s life in the past as she’s learning how to survive her new life, to Addie’s life in the present where she’s figured out how to survive. She’s definitely a morally grey character, in the sense of she’s going to do what she needs to survive. Whether that means she steals food and other things to keep her sanity, so be it. I liked Addie. She knew what she wanted from life and she made it happen. When things didn’t go as planned, she made the best she could with what she had. She’s a stubborn woman that didn’t just give up when things got hard, despite Luc offering her many outs.
Henry, the bookseller, was an interesting character too. His connections to Addie and why he can remember her was really well done. I didn’t guess it, but I had many theories until the truth was revealed. I think Henry was a likable character too. He just wants to be enough for the people in his life, but he never is. He struggles with addiction and I thought that was well written. I think Henry was a little bland, but generally a nice guy. But when the competition is a dark god, it’s a tough comparison.
Then there’s Luc. The dark god, or maybe a demon, who knows. He was such a compelling character. We learn more and more about him when the story flashed back to Addie’s past. At first, we’re led to believe that he’s given Addie this ‘gift’ and left on her own. But we see the two develop a relationship. I loved seeing Addie challenge him and their banter was excellent.
Overall, I really loved this book. It was a slow paced, character focused story, so not one that everyone will love. It was a quiet story, but thought provoking with complex characters. The writing was stunning and the magic (if that’s what it’s called) was explained well enough for me to be satisfied. I definitely think this is going to be a book that not everyone loves, but I loved it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading The Red Maze by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Matt Rockefeller, Xianthe Bouma & Boya Sun which is a super fun middle grade graphic novel series. I’m also listening to the audiobook for Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon and Educated by Tara Westover. Both are books I need a break from so I’ve been going back and forth between them.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Run Chupeco.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I most recently finished The Cobalt Prince by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Matt Rockefeller, Xianthe Bouma & Boya Sun.

Antonia- I most recently read The Awakening by Nora Roberts.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- I don’t know what I’m going to pick up next from my book shelf, but I definitely plan to continue the 5 Worlds graphic novels from my library.

Antonia- Next I’ll read Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Resolutions

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 Resolutions/Hopes for 2021 (bookish or not!) I’m don’t usually make resolutions so I’ll stick with my top five.

Read at least 50 books

Exercise more

Write reviews again

Take more time for mental health

Visit family more

What resolutions do you have for 2021?

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – 2021 Resolutions & Hopes

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 resolutions and hopes I have for 2021, bookish or otherwise.

Getting my owned TBR under 25 books

Writing my reviews soon after finishing a book

Stressing less about reviewing every book

Creating more creative posts that aren’t reviews

Eating healthier

Exercising more regularly

Spending more quality time with my daughter and husband

Being better about staying in touch with friends and family

Writing more consistently

Finishing my WIP first draft

These are some goals and resolutions that I have for 2021. What are yours?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 2020 Superlative Awards (Book Tag)

Hello, lovelies! I created this original book tag last year (find it here) when people on twitter were talking about how the bookish world should have an end of the year superlatives like our yearbooks did in high school. I loved the idea, so I made a book tag based on that and ran with it. I thought it would be fun to do it again this year!

Rules: 

  1. Tag me as the original creator
  2. Choose from either all the books you read in 2020 or only 2020 releases.
  3. Most importantly, have fun!

Best All Around: Your number one favorite book of the year.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, a story of sisters reconciling, magic, and a female/female romance. I loved it.

Biggest Flirt: Newest or favorite book boyfriend of 2020.

Casteel from From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout (I know many will agree with this one, hah!)

Class Clown: Sillest/most goofy/funniest book of 2020.

I didn’t read many ‘funny’ books this year but I think The Martian by Andy Weir fits the bill for this one.

Cutest Couple: Favorite bookish couple of the year. 

This is technically two couples but in The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco both Haidee & Arjun and Odessa & Lan were definitely my favorites this year.

Most Likely to Succeed: Most hyped book you read in 2020. 

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Best Celebrity Lookalike: Favorite book based off of another story (fairytale/mythological/classics, etc.)

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

Best Dressed: Most appealing book cover of the year.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Tallest & Shortest: Share the longest & the shortest books you read this year. 

Shortest: Skyward, Vol. 2: Here There Be Dragonflies by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, & Antonia Fabela (104 pages)
Longest: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (963 pages)

Best Clique: Share your favorite friend squad you read about.

Okay, I’m going to try to pick a book I haven’t already mentioned, so the crew from To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini.

Most Likely to Survive the Hunger Games: Share the character(s) you read about this year that you think would do well in the world of the Hunger Games. 

The crew from the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown basically have their own version of the Hunger Games and I loved it, but I also think that Xiala and Serapio from Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse would totally win together.

Best/Worst Plot Twist: What did you read that had a really great or really horrible plot twist?

Best: The Final Six by Alexandra. Aliens are my favorite.
Worst: This is more of a lack of a plot but, The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker.

Series: Best/worst second or concluding book in a series. 

Best: Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (this is only sort of a sequel).
Worst: A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Most likely to become a classic: What book has the potential to become a modern classic?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab or The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

Tagging to play:

Alana @ The Bookish Chick

Avhlee @ Tea Cups and Torn Pages

Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

Summary:
Justin A. Reynolds, author of Opposite of Always, delivers another smart, funny, and powerful stand-alone YA contemporary novel, with a speculative twist in which Jamal’s best friend is brought back to life after a freak accident . . . but they only have a short time together before he will die again.
Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know he’s about to die . . . again.
He also doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save his life, rescuing him from drowning only to watch Q die later in the hospital. Even more complicated, Jamal and Q haven’t been best friends in two years—not since Jamal’s parents died in a car accident, leaving him and his sister to carry on without them. Grief swallowed Jamal whole, and he blamed Q for causing the accident.
But what if Jamal could have a second chance? An impossible chance that would grant him the opportunity to say goodbye to his best friend? A new health-care technology allows Q to be reanimated—brought back to life like the old Q again. But there’s a catch: Q will only reanimate for a short time before he dies . . . forever.
Jamal is determined to make things right with Q, but grief is hard to shake. And he can’t tell Q why he’s suddenly trying to be friends with him again. Because Q has no idea that he died, and Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin the miracle by telling him. How can Jamal fix his friendship with Q if he can’t tell him the truth?
Early Departures by Justin A. ReynoldsReview:
Early Departures is a 2020 release that I didn’t hear about until later in the year. If I’d heard about it earlier, it definitely would have been one of my most anticipated releases. I loved Reynolds’ debut, Opposite of Always. So, I hoped that Early Departures would delight and destroy me as much as that book did. I was not wrong. Reynolds manages to make me fall in love with the characters, to become so invested in them, and then kill them. But this is a contemporary novel with a science fiction twist, so he brings them back to life. In this book, the story follows Jamal. Jamal has dealt with some hardships in his life. His parents died and he lives with his older sister (who is very pregnant). He has a girlfriend, Autumn, who is one of my favorite characters in the book (alongside Jamal’s sister.) We meet Q very early on in the book. But we slowly learn exactly what happened that ended Jamal and Q’s friendship. We also get tidbits from Jamal and Q’s old YouTube videos. I liked this because it gave us a bit of insight into how their friendship was before their falling out.
Jamal is kind of a little shit. But in a sort of understandable way. I think I liked Autumn so much because she never failed to call Jamal out when he was being a shit. Jamal is still dealing with the death of both his parents and he doesn’t really deal with it very well. He blames Q for their death, but never communicates that. He’s a young man that doesn’t know how to share his feeling. He’s also definitely a bit selfish. But he had great character growth. He realized that his actions were wrong and forgiveness helps everyone. I didn’t always like him, but I was always invested in his story.
I listened to the audiobook and it was fantastically narrated. The narrators (I think there were two) really brought this story to life and I highly recommend the audio for anyone that wants to read this book. This was a heartbreaking story about love, friendship, and loss. It’s about forgiveness and grief and it’s beautifully written. I will say that I definitely cried quite a few times while listening to this story, so prepare yourself for this one. It was one of my favorite reads of 2020.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Ravens by Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige

Summary:
Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.
The Ravens (The Ravens, #1)Review:
The Ravens is a story of a sorority that is secretly a coven of witches. I thought this concept was excellent. I think the execution was done well too. There were a few things I didn’t like, but overall, I enjoyed the story. We follow Vivi and Scarlett in alternating chapters. Vivi is about to start at Westerly College and she’s full of excitement. She finds herself at a Kappu Rho Nu party even though she never really thought about joining a sorority. She gets picked to pledge and decides that she should try it out and see what happens. Scarlett is a Junior and she’s hoping to become the next president of the Ravens. There’s more to the Ravens than meets the eye, they’re secretly a coven of witches, a sisterhood with magical abilities through the elements.
So, I liked this book. I liked Vivi and her excitement at moving to a new place, one that she wouldn’t have to leave for four years. After moving around randomly her whole like she’s excited to settle somewhere of her own choosing. I liked seeing her settle into her classes and struggle with Hell week. She was a likable character. My biggest and only issue with her was about the magic. She grew up with her mom, who makes money doing tarot readings for people. She didn’t care for this. She never believed in what her mother did, thinking it was a scam. But when she is accepted into the Ravens she just rolls with the idea that she has magic and barely questions it before diving head first into the whole being a Raven idea. It bothered me that she was so critical of her mother but has no problem going all in when she learns she has actual magic. I still liked Vivi, but this rubbed me the wrong way a bit.
Scarlett has to be perfect. She has the perfect boyfriend. The perfect friends and grades. That perfection will continue as long as she secures her position as the next president of the Ravens. I really liked Scarlett at first, but she’s definitely a bit of the stereotypical stuck up sorority girl. She comes from a well-off family that has high expectations for her. She can never live up to the example of her sister. I wanted to like her, but she was so mean to Vivi over something so stupid. I sort of get it later in the story. But Scarlett was pretty mean to her right from the start. I think she definitely had some great characters growth out of that stuck up girl, but I didn’t care for her for most of the story.
Overall, I did really enjoy this book despite these complaints. I think it was a great story of sisterhood and growth. I loved seeing Vivi go through joining the Ravens and learning her magic. I think there were great developments with her mother too. I think Scarlett has some growing to do, but she’s getting there. I loved the magic. It’s all elemental, but the women can work as a team and do magic from other elements. I think this was a great story and I already can’t wait for the sequel.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 10 Favorite Books of 2020

Hello, lovelies! Today, as you can see from the title of this post, I am here to share with you all 10 of my favorite books that I read in 2020. I will be doing my favorites a bit differently than I did last year. Last year, I made a few lists of my favorite books organized by genre. This year, I’m going to make a few lists but they will be my favorites organized by age range. So, today’s post will be my top twenty favorite (but not in any specific order because I’m a creature filled with indecision), and then over the next few weeks I’ll have more posts with my favorite books for each age range (middle-grade, young adult, and adult) and maybe some based on format (like audiobooks and graphic novels). Let’s get into today’s post! I’ll be linking my reviews, if I have one, so feel free to click through and see my full (spoiler free!) review of my favorite books.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

These are my top ten favorite books of 2020. Now, these are not all 2020 releases, but I read them all in 2020. These are some of the books that I just can’t stop thinking about even though I read them forever ago. Also, these are by no means my only favorite books I read last year, which is why I have more lists coming for each age range that I read. What books were your favorites of 2020?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Summary:
Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.
Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.
The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.
The Cousins by Karen M. McManusReview:
The Cousins is a young adult thriller that follows three mostly estranged cousins that work on their grandmother’s island resort, a grandmother none of them have ever met. I’ve read and loved all of McManus’s other books and The Cousins was no different. The big difference with this book was that all of the theories that I had while reading were completely wrong.
This story takes place on an island off of Cape Cod (which is where I grew up, so I was instantly sold when I started hearing places I knew.) This is the island where their parents grew up, and the place they were disinherited from, with one message, “You know what you did.” So, when the three cousins, Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah, are invited to work at the resort for the summer, everyone is surprised.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved watching Milly and Aubrey learn more about one another and develop an actual relationship aside from seeing one another at the family reunion. I thought their friendship was well done and though Milly and Aubrey were very different people, they learned about one another and about themselves. I think the character growth all around was excellent, but the growth came with the developing relationships. Milly learns about herself and grows from her interactions with Aubrey. And it was the same for Aubrey. Being around Milly and their growing friendship, she learned to be more confident. Then there’s Jonah. His part of a story was a little weird and I can’t talk about most of it because of a spoiler. So, all three cousins have secrets, but Jonah’s is the worst for the situation they are in. I liked all three of them and I think they were all distinct and well-developed characters.
As for the story and plot, I did not see the big twist coming. I had many theories as I was reading (well, listening as I read this via the audiobook). I think McManus did an incredible job of leaving the reader wanting more, wanting to know all of the secrets, and keeping them invested in the story with little bits and pieces before the big reveal. I also really liked that we get Milly’s mom’s point of view, Allison, but as a teenager growing up on the island (sort of.) We get the story of what happened that final summer before they were all disowned. I think that added a great element of suspense with the alternating chapters of that final summer.
Overall, this was a slower paced story than her previous books. I really enjoyed it. The suspense and mystery was well done, slowly revealed, but not one that I predicted. I loved the characters. Despite all being related, they were all very different. I just as a whole really liked this book. It’s one I’ll definitely recommend in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar and I’m listening to the audiobook for Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I have to mention my two most recently read because reasons. Monday I finished Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center and the audiobook (which was incredible) for Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant.

Antonia- I most recently read The Awakening by Nora Roberts.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- Next, I’m going to try to work on the arc’s I have from NetGalley because I keep getting approved for new ones and they’re piling up.

Antonia- Next I’ll read The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

GoodReads Summary:
When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.
But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.
When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.
The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.
But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.
You Have a MatchReview:
I got You Have a Match as an eARC thanks to NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I read Emma Lord’s debut novel, Tweet Cute, also as an ARC. I really loved that one, which is why I hit the request button as fast as I could when I saw You Have a Match. The story follows Abby. She and her two best friends, Connie and Leo, take a 23&me DNA test because Leo is adopted and he’s curious about his history. A part of him was hoping to potentially find family members. Connie and Abby take the test with him to be supportive. When the results come in, Abby is the one that finds a new family member. A full blood sister, meaning they have the same parents, and Savannah (Savvy) has already sent a message to Abby. The two meet and put some pieces together about the fact that their parents (Abby’s parents and Savvy’s adoptive parents). They concoct a plan to go to the same summer camp to figure out what’s going on with their parents.
I didn’t always like Abby, but I really appreciated her as a character. She had some real growth. She reminded me a lot of myself. She’s a ‘don’t make waves’ kind of person. So, instead of telling her parents, she doesn’t need all of the tutoring and extra help they’re making her go to, she just goes. She doesn’t want to rock the boat and that’s the story of my life. She has a lot of feelings that she doesn’t let out, which is never good. It causes lots of hijinks between Abby and Savvy (read: Finn is my favorite instigator).
Savvy is an Instagram influencer. I wish we’d gotten some of this story from Savvy’s point of view. I think that would have been the only thing that would have made this story better. I think it would have been nice to hear how she was feeling about everything and then later how things went with her parents. I liked Savvy. She puts on this image for the internet and that sort of makes her feel like she needs to put on the same image all the time. It was really interesting to see her talk to Abby and share things with one another. I loved seeing Savvy open up and be vulnerable with Abby. The two really had a rocky start, but they worked through it and I loved the sisterly moments they had. Also, Savvy is a lesbian (I don’t remember if it was specifically stated, but she has a girlfriend in this book.)
Overall, I loved all of the characters. I don’t want to make this too long and go over each of them. But I loved Abby and Connie’s relationship. It was realistic, filled with conflict, and a great resolution. I loved Savvy’s best friend Mickey and her food competition with Leo. I loved Finn and how much of an instigator he was, for it only to come out that he was going through some shit. I loved this book. It was filled with diverse characters that I couldn’t help but feel the things that they were feeling. There was family drama and heartwarming resolutions. There was summer camp hilarity. I just had a great time reading this story.

Quotes:

“Poppy had this thing he always said when we were out with our cameras. He’d show me how different lenses captured different perspectives, and how no two photos of the same thing were ever alike, simply because of the person taking them. If you learn to capture a feeling, he told me, it’ll always be louder than words.”

“We are best friends. And being someone’s best friend comes with a responsibility, a lifetime of secrets and promises and shared moments, that were made with a certain understanding. A contract of sorts. This is the person you are to me; these are the things I feel safe to tell you because of it.”

“Brave. It’s a word I’m still getting used to, after a lifetime of ducking from my problems. But maybe I’m growing into it, in my own way. A little less running and a little more talking. A little less wondering and a little more found.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Anticipated Releases for Early 2021

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 my anticipated releases for the first half of 2021.

19 January
This Will Be Funny Someday by Katie Henry

9 February
Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

9 February
The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa

16 February
Blood Sworn by Scott Reintgen

9 March
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

16 March
On This Unworthy Scaffold by Heidi Heilig

6 April
Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi

25 May
Legacy by Nora Roberts

1 June
A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

22 June
Darling by K. Ancrum

This was such a hard list to make. But we have over 150 books on our 2021 anticipated releases list, which you can find here.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.