Blogtober Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

GoodReads Summary:
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.
The Library of the Unwritten (Hell's Library #1)Review:
I picked up The Library of the Unwritten because a few people I follow on social media were saying such good things about it. I am so glad that I trusted them and pick this one up because it just might be a new favorite fantasy series. There’s just something that I love about books that are about books.
Claire is the Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing. This is a library that’s located in Hell filled with all of the unfinished books that exist. Her job is to make sure these books don’t manifest. So, of course, the story opens with a book character manifesting from their story and Claire has to hunt them down with her Librarian Apprentice, Brevity, and Leto, the demon who was sent to inform Claire that a manifestation had escaped to Earth. The three travel to Earth to bring this manifestation, eventually named Hero, but what is supposed to be an easy enough job turns into a quest for something much more important. I really liked Claire. She’s not perfect, kind of cold, but soft underneath. I’m really excited to learn more about her in the second book. I would have liked to have more of my questions answered. Claire has many books of her own in the Unwritten Library, and there is some history there. She has secrets and I’m interested to see how or if those secrets come to light in the next book. I completely adored Brevity. She’s a former muse and I loved everything about her. Leto was an interesting character because there was so much to his story and I’m wondering whether or not we will see him in the next book or not. Hero was also interesting because we’re led to make assumptions about his character because of how Claire classifies him, but as we learn more about him, we learn that our assumptions aren’t quite right.
Their mission changes when they run into Ramiel, an angel on a mission to find The Devil’s Bible. He’s been working what’s essentially the front desk at the gates of Heaven hoping to work his way back into the Creator’s good graces so he can go back home. But the Creator is nowhere to be found and Uriel is the one in charge. Ramiel was a complex character because at first, he jumps at the chance to complete this mission and be welcomed home. But when he realizes that Uriel might not be telling him the whole truth with his mission, he isn’t sure that being welcomed back into Heaven is actually what he wants anymore. I really liked the complexity of Ramiel’s story. His character and the choices he made were fascinating.
Overall, I loved this story. I love books that are about books. The concept of the Unwritten Library was such a great one (but made me sad because I’m a writer with lots of unfinished books). I also am very interested by the Arcane wing of the library. I am very excited to read the next book.

Quotes:

“How much easier it would be if everyone knew their role: the hero, the sidekick, the villain. Our books would be neater and our souls less frayed. But whether you have blood or ink, no one’s story is that simple.”

“The trouble with reading is it goes to your head. Read too many books and you get savvy. You begin to think you know which kind of story you’re in. Then some stupid git with a cosmic quill fucks you over.”

“We think stories are contained things, but they’re not. Ask the muses. Humans, stories, tragedies, and wishes—everything leaves ripples in the world. Nothing we do is not felt; that’s a comfort. Nothing we do is not felt; that’s a curse.

“Stories are, at the most basic level, how we make sense of the world. It doesn’t do to forget that sometimes heroes fail you when you need them the most. Sometimes you throw your lot in with villains.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Thirteen (Part One): Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Super Long Book Titles

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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 super long book titles.

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Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moria Fowley-Doyle

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twelve: On My Watchlist

Hello, lovelies! Today I want to talk about some book to movie (or tv!) adaptations. I have some that I’ve already watched that I think are great for the spooky season and some that I want to watch as a more general watchlist for the fall. There are also some where I’ve read the book and some where I haven’t. I will specify forr each what I’ve read or watched and haven’t. I’m going to start with some spooky/creepy choices that are perfect for this time of year.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer: I read the book and didn’t love. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the movie either. But they were both weird and sort of freaky. I think both the movie and the book are read to read or watch for spooky season.

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry: I haven’t read the book. I didn’t even know it was a book until I was searching for adaptations for this post. But I did watch the Netflix movie and really enjoyed it. It was creepy and wonderful. Something I highly recommend you watch during spooky season.

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell: This is another one that I haven’t read the book for. I also probably won’t ever read it. But I liked the movie because I’m a sucker for anything with Blake Lively in it.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: I actually DNF’d this book. My book club read it together and I just couldn’t get through it. There’s something about books with footnotes that I can’t handle. But I was waiting to watch the show until I could read the book. So, this might be a show that I start soon. I love weird fantasy shows like this in the fall and winter time.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: For this one I’ve actually managed to read the book and watch the show. I mostly liked the book. It wasn’t anything crazy, but I had a good time reading it. But I totally loved the show. It’s full of drama and suspense and actresses I love.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I read the first two books in this series and just couldn’t continue. They were dramatic and totally over the top. So, I think I’ll much prefer the movie because that’s totally the type of movie I love.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: I haven’t read the book for this one. But I really want to. I’ve been on hold forever for the audiobook and even managed to start it a few times. But I haven’t finished it. I’m hoping to do that soon so that I can watch the show. Mostly becasue I love Reese Witherspoon.

Outlander by Diana Gabldon: I read the first few books in this series years and years ago. I want to reread them so that I can watch the show. Though, I’ve heard mixed things about both of them.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: I love this series. I always will. There hasn’t been an announced release date for the Netflix show that’s been filmed. But rumors are for late 2020, and I’m really hoping they’re right.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: I haven’t read this series, but I really would like to. I’d also like to watch the show. I’ve heard such good things about both of them. I think this is the perfect time of year to start them.

These are some shows and movies that were originally books. Some I’ve read and some I haven’t (but want to!) and same for their adaptations. I’ve seen some and want to watch others. What book to move adaptations do you think are perfect to watch during spooky season?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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GoodReads Summary:
For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.
Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.
As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.
A Million JunesReview:
This book really surprised me. I actually almost unhauled it two different times. But I’ve since read Emily Henry’s adult romance novel and the novel she co-wrote with Brittany Cavallaro. So, I wasn’t quite ready to give up on A Million Junes. I am so glad I held myself back from unhauling because I gave this book five stars on GoodReads.
We follow June. She goes to the local carnival with her best friend, Hannah. This is when June see’s Saul Angert for the first time in three years. He left town with little explanation and now he’s back. June’s family has one rule, and it’s to stay away from the Angert family. No surprise here that she doesn’t. June finds that she’s sort of attracted to Saul. But Hannah has had a crush on him forever and June wants to respect Hannah’s feelings. I really appreciated this aspect of the story. The fact that June was so thoughtful of her best friend’s feelings really made me love their friendship. I also loved that even when she got Hannah’s okay to act on her feelings for Saul, June didn’t just blow Hannah off. I don’t love girls that blow of their friends once they get interested in a guy.
Now, for the romance. I really liked Saul and June together. I loved the forbidden aspect of their friendship. It definitely led to some funny parts of the story where the pair were trying to keep Saul’s identity a secret. I thought the things that they experienced, the losses that they had in common, were a beautiful part of this story. I also really enjoyed the two sharing their family stories and trying to get to the truth of the two versions.
Overall, this story was beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a story of grief and love and figuring out how to continue living after losing those close to you. I loved the magical aspects of the story. They were beautifully written and the magic was beyond fascinating. I am now a huge fan of Emily Henry and I’ve bought her other backlist titles. If you like magical realism and stories filled with emotion, this is the book for you.

Quotes:

“Letting go is not forgetting. It’s opening your eyes to the good that grew from the bad, the life that blooms from decay.”

“Grief is an unfillable hole in your body. It should be weightless, but it’s heavy. Should be cold, but it burns. Should, over time, close up, but instead it deepens.”

“When people pity you, it’s like they don’t realize that the exact same thing is coming for them. And then I feel embarrassed and uncomfortable and have to pity them, because, like, do you not realize that it’s always someone’s turn? You haven’t noticed everyone gets a few blows that seem so big you can’t survive them?”

“Maybe for some people, falling in love is an explosion, fireworks against a black sky and tremors rumbling through the earth. One blazing moment. For me, it’s been happening for months, as quietly as a seed sprouting. Love sneaked through me, spreading roots around my heart, until, in the blink of an eye, the green of it broke the dirt: hidden one moment, there the next.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

GoodReads Summary:
When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.
August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.
The Wicker King by K. AncrumReview:
The Wicker King was incredible and I’m not really sure how to explain why I feel that way. The writing was the first thing that caught my attention that I liked. It wasn’t quite a stream of consciousness but sort of reminded me of that style. I really liked the writing style. It made the story really easy to devour. This was not an easy story to read. We follow August’s perspective as his best friend, Jack, lets his hallucinations get worse and worse. At first, the story seemed like a fun not quite fantastical story where the two boys were going to quest for whatever it was Jack’s other world needed to be saved. But as things got more serious it was clear that the pair were in over their heads, even if they didn’t want to admit it. Both come from not great home lives. August’s mom has depression and he takes care of her more than she does him. Jack’s parents are basically nonexistent. Both Jack and August are basically just doing the best they can.
Despite their struggles, it was really hard not to like both of them. The relationship they share is clearly incredibly special to them both even though it isn’t always a super healthy relationship. I also really enjoyed the side characters (the twins were my favorite). All of the side characters added something important to the story and I liked them all.
Overall, this story blew me away. This review is short and that is intentional because there isn’t a whole lot I can say without spoiling things. I especially liked the color formatting that was done as the story and the character’s progress. I definitely will be reading all of Ancrum’s books in the future.

Quotes:

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

“Where we are, there is light.” The wind blew hard from the east and the trees rustled their branches. “From where I’m standing… it is warm enough.”

“You deserve to heal and grow, too. You deserve to have someone to talk to about your problem; you deserve unconditional support; you deserve care and safety and all the things you need to thrive. Just because you may not have them doesn’t mean you don’t deserve them.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Bewitching can be a beast. . . .
Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.
I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.
You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.
I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.
Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start… bewitching.
Bewitching (Kendra Chronicles, #2)Review:
I’ve been working my way through Flinn’s backlist that I haven’t read yet. So, Bewitching was next up on the list. I really liked parts of this story and not so much some other parts. I think going into this, I assumed it was going to more of Kendra’s story. We do get a bit of Kendra’s history at the beginning, and tidbits of things she’s done in the past, but I wanted more I guess.
The story mostly follows Emma. She lives with her mom and her step-father. Her parents married when she was three, so her step-dad is really the only father she’s ever known and she loves him dearly. But it turns out that he has another daughter around Emma’s age. Lisette’s mom dies and so Lisette comes to live with Emma. Emma is excited to gain a sister, but her mom puts doubts in her head about Lisette’s intentions. And Emma starts to realize that her mom was right all along. I really liked Emma. She was so excited to have a sister. She wanted someone to share things with and really tried to give Lisette the benefit of the doubt until that just wasn’t possible anymore. I liked how her story ended too. She never stooped to Lisette’s level.
Lisette on the other hand was completely horrible. She’s the Cinderella in this retelling, but instead of being kind and sweet, she was conniving and devious. She took away everything from Emma one piece at a time. I understood her backstory, it was sad, but no excuse to be the terrible girl she was.
There were also three stories outside of Emma’s story. In the beginning, we get a bit of Kendra’s story, her family, when she learned she was a witch, and all that. But we also get two stories aside from Emma’s (and a brief mention of Beastly) where Kendra intervened to help people. One is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea and the other was The Little Mermaid and I just didn’t care about either if them at all. They really completely took me out of my enjoyment of Emma’s story. I almost DNF’d this book because the little mermaid story was almost 100 pages and I just didn’t care about it at all.
I’m still going to push through and try to finish this series because I do enjoy Flinn’s fairytale retellings and Kendra is still a pretty interesting character.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

GoodReads Summary:
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Final GirlsReview:
Final Girls follows Quincy who is the most recent ‘final girl.’ Ten years later, she mostly has her life under control, but she still doesn’t remember most of what happened the night her closest friends were murdered. She currently works from home, baking for her popular blog (yes you can expect a Books & Baking post from this book). She lives with her boyfriend, Jeff. She has a pretty good life. But when Lisa, the first final girl, is found dead things start to change. Sam (final girl number two) shows up on Quincy’s doorstep and upends her life.
I liked Quincy for the most part. It was clear that she wasn’t actually okay and Sam brought out the worst parts of her. I liked that she had coping mechanisms, but they’re not working. I also wasn’t totally invested in her relationship with Jeff. He was mostly supportive but I just didn’t care about them. When Quincy starts to remember bits and pieces of what happened that night is when the story really gets interesting.
Overall, this story was a wild ride. Quincy does things that she probably never would have without Sam’s influence, but it also teaches her about herself. She learns that she is not as alright about her past as she thought she was. She’s also remembering what really happened that night, remembering things that changes everything. The ending of this book is not one that I saw coming (though I think others might have). I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author. This is a great one for the spooky season because it’s a little bit confusing, but also pretty dark.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

GoodReads Summary:
There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.
In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.
Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.
An Unkindness of Magicians (An Unkindness of Magicians, #1)Review:
This book is one I discovered from the bookish community on Twitter. It’s been raved about by so many people that I bought it. I bought it forever ago and it’s been on several TBR’s, but I finally picked it up because my library had the audiobook. I didn’t totally love the audiobook, but I liked it enough to listen to the whole story. I’m really picky about audiobooks, so this says a lot.
An Unkindness of Magicians was a bit confusing at first. There are a handful of characters introduced right from the beginning of the story and it was a little confusing between who was who and when we switched to a new character’s story. I think the audio did a great job of making it clear which was which (I started reading this physically before switching to the audio.)
I ended up really enjoying this story. The characters were diverse and interesting. This was a way darker story than I was anticipating and I loved it. The characters we follow are all dealing with different things, from planning to change everything about the magical world to attempting to keep a hold on power. I really liked the political complexities of the world and that there was more than one character trying to change the way the magical world was run. I liked the way the magic was written about as well. The author used vivid imagery whenever the characters were actively doing magic and I enjoyed that. I also liked that there were physical consequences for magic use and the big goal of the story was to change the fact that some of the more powerful houses had found a terrible way around these consequences.
Overall, this story was way darker than I thought it was going to be, but I still enjoyed it. I ended up really liking that there were so many characters that we followed. It felt like we really got to see all the different aspects of this magical world. The ending was sort of heartbreaking, but I think I’m alright with it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eleven: Graphic Novel’s TBR

Hello, lovelies! Today I want to talk about graphic novels that I own. I’m all about (unsuccessfully) getting my physical TBR to a more manageable level this year. So, making lists like these where I have books im excited about all in one place is great for me to look back on once I’ve read a few and made some progress. So, hopefully you enjoy them as much as I do. Here are some of the graphic novels I’m hoping to read this month on my physical TBR.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 5: Imperial Phase, Part I by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

Spectacle, Vol. 1 by Megan Rose Gedris

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Robert Hack

Middlewest, Book One by Skottie Young Jorge Corona

W.I.T.C.H. Part 1: The Twelve Portals by Elisabetta Gnone, Alessandro Barbucci, & Barbara Canepa

These are some of the graphic novels that have been on my physical TBR for way too long. I’m excited to get to them and I think they’ll be great reads for spooky season. What graphic novels have been on your TBR too long?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Ten: Bookish Monsters

Hey, lovelies! Last year I did a bookish monsters post and I had a lot of fun thinking about the terrifying beasts I’d read about (read it here!) so I thought I would do it again this year. Since I did it last year, I’m only going to be talking about bookish monsters I read about in 2020 (with maybe one or two from November and December of last year.)

Reverie by Ryan La Sala
I read this at the very beginning of 2020 and I still get the creeps thinking about the freaky spider things that Kane runs into at the start of the story.

The Never Tilting World by Ron Chupeco
The are so many monsters in this book. They’re all terrifying and our two main ladies are infiinately braver than me. Despite the scary monsters, I loved this book and you should go read it right now before the final book comes out.

The Life Below by Alexandra Monir
This is in the synopsis for this book so I don’t think it’s a spoiler. Also, it’s more aliens than monsters, but I think it still counts. The aliens this crew meets on Europa are completely terrifyiing and I never want to travel to a potentially inhabited planet.

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa
So. Many. Demons. Hard pass.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
The vampire is less scary and more disgusting.

Dune by Frank Herbert
The worms are a hard no from me. The fact that some people on this planet figured out to ride them is just too much for me.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Parvaneh the div and the other (I can’t find his name anywhere and I listened to the audio) who is some sort of snake-like monster? They’re both terrifying but also like, sort of attractive.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro
Literally everything that isn’t a person is absolutely terrifying in this story. There are guardians who I think were supposed to be nice, but they still sounded scary. Also, if you let your guilt fester it will literally turn into a creature and that is my worst nightmare.

Here are some of the monsters that I’ve read about (and have haunted me a bit) so far in 2020. There were definitely more, but I couldn’t remember or find their names, so I didn’t include them. What bookish monsters do you love or hate that you’ve read about?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

GoodReads Summary:
Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.
Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .
Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears (Paola Santiago #1)Review:
Tehlor Kay Mejia is very quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I read her YA fantasy duology this year and I’ve already preordered her co-written book that comes out soon. If that’s not clear, I loved this book.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears follows Paola (or Pao) as she tries to find her best friend. Emma was supposed to meet Pao and Dante at the river to test out Pao’s new telescope, but Emma never arrives. This leads Paola and Dante on a wild ride to find their best friend. First, the pair go home and try to call Emma because maybe she was still at home? But when they talk to her parents and learn she’s not home they go to the police. I really liked that this was included in the story. When Pao and Dante go to the police station to wait for Emma’s parents they are treated unfairly because they are Latinx. I really liked the way this story showed this reality that many deal with daily. I think it’s a really important thing to showcase in books for younger audiences. When Paola realizes that the police are not going to be helpful, she decides that she’s going to go to the river and find out what happened and try to save Emma. This is where mythology comes in. I never learned much about Mexican folklore or mythology so this was so much fun for me. I’d heard of some, like the Chupacabras, but didn’t really know much else. I had so much fun with all of the mythological aspects of this book. It was spectacularly spooky and honestly warms my heart to think of the kids that will see themselves and their culture represented in this story. I think this story is the perfect one for October (but still great year-round) because there are ghosts and all kinds of other monsters that Paola and Dante encounter.
Paola was a character I really loved. She struggles with her relationship with her mother. Her mother is very superstitious and Paola doesn’t care for that. She doesn’t believe in any of the things her mother tries to instill in her. She is a huge science nerd and I loved that. She tries to solve her problems with facts and logic and I loved the representation of a young girl interested in STEM. I really related to Pao’s issues with her mom and their rocky relationship. I really enjoyed that it was clear she loved her mom, but that they didn’t have a perfect relationship. Paola is a character I found myself rooting for the whole time.
Dante was interesting because we only see him from Paola’s perspective. I really wanted to like him, and I did. But I also felt bad because he was getting older and finding new things that interested him and Pao sort of resented him for that. Despite Paola not always being kind to him, he stood by her and protected her when he had the chance. He went with her to search for Emma even though he didn’t really want to. He was a real friend and I ended up really liking him.
There are so many other wonderful characters in this story. I loved them all. I think this was an incredible story. The world was so well built and beautifully written. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in the series.
I do also want to mention that I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did such a great job telling this story. I will absolutely continue the series via the audiobooks if the next one has the same narrator.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Hideaway by Nora Roberts

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GoodReads Summary:
Caitlyn Sullivan, a daughter of Hollywood royalty, was already a star at ten, but still loved to play hide-and-seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared.
Despite her glamorous background, Cate was a shrewd, scrappy survivor, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bruised and terrified girl huddled in his ranch house kitchen—but when the teenager and his family heard her story they provided refuge and comfort, reuniting her with her loved ones.
Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years away in Ireland, sheltered and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul. Then, finally, she returned to Los Angeles, hoping to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night—one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance…
HideawayReview:
I will always love Nora Roberts. Hideaway was no different. I really loved that we got to follow most of Cate’s life. We follow Cate starting when she’s a child at her great-grandfather’s celebration of life. She gets kidnapped late into the afternoon. This follows her for the rest of her life. I really liked how this was worked into the story. It’s something that Cate experienced, but she doesn’t let it dictate the rest of her life. I also have to point out that Cate comes from a very wealthy Hollywood family, but she acknowledges the privilege that comes with this, which I appreciated. I also liked the diversity I’ve been seeing in Nora’s novels in the last few years. There’s a biracial relationship, there are LGBTQ+ side characters.
I really liked Cate. She really takes charge of her life and doesn’t let her childhood trauma define her. She goes after what she wants. She takes time to figure out what exactly she wants when she feels like she’s lost her direction. I also totally loved that she becomes a voice actress later on in her life.
Now, Dillon Cooper was amazing. He’s the ultimate gentleman. He’s a family man, raised by women. His dream to take over the family farm never changes. But he respects the women who raised him and goes to college at their suggestion. I liked that we got to see Dillon grow up as well.
I loved the romances that we got to see. As this book takes place over many years, we see Cate in a few different relationships. I really enjoyed them all but I was always sure that Dillon and Cate would be end game.
Overall, this was a wonderful mystery/romance novel. I liked that we knew what was going on (mostly) the whole time. There were a few details we didn’t know, but I liked that we knew most of the story. The only thing I didn’t like was that the ending seemed a little sudden. I felt like there was room for more of a conclusion, but we just didn’t get that. I still really enjoyed this story and I can’t wait for Nora’s new release later this year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

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GoodReads Summary:
Fried Green Tomatoes and “Steel Magnolias” meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresReview:
I read this book for my local book club. It’s not something I probably would have picked up otherwise. This book was really something else. I didn’t love the overly grotesque parts of the book (but that’s just why I don’t generally read horror.) But I was fascinated by the dynamics of the women we read about. Their relationships with one another and their relationships with their husbands. This book really made a strong statement about how the world was in the late 80s and early 90s and it honestly just made my heart sad.
Overall, this book was a wild ride. The twists and turns, the way the author had me back and forth believing the main character and then not believing her. I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t have all that much to say about it. But, dude this book was a ride I don’t think I’d ride again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Nine: Amanda’s ARC TBR

Hey, lovelies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I really like making lists. Lists help me keep myself accountable. So, today for Blogtober I have another list for you. I’m going to list all of the eARCs I’ve gotten (thanks, NetGalley!) and need to read. I’ve really been slacking on my ebook reading, so hopefully this will give me motivation to pick them up.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – Release Date: October 13th, 2020

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee – Release Date: October 20th, 2020

The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White – Release Date: November 10th, 2020

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong – Release Date: November 17th, 2020

Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan – Release Date: January 5th, 2021

As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper – Release Date: February 9th, 2021

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft – Release Date: March 2nd, 2021

The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel – Release Date: March 2nd, 2021

Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein – Release Date: April 27th, 2021

These are all of the ARC’s I currently have that I need to read. I went on a bit of a requesting spree, so hopefully I can finish most of these before I potentially get approved for any others.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

GoodReads Summary:
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.
The Death of Mrs. WestawayReview:
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is one of the last couple of mystery/thrillers that was on my TBR. I’ve been on a thriller kick this October so that I can clear out the books that have been sitting on my shelves for entirely too long (and so that I can start collecting new ones for 2021 spooky season). Ware’s books have been hit or miss for me, so I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy this or not despite being pretty interested in the synopsis.
I will start by saying that I totally guessed a part of this story pretty early on. I developed lots of theories and dismissed them just as often. This story was a really great one to guess what the truth really was. I liked Hal. I could understand the choices she made and why she made them. I probably would have done the same thing in her position. But I did find myself wanting her to just tell her new family members the truth. She did eventually tell the truth, which is when things got a little wild.
Overall, this story wasn’t super fast paced, but the suspense made it enjoyable. The desire to get answers to the questions that I had pushed me through the slower parts of the story. I think the ending was completely unexpected and a big part of the reason why I enjoyed this story so much. I never could have guessed the truth behind what was really going on. I thought this was a pretty good mystery and I would definitely recommend it for an October read.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.