A Season of Sinister Dreams by Tracy Banghart

Summary:
Furyborn meets A Curse So Dark and Lonely in this courtly feminist fantasy from Grace and Fury author Tracy Banghart.
Annalise may be cousin to the prince, but her past isn’t what she claims, and she possesses a magic so powerful it takes all her strength to control it. Evra is a country girl, and has watched as each friend and family member came into their own magic, while hers remains dormant. But everything changes after Annalise loses control of herself and Evra begins experiencing the debilitating visions of a once-in-a-generation clairvoyant meant to serve the crown.
Thrown together at court, Evra and Annalise find that they have the same goal: to protect their kingdom from the powerful men who are slowly destroying it. But neither is quick to trust the other — Evra’s visions suggest a threat to royal rule, and Annalise worries that her darkest secrets will be revealed. Their magic at odds, the young women circle each other, until the truth must come out.
Full of intrigue, romance, and shocking twists, this gorgeously immersive fantasy will keep readers spellbound until the very last page.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read and review an early copy of this book. I love Tracy Banghart. I’ve met her at an author event and we spent like an hour talking, so I love to read and support her work.
A Season of Sinister Dreams follows two main characters, Annalise and Evra. Annalise is the grandniece to the King and cousin to the prince. But she has secrets that she would do anything to protect. Evra is a country girl. She’s worried that she’ll never have any magic and the people in her town are starting to treat her differently. But Evra starts having visions that mean the kingdom is in danger. She’s this generations Clearsee. The Clearsee’s only appear once in a generation, and only when the kingdom is in danger. Evra must travel to court to meet with the king and inform him that she has been revealed as this generations Clearsee.
Evra and Annalise meet at court. But since we’re seeing things from both points of view, we know things that the other characters don’t. I think this fact made the story infinitely better. Knowing that there were secrets to be revealed and knowing what those secrets were kept me engaged into the story. Wondering how each of the characters were going to react when the truth finally came out was a really great way to add some suspense to the story.
Now, I really loved Evra. She’s a girl that loves her family. She loves her kingdom. And she’s willing to do her duty as Clearsee despite the fact that she disagrees with many of the things the king has ordered for the people. She’s taking her responsibility seriously and she does her best to make the right choices, the choices that will help the most people. The author really did her dirty with some of the things that happen, but I really loved Evra.
Annalise was a fascinating character. I wanted to hate her so badly, but I just couldn’t. I liked her. Her backstory pulled on my heartstrings. Because we got to see things from her point of view, we know that some events were complete accidents. We get to see the other side of the story which made it easier to sympathize with Annalise, even though she was in the wrong. I didn’t want to like Annalise at all, but I couldn’t help it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a short, political fantasy that follows two strong women. I liked the politics. I liked the bits of romance we got. I liked the different kinds of magic there was to see. I just genuinely enjoyed this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s July Wrap Up

Hey, lovelies! July was a much better reading month for me than June was. I’m really proud of how well I did working on my physical TBR and getting it down to a lower number. I also read some really great blog posts this month. I did better at regularly checking my feed to read stuff from the people I follow. So, lets get into it!

What I Read

Physical Books
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning – 4 stars
Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson – 3 stars
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth – 4.5 stars
The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer – 4.5 stars
Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey – 4 stars
Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey – 4 stars
Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey – 3.5 stars

eBooks
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – 4 stars
The Sea is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt – 2 stars
A Season of Sinister Dreams by Tracy Banghart – 4 stars
What We Devour by Linsey Miller – 4 stars
A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers – 4.5 stars

Blogging Highlights

Amanda’s Favorite Retellings

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Book Review)

10 Popular YA Books on Amanda’s Physical TBR

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Amanda’s Summertime Book Recommendations

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi (Book Review)

5 Books Featuring Grief Amanda Recommends

Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore & Tehlor Kay Mejia (Book Review)

Other Bloggers I’m Loving

Thoughts on Prologues and Epilogues (Let’s Talk Bookish) from Briana @ Pages Unbound
I thought this was a really interesting discussion post!

Summerween TBR Time! from Destiny @ Howling Pages
Check out some spooky books that Destiny is going to read in July.

My 2021 Goals | Mid-Year Check-In from Jess @ Jessticulates
Come see how Jess is doing for their 2021 goals! I think you’re killing it Jess!

Our Friend is Here! A Discussion with Ryan Douglass, Author of The Taking of Jake Livingston – On Why We Need Radical YA Books from Skye @ The Quiet Pond
I love everything that comes from the Quiet Pond, but this post in particular was a great read.

Discover A Reader’s Book Buying Process from Kal @ Reader Voracious
See the how and why behind Kal’s book buying habits!

Book Drop // Library Book Haul from Book Loaner
Check out this library haul!

100 Books By Trans and Non-Binary Authors from Vee @ Vee Bookish
Some great recommendations here. I love the idea of collaboration to come up with ha huge list of recommendations.

Book Recommendations: Pride Month Edition – 10 Books with Bisexual and Pansexual Rep to Read During Pride Month! from CW @ The Quiet Pond
There are some really great recommendations on this list!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller

Summary:
Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.
But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.
The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the chance to read an early copy of this book. This is my honest review.
What We Devour follows Lorena Adler as her life is changed. She’s spent her whole life hiding her abilities. But when her father figure is about to be arrested, she reveals herself to make a bargain for his life. The Vile crown prince gets Lorena to travel to the capital with him and join his team of researching ways to prevent the Door from opening. This is where I want to talk about the world building. It was complex and interesting, but still easy to understand for me. I loved the concept of the magic of the vilewroughts and the nobelwroughts. I also loved the conversation of corruption. So much of this book focuses on how unfairly the lower class is treated and I thought that was a really great part of the plot.
Lorena was a fascinating character to follow. She’s incredibly clever and smart. She’s managed to hide from the crown for all this time. The only reason she’s found out is because she chose to do the thing that would protect someone she cared about. I really admired her character.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was dark and twisty. The magic was compelling and I was really interested by seeing the different ways people worked with their wroughts. I loved Lorena and all of the side characters. I think thing was a really fun and well told story. I definitely recommend it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’d Bring to a Deserted Island

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 would want with me if I were stranded on a deserted island.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

This Mortal Coil trilogy by Emilly Suvada

All of Nora Roberts books.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

So, I cheated a little with this one and included a few series. I think the Throne of Glass series and The Broken Earth trilogy would be excellent selections because I could read them over and over and notice new things with each new read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt

Summary:
West Finch is one hurricane away from falling into the sea.
Yet sixteen-year-old Harlow Prout is determined to save her small Maine hometown. If only she could stop getting in her own way and find someone, anyone, willing to help. But her best friend Ellis MacQueen “fixes” problems by running away from them―including his broken relationship with his twin brother, Tommy. And Tommy’s depression has hit a new low, so he’s not up for fixing anything.
In the wake of the town’s latest devastating storm, Tommy goes out for a swim that he doesn’t intend to survive. It’s his unexpected return that sets into motion a sea change between these three teens. One that tests old loyalties, sparks new romance, and uncovers painful secrets. And nothing stays secret in West Finch for long.

Book Cover

Summary:
The Sea is Salt and So Am I is an advanced copy that I was given via NetGalley so that I could read and review it. Thank you for that NetGalley and the publishers.
This story follows three points of view, Tommy, Ellis, and Harlow. Tommy and Ellis are twin brothers who both have their issues. The book starts off with Tommy attempting suicide. This is a big focus of the story. Everyone is doing their best to make sure that Tommy is okay after his failed attempt. Harlow and Ellis are best friends. They’ve been best friends since they were kids. So, Tommy is depressed. Ellis is an amputee. And Harlow focuses on all the wrong things to ‘fix’ and just creates more problems for herself.
I had a few problems with this book. The biggest one was that I just genuinely didn’t like any of the characters. I think the depression and amputee representation was a great thing. But I didn’t like Harlow and Ellis was sort of an asshole for most of the book. Harlow starts dating Tommy so that she can make sure he doesn’t try to kill himself again. Like, what? More than one person thought that this was okay for these characters? I just didn’t get it. I understood that eventually there were genuine feelings. But Harlow overall, she just wasn’t a character I could get behind. I didn’t root for her. It doesn’t happen often but I actively didn’t like her and the same goes for Ellis. He couldn’t sympathize with the reasons behind his actions and the more I read about him the less I liked him.
Overall, I just didn’t love this book. I loved the environmental topics. There’s mention of the Piping Plovers which are something that I knew lots about from my hometown, so I definitely laughed about their mention. But I also really liked the topic of erosion and the ocean washing away West Finch. I think this was a really great topic. I also think the author did a great job of showing us the story, the relationships, the settings, and not just telling us. There were things that I liked, but my dislike for the characters really put a damper on those things.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

Summary:
A poignant, funny, openhearted novel about coming out, first love, and being your one and only best and true self.
Julián Luna has a plan for his life: Graduate. Get into UCLA. And have the chance to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the suffocating expectations of others that have forced Jules into an inauthentic life.
Then in one reckless moment, with one impulsive tweet, his plans for a low-key nine months are thrown—literally—out the closet. The downside: the whole world knows, and Jules has to prepare for rejection. The upside: Jules now has the opportunity to be his real self.
Then Mat, a cute, empathetic Twitter crush from Los Angeles, slides into Jules’s DMs. Jules can tell him anything. Mat makes the world seem conquerable. But when Jules’s fears about coming out come true, the person he needs most is fifteen hundred miles away. Jules has to face them alone.
Jules accidentally propelled himself into the life he’s always dreamed of. And now that he’s in control of it, what he does next is up to him.

Book Cover

Review:
Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun was provided to me vie NetGalley so that I could read it and write an honest review. This book follows Julain Luna, a teenager that’s in the midst of applying to colleges, his last year of high school, and counting down to the day he leaves Texas so that he can be himself, finally. Julian is gay, but he feels like he can’t tell anyone because of his abusive father. His father knows in that way that isn’t talked about, but he lays hands on Julian, yells at him when Julian does ‘unmanly’ things. The parts of this story where Julian is suffering his fathers verbal and sometimes physical abuse were hard to read. It’s the reality for so many people, but I can’t help but wish that everyone struggling through this would just be loved and accepted by their family. One night, after getting incredibly drunk via the peer pressure of his friends, he comes out on his personal Twitter. This brings a new set of challenges. He’s treated differently at school and by his fellow players on the soccer team. But Julian has a great group of friends on his side and he has his sister. There’s also Mat, the very handsome boy that DM’d Julian after he came out.
I really liked this book. It’s full of heartfelt moments between friends. It’s a lovely story about moving on from high school. But it’s also Julian’s story about coming out and falling in love for the first time. I loved following him as he got to know Mat and then eventually got to meet him. I liked the tense moments of whether or not Julian was going to be able to go to college in California. I absolutely loved the sincere moments between Julian and his sister.
Overall, I really loved this story. I can see how important this story will be to so many people. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It’s sex positive. It’s gay. It has so many good things that I think will really speak to so many teenagers. I absolutely recommend this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Tropes

Hi, lovelies! I think the concept of tropes is such an interesting one. There are things that have been used in stories so many times that they’ve become a thing. I didn’t really think that I had any favorite tropes, but the more I read, the more I realize that I absolutely do have some favorites. Now, some are general story ones and some are specific events in stories. Let’s get to it!

Friends to lovers

This is my personal favorite trope in romance. I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s my real life trope with my husband.

Only one bed

The tension that stems from the ‘only one bed’ trope is just unlike anything else.

Forbidden love

As a teen, I was a big supporter of doing things I wasn’t supposed to do, so the whole people loving people they ‘shouldn’t’ because it creates such excellent drama and conflict.

Second chance romance

This is another real life trope for me. So, it totally checks out why I love this one.

Forced proximity

I think this one is another great one just because of the tension that’s created from the trope. I love to see characters that are trapped somewhere together that they don’t want to be.

Reluctant hero

The chosen one trope was really popular and still is, but I love me some reluctant heroes. A main characters that doesn’t particularly want to save the whatever, but they will because they’re the hero.

Fake dating

This one is incredibly popular. I like it, too. It’s fun watching a couple that’s totally in denial about their feelings for one another slowly realize they do actually love each other.

These are some of my favorite tropes. What are some of yours?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu

Summary:
Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.
When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?
When ghosts talk, she will listen…
Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.
She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

Book Cover

Review:
The Library of the Dead is a new fantasy novel that I found from my library. I listened to the audiobook and I thought the narrator did a really great job of telling this story. We follow Ropa while she’s doing her job as a ghoststalker. She lives in Scotland and has taken over for her grandmother talking with ghosts, delivering messages, etc. in exchange for money. But she hears rumors of children going missing, some never coming back and others coming back looking like they’ve aged 50 years. She feels obligated to investigate, but what she finds is so much more than she ever expected.
I really enjoyed this story. I listened to it non-stop for hours because I was so easily pulled into the story. I thought Ropa was a great main character. She’s unique and kept the story moving. I liked that she always stood up for herself, but she also knew when to stand down. She’s determined and never gave up, even when she was in a situation where things seemed dire. I also loved the family dynamics of this story. Ropa’s relationship with her sister and grandmother was so nice to see. Ropa feels like all the pressure is on her to provide for the family, but her grandmother doesn’t want her to feel that way.
I thought the magic was interesting. There were a few different kinds of magics. We see Ropa’s ghoststalking up close and I loved how detailed this magic was. But we also learn about other magic when Ropa finds her way into the Library of the Dead. I loved the friends she made there and I’m eager to see where those relationships will go next. I’m also interested to learn more about the other magic that we see.
The only thing I had trouble with was the world building. I think this is because I’m not very familiar with Scotland’s history, so there were things mentioned that I still don’t know if they actually happened or if this is set in a future Scotland. I’m planning to read some other reviews after I finish writing this to see if there’s anyone else that feels this way. I still really liked the setting; I just personally couldn’t tell if it was current or a dystopian Scotland because of my own lack of knowledge.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I’m very excited to see what’s going to happen in the sequel. I loved the magic and all of the characters. There was action with high stakes, but Ropa also learned and grew from these experiences. I will definitely be reading more from this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Read in One Sitting

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 read in one sitting.

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Year They Fell by David Kreizman

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

There are definitely more books I could add, but these are some that I’ve read in one sitting in the last year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s (Almost) Auto-Buy Authors

Hi, lovelies! Back in April, I did a post about my ‘Auto-Buy Authors‘ where I talked about authors that I love to the point where I automatically buy their books when they have a new release. There were quite a few authors that I thought have the potential to make that list, but have only published one or two books. So, I thought I’d share a list of some authors that are on their way toward that list, but don’t have enough published books for me to really say for sure yet.

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Tehlor Kay Mejia
I wrote this list in a note while I wrote my original auto-buy author post, so since then, I’ve read two more of Mejia’s books and I definitely think she’s moved solidly into auto-buy territory. I loved the We Set the Dark on Fire duology and I recently really enjoyed Miss Meteor which is co-written with Anna-Marie McLemore. I’m also very excited to read the second book in the Paola Santiago series.

Katie Henry
Henry has three books out and I’ve genuinely enjoyed all three of them. They’re contemporary books that generally involve a serious topic, but wit humor and thoughtfulness. I read This Will Be Funny Someday and totally loved it. There’s a toxic relationship and some lying, but I think it was all done with care. She has an untitled book coming in 2022 that I already can’t wait for.

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Hanna Alkaf
I read The Girl and the Ghost as one of my first books of 2021 and I absolutely devoured it. I don’t read historical fiction often, but I’ve heard really great things about The Weight of Our Sky and I absolutely am excited to read Queen of the Tiles when it’s released.

Emily Henry
Henry is coming quickly toward the definite auto-buy list because of her adult romance. I really liked Beach Read and I recently read People We Meet On Vacation and I liked that one even more. I don’t know if she’s planning to write more YA books, but I really loved all three of her YA books too.

Justin A. Reynolds
I want to add him to my auto-buy list, but he’s only published two books so far. Now, I’ve loved both of these books so, so much. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. But, it’s still a bit early to say for sure. I highly recommend both Opposite of Always and Early Departures.

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Dahlia Adler
Adler wrote Cool for the Summer, which I believe will be making several of my ‘2021 favorites’ lists when I make them. But this is the only book I’ve read by Adler. So, despite the book having a huge emotional impact on me, I can’t quite add Adler to my auto-buy list yet.

Laura Pohl
I really loved the audiobooks for The Last 8 and The First 7. I am beyond excited to read The Grimrose Girls later this year. I absolutely think she’ll make it to my auto-buy list, but I want to try more books by her first.

Adalyn Grace
The All the Stars and Teeth duology was a really great one. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what she publishes next.

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Bethany C. Morrow
I loved both A Song Below Water and the sequel, A Chorus Rises. Morrow has a few books coming out in the near future. One is a retelling, which I think I’ll skip, but I’m really excited for Cherish Farrah in 2022.

Katy Rose Pool
I am absolutely obsessed with The Age of Darkness trilogy. The third book isn’t even out yet, but I know I’m going to love it. I also follow Pool on Instagram and she’s been talking a bit about what she’s working on next, vaguely of course, and I already can’t wait to read whatever it is.

There are so many incredible authors out there and I wish that I could read them all. But these are some of the authors that are right on the tipping point of making their place on my auto-buy author list.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

Summary:
The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.
As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.
Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.

Book Cover

Review:
After really enjoying We Hunt the Flame, I tried to dive right into We Free the Stars. But that was right as my reading slump was starting, so I didn’t make it very far trying to read the physical book. I eventually borrowed the audiobook from my local library and managed to finish it through that format. I think the audiobook was really well done. There was more than one narrator and I think they did a great job telling this story.
As for the story, there is so much that happens in this book. It felt like a totally different sort of story from the first book, where they spent most of the book working toward one goal. But in this book, things have gone wrong. They need to plan a rescue. They need to list of impossible things to get done, but they managed to get most of it done. I was impressed by the way this team managed to problem solve for all of their issues.
I think what I liked the most was the changes that Nasir and Zafira go through. They’ve changed and grown so much in the first book, but now that they’re back from Sharr, they’re trying to reconcile those changes when back in their regular worlds. This was more for Nasir than Zafira because the world Zafira knew before she left for Sharr is gone. But Nasir is coming back to his home a changed man. But in the eyes of his people, he’s still the Prince of Death. We get to see this for Zafira through the people that she loves. She reunites with her sister and with Yasmine. We see her changes through their eyes.
Overall, I enjoyed this one just as much as I did the first. It’s a pretty different book because there is just so many things going on. But we get to see Zafira and Nasir grow even more. Altair is still my favorite. He’s really going through it in this book, but I loved him all the same. I also really enjoyed getting to see more of Zafira’s loved ones. The characters travel to other places in this world and I loved that we got to see other Caliphates that were mentioned in the first book. We learn more about the world in general. I’d love to see another book set in a different part of the world. I will definitely be picking up more books by Faizal.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Summary:
In Act Your Age, Eve Brown the flightiest Brown sister crashes into the life of an uptight B&B owner and has him falling hard—literally.
Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…
Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.
Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

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Review:
I love the Brown Sisters series. Each one is just so much fun to read and Eve’s story is no different. We follow Eve and Jacob as they try to fight the attraction they’re feeling for one another. But the story starts a bit before that. Eve’s just been confronted by her parents and they’ve basically kicked her out in hopes that it would motivate her to finally find a career path and stick with it. So, when Eve comes across a B&B that is hiring a chef, she whorls in, determined the convince Jacob that she’s perfect for the job. When Jacob doesn’t agree with her, she leaves. Except not quite. She hits Jacob with her car and breaks his arm. This story was just as funny as it was heartwarming. I really loved getting to follow along as Eve and Jacob became ‘just friends’ while both being in denial about their attraction to one another. They had some really great banter. Honestly, their whole relationship was just so heartwarming. Eve was such a kind and understanding character. Jacob is autistic, so he prefers some things to be certain ways. He’s clear with communicating his boundaries and what he needs. Eve never judges him or makes him feel other for that and I really loved this aspect of the story. There’s even a moment when someone in town says something offensive and Eve pulls the ‘I don’t get it’ card to make the jerk explain his hurtful ‘joke.’ I loved that they both learned more about themselves while they were learning about one another.
I really liked the bed and breakfast setting of this story. I think it was the perfect place. Away from the rest of Eve’s world. She’s trying to prove herself and she’s found this safe place to do that. Little did she know that she’d also found love.
Overall, I love this whole series. I still think that Dani’s book is my favorite, but I did really enjoy Eve’s story with Jacob. I will definitely be reading more of Hibbert’s backlist until there’s news about new books from her.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Summary:
Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.
Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.
Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.
Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.
Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.
Hilarious, warm, and romantic, Sally Thorne’s novel delivers an irrepressibly joyous celebration of love and community for fans of 99% Mine and The Hating Game

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Review:
Second First Impressions was everything I want from a romance novel. It made me laugh. It made me swoon. It had side characters that absolutely made the story better. We follow Ruthie who works at the front desk of a retirement village. But her boss is on vacation, so she’s temporarily in charge. While she’s in charge, she has a temp assistant, Melanie. The slow friendship that developed between Ruthie and Melanie was adorable. I really loved the two women forming a relationship. They are such different people, but they end up good friends despite not having much in common. Melanie has decided that she needs to shake Ruthie out from living like one of the residents of the village. She’s in her twenties, not her eighties. So, Melanie gets Ruthie on a method of her own creation to get back into dating. Enter Teddy. Teddy is the son of the CEO that just bought the retirement village. Ruthie has been tasked with giving him a job. So, she has him interview for the two residents that can’t seem to keep an assistant.
This story was a fun one. I loved all the little details, like how Ruthie cares for the turtles. I liked Ruthie. I can really relate to being stuck in a routine and feeling significantly older than I really am. I think while she wasn’t the most exciting character, sometimes even a little unlikable, she was realistic. I liked seeing her come out of her shell and start having some fun.
Teddy was a good love interest. It was clear from the start that he was going to be the romantic interest. I’ve seen others say that he’s too likable. Which I actually can understand a little, but I liked him. The only thing I didn’t really like was that his interest seemed more like he was interested in chasing Ruthie. He did spend time to get to know her, but he inserted himself in her life. He didn’t ask to spend time with her, he just came into her house. He did things like that a lot. Never asked her, just chose to do things. But I did like how he brought Ruthie out of her shell and I could totally see the attraction between them.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. I liked the characters, especially the two old women. I liked that Teddy and Ruthie both had goals that they were working toward. I enjoyed this one and I’m looking forward to reading whatever Thorne comes out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Book Titles That are Questions

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 ten books that have titles phrased as questions.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden

Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

Ain’t She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella

Farewell to the M.B.R.C? by K.M. Shea

That’s all I have this week. This one was tougher than I thought it would be.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Time Travel Books

Hi, lovelies! I recently watched Soleil’s video from The Little Readers Corner where she talks about time travel books that she recommends. Watch it here. Her video inspired me to make a list of my favorite time travel books. So, here are some of my favorite books that have time travel.

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Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
“Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142. Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember. Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process. A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.”

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Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynold
“When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. But then Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.”

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Vortex Visions by Elise Kova
“A desperate princess, a magical traveler, and a watch that binds them together with the fate of a dying world. Vi Solaris is the heir to an Empire she’s barely seen. Her parents sacrificed a life with her to quell a rebellion and secure peace with a political alliance. Now, three years past when her wardship should’ve ended, Vi will do anything to be reunited with her family. The Empire is faltering beneath the burden of political infighting and a deadly plague. Yet, Vi can’t help but wonder if her inability to control her magic is the true reason her parents haven’t brought her home. Suspicion becomes reality when she unleashes powers she’s not supposed to have. Powers that might well cost her the throne. As Vi fights to get her magic under control, a mysterious stranger appears from across the world. He holds the keys to unlocking her full potential, but the knowledge has an unspeakable price — some truths, once seen, cannot be ignored. All eyes are on her and Vi must make the hardest choice of her life: Play by the rules and claim her throne. Or, break them and save the world.”

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This is How You Lose the Time War by Amir El-Motar & Max Gladstone
“Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.”

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The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
“Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination. As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day. Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence. For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters. She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love. Or she could disappear.”

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Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
“Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet. Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.”

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The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
They said the war would turn us into light.
I wanted to be counted among the heroes who gave us this better world.
The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief—no matter what actually happens during combat. Dietz, a fresh recruit in the infantry, begins to experience combat drops that don’t sync up with the platoon’s. And Dietz’s bad drops tell a story of the war that’s not at all what the corporate brass want the soldiers to think is going on. Is Dietz really experiencing the war differently, or is it combat madness? Trying to untangle memory from mission brief and survive with sanity intact, Dietz is ready to become a hero—or maybe a villain; in war it’s hard to tell the difference. A worthy successor to classic stories like Downbelow StationStarship Troopers, and The Forever War, The Light Brigade is award-winning author Kameron Hurley’s gritty time-bending take on the future of war.”

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The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
“Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense.
For fans of Claire North, and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.”

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The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.
In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future. But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

These are my favorite time travel stories. Some of them are time loop stories, some have magical reasons for the time travel, and some are more unexplained. I love them all. What time travel stories are your favorites?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.