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 Day Eight: Halloween Creatures Book Tag

It’s been a while since we’ve done a book tag here, but Blogtober is the perfect opportunity for a new and fun one. There are a bunch of great ones out there for Halloween but we liked this one the best. Let’s get right into it!

Rules

  1. Answer all prompts.
  2. Answer honestly.
  3. Tag 1-13 people.
  4. Link back to this post.
  5. Remember to credit the creator. (Anthony @ Keep Reading Forward)
  6. Have fun!

Witch: A magical character or book

Amanda- The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I read this in August and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It was so many stories within one story that all connected to one another. The writing was beautiful. Plus, it’s about a magic library world.

Antonia- The Dark Witch by Nora Roberts. We all know how much I love Nora, particularly when she gets into magic. I love how in depth this book gets into the magic aspect.

Werewolf: The perfect book to read at night

Amanda- Literally any book. I don’t save specific books only to read a certain time. It’s more about format for me. Ebooks and audiobooks at night in bed and physical reading during the day.

Antonia- I also don’t have specific books that I read during different situations.

Frankenstein: A book that truly shocked you

Amanda- Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power. The twist at the end was wild. I know some saw it coming, but it was way weirder than what I predicted.

Antonia- Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. I had many problems with this book but the twist at the end was so good. I couldn’t believe it.

The Devil: A dark or evil character

Amanda- Lada from The Conquerer’s Saga by Kiersten White. She’s not evil, but she will do literally anything to reach her goals and I love her for it.

Antonia- The Darkling from The Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. He’s one of the villains we love to hate. He’s just so well written throughout the entire series.

Grim Reaper: A character that shouldn’t have died

Amanda- Without spoiling anything, I will say that a certain adult from These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling didn’t have to die and I’m still seriously mad about it.

Antonia- The thirteen from Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas. This scene killed me. Even the second time I read it, I bawled like a baby.

Zombie: A book that made you hungry for more

Amanda- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. I read this trilogy in like four days because I just needed to know the whole story.

Antonia- I always want more of my favorite characters. The Age of X series by Richelle Mead is a big one for me though because she never continued the series after book two.

Gargoyle: A character you would protect at all costs

Amanda- All of my babies from The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman except Justin. I literally don’t care about him.

Antonia- Blue from This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Not that she needs protecting from anyone but I just love her so much.

Vampire: A book that sucked the life out of you

Amanda- Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. This story sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go until I got to the end. I got lost in this story, so deeply invested in the characters and their goals.

Antonia- Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa. This series pulled me in so hard and gave me so many feelings. I can’t wait to read the last book.

Ghost: A book that still haunts you

Amanda- For this one, I tried to make sure to pick a book that I read before 2020 because I’ve read some great books this year that I can’t stop thinking about. So, I have a few. Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin, Ashlords by Scott Reintgen, and Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro are some from last year that I still have on my mind often.

Antonia- Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima. I vaguely remember finishing this book but can’t make myself read the rest of the series because I still can’t get over what happened at the beginning. I’m devastated.

Demon: A book that really scared you

Amanda- The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab. There were many moments that had me nail biting and gripping the pages in fear for the characters.

Antonia- I don’t read many spooky books because I’m a wuss but when we were teenagers Amanda and I read The Devouring by Simon Holt and that series gave me nightmares.

Skeleton: A character you have a bone to pick with

Amanda- Dara, freaking Dara, from the Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty. He was one of my favorites in the first book, but by book three he was not on that list anymore. I was happy with how his story ended, but I wanted more from him.

Antonia- Evie’s mom from The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I mean come on! Every choice she made just caused so many problems.

Mummy: A book you would preserve through time

Amanda- I hate to repeat books on these things, but I have to say The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern again. I think this book will be loved for many years to come.

Antonia- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. Honestly these books are just so well written, especially for children’s books. I love everything about them.

Creepy Doll: A cover too scary to look at

Amanda- There are two books and neither of them are out yet. Horrid by Katrina Leno and Blessed Monsters by Emily A. Duncan.

Antonia- Since I don’t read anything remotely close to horror, I don’t have any book covers that creep me out.

The Monster Mash – It’s fun to be with friends on Halloween! Tag your friends here:

Alana @ The Bookish Chick

Avhlee @ Tea Cups and Torn Pages

Ari @ Bookish Valhalla

Blogtober Book Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.
THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)Review:
I’m honestly not sure how to put into words how much I loved this book. I fell so head over heels in love with these characters and their stories. I really don’t know how I’m going to explain my feelings.
Let’s start with Lila. She’s my new all-time favorite female character. She’s pretty morally grey and I loved every minute of it. She’s selfish with her happiness and does literally whatever she can to grab it and keep it. I absolutely loved her and Kell together.
Kell really solidified his place in my heart in this book. He’s really struggling with the battle of his own happiness versus doing what’s best for the crown. He feels like a piece of property more than a person. But he really works through this in this book and it was so good. I love Kell and I’m sad we didn’t get to learn more about his past.
Like book two, we got to see more of Rhy and I loved it. I really loved his conflict of emptiness. I’m leaving this vague because of spoilers. But his struggle was interesting and heart wrenching. I love him so much. Most of Rhy’s parts were filled with his bravery and passion to be the best leader for his people that he can. He dealt with so much loss, my heart really hurt for him.
Then there’s Alucard. My wonderful pirate. I loved him so much. He’s made to be this all-knowing guy, but he’s so much more than that. He’s complex and caring. He has so much love in him, but he can’t show it. He plays many roles (much like Lila) and I loved all of them. I also totally loved his relationship with Rhy. They have a complicated history, but that just made it even better.
Now for my favorite, Holland. There’s just something about Holland that I really loved. I thought he was so fascinating. I don’t know what it was, but I looked forward to the parts of the story he was in. I especially loved the flashbacks that we got. I thought his story was such a good one and came to a beautiful conclusion.
Overall, I loved this book so much. The world is incredible. The link between all the Londons. The very complicated relationship between the three Antari was so interesting. I just genuinely loved everything about this story. I’m excited to read more in this world as I’ve heard she’s writing more and we will get these characters again. Excuse me while I scream.

Quotes:

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

“Magic made everything feel so impermanent, it was easy to forget that some things, once changed, could never be undone. That not everything was either changeable or infinite. Some roads kept going, and others had an end.”

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

“Myths do not happen all at once. They do not spring forth whole into the world. They form slowly, rolled between the hands of time until their edges smooth, until the saying of the story gives enough weight to the words—to the memories—to keep them rolling on their own. But all stories start somewhere, and that night, as Rhy Maresh walked through the streets of London, a new myth was taking shape.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

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GoodReads Summary:
In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true-crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way. When another little girl goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers, with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much is she willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth? Dee’s about to find out what’s really at stake in unraveling the mystery of the little girls who vanished.
I Hope You're ListeningReview:
I Hope You’re Listening was provided to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was a ride. I totally thought I had everything figured about what was going on, but boy was I wrong. This story follows Dee ten years after she witnessed her best friend, Sibby, get kidnapped. She was just a child, and powerless to stop her best friend being taken away. In an attempt to try to make a difference in the world (after being unable to help save or find Sibby) she creates a podcast, Radio Silent, that talks about missing persons cases and utilizes the public to help try and solve them. I loved the concept of this podcast. A real-life, true-crime podcast. I thought it was a fascinating idea. I just liked Dee. She never really got over what happened with Sibby. She goes to school and tries to keep a low profile. She has her best friend, Burke, and that’s about it. I liked Burke. He seemed like a good friend to her even though Dee wasn’t always the best to him in this book. I’m happy with how they worked things out toward the end of the book. Now, the romance in the story wasn’t totally necessary. That’s not to say that I didn’t like it. I did like Sarah and Dee together. But I feel like we didn’t get to know Sarah as well as we could have. It was also a bit of insta-love which isn’t my favorite.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It took turns that I wasn’t expecting. It had characters that I was interested to know more about. I think this was a great thriller.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Six (Part Two): Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Fall Book Covers

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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. This week’s topic is a list of book covers with fall covers or that give off fall feels.

Dune (Dune, #1)
House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)
Among the Beasts & Briars
Burn Our Bodies Down
The How and the Why
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1)
The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1)
An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
The Wizards of Once (The Wizards of Once #1)
Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3)

What covers make you think of fall?

Blogtober Day Six (Part One): Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Fall Book Covers

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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 Book Covers with Fall Colors/Vibes. These are all books I have no explanation for, but to me they just feel Fall.

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Lobizona by Romina Garber

Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1)

Horrid by Katrina Leno

Horrid

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, #1)

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

The Wicker King (The Wicker King, #1)

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

Closer to Nowhere

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

Ghost Squad

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

The Initial Insult (The Initial Insult, #1)

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Down Comes the Night

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic

These are just some covers that scream Fall to me. I don’t know why, but they do. What covers are on your list this week?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)Review:
I just finished this book and I really would just like to leave the Earth or completely cease existing because of the final page. I am so mad at Victoria Schwab for the final chapter of A Gathering of Shadows. But, let me back up to the beginning of this book.
I loved this book. I had a hard time the first 200 pages or so, but that was my issue and not actually related to the book. I was still interested in the characters, the story, and the world while reading, but I just wasn’t having the burning desire to pick it up. This quickly changed the further into the story I got.
I’m still very fascinated by this world. I’m loving the small changes we got to see with Grey London and the very extreme changes with White London. I’m so interested to see how it’s all going to come together in book three.
I really try not to swear too much in my reviews, but I fucking love Lila Bard. She might be my all-time favorite female character. I love that she carves her own place in this new world she’s chosen. She makes hard choices for herself and owns every single one of those choices. I just really love everything about her. She’s sassy, smart as hell, and will literally kill you if you cross her. What’s not to love?
Kell, my poor baby Kell. I really didn’t like him all that much in book one, but now I love him very much. By the end of book one, I grew to love him. So, this book was easier in the beginning because I already loved Kell. He’s treated like crap by his so-called parents (the king and queen). I really hated them in this book. They treat Kell like his life only matters now that he is tied to Rhy and that really made me mad. Kell is struggling with his new bond to Rhy. I really felt for him.
Let’s talk about Rhy. After reading this book, I feel like we didn’t get to see Rhy at all in A Darker Shade of Magic. But in book two, we get so much more. We get to know him better as Kell’s brother, as a future king, just overall as a character. I really enjoyed this because in the last book it felt like we just got to know him from Kell’s thoughts and opinions.
We also get to meet a few new characters. One of which is Alucard, the captain of the ship Lila managed to get on when book one ends. I really loved him. He called Lila out countless times and it makes me screech every time. I loved the mystery surrounding him. I also loved the romance in his past and I hope it’s renewed because I love both of them so much. I cannot wait to see what kind of role he plays in the last book.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved it significantly more than the first and I will be starting the third as soon as I finish this review. So, I’m going to wrap it up so I can get reading. I loved the world, the characters, all the little bits and pieces that Schwab brought together. Though I totally am still mad about the ending.

Quotes:

“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”

“If anyone could make the strange seem ordinary, the impossible look easy, it was Delilah Bard”

“Perhaps power had to be tended, like Tieren said, but not all things grew in gardens. Plenty of plants grew wild. And Lila had always thought of herself more as a weed than a rose bush.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Three: Books & Baking – Tweet Cute

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Hiii, lovelies! I’m back again for another Books & Baking post! This is another that  baked and photographed forever ago. It was actually right around when everything closed in the U.S. due to Covid. So, like everyone else in the world, did a lot of baking. For this installment of Books & Baking, I attempted one of the bizarre and wildly appealing recipes from Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. I also want to thank the wonderful Jen from Novels and Notions for allowing me to use the photo below. I read this book as an eARC so I didn’t have a copy to take pictures with, but Jen is a good friend of mine and I adore her photos. So, visit her Instagram to see more lovely pictures like the one below!

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Book: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Read my full review here!

I loved this book. It was funny and cheesy (hah!) and so heartwarming. It follows two teens who manage the social media for their parents. These two are as opposite as opposite can be. But they form an unlikely friendship that turns into more. Things get interesting when they both find out the other is behind the social media (which has turned into a viral Twitter rivalry) of their families business. I loved the family aspects of this story. There were good and bad moments, but the end really solidified my love for the story.

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.”

“But sometimes even shouting into a void feels better than just staring into it.”

“Do you ever feel like someone just took something from you?” Yes, I want to say. Sometimes it feels like it’s been four years of this place taking and taking, and I’m all out of pieces to give—like I don’t even know the shape of myself anymore.”

“A stolen day. The kind of day that ends too fast but stays with you much longer.”

“These are the things that tether me, the things I’ve always been and just assumed would always be. What she’s saying right now feels a lot like permission to leave it behind, and it scares me every bit as much as it relieves me.”

“I can see it too. That I don’t belong here. That even after all this time and everything I’ve done, the things I’ve pressed and organized and pushed into myself to fit into this place, home is still somewhere a thousand miles away. Farther than that, even. Because that version of home doesn’t exist anymore.”

Baking: Monster Cake 

Find the full recipe on Emma Lord’s website here! (Seriously, read this. It’s hilarious.)

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I chose to make Monster Cake from this book because, as I said at the beginning of this post, I chose to bake when the world started to close down and I was craving something super sweet. This definitely was that.

“But no matter what else happens, this one thing my mom has always had a weakness for–Monster Cake. A perilous invention from childhood, the day Paige and Mom and I decided to test the limits of our rinky-dink oven with a combination of Funfetti cake mixed with brownie batter, cookie dough, Oreos, Reese’s Cups, and Rolos. The result was so simultaneously hideous and delicious that my mom fashioned googly eyes on it out of frosting, and thus, Monster Cake was born.”

Ingredients

A box of Funfetti cake mix (plus the ingredients the box says you need)

A box of chocolate brownie mix (plus the ingredients the box says you need)

Edible cookie dough (or cookie dough you make without eggs)

A tub of vanilla frosting

A bag of Rolos

A bag of Reese’s

A box of Oreos

Googly eyes

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the brownie batter and cake batter in two separate bowls, and set aside. Chop your ingredients. This does not by any means need to be precise (Emma laid out 16 Rolos, chopped 12 Oreos into fourths, and chopped eight Reese’s Cups into fourths.) Divide your candy in half. Mix the first half in the brownie mix, and the second half in the cake mix. Grease baking dish. Put globs of the cake and the brownie mix into the pans. Then take a fork and swirl it around. You want the brownie and the cake batter to be mostly separate. Stick it in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull the Monster Cake out of the oven, and add globs of edible cookie dough on top of it. Stick it back in the oven for another ten minutes. Remove and let cool. Add googly eyes and squiggly mouth as it pleases you.

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This is just as horrifying and just as delicious as it sounds. I made the mistake of overbaking mine. I gave it five more minutes too many times, but it was still delicious. It was way too sweet for my husband, but perfect for me. I had so much fun with the utter ridiculousness of making this also. This would be super fun to make in a few years once my child is a bit older. Does this sound like something you would attempt? Let me know in the comments.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

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GoodReads Summary:
I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.
It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.
Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.
CloakedReview:
I’ve been trying to reread all of Alex Flynn’s retellings. It’s been a while since I’ve read a few of them and there are definitely some that I haven’t read. Cloaked is one that I haven’t read, though I thought I’d read it already for some reason.
Cloaked follows Johnny, who runs the shoe repair business that’s been in his family for many years. It’s located in a well-known hotel, which is how he ends up meeting a princess. This princess asks him to find her brother, who has been turned into a frog. So, it’s a princess and the frog retelling. But one of my favorite things about this book was that there were a bunch of lesser-known fairytales included. I thought they were done well and didn’t overwhelm the overall story.
I also really liked the conclusion of the story. The only thing I didn’t really like was that the princess was trying to motivate Johnny to help her with offering to marry him. There’s something that just didn’t sit right about using marriage as a motivator with a bunch of teenagers. So, I was happy to see the conclusion and how that was handled.
Overall, I enjoyed this story. I liked the character growth and thought it was well done. There were definitely some dumb teenage boy moments. But they were actually pretty funny and helped (eventually) Johnny figure out what he really wanted. If you’re a fan of retellings, I think this is one you’ll like.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
Kell is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes―Red London―and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)Review:
I’m going to start this review with a little back story. I recently rearranged my bookshelves (like three times before I got them to where I wanted them). I separated the books that I’ve read and the ones that I still haven’t read. Then I went further and organized them by age range (middle-grade, young adult, and adult). This made it very clear that my unread books were very unbalanced in the sense of age ranges. I have way more adult books that I haven’t read than either of the others. So, in my journey to work on getting my physical TBR down, I’ve decided to try to focus on my adult books so that I can get my TBR a little more balanced again. I feel like I’m making small goals to work toward the bigger goal. So, A Darker Shade of Magic was the first book I’ve picked up to work toward this. I’ve had A Darker Shade of Magic on my shelf for an embarrassingly long time. I’ve tried to pick it up so many times, and I even almost DNF’d it this most recent time.
Okay, now for the review. I was going to start off by saying that the world-building was my favorite part of the story, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that the characters were just as much a favorite part of this story. The concept of there being four different London’s was so interesting. Though I still have questions. Is there magic in the whole world of Londons that have magic? Is London the only commonality of these four worlds? Will we get to see more of any of the worlds in the next books? The parts of the world that we see was so interesting, but I’m still a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see Black London. The world was so intricate and complex, the way the four London’s connect but also are so different from one another. I’m very excited to continue the series and see more of these London’s.
The characters were amazing. I wasn’t really sold on this book until I met Lila. I love Lila with my whole heart. She’s a thief, that mostly dresses as a man. I loved how fiery and strong-willed she is. I loved her dream of being a pirate. I loved her ‘take no shit’ attitude. She doesn’t let anyone tell her what she can and cannot do. It wasn’t until I met Lila that I really started to like Kell. I thought he was interesting, sure, but until he and Lila started interacting, I didn’t really care. Once he and Lila have a plan and start working toward their goal, I cared a lot. These two were really the best. Their personalities are so different but they complement each other in the best ways.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I’m very excited to pick up book two. I think the book was filled with an incredible world and characters that will make you love them, even if you don’t want to at first.

Quotes:

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

“Hesitation is the death of advantage.”

“He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time they were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila felt like a pin in Kell’s world. One he was sure to snag on.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Two: October New Releases

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Hey, lovelies! Today I want to talk about new releases that are coming this October that I’m just screaming for (haha). 2020 has been an incredible year for new releases. I’ve loved so many of the ones I’ve read so far. I have really high hopes for these ones.

October 6th
Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

October 6th
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

October 6th
We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu

October 6th
Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

October 6th
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

October 6th
Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

October 6th
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

October 6th
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

October 6th
The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

October 6th
I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

October 13th
Come On In by Various Authors

October 13th
Lightbringer by Claire Legrand

October 13th
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

October 13th
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

October 13th
Simmer Down by Sarah Smith

October 20th
Rebel Sisters by Tochi Onyebuchi

October 20th
Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

October 20th
Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston

October 27th
Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Okay, but why do all of these books come out on the 6th? I’m very excited for all of these. Are there any that I missed and should be looking into? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day One: October TBR – Backlist Books

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Happy October, lovelies! It’s finally spooky season again (well, for me it starts in Septemeber because that’s when I start my spooky reads). It’s the spookiest time of the year, and that also means Blogtober. I’m starting off this month with a quick TBR list. I’m making two seperate TBR lists because we love more content. So, this first TBR will be some backlist books I plan to read for the spooky season. These are a few books that I already own and definitely want to make a priority to read this month.

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Bewitching by Alex Flinn

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

Slayer by Kiersten White

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

These are just a few of my options, but the ones I’m more excited about. I have some mysteries, some thrillers, and some with a bit of magic. What books are on your TBR for October? Any good spooky books I should be adding to mine?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Books & Baking – What I Like About You

Hey, lovelies! Today on Books & Baking we will be talking about a 2020 release that I purchased specifically for this blog feature. The preorder incentive was a bookmark and (drumroll) a recipe card! So, obviously I couldn’t resist. I also used this recipe for my daughter’s birthday. I was planning to make cupcakes for her birthday anyway, so two birds, one stone and all that. This round of Books & Baking will focus on What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter.

Book: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

Read my full review here!

This book was full of sweetness (get it? Because of the cupcakes?), but it also dealt with grief and the struggle of having an online identity that’s different from your in person one. I really enjoyed that this book was focused around book blogging. There were a few things I disagreed with, but overall I liked the main characters point of view on what it means to be a book blogger, and a well known one online. The only thing I didn’t like was the secret keeping trope, but I didn’t totally hate it in this instance. I understood why Halle didn’t want to share her online persona with someone she now knew in both worlds. Overall, I enjoyed this story and it’s characters.

“That’s the problem with words. In my head, words are magic. My thoughts are eloquent and fierce. On the page, words are music. In the clicks of my keyboard, in the scratches of pencil meeting paper. In the beauty of the eraser, of the backspace key. On the page, the words in my head sing and dance with the precision of diction and the intricacies of rhythm. Out loud? Words are the worst.” 

“It’s knowing the world might be a trash fire, but it’s less trash when there are people to help navigate the darkness. Friendship is messy. Hard. Infuriating. Awesome. Fragile. Durable. Impossible. Worth it. Always worth it.”

Baking: Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

Above is the wonderful recipe card that I got as my preorder incentive. I love books with food in them and this one was stuffed full of cupcakes and baking. It made me want to bake some cupcakes and eat them while I was reading. This recipe was pretty easy. Though, I’d never zested a lemon before, so that was interesting. The mixing everything together was the easy part, everything after putting them in the oven was hard.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I did wrong, but they did not come out how I expected them to at all. The cupcakes were basically ruined in my attempts to get them out of my pan. I never use the cupcake liners, but I think I should have. I also think I should have baked them a little bit longer, but I almost always overbake things and I didn’t want to do that with these. I also had issues with the frosting. It wasn’t very frosting like. I was expecting it to be thicker, like frostings I have made in the past. I’m not even sure if it was supposed to be thicker, but it definitely didn’t stay where I wanted it to. Despite all of these issues, they still tasted delicious. The combination of lemon in the cupcake and the raspberry in the frosting was weird but so delicious. So, they look terrible but they taste really good and the taste is all I really care about. Do these sound like something you would try? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

GoodReads Summary:
Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)
Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.
Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.
The Code for Love and HeartbreakReview:
Thank you, NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book. It was a fun and interesting romance novel that was also filled with self-discovery and growth.
In this book, we follow Emma. Emma is starting her senior year of high school. Also, her sister is leaving for college across the country. This is significant because Izzy is Emma’s best (and sort of only friend). So, her senior year is going to be very different than her previous three years. I really liked this aspect of the story because Emma is going to the same school with the same people, a huge part of her life has changed. I mostly liked Emma. She’s awkward and nerdy and almost never knows the right thing to say. She was frustrating and also inspiring. She really grows and I really appreciated that.
I loved the concept of the app that Emma’s coding club creates. I thought it was such an interesting idea to see how you can find love through math. I thought it was interesting to see how Emma struggles with her math not always working, too.
Overall, this book was entertaining and kept me interested. I liked that the characters really grew by the end of the story. I think this one will definitely be well-loved by those that understand the math Emma does.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.