Blogtober Book Review: The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

GoodReads Summary:
A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.
Pray they are hungry.
Kara finds these words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring the peculiar bunker—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more you fear them, the stronger they become.
With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.
The Hollow PlacesReview:
Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I adored this book and every single minute I spend reading it was a ride.
The Hollow Places follows Kara (or Carrot) after she moves into the spare room of her Uncle Earl’s Wonder Museum. She’s gotten divorced from her husband and doesn’t want to move in with her mother. When her Uncle offers his spare room, she accepts. The Wonder Museum is a place full of bizarre things like taxidermized animals (read: otters, bears, mice), knick-knacks from around the world (some authentic and some with ‘made in china’ stickers), and of course, Wonder Museum memorabilia. But Kara grew up in this museum, so she’s not afraid or creeped out by any of these oddities. But one day, Kara finds a hole in the wall so she enlists the barista from the coffee shop next door, Simon, to help her fix it. This is when they discover that there’s something weird about what’s on the other side of this hole. They find themselves in a world that is not our own. Simon and Kara can’t help but explore, but they find more than they wanted to.
This story was delightfully creepy and suspenseful. Certain parts of the story had me gripping my Kindle so hard and my whole body tense. The writing was nothing short of incredible. I felt transported into this story. Kingfisher made this world come to life. It was so atmospheric. I was scared while Simon and Kara were in this other world, holding my breath when they did, but I just couldn’t get enough. I really loved that there was a ‘why’ to all of this. There was a reason this had happened and while it wasn’t wholly explained, there was enough to satisfy me.
Kara and Simon were characters I really enjoyed. At first, Kara is upset about her divorce. She’s disappointed that her life isn’t what she wants it to be, but once she finds another world, a horrifying one, it really puts things in perspective for her. I loved that the creatures of the museum love and protect Kara (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get to this part of the story). Simon is gay. He’s the barista at the coffee shop his sister owns. He’s full of wild stories that you almost don’t believe. I loved that Kara and Simon went from acquaintances to friends. They bonded through their shared experiences of the horrors of the willow world and I really enjoyed their friendship.
Overall, I loved this book. It was perfect for the spooky season. The atmospheric setting with the horror of the things Kara and Simon encounter made for a spectacularly spooky reading experience. I loved everything about this story and I will definitely be picking up more books by Kingfisher.

Quotes:

“Do objects that are loved know that they are loved?”

“I did not look at the words on the wall. If I didn’t look at them, they didn’t matter. Words are meaningless until you read them.”

“The Wonder Museum, for all its strangeness, was never haunted. If there were ghosts, they were benevolent ones. But perhaps skin and bones have a little memory to them, even after the soul is gone to greater things. And the bones in this museum had spent decade after decade marinating in my uncle’s fierce, befuddled kindness.”

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: 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.

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.

As the Shadow Rises by Katy Rose Pool

GoodReads Summary:
The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead.
In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness.
As Jude, Keeper of the Order of the Last Light, returns home in disgrace, his quest to aid the Prophet is complicated by his growing feelings for Anton. Meanwhile, the assassin known as the Pale Hand will stop at nothing to find her undead sister before she dies for good, even if it means letting the world burn. And in Nazirah, Hassan, the kingdom-less Prince, forms a risky pact to try to regain his throne. When the forces of light and darkness collide in the City of Mercy, old wounds are reopened, new alliances are tested, and the end of the world begins.
As the Shadow Rises (The Age of Darkness, #2)Review:
How can I put my love for this series into words? I really don’t know. I’m going to read my review for the first book (which I’m pretty happy with so I’m going to link that here) and try to sort out my thoughts from there. Also, I want to mention that I won an eARC of this book through Katy Rose Pool’s newsletter giveaway (via NetGalley) so here is my honest review in exchange.
I mentioned the world in my review of book one so I’m going to start there for this one too. This world is run on the belief in the Prophets. They disappeared long ago but left one last prophecy that predicted the end of the world. But there would be one more Prophet, one who has the potential to save the world from ending. We learn more about the lost Prophets and what happened to them and boy were they twisty. I really loved the way Katy Rose Pool told this story. There were things I expected to happen, but also some stuff that totally surprised me. I just really loved this story. It was written well with fast-paced action scenes and just enough drama, but not constant. There were slower scenes for traveling where I really loved getting to know the characters even better.
Ephyra was hard for me. She was still the morally grey girl I loved from the first book, but without Beru, she seemed a bit lost. I definitely thought her storyline was interesting, especially with what we knew from Beru’s perspective. There were definitely some things she did that were super unexpected. But with the way the book ended, I’m really excited to see where her story ends in the final book.
Beru is one of my favorite characters. She’s such a little bean, but she’s also really not. She’s fierce and determined. She knows what she wants for herself and she’s going to get it, even if it kills her. I loved Beru in the first book because of the strong sister relationship and how she brought the good in Ephyra out. But in this book, we get to see her stand on her own and I really loved that.
Hassan was hard for me. I really loved him in the first book. But in this book, he’s a bit all over the place. He failed in his mission in the first book, and he’s trying to figure out what his next steps are. So, when he finds a rebel group, he thinks they’re perfect to help him take back his city. As per usual, things aren’t always that easy. I didn’t love the way his story played out, but I didn’t totally hate it either. I really hope I like the way his story plays out in the next book.
Anton, my sweet baby Anton. He has grown so much. I’m honestly so proud of him. He starting to really give a shit about the world and might have figured out how to stop its end. I loved every page of Anton’s chapters. I will protect him at all costs. I really loved his character development and the way that he pushes the characters around him to grow as well.
For Jude, all this book was for him was character development. He’s struggling with who he is after certain events in the previous book. His whole identity is based on being the Keeper, but things are different. Nothing is going according to plan, so Jude is basically just trying to make sure Anton stays alive. I loved the relationship between the two. They push one another. Anton gets Jude out of his comfort zone and that’s when we really see him develop and get to know him even better.
Overall, I loved this book. The more of this series I read, the more it’s solidified as a new all-time favorite. I’m blown away by Katy Rose Pool’s ability to have five different points of view and make them each so distinct. They’re all loveable and chaotic in their own ways, but they are so very different from one another. I loved this book and you will too.

Quotes:

“Because as far as I can tell, power is madness.”

“As far as he could tell, home was just whatever hurt most when you left it behind.”

“Kissing him felt like waving a hand through fire, wanting and wanting not to be burned. Like diving off the top of a lighthouse, without hope or sight of safe landing. Like sinking to the bottom of the sea, knowing he would surely drown.”

“They’ve spent their whole lives trying to uphold the rules. The natural law of life and death. But you’re more powerful than they are. And you don’t follow their rules. That’s what separates the powerful from the weak. The powerful get to make the rules, and the weak have to follow them.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Game by Linsey Miller

GoodReads Summary:
If you loved American Horror Story 1984, you’ll die for this paperback original thriller mash-up of Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C. Murders and Riverdale in which a game turns deadly with a killer who picks his victims one by one, letter by letter.
Every year the senior class at Lincoln High plays assassin. Lia Prince has been planning her strategy for years and she’s psyched that not only does she finally get to play, she’s on a team with Devon Diaz. But this year, the game isn’t any fun–it’s real. Abby Ascher, Ben Barnard, and Cassidy Clarke have all turned up . . . dead. Can Lia stop the ABC killer before he reaches D?
The GameReview:
Big thanks to NetGalley for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I don’t know why, but I almost never actually pick up mystery/thrillers even though when I do, I usually love them. I did enjoy this book. The story follows Lia as she’s in her senior year and the thing she’s been looking forward to since she was a freshman is finally happening. Every year, the senior class plays a game called Assassins. Long story short, it’s manhunt, but with water guns and over a really long period of time. I liked this book I think because it is everything I would have wanted for my senior year. I loved that Lia was so excited about the game. I also really loved that she had her plan so well organized. Lia was an interesting character. She has pretty shitty parents and doesn’t really know what she’s doing after high school, so Assassins is basically the only thing she’s looking forward to. So, when her classmates start dying for real, she’s shaken.
I really liked the cast of characters. Lia’s best friend Gem is not binary with they/them pronouns. I loved Gem. They were so supportive of Lia and being Lia’s best friend really knew what she needed and when. Gem was literally a Gem. They had a crush on their teammate’s sister, May. I loved the little bits and pieces we get of this romance. Then there’s the romance between Lia and her teammate, Devon. I mostly liked the romance, but honestly, I was more invested in Gem and May.
Now, the mystery. I totally figured out who the killer was a little over halfway through the book. But there were two people on my suspect list. One was the killer and the other would have been a great freaking twist had they been the killer. My only issue with the mystery was that the killer’s motivations felt off to me. They literally killed three people and tried to kill two more, over something really insignificant in the bigger picture.
Overall, this was a fun and quick read. I loved the concept and mostly enjoyed the execution. I think I have issues with YA thrillers because I always seem to be able to guess the killer or end result, but that never happens with adult thrillers. This was definitely a fun story though, so check it out!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Lobizona by Romina Garber

GoodReads Summary:
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal…it’s her entire existence.
Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1)Review:
What a wild ride this story was. Thank you to NetGalley and Alexis Neuville with St. Martin’s Press for providing me this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I completely fell in love with this story within the first chapter. Manu’s struggle of being undocumented in the U.S. was heartbreaking. It’s something that happens to people every single day in this country and it’s absolutely horrible. Manu struggles with this, but loves her mother and respects her mother’s wishes. I loved Manu’s relationship with her mother. They were very close, despite the secrets between them. I was a little sad we didn’t get to see them together after they were separated when ICE took Manu’s mother away. But their love for one another was so obvious, it warmed my heart.
After ICE takes Manu’s mother, Manu finds herself in a world that was supposed to only be a myth. She lies her way into a school for Septimus. After becoming roommates with the headmistress’s daughter, Cata. Cata’s best friend, Saysa, decides Manu is going to be in their friend group. Saysa’s brother, Tiago (who I couldn’t figure out for way too long if he was Saysa’s brother or Cata’s brother) is a part of that group too. He’s the alpha of the pack and takes Manu under his wing. This romance was clear from the start and I really didn’t care for it because at their school everyone knows that Tiago and Cata are end game (but we find out some things that made this untrue and made me okay with their relationship). Though things weren’t kittens and rainbows when Manu first arrived, the four of them developed and really solid relationship, and I absolutely loved it. I loved that Manu finally felt like she had found the place she belonged. Sadly, this didn’t last long before she learned that once again, she was something that wasn’t supposed to exist, wasn’t allowed. I really liked that this book point blank discussed that immigration issues within the U.S. but it also talks about the struggle within a fantastical world. The world of the Septimus is a backward one. Men are werewolves and women are witches, there’s no room for discussion of changing these gender roles what so ever. Those in charge of Septimus are very strict in their thinking and the last person that tried to change the ways of the Septimus was Manu’s father, who Manu believed to be dead until she heard the rumors at her new school. I really liked the full circle of Manu trying to become the change right where her father left off.
Many people had issues with the fantasy world, but I really loved it. I really loved the comparison to Harry Potter and that the author had Manu be a fierce lover of the story so that Manu made the comparisons before the reader could. I thought it was an interesting world, hidden within the world we know today.
Overall, this book was heartbreaking but also incredibly fun. The found family was so wonderful, but there were also strong family values and I loved those too. The conversation this story brings to the table is a hard one but a necessary one. I really hope that so many other people will enjoy this book as much as I did.

Quotes:

“Deep down, we would rather be dreaming than awake.”

“You’re the spark we’re been waiting for—if you ignite, we will fan your flames. Otherwise, you’ll be alone in the dark forever.”

“But why settle for being a son of the system, when you can be the mother of a movement?”

“Plant your new garden with seeds of equality, water it with tolerance and empathy, and warm it with the temperate heat of truth.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Mall by Megan McCafferty

GoodReads Summary:
The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans…
Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.
The MallReview:
I was excited when NetGalley approved me for this book (in exchange for an honest review of course). I’m a 90’s kid, so I thought I was really going to love this book, but I very sadly did not. It was hard for me to place what exactly I didn’t like about this book. I read it fairly quickly. It was an easy book to binge. I loved the mystery of the treasure. I also loved Cassie’s journey of figuring herself out. But there was just something I didn’t love about this book.
After reading some GoodReads reviews, I figured it out. Many others had the same problem that I did. Apparently, this book was written in cooperation with an entertainment company. So, it’s not clear if the concept of this book came from them or if the book was mostly written by them. As the reviews on GoodReads said, this story was missing heart. And that was my problem. I don’t know how to explain what that means to me. But I just didn’t love this story. It was a fun read, but mostly forgettable. I didn’t hate it by any means, I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune

GoodReads Summary:
Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.
Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?
After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).
The Extraordinaries (The Extraordinaries, #1)Review:
Huge thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I have to say that I 100% requested this book because of the cover and the comparison to Marissa Meyer’s Renegades series. I didn’t really have very high expectations going into this book. I think that’s because the summary of the book really doesn’t cover the awesomeness inside. It’s interesting because it does cover all the things that make this book wonderful, but it’s a case of the summary telling and the book showing these things that really makes the difference.
This book follows Nick, who is a queer boy in high school that has ADHD. I absolutely loved him right from the start. I have people very close to me in my life that have ADHD, so it was really interesting to see Nick’s experiences with it and get his thoughts and feelings. He manages to get in trouble in and out of school very often. Nick doesn’t have it easy, but he really tries so hard and I think that’s what I liked so much about him. He really makes the effort to do and be better. I thought the portrayal of his ADHD was really thoughtful. He also takes medication to help him, which I thought was a great addition. While Nick is the most cinnamon-y of all the cinnamon rolls out there, he was also quite oblivious. He really had a problem getting stuck in his head and hyper-focusing on his problems. So, I totally predicted the end of this book around the 50% mark, but I had the secret identities mixed around.
Nick’s friend group was the best. He is a misfit, as are his friends. Seth and Nick have been best friends since elementary school. Gibby joined them in middle school. She’s a lesbian and will literally kick your ass. I loved Gibby. She calls Nick out when he needs it, but is a loyal friend to Seth at the same time. Then there’s Jaz, Gibby’s girlfriend. She was last to the friend group, but no less loved. I really enjoyed getting the history of their friendships and their banter and interactions literally had me laughing out loud.
I laughed so hard during this book, but this author didn’t hesitate to turn it all around. I also balled my eyes out once or twice. Another really great part of the story was Nick’s dad. The relationship that these two have was nothing short of wonderful. But it’s also realistic. It’s hard to be a single dad and Nick’s dad was certainly not perfect. But it was clear how much he loved Nick and how hard he was trying. I can’t imagine trying to grieve the death of my wife while also still having a child to take care of. I loved how accepting his dad was, but also their open communication. They talked about Nick’s sexuality. They talked about his ADHD. His dad was there for him as much as he could be as a cop that had to work nights. Nick and his dad also made me laugh so much.
Overall, this book surpassed all expectations I had for it. The writing was fantastic. The characters were incredible and I love each of them so very much (even the villain). The world was really interesting (with a history I’m dying to know more of). And the book left of leaving me wanting so much more. I’m so glad this is a series, but so sad I will have to wait who knows how long for the next book. Please do yourself a favor and read this fabulously queer and heartwarming book.

Quotes:

“Sometimes, people do things just because they can. There doesn’t have to be a reason. It’s all chaos.”

“Nick knew the power of words. He knew that sometimes when they landed, they exploded with the force of a carelessly tossed grenade.”

“We’re teenagers. Everything is unnecessarily complicated. We’re told that we have to be a certain way, even if we know it’s wrong. We’re not taken seriously. Our ideas are cast aside as though they’re without merit. Sometimes we need to act out so that people pay attention to us. So that people know we mean what we say. That we’re capable. That we shouldn’t be dismissed.”

“They’re brave,” Mary said. “But we are too. Because while they’re out there, saving the world, we’re the ones they come home to. And it may not always be fair, and there are times when you know they’re in harm’s way, but they’ll always fight like the dickens to get back where they belong.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Mayhem by Estelle Laure

GoodReads Summary:
It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.
From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.
MayhemReview:
Thank you to Sarah Bonamino with St. Martin’s Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to like this book. I was immediately interested after reading the summary. Magic and the 80s? Sign me the hell up. Sadly, this book was a miss for me. I really liked it at the beginning, but the further I read the less I liked it. There were some aspects that I really liked, but the things I didn’t care about outweighed those things.
We follow Mayhem as she and her mother, Roxy, return to Roxy’s hometown of Santa Maria. Mayhem and Roxy are running from Roxy’s husband who is abusive. I liked how this book covered hard topics. The abuse was hard to read about but realistic. Roxy was also addicted to drugs. This was a topic that was covered well. It was discussed thoughtfully and with care. This isn’t always the case, so it was something that I appreciated.
The magic in this book was so interesting. It follows the Brayburn bloodline, mostly. It stems from an ancestor. Their powers come from water that isn’t water in a cave that most people will never be able to find. I thought the magic was chaotic and horrifying and wonderful. This was probably my favorite part of the story. Learning about the history of the family, how the magic came to be, and how the adopted children of Mayhem’s aunt, Elle, came to have the Brayburn magic.
But these adopted cousins that Mayhem has just met were part of my problem with this book. Jason, Neve, and Kidd are wonderful at first. Neve immediately decides that she and Mayhem are going to be best friends. This wasn’t really believable to me because Neve was hot and cold with her. Keeping secrets and leaving her out of things, but acting like this isn’t between them when it suits her. Then Neve takes things too far and I just really didn’t like it. I guess things came around in the end, but I just didn’t care for Neve. Then there’s the romantic relationship that kindles between Jason and Mayhem which I just couldn’t find it in myself to care about.
Finally, the ending was just so unsatisfying. There are talks about healing Mayhem’s cousins from the magic, but there was no follow through with that and that just made me mad.
Overall, I enjoyed parts of this book. I read it very quickly. It was a captivating story, but there were too many things that I just didn’t care for. Also, I read other reviews that said parts of this story were almost word for word from the two stories it was inspired from. I haven’t read or watched them so I cannot say but there were more than a handful of reviews that mentioned this. I think there will definitely be some people that love this book, but it was a miss for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Inebriated by Katey Taylor

GoodReads Summary:
Barely seventeen and as pretty as can be: the summer is their playground. Cait and her best friends Steph and Allie take on San Francisco’s party scene with fake IDs and short dresses.
When Cait meets Adrien Cross, the charismatic lead singer of her favorite indie band, she’s introduced to a hedonistic world of liquor and lust that she never wants to leave.
But then that world spirals out of control and the harsh realities of reckless living take a toll on Cait and the ones she loves.
What will be left when the makeup masks wash off, the bottles are empty, and Cait begins to lose her grip on everything?
Katey Taylor’s heart-wrenching debut novel will have you strapped into the intense rollercoaster ride of Cait’s life and one chaotic summer that will change it all.
InebriatedReview:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Inebriated is a story that follows Cait. She’s just started the summer before her senior year of high school. I was really excited by the synopsis of this book because I was Cait in the summer before my senior year. I’m also going to add here that I’m going to talk spoilers in this review so if you don’t want to see those you can skip to the last paragraph where I give my overall thoughts or pass on this review.
Sadly, Cait’s story was pretty unrealistic and I didn’t end up liking it very much. The story was fast-paced and non-stop drama. Those were the good things. We start the story off with Cait waking up somewhere in San Francisco with no memory of how she ended up there. She just casually gets a cab back to the small town she lives in. I think my biggest issue with this book was that I also grew up in a small town filled with underage drinking. I drank so much when I was in high school, to the point where I was barely 21 and an alcoholic. Despite my past with alcohol I still love to read stories about teens struggling with drinking. This story wasn’t about Cait’s struggle. This story was about Cait not thinking at all. There was so much that was unrealistic about this story. Let’s start with the amount that she and her friends, Allie and Steph, drink. They pregame, which was fine and totally something many people do, but they pregame by taking four or five shots then get to their destination minutes away and take five or six more shots. Ten or eleven shots in less than an hour? There’s no way their bodies would tolerate that without either very quickly blacking out and then passing out or vomiting. I say this with the full authority of someone who has literally done this many times. The (unbelievable) excessive drinking continues throughout the story. Some of Cait’s friends start doing coke and one party Steph does so much coke she literally passes out, but no one seemed concerned for her well being at all??? I’m honestly just a little horrified by this book.
Then we get into the relationship. Cait meets Aiden, a very popular musician, and they start a relationship. Which was fine if you ignore the fact that he’s in his mid-20s and she’s 17. On top of that, Aiden struggles with heroin addiction. That’s nothing against him, except for the fact that he seems to be placing Cait at the center of his sobriety. Also, most addicts should be sober from everything. Getting blackout drunk all the time Is not a great way to get a handle on your drug addiction. It’s just substituting one substance for another.
Let’s get to the best (read: worst) part of this book. Cait goes to a music festival that Aiden is playing at. She invites her best friends and they ditch her to do coke with allies boyfriend. Fine, whatever. Cait goes to see Aiden play and he’s relapsed. She finds him after the show getting a blow job while he’s shooting up. After making her very high on coke friends leave and drive home they get into a car accident and Steph dies. The first issue with this is that there was no emotion with her death. It all happened incredibly fast but Cait wasn’t feeling anything strongly enough for me to actually care. Then her solution is to continue drinking profusely. I wanted to scream at her. The only good decision Cait made was to move with her mom to San Diego. Days before she’s supposed to leave she makes another hugely stupid choice and goes to see Aiden because, surprise, he wrote her a song. She gets blackout drunk again. I just couldn’t with Cait. Her actions and feelings were unrealistic. I’ve been a teenage alcoholic and I’ve had friends die because of drugs or driving under the influence so I know what it feels like. I just really didn’t like her.
There were some good things about this book that I really wish had been delved into further. There was so much promise with the issue of Cait’s past with Allie’s boyfriend, Keith. Instead, he just caused problems with Allie and Cait where they’d ignore each other than a week later act like nothing happened. Also, Cait’s parents have just decided to get divorced. I think her relationship with her parents was the best part of the book, except all the times she lied to them through her teeth. There were a lot of issues that could have been elaborated on there too but weren’t.
Overall, I didn’t care for this book. The amount of liquor these girls drank each time they got together to party was just wildly unrealistic. There is no way their bodies would have been able to handle that much booze. Along with that, I didn’t really feel like Cait’s emotions came through. She told us what she was feeling or that she was feeling nothing, but I didn’t believe any of it. I also hated her relationship with Aiden. It was toxic and I was happy when it ended. I wanted more of a resolution from this book. Cait only realized that she should probably stop drinking in the last few chapters of the book and that just blew me away after everything she’d gotten herself into. Some people have left favorable reviews for this book so maybe I feel this way because I was a teenager that drank too much in high school so I know what it was like. Don’t let my dislike stop you from reading it if this still sounds interesting to you. It’s definitely a book I read very quickly.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

GoodReads Summary:
Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.
Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.
But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.
Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox, #3)Review:
I was beyond excited when I approved for an ARC of this book, so to start, big thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was a wonderful finale for this trilogy. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but that was my own issue with fantasy at the moment. I pushed through and once the gang made it about halfway through the book (to the location where the big battle was going down) I was hooked. Julie Kagawa has created such lovable and well-developed characters. I just adored them all. Their relationship as a whole group was so heartwarming. They’ve been through so much together and it was absolutely devastating to see the end result for these characters. (Julie Kagawa takes “kill your babies” VERY seriously.) There is a wonderfully done male/male romance. And I would die for both of them. I’m purposefully not naming any names because I cannot spell any of them to save my life and I’m writing this on my phone because this review will never get written otherwise.
Overall, I really thought this was an excellent ending to a great series. I really loved the ending even though parts totally broke my little heart. I love this world and there were so many little details that just made the story that much better. Sorry if this review is a bit vague, but it’s the third and final book and I don’t want to spoil anything. But please read this series. It’s diverse and wonderful and everyone needs to love it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen

GoodReads Summary:
A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.
A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.
A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.
Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I was a little worried when I got approved for this one. I don’t remember all that much from the first book, (Dark Shores) aside from the fact that I totally loved it. So, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to jump right into this one, but I saw on GoodReads that the author made a statement that Dark Shores and Dark Skies can be read interchangeably. I thought that was super interesting, so I just jumped right into this one.
We follow Lydia and Killian. They each have their own perspectives, which I loved. Lydia is a bookish girl who loves to learn. But when her future husband attempts to murder her, she finds herself on the other side of the world, a world that she thought was a myth. I loved Lydia because she was determined and strong, even when she didn’t feel like those things. She made a plan and did her best to see it through or make the best of any situation. She was clever and loyal to her loved ones. She did her best to learn as much as she could, about the world she was in and about herself.
Killian is a Marked One. This means he was chosen by a specific god, the God of War, and given abilities. He’s disgraced after losing an important battle, so he becomes the personal guard of the princess. Which means he’s dragged into her plot to overthrow her father. Killian is a good man, though his reputation may not say so. I really liked him.
Overall, I loved this book. It made me want to immediately reread Dark Shores. I loved the world and the characters. There was action and romance and drama. I loved it all. The stakes were high and only got higher. I loved the way the story was concluded. The ending was satisfying enough that I was eager for more of the story, but not annoyed that everything wasn’t solved. I am beyond excited about the characters from this book and the first book to meet. This is a must-read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Admission by Julie Buxbaum

GoodReads Summary:
It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She’s headed off to the college of her dreams. She’s going to prom with the boy she’s had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer–at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.
As she loses everything she’s long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit?
AdmissionReview:
I have really enjoyed all of Buxbaum’s books that’s I’ve read so far (I think there’s only one I haven’t picked up yet.) So, I was super excited when NetGalley emailed me saying I was approved for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was really intrigued to see how the author was going to portray her own version of the college admissions scandal. First off, as an overall, I thought she did an incredible job making the reader feel things for these characters (whether those were positive or negative things, they were feelings either way.)
Chloe, our main character, was really complicated. We follow her story as the chapters flip back and forth between the before and the after of the scandal. I really liked her at first. I felt really bad for her. She’s a girl that grew up with privilege, but not entitlement. She knew she probably wouldn’t get into the colleges her parents want, but she was willing to make the effort they were asking to placate them. But as we learn her past leading up to her mother’s arrest we learn what she actually knew about the things her parents were doing. This made me like her less. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it because of spoilers, but the more the reader learns of her story the less likable she becomes. Though I think she really grew before the end of the book. I think she learned from the mistakes that she made and will continue to grow from them.
I think this book had some really important and thoughtful conversation about privilege and the different kinds of privilege, some that come with the color of your skin and some that come with having money. I’d like to see some own voices reviews to see their thoughts on these conversations, but I thought they were well done.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was gripping and interesting. I felt like I flew through the story and devoured it. Despite not always liking what I was reading, I was pulled into the story. Oh, I also totally loved the mentions of Hope and Other Punchlines & Tell Me Three Things, they were super cute.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Whole New Me Blog Tour

AWNM Banner 3

Hello, lovelies! I don’t usually do blog tours here, but I’m beyond excited to hype this book that a good friend of mine wrote! A Whole New Me by Adrianna Schuh is a new adult romance that follows the main character, Tessa.

Synopsis

Tessa has something to prove and she wants to use Ricky to do it.
She’s not surprised when he agrees to her friends with benefits plan, but she is surprised when it seems like Ricky wants more than she’s willing to give.
Can she keep Ricky without giving him hope for something more?
Because Tessa won’t let this be love.

If that sounds interesting to you, then continue reading friend! I am here to share with you an excerpt of this book which I will be adding below (along with some links to preorder if you’re loving what you’re reading like I did.)

Excerpt

It’s clear we’re not the only ones headed to a party tonight. As the bus is packed full of groups of students, dressed in their best casual party attire. We all try to stick together and when our stop comes up we all take a minute to make sure everyone in the group has arrived in one piece. 

Bronte has hung onto my hand the entire time so we don’t get separated. I’ve never really had a friend like her, I’m pretty sure of that even though we just met. We just kind of click. 

The house is just down the street from the bus stop so it only takes a minute to arrive. Somehow I end up being the one to get to the door first. I raise my hand to knock, even though I’m sure no one will hear it, but before I can get there the door swings open. And standing on the other side is the one person I’d planned to avoid here tonight, and he’s giving me that damn smile. Crap.

“Hey Diner Girl,” he says with a smirk. I’m beginning to believe that’s his signature look, it’s how he gets the girls. 

“You’re looking especially gorgeous.” 

Of course he had to be the one opening the door, had to be the first person I see tonight.  And he’s staring at me, so I say the first thing that pops into my head. 

“Hey loser.” And I have absolutely no idea why I said that. I’m cringing inside as Ricky lets out a barking laugh, clutching his chest in mock pain. I hear Bronte openly laughing behind me so I push past Ricky and make my way into the house, anything to escape this painful encounter.

I walk further into the entryway that’s filled to the brim with partygoers, and glance back to see that Ricky still has his eyes on me.

I actually like the way he’s looking at me. Like he really does think I’m gorgeous. Usually when guys say that to me, accompanied with a look, it makes my skin crawl. Because I know they don’t have good intentions, they usually just want in my pants. But Ricky is looking at me like he appreciates all of what he sees, not just my body. 

He’s looking at me like he actually wants to get to know me in every way. I’m not sure how I can tell, but I’m confident I’m right. And unfortunately that actually makes Ricky more appealing to me. I like the way the look on his face makes me feel.

If this sounds like some you’re interested in reading (I’m currently reading the ARC because I’ve been devouring nothing but romance and I’m so excited to love Adrianna’s debut novel), please preorder using this link! Also, add it to GoodReads here!

Now, I will leave you all with a little bit of information about Adrianna so you can find her on all the social medias!

Author Bio

Adrianna is a 27-year-old wife, mommy, book lover, and librarian. She has a deep love for romance books and an unhealthy obsession with iced tea. She can quote almost any Disney movie, she’s in love with Kylo Ren, and she lives for Harry Potter. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves spending time at home with her son, husband, 5 cats, and one tiny dog.

Find her here:

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Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.