You Have a Match by Emma Lord

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

Quotes:

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

GoodReads Summary:
Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor…but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you’re forever in their debt.
Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.
Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.
But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?
These Vengeful HeartsReview:
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC of These Vengeful Hearts in exchange for an honest review. This story follows Ember Williams on a quest for revenge. She attends Heller High (called Hell High by the students), where instead of popular students ‘ruling’ the school, there is a ‘secret’ society (secret is in quotes because many of the students know it exists and have asked for favors, but other truly believe it to be a myth which seemed a little far-fetched after seeing some of the things that the Red Court did) that runs Hell High. The Red Court (sort of based on Alice and Wonderland) is led by the Queen of Hearts and everything is done through playing cards. This society is full of only female members that, at the synopsis accurately put it, deal out favors and social ruin in equal measure. Ember has been trying to become a member of the Red Court since she started high school. She wants revenge, to dismantle the Red Court forever. Two years ago, her sister, April, was in an accident orchestrated by the Red Court that left her paralyzed. Since then, Ember was plotted to join the society and ruin it.
The story starts right before Ember gets invited to be a member of the Red Court. I thought this was a great way to get to know Ember a bit before she joined. I mention that because one of my favorite things about this book was the way Ember changed and developed throughout the story. After joining the Red Court and completing her first mission, she realized two things: that this take down wasn’t going to be easy and that she actually kind of liked the manipulation she was tasked to complete. Things definitely got a little muddy, morally speaking, for Ember as this story progressed, which in my opinion was the best part of the story. Ember was an interesting character. She finds herself in over her head, lying to all of those she’s closest to, and crushing on someone she was specifically warned to stay away from. I loved it all.
Overall, this book was fast paced, suspenseful, and full of drama and secrets. I liked Ember. I liked her best friend Gideon (who is gay). I liked Embers partner in the Red Court, Amber (who is also gay). I liked how the relationships developed. It was exactly what I wanted it to be when I read ‘secret society in high school’ in the synopsis. Also, with that ending I’m really hoping there will be a sequel or companion story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White

GoodReads Summary:
The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New York Timesbestselling author Kiersten White, exploring the nature of self, the inevitable cost of progress, and, of course, magic and romance and betrayal so epic Queen Guinevere remains the most famous queen who never lived.
EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.
Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.
When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?
The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising, #2)Review:
Big thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Camelot Betrayal is the second book in the Camelot Rising trilogy. I loved this book just as much as I loved the first (find my review here!) As I said in the review for the first book, this is a retelling of the myth of King Arthur and Camelot, but it is focused instead on Guinevere. I still know little to nothing about the original mythology, but this was fun for me. I think it was more fun for me because I didn’t know anything about the mythology. I didn’t have anything to compare it to other than the vague idea of the story that Arthur claimed Excalibur.
We follow Guinevere after the events of the first book. She’s trying to figure out who she is. She has little to no memories of her childhood and she’s confused. She’s supposed to be playing the part of Guinevere the Queen and finally feels like she might be figuring out how to do that. I really liked that Guinevere was trying to figure things out for herself. I think this made for a really interesting emotional journey. She has several important relationships, with her lady’s maid, her knight, and with Arthur. Relationships are always changing and growing, and that’s clear in this story. I liked this aspect of the story too. Guinevere’s still trying to figure out the right thing for her and for the people around her. She becomes more aware throughout the story that she might not be doing what’s best for her friends and she tries to change that. I liked Guinevere. She’s kind, but strong. She wants to do the right thing, and tries to, and feels guilt when there are consequences from her actions that she did not expect. I just really liked her.
I also really liked the development of her and Arthur’s relationship. It’s slow and sweet. They both want similar things, but Arthur feels guilt for how and why Guinevere came be to in Camelot. I liked seeing their relationship change from the first book. I don’t like the love triangle aspect. I’m team Arthur all the way, though the other choice is certainly intriguing.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the series so far. I’m very excited for the conclusion. I love all the character, main and supporting. I think my favorite part of the story though is the intrigue of the secrets that Guinevere thinks she is figuring out. I can’t tell what’s true and what isn’t. There’s so much that she doesn’t know and it really kept me wanting more. I loved how little pieces were tied together through the characters. I’m very eager to get all of the answers to the questions that I have from this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.
Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Black Sun was such a detailed and involved fantasy. Just as the synopsis says, it’s an epic adventure that explores power, history, and characters that are not what people assume they are. I think that’s what I liked most about this book. The characters were so well developed and fascinating. They were all people trying to live outside of what they’re ‘supposed’ to be.
The story follows several characters Xiala, Serapio, and Narampa. Xiala is Teek, which is a culture that has many stories surrounding them. This was clear in the way that others treated Xiala. She’s an excellent captain, but her crew still treats her as other because she is Teek. I really liked seeing Xiala and Serapio develop a friendship because while that was happening, we got to learn more about Xiala and the Teek. I just genuinely liked Xiala. She’s fierce and powerful. She doesn’t take anyone’s shit. Serapio was a fascinating character. For him, we got to go back and forth between the present (where he’s traveling with Xiala) and his past to see how he got to be traveling with Xiala. I think the mythology (I don’t know that his character’s story is actually based on real myths, but there’s definitely mythology about him in the story) surrounding him and his destiny was incredibly interesting. I thought it was really interesting to see him learn the things he needed to complete the destiny that his mother set in motion. Serapio is blind, but that doesn’t hinder him in any way. He can see through the eyes of crows, and his other senses are very well developed. I liked Serapio because he knew what his mission was and did his best to follow through. I like his relationship with Xiala and I feel like it developed very naturally. Finally, Narampa (or Nara). She’s the Sun Priest, but she’s also a girl from a not so good part of town. Many were surprised when she was named successor to the last Sun Priest. I liked Nara because she knew she was facing challenges, but she still really wanted to make positive changes to the world she is a part of. But she’s faced with many people that do not agree with her. Her challenges just grow greater as the story progresses. I’m very intrigued with her backstory and her criminal brother. I am eager to see how that will play out in the rest of the series. There is one more character I should mention, he isn’t introduced until something specific happens in the story, but I have a feeling he will play a larger role in the rest of the series. Okoa is the son of someone important. He returns from what is essentially college for warriors and is thrown into the politics of his clan. I wanted to know more about him, mostly where his story will go from here.
Overall, the first half of the book was a bit slower than the second half. The world was so intricate and fascinating. There was so much detail from the setting to the different parts of the world and the politics within each part. The ending absolutely slayed me and I’m dying to know what will happen now that things didn’t go the way Serapio planned or expected. I am definitely a huge fan of this book and highly recommend it for fantasy lovers. I do also want to mention that it’s a really diverse story. It’s inspired by pre-Colombian America’s, so it’s almost exclusively Indigenous peoples. It is also filled with casually queer people. Xiala is bisexual and there are several trans or nonbinary side characters. I am definitely eager for the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Fable by Adrienne Young

GoodReads Summary:
For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.
Fable (Fable, #1)Review:
I received Fable from NetGalley and the publishers and I’m so glad because I loved it. I don’t know that I’ll explain exactly how much I loved it or why. But I’m going to do my best.
Fable lives on an island that is a very dangerous place. She’s working on saving enough money to travel and face her father. The father that left her on said island four years ago. He left her to fend for herself and told her she wasn’t meant for his world. She is ready to prove him wrong. Once she’s finally saved enough money, she begs passage from West, the man she trades gems she finds while diving. As this is a novel, things don’t exactly as planned when Fable finally comes face to face with her father again. I’m going to stop there with the plot details. I loved Fable. She kicked and screamed and clawed her way off the island. She said and did whatever it took to come back to face her father. And when he didn’t respond in the way she wanted she made a new plan. She finds herself a new family in West and his crew. I absolutely adored the whole crew of the Magnolia. I loved their secrets, their hopes and dreams. I am beyond excited to see what the crew will do in the next book. We got to see them work together as a unit, a family, and I loved it. I loved getting to know West and Willa, Paj and Auster. I loved that there were queer characters.
The writing and the world building were stunning. The writing was lyrical and descriptive. The world building was so well done. I could see this world in vivid colors. At times, I felt as if I was somehow in the story alongside Fable. I will absolutely be picking up more books by Young. I was enthralled by this story, by the writing, by Fable’s fire. I couldn’t put it down until the final page. I cannot recommend this book enough for lovers of YA fantasy, or other sorts of ‘pirate’ stories.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

fullsizeoutput_3144

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.