Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

Summary:
With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad took up the pen to write a novel the Bromance Book Club would swoon over.
Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared after speaking out against government corruption, she escaped danger the only way she knew how. She agreed to marry her childhood friend, Vladimir, and move to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.
Vlad, aka The Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But after four years, it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance–both on and off the page.
The Bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love–and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s senior citizen neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves The Loners. Just when things finally look promising, the danger from Elena’s past life intrudes, and the book club will face their first-ever life-or-death grand gesture as they race to a happy ever after.

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Review:
I’m going to do this review in the ‘what I liked/what I didn’t like’ format because I think that’s going to be the best way to get my thoughts across.

What I Liked:

I genuinely liked Vlad. He’s very obviously a good dude. He’s a good friend to his fellow book club members. He’s kind and thoughtful. He’s sweet and romantic. He’s a little dense when it comes to Elena, but I liked him anyway.

I liked that he wanted to write a book. I thought it was a bit on the nose that he realized what he needed to do in order to be with Elena from writing his own book.

The book club guys will always be the highlight of these books. The way they come in and pick their friends up, brush them off, and tell them to pull their heads out of their asses every book really is wonderful.

I liked the childhood friends to lovers peak that we got with Elena and Vlad. We see glimpses of it, but I liked it.

What I Didn’t Like:

The whole reason that Elena and Vlad were in a marriage of convenience was not enough for me. I couldn’t get behind it. I didn’t think that after four years, neither one of them would have had any sort of conversation about their relationship. If they were childhood friends, they should have been able to talk to one another. I married my childhood best friend and we certainly went through times where we didn’t talk because of dumb stuff, but we always eventually talked about it or moved past it.

I didn’t like that there wasn’t really any book club content. They sort of used Vlad’s book for the book club, but I didn’t love that like I loved the guys learning from their book club books in the other books in this series.

I didn’t love Vlad’s writing being included. We only got a small bit of it and it felt a bit convenient to the story instead of natural like it felt with the book club books in the earlier books.

Overall, I liked this book, but it wasn’t my favorite. I was disappointed I think because I was super excited to read ‘The Russian’s’ story and it wasn’t what I wanted. I will probably continue the series if there’s going to be more books, but I think I’ll lower my expectations for future books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

Amanda’s NetGalley Shelf #4

Hello, lovelies! I’m back with another NetGalley Shelf update. I didn’t read as many eARC’s as I would have liked. But that’s okay. I will read them all eventually seeing as they’re not going anywhere, hah. Check out my last update here.

Approvals I’ve Read

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The Twin Paradox by Charles Wachter
Publication Date: August 27, 2020
This book was bizarre and way darker than I was expecting. But I did enjoy it. It’s about teen clones of people like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein and the things they’re expected to solve by the company that created them.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Publication date: November 17, 2020
Sadly, I DNF’d this book. I tried reading the eARC that I had several times. I also borrowed the audiobook from my library. I made it about halfway before I gave up.

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
Publication date: July 20, 2021
This book was super long. I liked it, but it was a bit of a slow sort of meandering story that had us really get to know the group of characters before getting into the real story.

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Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Publication date: August 3, 2021
Teylor Kay Mejia can do no wrong. I love Paola Santiago and this book just grew that love.

Holdout by Jeffery Kluger
Publication date: August 3, 2021
This was another bizarre story. The synopsis wasn’t very specific about the details of the story, so I was really surprised by much of what happened. It was a pretty political story, but I wasn’t bored or put off by this.

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The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
Publication date: August 3, 2021
I really enjoyed this book. It’s queer and spooky and set in a small town. I loved the family dynamics and the existing issues that were brought to light with the events of this book. I think the mystery was really well done, too. I totally didn’t guess the twist.

Approvals on my TBR

We Are Meridians by S. Ghali
Publication date: August 27, 2019
I don’t know why I was approved for this book over a year after it’s publication, but it sounds super good. So, I’m planning to read it soon. It’s about a group of humans that left Earth and traveled into space hundreds of years ago. But now they need to return for something. The people of Earth think that it’s an alien invasion and so obviously it doesn’t go well.

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg
Publication date: November 1, 2020
I was a part of the blog tour for this book. Find my spotlight post here. I shared a bit of a blurb and other information about the book. Since this has already been released I’ll probably just read it on Kindle Unlimited and share that I read the finished copy in my review. Check out my spotlight post for the full synopsis.

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The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
Publication Date: June 8, 2021
I honestly don’t know anything about this one except that I’ve heard amazing things about Suri’s books.

The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee
Publication date: August 3, 2021
This is a romance novel by an author I’ve liked before. The romance in this one starts with a game of truth or dare and I’m here for that.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publication date: August 17, 2021
I don’t know what this is about but I’ve really enjoyed her books in the past, so I think I’ll probably like this one too.

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Cazadora by Romina Garber
Publication date: August 17, 2021
Magical werewolves. I loved the first book and this is the sequel.

The Boy with Fire by Aparna Verma
Publication date: August 31, 2021
I honestly don’t know anything about this book but it was up for ‘read now’ on NetGalley. I’ve also seen a few people that really loved this.

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
I don’t know anything about this other than the comp titles are Red, White, & Royal Blue and One to Watch which I enjoyed both very much.

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Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Publication date: September 21, 2021
I read ‘giant transforming robots’ in the synopsis and that’s honestly all I needed to know.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
Publication date: September 21, 2021
I really liked some of his previous books and I’m hopeful that I’ll like this one too.

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
Publication date: September 28, 2021
I didn’t love A Deadly Education, but I liked it enough that I curiously requested the sequel in a requesting binge.

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Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia
Publication date: October 5, 2021
I love this series. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next for Tristan.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
Publication date: October 5, 2021
I can’t tell if this is actually a Sleeping Beauty retelling or not, but Harrow is one of my favorite authors.

Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi
Publication date: October 5, 2021
This was published as an audible original but I believe it’s being published elsewhere now. So, you can listen to this on audible right now. I would read Chokshi’s grocery lists. This was an immediate request for me.

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin
Publication date: October 12, 2021
This seems like it’s going to be a summer camp sort of story but with peopple going missing and maybe some murder.

Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis
Publication date: October 12, 2021
I had absolutely no business requesting this book. I own the first book, but I haven’t read it. So, requesting an early copy of the second book was not a smart move. But I did it anyway, so hopefully I like the first book.

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Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
Publication date: October 19, 2021
This is a retelling of The Goose Girl. I honestly don’t know much about that story, but a friend of mine is incredibly excited about this book.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
Publication date: October 19, 2021
Another one that I don’t know much about aside from it’s a gothic horror (which is something I’m trying to dip my toes into) and some friends have read and loves it that I share a similar reading taste to.

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
Publication date: November 2, 2021
Julie and her boyfriend, Sam, have plans for the future, for their future together. But then Sam dies and Julie tries to act like he never existed so she can move on. But then things take a sci-fi twist when she calls Sam and instead of his voicemail, he answers the phone.

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Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
Publication date: November 9, 2021
The synopsis tagline is that this is an Ethiopian inspired Jane Eyre retelling. It’s also the authors debut fantasy novel.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
I really liked both Foody’s and Herman’s books. So, I’m interested to see what they’ve come up with together. I’ve seen bits and pieces from their social medias and I’m excited for it.

No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen
Publication date: December 7, 2021
I have no recollection of requesting this one. But I’m not surprised since I’ve been trying to read more horror and this one is YA horror.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich
Publication Date: December 7, 2021
This is another ‘read now’ that I got in an email from NetGalley. It’s about a boy band on tour and I think it will be excellent.

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When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord
Publication date: January 4, 2022
I have no clue what this is about but I loved Tweet Cute and You Have a Match, so I expect to enjoy this one as well.

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long
Publication date: January 11, 2022
The buzz words ‘survival’, ‘found family’, and ‘bond with a wolf’ totally got me.

Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher
Publication date: February 22, 2022
I honestly don’t know what this is about. But I really enjoyed Schumacher’s debut. Also, this cover is totally stunning and I am a sucker sometimes.

The One True Me and You by Remi K. England
Publication date: March 1, 2022
I’ve loved all of England’s books so far, so I have high hopes for this one too.

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A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
Publication date: March 8, 2022
I liked Saft’s first book and this one sounds right up my alley. Mythical creatures and an ancient magic secret? Yes, please.

This May End Badly by Samantha Markum
Publication date: April 12, 2022
The tagline for this book is “When a high stakes boarding school prank war leads to a fake dating scheme, two teens must decide if they are ready to take the ultimate risk — falling in love.” How could I not hit request after reading that?

These are the ARC’s I’ve read since my last update and the ones still on my TBR. Are any of these books ones that you have on your TBR?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary:
Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.
Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

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Review:
Malibu Rising is Reid’s latest novel. The story follows the four Riva siblings, Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit. It’s the night before the annual Riva party, a night that generally gets out of control. Except this year, all the siblings have a plan for the party this year. Nina doesn’t even want to be in attendance. Jay is planning on meeting a girl there. Hud must tell Jay the truth about a secret he’s been keeping. And Kit is determined to stop being seen as a little kid.
I liked the Riva siblings in this book. They were all interesting, with their own problems. They were a bit shallowly developed, but I liked them nonetheless. I love stories that focus on siblings and this was exactly that. They’re not perfect siblings, but the love one another and they have stuck together. I really liked learning about the history of their parents, even though it was sad.
I think the best part of this book was the secrets that each of the characters were keeping. I liked the internal struggle that each Riva faced in the hours leading up to the party.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a pretty fast paced story despite there being a minimal plot aside from the personal goings on of the Riva siblings. It didn’t feel like there was a ton happening, but the story still went by quickly. I enjoyed it, but I think I prefer Reid’s previous two novels.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Numbered Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten book titles with numbers in them.

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

One by One by Ruth Ware

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

The Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

What numbered book titles did you go with?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Why Everyone Should Read Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

Hey, lovelies! I’ve had this post idea on my list of ideas for what feels like forever. I’m here today to finally attempt it. I’m not sure how this post will do, but I’m excited to share some of the reasons that I adore the Dark Shores series. Just as a disclaimer, I will not be sharing anything that is a spoiler. I will be talking about all three published books in the series, but nothing with spoilers.

First off, a bit about this book and series. There are currently three published books in this series. Dark Shores, Dark Skies, and Gilded Serpent. I’ve read the first two books more than once. I also was lucky enough to read all three books when they were advanced copies. These books easily became favorites by the time I finished them. I gave all three books 5 stars and I don’t foresee that changing with the fourth and final book, Scorched Earth, which is coming December 2022.

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“In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.
A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON. Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET. Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.
A DANGEROUS QUEST. When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.”

A fun fact about this series: the first two books in this series can be read in two ways. The first book follows Teriana and Marcus. The second book follows Lydia and Killian. But both of these books are happening at the same time. So, you could start reading this series with either Dark Shores or Dark Skies before moving onto whichever you didn’t start with. I’ve never seen this done with any other books, so, I think that’s such an interesting thing about the series.

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“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.”

I think you should read this series because if you don’t love Teriana and Marcus (which you absolutely will), then you will definitely love Lydia and Killian. Or the other way around. I think Teriana is my favorite character in the series with Killian as a close second. Teriana is essentially a princess. She’s the Maarin heir. I very easily fell in love with the Maarin culture and people. These people are the only ones that know about both the Celendor Empire and Mudamora. Seeing her internal battle of keeping the secrets of her people and saving the lives of her crew and mother was such an emotional journey.

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“THEIR BATTLES ENDED IN VICTORY. Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever. His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war.
BUT THE WAR HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN. Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for. Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.”

Killian is from Mudamora, so we learn most of what we know about their culture and people from him. We learn about the mythology of their gods (which is another one of my favorite things about this series.) Killian is Marked by the God of War. But things aren’t going so well for him. He’s disappointing his family. He’s letting the Corrupter win, or that’s what it feels like to him anyway. Killian is a character that feels as if every responsibility is on his shoulders. Everything is his burden to bare and no one else’s. I really liked that even though Killian was Marked by the God of War, he showed us that he was more than that. After losing an important battle, he’s assigned to guard the princess and it’s there that he shows his cleverness for politics. But once he’s living in the city, we also see how incredibly kind he is.

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The covers for this series are absolutely incredible. I remember seeing Dark Shores and thinking ‘wow, what a beautiful cover’ and now we have one for book four (pictured to the right) which I didn’t know had been revealed. It literally took my breath away for a second when I first saw it. All four covers for this series are stunning. They just keep getting better and better. My library has the whole series, but I love the books and the covers so much that I had to buy physical copies for my bookshelves so that I could display them. I know I should talk more about the content of the series, but I just really had to mention my infatuation with these covers. Let me know what you think of them!

This is a fantasy series, but there is some excellent romance included. It’s a little obvious that the romantic interests are Teriana with Marcus and Lydia with Killian (though there are plot twists with Lydia and Killian that make it even better.) It took a bit longer for me to get invested in the romance between Teriana and Marcus because Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh legion. So, this was sort of a romance between a soldier and a prisoner of his government, which I didn’t always love. But once the 37th legion is out of the Celendor Empire, we really get to know them as people. They are more than unwilling soldiers trying to do their job. It was definitely easier to like Lydia and Killian together (I think they are my favorite couple from the series), but I did really love Teriana and Marcus by the end of the first book and again when we see them in book three.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with me and my love for these books. I want to mention that there isn’t yet a synopsis for the fourth book. But that cover, oh boy. I also want to mention the prequel book, Tarnished Empire. This is a full length novel that’s marked as Dark Shores 0.5, but on Jensen’s website, she’s said to read it before Gilded Serpent, but if you’re new to this series, you could start with this book as it’s set a few years before Dark Shores and follows Marcus. But you should read it before Gilded Serpent because it follows a character we meet in the third book.

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“A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory.
THE COMMANDER. Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an oppressor.
THE SOLDIER. Agrippa sets his sights on glory to fill the deepening void within him. He discovers that the price of fame might not just be paid in blood, it might be paid by his heart.
THE REBEL. Silvara joins the rebel forces to fight against the legions who would see her family dead. While she dreams of being a warrior, she finds her sharpest weapon is seduction. But to defeat the Empire, she’ll have to betray the young man who now has her heart.
DEFIANCE IS TREASON. TREASON IS DEATH. Inspired by the harsh world of ancient Rome, readers are obsessed with this martial tale of fiery romance, friendship, and enmity. Told from three points of view, Tarnished Empire is filled with twists you’ll never see coming but will keep you turning the pages all night.
Tarnished Empire is set in the world of Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores. But readers new to the world can begin here.”

I actually haven’t read Tarnished Empire yet because I found it after I’d already reread the first two books and read Gilded Serpent. I was in a bit of a reading slump at the time, so I saved it. I’m glad I did because now I can read it this fall. It says in the synopsis that it has three points of view, which is one of the other things I loved and wanted to talk about with the other books. Dark Shores and Dark Skies both follow two points of view. Teriana and Marcus for the first book. Lydia and Killian for the second book. But when we get to Gilded Serpent, we are following all four perspectives. I was excited about this but mildly worried that it would be too many. I’m happy to report that it absolutely wasn’t. The four perspectives worked really well for the third book, especially since the four characters hadn’t all come together yet. So, we get to see all the things that have to happen for them to finally come together toward the end of Gilded Serpent. I think there was enough build up and anticipation to keep me from getting bored with any one point of view. I’m very excited to read the final book with the four points of view, as well as, Tarnished Empire, which has three points of view.

Alright, that’s what I have for you all. Some of the reasons that I love this series. The world is fascinating. The romance is to die for. The characters are well developed and (mostly) easy to love. And I still can’t get over those covers. Please let me know your thoughts on this post. I’ve never done a ‘review’ like this before, so I’m interested to see what you all think of it! Have you read this series or any books by this author?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Summary:
The Truly Devious series continues as Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery.
Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.
But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.
Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.
But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.

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Review:
The Box in the Woods is a standalone Truly Devious mystery. I really loved the Truly Devious trilogy, so I was beyond excited to read this one. I chose to listen to the audiobook. I was going to save it for an 8-hour drive that I had coming up, but I started listening to it the day before my drive while I was packing. I ended up listening to more than 50% of the book before I even got in the car. I just couldn’t put it down. Being back with Stevie and some of her friends, it was really such a joy.
Stevie is spending her summer working at a grocery store and studying dollhouse crime scene replicas. Sounds thrilling, right? Yeah, Stevie didn’t think so either. When she gets an email from the CEO of Box Box (a company that sells…boxes) asking her to come be a summer camp counselor at the camp where the Box in the Woods murders took place, how could she say no? She has Nate and Janelle tag along with her for the summer. She’s supposed to be working with the camp’s owner to create a podcast about the Box in the Woods murders. But as she talks to the owner and to some of the locals, she starts working on her own. I liked Stevie, Janelle, and Nate just as much as I did in the trilogy. It’s a murder mystery so, there’s obviously high stakes and suspense. I think this was well done, just as it was in the trilogy. I think Stevie did a great job finding new details and putting the pieces together.
Overall, I really liked this book. I wasn’t at all surprised by that. I want a million more standalone Truly Devious mysteries, please and thank you. I loved the summer camp setting and the bits of the small-town setting that we got. I just really had a good time listening to this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Holdout by Jeffery Kluger

Summary:
When evil forces are going unchecked on Earth, a principled astronaut makes a spilt-second decision to try to seek justice in the only place she knows how—the International Space Station.
Walli Beckwith is a model astronaut. She graduated at the top of her class from the Naval Academy, had a successful career flying fighter jets, and has spent more than three hundred days in space. So when she refuses to leave her post aboard the International Space Station following an accident that forces her fellow astronauts to evacuate, her American and Russian colleagues are mystified. For Walli, the matter at hand feels all too clear and terrifying for her to be worried about ruining her career. She is stuck in a race against time to save a part of the world that seems to have been forgotten, and also the life of the person she loves the most. She will go to any length necessary, using the only tool she has, to accomplish what she knows is right.

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Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy! Here is my honest review. When I read the synopsis for this book, I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. I thought it might be a science fiction thriller. Had I known more specific details about this book, I probably wouldn’t have read it. But I did really enjoy my reading experience once the story got started.
We follow Walli Beckwith, an astronaut. An accident happens and the three astronauts that are on the space station are required to leave. But Walli refuses and stays behind. The reason? No one knows until a few days later. When Walli finally reveals that she stayed behind on the space station to protest and demand action from the United States, many countries are furious. This is where the story gets way more political than I anticipated. The heart of this story is about Walli pressuring the U.S. government to do the right thing and intervene where another country is committing extreme human right violations.
I liked Walli. I liked that she had the bravery and audacity to take the space station hostage in order to shed light on the atrocities happening in the Amazon. She takes unauthorized photos from the space station and uses her fame as an astronaut to bring awareness to the issue that’s being called the Consolidation. I think the parts with Walli alone on the space station could have been boring, but they weren’t. The author used them well to share backstory and other important details.
I was confused at Sonia’s point of view until I learned of her connection to Walli and all the pieces fell together. I think Sonia’s part of the story was just as important, if not more important, than Walli’s. Sonia’s on the ground in the Amazon, working as a doctor. We see the horrors happening in the forest through Sonia and I have to say, at times, her parts of the story were incredibly hard to read.
Overall, I think this was a great story. It was well written, interesting, detailed, and organized. I think it was a passionate story about people doing the ‘wrong’ thing for the right reasons. I loved the bravery and courage these women showed. I think it puts a hope and positivity on the American government that isn’t really deserved, but I thought it was great for escapism.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Birthday Book Haul!

Hi, lovelies! My birthday was in August and I usually end up with a decent amount of books gifted to me. So, this is also sort of my August book haul, but I didn’t buy any of these because they were all birthday gifts. My lovely best friend, Antonia, bought me quite a few books for my birthday so thank you very much babe!

New Books I’ve Read

Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

That Weekend by Kara Thomas

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

New Books for my TBR

Ace of Spades by by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

My Contrary Mary by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, & Cynthia Hand

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen

The Push by Ashley Audrain

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

I think I’ve read a good amount of these new books and I have plans to immediately read some of the others. Did you buy any books in August?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Summary:
Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places―and people―you didn’t expect.
The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.
Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Dead and the Dark is a creepy story that follows Logan, the daughter of the two stars of ParaSpectors. Her dads star on a ghost hunting kind of show and they claim that their next big shoot is going to be in Snakebite, Oregon where her dads grew up. But when Logan and her Pop arrive, they are anything but welcomed by the towns people. This story was suspenseful and mysterious. It was an excellent read for spooky season. I’m still not writing reviews that I’m super happy with, so, I’m going to change up the format again for this one.

Things I Liked:

I really liked the diversity. Logan is a lesbian. She has two dads. There’s also a character that’s unsure about their sexuality.

I liked the family dynamic. Logan gets along with her Pop way more than she does with her dad. There were reasons behind this, but I think Gould did a great job showing the love that this family has for each other.

The setting. I love books that have small town settings and this one absolutely didn’t disappoint in that regard. The setting of Snakebite really made this story what it was.

The mystery that this story is trying to solve was a fascinating one. We see a bad thing happen at the beginning, but the person’s identity isn’t revealed so I spent the whole book guessing who this ‘big bad’ was. I never did figure it out until the big reveal.

I grew to like the romance. Logan ends up having feelings for a girl that we’re led to believe is straight. She’s also kind of shitty in the sense that she spends all this time with Logan, but she doesn’t defend her to her local friends. But I think she grew enough that I did really end up liking her and Logan together.

I really liked the family history that we learned about. Both of Logan’s fathers grew up in Snakebite, so there’s so much that she doesn’t know about their childhood. We get to learn bits and pieces about what things were like for them as the story goes along.

Things I Didn’t Like:

At times, I didn’t like Logan. She was rude as hell to her dad but so nice to her Pop. There were reasons for the things her dad did and the was that he acted and she never took the time to even ask about it. She just let her negative feelings fester and I really didn’t like that.

I think the story was a bit slow at times. I’m not sure how to explain it other than that. I don’t think that I was expecting creepy things to jump out at me, but there was just something about it that couldn’t hold my focus.

The ending felt like it was a bit rushed compared to the slower pace of the rest of the story. There were so many plotlines that needed to be tied together in order to wrap up the story and I think it all happened really quickly and neatly and I didn’t love that. This story was messy, but the ending wrapped up in a nice neat bow.

Overall, this was a suspenseful and atmospheric story about a family that returns to a small town full of secrets. I really loved the ‘small town full of secrets’ aspect of the story. I would definitely recommend this book for spooky season.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Make Me Smile

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten books that will for sure put a smile on my face.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

This Will Be Funny Someday by Katie Henry

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

What books did you pick this week?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Make You Smile

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Beastly by Alex Flinn

The Witness by Nora Roberts

The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

The BFG by Ronald Dahl

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas

What books always make you smile?

Amanda’s August Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! Sadly, my birthday month is over. But I had a great reading month. I was on vacation visiting my parents for most of the month. I got to read on the beach and it was glorious. It’s all I’ve wanted to do all summer, so I was in my happiest place on Earth (the beach). It was a great month for me personally and I’m happy with what I’ve read.

What I Read

Physical Books
Small Favors by Erin A. Craig – 4 stars
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston 5 stars
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning – 3.5 stars
Key of Light by Nora Roberts – 3 stars
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 4 stars
Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams – 3.5 stars
That Weekend by Kara Thomas – 3 stars

eBooks
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould – 3.75
Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts – 3 stars
Key of Valor by Nora Roberts – 3 stars
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout – 4 stars
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout – 4 stars

Audiobooks
The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson – 4 stars
When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey – 3 stars
They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman – 3 stars
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – 2 stars
The Anthropocine Reviewed by John Green – 4 stars

Blogging Highlights

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Book Review)

Amanda’s Favorite Time Travel Books

A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow (Book Review)

Amanda’s (Almost) Auto-Buy Authors

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne (Book Review)

Amanda’s NetGalley Shelf #3

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal (Book Review)

Other Bloggers I’m Loving

Ranking my Coffee Orders and Books I Would Read with Them from Charvi @ Not Just Fiction
I love coffee. So, I thought this was so much fun. I think these recommendations are excellent, too.

5-Star Book Predictions Update! from Sofi @ A Book. A Thought.
I love seeing what books people think they’re going to love. I especially love seeing the updates later on to see if they were right about their predictions.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson – Contemporary Audiobook Recommendation from Skye @ Books in the Skye
Skye has been collaborating with other bloggers to recommend audiobooks of different genres. This post is the first of my contemporary recommendations that she will be sharing with you all!

Five-Star Feminist, Fiery, and Fearsome: Iron Widow – A Blog Tour Review from Avery @ B for Book Slut
I have an advanced copy of Iron Widow , so reading such a rave review made me really excited to read this one.

10 Middle Grade Books to Read in Fall 2021 from Briana @ Pages Unbound
Seasonal recommendations are some of my favorite posts to read and to create. I’m incredibly excited to get into my fall reading lists.

New Young Adult Book Releases This Week [23/8] from Vee @ Vee_Bookish
I think I love these posts because no matter how much time I’ve spent looking at new releases, I always find more from these posts.

Three Year Blogaversary: Ten Favorite Reviews from Caitlin @ Realms of my Mind
Check out some of Caitlin’s favorite reviews. There are some really great books on this list!

How did you do reading/blogging wise in August?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Summary:
For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.
Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

Book Cover

Review:
One Last Stop was another birthday gift (Thanks, Avhlee!). I don’t know if I’m going to be able to really explain my feelings about this book. This book is probably going to make my favorites of 2021 list. It just felt like a deeply personal story to me and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to portray that in this review. So, instead of writing a review in my normal format I’m going to share 5 things I loved about One Last Stop.

  1. I love the way that the past connected with the present. We see it again and again with Jane and August. One example being the pancake diner.
  2. Jane and August meet on the subway and they spend most of their time together on the subway. So, a fun thing that McQuiston added into this book was little blurbs and snippets from various ‘missed connections’ pages. They’re all about Jane because she’s been on the subway for literally years. I thought this was a really fun extra that we got in the story.
  3. The sex scenes were everything I wanted them to be. I give them an enthusiastic chef’s kiss.
  4. I really loved the way that McQuiston included LGBTQIA history. We see it through Jane’s eyes who was a lesbian in the 70s. We also see it with the inclusion of the UpStairs Lounge fire that happened in 1973 (and this connects to another part of the story).
  5. August’s three roommates, Niko, Myla, and Wes, are the found family of my dreams. They’re weird and quirky, but they accept one another and love one another. I love how they came together to help August find a way to be with Jane.

Overall, this book reached into my soul and made a home there. I was constantly laughing out loud and couldn’t stop myself from reading bits and pieces aloud to Antonia. I loved this book with my whole heart and soul and I already cannot wait to reread it in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Summary:
Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.
As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.

Book Cover

Review:
Small Favors is a new release that I was extremely excited about. I got it as a gift for my birthday (Thanks, Antonia!) and I read it during my birthday weekend. This would have been an excellent book to read for spooky season (much like her debut novel, House of Salt and Sorrows). Small Favors follows Ellerie, who lives in a small town. She’s grown-up hearing myths and folklore about the monsters that used to live in the forest around the town. But most within the town never really believed them. When a supply party goes missing, those that believe in the old stories worry that the monsters have returned. The book follows Ellerie for a year, through all four seasons, so, as the seasons pass, strange things continue to happen. Are there really monsters in the woods? Or is there something else going on?
Ellerie was a character that I immediately liked. The only thing that I didn’t like about her was her attraction to Whitaker (a name that she gave him because he wouldn’t tell her his actual name). There was something suspicious about him from the beginning, but Craig managed to tell his part of the story in a way that I felt bad for him and ultimately liked him and how things played out for him and Ellerie. Aside from not liking Whitaker, I really liked Ellerie. She’s the second born child. But her older brother, Samuel, is a bit of a shit. He isn’t following through with his responsibilities to the family and he continues to make selfish choices for most of the book. Ellerie really steps up as the head of her family when something happens to her parents. There were some parts of this story that were slow, following Ellerie just trying to keep herself and family alive. But just because they were slow, doesn’t mean that nothing was happening.  There was something unsettling about this story. All throughout the story, there was an overall creepy feeling. A sense that something more was going on in this town than we were being led to believe.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There was a spooky feel to it, a mystery that was waiting to be unraveled. It’s a story full of questions just waiting to be answered. I really loved the characters. I liked the reveals of what was really happening to this town. I think it’s a fascinating story about how there is darkness in each and every person. I definitely would recommend this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s September TBR Jar Picks

Hey, lovelies! It’s September which means I’m going to be starting my ‘spooky season’ reading. I love to read thrillers, mysteries, and other stories like that during the fall/Halloween season. So, I will be picking five categories from my TBR jar and trying to match them with what I really want to read for spooky season.

Gifted to You
How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao
Thanks mom! This was a birthday gift from my mom and I’m super excited to read it.

New Release
The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin
I’ve had this tentatively on my TBR for the last several months since I bought it and I’m dying to read it.

Sequel
Cazadora by Romina Garber
I have an eARC of this that I’m behind on reading. I want to reread the first book, which I think I’m going to do via audio. So, hopefully I’ll be able to read both of these in September.

LGBTQIA+
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
It’s finally the perfect time of year to read this! I’ve been waiting for spooky season for this one because when I bought it last year it ended up being backordered at the indie bookstore I got it from.

5-Star Prediction
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Antonia and I did a five star prediction back in April. We honestly probably won’t wrap that one up and predict more until next month, but this book is on that list for me and I think it’ll be a good spooky season read.

As usual, I have a few books I want to read outside of what I’ve picked for my TBR jar. Some of these are NetGalley arc’s and some are just books I’m hoping to read in September.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochran

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

These are the books I’m hoping to read in September. What’s on your TBR this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.