Amanda’s Summertime Book Recommendations

Hello, lovelies! I had a great time picking books for my Springtime Book Recommendations post that I thought I would continue the trend now that Summer is upon us. I have some books I’m really excited to share with you all. I do have to say that quite a few of these are pirate stories, as I almost always read those in the summertime. But, I do also have some good fantasy and romance of varying age ranges.

Young Adult

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Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
“Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life. Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers. Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl? Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.”

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Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield
“Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica. When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him. In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise—all in the midst of an impending hurricane. Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic—and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.”

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I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
“This gripping thriller follows two teens whose lives become inextricably linked when one confesses to murder and the other becomes determined to uncover the real truth no matter the cost.
What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her. Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?”

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The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
“As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus. Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him. Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.”

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The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
“Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. With humans deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, emotional expression can be grounds for execution. Music, art and books are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for the love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does. Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while creating a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.”

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Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore
“There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything. Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.”

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The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
“Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.”

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Fable by Adrienne Young
“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.”

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Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
“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.”

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We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
“At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme. On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?”

Adult

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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees. Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?”

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Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
“Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?
• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job. Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit. But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…”

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Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
“With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that. This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows. In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.”

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Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker
“Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway. On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day. Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life. The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name. Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.”

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
“In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.”

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The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
“An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens her new home and her fragile place in it, in a stunning sci-fi debut that’s both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging. Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total. On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security. But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.”

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The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
“This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.”

These are all books I’ve read and absolutely loved. I think they’d be perfect summertime reads. Let me know if you’ve read any of these in the comments. Feel free to share any books that you think are good to read in the summertime.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi

Summary:
It all begins on the night Rea turns twelve. After a big fight with her twin brother Rohan on their birthday, Rea’s life in the small village of Darjeeling, India, gets turned on its head. It’s four in the morning and Rohan is nowhere to be found.
It hasn’t even been a day and Amma acts like Rohan’s gone forever. Her grandmother, too, is behaving strangely. Unwilling to give up on her brother, Rea and her friend Leela meet Mishti Daadi, a wrinkly old fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling and secret quest. In the shade of night, they portal into an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. There with the help of Xeranther, an Astranthian barrow boy, and Flula, a pari, Rea battles serpent-lilies and blood-sucking banshees, encounters a butterfly-faced woman and blue lizard-men, and learns that Rohan has been captured. Rea also discovers that she is a princess with magic. Only she has no idea how to use it.
Struggling with the truth her Amma has kept hidden from her, Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan, find a way to rescue him and save Astranthia from a potentially deadly fate. But the clock is ticking. Can she rescue Rohan, save Astranthia, and live to see it all?

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Review:
The authors publicist reached out to me to see if I wanted to read an early copy of this book in exchange for a review. I’m so glad that I said yes. I love middle grade books, but I don’t seem to gravitate toward picking them up often. I always enjoy reading them. There’s just something so wholesome about middle grade stories (even the ones with serious topics) that I really love.
Rea and the Blood of the Nectar follows Rea who finds herself on a quest to find her missing brother. While on this quest, she discovers another world, a world where she and her brother are royalty. The story starts with Rea (who lives in India) being an angry young girl. She’s angry when she feels her Amma favoring her brother, Rohan. She’s angry when she feels her brother is distancing himself from her. She’s angry that Rohan doesn’t want to know more about their Baba. She doesn’t really have any friends. She’s really struggling with her negative feelings. I have to say that Rea’s growth away from this anger and her instinct to make selfish choices was so well done. The author did it in a way that was believable and really made the reader care for Rea.
The world building was also really well done. We are learning about this magical world right alongside Rea. I thought this world that had a sort of plant-based magic was so interesting. I think it was well enough explained to understand, but it wasn’t totally clear what the rules or limits of this magic was. We got a bit more clarity about that with the shadow magic that the queen uses. With the way this story ended, I definitely think we will get some clarity about that in the second book.
I loved all of the side characters. I really love Leela and the way she befriended Rea. I also liked Xee. He was a local to the magical world and showed Rea and Leela around. I liked that he was brave, but that didn’t make him impulsive. I think they were great supporting characters and I’m excited to see more of them in future books.
Overall, I really loved this story. I loved the setting of India and the bits of Indian culture we get to see before Rea discovers the magical world. I thought the world and the magic was so interesting and I really felt like I could root for all the characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Books & Baking – Kiss My Cupcake

Hi, lovelies! I read the cutest book that was filled with cupcakes and I knew I just had to try one of them out. I flipped through the book to find all the options where the cupcakes were actually described from the cupcake to the frosting and I came up with five options. Then I showed my partner the options and he chose the ones that I made. So, here are my cupcakes from Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting.

Book: Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

Read my full review here!

This is a romance novel that follows Blaire and Ronan, two business owners that are next to one another. They start off as rivals but decide to team up and host events when a bigger threat comes onto their street. It was a funny and fun story about two bars that are very different but both interesting. I enjoyed it. There were fun pranks, delicious sounding cupcakes, creative events, and a romance I could root for.

“You may have started the war, but I’ll be the one taking you down, one sweet treat at a time.”

“But I think I’d rather have someone to miss than never have the opportunity to witness that kind of devotion.”

Baking: Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Find the full recipe here!

I was torn between the death by chocolate cupcakes and the lemon drop, but my husband asked for the lemon drop ones. So, that’s what I attempted.

“The lemon drop cupcake is a featured special today if you’d like to give it a try.”
“Hmm. Is it sour?” The like you is clearly intimated, though unspoken.
“It has some pucker power, if that’s what you mean. It’s a good balance of sweet and tart.”

Cupcake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups lemon curd
lemon-cream frosting

Lemon Curd Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature

Lemon-Cream Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese frosting, room temperature
1 cup bakers sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup lemon curd
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Cupcake Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees then line muffin tin with paper liners.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
With an electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, on medium/low. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
With mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mix, then half of the milk, and all the sour cream. Add the next 1/3 of the flour mix and the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mix. Mix until just combined.
Divide the batter into the cupcake tin (about 1/3 cup in each). Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Let them completely cool before decorating.

Lemon Curd Instructions
In a small sauce pan, combine sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and eggs. Add the butter and cook over low heat. Stir continuously until the first bubble appears and the curd is thick enough to hold the marks of the whisk, about 6 minutes.
Strain lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer if you don’t want lemon zest in the curd. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold.

Frosting Instructions
With an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the lemon curd and mix until fully incorporated.
In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

Assembly Instructions
Once cupcakes are fully cooled, scoop small hole out of each cupcake (the recipe said to use a melon baller, but I just used a knife to cut a bit of the top out). Fill each hole with a scoop of lemon curd. Frost cupcakes (the recipe says to use a pastry bag with all the fancy tips, but I used a small ziplock bag and cut a small hole in the corner). Refrigerate cupcakes until ready to serve.

And here’s a better picture of my final product. I really liked these. They were, as Blaire said, the perfect combination of sweet and bitter. I think the frosting was absolute perfection and the curd was delicious, but there was something about the actual cupcake was a little bit too bitter. I think I zested a bit too much of the lemon. But I would definitely make these again and I highly recommend you make them too if you think you’ll like them. They were pretty easy to make too. I made these yesterday and they’re already gone, so definitely a hit in my house. Let me know if you try to make these!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Books & Baking – The Lightning Thief

Hi, lovelies! I chose to do a rather easy one for this installment of Books & Baking just to keep the momentum going for this feature. I tend to forget about things if I don’t do them regularly. So, I think this one will be a fan favorite (because it’s a very beloved book). For this edition, I’ve decided to bake something from The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I’ve always wanted to make a blue food for this blog feature since I first had the idea.

Book: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Read my full review here!

If you don’t know what the Percy Jackson series is about, you must be living under a rock. We follow Percy as he finds out that he’s actually a Demi-god. Lots of wild antics and quests ensue. I really enjoyed this book, and the rest of the series. I love Percy and Annabeth and Grover. I love all of the characters we meet. And I love the representation this story gives.

“Even strength must bow to wisdom sometimes.”

“It’s funny how humans can wrap their mind around things and fit them into their version of reality.”

“Look, I didnt want to be a half-blood. If you’re reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom and dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life. Being a half-blood is dangerous. It’s scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful nasty ways. If you’re a normal kid, reading this because you think it’s fiction, great. Read on. I envy you for being able to believe none of this ever happened. But if you recognize yourself in these pages-if you feel something stirring inside- stop reading immediately. You might be one of us. And once you know that, it’s only a matter of time before THEY sense it too, and they’ll come for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies (but they’re blue!)

So, for this one I actually used my mother-in-laws recipe for chocolate chip cookies and I’m actually not going to share that with you all.

“I guess I should explain the blue food. See, Gabe had once told my mom there was no such thing. They had this fight, which seemed like a really small thing at the time. But ever since, my mom went out of her way to eat blue. She baked blue birthday cakes. She mixed blueberry smoothies. She bought blue-corn tortilla chips and brought home blue candy from the shop. ”

Okay, so here is where I’d usually put the ingredients and baking instructions. But as I said above, I’m not sharing my MIL’s recipe. So, find a chocolate chip cookie recipe of your choice and literally, all I did was add blue food coloring to the dough once it was all mixed together. I’m just going to add some more pictures I took in place of the usual ingredients and instructions.

I got some pictures when they came right out of the oven that really show how blue they are. It seemed when they cooled they lost a bit of the color. But they were not good pictures so I will not be adding them here. I also just have to say that I think these are the best batch I’ve made and I think it’s because of a brown sugar issue where I had to make my own. Have you ever made any blue food in honor of Percy Jackson? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: My Bookish Party

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic for a list of ten things I’d have at my bookish party. (Choose ten things: items, accessories, food, people (real or fictional), decorations, activities, etc.) I’m going to do Top Ten People I’d want at my bookish party. My list will be a mix of characters and authors.

 

1. Nora Roberts- Nora is easily one of my favorite authors. I’ve read more than a hundred of her books and reread them many times. I’d be ecstatic to get to hang out with her.

2. Kendra from The Kendra Chronicles by Alex Flinn- If we’re gonna have a party we definitely need a witch there to make some magic.

3. Julia Quinn- She’s hysterical. I can’t help laughing out loud when reading her books even when I’m in public so I’m sure she’d have everyone dying laughing.

4. Alaska from Looking For Alaska by John Green- She’s the life of the party. I could never throw a bookish one without inviting her.

5. John and Hank Green- If you’ve ever watched any of the many vlogbrothers videos they have, you know these guys are highly entertaining.

6. Aelin from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas- I’m sure she would cause tons of trouble but that’s half her charm, right?

7. Adrian from Bloodlines by Richelle Mead- He’s got to be on everyone’s bookish party list. He was the first character to pop into my head when I looked at this prompt.

8. Mark Watney from The Martian by Andy Weir- He had me laughing through the whole book. His humor is infectious.

9. Morrigan from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas- Maas knows how to write seriously badass women. I would absolutely love to raise hell with Mor.

10. Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling- Confession time: Amanda and I were texting while I made this post and when I mentioned Hermione she joked about how Hermione and I would be off in the corner reading. Honestly? She’s probably 100% right and I’m not ashamed of that.

I had so much fun with this week’s prompt. Tell me all about the bookish party you would throw! Thanks for reading.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Halloween Freebie

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 top ten – Halloween Freebie. I will be listing ten books I want to read on Halloween night.

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol 1: The Crucible by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Devouring by Simon Holt

The Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

These are just some of the choices I have to read for my Halloween Readathon! This year I’ll be taking my little girl trick or treating for the first time, so we shall see what I end up getting to read.  What books would you pick to read on Halloween? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogtober Book Review: Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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GoodReads Summary: In this prequel to Ella Enchanted, which can stand on its own, young healer Evie is transformed into an ogre by the meddling fairy Lucinda. She’ll turn back only if someone proposes and she accepts!

Returning to the land and many of the characters from her beloved Newbery Honor–winning Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine has written a delightful tale about a clever and endearing heroine who is determined to defy expectations.

Evie is happiest when she is healing people, diagnosing symptoms, and prescribing medications, with the help of her devoted friend (and test subject) Wormy. So when Wormy unexpectedly proposes to her, she kindly turns him down; she has far too much to do to be marrying anyone. And besides, she simply isn’t in love with him.

But a certain meddling fairy named Lucinda has been listening in, and she doesn’t approve of Evie’s rejection. Suddenly, Evie finds herself transformed from a girl into a hideous, hungry ogre. Evie now has only sixty-two days to accept another proposal—or else be stuck as an ogre forever.

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Review: First off, thanks to Emily at Wunderkind PR for sending me a finished copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s not something I usually do, especially because I hardly write reviews anymore but I’ve loved Levine’s books in the past and I just had to say yes to this one.

Unfortunately, I ended up being really disappointed by the ending. I’m going to give some general thoughts first and then go into the things I had issues with at the end so anyone who wants to avoid spoilers can skip that part.

Overall I enjoyed the characters. Evie is smart and kind and I loved the fact that the main character is basically a monster for most of the book. Yes, she’s still human inside but her ogre side takes over sometimes. She finds herself suddenly thinking humans might taste pretty good and she frequently has to resist the urge to eat her friends. She’s constantly hungry and isn’t too picky about what she eats as long as it’s meat. She smells terrible and the other characters comment on it a lot. She’s angry all the time about tiny things. They’re such unique traits to give a heroine and I enjoyed watching how she deals with these obstacles to try to break the curse and even just survive. Evie is a strong, brave young woman and I liked getting to see her learn more about herself throughout this adventure.

I liked Wormy as well though he wasn’t there for a big chunk of the book. I would have liked to have seen more of him especially because the change he makes by the end seemed a little unrealistic but that’s probably because I wasn’t able to see him actually go through the change. He was just suddenly different when he comes back into the storyline later on.

Eleanor was probably my favorite character (another reason the ending made me so angry). She was fun, kind and the most amazing friend to Evie.

The fairy Lucinda is obviously very annoying. If you’ve read Ella Enchanted (or even seen the movie) you know she just buts into everyone’s business randomly and ruins their lives because she can. I think the most annoying part is that in her twisted mind she honestly thinks she’s helping people. I get that she’s super powerful but it still astounds me that no one even tries to do anything about her, they just sort of let it happen.

The plot was decent. It’s exactly what you expect from a story inspired by fairy tales. Now that I’m older I find I don’t have as much patience for how unrealistic stories like this can be. Don’t get me wrong, I love the magic and mythical creatures but wish the characters didn’t act so ridiculous sometimes. However, given that this book is middle-grade it’s kind of to be expected.

**Now is where I’ll talk about the spoilers for the ending so please stop reading if you want to be surprised.

I’m not sure why I expected anything different but when I first read the description for this book I was like, “Finally! A girl who doesn’t want to get married at fifteen. Who has a guy friend she doesn’t fall in love with. This is great!” Guess what happens by the end of the book? They have a long engagement (which was something they said at the beginning Lucinda wouldn’t let them do so I don’t understand what changed) but they’re still engaged at sixteen and married at eighteen which is something we seriously need to stop portraying in books and film. I’m so sick of this trope of girls falling in love with their best friend. Just because he loves her does not mean she has to reciprocate.

Eleanor’s fate is what upset me the most though. Before everyone finds out he’s the villain, Eleanor gets engaged to Sir Peter and, of course, Lucinda shows up. Her “gift” is basically that Eleanor can’t back out of marrying Peter which she obviously doesn’t mind at the time. However, once everyone found out he was a traitor I assumed they’d figure something out, most likely that the king would execute him for treason (yes it’s middle-grade but there were ogres literally eating people). Nope. They all agree that they’ll pardon him for poor Eleanor’s sake and send him off to be a travelling merchant. As though being married to someone she hates is in any way a good thing. The part that really got to me though is that in the epilogue she’s pregnant. Why was that necessary? Their baby is Ella from Ella Enchanted so she had to exist somehow but since Eleanor hates Peter I’m trying really hard not to imagine how that baby was made.

**End spoilers.

Long story short: sorry guys. I really wanted to like this book but the ending absolutely ruined it for me. I’ve liked Levine’s work in the past so if you enjoy middle-grade and fairytales you should still give it a try. Thanks for reading.

-Antonia.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – 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 top ten – Extraordinary Book Titles. I’m just going to pick a handful of my favorites.

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We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

What book titles do you think are extraordinary? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Intimidating TBR

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 top ten – Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading and Why (maybe you’re scared of it, worried it won’t live up to the hype, etc.)

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read this yet. I think the hype is what makes me hesitant to pick it up.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
There’s literally no reason why I haven’t read this one yet.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
This is another that I’ve put off because of the hype that surrounds it.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I read Strange the Dreamer and didn’t love it, so I’m hesitant to pick up another of her books.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Superhero books are really hit or miss for me. I love Leigh, so I don’t want to read this and not like it.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Eight hundred twenty-seven pages. That’s all I have to say.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
I know I’m going to love this. I really don’t know why I haven’t picked it up.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Something about starting a new series is just intimidating.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Another book that is so well-loved that I’m scared of not liking.

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Something about historical fiction, it seems to be a rare mood for me. Because of this, I don’t pick it up very often despite almost always loving the books I read in the genre.

What books do you have on your TBR that you just haven’t managed to pick up? Let me know in the comments below!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s Zodiac-A-Thon TBR

Hi, lovelies! This month I’m sticking to one short readathon for September. August was a little overwhelming with all the group reading I did. So I want to take it easy and do some mood reading before the spooky readathons start. This round of the Zodiacathon will start today, September 4th, and end on September 8th. Just a short four days! For the challenges, there are prompts for everyone’s sun, moon, and rising signs.

Moon Sign: Capricorn

Buddy read a book with someone (there’s ten of us!) who shares your moon sign.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Capricorn: Read a magical realism/speculative fiction book.

Moonstruck Volume One: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, & Kate Leth

Sun Sign: Leo

Leo: Read a library book.

Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry

Rising Sign: Gemini

Gemini: Read a sequel.

These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch

I’m excited to read these ones! What are you planning to read this month? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Comfort Zone

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 top ten – Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort Zone (i.e., a genre you don’t typically read or subject matter you’re not usually drawn to). This is a tough one for me because I read a huge variety of books and I wouldn’t say that I have a ‘comfort zone.’

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Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo
Science Fiction Graphic Novel

The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Non-Fiction

Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect by Zander Cannon
Fantasy Graphic Novel

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Non-Fiction

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanah Ganucheau
Contemporary Graphic Novel

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Adult Contemporary

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Science Fiction

The Recovering:  Intoxication and  its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison
Non-Fiction/Memoir

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Historical Fiction

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Non-Fiction/Memoir

These are the books I came up with for books that I enjoyed that were outside of my comfort zone. I’ve recently started reading graphic novels, so the ones I’ve enjoyed made this list because they’re still new for me. I also have a fair bit of non-fiction because it’s not something I usually read. Most on this list I only read because of book club. What books made your Top Ten Tuesday list this week? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s August Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! I had the best reading month I’ve ever had. I’ve been reading like mad this month, everything from graphic novels to new releases. I don’t have too much to say, so I’ll get right into what I read in August.

Physical Books
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa
How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Under the Moon: Catwoman by Lauren Myracle
The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes
These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige
Kaijimax Season One: Terror and Respect by Zander Cannon
Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo
The Marvelous Land of Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti
Nexus by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti
Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth, Megan Levens, & Marissa Louise
Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk

eBooks
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons
Chosen Champion by Elise Kova
Failed Future by Elise Kova
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes
The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Audiobooks
Stepsister Jennifer Donnelly

Friends, I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to read fourty-one books in the month of August. Some good, some not so good, but I’m beyond pleased with myself for having a record-breaking month. I don’t know that I’ll ever read this many books in one month again. Tell me in the comments what books or how many you read in August.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s Barnes & Nobel Book Haul!

Hi, lovelies! I’m just stopping by this evening to share with you all the things I got this weekend at the Barnes & Nobel Book Haul Blowout! I have been looking forward to this all weekend! I think I picked up quite a few books that I’m really excited about. So, expect to see them in any of my TBR’s in the near future.

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I picked up a few that I was missing from the always wonderful Rick Riordan. I was very excited to see these on sale because I never see his books on sale!

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

I also grabbed a few that I’ve seen so many others talking about. I wanted to get them so I could understand why everyone is talking about them!

Furyborn Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

There were a few that I’ve seen before but I haven’t really heard anything about them aside from what they’re about.

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody

And finally, I picked up two books by the same author that I’ve never heard of but the synopsis sounded pretty interesting for both of them.

H2O by Virginia Bergin

The XY by Virginia Bergin

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The next book is the one full-price book I bought and I’m blaming entirely on Heathur from Aphrodite Reads because she does nothing but sing its praises. It’s going to be a buddy read for the upcoming round of ZodiacAThon.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

 

 

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The graphic novel was an impulse buy. I went over to the graphic novel section to look for the next volume of a series I started recently but instead, I found something I never knew I needed. I don’t play video games pretty much ever, but a friend of mine got me into Life is Strange and I’m so glad.

Life is Strange: Dust by Emma Vieceli, Claudia Leonardi, & Andrea Izzo

 

 

So, there you have it. These are all of the books I picked up today on my trip to Barnes and Nobel. I have to thank my dad because this haul was a belated birthday gift from him. I cannot wait to dive into these new books, but for now, they have found a new home on my TBR bookshelves.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s July Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! I’m here with a very belated wrap up for the month of July. I’ve been a bit lazy with setting up my blog posts which is why this wrap up is so late. But! I’m here and I’m sharing all of the wonderful (or not so wonderful) things that I read in the month of July. Without any further delay (because I’ve delayed enough with my laziness) here are the things I read.

Physical Books
Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Under Currents by Nora Roberts
The Library Book by Susan Orlean

eBooks
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Darkwood by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
All Our Broken Pieces L.D. Crichton
The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason
Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Moon Cakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare
Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Audiobooks
Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I managed to read twenty books in July. Not my best month, but still one that I’m very happy with. Tell me what you read last month!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s BiblioGames Wrap Up

Hi lovelies. June has come to an end and we are officially in the second half of 2019! Where has the year gone? Today I’m sharing with you the things I planned to (and successfully) read in the month of June. Check out my TBR post here to get all the details on the BiblioGames. I read a total of 13,096 pages in the month of June (which includes the 50 bous pages I got for each TBR challenge I completed). Without further delay, here is what I read for this readathon in June.

Main Classes

Homeroom – Group Book

Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Gym – A Book in Format You don’t Typically Read

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau

Lunch – A Book with a Satisfying Ending

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Super Villain Classes

Mad Science – Science Fiction Book

Record of a Space Born Few by Becky Chambers

Archery 101 – A Book with Badass Main Character

Vortex Visions by Elise Kova

Wold Domination – Buddy Read with a Team Member

Roar by Cora Carmack

What did you read in June? Did you participate in the BiblioGames?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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