Blogtober Book Review: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

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GoodReads Summary:
Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma.
In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them.
Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction–it’s a bright light, something massive hurdling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate…everything changes.
When the Sky Fell on SplendorReview:
I am officially a huge fan of Emily Henry’s books. I’ve read three of her books now, and one that she co-wrote with Brittany Cavallaro. When the Sky Fell on Splendor is a story that may or may not be about aliens, but it also might be about ghosts and I still really don’t even know. So, if you’ve read this, please let me know. We follow The Ordinary while they investigate small town things like ghost stories and legends. I loved this premise. The Ordinary’s are a weird found family. They’re 100% dysfunctional and not always in a good way. I think that’s what I liked most about them though. Franny and her brother have a complicated relationship. Their older brother is in a coma and their mother walked out on them. Their dad isn’t really a dad, just an adult that lives with them. So, they’ve been through some hard things. But the love they have for one another is so obvious. The rest of the gang has also each been through their own hardships. I’m not going to get into the details of each of them, but this is a found family for a reason. They’ve all had their share of grief, and that’s what keeps them together but not in a way where they talk about their past. They are a family that avoids, which was so relatable.
What I loved about this story was that I really had no idea what was going on most of the time. Something crashes nearby while The Ordinary’s are working on their next ghost story documentary for their YouTube channel. Obviously, they go to investigate. They encounter something weird and electrical and wake up with several missing hours. Things sort of just get weirder from here. There are some ghost story mysteries, but also maybe some alien intervention. There’s also a murderous neighbor that gave the story a thriller vibe. It really just kept me guessing and once I got to end and everything was revealed it was sad and wonderful.
Overall, I’m very excited to read the one last book by Emily Henry that I haven’t gotten to. I loved the characters. I loved how bizarre this story was. I loved the dysfunctional and hurting found family. There was such a heartwarming talk about grief and what it means to lose people, whether they die or just leave. I loved this book.

Quotes:

“How many billions of things had to happen just right to give me this ordinary life.”

“There were still pieces of us we so badly wished each other could see and yet couldn’t make ourselves ask for, and there was anger and resentment and it still all hurt, but right now, we were here, and if we stayed long enough, things might start to heal, even a little bit.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eighteen: If You Liked This, Then Read That

Hey, lovelies! I want to start by saying a big thank you to my favorite human, Alana (find her here!), for helping think of this post idea. Today I am going to be recommending some books that are all great for October. I thought it would be fun to recommend books based off of other books. So, this will be a ‘if you liked this book, try that book’ kind of post, but they’re all books that would be great to read during the spooky season.

If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers then you should try I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan. Sadie is a girl that is trying to find out what happened to her younger sister. At the same time, we get chapters that are written in the format of a podcast (which is why the audiobook is so great). The podcast is several months after Sadie’s chapters and it’s trying to find out what happened to her. I Hope You’re Listening follows Dee. Ten years ago, she saw her best friend abducted. In the present timeline, a new family moved into her best friends old house and the young girl that lives there is kidnapped. Dee is equally horrified and fascinated. One of the thing’s Dee did to move on from seeing her best friend kidnapped was to start a podcast that focuses on current kidnapping cases. She brings awareness to current cases and directs the internet to see if they can find anything that might help solve these cases. These two books both follow young girls that have dealt with loss. They both also have taken to trying to find the truth themselves or with the help of others. Also, both have podcasts. I really enjoyed both of these books and I think you will too.

If you liked Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power you might like The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Burn Our Bodies Down follows Margot, who has always been desperate for family outside of her mother. So, when she finds out that she has a grandmother she travels to meet her. Things get weird at her grandmothers house. Margot realizes that she is surrounded by secrets and she’s desperate to get to the truth. The Roanoke Girls is about Lane moving in with her grandparents after her mother commits suicide. The women in this family have either left and not been heard from again or they’re dead. This family is full of secrets and Lane can’t help but run when she learns the truth. But she returns when she hears here cousin, Allegra, is now missing. These two books are both full of family secrets and young girls that are determined to learn the truth, but the truths they discover might be more than they bargained for. I loved Burn Our Bodies Down and mostly liked The Roanoke Girls but they definitely have some common elements.

If you liked Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson you will probably like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. Truly Devious follows Stevie after she’s been accepted to the famous Ellingham Academy in Vermont. Stevie is determined to solve the schools cold case. The founders wife and daughter were kidnapped shortly after the school opened. While she’s working on that, one of her fellow students is murdered. There is more going on at this school that Stevie realizes. A Study in Charlotte is a Sherlock Holmes retelling of sorts. It follows Charlotte and Jamie who are descendants of Holmes and Watson. They end up going to the same boarding school where they are being framed for murder. These two books obviously have the boarding school in common. But they also both are filled with diverse characters and murders that aren’t quite what they seem. They also both have complicated romances that I absolutely adore.

If you liked Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus you should try Little Monsters by Kara Thomas. Two Can Keep a Secret is the story of Ellery moving to her mother’s home town to live with her grandmother. Her aunt went missing years and years ago and five years ago, the homecoming queen was killed. Someone is making threats. Threats that say this will be the most dangerous homecoming season in five years. The threats aren’t taken seriously until a girl goes missing. There are all kinds of secrets in this town and they’re all going to come to light. Little Monsters follows Kacey after she moves to a new town to live with her dad and his new family. She suddenly has a stepmother, a stepbrother, and a half sister. She almost doesn’t trust the calm when she settles into her new life and makes friends with Jade and Bailey. Then Bailey disappears, and everyone is looking to Kacey for answers. She doesn’t know if there is anyone she can trust anymore. So, these two stories both follow girls that have not so great mothers that cause them to move to new towns. In those new towns, things are probably not as perfect as they seem at first look. I liked both of these, but I cannot recommend Little Monsters enough and I wish more people talked about it.

If you liked A Million Junes by Emily Henry you might like We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund. A Million Junes follows June who is dealing with the grief of losing her father. The one rule that’s been instilled in her is to stay away from the Angerts. But when Saul comes back to town, there’s just something about him that she can’t stay away from. The two join together to figure out what the truth behind their family feud is. They find magic, ghosts, and secrets. We Speak in Storms is the story of three characters, Joshua, Brenna, and Callie. It’s been 50 years since the tornado that destroyed the drive-in movie theatre, and on it’s fiftieth anniversary another tornado comes. The three main characters are all outsiders and they’ve been brought together when they don’t know that they need it. They work together to solve their problems and the problems of the past. I chose these two together because they both involve ghosts and history that needs to be righted.

These are the ten books I’ve chosen for my first attempt at ‘if you like this book then try that one’. I hope you agree with my choices because I had so much fun picking out comparisons for some of the more well known books. I tried to highlight books that I don’t often see anyone talking about. I enjoyed these books very much and I hope you will too. Do you have any books that you think would work for these comparisons?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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GoodReads Summary:
For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.
Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.
As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.
A Million JunesReview:
This book really surprised me. I actually almost unhauled it two different times. But I’ve since read Emily Henry’s adult romance novel and the novel she co-wrote with Brittany Cavallaro. So, I wasn’t quite ready to give up on A Million Junes. I am so glad I held myself back from unhauling because I gave this book five stars on GoodReads.
We follow June. She goes to the local carnival with her best friend, Hannah. This is when June see’s Saul Angert for the first time in three years. He left town with little explanation and now he’s back. June’s family has one rule, and it’s to stay away from the Angert family. No surprise here that she doesn’t. June finds that she’s sort of attracted to Saul. But Hannah has had a crush on him forever and June wants to respect Hannah’s feelings. I really appreciated this aspect of the story. The fact that June was so thoughtful of her best friend’s feelings really made me love their friendship. I also loved that even when she got Hannah’s okay to act on her feelings for Saul, June didn’t just blow Hannah off. I don’t love girls that blow of their friends once they get interested in a guy.
Now, for the romance. I really liked Saul and June together. I loved the forbidden aspect of their friendship. It definitely led to some funny parts of the story where the pair were trying to keep Saul’s identity a secret. I thought the things that they experienced, the losses that they had in common, were a beautiful part of this story. I also really enjoyed the two sharing their family stories and trying to get to the truth of the two versions.
Overall, this story was beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a story of grief and love and figuring out how to continue living after losing those close to you. I loved the magical aspects of the story. They were beautifully written and the magic was beyond fascinating. I am now a huge fan of Emily Henry and I’ve bought her other backlist titles. If you like magical realism and stories filled with emotion, this is the book for you.

Quotes:

“Letting go is not forgetting. It’s opening your eyes to the good that grew from the bad, the life that blooms from decay.”

“Grief is an unfillable hole in your body. It should be weightless, but it’s heavy. Should be cold, but it burns. Should, over time, close up, but instead it deepens.”

“When people pity you, it’s like they don’t realize that the exact same thing is coming for them. And then I feel embarrassed and uncomfortable and have to pity them, because, like, do you not realize that it’s always someone’s turn? You haven’t noticed everyone gets a few blows that seem so big you can’t survive them?”

“Maybe for some people, falling in love is an explosion, fireworks against a black sky and tremors rumbling through the earth. One blazing moment. For me, it’s been happening for months, as quietly as a seed sprouting. Love sneaked through me, spreading roots around my heart, until, in the blink of an eye, the green of it broke the dirt: hidden one moment, there the next.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

GoodReads Summary:
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Beach ReadReview:
This new release has been hyped all over the internet. I was interested immediately from the synopsis. A book about a writer that’s stuck? Count me in.
We follow January, a romance writer who has learned some things about her parents that have shaken her idea of happily ever after. She’s moved into a beach house that she didn’t know her father owned so she can pack it up and sell it. This is a hugely emotional thing for her, but at the same time, she’s supposed to be writing her next book by the end of the summer. The only problem with this is that she hasn’t even started and when she tries, she has no ideas. Things get interesting when she realizes who her neighbor is.
Augustus Everett is a fellow writer, one that January actually went to college with. I really liked him from the start. It was immediately clear that these two had certain assumptions about one another that weren’t really true. So, Gus and January make a deal where Gus will spend the summer writing a romance novel and January will write literary fiction. I loved that this became sort of cathartic for January. She used this new challenge to try to work through all of the things she has going on in her life. I just really enjoyed the writing aspects of the story. I also totally loved the flirtation that was included for some of the writing parts. Also, as a part of their deal, the two adventured together. Friday nights they would go somewhere that Gus had previously planned for book research and January would take Gus on field trips that one might find in a romance novel. I loved these because they were both so different. So, Fridays they’d deal with some really heavy stuff and Saturdays they would go to the carnival or something. It was an interesting contrast; the darkness of what Gus was researching with the fun date-like adventures that January planned.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book just as much as everyone else. It was fun and made me laugh, but it also had some great serious and thoughtful moments. I found myself easily invested in the characters and their relationships. I will definitely be reading Emily Henry’s next adult romance.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro & Emily Henry

GoodReads Summary:
Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.
Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.
Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.
One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.
Hello GirlsReview:
After finishing Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes series I knew I wanted to pick this one up next. It was definitely a bit different, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Really the only similarity was the surprising darker elements in the story.
Winona was…interesting. I really enjoyed her growing into herself and figuring out what it was she wanted from life. I hated her father. She had a few moments where I thought that maybe she should go and get some help, but Lucille always pulled her back down to reality. She’s eccentric and a little wild, which I loved. You never really knew what Winona would do or say next and that kept the story interesting.
Lucille was my favorite though. She takes care of her family even though they don’t really try to make the effort to take care of her too. I hated her brother. I liked that Lucille was the reasonable one of the duo. It made sense with the rest of her life. She’d always been the reasonable one and it was realistic for that to stay the same even though the pair had gone off on a wild adventure.
I really loved the message of the story. I saw a video of one of Cavallaro & Henry’s book tour Q&A’s and they told a story about a road trip they went on. Every single store they went into they were greeted with “Hello, girls!” despite them being at least in their late twenties. This was applicable to the book because even though Winona and Lucille are in their teens, they’re women and not girls. But men put assumptions on them, innocent girls who couldn’t possibly be robbing them blind or completely hustling them. I really loved it. I also liked that there wasn’t necessarily a happy ending. The mission they’d been on could be considered all for nothing. But along the way, they found themselves, learned that they both wanted freedom and just all-around more from life.
Overall, I was surprised by many things in this book. I really liked it. I liked Winona and Lucille as individuals and I really liked their friendship. I think it was all around a well-told story with interesting and important conversations.

Quotes:

“Hello, girls! Like we’re children. Like we’re the littlest of little girls in our prettiest princess costumes, and simultaneously hot and sexy ladies.”

“I just want to have a small place in the world that truly belongs to me. To not feel, for just one fucking second, like I’m wandering through someone else’s world with someone else’s permission to be there.”

“They tried to make us into them, to box us in, and maybe at some point we fit where they wanted us, but they pushed too hard and we’re not those girls anymore.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.