The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller

Summary:
Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become too much for him. He hopes that a quick visit will help him recharge.
Ronan reconnects with two friends from high school: Dom, his first love, and Dom’s wife, Attalah. The three former misfits mourn what their town has become—overrun by gentrifiers and corporate interests. With friends and neighbors getting evicted en masse and a mayoral election coming up, Ronan and Attalah craft a plan to rattle the newcomers and expose their true motives. But in doing so, they unleash something far more mysterious and uncontainable.
Review:
Hudson has a rich, proud history and, it turns out, the real estate developers aren’t the only forces threatening its well-being: the spirits undergirding this once-thriving industrial town are enraged. Ronan’s hijinks have overlapped with a bubbling up of hate and violence among friends and neighbors, and everything is spiraling out of control. Ronan must summon the very best of himself to shed his own demons and save the city he once loathed.
The Blade BetweenReview:
Thank you, NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I requested The Blade Between because a friend of mine was absolutely raving about it. I’m glad that I requested it because I flew through this book. I don’t know that I would say I enjoyed it, but it was definitely an experience.
So, I want to mention first that the writing was incredible. There were so many great lines and fantastic descriptions in this book. I cannot say enough good things about Miller’s writing. He managed to make it a creepy and atmospheric story, but also convinced us to love these very flawed characters. I think there were some really interesting topics covered in a thoughtful way. This story follows Ronan as he returns to his home town of Hudson, a place he has no fond memories of. But his father is dying and it’s time he finally returns. But things escalate and suddenly he’s fighting against the gentrification of a town he grew up hating. I really liked this aspect of the story. Ronan has so many mixed feelings about his hometown, but he still does his damnedest to save it. I also loved all of the antics that Ronan and his friends participate in to ‘save’ the town. I think there were definitely some moments that were a bit extreme, but the author did a really good job showing character motivations that were almost understandable. It wasn’t hard to sympathize with these characters.
I also think the author did a really great job of creating different and interesting characters. Even though the story sort of jumped around with who it was following, I had no issues distinguishing between any of them. They were all unique and interesting. Now, the plot was fascinating. I loved the fantasy elements that were included in the story. The bits about the whales was absolutely creepy but only got creepier with the inclusion of the ghosts that play a role in the story.
Overall, I think this was a horrifying and excellent story. I will absolutely be reading more books by this author. Miller’s writing was exceptional and memorable. I think the characters were easy to love, even when they were doing shitty things. I just couldn’t put this book down. I highly recommend this one for fans of horror or darker fantasy books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Summary:
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
Review:Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #1)
Into the Drowning Deep
is a horror novel about mermaids. I’ve always said that I didn’t like the horror genre, but recently I’ve found myself picking up and really enjoying horror novels. Into the Drowning Deep is a book that solidified my interest in the genre.
This story follows Tori and several other characters as they embark on a second voyage to the Mariana Trench and attempt to uncover what happened seven years ago. For Tori, this is a personal mission. Her sister was on that first voyage and not knowing what happened to her is something Tori has never been able to cope with. She’s a graduate student studying marine biology, more specifically she studies the sound waves underneath the ocean. I think the scientific aspect of this story was one of my favorite parts. This second crew is filled with more than 400 marine scientists, most that don’t believe in the myth of mermaids but are eager for the chance to do research fully funded by someone else. There’s quite a bit of science talk that goes on between Tori’s sound waves and other various things that come up once the mermaids have been ‘discovered.’ I don’t want to give too much away about the story, so, I’ll just say that I liked the science. It was detailed but still understandable. It wasn’t so technical that I didn’t understand what the characters were talking about.
Now, this book follows quite a few characters, which isn’t always successful when telling a story, but Grant did it in a way where eventually all of the characters overlapped and I cared about what would happen to all of them, even the ones I didn’t like. Grant created characters that were all compelling and very different from one another. They each had a unique voice and personality. They all had their own motivations for being on that ship.
Grant’s writing is what really pushed this story over the top for me. The suspense and tense mood of the story was excellent. I listened to the audiobook (which had a narrator that I really liked) and I couldn’t help but react to the story. There were times that I froze in fear, gasped in surprise, or relaxed in relief right alongside the characters. But Grant also let the reader know the whole story, so there were things that some of the characters didn’t know that we did, which added even more anxiety and worry for the characters.
Overall, I absolutely devoured this book. I would highly recommend it for any readers that like horror. I think the characters were compelling and interesting. The story itself was unique and made me think (I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean). I actually ended up looking up information about the Marianas Trench. I also think that Grant did a good job of including diverse characters. There was representation with deaf characters, and while I can’t speak to the accuracy, I liked that they were included as scientists. This was an engaging story that balanced between science and a bit of fantasy. I will definitely be picking up more books by Mira Grant in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Girl and the Ghost by Hannah Alkaf

Summary:
A Malaysian folk tale comes to life in this emotionally layered, chilling middle-grade debut, perfect for fans of The Book of Boy and The Jumbies.
I am a dark spirit, the ghost announced grandly. I am your inheritance, your grandmother’s legacy. I am yours to command.
Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable.
But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.
Fans of Holly Black’s Doll Bones and Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore series will love this ghostly middle-grade debut that explores jealousy, love, and the extraordinary power of friendship.
Review:The Girl and the Ghost
I adored The Girl and The Ghost. This book was creepy but in a way that I just couldn’t stop listening. I have to shower this narrator with compliments because they told this story in such an incredible way, filling it with emotion and suspense at all the right moments. I will definitely be looking to see if this narrator has read other books.
This book alternates chapters between the girl and the ghost. It’s a dark and atmospheric story about a young girl named Suraya who is gifted a pelesit (which is a sort of a ghost). This pelesit is eventually named Pink by Suraya. Her mother cares for her in the sense of making sure Suraya is fed and clothed and goes to school. But she’s not a mother that is affectionate. Suraya is a lonely kid, so when Pink comes to find her after her grandmother dies, Suraya is glad to have a friend. She and Pink do everything together. This story starts when Suraya is very young, so not much happens in the beginning aside from Pink finding Suraya and the two bonding deeply. But once Suraya gets a bit older, and makes a new friend, Pink becomes jealous. This is where the story starts to get suspenseful and kind of scary. Pink reacts out of jealousy and starts to do things that Suraya has specifically told him not to do.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. Suraya and Pink’s relationship was sweet at first, it was something that they both needed, a friend. I really appreciated that as things progressed and Suraya realized that she couldn’t handle things with Pink anymore, she asked her mother for help. I think that this book was wholesome as heck despite being a middle-grade horror novel. It had friendship and adventure, pelesit, ghosts, and a few other spooky things. The Girl and the Ghost is a story with heart and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Project by Courtney Summers

GoodReads Summary:
Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.
When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.
The ProjectReview:
Thank you, NetGalley and the publishers for providing me this eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Project is one of my anticipated release for 2021. Summer’s books have been hit or miss for me, but the premise of this one had me very intrigued.
The way this story was told was very interesting. There are a few different points of view that tell the story. The first is Bea, told in the third person, as her younger sister (Lo) is born. Then it flashes forward twelve years, still in Bea’s perspective, then forward again six more years, where the story changes to a first-person narrative, but now it’s Lo telling the story. This was a little bit confusing at first. The change from this person to first was abrupt and the jumps forward in time left me wondering who the story was following now and what had happened in the last six years. As the story went on, I ended up really enjoying the fact that the story was told this way. It continued to go back and forth between Lo’s present perspective and Bea’s perspective in the past. The way their stories ended up so similar, with one big difference, was absolutely fascinating.
I think both Bea and Lo were such compelling characters. Lo has so much anger in her but still ends up on a similar path as Bea. Bea on the other hand was filled with gratitude that led her to her downfall.
Overall, I don’t know that I would say I liked this book. It was an absolutely riveting story. One that I had to read in one sitting, staying up way past when I should have gone to bed of course. But it was filled with things that made me uncomfortable. There are relationships with large age differences, not that this itself is bad, but the dynamics of the two relationships were gross (as was the intention, I think). I went into this book unsure what to expect and ended up sucked into the story and left with one question: What the fuck?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

GoodReads Summary:
A darkly enchanting reimagining of Gothic fantasy, in which a spirited young woman discovers the haunting secrets of a beautiful old mansion in 1950s Mexico.
Mexican GothicReview:
Mexican Gothic is a dark and atmospheric story that centers around family. Noemi is sent to the Mexican countryside to make sure her cousin Catalina is okay. Noemi’s father received a distressing letter from Catalina, who moved to the countryside to live with her new husband on his family’s estate. Her father sends Noemi to High Place to see Catalina for herself and make sure her cousin is alright. I really liked Noemi. She definitely doesn’t want to say once she sees High Place, but she does what’s right for her cousin. She seeks answers, but doesn’t even know if she’s asking the right questions. I liked that she was persistent and didn’t let this weird ass family push her around, much.
This story is creepy as soon as Noemi gets to High Place. The property and house are neglected and the family members are also creepy. Catalina’s husband, Virgil is immediately unlikable. He’s brash and scary, at times. I immediately didn’t like Virgil and didn’t understand why Catalina married him. I couldn’t help but be as worried about Catalina as Noemi was. Every time Noemi sat with Catalina, there were more questions than answers. That was a theme with this book. There were so many questions, which was a great way to build suspense and lead up to the big reveal. Moreno-Garcia did an excellent job of leaving the reader wondering what the hell was actually going on.
Overall, this was a creepy as hell story that I absolutely devoured. The writing was stunning and descriptive, painting a vivid and horrifying picture. The setting was atmospheric and perfectly spooky. I loved Noemi and Catalina. I hated Virgil and most of his family. I highly recommend this book and I will absolutely be reading more books by this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

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GoodReads Summary:
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
Burn Our Bodies DownReview:
First, I want to say a huge thank you to my wonderful friend over at Books in the Skye for gifting me the audiobook for Burn Our Bodies Down for my birthday. I found a new narrator that I really enjoy and this story was wonderfully weird. The story follows Margot as she’s searching for answers. She lives with her mother and has never known any other family. She wants to know who her family is and what her mother is hiding. She absolutely gets more than she bargained for.
Margot was a really interesting character. Her drive was just to find her family, to find someone that would show that they loved her. She just wanted her mother to choose her. I don’t think I really understood her though. When she finds and goes to her grandmother, she gets almost the same treatment as she did when she was with her mother. Her mother and grandmother both lied and hid things from her. I understood her desire to ferret out the secrets that she knew were hiding in her grandmother’s home, but I personally would have gotten the hell out of there and written off the whole family.
Overall, this book was spectacularly creepy. I didn’t see the end coming and it was absolutely disturbing. The mystery and suspense kept me going. I loved that Margot was a lesbian, but there wasn’t really any romance in the story. She made a friend, but there wasn’t a romance plotline and I appreciated that. I definitely cannot wait to see what Rory Power comes out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

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

Quotes:

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

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GoodReads Summary:
Fried Green Tomatoes and “Steel Magnolias” meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresReview:
I read this book for my local book club. It’s not something I probably would have picked up otherwise. This book was really something else. I didn’t love the overly grotesque parts of the book (but that’s just why I don’t generally read horror.) But I was fascinated by the dynamics of the women we read about. Their relationships with one another and their relationships with their husbands. This book really made a strong statement about how the world was in the late 80s and early 90s and it honestly just made my heart sad.
Overall, this book was a wild ride. The twists and turns, the way the author had me back and forth believing the main character and then not believing her. I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t have all that much to say about it. But, dude this book was a ride I don’t think I’d ride again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Horrid by Katrina Leno

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Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?
HorridReview:
Horrid was one of my most anticipated releases for the spooky season. I’m really upset to say that I was very disappointed with this book. This book was another that was completely ruined by the ending. I am going to have a bit of a spoiler rant after the last paragraph. I will clearly label when I start with spoiler complaints.
So, this story follows Jane and her mother Ruth as they move from Los Angeles to the middle of nowhere Maine. This is a huge adjustment for Jane. But she’s also dealing with the grief of losing her father. This grief is a huge part of the story and I really appreciated that. It wasn’t just her father is gone, but it really talked about what that meant for Jane. Her father was the one that could help her calm her rage. Now that he’s gone, she’s fallen back into old coping mechanisms: eating pages out of books. This aspect of her character was weird but I sort of understood it on a comfort level. I liked Jane. I felt bad for her, but I liked her. I didn’t like how she clearly knew something was wrong with North Manor (where she and her mother had just moved into) but she wasn’t willing to ask for any real answers about it. It felt obvious that something was wrong and everyone in town knew it. I liked Jane’s relationship with her mother, Ruth. She was obviously closer to her father, but the love between Jane and Ruth is clear and I appreciated that they were doing their best to be there for one another.
I also really liked the new friends that Jane made. She meets Alana and Susie at school. The three become fast friends. I liked them well enough, but the relationships weren’t too deep. I also like Jane’s friendship with her new boss at the coffee shop/book store, Will (who is also Susie’s older brother). They bond over books and coffee and I liked them even though it wasn’t a very developed relationship.
Overall, I enjoyed most of this book. I really liked the spooky aspects, the possibility of a ghost in North Manor. I thought the suspense and the mystery were interesting (though a little obvious). I didn’t love how oblivious Jane was being. She knew there was something wrong in her house and she never pushed when she asked questions and that really bothered me. The ending is what killed my enjoyment of the book. Without spoilers, the book ended at the climax of the story. We’re finally getting all the answers we’ve been searching for the whole story and then we’re still left with so many questions because of the players that were present in the final pages. I’m just really mad about how the story ended and that anger makes it really hard for me to say I liked this book. I felt similarly about Wilder Girls by Rory Power, so if you liked that book, you might like this one. This book has a pretty decent rating on GoodReads, so don’t let this deter you from picking up this book. But if you don’t like unsatisfying endings, this book might not be for you. Now, I’m going to get to spoilers about the ending in the next paragraph.
The spoilers are starting now. The final pages have Jane letting someone die, which is essentially murder, at the guidance of her sister ghost. But it’s never really clear whether the ghost is real or not. The ghost was pretty convincing, but there were hints here and there that made the reader think that there might never have been a ghost and it all could have been Jane. What I’m mad about is that we never got any sort of answers. The book literally ends in the climax of the story. Someone dies and the story just ends. The synopsis says “Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?” and the way that the synopsis is written makes it seem like we will find out whether it is one of those three things, but we don’t. We don’t find out what really happened or what happened in the aftermath and I’m very annoyed by this. I’m just angry and sad because I had really high hopes for enjoying this book. Okay, rage complaining is over. Thanks for reading!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

GoodReads Summary:
Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.
As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.
In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.
Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2)Review:
I have put off writing this review for so long. It’s time for me to suck it up and attempt to get my thoughts into mostly coherent sentences and be done with it. I listened to the audiobook for Ruthless Gods. It had two narrators. One female for Nadya and Katya and a male for Serefin and Malachiasz. I really didn’t like the male narrator sadly. It made listening hard because I couldn’t always focus on the boy’s chapters and found myself relistening to whole chapters because I had no idea what was going on. Despite this struggle, I ended up really liking this book.
This is not a story for the faint of heart. These monstrous babies really live up to the hype. I’m really struggling to explain my thoughts so I’m going to keep it brief. All of these characters are dealing with so much, emotionally, politically, and occasionally even physically. Nadya in particular is one that I felt for. She’s confused about her faith in the Gods that spoke to her most of her life. But now she’s not sure what to believe and the more that the characters learn, the less sure she is.
Overall, this story was a wild ride. It blows me away that Emily Duncan wrote this story without outlining or planning. The characters get separated and find themselves on opposing paths (again) but their journeys back to one another were complex and fascinating and dark. I loved every minute of this story. The ending completely slayed me and I cannot wait to read the series finale.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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GoodReads Summary:
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
Wilder GirlsReview:
Wilder Girls is what the people of Twitter chose for me to read for Friday the 13th. It was not as spooky as I might have wanted, but it certainly was horrifying. All of the effects of the Tox were gross and creepy, the body modifications (for lack of a better word) were equally interesting and disgusting.
Hetty was a character that’s hard to explain. She has her people, Reese and Byatt. The three stick together, right up until Hetty gets chosen to be one of the Boat Girls and things start to change. She learns secrets she never wanted to know and it mostly just goes downhill from there.
Byatt was mysterious. I wanted to know more about her. I wanted her history and her feelings before she goes missing. She was intriguing, probably because we didn’t get to learn all that much about her.
Then there’s Reese. Also mysterious, but in a much more intimidating way. We learn a bit more about her than the other characters because she’s actually from the island. She’s queer and struggles a bit with what seems to be jealousy of Hetty’s relationship with Byatt. I liked seeing Hetty and Reese’s relationship expand after Byatt went missing.
Overall, I would have liked a little bit more character development. I wanted to know more about these girls. I just all around wanted more. I wanted to know what happened to them in the end, what happened to the rest of the girls on the island, how did the Navy know that quarantine was broken, I was just left with so many questions. If you’re looking for a horror story, that’s light on the horror (except for the horrifying things the Tox does to these girls) this is the story for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Summary:
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.
Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.
Val: the queen bee. Beautiful and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.
Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now.
Sawkill GirlsReview:
I read this book because I’m Team Ketterdam for the BookTube Games this month. Sawkill Girls is the group book picked by the wonderful Katie and Liv. I was super excited because this is a book I’d heard some good things about, but hadn’t picked it up yet. I wish I had read this book back in October because it was the perfect spooky season book. It was so atmospheric and creepy and suspenseful.

“Nobody can change me without my  consent.”

I loved the girls. Marion was sweet and clearly so full of love for those around her. She’s had a tough time lately and she’s just hoping for life to calm down but sadly gets the opposite. Her whole life is turned upside down the minute she lands on Sawkill Rock. Despite the world seems to be against her, she stands up and fights over and over. I really liked her because when any normal person would have given up, she stood up, brushed herself off and kept on going. Then there’s Zoey, who was totally my favorite. She’s fierce and determined and unapologetic about who she is. She loves and she loves HARD. She’s determined to find out what happened to her best friend. Zoey is smart and clever. She’s the only one on the island that really figures out what’s going on in the world. I loved that she was able to put aside her feelings to do what she knew was the right thing. Last, there’s Val. She’s the Queen B in this story, the head Bitch. I didn’t like the girl on girl hate that happened here because this was a super feminist book so it just seemed out of place here. Val was a likable ‘villain’ she didn’t want to be involved in the horror that was happening on Sawkill Rock, but she was born into it. The horror was her legacy. She had no choice until she did. Val had the most character growth and I loved seeing her change.

“You must keep fighting. You must never stop fighting. You must light the path for others to find their footing. You must.”

The side characters were also good. I liked Zoey’s best friend Grayson. He was a really good friend to her. He accepted her no matter what she told him and I really loved that about him. He was a little over the top with the ‘anti-men’ stuff, but aside from that he really stuck by Zoey’s side and loved her even when she thought he shouldn’t. Then there’s Zoey’s dad. I didn’t know what was going on with him at some points, but it was all brought together at the end. I wouldn’t have liked to see a bit more of their relationship before all the craziness that happened in the book. Next is Marion’s mom, she was this fragile thing that’s lost half her family. But she really steps up at the end and she was a great part of the story. Finally, Val’s mother. I don’t even remember her name that’s how much I care about her. She was horrible and awful and seemed to have no feelings at all. Where Val wanted to stop what her family was doing, her mother had no problem and really believed that she was doing her duty to her family.

“Hope, she thought, breathing with the tide, was a choice that only those with resolute hearts dared to make.”

Overall, I liked this book. It was thrilling and exciting and I couldn’t put it down. The story was creative and suspenseful, surprising and compelling. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that the feminist messages were a little too much here and there. There was a nice overall message of feminism but there were a few scenes that were more anti-men than feminist and I didn’t like that. I definitely recommend this for the spooky season or if you’re looking for a suspenseful book filled with girl power.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

I Heart Characters!

I Heart Characters! is a weekly meme hosted by Dani @ Perspective of a Writer to showcase our book blogger love for characters! Each week she’ll supply a topic and you’ll supply the character. Post on whatever day suits you, about characters from whatever media you love (books, movies, K-dramas, television, manga, anime, webtoons, whatever!) and link up on Thursday so you and others can blog hop and share the character love.

i heart characters.jpg

This weeks topic is Favorite Stephen King Character (A character from Stephen King’s creative mind that you love! It can be based upon ANY of his adaptions… Let’s prepare for the Halloween season!)

Amanda

I have only read one novel by Stephen King. Horror is a genre that I tend to stay away from. I don’t like to be scared. This goes for books and movies and everything else. So the character I have for this week’s topic is Carrie. She’s a little out there and definitely crazy. I read the book and then watched the movie and the book was SO much more detailed. I was so surprised by her story and how much I liked it. Carrie was a socially awkward girl that could move things with her mind and got picked on by her peers. But in the end, she sure showed them that she was a not a girl to be trifled with. Check out my review of Carrie here to see my thoughts about the whole book.

Antonia

I also avoid the horror genre like the plague to the point where I’ve never read any of King’s books or watched the movie adaptations. Not that I have anything against King particularly; in the past I’ve thought some of his books sounded really interesting but I’m way too much of a scaredy-cat.

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

Summary:
Some see it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie and her friend August go on a pursuit for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with the disappearances?

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault is the start of a thrilling duology full of magic, danger, and romance.

glass vault
Review:
I received this book as an e-book version advanced readers copy (my first ARC ever!) from Parliament House Press. I was interested in the summary of this book along with the fact that it’s a horror/fairytale retelling – oh, and the cover. How cool is this cover? I’m trying to expand my reading tastes and horror books are not usually high up on my tbr list, but I’m glad I went out of my usual books and requested this book.
This story follows our main character, Perrie (I love this name.) while she’s trying to figure out what the hell is going on in her town. We get to meet her cousin/best friend Maisie, who was probably my favorite character in the entire book. Maisie wears eye patches that she designs and wears for fun. She doesn’t give a hoot what anyone thinks and knows that she’s an oddball. I love that she’s super enthusiastically her own person and doesn’t let anyone tell her she should behave differently. Though her silly, oddball personality ends up getting her into trouble.
Now, our main character, Perrie, she’s a total band geek who just wants to finish high school and figure out what she wants to do with her life. She has some mommy issues because her mother left when she was younger. Perrie is a super relatable character and I liked her, mostly. She seems to be trying to move forward from a hard breakup. Neven used to be one of her best friends as well as her boyfriend. The circumstances of their breakup are not revealed until a decent way into the story. This was a little annoying to me and I don’t know that it was entirely necessary to create so much suspense and mystery around the reason that Perrie broke up with him.
The last character I want to mention is August. There’s so much I’d like to say about him that I can’t because it would be a spoiler, but I will say what I can. I love August. I love his friendship with Perrie – even through the plot twist that I totally did not see coming. He was funny and charming and seems to be a great friend. He played an interesting part in the friend group. The three of them together, Perrie, Maisie, and August were entertaining to read about. They were relatable high school kids.
There were a few things that I didn’t like about this book. The writing was a bit awkward here and there. There were just a few places that the writing was awkward and things could have been written a bit better. At the beginning of the story, Perrie and Maisie say things like, “Oh darn.” But then later they’re swearing up a storm. They seemed to go from super innocent to mostly normal high school kids; it was just a weird change. The start of this story was a bit slow. It took me a few days and reading sessions to get into it, but once I got into the story I stayed up way too late to finish it. Much to my dismay, CLIFFHANGER. Oh, how I hate cliffhangers.
I enjoyed the storyline once I got fifty or so pages into the book. It’s a very unique and creative fairytale retelling. And not a retelling of just one tale, there are several different fairytales involved in Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault and I was definitely entertained by the horror aspect that the author used.
Ultimately, I liked this book. The writing could have been a bit better, but the story was interesting and creative enough for me to look past that. I really enjoyed the characters. They were relatable and entertaining. I especially enjoyed the plot twist because I did not see it coming at all. Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault was a fascinating mix of horror with the traditional fairytales. I would recommend this book to the older end of young adult readers because of the horror aspect. I would also really like to know when the second book is being released because the cliffhanger ending was killer and I need to know what happens next.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Carrie – Stephen King

Summary:
Carrie may be picked on by her classmates, but she has a gift. She can move things with her mind. Doors lock. Candles fall. This is her power and her problem. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offers Carrie a chance to be a normal…until an unexpected cruelty turns her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that no one will ever forget.
Review:
Okay, so my boyfriend bought me this book as one of my Christmas gifts. He likes Stephen King books and movies, and I’d never read anything by him before. It took a couple days for me to actually pick it up and start reading. Once I did, I was intrigued to see where the book was going to go. The first opinion I had about Carrie was that it was very weird. It was written set in the sixties and seventies, so things were a bit different then. The kids Carrie went to school with were cruel and selfish. After I decided it was a weird book I just wanted to know what had happened. Where was this story going? It was one of the most suspenseful books I’ve read. Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop until I finished.
Something I really liked about Carrie was the way that it was written. It has excerpts from books written, news articles, scientists reports, police reports about the events that took place almost as chapter intros. The story was also told from several peoples points of view. This I enjoyed because I was getting the whole story from all of the different angles. I get to read the other character’s stories unfold as well. I also really enjoyed the description. There wasn’t an overbearing amount. King gave me just enough to see everything clearly. Carrie was not a very long book, but it took me longer than expected to finish it. I think it’s because it was such a strange book. It’s not my usual genre of books, but it was good for me to branch out and read new things.
Now we come to Carrie and the rest of the gang. Carrie, the poor girl, is really just a weird, socially awkward girl that happens to be able to move things with her mind. Someone that should not be fucked with. Apparently, her classmates didn’t catch onto that. Carrie just wanted to fit in. In comes Carrie’s mother, who is frighteningly religious and very controlling of Carrie’s every move. I think most of the reason Carrie is so strange is that her mother and how she was raised. Constantly having to watch what you say, or do, or wear, or think to prevent getting beaten and thrown in a closet. I’d be just as screwed up in the head as Carrie. Except she’s telekinetic, so she can fuck shit up. So, Carrie’s classmates are awful to her because she’s weird and kids are cruel and terrible. They treat her like shit all the time, at one point throwing tampons at her while in the gym locker room. There is one girl, Sue, who follows the group, in the beginning, then grows conscious. Sue was a really genuine character, I just wish it had made a difference. Then there’s Chris. I hate her. She causes every problem with Carrie. Chris is the rich, popular, head bitch kind of girl. Everyone follows her lead because they’re supposed to. Because she’s rich girl that gets what she wants. She is just a mean girl.
As a whole, I did really like this book. It was weird and not my usual cup of tea. But I enjoyed it. It was suspenseful and exciting and very well written. I would definitely suggest Carrie to anyone who likes books filled with action.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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