Blogmas Book Review: Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

fullsizeoutput_3401

GoodReads Summary:
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.
As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.
With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?
Something to Talk AboutReview:
Something to Talk About follows Jo and Emma who work together. Emma is Jo’s assistant. After Jo invites Emma to an awards show and they’re seen on the red carpet together. From there the rumors are relentless. Jo is a pretty well-known woman, but she’s never commented on her love life before and doesn’t plan to do so now. Emma doesn’t totally understand this, but she goes with it.
I think what I loved most about this book was the slow burn. It’s not totally clear if they have feelings for one another, even to themselves. I think I just really enjoyed Jo and Emma figuring out their feelings they hadn’t realized were there until the rumors started. I also loved their passion for work. Jo is a writer (I think also a producer) and Emma is her assistant. Emma loves her job, which complicates her feelings.
I also really loved the family aspects of the story. Emma’s sister was great. I loved that both Emma and Jo made sure to make time for their nieces and nephews. I loved that they all got together to watch the kid’s sports games.
Overall, this was a really fun romance. I really liked both Jo and Emma, as a couple and as individuals. I liked that they knew one another so well. I enjoyed their banter and the fact that they just liked to be around one another before either of them even realized they had feelings. I just all around enjoyed this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

fullsizeoutput_3144

GoodReads Summary:
Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.
When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.
Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?
This Coven Won't Break (These Witches Don't Burn, #2)Review:
My job opened back up when I found that my library had this audiobook. So, basically, I listened to it while I was working (which I’m not supposed to do) and listened to it in almost one shift.
I really enjoyed this book. Probably my favorite part about this book was all of the kissing. Morgan and Hannah’s relationship was the best. They were sweet and new, but also made progress to become a more serious relationship. I liked that their relationship also helped others see how the other witches can use their magic together.
Hannah was very brave. She feels a little responsible for what’s going on and she wants to be a part of the team of agents that are working to take the Hunters down. I really liked how Hannah’s grief over her father was present in the story. She lost her father which is part of her motivation to help, but she also let herself feel that grief. I liked that she ended up being a key part of taking down the Hunters. It was nice to see the adults listening to her ideas.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the first one better, but this one was still good. There was a diverse cast with different sexualities and a trans character. I loved the diversity. I loved, even more, the way the story concluded with the three different types of witches learning that they can use their magic together.

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 Fell of the Dark by Caleb Roehrig

GoodReads Summary:
The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.
The Fell of DarkReview:
The Fell of the Dark is a book that I knew I wanted to read from the cover alone. I also knew I wanted to read it because it’s about a queer teen and vampires. Those are definitely topics I’m always down for. I didn’t really read the synopsis before I went into the story and it so much more than I was expecting. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I was absolutely blown away.
We follow August (or Auggie), who is a gay teen in a very small town that’s close to a Nexus (which is great for magic and not so great for regular humans). So, running into vampires after sundown is a real issue in this town. August runs into one outside of his school one day after staying to work in the art room. Jude tells August that he’s special. Jude tells him about things he knows is happening or will happen to August. But August is very wary of vampires, he’s been trained to be aware of what vampires are capable of. And August doesn’t believe anything that Jude tells him, until a week or so later.
This story moves very quickly, but there’s also a lot of players. I’m not going to talk about all the players and I really don’t want to go into too much detail about what actually happens because I think the best part of this reading experience was not really knowing anything about the story and putting the pieces together as I read. The story had some really interesting historical aspects to it that I enjoyed. I also just genuinely liked all of the characters and the way the story worked out for August.
Overall, this was such a well written and involved story. The only thing I didn’t like was that the rules of magic and vampires weren’t totally clear. There were more than just vampires in this story. People that had the ability to use magic linked to the elements were also a big part of the story, but there were some of these people that were also vampires and it either wasn’t explained or just totally went over my head. Despite this one small thing, I loved this book. I loved the characters, the interesting and unusual romance, the friendships, the supernatural aspects, and I even loved that there was a bit of politics between the different vampire factions. I definitely recommend this book for those looking for spooky queer stories to read this October. I will definitely be picking up more of this author’s books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

GoodReads Summary:
Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that’s impossible to put down.
Witches of Ash and RuinReview:
I picked up Witches of Ash and Ruin forever ago when it was a Kindle daily deal. I’m so glad that I finally picked it up. I picked it up for Sapphic September and because I was ready to read some spooky books. This fulfilled both of those desires.
This story follows Dayna and several other characters. I liked that there were a few different points of view. Dayna is from a heavily religious family so she would much rather spend her time with her best friend and her family. It helps also that she’s training to become a witch alongside her best friend. I really loved how much of their friendship was in the book. They were so supportive of one another and that was an excellent dynamic is Dayna’s otherwise chaotic life.
Enter Meiner, more chaos for Dayna’s life. Meiner is a very angry person. She really struggles to control this anger and I thought that was fascinating to read about. I wouldn’t say I liked Meiner, but I liked what she brought to the story. When her and Dayna start flirting I wanted to scream in the best way possible.
This story does so many things. Dayna is bisexual and struggles with OCD. Meiner also struggles with OCD and her best friend (but also nemesis) keeps kissing her without her consent because they sort of dated in the past. There were so many interesting and complicated relationships, from romantic to platonic to familial. This book sucked me in and spit me out in pieces.
Overall, I highly recommend this story. The setting is in a small town in Ireland. So, there are tough conversations about Dayna’s sexuality. But the setting was beautiful and historic and I really felt like I was there, alongside the characters. I definitely will be reading more from this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

GoodReads Summary:
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.
The Gravity of UsReview:
I made the best decision ever and chose to listen to the audiobook for this story. The audiobook was incredible. There is one narrator that tells most of the story. These are the parts of Cal’s story. But there are also some interludes where we get bits and pieces of the TV show that surrounds NASA and this is narrated by several different people. It was so well done and I enjoyed it so much.
I really liked Cal. He knew what he wanted from life and he was doing his best to go get it. But also, he’s still a teenager so he has to listen to his parents. I really liked how passionate he was about being a reporter. He has a large following and pushes the limits of his life to continue giving his loyal followers content.
I also really liked how Cal’s views changed after moving. He was desperate to move back to Brooklyn as soon as he moved. But the longer he was there the more he made friends and ended up liking his new home. I think what it comes down to is Cal really showed growth. He made great new relationships (though he neglected his old one which I didn’t like.) He also eventually took the time to understand his parents more and I loved this aspect. Cal resented his dad a little for uprooting the family, but once Cal realized how important being an astronaut was to his dad, he tried to understand and be more supportive.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Cal. There were great new friendships. I loved the romance. The boys were sweet and I loved how they communicated. There was also anxiety and depression representation. I really liked this story and I will definitely be reading more by this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

GoodReads Summary:
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
The House in the Cerulean SeaReview:
T.J. Klune has quickly become a new favorite author of mine. This is only my second book written by him that I’ve read, but it was nothing short of incredible.
The story follows Linus Baker at his job with the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). He starts off as this incredibly boring man. One that does his job and goes home to his cat. A good man, he’s fair and kind, but he does his part for DICOMY and nothing more. That is until Extremely Upper Management sends him to check on an orphanage unlike any he’s been to before.
I immediately liked all of the inhabitants of the island. The children were unique and fascinating, which Linus agreed with, but he also knew that they were still just children. I really appreciated that fact because even though they were potentially very dangerous, they were still just children that wanted love and adventure. I really grew to love the children right alongside Linus. I thought the mystery of Arthur was well done. It was clear that there was something different about him, but we didn’t know what for a while. I liked that the mystery was drawn out, but not overly so. The way that Klune tells the story is just indescribable. He draws you into the world, makes you care about Arthur, Linus, and the children in a way that you just can’t help.
This whole world and all of its characters made this story perfect. It shares a message of love and acceptance. The characters are so full of life and love. They made me laugh and smile, and occasionally made my heart hurt. I think this is a story that so many people will love. I would recommend this to anyone.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.