Furyborn by Claire Legrand

GoodReads Summary:
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.
Furyborn (Empirium, #1)Review:
I’ve tried to pick up Furyborn twice now and this time I actually finished it. The last time I picked it up I only made it barely through the prologue before I put it down. I’m so glad I picked up the audiobook on a day my child didn’t want to nap because it pushed me to listen to a solid two hours. After that, I was hooked. I was enjoying it so much I went back and forth reading physically and listening to the audio.
Furyborn follows two powerful (and unlikable) women, Rielle and Eliana. I liked Rielle right from the start. We get a bit of how her story ends in the prologue so I was fascinated once the story jumped back to her being a teenager. I needed to know how her story led to what we saw in the prologue. And the more I read about her the more I loved her. She had a terrible father, who was terrible for a heartbreaking reason (but didn’t make him any less terrible). She had wonderful friends, except she was in love with one of them and the other was going to marry the one she loved. Also, she’s powerful as all hell, but she has to hide it from everyone. I thought her story was complex and interesting and I loved her so much.
Eliana was a different story. I really didn’t like her for quite a while. When this book starts, Eliana is finding and turning in rebels for the Empire. They are executed and she gets paid. She does this for her family’s survival. But it’s terrible and sad and I didn’t like it. But everything changes for Eliana when she has to find the Wolf. I really appreciated her growth and acknowledgment of her past. She will do anything to protect her mother and brother and she proves that again and again. I did grow to like her by the end of the story and I’m very excited to see what she will do next. Also, I do want to mention that she is bisexual.
I hate Corien with my whole heart and that’s all I’m going to say about him.
Simon was one of my favorite aspects of the book. He’s involved with both queens and his story is just complex and intricate and weaves between both timelines. I really enjoyed putting the pieces together to figure out what was going on with him. I one million percent ship him with Eliana.
Overall, this story took some getting used to. It was definitely jarring to go back and forth each chapter between two completely different time periods. But I think once I got used to that and got a better handle on both worlds, I really enjoyed the story. They are so interwoven and tied together. I think this book was incredible. I loved the characters (eventually). I loved the different magic systems. I loved it all.

Quotes:

“Dread,” he murmured, his breath caressing her cheek, “is only a feeling, easily squashed. But wolves, my dear, have teeth.”

“We all have darkness inside us, Rielle,” he said, his voice rough. “That is what it means to be human.”

“Some say the Queen was frightened in her last moments. But I like to think that she was angry.”

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: This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

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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: 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.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

GoodReads Summary:
In this nail-biting sequel to Tehlor Kay Mejia’s critically acclaimed fantasy novel We Set the Dark on Fire, La Voz operative Carmen is forced to choose between the girl she loves and the success of the rebellion she’s devoted her life to. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Anna-Marie McLemore.
Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.
Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.
There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?
We Unleash the Merciless Storm (We Set the Dark on Fire, #2)Review:
We Unleash the Merciless Storm was a great ending for the story of Dani and Carmen and the world they live in. I realize that I didn’t really explain much in my review of the first book (read it here if you feel like it). I’m going to spoil a few things from the first book, so please don’t continue this review if you don’t want spoilers for We Set the Dark on Fire (just know I absolutely loved both books and they’re super gay and you should read them.) This story takes place in a world where the inner island and outer island are at odds. In the first book, Dani and Carmen are both just finishing school. They end up married with Dani as the Primera and Carmen as the Segunda. The man they marry is high up in Medio’s government. Which is great as both girls are working for the resistance organization that goes by La Voz. La Voz is working to bring down the Median government which basically is just run by the wealthy people on the island and leaves the rest to live in poverty. So much more happens in this story, but that was a quick overview.
One of the best things about this book was that, unlike the first book which was entirely from Dani’s perspective, this story is told by Carmen. I loved this because there was so much that was unknown about Carmen with where the first book ended. I really loved getting to know her history. Carmen also really struggled between her feelings for Dani and coming back to a home that she doesn’t totally recognize anymore. At the end of book one, Carmen is taken back to La Voz home base and that’s where this book starts. Carmen has been gone from La Voz for several years while she was deep undercover going to school to become a Segunda. So, when she comes back, she doesn’t totally recognize the La Voz that was her home before she left. Her best friend, Alex, is angry with her. And there’s someone new, someone, that is whispering into the Vulture’s ear. The Vulture is the leader of La Voz, but he isn’t acting like the leader that Carmen knows him to be. I loved the mystery of the ending which I’m not going to say anything further about because of spoilers. I also really enjoyed the conclusion in general. I would have liked to have gotten a ‘ten years later’ or something, but I was still satisfied with the ending. I really enjoyed all of the parts with Carmen and Dani reuniting, but also Carmen’s journey to get to Dani and find out what was going on was just as good. As much as I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see Dani until a decent way through the story, I think the anticipation of her and Carmen reuniting is what got me through.
Overall, I loved this book and I wish more people talked about this series. The world is fascinating and diverse. The relationship is queer and I’m so obsessed with it. There are wonderful friendships and a found family. I just think this is a great book and a great series.

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.

Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon

GoodReads Summary:
Jordan Collins doesn’t need a man.
What he needs is for his favorite author to release another one of her sexy supernatural novels and more people to sign up for the romance book club that he fears is slowly and steadily losing its steam. He also needs for the new employee at his local bookstore to stop making fun of him for reading things meant for “grandmas.”
The very last thing he needs is for that same employee, Rex Bailey, to waltz into his living room and ask to join Meet Cute Club. Despite his immediate thoughts—like laughing in his face and telling him to kick rocks—Jordan decides that if he wants this club to continue thriving, he can’t turn away any new members. Not even ones like Rex, who somehow manage to be both frustratingly obnoxious and breathtakingly handsome.
As Jordan and Rex team up to bring the club back from the ashes, Jordan soon discovers that Rex might not be the arrogant troll he made himself out to be, and that, like with all things in life, maybe he was wrong to judge a book by its cover.
Meet Cute Club (Sweet Rose #1)Review:
This book was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was a sweet romance with two realistic characters. This story follows Jordan as he’s trying to save his book club. Meet Cute Club is a book club that reads romance. I was impressed by these members because most book clubs meet once a month and they were meeting once a week, sometimes to talk about more than one book. That is something I would love to be able to do. I liked the members of the book club, but they were all pretty underdeveloped.
I liked Jordan. He was relatable as hell with his love for reading. I liked him, but I wanted more. I wanted to know more about him. I felt similarly about Rex, though we learned more about his past. I thought it was interesting the way his history was shown to be affecting his current actions. I wanted more of his interactions with his sister.
Overall, this was a fun and sweet romance, but it didn’t blow me away. I liked the characters and I was mostly invested in the romance.

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.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

GoodReads Summary:
Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
You Should See Me in a CrownReview:
I loved literally every single thing about this book. I’d not previously heard of it until it blew up all over social media, so thanks for that, Twitter.
You Should See Me in a Crown follows Liz as she’s about to graduate and go off to college. She’s waiting on scholarship news, but when she finds out that she didn’t get the scholarship she was hoping for and really needed, she has to come up with another plan. Her alternate plan ends up leading her into running for prom queen in hopes of winning the prize of a scholarship that comes along with the title of Queen. Liz is not the kind of girl you would assume to be running for prom queen and I think that’s what makes this storyline so good. Liz isn’t the kind of girl that would do this without motivation, so getting to see all of the ridiculous things she needs to do in order to stay in the running for prom queen from her point of view. The outside perspective of the inner workings of running for prom was honestly just fascinating. I also just genuinely liked Liz. I liked her romance with the new girl. I loved her family, her brother and her grandparents. I loved her friend group full of oddballs.
I just loved everything about this book. There’s no other way to explain it. I loved Liz. I loved her flaws and the growth we got to see. I loved then conclusion of the story and how all of her goals played out. I loved it all.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

GoodReads Summary:
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.
Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the WorldReview:
Ivy Aberdeen’s life made me very sad. She’s the middle child (as was I) and her family loses their entire house after a tornado comes through town, leaving a path of destruction. On top of this, Ivy’s mom just had twins. One baby is a lot of work, but two? Two new babies don’t leave much time for other kids. Ivy feels neglected. At times, she even feels like her family would be better if she weren’t in it. I felt so bad for her. She just wanted more attention from her parents, to feel like she was loved. This made me so sad for Ivy. But even more so was the struggle with Ivy’s sister, Layla. Ivy thinks her sister will hate her for liking girls because she overheard Layla and her best friend, Gigi, fighting when Gigi came out to Layla.
This was such an important story for young girls that might be feeling the same way. I would be so happy to have been able to read something like this when I was younger. Ivy’s working through her feelings. She’s realized she has a crush on a girl, her first crush. I loved Ivy’s friendship with June. June just wanted a friend and Ivy really needed a friend too. I thought they were really good for one another.
Overall, this was a heartbreaking story. But it was one of self-discovery and love. The Aberdeen family is going through a really tough time, but I loved the way the story concluded. Ivy’s family showed how much they loved her and that she was a very important member of the family. I don’t want to say that I enjoyed this book, because it was really sad for most of it, but it’s a story that needs to be out in the world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley

GoodReads Summary:
Nate never imagined that he would be attacked by his best friend, Cam.
Now, Nate is being called to deliver a sworn statement that will get Cam convicted. The problem is, the real story isn’t that easy or convenient—just like Nate and Cam’s friendship. Cam challenged Nate on every level from the day the boys met. He pushed him to break the rules, to dream, and to accept himself. But Nate—armed with a fierce moral code and conflicted by his own beliefs—started to push back. With each push, Nate and Cam moved closer to each other—but also spiraled closer to their breaking points.
Deposing NathanReview:
I picked this book up because the author will be at the NoVaTeen Book Festival in March, which will likely have already happened by the time this review is posted.
I read this book so quickly. I honestly just couldn’t put it down. I was sucked into the story of the friendship between Nate and Cam. The wondering of how these two best friends ended up fighting to the point of a stabbing and ensuing court drama almost killed me. I had to know what happened. The suspense was so well done. The story flashes back and forth between the present, where Nate is giving a deposition, and the past, which is the story that he is telling for the deposition. We also get bits in between where Cam and Nate talk a few times in the present.
I was completely blown away by the plot twist at the end with what really happened that night. I will absolutely be reading more books by this author when he publishes them. The conversation of sexuality and religion was captivating and horrifying at the same time. I thought it discussed these ideas in a well thought out way. It wasn’t condemning religion or any sexuality.
I loved Cam and Nate as friends. I totally held out hope for them even though their relationship turned pretty toxic. I really loved the way things ended in the final pages.
Overall, I don’t know why people aren’t talking about this book because it’s absolutely one that should be shouted about. It’s full of conflict and mystery. It pulls at the heartstrings while also managing to infuriate. I loved every page.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

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GoodReads Review:
On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…
Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.
When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?
The Devouring Gray (The Devouring Gray, #1)Review:
Can my review for this book just say, “I loved this book” five hundred times? I don’t know why I took so long to pick up The Devouring Gray. I started this late last night and couldn’t put it down until I reached the last page. I am so beyond excited for the sequel.
I would die for Violet and Harper. Violet’s story was full of grief. She’s lost her father and her sister and losing her sister is not something she’s handling well. She and her mom move back to the town her mom grew up in, but her mom doesn’t remember the truth about this small town, Four Paths. So, Violet has to figure it out alone. I admired her strength and courage. She’s thrown into an age-old battle between good and evil with barely any knowledge, but she, with the help of some new friends, manages to figure out her powers.
Harper is my favorite and I would die for her as well. Harper lost her hand in The Gray. She was performing her ritual when things went very wrong. But the secrets of what really happened that night is horrifying. I hated and loved learning the truth. Despite the things Harper has had to deal with, she powers through and helps take care of her many siblings. Harper is brave and stubborn and I loved her.
Then there’s Isaac, the fandom favorite. I loved him, but not as much as everyone else seems to. There’s something about his poor little damaged soul that just makes me want to give him a hug. He’s unflinchingly loyal, to a point that may be damaging him more. I really liked his new friendship with Violet. My two little damages babies becoming friends was so sweet.
Finally, there’s the Hawthorne siblings, Justin and May. At the beginning of the story, I hated one and loved the other, but by the end of the book, my feelings flipped. I loved the one I first hated and hated the one I first loved. Talk about mommy issues with these two. Their mother was a nightmare. She was horrible and drunk on her power, convinced she was doing the right thing for the town. But she has her kids trained to follow her orders without questions until Violet comes to town. Violet changes everything. I liked seeing Justin learn that there was more going on than what he first knew. I’m very interested to see how things develop with the siblings in the next book.
Overall, I’m obsessed with this book. I want to reread it again right now. I loved the characters. I loved the town. It was atmospheric and creepy. I loved the mystery and suspense. I loved the diversity of the characters, the friendships they made, and even the weird love square. We don’t know love triangles in this book, it’s a square of unrequited love, which made for lots of great drama. I loved everything about this book so please go read it right now.

Quotes:

“People could hurt each other without being monsters. And they could love each other without being saints.”

“This was hurt it would never understand. This was hurt made from love. And she immersed herself in grief, embraced it, the parts of her that had been so lost and broken, so long her enemy, were now her savior.”

“She thought about heroes, and villains, and legends, and monsters. And decided that whoever told the story was more powerful than all of them. Harper would never let someone else tell her story again.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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GoodReads Summary:
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)Review:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a slice of life story about my new favorite cinnamon rolls. Ari is a teenager that feels he has an unknowable father. This was something I related to because for a long time I felt the same way. I loved this part of the story. Ari trying to get to know his father was my favorite. I really enjoyed all the family aspects of this book. Ari’s relationship with his mother, his curiosity about his brother, and his interesting relationship with is sisters.
Then there’s Dante who openly adores his parents. It’s a hope that every mother wants, including myself. Dante was the sweetest of cinnamon rolls. I adored just wholly himself he is. He is who he is and he isn’t ashamed or trying to hide any of it.
The relationship between these two boys is a hard one to explain. They are the best of friends, but even best friends can be complicated. I loved it. I loved the good times and the bad. The things they bring out in one another and the realizations they come to together.
I’m going to keep this review on the shorter side because I don’t know how to put my feelings into words about this story. I can see how it’s an important one for so many people. I fell in love, easily, with these two boys and I understand now why so many shout about this story from the rooftops.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry

GoodReads Summary:
There are many ways the world could end. There could be a fire. A catastrophic flood. A supereruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one. What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.
Despite Ellis’s anxiety—about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of the ones she loves—the two girls become fast friends. But time is ticking down, and as Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, their search for answers only raises more questions. When does it happen? Who will believe them? How do you prepare for the end of the world when it feels like your life is just getting started?
Let's Call It a DoomsdayReview:
After absolutely adoring Heretics Anonymous, I knew I had to pick up Katie Henry’s new release, Let’s Call It a Doomsday. I’m so so glad that I did because it was even better than I expected it to be.
We follow Ellis as she struggles to keep her anxiety under control. She has intrusive thoughts, some that we get to see on the page. Her biggest worry is that the world is going to end. So, when she meets Hannah at her therapist’s office and then sees her again at school, she’s interested. Especially when Hannah tells her she knows when the world is going to end.
I loved Ellis. She was realistic and thoughtful and I just enjoyed her character. She battled her anxiety every day. She’s Mormon and despite lots of factors, she says true to her faith which was inspiring. Being able to believe so fiercely in something is admirable to me because I don’t have that same faith. Her journey of self-discovery, learning about her sexuality and how to handle her anxiety.
Then there’s Hannah, who is quirky and eccentric. I really liked her at first, but the more I learned about her the more I wanted her to just leave Ellis alone. She was the cause of pretty much all of the conflict in the story and every single one of her motivations were selfish. Despite that, she managed to push Ellis out of her comfort zone, to try new things and of course, she introduced her to Sam, Tal, and Theo.
These three boys were one of my favorite parts. Pot smoking, deep conversation having, ‘five-word-book-title’ guessing kind of friends. I love that they just immediately accepted Ellis into their group. They never pressured her to do anything that they were doing. They were just a funny group of kids.
I really really loved Tal. I loved the conversations about religion they would have. I also loved how he helped her see that there’s more to sexuality than she thought. I thought he brought so much goodness to the story. I 10000% ship them with my whole heart.
Overall, this book was funny, and heartfelt, and just wholesome. It showed anxiety in a realistic way. It talked about religion in a thoughtful way. Sexuality was talked about by several different characters in an honest way. I think this book did just about everything right. It’s one I plan to recommend again and again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.