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

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

Quotes:

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

GoodReads Summary:
The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.
The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.
But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.
Blanca & RojaReview:
This is the first of McLemore’s books that I’ve read and let me assure you, it won’t be the last. I am eager to read more of their books. Their writing is nothing short of stunning and I was so awed by this story. Blanca & Roja follows two sisters, Blanca and Roja, and then two others, Page and Yearling. I loved all four of these characters. The sisters are part of a family that has been cursed. There are conflicting stories about where it started, but every generation there are two daughters and one of them is chosen by the swans to become one of them and leave their family.
Blanca is a fierce protector of her younger sister, the one everyone thinks will be chosen by the swans. Blanca is the fairer sister, the sweeter sister, the nicer sister. But Blanca isn’t going to just let the swans take Roja. She loves her sister and will do anything, including making a deal so that the swans will take her instead of Roja. But she keeps a secret and this changes their relationship.
Roja is fiery. I adored Roja, always the other sibling. Her hair is dark brown with red in it, she is darker than Blanca. She is full of fire and anger. I loved every second I got to spend with Roja. She’s always expected to be the ones that the swans chose, despite what Blanca tries to tell her. She loves her sister dearly. But she realizes that Blanca is keeping a secret and things sour. But these two girls love each other so much that they are both willing to sacrifice themselves to the swans to save the other.
Then come Page and Yearling. The two boys disappear into the woods one day and aren’t seen again until the swans come for either Blanca or Roja. They are an unlikely set of best friends. They both have issues with their family’s but different sorts of issues. Yearling comes from a wealthy family, but he really doesn’t like how his family acquired that wealth and he wants to get the truth out to the public. Yearling is another person that has anger inside him. He gets in fights often. He’s a conflicted young man. He’s changed after he comes out of the woods. He’s having to figure a lot of things out and I liked his story. Page is a genderqueer boy that uses he/she pronouns but prefers male-gendered language. I loved Page. He was so soft and sweet and full of love. He was struggling with his family because he wasn’t sure they could give him what he needed.
I adored the relationships. The sisters were full of love but complex and interesting. I loved how much they loved one another. Both girls find themselves with feelings for the boys that came to them from the woods. Blanca and Page’s relationship was so sweet, much like the characters. They are both full of softness and love. Yearling and Roja are the opposite, full of spit and fire. Both couples find something of themselves in the other, someone that understands the things they feel.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was beautiful. The characters were wonderful. The plot was slow and quiet, but there was so much emotion and love within these pages. There was magic and romance, sacrifice, and mystery. I cannot wait to pick up another one of McLemore’s books.

Quotes:

“I was a girl who would never exist in a fairy tale, not just because of the brown of my body but because of my heart, neither pure enough to be good nor cruel enough to be evil. I was a girl lost in the deep, narrow space between the two forms girls were allowed to take.”

“We find what is beautiful in what is broken. We find what is heartening in what is terrifying. We find the stars in the woods’ deepest shadows.”

“My sister and I had been born fair and dark, her looking like a girl in a fairy tale who would grow up sweet, a princess, and me like one who would grow into a cruel witch. I had seen the pictures in storybooks. I knew what I was, with my bloodstained hair. Girls like me were marked for the swans. How could they ever take a girl like Blanca?”

“Page set her hand on the small of my back. She did it like it was only to guide me around rocks or fallen pinecones. But when she did it, I was that glass jar with a candle set inside. The heart of me was as soft as the wax of the tea light.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

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GoodReads Summary:
The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.
Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.
May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.
Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.
With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.
But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…
The Deck of Omens (The Devouring Gray, #2)Review:
The Deck of Omens was everything I wanted it to be. Check out my review which talks about how much I loved the first book here. In this second book, the Gray has started to corrupt the rest of Four Paths. Some really weird stuff is going on and no one seems to have noticed other than May. May is a troubled girl. She’s under her mother’s thumb, mostly because there is nothing more May wants than her mother’s approval and praise. Despite that, she’s starting to do things that she knows her mother wouldn’t like. One of those things is to call her father. He comes to town to help May, but there’s so much about May and Justin’s father that we (and they) don’t know. I thought the addition of the Hawthorne dad was a really interesting twist, especially when we learn all of his secrets.
I would still die for Violet and Harper. I thought Harper’s challenge of learning how to manage her abilities was a good one. She is pulled between Violet’s mom and Justin’s mom because they both want to train her. I loved the stand that Harper took in this situation. She made it clear that she was in control of her own life and her own abilities and I really appreciated that. Violet is still my favorite. She’s finally trusting her mom and they have a good relationship. But the more she learns about the history of the town and her ancestors, the more she realizes that she still doesn’t know the whole truth. I loved that Violet and Isaac spent more time together. Seeing Isaac open up to Violet literally set my heart on fire. I loved everything about their relationship. Isaac has had some really terrible things happen in his life. But he’s finally working toward doing better for himself, getting what he actually deserves rather than punishing himself for the past. But his brother, Gideon, comes back to town and that brings up all sorts of emotions for him. I liked seeing Isaac and Gideon because we get a new perspective on Isaac’s past from Gideon that we didn’t have before. I think Isaac had some tremendous character growth and I am so proud of him. I just really didn’t care about Justin at all. Christine Lynn Herman really hurt him, but I still couldn’t find it in myself to care.
Overall, I loved this story. I think it was a great conclusion to this duology. I loved these characters with my whole heart. They all grew so much and ended in a way where they made the best choices for themselves and I thought that was amazing. Please read this and love it as much as I do.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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

Quotes:

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

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

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

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found

GoodReads Summary:
One stormy summer in a small Irish town, things begin to disappear. It starts with trivial stuff—hair clips, house keys, socks—but soon it escalates to bigger things: a memory, a heart, a classmate.
Olive can tell that her best friend, Rose, is different all of a sudden. Rose isn’t talking, and Olive starts to worry she’s losing her. Then diary pages written by someone named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing development. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tightly to painful secrets.
When a tattered handwritten spellbook falls into the lives of these six teenagers, it changes everything. The spellbook is full of charms to conjure back that which has been lost, and it lists a part for each of them to play in the calling. It might be their best chance to set everything back to rights, but only if they’re willing to pay the price.
Spellbook of the Lost and FoundReview:
I have to start off by admitting that I almost unhauled this book several times. I also have to say that I am so so glad that I didn’t. Someone on twitter mentioned that this has a bisexual main character and that’s what made me hold onto it and finally pick it up.
Spellbook of the Lost and Found follows several different characters. There are two trios. The first is Laurel, Ash, and Holly. I was honestly so confused by these girls. I liked them. They’re seen as ‘other’ by everyone in their lives. But they find one another and I really liked their friendship (for the most part). As the story goes on, it’s clear that their friendship isn’t the healthiest. They meet a boy named Jude and all three of them love him. But Jude isn’t the best influence. I didn’t like how he got in between the friends. I really thought it was fascinating (but also enjoyable confusing) how the story of these three girls intertwined with the story of the others.
The second group is Olive, her best friend Rose, then the twins, Hazel and Rowan, and their closest friend, Ivy. In the beginning, we get a bit of how close Olive and Rose are, but they grow distant for a while. I liked their friendship. Rose distanced herself from Olive because she’s dealing with something very difficult. I thought Rose’s story was dealt with thoughtfully. I really liked Rose. I also liked Olive. She has a younger sister and brother. I liked how Olive grew closer with her sister toward the end of the story. I’m a sucker for sibling relationships. When Rose and Olive meet the twins and Ivy they start to put the pieces together. Everyone is losing things. But then they find the spellbook that the trio used to find their diaries. But when they cast that spell they didn’t realize it would cause others to lose things. The second group starts finding the trio’s diary pages and are realizing they cast the spell to find lost things.
Honestly, this book was really confusing in the best way possible. Once the second group starts putting the pieces together the story really came together. I spend entirely too long guessing who the trio was from the people that the second group met in their perspectives. I did not predict at all who they really were, but I really enjoyed this twist and how the truth was revealed. I loved the relationships, all of them. This story was full of emotion and I thought the author did such a great job bringing the characters to life.
I also just have to say this book is perfect for the spooky season. It’s full of questions and magic and is a little creepy at times. I think the suspense and confusion really set the tone. I was at the edge of my seat (literally, I read this in the car and I was so tense the whole time.) The mystery of what’s going on combined with the magical elements really makes this book great for the fall.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Mayhem by Estelle Laure

GoodReads Summary:
It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.
From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.
MayhemReview:
Thank you to Sarah Bonamino with St. Martin’s Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to like this book. I was immediately interested after reading the summary. Magic and the 80s? Sign me the hell up. Sadly, this book was a miss for me. I really liked it at the beginning, but the further I read the less I liked it. There were some aspects that I really liked, but the things I didn’t care about outweighed those things.
We follow Mayhem as she and her mother, Roxy, return to Roxy’s hometown of Santa Maria. Mayhem and Roxy are running from Roxy’s husband who is abusive. I liked how this book covered hard topics. The abuse was hard to read about but realistic. Roxy was also addicted to drugs. This was a topic that was covered well. It was discussed thoughtfully and with care. This isn’t always the case, so it was something that I appreciated.
The magic in this book was so interesting. It follows the Brayburn bloodline, mostly. It stems from an ancestor. Their powers come from water that isn’t water in a cave that most people will never be able to find. I thought the magic was chaotic and horrifying and wonderful. This was probably my favorite part of the story. Learning about the history of the family, how the magic came to be, and how the adopted children of Mayhem’s aunt, Elle, came to have the Brayburn magic.
But these adopted cousins that Mayhem has just met were part of my problem with this book. Jason, Neve, and Kidd are wonderful at first. Neve immediately decides that she and Mayhem are going to be best friends. This wasn’t really believable to me because Neve was hot and cold with her. Keeping secrets and leaving her out of things, but acting like this isn’t between them when it suits her. Then Neve takes things too far and I just really didn’t like it. I guess things came around in the end, but I just didn’t care for Neve. Then there’s the romantic relationship that kindles between Jason and Mayhem which I just couldn’t find it in myself to care about.
Finally, the ending was just so unsatisfying. There are talks about healing Mayhem’s cousins from the magic, but there was no follow through with that and that just made me mad.
Overall, I enjoyed parts of this book. I read it very quickly. It was a captivating story, but there were too many things that I just didn’t care for. Also, I read other reviews that said parts of this story were almost word for word from the two stories it was inspired from. I haven’t read or watched them so I cannot say but there were more than a handful of reviews that mentioned this. I think there will definitely be some people that love this book, but it was a miss for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

GoodReads Summary:
Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.
They picked the wrong girl.
Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.
Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.
Foul Is FairReview:
Huge thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I buddy read this ARC with my favorite twinny, Alana @ The Bookish Chick.
I absolutely adored this story. It was dark and gritty, murderous and magical, fast-paced and captivating. I loved Elle (or Jade). She was vengeful and I freaking loved it. I don’t even know how to explain it. She’s clever and devious in all the best ways. But I liked even more that we still got to see her when she was vulnerable. She was drugged and raped, but won’t take anyone’s bullshit. She and her coven have a plan to get their revenge.
The coven. I adored them. They were magical and loyal. I loved the dynamic between these girls. They were some serious friend goals. I loved all the scenes with the coven doing their part to scare the boys of St. Andrews.
The writing in Foul is Fair was incredible. Even during the slow points of the story, it felt like I was flying through it because of the writing. The author sucked me into the story, chewed me up, and spit me out. The writing was beautiful and dark. Never quite clear about whether the coven was actually casting spells and flying with their wings. I adored it.
Overall, this book was incredible. I loved every single murderous page. I think this one will be a hit once it’s published and I know I will be shouting about it all year.

Quotes:

“Killing hurts worse if somebody you love is holding the knife.”

“It’s beautiful. We’re beautiful. This night, dark and deadly and stained with blood, is a masterpiece too perfect for any museum in the whole world.”

“As soon as I speak they’ll never see that same girl anymore, and knowing that makes my fingernails bite into my skin because I want it so hard, to rip those boys’ faces open. Tear their hearts out and hold them, still beating, in my hands.”

“We’re magic. I can feel it right now in the dark. We’re invisible when we need to be and then so firework-bright no one can look away. We’re patience and brilliance. We never forget. We never forgive.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

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GoodReads Summary:
On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer, days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.
On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.
Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…
What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?
In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
The Walls Around UsReview:
I’ve been on a thriller/mystery kick for the spooky season. I’ve also been attempting to make a big dent in my physical TBR, so I’ve only been choosing books I bought a million years ago. This is one of those.
I was really interested in this book for the first half. It was mysterious and suspenseful, but also a little weird. I liked that it was weird. But by the end of the book, I still had no idea what had gone on. The characters were interesting and kept up the pace of the story pretty well. The characters were mostly well developed, and I enjoyed the few different perspectives the story was told through.
I’ve waited too long to write this review. So, I’m going to keep it short and sweet. I enjoyed most of this book. It was weird, I think in a good way. But it wasn’t anything that blew me away. A fun read for this time of year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Summary:
Magic passed down through generations…
Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has touched every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
An island where strange things happen…
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernweh’s what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm.
No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.
One summer that will become legend…
When tragedy strikes, what make the Fernweh women suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
Summer of SaltReview:
The only thing wrong with this book was that there wasn’t more of it. Summer of Salt was the group book for the Witch-A-Thon. I’ve had it on my TBR shelf ever since I saw Chelsea Dolling Reads talk about it on her channel. I didn’t really even know what it was about before I picked it up. Queer beachy and witchy? Sign me up.
So, being honest. I was slightly disappointed when I learned that most of this book centers around a bird. I know that the story is more than that. But it just seemed so silly to me. But as the story progressed and certain things happened, I came to appreciate this little bird.
I loved the characters. They were all so vibrant and interesting. The relationship between Georgina and her twin, Mary, was absolutely my favorite part of Summer of Salt. I have two sisters and sibling stories always seem to hit me in the feels. They were a realistic pair of sisters and I adored the family dynamic.
Right along with the family dynamic is the atmosphere of By-the-Sea. I want to live on this spooky and atmospheric island. Witchy and beachy is my preferred environment. I loved the way that the weather was brought into the story. I could help but smile at the tugboat scene.
Overall, I would have liked to learn more about the magic, more about the Fernweh family and their history, more about the island, just more. I also really liked the representation. Georgina acknowledged that the environment she’s in is likely more accepting than what others might experience. I liked that she was aware of the privileged she has growing up on a close-knit island with a family that isn’t totally normal themselves. I definitely will be reading more work by Katrina Leno and soon.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

GoodReads Review:
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
The Astonishing Color of AfterReview:
I read this book for many reasons. The first being that I have heard nothing but rave reviews about this debut novel. The second and more important reason is that I’m going to a book event at the end of March and Emily X.R. Pan will be there, so I wanted to have read her book so that I may buy it and get it signed when I meet her. I was expecting to enjoy the book, but there were so many unexpected things inside of it.

“Memory is a mean thing, slicing at you from the harshest angles, dipping your consciousness into the wrong  colors again and again.”

I was not expecting magical realism. I think this was so well done and was a great part of the story. The magical parts of the story were seamlessly blended with the contemporary parts of the story. I thought it was such an interesting and fun part of the story. Leigh getting to see and learn all of the things that she does in the way that she does was such a good way to tell her story. I also really loved the flashback aspects of the story. Many books cannot pull this off in the right way, but this story is told with flashbacks giving the reader a view into how Leigh got where she is and the events that unfolded on the way. The flashbacks didn’t detract from the story, instead added to it. The reader was pulled into the past at all the right moments giving vital information.

“Once you figure out what matters, you’ll figure out how to be brave.”

The Astonishing Color of After does an incredible job talking about mental health and depression. It talks about the struggle of depression and how there are ups and downs. It tells a story of how depression is never something that just gets better, it’s a constant up and down battle to stay level. I thought the book did an excellent job discussion depression and showing its effect on other family members.

“She was a sea creature and the music was her ocean. It had always belonged to her. It was in her every breath, her every movement. She was the color of home.”

Most of this story takes place in Taiwan. This was something I enjoyed because I felt like I was learning while reading. It’s about a place and culture I don’t know much about, so I was fascinated by the view into the culture and traditions that were in the book.
Finally, the writing was incredible. There were so many visual and colors mentioned. Emily X.R. Pan is an incredible writer and tells a story beautifully. There’s something about the words she uses to tell the story that brought me into it.

“Memories that tell a story, if you look hard enough. Because the purpose of memory, I would argue, is to remind us how to live.”

Overall, I loved everything about this book. I cannot wait to meet the author. I also cannot wait to see what else she writes in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Contemporary January TBR List – Magical Edition

Hi, lovelies! This week we will be talking about magical realism and retellings! I don’t have too many of these two genres on my shelves waiting to be read so I thought I would combine them into one post. I love a good retelling (key word: good) but there are so many that are just not that great. So I find myself less interested in picking them up after reading a few duds. As for magical realism, I love it. Which is why there’s only a few on my TBR because I tend to pick them up pretty quickly.

Contemp Jan

Retellings

Catwoman By Sarah J. Maas
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
As Old As Time by Liz Braswell

Magical Realism

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
A Million Junes By Emily Henry

There are so many more for both of these lists, but for the purposes of the intention of Contemporary January, I’m only mentioning the books I own that are begging to be read from my bookshelves. Have you read any of these books? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ContemporaryJanuary and tag me & Alana if you’re joining in! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and/or GoodReads to keep up to date with any announcements and see what I’m reading!

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Contemporary January Recommendations – Magical Edition

Hi, lovelies! We’re halfway through Contemporary January already! So many books to be read and so many recommendations to be made. This week we are talking about two topics that I couldn’t find enough to give them lists of their own so I will be including them in one post together for their recommendations as well as their TBR list.

Check out Alana’s recommendations this week here.

Contemp Jan

Retellings

Splintered by A.G. Howard
An Alice in Wonderland retelling. I loved this trilogy. It was so fun and twisty.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
A classic, but with zombies. What could go wrong?

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz
This was a fun cutesy romance retelling set in modern times.

Timeless Fairy Tales by K.M. Shea
This series is one I found on Kindle Unlimited. Its a whole series of retellings from The Beauty and the Beast to the Twelve Dancing Princess. They’re fun and quick to read.

Quincey Wolf’s Glass Vault by Candice Robinson
A twisted modern story that features fairytale characters here and there.

Magical Realism

The Shack by William Paul Young
A story that blew me away. I’ve loved all the books I’ve read by this author.

Teardrop by Lauren Kate
A story about a girl that can’t cry? Count me in.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
If you haven’t heard of the Night Circus then what rock have you been living under?

These are just some of the books I really enjoyed that fall under the category of magical realism or a retelling. What retellings do you love? Which books with magical realism are on your favorites list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ContemporaryJanuary and tag me & Alana if you’re joining in! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and/or GoodReads to keep up to date with any announcements and see what I’m reading!

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Instagram
GoodReads