Lowest Rated Books on Amanda’s TBR – Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies! I’m back again to wrap up my TBR list of the lowest rated books that I own. You can find that post here. I had fun reading these books, mostly. I think this was a great way for me to get some books off of my TBR and I definitely think I’ll do this again in the future. I think this went way better for me than it did for Michelle @ Michelle Reads YA on YouTube. She read some pretty terrible books, so I’m glad for the inspiration from her video, but even more glad that the books on my list weren’t super terrible. So, let’s get into my mini-reviews!

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
Average Rating: 3.21 / 5
My Rating: No Rating
I actually DNF’d this book. There was just something about the two main characters both lying to one another that I really didn’t like. They’re both keeping a secret, leading the other along so they can get a promotion. So, one Jack is trying to get Hannah to break up with him and Hannah is ignoring all the really problematic stuff Jack is doing because she needs him to come to a work event. I didn’t like that at all and didn’t care to see how they figured out the others secret and managed to turn that into a legitimate relationship. The writing was also a bit choppy and I just kept finding myself pulled out of the story. I can see why it has a low rating, but I only read about 160 pages so I will not be rating it. I’m super disappointed by this because it has great representation with a biracial main character.

The Graces by Laure Eve
Average Rating: 3.29 / 5
My Rating: 3 / 5
I didn’t love this book. I bought its sequel so I read that as well and liked it much more. The Graces is a story about a family of witches and while it was mysterious and atmospheric, I just couldn’t find myself caring. The characters were all mostly terrible and I didn’t like them very much. But the dynamics were fascinating. It was so clear that none of these characters were good for one another. When all of them were together bad things happened. I feel like I still don’t totally understand how this book made me feel. I don’t know that I would recommend this, but damn was it a wild ride.

A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee
Average Rating: 3.47 / 5
My Rating: 4 / 5
I bought this one solely to make sure I had something upcoming for my Books & Baking blog feature (and I definitely have something I will attempt. This book also has actual recipes at the end of the book. So, I might use that one or do the baked good I found in the beginning of the story.) I ended up really enjoying this one. It follows two Asian main characters, one that owns her own bakery and the other is a well known food critic. They have a chance meeting and it ends with a one night stand, but when Landon writes a scathing review of Aubrey’s bakery, she’s gutted. Things sort of go from here. I liked their attraction to one another. The instant attraction isn’t usually something I like, but I think it was done well in this story. I also liked that they tried to fight that attraction. I don’t really want t o spoil anything, but there’s a plot point at the end that I feel unsure about. It’s a trope that I’ve heard many people dislike, but I think it was done well in this book. I didn’t love the third act breakup, but I also didn’t hate it.

The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth
Average Rating: 3.54 / 5
My Rating: No Rating
I didn’t manage to read this one. I’ve tried to pick it up several times since I put it on my TBR for this reading challenge, but I just couldn’t get myself to read it. For now, it’s going to stay on my TBR. It’s a collection of short stories, from my understanding, so I need to be in the right mood to read it. That mood just hasn’t happened for me this month. I’ll probably read it eventually when I need to fill a prompt for a readathon.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
Average Rating: 3.61 / 5
My Rating: 4 / 5
I really enjoyed this one. This follows Samiah and Daniel who find themselves working together and also find themselves with an irresistible attraction to one another. I really liked them as a couple. I don’t generally like the secret keeping trope, but I didn’t mind it so much in this one. Daniel is an agent that works for the government uncovering financial crimes. I thought the concept of his job was interesting. But I loved Samiah. She’s a successful and incredibly smart black woman. But she’s less successful with her love life. I could understand why Samiah felt like this was a failing on her part but I liked seeing her get out of that mindset. I loved her new friends. I loved getting to see the friendship grow. I think the trio is an excellent one. I definitely recommend this one.

So, I have to say that I’m disappointed to see so many romance novels on this list. It’s disheartening to see several romances that I really enjoyed being the lowest rated out of the 70+ books that I own on my TBR. Regardless, I thought this was so fun. I think this was a great way to motivate myself to read some books that I was ‘saving’ for absolutely no reason. What are the lowest rated books that you own?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Thoughts on How Vampire Novels Never Died

Hi, lovelies! Today I want to talk about books with vampires. We all know that books like Twilight and Vampire Academy started a trend of young adult books about vampires becoming extremely popular. People on the bookish internet are always talking about how we need to bring vampire books back. But the question I had (which prompted this post) is: bring them back from where? I firmly believe that vampire novels never died. There have been so many great ones since Twilight and some of those published in the early 2000s still hold up today. But there are also new vampire novels, for both adults and young adults, and some are slated to be published this year. So, today I’m here to share with you some of the more recent (by recent I’m going with the last ten years) and upcoming vampire stories. I have some that I’ve read, some that I want to read, and some that have yet to be published.

Vampire Stories I’ve Read and Recommend

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (2012)
This one is another vampire dystopian novel. But in this one, the cities are controlled by vampires. It’s a fascinating story about a girl that hates vampires, until one night, she becomes one. Kagawa is a long-time favorite author of mine and her vampire series is one of the more interesting ones.

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest (2012)
I absolutely devoured this series when I found it on Kindle Unlimited. This is one of those series that just went on for so long that things got incredibly weird. But I continued to devour these books. They’re fast reads, with compelling plots and interesting characters.

Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (2013)
Dystopian books are my favorite. They have been for a long time. So, this story where vampires are known to the world and segregated into their own cities called ‘Coldtowns’ was such an interesting story. I loved how this world was built and how fast paced the story was. It was a really interesting twist on the more traditional vampire stories.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (2016)
While this isn’t only a vampire novel, there are lots of other paranormal people in this series. There are vampires and I love them all.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (2017)
This is technically the second book in a series, but it can be read as a standalone. This is one of my favorites in the series. Aside from my love for the Wayward Children, the vampire aspects of this story are both terrifying and appealing. I highly recommend this one if you like darker stories.

Hotbloods by Bella Forrest (2017)
This is another pretty bizarre series. It somehow is paranormal and science fiction at the same time. There are vampires, but it’s also about other planets. I don’t think I ended up finishing this series, but I definitely want to.

Slayer by Kiersten White (2019)
More from the Buffyverse? I was never a super fan. But I did really enjoy this continuation of that world. I liked the twin sisters. I liked the mythology of the world. I think this was a really fun way of looking into a world that many are familiar with.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2020)
This is one of my new favorite series. I am eagerly anticipating the third book in this series (which you will see named later in this post). I fell so quickly in love with these characters and the world they live in. Poppy is such an interesting character to follow and the romance is absolute perfection.

The Fell of the Dark by Caleb Roehrig (2020)
I borrowed this one randomly from my local library and I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how little I’ve seen people talking about it. I hear “why don’t we bring vampire stories back” so often, which is such a shock when there’s gems like this book out there. It’s queer. It’s historical. It’s awkward. It’s complete perfection and I need everyone to read it now.

The Southern Book Clubs Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (2020)
This was a book club read for me. I read this as one of my first real horror novels. Since then I’ve explored a little more into the genre. This one was a wild ride. It’s dark and a bit gruesome. But I still somehow enjoyed it. The whole time I was reading, I couldn’t quite tell if there was actually a vampire in the story or not (there is).

Crave by Tracy Wolff (2020)
So many people love this book. I thought it was entertaining, but not anything groundbreaking. I don’t know that I’ll ever manage to continue or finish the series. I don’t like using the phrase ‘guilty pleasure’ when I’m talking about reading books, but this book definitely fits the bill. It’s easy to read and entertaining, but it’s a lot like Twilight where tons of people really love the books even though they’re objectively not great books.

Vampire Stories Still on my TBR

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward (2005)
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (2006)
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (2019)
Vampires Never Get Old: Tales With Fresh Bite edited by Natalie C. Parker & Zoraida Cordova
Metallic Red by Jennifer Ann Shore (2020)
Love Bites by Ry Herman (2020)
The Afterlife of the Party by Marlene Perez (2021)

Vampire Stories on my Anticipated Releases List

Vampire Hearts and Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston (2021)
A Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2021)
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Morena-Garcia (2021)
The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling (2021)

There you have it. These are some vampire books I’ve read and enjoyed, some that I want to read, and some that are soon to be published. Hopefully, after this list, some of you reading this will agree with me when I say that vampire novels never died. They are still here in creative and unique ways, in stories that are compelling and full of characters waiting to be loved. This is also by no means an extensive list. These are just the ones personally on my list. So, there are many more vampire stories out there. What’s your favorite book with vampires?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s December Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

Hello, lovelies! Another month that I’ve actually managed to read some of my graphic novels that I already own. I’m going to keep this intro brief so we can get into my thoughts on what I read in the month of December.

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

This is a bind up of three different stories. I don’t know that the stories were ever published separately, but going into this graphic novel I didn’t realize that is was three different stories. I really loved this. These three stories were each wonderful in their own ways. In the first story, The Plain Janes, Jane has just moved to the suburbs from the city after she was in a bomb attack. She has PTSD and despite this happening in the city, she didn’t want to leave. She’s worried that she won’t make new friends. She’s a teen that is having to move during high school. So, her fears and worries are normal. But Jane is also an artist. She finds friends in three girls who are all also named Jane. In the first book, their friendship was focused on P.L.A.I.N. which was their name for the street art that they were doing together. This story was so fun, the girls planning what they were going to do next and basking in a successful execution. But the police are upset about the art and enact curfews, certain that it’s teenagers doing these art attacks. This doesn’t stop the girls, and their friendship grows. Janes in Love, the second book, is focused on Valentine’s Day and the love interests of each of the Janes (and James who is the only gay boy that is out in their school). I thought this story was sweet and fun. I liked that the color scheme of the art changed to a pretty pinks to reflect the theme of the story. Though this story focuses on love and romance and relationships, there’s still a focus on art too. Art saves and I loved that message in all three stories. In the final story, Janes Attack Back, Jane is feeling like her friends are drifting from what brought them together, art. They are all working on college applications, new hobbies and interests, and Jane feels like she’s doing the brunt of the work for P.L.A.I.N. On top of this, there’s a new girl at school and everyone loves her, but Jane can’t seem to anything other than butt heads with her. I think this was a really great story about friends all having their own interesting, but still being friends. It talks about how friends need to be able to tell their friends what they need from them and when. I loved all three of these stories so much. I also want to mention, in the first story, during the bombing, Jane was saved by a man that didn’t have any identification. So, he is in the hospital in a coma as a John Doe afterwards. She visits him often, but after she moves she writes him letters. I won’t say anything further, but this relationship was one of my favorite things about this story. They are two people from different parts of the world connected by a trauma. I think it was a wonderful addition to this story. Okay, I’ve gone on long enough. Long story short, I loved this graphic novel and I highly recommend it.

Teen Titans: Beast Boy by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo

I absolutely loved this author/illustrator duo’s previous work (Teen Titans: Raven) so, I was super excited to pick up this next installment of the series. Beast Boy follows Gar in his daily life. I liked that this was a slice of life kind of story. It’s Gar’s senior year and he’s upset that he hasn’t completed anything from his list of goals for his final year of high school. The story starts with him reviewing the list and being more determined to tackle any of the items on the list. We also get to see his two best friends, Tank and Stella, try to hype him up when Gar is hyper focused on his insecurities. I think that’s the one thing I didn’t like about this book. Gar is so focused on the fact that he’s short and thin, he craves to be in with the popular crowd. I get this is something many teens feel, but I wish we could have seen him get over this. I loved how supportive Tank and Stella were and I think the little bits we get with them were the best parts. I also am a little disappointed that this book ended similarly to Raven, right when it felt like the story was getting into something exciting. Do graphic novels have cliffhangers? If yes, that’s what this was. I will say, I am extremely excited to read the next installment, Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven.

Technically The Plain Janes was three graphic novels in one bind up. So, I’m counting this month as four total that I read, hah! Now, I only have 8 unread graphic novels left on my shelf. I’m happy with how many/what I’ve read in terms of graphic novels this year. What graphic novels did you read in 2020?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Nine: Amanda’s October Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

Hello, lovelies! I’ve really been slacking on my graphic novel reading this year. I was doing okay at first, but as the year progressed I started focusing more and more on my physical TBR for just my novels. I wanted to change that this October because I had quite a few graphic novels that were perfect for the spooky season. So, let’s talk about what I read and how I felt about it.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 5: Imperial Phase, Part I by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

I’ve been really wanting to finish this series now that it’s complete and I own all of them. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to actually pick them up and read them, but everytime I actually do I’m reminded how much I enjoy this series. The story follows Gods who are reincarnated, but only for two years. Things have gotten pretty wild in this volume of the series. We have new Gods who might not really even be Gods? I thought the addition of magazine like interviews with some of the Gods was an interesting addition. It was a great way to remind myself what was going on in the story and actually helped me remember each God a bit better. As always, the art is absolutely stunning and perfectly gruesome. The characters are diverse, interesting, and complex. The conversations that this story brought up were interesting and important. I found myself liking characters that I was annoyed with or disliked in previous volumes. I was also super happy to get to see and read more about Lucifer who is absolutely my favorite character in this story. I’m definitely still a huge fan of this series and I’m planning to pick the next one up soon.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 6: Imperial Phase, Part II by Kieran Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

I have mostly the same thoughts about this volume in the series as I did in my mini-review of the last volume above. There were really great conversations about sexuality. There were diverse characters. The art was stunning (and still perfectly gruesome). I think the twists in this volume were absolutely excellent and I want to immediately pick up the next volume to see what will happen next. The tension rose dramatically in the final pages of this book and I’m eager to continue.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 7: Mothering Invention by Kieran Golden, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

Holy shit what did I just read. In this volume, we learn so much history of how the gods came to be how they are. We learn how and why they rerun every hundred years. We learn Ananke’s motivations and I’m so here for it. I was captivated by this volume. There’s still the usual gore and secret keeping, but the readers are learning things that only Ananke knows and it was fascinating. This series is full of characters with some seriously grey morals. They do terrible things and try to excuse them. Some of them straight up admit they’re basically villains. I loved this volume so much. The art was stunning. There were some pages that were so interestingly put together that I had to read a few times to get the full effect of what they were saying. This series really just gets better and better. It always covers tough topics in the best way possible. It acknowledges these topics and has productive conversation about them. I just can’t say enough great things. This volume might be my new favorite.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 8: Old is the New New by Kieran Golden, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

Okay, so I didn’t know but this is a special collection volume. This is a few stories that were previously published separately, now put into one collection. I thought it was really interesting to see a story I was familiar with shown in a different art style. It had things in common (like murder) but the art was different and interesting. I had a bit of trouble, because some of these stories were about how pantheons in the past ended, keeping the characters straight. There were some of the same gods, but they were in different bodies (often different genders) which made it hard for me to remember which character was which. This was something I struggled with in the first few volumes of this series because there’s just so many characters. I was still really into the stories though. Getting to know a bit about the characters past and the history of this world with gods. Though this whole volume left me wondering, do the gods remember their previous times on Earth? Because if so, I’ve got some questions for Lucifer.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 9: Okay by Kieran Golden, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

This was the finale volume of The Wicked + The Divine and I’m honestly sad to see it over. This was such a fun series that was full of murder, mystery, drama, but also really important conversations about sexuality, abortion, and many other topics. I’m pretty happy with this final volume. The characters all finally learned the secrets that were revealed to the reader in the last few volumes and I was satisfied with how everything played out. I will definitely miss these characters and their utter chaos, but I had such a great time with this series. It’s definitely one I will recommend. The characters were all so complex and diverse. There was excellent gore and murder mystery. Finally, my favorite thing is that this final installment was narrated by Laura just like the first volume was and I really enjoyed the full circle aspect of that. I’m sad that the series is over but I’m definitely interested in reading other works from these creators.

Spectacle Vol. 1 by Megan Rose Gedris

This story follows Anna, who works at a traveling circus along with her twin sister. When her twin, Kat, is found murdered, Anna is tasked with figuring out who the murderer is. Circus stories seem to be hit or miss for me and this one was a miss. I didn’t like how some of the circus members treated others. I also really didn’t like that we didn’t figure out how the murderer was. I assume this mystery is drawn out through the series, but I wanted to know who did it. I think this was a good story to read in October, there are ghosts and a murder mystery, and Anna’s narrator did a good job of making things seem a bit spooky. She questioned everything. This was a quick read, but I don’t know that I’ll continue the series.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Robert Hack

This was creepy. I know that Sabrina is supposed to be a horror story but I grew up watching the fun animated show and the other one with Melissa Joan Hart. Which were both family friendly and full of goodness. This was not at all that, which I knew going into it, but it still totally creeped me out. Sabrina wasn’t so creepy, but her Aunt Hilda and Zelda were both basically cannibals and all the magic stemmed from worshipping the devil. This is the perfect graphic novel to read if you want something creepy for October. Even the art style was super creepy. The facial expressions of the characters did a really good job supporting the horror of the storyline and dialogue. I don’t know if I’ll continue the series. I want to see if my library has it, because it’s not my usual kind of thing to read so I don’t think I want to buy them. But I liked it well enough. I’m excited to see how it was adapted on Netflix.

These are all the graphic novels I read in October and my thoughts on them! I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing the WicDiv series (finally) and reading the others that I’d been saving all yeah for October. Did you read any graphic novels this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s May Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

Hello, lovelies! I’m back again with another wrap up of the graphic novels I’ve read recently. As I’m typing this I haven’t read very many graphic novels this month. I have a few on my TBR for June, but I mostly focused on other books in May.

Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu

This book was just as sweet and wholesome as the first book. I  love Bitty and Jack together and all of my dreams for this couple came true. I just love them so much. I love the art style and the color of this series. I also am a huge hockey fan, so that’s always a plus for me. There were two things that kept me from giving this book five stars. There were so many new characters. We’re now following two hockey teams. So, we’re meeting the new players on the Samwell team and also all of the players for Jack’s NHL team. So, it got a little confusing sometimes trying to figure out who was who. The other thing was that the story really jumped around. At times, it felt like the end of some scenes was completely skipped or the transitions between panels were a bit awkward. Despite these two issues, I still really loved this book. This series will definitely make my list of favorites. It’s just so sweet and I love Bitty and Jack.

Did you read any graphic novels this month? Leave me your favorites in the comments because I’m always looking for new graphic novels to pick up!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Thirty: Amanda’s December Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

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Hello, lovelies! I’ve been in a bit of a graphic novel slump. I think I just have too many options, too many series I’ve read the first of and bought more of the series, but haven’t picked up. So, I’m really glad I managed to finally pick up more graphic novels this month.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume Two: Fandemonium by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

I love this series. There’s something about it that just captivates me. I love the concept of the Gods reincarnating (sort of). This volume  was full of mystery and the main character, Laura, trying to find out who killed Luci. I really missed Luci and her absense kind of made this volume not as good as the first. I still ended up really enjoying it though. The huge twist at the end had me dying for the next book. I liked that we got to see more of the other gods and we got a bit more than just Laura’s perspective. I’m excited to continue with the series.

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

I bought this graphic novel after seeing Scott Westerfeld speak at the DC National Book Festival. The way he talked about how images and art inspired him and changed the way he wrote stories really made me want to check this one out. I’m glad I did. The art was interesting and unique. The color difference between the regular world scenes and the panels inside the “spill zone” was beautiful. I think it was also interesting the way the different speech bubbles meant different things. We see Addie (the main character) talking, but we also get thought bubbles from her younger sister who hasn’t spoken since coming out of the spill zone the night everything happened, and speech bubbles from another character I won’t name so it doesn’t give anything away. I also thought the story itself was well done. It was compelling and mysterious. My only complaint is that it ended too soon. There wasn’t much resolution, but thankfully I have the second book too so I’ll just start that next. There was something supernatural about the story and I think that was really creative and definitely kept me interested.

Spill Zone: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

After finishing the first volume, I had to immediately pick up the second and get the rest of the story. I really loved how things connected and then were wrapped up. I think Westerfeld told an excellent story. The art was stunning. I loved the contrast between the regular world and then the spill zone and then how they were merged toward the end of the story. My only complaint would be that sometimes the shifts between scenes and characters were a bit sudden and jarring. I still really enjoyed it and these might just make a favorites list when I work on those in the coming month.

Life is Strange: Dust by Emma Vieceli, Claudia Leonardi, & Andrea Izzo

This graphic novel made me nostalgic for when I was introduced the the video game. I used to play it with a neighbor of mine that turned into a close friend. It made me miss her. But aside from that, I didn’t love this. The time travel bits were really confusing at first. I did like that they included actual art from the game. But overall, I’m definitely going to stick with the game.

The Wicked + The Divine: Commercial Suicide by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson (also several other guest artists)

This, so far, is probably my least favorite of this series. Though we actually get some back story on the gods and the people they were before being awoken as gods, which I thought was interesting. This was kind of all over the place. The two characters I liked the most are not longer in the story. Plot wise, things are getting wild. I think the mystery and suspense is done really well. The reader knows more than some of the characters, but were still not given all the information. I thought the inclusion of guest artists was interesting and made each of the gods featured more unique. Overall, while it was my least favorite I still really enjoyed it.

Did you read  any graphic novels in December? Have you read any of these ones? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogmas Day Eight: Debut Authors

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Hi, lovelies! Today I want to talk about the books I read this year by debut authors. I read quite a few debut novels and absolutely adored them. So, I want to let you know which books they were and give you a few reasons why you should go by them, or add them to your christmas wishlist.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This book was so good. It got me out of my fantasy slump, which I’m so glad for because I’ve read some great books since this one. This has a Narnia type feel with traveling through magic doors, but more, so much more. I adore the main character and the friends she makes along the way.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This book was hilarious and sweet in all the best ways. A prince and the son of the president falling in love, what could go wrong? I was literally laughing out loud while reading this book, and I know you will too.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

While the main character can be pretty unlikable, most teenagers have their moments where they can be punks. I know I was a punk when I was in high school. I loved Norris’s story of moving away from the life he knew to Texas and trying to figure out where he fit in there. Plus, I met the author and I thought he was super awesome.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

If the tag line of ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling’ doesn’t immediately make you want to read this, let me tell you a bit. Murder, dancing, magic, and falling in love. This book was atmospheric as hell and I loved every page.

The Disasters by M.K. England

Looking for diverse science fiction? Look no further. This is the unlikeliest squad of strrangers you’ll ever encounter. They have to save the universe becasue well, everyone else that knows what’s going on is dead.

We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund

Ghosts and tornados. Do you need anything else? If so, this follows three outsiders, the kids that just don’t fit in at school. They end up finding each other and when a tornado hits on the anniversary of a tornado that killed most of those in attendance at the local drive in more than fifty years ago, they meet on the side of the road and realise that there may be something spooky going on.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Stirling

Queer Witches, yes please. This was full of mystery and teenage angst and I loved it. There was heart break and loss, but also growth and of course, magic.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

A diverse cast of kids with magical abilities, also they’re trying to fight a scary ass monster. The small town drama and grudges were some of my favorite parts of this. Seeing these kids try to work through their personal and family histories in order to keep their town safe was the best. It was spooky and fun at the same time.

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this book. It covers important mental health topics, but also is full of summertime fun and a bit of a mystery about the main characters ancestors. I flew through this book and loved every page of it.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Renasance Faire romance, sign me the hell up. This was a dislike to love romance, full of small town feels, great new friends, and making sister relationships stronger. I read this in one sitting and loved to with my whole heart.

The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

This book was really important to me personally. It follows the story of a girl who’s sister is in the hospital after getting in the car with a drunk driver. It talks about so many different themes that are so very important to think and talk about in the teenage years. Please go read it.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Love, mistakes, and a little bit of time travel. A sort of Groundhog Day story where the main character tries over and over to get that happy ending and learns so much along the way.

The Birds, The Bees, & You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

A fun story about the importance of safe sex. If I had read this book when I was in high school, my life would have been very different probably. I also got to meet the author and she was just amazing. Plus, she has the same name as my daughter.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Are you looking for a book that is going to make you scream with rage but also cry your eyeballs out? Look no further, you have found it. I swear I cried for half of this book. I cannot recommend it enough.

Have you read any of these debut novels? If not, get shopping or to your local library right now! Let me know if any of these books are on your radar in the comments.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogtober Day Twenty-Eight: Amanda’s Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

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Hi, lovelies! I’m back again at the end of this wonderful Spooktober to talk about the graphic novels I managed to read this month. Sadly, I read most of my spooky graphic novels last month in my excitement for the spooky season. But I still read some good picks this month!

Oz: Road to Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

This was probably my least favorite in this series so far. I enjoyed the art. I love Skottie Young’s work. I love how he brought to life all of the different people and creatures we meet on Dorothy’s latest journey. But the story itself was not as good as the others. I didn’t feel like much was at stake and I just didn’t care about Ozma’s birthday party.

Spinning by Tillie Walden

I love Tillie Walden. I don’t know what kick-started this love, but I love her work. I love her art. I especially loved this memoir written as a graphic novel. It was a bit confusing here and there because it seemed to have random bits of her life plopped into the story. But after reading the author’s note at the end it made more sense. This was a story about a young girl that is a talented figure skater, but she’s also so much more than that. She’s gay and trying to figure out what that means for her and the rest of her life. I really enjoyed this one. The story was heartfelt (and my hometown was mentioned, how cool?!) and meaningful. It was not a sweet story by any means, but it was honest and hard. I definitely recommend this one.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

This one has been on my radar since I started reading graphic novels earlier this year. I really like the message it left me with. Even though you love someone, they might not be the right person for you. I didn’t like how Freddy let herself neglect her friends when Laura Dean decided to give her attention. Laura Dean was a giant asshole. I’m glad Freddy broke up with her. I enjoyed the art for this one. I also really enjoy the parts of the story where Freddy was writing to an advice columnist and the advice she got back. I enjoyed this one for sure.

Check, Please! Book One: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Everyone absolutely raves about Check, Please! So, I had to get it. Plus, I’m a huge hockey fan. I figured this would be right up my alley. Indeed it was. I thought this was fun and just all around wholesome. I loved the bro-ness that was clear throughout the story. There’s just something about being a part of a team. I thought that came across really well. I love  Bitty and his obsession with baking. It made me want to get up and bake a pie myself. The only thing I didn’t really like was how it jumped from scene to scene between chapters. Something big would happen and then suddenly it would be a new chapter with a completely different topic. I felt like we were only getting bits and pieces of Bitty’s story. Which, kind of makes sense because the story is told via  Bitty’s vlogs. But I wanted a bit more detail. Overall, I had a ton of fun reading this and will definitely be picking up the next volume.

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume One: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

I would die for Luci. I loved this graphic novel. I plan to go pick up the next few volumes tomorrow when I can. I love the concept of the story, twelve Gods reincarnating as humans for two years before dying again. I’d love to know more about where they go when they die. I loved that we follow Laura, a human, as she befriends Luci, and fangirls over the rest of the Gods. Lucifer being female was everything I never knew I needed. She was absolutely my favorite. I really enjoyed the diverse cast. It was hard to really get any character development from the rest of the Gods because there was just so many of them. I’m sure we will see more of them in the next volumes and I just cannot wait to continue this series.

These are all the graphic novels I read this month. Have you read any of them? Did you like (or not) any as much as I did? Leave me some recommendations if you have them!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s September Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews

Hi, lovelies! I really enjoyed the post I made last month with mini-reviews of all the graphic novels I read in August (check it out here), so I think I am going to continue doing that each month for all the graphic novels I read. So, this post will be mini-reviews for all the graphic novels I read in the month of September.

Moonstruck Volume One: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, & Kate Leth

This was the perfect graphic novel to start of the spooky season. There is magic and mystery and a wide cast of characters. I just adored the characters. There are some werewolves, centaurs, magicians, ghosts, and seers. This cast of characters was beyond diverse, too. There is representation for fat, POC, non-binary, and queer characters. There is a female/female romance that was so sweet. I loved the mystery and the friendships that we were given. I think Cass (the seer) was my favorite character. She was the perfect amount of weird. Overall, this graphic novel was everything I wanted it to be.

Oz: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

I enjoy this one the most out of this graphic novel series so far. It would have been a five star read for me, but I felt like it lingered on just a bit too much at the end. The gang finds themselves falling to the center of the earth after a series of massive earthquakes. I thought this was a really interesting story. I really enjoyed all the weird communities they found down there and all the ways they managed to get themselves out of trouble. It was a fun and quick story.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

I completely adored The Prince and the Dressmaker. I found this one through one of my library apps and I’m glad I decided to try it. I thought the art was vivid and absolutely stunning. I also really loved the story. Everyone getting a happy ending made my little heart warm. I also really like the way the story was told. There were only words when the art couldn’t tell the story on its own. I just loved this one and will definitely be recommending it in the future.

Moonstruck Vol. 2: Some Enchanted Evening by Grace Ellis & Shae Beagle

I really like the art in this series, but I’m having a little trouble with the plot. The story was kind of all over the place, but I enjoyed the characters well enough. I was a bit sad to not get as much Cass as the previous volume. She was definitely the most interesting character to me. Moonstruck is a diverse story, that was filled with fun characters on sometimes confusing adventures.

These are all the graphic novels I managed to read in September! Have you read any of these? Or any that are similar? Let me know below!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews​

Hi, lovelies! I’ve been reading some graphic novels lately because I belatedly joined a Graphic Novel Read-a-thon that’s going on thanks to Lauren & her Books and Tea book club. Check out all the details here. I’m going to try to complete all the challenges, but I don’t usually write reviews for the graphic novels I read. So, I thought it would be fun to do a wrap up of mini-reviews for all the things I picked up!

Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle & Isaac Goodhart

This one was a bit underwhelming for me. I enjoyed the story, minus the animal abuse part that is toward the beginning. This story wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting her to fight crime and be a superhero. Which is not what I got. What I got was more of an origin story. I enjoyed the friendships and their backstories. But overall, it was average.

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige & Stephen Byrne

Another hero origin story, one that I enjoyed more than the Catwoman story. Mera’s story was one I’m not overly familiar with. I didn’t know there was so much to the story in this underwater world. The only issue I really had was the insta-love. Mera and Arthur happened so quickly. I was honestly rooting for Larken and Mera because they almost had the childhood friends to lovers trope going on, but Mera was just not having it. Overall, this was fun and sweet, but only a 3.5 star read for me.

Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect by Zander Cannon

I found this graphic novel at my local Ollie’s Discount Store. I checked the review on GoodReads and it had a pretty average rating, but I thought the art style looked interesting and I gave it a chance. I’m pleased to be able to say that I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. This story follows a group of monsters that have been essentially put in jail. Despite its fantastical genre, it still manages to touch upon relevant topics. Topics like drug use, rape, abuse of power, gangs, and I think it did this very well. I’m excited to continue on to Season Two of this series.

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo

I actually was lucky enough to meet both of the authors of this graphic novel. My copy is signed. So when I didn’t love the first two DC Ink adaptations, I was hesitant to pick this up. But I’m glad I got to it. I enjoyed this way more than the other two. I cannot wait to see Beast Boy’s story. I adored the art style and definitely want to see more of Picolo’s work. I also enjoyed all the different aspects, Raven’s amnesia, Max’s own unique abilities, the different romances. I loved it all. Overall, this has been my favorite of DC’s new adaptions for young adults.

Oz: The Marvelous Land of Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

I picked the third and fourth installments of this series not knowing that they were the third and fourth. So, I made a trip to a local comic book store and picked up all the ones I was missing but couldn’t find the first. Luckily, the first is just another retelling of Dorothy & the Wizard of Oz, so I’m not missing too much not reading it because I already know the story. Sadly, this was average for me. I enjoyed it overall, but it didn’t blow me away which seems to be the theme this month. It was a fun story and I will be finishing the series because I already own them all.

Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth, Megan Levens, & Marissa Louise

This was a graphic novel that I  found while searching through BookOutlet to see what gems I might find. Spell on Wheels was exactly that, a gem. I loved this one. It was witchy and diverse. It would have been perfect for the month of October. It challenges people when they say gross things, it has queer characters, and also a satyr. All of these elements were brought together in such a good way. Put this one on your TBR for sure.

Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk

I wanted to love this, but just couldn’t. The story was confusing and I couldn’t really identify with any of the characters. I really wanted to like this one, but it just fell flat for me. It seemed to jump all over the place while also trying to tell one long story. It just went over my head. Sadly, it’s a no from me. Henchgirl now lives in my unhaul pile until the next time I go and sell some books.

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So, I managed to read seven graphic novels for this reading challenge. I finished a graphic novel that matches Lauren’s hair (purple, blue, & turquoise) with Under the Moon, Mera: Tidebreaker, & Teen Titans: Raven. I read my newest graphic novel, Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect. I completed my oldest graphic novel, Under the Moon. I attempted to catch up with my favorite series with The Marvelous Land of Oz but only managed to read one of the series. I read a graphic novel that was recommended to me when I picked up Spell on Wheels. Mera: Tidebreaker counts as a new to me genre because I hadn’t read any superhero stories until I picked up the DCINK series. Sadly, I did not manage to read all my unread graphic novels, but I read seven and that’s a decent start!

Did you read any graphic novels in August? Let me know if you did or not below!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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