The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody

Summary:
The last thing Barclay Thorne ever wanted was an adventure.
Thankfully, as an apprentice to the town’s mushroom farmer, Barclay need only work hard and follow the rules to one day become the head mushroom farmer himself. No danger required. But then Barclay accidentally breaks his town’s most sacred rule: never ever EVER stray into the Woods, for within the Woods lurk vicious magical Beasts.
To Barclay’s horror, he faces a fate far worse than being eaten: he unwittingly bonds with a Beast and is run out of town by an angry mob. Determined to break this bond and return home, Barclay journeys to find the mysterious town of Lore Keepers, people who have also bonded with Beasts and share their powers.
But after making new friends, entering a dangerous apprenticeship exam, and even facing the legendary Beast of the Woods, Barclay must make a difficult choice: return to the home and rules he’s always known, or embrace the adventure awaiting him.

The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore, #1)

Review:
Thank you, NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC of The Accidental Apprentice in exchange for an honest review. I love a good middle-grade story. So, when I learned that Foody (who gained my love and admiration with her YA books) was releasing a middle-grade series, I was beyond excited.
The Accidental Apprentice follows Barclay Thorne when his life changes. He’s an orphan that lives in a town full of rules. He’s working as an apprentice to the town’s mushroom farmer and he’s found that he actually enjoys what he’s doing. One day, he’s working with his fellow apprentice when they accidentally break the town’s most important rule: don’t go into the Woods. While breaking that rule, Barclay somehow bonds with a Beast. This changes everything for him. After he’s run out of town, he finds Viola. Viola helps Barclay make it to the Lore Keeper town within the woods. There he searches for a way to remove his Mark and get rid of the Beast that has chosen him.
I thought this book was such a fun read. It was filled with action and adventure, mystery and intrigue. There are so many misconceptions about the Lore Keepers that Barclay was raised to know. So, he spends so much time just unlearning all the things he thought he knew. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Barclay studies and takes tests in hopes to win a competition, so we get to see him as he’s learning all these new things about Lore Keepers and Beasts, as well as, his own Beast. I think the best part of the story was Barclay’s internal struggle. We see him start to realize that he might actually belong with the Lore Keepers, but he’s in fierce denial about this because he still wants to return to his town. He thinks that his parents would have wanted him to stay in his hometown. His slow development out of those thoughts was really enjoyable. I thought it was well done. He didn’t just start having fun with his new friends and give up on his mission. It really was an internal struggle.
I loved Barclay’s new friends. I was shocked at one of the twists involving them. But I also liked how things turned out with the boy that seemed mean. I think the friendships were really interesting. I liked the unexpected bits about them.
Overall, I loved this book. I thought the Beasts and Lore Keepers were interesting and unique. I liked the friendships and the adventures the friends went on. I liked the competition aspects of the story. I also loved the development of Barclay. I think this book will be well loved.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Summary:
It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.
Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

Lost in the Never Woods

Review:
Lost in the Never Woods was provided to me via NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This book follows Wendy Darling years after she and her brothers disappeared in the woods. But while Wendy reappeared with no memory of the time she was missing, her brothers did not. Wendy is turning 18. She’s about to go off to college and start life on her own. She volunteers at the hospital with the kids. When kids from her town start disappearing, they’re kids that Wendy knows. So, she feels like she needs to do something to help get them back. But things get weird when Wendy finds Peter Pan late one night near the woods while she’s driving home.
I really liked the retelling aspect of this book. Things took a really dark turn that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve never been a super fan of Peter Pan, so I don’t know if this twist was one from Thomas’s imagination or if it stems from previous Peter Pan stories. But it shocked the heck out of me, so there’s that. I think the plot of the story, Peter and Wendy trying to rescue the missing kids was a good one. But I think the story felt really slow. They meet to brainstorm, try to find the kids, and figure out a general plan of action several times. Some of these times end up with them getting ice cream or doing something completely unrelated to their goal of finding the kids. I just felt like the story was pretty slow and drawn out.
Now, I will say that the writing and the other topics covered in the story made this slow pace a bit more enjoyable. Wendy is suffering from survivor’s guilt. She made it out of the woods with no memory of what happened or where her brothers are now. So, this was a big focus of the story. I liked this aspect. It was hard to read at times, but I think the grief and guilt was really well done. Wendy’s parents are also pretty neglectful. As a parent myself, I felt for them. They lost their two youngest children with no sure knowledge of whether they’re dead or alive. This loss consumes Wendy’s parents and after her return they are not the same parents they were before. I liked the conclusion with Wendy’s parents. As hard as it was to read their suffering and grief, I really liked how their relationship with Wendy changed.
Peter as a character was absolutely fascinating. I saw a review where he’s described as a ‘manic pixie dream boy’ and I think that perfectly explains his character. He’s mysterious, curious, and a bit wild. He’s dealing with losing his magic and growing into an adult, which he isn’t supposed to do. But it’s clear he knows things that he isn’t telling Wendy. They mystery of Peter and his secrets was really well done. Small things were revealed overtime to keep us interested until the big reveal. Wendy however, felt a little bland. She was pretty much only her grief and guilt. We get a little bit other than that with her volunteering and plans to go off to college, but it felt like she had no personality.
Overall, I enjoyed this story. I think many will really love this story. It brings heavy conversations to the table and talks about them thoughtfully and with respect. It had characters you want to root for. The writing is beautiful and memorable but still easy to read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Namesake by Adrienne Young

Summary:
Trader. Fighter. Survivor.
With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.
As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

Namesake (Fable, #2)

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Namesake is the sequel to Fable (which I reviewed here). I really loved Fable, so I was very excited to get approved to read its sequel. Namesake did not disappoint. I’m just going to say right now that there will be spoilers for Fable, so stop reading now if you haven’t read the first book.
Namesake follows Fable, our main character, after the cliffhanger ending. Fable has been kidnapped and once again separated from her crew. I missed seeing the crew together, but I loved all of the secrets that we learned and getting to see more of this captivating world. We get to see more outside of the Narrows that we learned about in Fable. The mysterious Bastian is finally revealed. We also get to meet the infamous Holland. I really enjoyed seeing this world open up. Young’s writing is so great. It’s detailed enough to give a clear picture of the story and the characters, but not so flowery that it danced around.
Fable is the same badass, intelligent, fierce main character that she was in the first book. She’s faced with a lot of revelations about the past that she’s forced to deal with in her present. I thought these secrets and twists were well done. I didn’t see any of them coming and they really did great things for the overall story.
Now, I’m sad to say that I didn’t love the romance between Fable and West as much in this book. I still liked it and was invested in their happy ending, but there was something about it that I just didn’t like in this book. I think the conflict that was introduced, specifically for the romance, wasn’t needed at all. I didn’t care for the comparisons to Fable’s father and the doubt that it caused for Fable. Especially since I don’t feel like any of that was really worked through.
Overall, this was another action packed, high stakes story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved Fable. I loved seeing her faced with challenges and working through her choices. I liked seeing her try to solve problems and figure out the next steps. I loved seeing more of this world. I especially loved the writing. I will definitely be looking into Young’s backlist soon.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Summary:
Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.
The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.
With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.
Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Down Comes the Night

Review:
I received Down Comes the Night as an eARC via NetGalley and the publishers. I request this because the cover pulled me in and I had some friends on Twitter that were also excited for it. This book did not end up being what I was anticipating. I thought this was going to be a spooky story about a creepy house but with magic.
This story is actually about Wren, who has magic that can be used to heal. She’s impulsive and compassionate. She’s told again and again that her feelings keep her from being the soldier she is supposed to be. I liked that Wren never let herself change. She wanted to be able to change, if only to please the people in her life that were asking her to, but she made the same choices over and over. I liked this about Wren, even if she didn’t like it about herself. It hurt to read about Wren’s internal thoughts and motivations. She’s motivated by those that want her to change. It was so good to see her finally grow out of that. She learns to appreciate the things about herself that others are always criticizing. I think her growth was well done. I also really liked that Wren is bisexual, but it wasn’t really a part of the plot.
Now, the love interest. I had a really hard time liking him. Hal has done some really terrible things. But somehow, I couldn’t help but liking the relationship between Hal and Wren. I don’t know that I can say I liked Hal. But I liked their romance.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The romance was one that I found myself invested in. The world was interesting. There was a fascinating and creepy villain. The politics of the world was interesting, too. I especially liked the ending. There were consequences for the things that Hal had done, but there was also a happily ever after for the romance. The resolutions between Wren and her loved ones was one that I could get behind. I think many people are going to love this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

Summary:
Showing that truth is stranger than fiction, Sylvain Neuvel weaves a scfi thriller reminiscent of Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, blending a fast moving, darkly satirical look at 1940s rocketry with an exploration of the amorality of progress and the nature of violence in A History of What Comes Next.
Always run, never fight.
Preserve the knowledge.
Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars.
Over 99 identical generations, Mia’s family has shaped human history to push them to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices and sacrificing countless lives. Her turn comes at the dawn of the age of rocketry. Her mission: to lure Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, and secure the future of the space race.
But Mia’s family is not the only group pushing the levers of history: an even more ruthless enemy lurks behind the scenes.
A darkly satirical first contact thriller, as seen through the eyes of the women who make progress possible and the men who are determined to stop them…

A History of What Comes Next (Take Them to the Stars, #1)

Review:
I want to start off by saying that while I was approved for an eARC of this book (three days before it’s release date), I actually read the finished copy that I got from my local library. So, thank you NetGalley, but technically I didn’t read the ARC. Now, 3.5 stars, that makes me a little sad because Neuvel’s previous series, the Themis Files, is one of my all time favorite series, so you could say that I was very excited for this new release. I don’t want to say that I didn’t like it because that would be a lie. I did like it. I enjoyed reading it. I thought it was interesting. But I didn’t completely love it like I thought I was going to (though I will say I didn’t really even know what it was about until after I picked up my copy from the library).
This story follow Mia and her mother, Sarah, and occasionally some bits and pieces about their ancestors. They are the Kibsu and they have been tasked with helping humanity reach the stars and successfully figure out how to travel through space. Why? I literally have no idea. Are they aliens? Time travelers? Why don’t you tell me because I honestly don’t know. (Edited to add: I’ve reread the synopsis and it says it’s a “first contact” story, so they are definitely aliens.) So, the whole time Sarah is training Mia to take over and start the next generation tasked to reach the stars, there is another alien/time traveler/whatever in play. There is the Tracker that is following them. Neither Mia nor Sarah is completely sure that the Tracker even exists. But if he does, he will kill them both if they let him find them. Some parts of the story are told from his point of view as well. I thought this was an interesting choice because it opened up the story a bit more. It gave us more insight into the history of the Kibsu (which I believe I am correct in assuming that the Tracker is also Kibsu).
Now, I think I just didn’t love this book because a lot of the finer details went right over my head. After reading the authors note at the end, it’s clear that Neuvel put so much thought and research into this book. I don’t often pick up historical fiction and that’s what this was. This is a historical fiction book with a sci-fi twist (a few characters that are aliens). I think it’s the extreme amount of detail that is what put me off the story a bit. There’s so much science that Mia is doing to help different people build rockets. But also, I feel like I was left with all of the same questions that I had while I was learning about Mia and Sarah. I feel like we didn’t really learn anything, aside from what we learned from the Tracker, but that dude murder so many people and I don’t trust him. I also think that so much information has been lost or changed through 100 generations. It’s like a game of telephone.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. Once I got past the 100 page mark, I was intrigued enough by the story to keep going. But it was dense in history and science, the writing style was a bit odd and took some getting used to, and while I learned a lot about the history of the space race I feel like I didn’t learn anything about the characters. I believe this is a series so I do plan to continue it, but I think I might see how the audiobooks are done. Anyway, if you’re a space or history nerd, you’ll probably love this.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher

Summary:
Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future in this unforgettable debut novel sure to entice fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer E. Smith
Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.
In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.
When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.
Ashley Schumacher’s devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.
Amelia Unabridged by Ashley SchumacherReview:
Amelia Unabridged is a beautiful story about how to continue living after the death of someone you love. Thanks, NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I read this story in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. The story follows Amelia. She’s just graduated from high school. She and her best friend are supposed to meet their favorite author at a book festival. But when the author backs out of the event Amelia is devastated. Endsley wrote the Orman Chronicles and Amelia found these books when everything in her life was falling apart. Books save people sometimes (we all know that) and that’s what Endsley’s books did for Amelia. They also brought her and her best friend, Jenna, together. But Jenna meets Endsley before he backs out of his event and Amelia is furious. The two part, because Jenna is traveling to Ireland for the summer, on less than perfect terms. But Jenna dies in a car accident while in Ireland and Amelia is lost. But then she gets the 101st special edition of one of Endsley’s books (when there were only supposed to be 100 made). Amelia sees this as a sign from her best friend. So, she travels to Val’s, the bookstore in Michigan where the book was mailed from. This is where the story starts to get interesting. Shortly after arriving, Amelia runs into N.E. Endsley. All Amelia wants is to know what Jenna said to him that day at the book festival. But the two develop a relationship, they bond over their grief, and learn more about one another. Together they work through what they’re struggling with and I thought it was beautiful.
So, I do have to say that I think Amelia falling in love with her all-time favorite author was a little corny, but I still really enjoyed this book. Both Amelia and Nolan Endsley are grieving the loss of the people that were closest to them. They also both feel as if the deaths were their fault, or at the very least that they could have prevented them. I really liked how Nolan was shown as a real person. I think all too often people treat authors as other, which Amelia absolutely did toward the beginning of the book. But it was nice to see Amelia stop and realize that Nolan was more than the author of her favorite book series. He’s a person that’s really struggling.
Overall, I think this was a beautiful story about grief and how to work through it, about new friendships and old ones, about following your dreams even if that means you stray from the path you’re ‘supposed’ to be on. I definitely recommend this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s NetGalley Shelf

Hey, lovelies! We’re a month into 2021 and I keep getting approved for eARC’s for 2021 releases that I’m beyond excited for. So, this list will be to share those titles (almost like another version of my 2021 anticipated releases, hah!) in part to hold myself accountable. But also, because I think it’s a fun way to share some of the books that I plan to read in the near future. I currently have a 72% for my feedback ratio with 122 books approved and 88 books with feedback already sent. I share this with you all so that I am being transparent. My feedback ratio is usually at or above 80%, which is part of the reason I’ve been approved for many of these titles. I have 22 books that are on my ‘give feedback’ shelf. So, this list will be all of those books.

We Are Meridians by S. Ghali
Publication date: August 27, 2019
I don’t know why I was approved for this book over a year after it’s publication, but it sounds super good. So, I’m planning to read it soon. It’s about a group of humans that left Earth and traveled into space hundreds of years ago. But now they need to return for something. The people of Earth think that it’s an alien invasion and so obviously it doesn’t go well.

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg
Publication date: November 1, 2020
I was a part of the blog tour for this book. Find my spotlight post here. I shared a bit of a blurb and other information about the book. Since this has already been released I’ll probably just read it on Kindle Unlimited and share that I read the finished copy in my review. Check out my spotlight post for the full synopsis.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Publication date: November 17, 2020
The only reason I haven’t picked this one up is because I’m scared. It’s a Romeo & Juliet retelling, so there is definitely going to be character deaths and I’m scared. I also have seen so many good things about this book, so I think all of the hype has intimidated me a bit. But I’m planning to read this one this month.

Blood Sworn (Ashlords, #2)

Blood Sworn by Scott Reintgen
Publication date: February 16, 2021
I’m currently read this one, so will probably have read it already when this posts. But this is the sequel to Ashlords (read my review for that here), which follows three characters during The Races, which is an annual event with phoenix horses. There are all sorts of fascinating politics and character dynamics. The world building and mythology is incredible. We learn more about the world in the second book and I’m already loving it so much.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Publication date: February 23, 2021
This is one of my anticipate releases that I am so excited for. It’s about a woman that gets married while drunk and in Las Vegas, something that is completely out of the norm for her. Feeling pressure because of outside expectations she flees to New York where her new wife lives. This sounds like it’s going to be fun and really enjoyable. I’m very excited to pick this one up. It’s definitely on my TBR for this month.

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
Publication date: March 2, 2021
A romantic fantasy about magic and a creepy mansion. Sign me the heck up. My town is supposed to get some snow this weekend, so I think I’m actually going to try to read this one while it’s snowing. I think it would be the perfect atmosphere for this story.

Namesake by Adrienne Young
Publication date: March 16, 2021
I absolutely adored Fable (review here). So this is a sequel that I am very excited to read. This is a sequel, so the first book follows Fable as she tries to earn enough money to escape the island her father abandoned her on years ago. She wants to find him again and claim her place at his side. But things don’t go as she expects and her plans have to change quickly. I loved the found family in this story. I loved the world building. I’m very excited for this sequel.

Lost in the Never Woods

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Publication date: March 23, 2021
I absolutely screamed a little when I got the approval email for this one. This sounds like it’s going to be a mysterious story about a small town and the children that go missing in its woods. I don’t know anything else about it and I’ve been keeping myself away from reading or watching any reviews. I want to go into this one knowing as little as possible.

The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
Publication date: March 30, 2021
Amanda Foody is one of my favorite authors, so I’m very excited for her middle grade debut that follows a boy who breaks the one rule in his town. Breaking this rule leads him on an adventure to undo his mistake, but on this adventure he must decide whether he actually wants to undo his mistake or if he wants to continue his adventure.

The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publication date: April 6, 2021
I’m just going to share the tagline for this book because it perfectly explains why I am so excited for this story. “Westworld meets Warcross in this high-stakes, dizzyingly smart sci-fi about a teen girl navigating an afterlife in which she must defeat an AI entity intent on destroying humanity, from award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman.”

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters
Publication date: April 6, 2021
I love historical romance. So, this historical romance is one I’m excited to read in probably one sitting. I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one too.

Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane Anders
Publication date: April 13, 2021
This is a story about a human clone of an alien set during an intergalactic war. Anders’ books have been hit or miss for me, but I’m still excited for this one.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers
Publication date: April 20, 2021
This is the final book in the Wayfarer’s series. In this installment, the story focuses on a planet that is essentially a truck stop in space. But when all traffic on and off planet is halted, three characters are thrown together to wait until travel is restored. I love this series so I am eager to get into this one.

Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein
Publication date: April 27, 2021
I am excited for this one because I’m a sucker for books with boarding school settings. I think this one is going to be enjoyable. It’s a young adult contemporary with a bit of romance. The synopsis says its “a story about two people finding each other and then screwing it all up” and I am absolutely here for that.

Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores, #3)

Gilded Serpent by Danielle L. Jensen
Publication date: April 27, 2021
I literally don’t even know how to explain this book. This is the third in a series, so I’m honestly not even going to try to explain. See my review for the first book, here. Please read this series. It’s so good.

Counting Down with You by Tashi Bhuiyan
Publication date: May 4, 2021
This is in the synopsis, “A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.” I’ve now heard some mixed reviews about this one and some of the representation inside of it. So, I’m still going to read this, but I am going into it hesitantly.

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
Publication date: May 11, 2021
The cover is what sold me. But also this book is about a bisexual girl figuring out why she can’t stop thinking about a girl she spent the night with. She’s confused because she’s finally gotten the interest of the boy she’s had a crush on forever. I’m excited for this one because it seems like it’s going to be a great story of self discovery and I love books like that.

Trouble Girls by Julie Lynn Rubin
Publication date: June 1, 2021
A queer YA reimagining of Thelma & Louise is all I need to know about this one.

A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water, #2)

A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow
Publication date: June 1, 2021
A Song Below Water was one of my favorite books that I read in 2020. So, I’m very excited for this sequel that follows Naema, who we met in the first book.

Better Together by Christine Riccio
Publication date: June 1, 2021
This is a story about sisters that don’t know about one another, think of Parent Trap. I love sibling relationships. So, I’m hopeful that I’ll enjoy this one even though I didn’t love Riccio’s debut.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
Publication date: August 3, 2021
A debut novel about ghosts in a small town, things you don’t want to meet in a dark corner, and finding a home. I’m excited for this debut novel. I think it’s going to somehow be both spooky and heartwarming.

Okay, there are all of the books that I need to read in the foreseeable future. All of these eARCs are books that I am very excited to get into. I’m thinking that I will do a check in for this list later on in the year to see what my progress looks like and how my ratios have changed. Are any of these books on your anticipated releases list? Let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa

Summary:
Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.
With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten.
Review:The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall, #1)
The Iron Raven
is the first book in the new spin-off series, The Iron Fey: Evenfall. I am part of the blog tour hosted by the publisher (InkYard Press) so I received this eARC through NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for promotion and an honest review. Now, onto the review.
The Iron Raven is like jumping right back into the world of the Iron Fey that I know and love (I reread all the previous books in anticipation for this one). Kagawa continues with her ability to provide vivid imagery and a stunning world. I love that with each new Iron Fey story, we get to see familiar creatures, but there are also new creatures that are fascinating. I just genuinely love all of the myths that Kagawa has managed to add to this book (and series). I’m very intrigued to see where this story is going and what the secrets behind the Big Bad are.
Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, is the main character for this book (and I assume the Evenfall series). I was really excited for Puck to finally have his own series. He’s always been one of my favorites. His storyline is interesting. We get to see the Puck we know and love, but we also get to see the Puck of legends, the Robin Goodfellow whose pranks bordered on cruel. Puck has an inner struggle in this story that was very compelling. I’m definitely interested to see how the rest of this series will play out.
We get to see new characters, like my favorite Nyx, and some old ones as well. We see Kierran, Meghan, and Ash, as well as some other minor characters. I really liked Nyx. I’m dying to know more about her past. I think it was really interesting to have someone that doesn’t know any of the stories about Puck. I liked the bits with Kierran and I did enjoy seeing the whole gang together again, but I sort of wish that it has less of the characters we already knew (aside from Puck of course). I wouldn’t say that I disliked the whole squad being back, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if this had been a new adventure that didn’t need Meghan to come to save the day.
Overall, I still really enjoy this. I’m mostly a fan of authors coming back to their old series and continuing them. Kagawa’s writing is still excellent. With vivid world-building, fascinating creatures and mythology, and characters I already loved, I think many people will love this book.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

GoodReads Summary:
Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”
High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful—and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile—and monumentally more successful—didn’t already make her stomach churn.
As the two rival app developers clash again and again—and again—Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?
Make Up Break UpReview:
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Make Up Break Up was a really fun (and diverse!) romance that was hate to love and an office (sort of) romance.
We follow Annika as she’s trying to get her app, Make Up, off the ground. Her concept is to create an app using an AI that will learn the people using the app to help them resolve relationship problems. It seemed to me almost like a therapist on your phone specifically for couples. I thought this was such a cool concept and I was so sad for Annika and all of the struggles she and June were facing while trying to get this project going. I loved that this was a story about a woman-owned and run company. But I also loved how Annkia’s backstory was a part of her motivation. Her parent’s love story is what inspired her idea and I thought it was beautiful.
Then there’s Hudson, a man that Annika had a short fling with, but also what she sees as her biggest rival. I knew right away that this was going to be a case of miscommunication from Hudson’s behavior. He was clearly interested in her right from when we first met him. I also liked him despite the company he owned. Break Up is an app that people use to break up with others. The person wanting to break up sends someone via the app to break up with their significant other. I thought, like Annika, there was some real potential for this app to be used callously, but I thought there was also the potential for this to be used thoughtfully. It was clear that Hudson didn’t really believe in his project anymore, just the success it was having. I liked that Hudson just seemed like a good dude (example: Annika was drunk and tried to kiss him and he declined because he didn’t want her to regret it later. Because he wanted her to want him when she was sober.)
Overall, this was a fun romance. There was drama and lots of tension. There was strong female women and really nice family aspects too. I liked that Annika’s dad was included and the development of their relationship gave me the feels. I definitely think a lot of people will like this. There weren’t super descriptive sex scenes that I enjoy, but there was still great romance and chemistry between the characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Summary:
“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.
Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1)Review:
Wings of Ebony was provided to me via NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This is a story about Rue, who, hours after her mother died, her father (who she doesn’t remember) comes to take her to where he is from. He is from a magical place, Ghizon, where she is given magic and trained how to use it. But on the anniversary of her mother’s death, she goes back to her neighborhood to leave a gift for her sister, Tasha. Her visit doesn’t go as expected, no one was supposed to see her. But things in her neighborhood are not good. There’s a crew that’s forcing high school kids to deal drugs and killing them if they refuse. Rue is determined to help her neighborhood, but it isn’t that simple. There’s more going on in both places than she realizes.
I liked Rue. She doesn’t always make the right choices, but she always makes them for the right reasons. She does everything because she wants to protect her family. I didn’t love that it took so long for her to let her father in, but it’s realistic. I can understand why it took so long. But I would have liked to gotten to see them getting to know one another more. I liked that after all Rue has been through, she managed to find one good thing in a place she had no desire to be in. She makes friends with a girl named Bri, who is who is really good with tech. Bri is how Rue gets back to her neighborhood for the anniversary. Their relationship isn’t always perfect, but I really liked them.
Overall, I liked this book. I think the worldbuilding was excellent. It spoke really well about colonization and racism (systemic and otherwise). I think there are so many people that will love this book. It’s full of adventure and love, but it also tackles tough topics in a really accessible way.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

GoodReads Summary:
When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.
But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.
When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.
The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.
But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.
You Have a MatchReview:
I got You Have a Match as an eARC thanks to NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I read Emma Lord’s debut novel, Tweet Cute, also as an ARC. I really loved that one, which is why I hit the request button as fast as I could when I saw You Have a Match. The story follows Abby. She and her two best friends, Connie and Leo, take a 23&me DNA test because Leo is adopted and he’s curious about his history. A part of him was hoping to potentially find family members. Connie and Abby take the test with him to be supportive. When the results come in, Abby is the one that finds a new family member. A full blood sister, meaning they have the same parents, and Savannah (Savvy) has already sent a message to Abby. The two meet and put some pieces together about the fact that their parents (Abby’s parents and Savvy’s adoptive parents). They concoct a plan to go to the same summer camp to figure out what’s going on with their parents.
I didn’t always like Abby, but I really appreciated her as a character. She had some real growth. She reminded me a lot of myself. She’s a ‘don’t make waves’ kind of person. So, instead of telling her parents, she doesn’t need all of the tutoring and extra help they’re making her go to, she just goes. She doesn’t want to rock the boat and that’s the story of my life. She has a lot of feelings that she doesn’t let out, which is never good. It causes lots of hijinks between Abby and Savvy (read: Finn is my favorite instigator).
Savvy is an Instagram influencer. I wish we’d gotten some of this story from Savvy’s point of view. I think that would have been the only thing that would have made this story better. I think it would have been nice to hear how she was feeling about everything and then later how things went with her parents. I liked Savvy. She puts on this image for the internet and that sort of makes her feel like she needs to put on the same image all the time. It was really interesting to see her talk to Abby and share things with one another. I loved seeing Savvy open up and be vulnerable with Abby. The two really had a rocky start, but they worked through it and I loved the sisterly moments they had. Also, Savvy is a lesbian (I don’t remember if it was specifically stated, but she has a girlfriend in this book.)
Overall, I loved all of the characters. I don’t want to make this too long and go over each of them. But I loved Abby and Connie’s relationship. It was realistic, filled with conflict, and a great resolution. I loved Savvy’s best friend Mickey and her food competition with Leo. I loved Finn and how much of an instigator he was, for it only to come out that he was going through some shit. I loved this book. It was filled with diverse characters that I couldn’t help but feel the things that they were feeling. There was family drama and heartwarming resolutions. There was summer camp hilarity. I just had a great time reading this story.

Quotes:

“Poppy had this thing he always said when we were out with our cameras. He’d show me how different lenses captured different perspectives, and how no two photos of the same thing were ever alike, simply because of the person taking them. If you learn to capture a feeling, he told me, it’ll always be louder than words.”

“We are best friends. And being someone’s best friend comes with a responsibility, a lifetime of secrets and promises and shared moments, that were made with a certain understanding. A contract of sorts. This is the person you are to me; these are the things I feel safe to tell you because of it.”

“Brave. It’s a word I’m still getting used to, after a lifetime of ducking from my problems. But maybe I’m growing into it, in my own way. A little less running and a little more talking. A little less wondering and a little more found.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

GoodReads Summary:
Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor…but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you’re forever in their debt.
Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.
Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.
But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?
These Vengeful HeartsReview:
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC of These Vengeful Hearts in exchange for an honest review. This story follows Ember Williams on a quest for revenge. She attends Heller High (called Hell High by the students), where instead of popular students ‘ruling’ the school, there is a ‘secret’ society (secret is in quotes because many of the students know it exists and have asked for favors, but other truly believe it to be a myth which seemed a little far-fetched after seeing some of the things that the Red Court did) that runs Hell High. The Red Court (sort of based on Alice and Wonderland) is led by the Queen of Hearts and everything is done through playing cards. This society is full of only female members that, at the synopsis accurately put it, deal out favors and social ruin in equal measure. Ember has been trying to become a member of the Red Court since she started high school. She wants revenge, to dismantle the Red Court forever. Two years ago, her sister, April, was in an accident orchestrated by the Red Court that left her paralyzed. Since then, Ember was plotted to join the society and ruin it.
The story starts right before Ember gets invited to be a member of the Red Court. I thought this was a great way to get to know Ember a bit before she joined. I mention that because one of my favorite things about this book was the way Ember changed and developed throughout the story. After joining the Red Court and completing her first mission, she realized two things: that this take down wasn’t going to be easy and that she actually kind of liked the manipulation she was tasked to complete. Things definitely got a little muddy, morally speaking, for Ember as this story progressed, which in my opinion was the best part of the story. Ember was an interesting character. She finds herself in over her head, lying to all of those she’s closest to, and crushing on someone she was specifically warned to stay away from. I loved it all.
Overall, this book was fast paced, suspenseful, and full of drama and secrets. I liked Ember. I liked her best friend Gideon (who is gay). I liked Embers partner in the Red Court, Amber (who is also gay). I liked how the relationships developed. It was exactly what I wanted it to be when I read ‘secret society in high school’ in the synopsis. Also, with that ending I’m really hoping there will be a sequel or companion story.

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.

The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

GoodReads Summary:
Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)
Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.
Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.
The Code for Love and HeartbreakReview:
Thank you, NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book. It was a fun and interesting romance novel that was also filled with self-discovery and growth.
In this book, we follow Emma. Emma is starting her senior year of high school. Also, her sister is leaving for college across the country. This is significant because Izzy is Emma’s best (and sort of only friend). So, her senior year is going to be very different than her previous three years. I really liked this aspect of the story because Emma is going to the same school with the same people, a huge part of her life has changed. I mostly liked Emma. She’s awkward and nerdy and almost never knows the right thing to say. She was frustrating and also inspiring. She really grows and I really appreciated that.
I loved the concept of the app that Emma’s coding club creates. I thought it was such an interesting idea to see how you can find love through math. I thought it was interesting to see how Emma struggles with her math not always working, too.
Overall, this book was entertaining and kept me interested. I liked that the characters really grew by the end of the story. I think this one will definitely be well-loved by those that understand the math Emma does.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.