Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The How & the Why, a new contemporary book by Cynthia Hand. I absolutely loved this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on it! I also put together a (somewhat messy) playlist for the book, so scroll to the bottom for that. It’s not in any particular order, but the songs all relate to scenes in the book. You can view the full tour schedule here to check out posts from the other tour hosts! I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia HandThe How & the Why by Cynthia Hand
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th November 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

The How & the Why is the first Cynthia Hand book I’ve read in years. I started her paranormal series, Unearthly, when it first came out, and I remember absolutely loving it. In fact, I think only statement on Goodreads was gushing about the book and then promising that a review was to come (spoiler: a review didn’t come). After remembering all of this, I was very excited to read her newest contemporary, because I’m always happy when authors switch genres.

I was initially drawn to The How & the Why because after reading Far From the Tree, I’ve been really interested in adoption stories. I actually think this fascination started way earlier, but FFTT kicked things off again. You’ll probably see a lot of comparisons between the two books because they deal with a very similar subject matter, although FFTT deals more with sibling relationships than best friendships and the teen trying to find their birth mother.

I absolutely loved the main character, Cass, in The How & the Why. She was incredibly relatable in so many ways, and the relationship between her and her best friend, Nyla, was amazing. I loved the way it was written, and I loved that the focus on them didn’t sway when a potential love interest showed up.

The How & the Why is incredibly deep and heartwarming. The letters from S, Cass’s birth mother, were adorable, and such a good insight into how a teen mother-to-be could be feeling. I would have read a whole story about S, to be honest.

The ending was both satisfying… and not. It had really great build up, but I wanted more, and I think a lot of readers will feel the same way. I wasn’t disappointed in the ending at all, and I don’t think it detracts from the book, but I would definitely love it if Cynthia Hand were to write a sequel or a short story about what happened there at the end. Of course, it wouldn’t really align with the personal story that Cynthia Hand was telling, but I’m so attached to these characters now that I want to read more about them.

I’m so incredibly glad that I picked this book up on a whim because I would have missed out on so much heart warming goodness if I had skipped over it. Apparently I’m not sick of YA contemporary yet, I’m just sick of YA romances! Who’d have thought.

Monthly Wrap Up: October 2019

Life Stuff

As always, October was busy. My life is just not calming down. I ended September (WRAP UP LINK) by moving into a new house, and so a lot of October was spent getting used to the new place and figuring out where we were going to put everything. We have SO MUCH space in our new house, which I’m thrilled by, and so we’re going to have to buy some furniture to make it look a bit more lived in. We have a new, much bigger sofa being delivered in November, and then I’m going to focus on furnishing the library room. I’m struggling to find the perfect armchair, though, so if you have any suggestions or recommendations, do shout!

Things have been eventful at work as well. Firstly, I’ve been training someone in their new role (one of my old roles), and that’s zapped a lot of my energy. I haven’t really been online much because of that. The commute hasn’t helped, since it’s currently way, way longer than it should be due to roadworks. I literally cannot get out of my town without hitting at least three sets, no matter which route I take. It’s draining, and so all I want to do when I get home is nap or play games. But on the plus side, we did have a week at the office dedicated to raising awareness for the current climate crisis. I was very appreciative about and keen for that. I just hope that my company keeps this up, and it wasn’t just a phase.

Despite being really, really busy in October, I also managed to fit in some pretty awesome things. First of all, there was GollanczFest, which has made a triumphant return this year. I spent most of my day with Justine (and her Scottish Husband) and Judith, and I also met Maggie, which was lovely! I had a really good time listening to the panels (especially the discussions that got quite heated because DRAMA), and Quill also really enjoyed himself, which I was glad about. I wasn’t sure how he would find sitting around all day listening to authors, but he found it all really interesting. I did have to leave early because we were going to a housewarming party (which sucked), which was a shame, but I guess I’ll be back next year!

Quill also booked a surprise for me – walking a silver fox! We spent a couple of hours on a farm walking this guy around and feeding him berries. He was an absolute sweetheart, and it was really interesting to learn about how silver foxes are entirely domesticated now because of the fur trade.

Then, of course, there was the 24 Hour Readathon, in which I read two and a half books! I love Dewey’s Readathon and I take part at least once a year. I love how the community comes together for it! Did you take part? How did your reading go?

Books Read

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1. Thornhill by Pam Smy ★★
2. Fan the Fame by Anna Priemaza ★★★.5
3. If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser ★★★.5
4. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys ★★★
5. American Predator by Maureen Callahan ★★
6. The Whisper Man by Alex North ★★★★
7. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll ★★
8. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch ★★★★
9. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab ★★★
10. The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy ★★★
11. The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts ★★.5
12. Do No Harm by Henry Marsh ★★★
13. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin ★★.5
14. Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick ★★★.5
15. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban ★★★★
16. I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rish ★★★

On the Blog & In the Blogosphere

I only really had reviews going on on Books of Amber during October because I was struggling to find the time to write any more creative posts.

I’ve been a bit behind when it comes to keeping up with everyone’s blogs, but I did a little bit of reading over the course of the month. These area few of my faves.

Movies, TV Shows, and Games

Quill and I have been watching a lot of TV recently. It takes less concentration than blogging and Booktubing, so I’ve been having a whale of a time marathoning shows. We’re currently on Season 3 of Supernatural (I’m trying to rewatch it all before the final season ends, but that might be a long shot), and we’re obviously loving it. We started Season 2 of Scrubs (which I’m not such a fan of but I like a few of the characters), and I introduced Quill to Modern Family (which he is unexpectedly REALLY into). Basically, I have great taste in TV and everyone should listen to me.

I haven’t watched many movies, although I did make all my friends watch Scream with me. I used to be obsessed with that franchise when I was younger, and could probably quote the whole thing from memory. Quill and I also watched District 9, which was a lot more emotional than I was expecting! I got very attached to the aliens.

We’ve also been playing our way through the Gears of War series. We finished the first two games, and we’re currently about a quarter of the way through the third. The games improve massively, which I’m happy about, because the first one stressed me out more than anything.

Looking Ahead

November is going to be another busy one. I’m not sure if there’s any point in my noting that down anymore! First of all we have our anniversary, for which we’re going on a spa weekend. That should be nice and relaxing, and I’m hoping to fit a lot of reading in while I’m lounging around and being pampered. Quill and I also decided we would have a “no phones” weekend so that we’re properly off the grid.

My mum and Quill’s parents are coming to visit (on two separate days – I’m not ready for them to meet yet!) and to see the house, so that’ll be nice. We’re going to a fireworks display on the 9th with Quill’s family, and I have to say that it’s the best fireworks display in the county and I cannot wait for it.

Then we have both of our birthdays coming up as well! Mine is on the 14th, which is a Thursday, so I’ve booked that day off work along with the following day, so I can enjoy a really long weekend. I’m not doing anything special on the day, but on the 16th we’re going ice skating at the Natural History Museum and I’ll probably pop into Waterstones Piccadilly to FINALLY break my book buying ban. Quill’s birthday is right at the end of the month, and we’re not doing anything exciting for his until December. That’s a secret though, so I’m not going to post about it here in case he sees!

Blog Tour: The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy, a YA fantasy debut that came out earlier in October. In this fantasy world, memories are used as a currency, and are bartered, traded, and sometimes stolen. I had a lot of fun reading this one, and I’m excited to share my thoughts (and a giveaway!) with you. You can view the full tour schedule here to check out posts from the other tour hosts! I obviously received The Memory Thief for free in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: The Memory Thief by Lauren MansyThe Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 1st October 2019
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal's" memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

Apparently I’m a masive sucker for anything to do with weird currency or transactions, because as soon as I heard about The Memory Thief I was comparing to Everless and I was getting really excited. The concept of memories being sold, traded, and stolen is a fantastic idea, and also mildly terrifying.

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If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser

If You’re Out There by Katy LoutzenhiserIf You're Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th March 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-half-stars

After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.

If You’re Out There was kind of adorable! It was more of a low-key mystery than a full on thriller, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m really glad I decided to pick it up, which I did because the ghosting thing seemed relatable and I was intrigued.

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Fan the Fame by Anna Priemaza

Fan the Fame by Anna PriemazaFan the Fame by Anna Premaza
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 20th August 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Lainey wouldn’t mind lugging a camera around a video game convention for her brother, aka YouTube superstar Codemeister, except for one big problem. He’s funny and charming online, but behind closed doors, Cody is a sexist jerk.

SamTheBrave came to this year’s con with one mission: meeting Codemeister—because getting his idol’s attention could be the big break Sam needs.

ShadowWillow is already a successful streamer. But when her fans start shipping her with Code, Shadow concocts a plan to turn the rumors to her advantage.

The three teens’ paths collide when Lainey records one of Cody’s hateful rants on video. Because she’s determined to spill the truth to her brother’s fans—even if that means putting Sam and Shadow in the crosshairs.

I have some mixed feelings about Fan the Fame. On the one hand, I really enjoyed both the concept and the setting. On the other, one of the main characters was almost completely insufferable, and her character arc over the course of the book was less of an arc than a straight line.

In case you don’t know, I’m on Youtube. My channel is a Booktube channel, but I also watch a lot of gaming videos and I’ve been to quite a few conventions in my time. As such, I absolutely loved this concept. I loved that the characters were all going to a gaming convention, and that two of them had Youtube channels and wanted to make it on there. I could really relate to Sam and Shadow when they were talking about working hard on growing their channels and networking. I think a lot of bloggers and Bookstagrammers would be able to relate to this as well, so it’s not just Booktubers who would enjoy this part of the book.

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