2020 Monthly Status Update: August

August-Holidays

August flew by! The cooler weather is finally here (at least for the last couple days) and I am LOVING it. I also have set up a new desk space in my home so that I have a dedicated area while working from home and it is just perfectly functional and beautiful. I am really looking forward to the next month and to catching up with work tasks. I did have to focus a bit more on work over the last month so I haven’t had as much time for reading but I am trying to stay as productive as possible! Here are some reading highlights from August for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 5
# pages read this month: 1,710
# books read year-to-date: 59
# pages read year-to-date: 19,413

Other Posts this month:

Here to Stay BLOG TOUR!!
ARC August Reading Challenge

Favorite books from this month:

I liked the books this month but didn’t particularly love any certain one

Next Month TBR List:

  • One by One by Ruth Ware
  • Nowhere to Hide by Leslie Kelly
  • The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
  • Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
  • The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter

Next month is also my BIRTHDAY month so I’m planning to read a couple books in the fairy-tale retelling theme! My husband and I have been watching Once Upon a Time lately and I always love the Descendants movies – I always find it so fun to hear a classic fairy-tale story told in a new way.

I hope everyone has a great September! Happy reading everyone!

ARC August 2020 – WRAP UP

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And so wraps up another ARC August! This wasn’t my most successful ARC August, I have been stressed about work and haven’t had as much time for reading lately. I still tried my best but I only got through a handful of books that I wanted to. Here’s how I ended up on the ARC Reading challenge for 2020:

MY PROGRESS

August 2020 ARC’s 

-The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson – Read and reviewed
-Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting – Read and reviewed
-Here To Stay by Adriana Herrera – Read and reviewed
-Wednesdays, Walks and Wags by Melissa Storm – Read and reviewed

Backlog ARC’s

-Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
-Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford
-One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase
-A Season of You by Emma Douglas
-A Better Trust by Valerie Joan Connors
-Lies by T.M. Logan
-29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

I didn’t get to any of my backlog ones. And I even ended up adding a 2020 August one that I got last minute and didn’t get to that one either. But that is a wrap for this year’s ARC August! I had a great time reading and I am already looking forward to next year’s challenge!

Incognito Ex BLOG TOUR!!

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Harlequin is featuring their category romance in an August 2020 series blog tour! Incognito Ex will be released August 1, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I recently read this novel and while the plot didn’t appeal to me personally there was a lot to like about this novel and it is still a great example of a Harlequin series novel! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt: 

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SUMMARY

When she is targeted by a vicious mobster, a past love is her only hope.

When a Russian gangster targets Coral Staufer, she is desperate for help. Coral stumbles across an undercover agent none other than the man she loved and lost, Trevor Stone. Trevor will risk anything to stop her from becoming a mob casualty…even risk his career to protect Coral. But when their past love reignites, their entire mission—and very lives—are at stake.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author photo_Geri Krotow

Geri Krotow is a Naval Academy graduate and Navy veteran. She has traveled to and lived in many places abroad, including South America, Italy and Russia. Her family has finally settled down in Central Pennsylvannia but Geri still writes about all the places she’s been. An awardwinning author, Geri writes the Silver Valley PD for Harlequin Romantic Suspense

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BUY IT HERE!

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EXCERPT

3D cover_INCOGNITO EX by Geri KrotowTrevor Stone never took his eye off the ball while undercover. Never. But as he fought to keep these thugs from harming Coral while processing the fact that he still had to get her out of here, he was distracted. The last several days, working alongside ROC gang members, he’d felt her nearby, as if the invisible thread that connected them had come alive again.

He’d known she lived here, knew this was the farm she’d inherited. He knew what one rogue ROC member had done to the barn last January and hadn’t been able to fight his protective instincts toward his ex, years after they split. He’d volunteered for the mission, stupidly thinking that he’d be able to ensure her safety while not coming into direct contact with her.

What he could never have predicted was how he’d react when face-to-face with Coral again.

His hands clenched painfully tight, and all he wanted was to throw Coral over his shoulder and run for the Appalachian Mountains that surrounded Silver Valley. Take her far from this night, to a place where ROC couldn’t touch her. And yes, away from seeing him again, especially like this.

The raw fact that she was about to be assassinated by one of the two lower-level ROC crooks was all that kept him focused. The complication that she’d just blown his cover, carefully cultivated over the past two years, was a sideshow. One he’d have to address, but later, after he got her out of here alive. When he was far from her, and knew she was safe.

“What did she call you? Who is Trevor?” Disbelief, suspicion, anger snaked across the ground as the two other men cried out, and he figured he had about two seconds to act.

“Stupid girl took a hit to her head.” He spoke as Grisha, the undercover identity he’d adopted to help the Trail Hikers, the secret government agency that he worked for, and his sole focus was to break up the ROC’s hold on the East Coast.

“I’m not a girl, and my head isn’t that messed up. It is you, isn’t it?” At least she’d lowered her voice. It wouldn’t be a surprise to her to know he was still doing undercover work. How could she forget? It had been the death knell of their marriage.

Coral’s initial appearance of frailty after the conk on her head had morphed into righteous anger. He didn’t blame her, but he couldn’t keep looking at her. Three long years without one glance at her, without her eyes on him, without the sound of her voice, threatened to destroy any focus he had left.

He gave himself a quick mental shake. If she didn’t get them killed with her words, he was going to blow it with his inability to block out the distraction that was Coral.

“We have to get out of here.” He addressed the other two men, both young and not the brightest, working for Ivanov, the ROC head honcho. “The cops are com-ing. You two take off. I’ll meet up later. I’ll take care of her, trust me.” He nodded at the road, and the two men craned their necks to verify his claim. The sirens screamed in the night, and he saw the flashing lights move down the highway in the distance. He took the opportunity to lift Coral from her bent position and pulled her up against him, his arm raised as if he was going to strike her.

“Don’t talk. Follow my lead. And don’t say my name again.” He murmured into her ear, his lips against her skin out of necessity. He couldn’t risk the others hearing him. “Now yell when I move my arm, like I’ve hit you.”

Coral’s strangled gasp nearly threw him out of his reality as an undercover agent posing as a working ROC stiff. Her voice tried to drag his mind back to hazy, hot California days when they’d spent all day in bed, getting up only to eat. It wasn’t fair that a single sound from her still did this to him. That the sur-real connection they shared hadn’t perished with their marriage.

“Kill her now, Grish.” Adam was pissed, in pain from the gunshot wound, and wanted Trevor to prove he wasn’t Trevor, that Coral really was suffering from a severe head trauma. ROC agents weren’t high on trust, and Trevor, as Grisha, was new to their local group.

“It’d be stupid to do it here. She’s easier to move while she can still walk. Let me take care of her, then I’ll come back for you both. Stay low, don’t use your flashlights. The police will stop at the farmhouse first. We’ve got time.” He wrapped his arm around Coral’s waist—she was thinner, but still steely strong—and half dragged, half ran with her to where he’d seen her car earlier in the day, when he’d made his own excursion out here.

Self-recrimination threatened to stop him in his tracks as he knew he should have made doubly sure she wouldn’t be on the property when ROC came looking for Markova’s treasure. But he’d run out of time to verify his source who’d told him she’d be out tonight. Even with her being here, he’d never have expected she’d catch them—usually his ROC associates were somewhat competent. Unlike these two.

Thank God for inept thugs.

When they were what he estimated was halfway to her car, he pulled out his pistol and held her tight with his other arm. “Hang on. I’m going to shoot at the ground, to let them think it’s you.” He quickly fired two shots at the dirt, making sure the bullets had nothing to bounce off, making it sound like he’d just eliminated a witness.

The sirens were close, and he saw the patrols turn into the long drive leading to the barn area.

“What are you doing here, Trevor?” Her voice shook, but he couldn’t tell if it was shock or anger. Probably both.

“I’ll explain later. Right now we can’t be seen by anyone.”

“But that’s the police—I called them.”

“I can’t be spotted, and for now you’re with me.” He had no way of knowing which officers were re-porting, and he couldn’t risk being taken into custody. Only two SVPD officers were cut in on his deep undercover work.

Now the woman on his arm was one more added to the list of people in the know. The woman he’d never forgotten, whom he’d still go through hell and damnation for. His ex-wife, Coral.

 

 

 

 

 

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 7 & Wrap Up

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I’ve participated in the Bout of Books reading challenges in the past few years and I’m usually able to get a good amount of reading done – I’ve found it’s a great way to help me focus on reading and have concentrated reading time. I was especially excited for this month’s Bout of Books since 1) I have a lot of time to relax at home right now (welcome to the pandemic) 2) I had a pretty bad reading slump this year and didn’t read for almost two months so I’m looking forward to diving into some great reads and 3) work this year has been intense so I was more eager than ever for some relaxation time!! I got a good amount of reading done this week and it was great to spend some time focused on the blog and participating in the challenges.

First let’s do my Day 7 (Sunday) update on reading.

Update

Sunday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 2.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 146 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,412 pages
Books read: Started Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich
Challenges: I did tweet about Sunday’s challenge which was just a stretch goal challenge!

And now let’s look at how I fared for my overall Bout of Books 28 wrap up:

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to read at least an hour Monday and Tuesday and then from there I’m hoping to read at least 3 hours a day, hopefully more.
I met the daily reading goal all of the days! Overall the pandemic really helped me since I can’t exactly go anywhere. I honestly probably would’ve gotten more reading done but I started playing a game in an app on my phone and it quickly got me addicted so I was distracted for some of the days. Overall I read over 23 hours for the challenge so I’d call that a success!

My Goals

My goals for this read-a-thon are that I’d like to participate in as much as I can: the daily posts plus reading every day. I’d really like to just focus on getting back into reading and devouring my books. My traditional busy season at work goes from January to April and it was a killer this year, especially with all the additional issues presented with the pandemic. I gave up on reading for pretty much February through the beginning of April since all I was doing was making myself more tired staying up too late reading. I’ve just recently picked up reading again and it’s been going well but I need to get back on board with my reading schedule and catch up on books I missed over the last couple months!

I was able to read every day, which was probably easier than normal since I took the second half of the week off of work.  I also participated in 5 out of the 7 daily challenges, the two that I missed were logistical issues.

Books to Read

  • Finish Outfox by Sandra Brown – Done! Review will be posted later this week
  • Read Close Up by Amanda Quick – Read and reviewed
  • Read BuzzBooks Romance sampler – Read and reviewed
  • Read Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia – Read and reviewed
  • Read Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson – Read and reviewed
  • Read a book I own (TBD) – Skipped
  • Read Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich – Started on last day of challenge but haven’t finished yet

Overall I thought I did super well with this challenge and made a lot of time for reading! I’m hoping to also participate in the August Bout of Books this year but that will be dependent on a few scheduling items. Either way, I had a great time this past week! Happy reading everyone!

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 1

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I’m so happy to be reading again! This challenge is really just such a good way to make sure I have some dedicated reading time during the week. I’m looking forward to reading all day tomorrow too. So anyways my Monday’s progress is below:

Update

Monday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 2.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 145 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 145 pages (Day one! Ha)
Books read: Continued reading Close Up by Amanda Quick
Challenges: I participated in the challenge for yesterday!

 

Stay tuned for continued progress (hopefully!) made in tomorrow’s post on my Tuesday update!!

Bout of Books 28 – Sign Up Post!!

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WOO HOO It’s time for BOUT OF BOOKS! I’ve participated in the Bout of Books reading challenges in the past few years and I’m usually able to get a good amount of reading done – I’ve found it’s a great way to help me focus on reading and have concentrated reading time. I’m especially excited for this year’s Bout of Books since 1) I have a lot of time to relax at home right now (welcome to the pandemic) 2) I had a pretty bad reading slump this year and didn’t read for almost two months so I’m looking forward to diving into some great reads and 3) work this year has been intense so I am more eager than ever for some relaxation time!

Even though things continue to be busy at work (as always), they’re encouraging us to take some vacation time so I’ll be taking at least a couple days off next week to devote my time to reading!

For those of you who don’t really know much about Bout of Books, it is basically a week-long, no pressure read-a-thon that has been going strong since 2011! Here is a description directly from the Bout of Books blog:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are daily challenges, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For Bout of Books 28 information and updates, visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon was created by Amanda @ On a Book Bender on a complete whim in August 2011. It took on a life of its own and was such a hit that Amanda decided to do it again and turn it into a somewhat regular occurrence.

  • Bout of Books is a week long read-a-thon, usually from 12:01am on a Monday through 11:59pm on a Sunday in whatever time zone you are in.
  • It is low pressure, meaning participants are only asked to push themselves to read more than they normally would during any given week. There is no competition between readers.
  • How much time a reader wants, and can commit, to read, tweet, or network with fellow bloggers is left to individual preference. All challenges and giveaways are optional.
  • Networking with fellow bloggers is actively encouraged, though never required.
  • Use Twitter to post updates throughout the read-a-thon. Everyone will be tweeting with the #boutofbooks hashtag.

I’ve been reading pretty close to on schedule lately and I’m hoping to continue that trend over the next week!

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to read at least an hour Monday and Tuesday and then from there I’m hoping to read at least 3 hours a day, hopefully more! .

My Goals

My goals for this read-a-thon are that I’d like to participate in as much as I can: the daily posts plus reading every day. I’d really like to just focus on getting back into reading and devouring my books. My traditional busy season at work goes from January to April and it was a killer this year, especially with all the additional issues presented with the pandemic. I gave up on reading for pretty much February through the beginning of April since all I was doing was making myself more tired staying up too late reading. I’ve just recently picked up reading again and it’s been going well but I need to get back on board with my reading schedule and catch up on books I missed over the last couple months!

Books to Read

  • Finish Outfox by Sandra Brown
  • Read Close Up by Amanda Quick
  • Read BuzzBooks Romance sampler
  • Read Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia
  • Read Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
  • Read a book I own (TBD)
  • Read Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

It’s a good sized list but I’m really looking forward to this week-long reading challenge devoted to reading! If you do want to join make sure to add yourself to the page’s Sign Up Post by Tuesday, May 12th at 11:59pm CST! Happy reading!

2020 Monthly Status Update: January

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And so the first month of the year has come to a close! Time has been flying by lately – I’m doing the best I can to keep up! Here are some reading highlights from January for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 8
# pages read this month: 2,408
# books read year-to-date: 8 (ha)
# pages read year-to-date: 2,408

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

I read a couple good books but nothing I’d say is a favorite!

Other Posts this month:

Immortals After Dark Series
2019 Recap and 2020 Goals! 
Podcasts Galore! Romance Novel edition

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Next Month TBR List:

  • Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb
  • The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
  • Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally
  • Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie
  • The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries

2019 Recap and 2020 Goals!

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I can’t believe 2019 is over already! This year absolutely flew by, I feel like I looked up and all of a sudden it was December. This year I spent some time trying to find balance – between my work and home life and my reading and time spent with my husband / family. There’s always room for more improvement but I did the best I could this year. As the year draws to a close there is more than ever developing at work and I’m hoping I’ll be able to overcome the challenges I face there. I’m also hoping to spend time where I can continuing to read – and not only read some great books published in 2020 but also read more off my backlog and from my personal library.

So anyways! On to the meat of this post – to recap on the goals list that I had set for 2019:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August Check! I participated in ARC August 2019 and got a lot of ARC’s read – see my posts on this challenge here  
    2. Bout of Books Challenges (2)
      1. BOB 24 January 2019 Check! I participated in this one, though I didn’t find it as productive as the May one so I’m cutting it from the list in 2020. See my posts on this challenge here
      2. BOB 25 May 2019 Check! I participated in this one, see my posts on this challenge here
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February, June, September and October Half check – I ended up participating for February and October but couldn’t fit it into the other months 
    4. Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge – 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR! Check! Read a few on the list, though not as many as I wanted. See my posts on this challenge here
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! Check! I used the 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR reading challenge to start tackling some of my backlog lists – hoping to continue hacking at these lists over the next year!
  3. Also read some of the books I own (there are too many) Check! I read probably a handful of books that I own, though I bought a lot more – oh well!
  4. And some personal goals! Lose weight, focus on healthier eating, exercise more often, more time at home, more time with Kris, and finish some house projects! Mostly check – I wasn’t really great with most of these but, again, did the best I could. Hoping to make more progress in 2020.

As I mentioned with finding balance, I think I was able to mete out a good amount of time for myself to read this year. I also discovered PODCASTS this year, which are fantastic and they’ve really helped me develop my knowledge (and my TBR list) within the romance genre. I’m hoping to have a post up within the next week or so on what podcasts I’ve been listening to and what I’ve enjoyed so far. Any readers who have a favorite podcast definitely let me know, I’m always interested in checking out a new one! I also attended a couple book related events this year (including KissCon New England), all of which I enjoyed immensely. I just love being able to talk about books and listen to people talk about books and everything related to that. I’m hoping to make it to an RWA  or other romance writers conference sometime soon.

In looking back on my year of reading this year, I was able to read a comparable amount related to previous years. Below is a chart of the books I read by month this year vs previous years:

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I also really like the functionality of the Goodreads Year in Books summary for giving an overview of what happened during my year for reading. I don’t record 100% of the books I read on here so it doesn’t always match up with my own figures but I love having all the covers in one place, it makes for a neat graphic.

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And just for fun! Here are a few of my favorites from 2019:

Favorite Reads from 2019

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – 5.0 stars
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – 4.75 stars
Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (OMG IAD IS THE BEST!) by Kresley Cole – 5.0 stars
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – 4.75 stars

Favorite New Series

Pretty obviously this is the Immortals After Dark series. I have mentioned this series in a number of posts, it is bananas (to coin Sarah MacLean’s term) and amazing and a roller coaster of awesome. I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it already!

Favorite Podcasts

(Obviously) Fated Mates is great. I love the IAD discussions but also love the interstitial episodes where Sarah and Jen talk about recommended reads. I’ve also really been enjoying Learning the Tropes (Erin and Clayton are hilarious!) and Not Your Mom’s Romance Book Club (I love their back and forths and Ellen and her Mom remind me so much of me and my mom!).

Best New Author I Read in 2019

Has to be Helen Hoang – I should have read The Kiss Quotient last year but didn’t get to it til this year after I read The Bride Test. Both are amazing books and I’m so impressed by her writing and her as a person! I can’t wait for the next book!

Here we close out the 2019 year and we look ahead to the New Year!!

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Looking ahead to 2020 I can not help but be less hopeful than I was last year. I have found it hard to find enough time to devote myself to both blogging and reading while also doing everything else I need to do. So I’m hoping to change that this year. Slow down with my tasks and actually enjoy them and expand on them. I’m hoping to rediscover my hope in some areas and create happiness where I’m able. Overall I’m looking to be a little more creative and do a little more writing outside of my comfortable review box I’ve narrowed myself to. I used to really enjoy the “Top Ten Tuesday” posts and the “Waiting on Wednesday” posts I did in the past. My schedule has been squeezed so tight in recent years that I haven’t made time to do them but I’d like to dabble a little more in these again this year. There are so many different fun activities within the land of book bloggers and I’m hoping to find some of that fun again this year!

Looking ahead to 2020, here are some of the goals I plan to achieve:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August
    2. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 25 (May 2020)
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February and October. I don’t think that the Bookish site is doing Book Bingo sheets anymore but I’m hoping I can find another site that has one for these two months.
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month
  4. Write at least one non-review and non-blog tour post a month – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like!

 

I wish everyone strength and happiness in 2020, Happy Reading!

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2019 Monthly Status Update: December

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December was BUSY. Work was a struggle for me this month but luckily I had some time off at the end of the month and I was able to catch up with my reading. I wish I could have more vacations like this, where I get to read a book a day and get some things done around the house and not do much else. So anyways, here are some highlights from December for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,437
# books read year-to-date: 102
# pages read year-to-date: 36,251

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – 4.5 stars
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn – 4.0 stars

Other Posts this month:

Nothing else for this month!

Next Month TBR List:

  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  • Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
  • Hunting for a Highlander by Lynsay Sands
  • Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
  • Scot Under the Covers by Suzanne Enoch

2019 Monthly Status Update: October

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October was a busy month for me work wise (as per the usual lately if I’m honest). I was doing a reading challenge and I only wish I had been able to devote more time to reading since I missed getting book bingo by only a couple books. Even so, I had a great time reading during October and since Halloween is my favorite holiday I tried to allow myself some spooky reads for the month! So anyways, here are some highlights from October for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 7
# pages read this month: 2,501
# books read year-to-date: 82
# pages read year-to-date: 29,217

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

 

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Pestilence by Laura Thalassa – did not post a review on this but it was so different and fun and it was one of my favorite books of the month! (4.0 stars)

Other Posts this month:

October Reading Challenge – Bookish Bingo!
The Widow of Rose House BLOG TOUR!! 

Next Month TBR List:

-The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
-Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
-The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
-Don’t Close Your Eyes by Christie Craig
-Don’t Breathe a Word by Christie Craig
-The Princess Plan by Julia London

That’s a fairly manageable TBR list for me over a month so i’m also hoping to read something else among either my backlog, my owned books, or the next book from the Fated Mates podcast, which I’m trying to keep up with! Over the next month I’ll be trying to get a lot done at work while also gearing up for the holidays and getting ready for lots of family time, which I love! Here’s hoping you all had a colorful October and are looking ahead to a warm and loving November.