2021 Monthly Status Update: September

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My favorite time of the year is here. Fall is the best – between the cooler weather and my birthday and all the Halloween decorations, I just love this time of year. This past month was my last month of maternity leave and I read A LOT! I won’t be able to continue at this pace going forward as I’m starting back at work but I am hoping to still read some great books next month too. So! Here is my reading progress for September:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 15
# pages read this month: 4,808
# books read year-to-date: 90
# pages read year-to-date: 30,949

Other Posts this month:

Nothing to report from this past month!

Favorite books from this month:

Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4.75 stars
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey – 4.5 stars

Next Month TBR List:

For October, I don’t have any scheduled reads but I wanted to do some spooky/witchy reads! So I’m going to be reading a mix of things from my backlog and my library that fit into my “theme” for this month:

  • The Ex Hex
  • Witches of East End
  • Witches of Eastwick
  • Sorrow
  • Look for Me
  • The Witchfinder’s Sister
  • The Vanishing Season
  • A Heart of Blood and Ashes

I’m back to work this month but hoping to ease in slowly so I just need to find a balance between work and family first and then I’ll be able to figure out where I can fit in more reading!

Happy reading everyone and hope you all have a spooky October!

2021 Book #87 – When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

Title: When Sparks Fly
Author: Helena Hunting
Date finished: 9/22/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Pages in book: 371
Stand alone or series: Stand alone (kind of hoping to see more books for the friends or the sisters though!)
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Charming, hilarious, and emotional…When Sparks Fly is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Avery Spark is living her best life. Between her friends, her sisters, and Spark House, the event hotel her family owns, she doesn’t have much time for anything else, especially relationships. She’d rather hang out with her best friend and roommate, Declan McCormick, than deal with the dating scene. But everything changes when she is in a car accident and needs someone to care for her as she heals.

Declan avoids relationships, giving him a playboy reputation that he lives up to when he puts a one-night stand ahead of a promise he made to Avery. While he may not have been the one driving the car, he feels responsible for Avery’s injuries and is determined to make it up to her by stepping into the role of caretaker.

Little did they know that the more time they spend in compromising positions, the attraction they’ve been refusing to acknowledge becomes impossible to ignore. When they finally give in to the spark between them, neither is prepared for the consequences. Their love is fragile and all it will take is a blow from the past to shatter it all.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read a few other books by this author and really enjoyed them so I was excited to read her new release! Helena Hunting is an interesting author to me because she spans the genre between more steamy (her Pucked series from what I remember is on the steamier side) to very low steam level. This book was on the lower side and I have to say I thought there was a lack of chemistry really between the protagonists. They definitely were well suited for each other and it was still a romantic story but I just didn’t necessarily buy into there being a strong attraction between the two of them. Other than that I thought this book was pretty good. I liked the plot – it was different from a lot of others in the romance genre and I found it pretty original. I would recommend it, especially if you like romance that is a little less graphic!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #74 – The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy

Title: The Telling
Author: Alexandra Sirowy
Date finished: 9/15/21
Genre: Young adult, thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A chilling new novel about a girl who must delve into her past if she wants to live long enough to have a future when a series of murders that are eerily similar to the dark stories her brother used to tell start happening in her hometown.

Lana used to know what was real. That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten. Love, blood, and murder.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read many young adult books lately so this was a nice change of pace. And the mystery plot line was interesting and had an unexpected outcome that I was surprised by. I’m getting further away from my young adult years so I have trouble connecting somewhat to the characters. There were parts of the plot that I thought were a little ridiculous but overall it was a good story. I was surprised at how much murder there was considering it was a young adult book but I would still recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #83 – Lies by T.M. Logan

Title: Lies
Author: T.M. Logan
Date finished: 9/13/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Pages in book: 406
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Six days ago, Joe Lynch was a happily married man, a devoted father, and a respected teacher living in a well-to-do London suburb. But that was before he spotted his wife’s car entering a hotel parking garage. Before he saw her in a heated argument with her best friend’s husband. Before Joe confronted the other man in an altercation where he left him for dead, bleeding and unconscious.

Now, Joe’s life is unraveling. His wife has lied to him. Her deception has put their entire family in jeopardy. The man she met at the hotel has vanished. And as the police investigate his disappearance, suspicion falls on Joe.

Unable to trust the woman he loves, Joe finds himself at the mercy of her revelations and deceits, unsure of who or what to believe. All he knows is that her actions have brought someone dangerous into their lives—someone obsessed with her and determined to tear Joe’s world apart.

What if your whole life was based on LIES?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I didn’t love this book at first – it took me a little while to get into it but once I did the plot line was very intriguing. I didn’t want to put it down because I had to find out what would happen next. And there was a great plot twist at the end that I didn’t really see coming. It was just so sad though – without giving the ending away I just felt so sad for Joe. he honestly was just a nice guy and the police attacking him every second as well as just what he went through on a personal level through the story was so depressing to me. It was a great thriller though with a very good twist so if you like suspense novels this is a great one to read!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Monthly Status Update: August

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What a great month August was! I have been spending lots of time with my new baby at home and have been reading A LOT. Plus we’ve been getting out and starting to do things as a family, like going to events and a local country fair. It’s been so exciting to go on adventures as a new family of three! During all this I read some awesome books, so here is my reading progress for August:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 14
# pages read this month: 5,068
# books read year-to-date: 75
# pages read year-to-date: 26,141

Other Posts this month:

Nothing to report from this past month!

Favorite books from this month:

Runaway Girl by Tessa Bailey – 4.75 stars
You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart – 4.75 stars
Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4.75 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

September is one of my favorite months of the year, and this year especially I have a lot to look forward to! My mom and I both have our birthdays in September and we have a series of events planned. And with the new addition to our family this year we have even more to celebrate! I will still be on leave for the next month so there will continue to be some additional time for reading. I’ve been making great headway with my backlogs from prior years and I’ll hopefully continue to make progress with this.

Happy reading everyone!

2021 Book #68 – Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Title: Love and Ruin
Author: Paula McLain
Date finished: 8/13/21
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 432
Stand alone or series: Sequel to The Paris Wife (since both are different periods of Ernest Hemingway’s life) but can be read as a stand alone easily
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. There she also finds herself unexpectedly—and unwillingly—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

On the eve of World War II, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must forge a path as her own woman and writer.

Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed some and not really enjoyed others. I wasn’t expecting to love this book but I honestly couldn’t put it down. I thought it was astounding how the author took real historical figures and certain plot points of their actual lives and created flesh and blood characters that leapt off the pages. The reader can see the smoke from the bombings and hear the sounds of the shelling – it feels as if we’re right alongside the characters in the novel living on the front lines of war. The book was a little wordier than I usually enjoy but in this case it only added to the reader’s ability to experience exactly what Marty (and in certain cases Ernest) are feeling and seeing. Marty was an immensely interesting character – her bravery and determination to be right on the front lines reporting the war efforts was amazingly admirable and I loved reading about her. And while it was interesting to read about the development and ultimate deterioration of Marty and Ernest’s relationship, it was really Marty’s journey to find and fight for herself that I couldn’t tear myself away from. I’d definitely recommend this one, especially to historical fiction fans! It was a great read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #66 – You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart

Title: You Were Always Mine
Author: Nicole Baart
Date finished: 8/9/21
Genre: Mystery, women’s fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages in book: 385
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I couldn’t put this one down! The plot of this book was so good – the twist ending was not at all what I expected. I loved the little pieces of information disclosed at the start of each chapter from Evan’s patient notes too. I was so intrigued to figure out what the short hand notes meant and how it connected to the story. The whole story was really interesting and thought provoking in terms of adoption, having babies while incarcerated, process of child protective services, etc. Jessica’s emotions leapt off the page and I really felt myself inserted into her heartache. I thought it was so sad that Evan died (**spoiler kind of – you find out pretty early**) before he could reconcile with Jessica though because they did honestly love each other. Overall though this was a great book and I really enjoyed it, I would definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #62 – The English Wife by Lauren Willig

Title: The English Wife
Author: Lauren Willig
Date finished: 8/2/21
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Pages in book: 379
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous novel set in the Gilded Age, full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I absolutely loved the cover on this novel, and the description sounded interesting. It was a little outside my normal go-to so I was excited to read something different. The book was a little slower than I expected, it was a little wordy and I found that the start of the book took a while to get moving plot wise for me. I struggled a little through the start, but once it got towards the middle of the book things started to pick up and I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. The plot was interesting, there were some good plot twists in the story line. The characters were nuanced. I just found the plot to be a little sad, especially Georgie’s gradual disillusionment of her marriage. I did love the ending though, especially how things ended for Jane. Overall it was a good book and I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t say that I was super thrilling.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #57 – Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Title: Best Friends Forever
Author: Margot Hunt
Date finished: 7/23/21
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Pages in book: 296
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had signed up to review this book awhile ago and finally had the chance to read it. And I ended up really enjoying it! The plot of this book was great – there were some great plot twists that I never saw coming, which is somewhat rare for me. I was pretty shocked at the ending! The characters were well developed and the pacing of the book was well done. I liked that the book was told through alternating passages between present day and the past. I can’t say too much without giving away the ending but overall this was a really good book. I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened. And like I said the plot twists in the end were shocking, if a little dark and twisted. I’d definitely recommend it though!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #41 – The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Title: The Lies We Told
Author: Camilla Way
Date finished: 6/12/21
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Pages in book: 333
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The highly acclaimed author of Watching Edie returns with a new novel of dark psychological suspense that explores how those closest to us have the most to hide…

A daughter
Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, the apparent delight in hurting others…Sometimes Beth is scared of her and what she could be capable of.

A son
Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him.

A life built on lies
As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. Can Clara find him before it’s too late?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have had this book on my backlog for a while and finally had a chance to read it. It was a very interesting book too – there was a great amount of plot twists and the story line really kept me guessing. I thought that the author did an excellent job of alternating between the past and the present as well as alternating between points of view to create additional suspense. I really didn’t want to put it down! There were a few things I didn’t end up loving – overall the book was pretty depressing and the ending is left somewhat open / unresolved which isn’t my favorite thing. Overall though I really liked the book and I’d definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page