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 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 #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 #55 – Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Title: Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay
Author: Jill Mansell
Date finished: 7/21/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages in book: 370
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:

When Clemency meets the brilliant Sam Adams, she could just about fall in love with him—if he weren’t married. Three years later, Clemency has settled into her cozy home village of Cornwall to focus on her career. Everything is smooth sailing until Sam upends her entire life…by showing up as her stepsister’s boyfriend.

Caught in the midst of a love triangle, Clemency has to pretend she’s never met Sam…and choose between the love of her life and the bond of sisterhood.

My rating:  2.25 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 had some time available while I was in the hospital recently to catch up on a little reading. I can’t say that I liked this book – there were a few things I enjoyed while reading it but overall there was a lot that I didn’t love. The writing felt a tad two-dimensional to me. The characters all felt like exaggerated versions of themselves and their conversations and internal monologues felt very cliched. I didn’t love Clemency’s character either, her sunny attitude got to e a bit much and she just felt very under developed. And the start of the book where she’s being super chatty with Sam on the plane was just jarring to me – as an introvert that’s pretty much my worst nightmare is a stranger trying to talk to me. So just from the start of the book I felt like maybe this one wasn’t for me. There were a number of subplots going on in this book, which in some ways helped to move the story along faster, but also felt like a bit much for one novel. So overall this wasn’t my favorite book but it was a good enough novel and if you like light contemporary romances with no sex scenes then I would give this one a try.

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

2021 Book #51 – A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor

Title: A Duke in Time
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 7/1/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Pages in book: 380
Stand alone or series: The Widow Rules series Book #1
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 Duke in Time is the first book in a three-story arc that will have you rooting for leading heroines, searching for lost dowries, and falling for swoon-worthy heroes.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.

My rating:  3.25 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 them so I wanted to try this first in a new series. I’m not sure if it’s just timing in terms of where I was in life when reading this book (distracted, stressed, cranky) but I found some pieces of the book / plot to be somewhat annoying. Kat was pretty dramatic about everything and (while I did think it was admirable that she wanted to handle things on her own) I didn’t like that she just left town without telling Christian what was going on. Christian also was a somewhat “flowery” character for me – he was really in touch with his emotions and waxed poetic a good amount about his love for Kat. It was obviously romantic but it also got to be a bit corny for me. I did really enjoy the little sisterhood created between Kat and the other wives – I thought that was cute. I’m somewhat interested to read the stories of the two other wives (I’m assuming those’ll be the next books in the series) but I am not sure if I’ll end up reading those or not. Overall this was a good book but definitely not one of my favorites.

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

2021 Monthly Status Update: June (& Blog Hiatus for July/August/September)

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June was a busy month for me outside of reading. I hadn’t mentioned it yet but my husband and I have been expecting! Our son was just born earlier this week, so there was a whirlwind of activity in June to finish getting ready – between our baby shower, trying to get everything in order at work, setting up the nursery and just general life – it was hard to find time to read in June! And since this is our first child, I’m not sure what to expect exactly over the next few months so I’ll be taking a hiatus for a couple months on the site and won’t be posting as much (if at all)! Anyways, here is my progress for reading in June:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 7
# pages read this month: 2,197
# books read year-to-date: 48
# pages read year-to-date: 16,866

Other Posts this month:

Nothing to report from this past month!

Favorite books from this month:

Getaway Girl by Tessa Bailey – 4.50 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • Nothing on the TBR List for July!

Like I mentioned, I’m not sure what the next couple months will bring exactly so I purposefully didn’t commit to any reviews for July and August (and only one in late September). I’ll still be trying to work on my backlog for the next couple months and also read something each month from my library. Other than that I’m just planning to wing it and see how things go!

Happy reading everyone!

2021 Book #42 – Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

Title: Heartbreak for Hire
Author: Sonia Hartl
Date finished: 5/30/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Pages in book: 320
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 smart, sexy, and witty romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne—about a twentysomething who lives out every woman’s fantasy: getting paid to give men who do us wrong a taste of their own medicine. But when a previous target unexpectedly shows up at her office, she’s forced to rethink her life as a professional heartbreaker.

Brinkley Saunders has a secret.

To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.

In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.

But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.

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 was really interested by the premise behind this novel and was excited to get the chance to read it. It’s coming out in a couple months but I am not sure on my availability for posting this July so I figured I’d just read and post it a little early. The plot line on this was was different than the other romances I’ve read of late and it was a refreshing change of pace. Brinkley’s profession is really what made this book so interesting to me. I felt terrible that she got screwed over so much but I loved how she stood up for herself in the end. Her “meet-cute” with Mark was really unusual too and it was just intriguing to me to see such a different plot line. I’d be interested to hear stories about the other H4H ladies falling in love too and their journeys. I’m not sure if Hartl is planning to do a series of sorts but I hope so! Overall this was an interesting and different book and was also a great romantic story. I would recommend it to other readers!

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

2021 Book #37 – The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Title: The Soulmate Equation
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/9/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Pages in book: 365
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:

Single mom Jessica Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: one of GeneticAlly’s founders, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond Match” that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated

My rating:  4.25 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 love these authors a ton and they always publish books that I enjoy so much. And this was another great book of theirs! I thought this book was a great strangers/dislike to falling in love and it was really well done. The way that the relationship developed between River and Jess was immensely heart warming and I really loved both their interactions with Juno. It was enchanting to see their love story unfolding. Even more, it was so interesting to see Jess’s journey to accepting help from her loved ones and also to accepting herself. River was so painfully shy and earnest, I loved his character. Honestly all the characters were quirky and hilarious – Fizzy especially and I loved that she was a romance author. I also loved that the story featured Jess cutting off a toxic relationship with a relative. I think too often books manage to turn things around and things magically work out somehow. But sometimes a toxic relationship is just that and needs to end. I thought it was a really brave thing to do. Overall I thought it was a great love story and I really enjoyed it!

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

2021 Book #32 – How To Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

Title: How To Train Your Earl
Author: Amelia Grey
Date finished: 4/28/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: First Comes Love series #3
Where I got the book from: Publisher / NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher / 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 roguish earl must fight using his honor and not his sword to win his lady’s hand in How To Train Your Earl, the third book in the First Comes Love trilogy from bestseller Amelia Grey.

Brina Feld has settled into a life devoted to helping others since the sinking of the Salty Dove left her widowed. She has no need for a man in her contented life. But when the notorious and handsome Lord Blacknight returns and awakens her desires, her peace and serenity vanish. If she agrees to an alliance with him, she knows she will have to battle her heart to keep from being snared under his spell.

Zane, the Earl of Blacknight, was never supposed to inherit the earldom, so he didn’t much care to lead a respectable life before then. Fistfights, card games, and drinking are the order of the day. Now he’s determined to change his rakish ways and he knows the proper lady who can help him. There’s just one problem: He’s already bet he’ll win her hand before the Season is over. With her resolve to out-scheme him, how can he show her that his love is true?

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 had read the first book in this series and when I saw this one I thought it sounded interesting. And I liked it but I can’t say that I loved it. It was a solid romance novel but there were parts that I didn’t care for personally. I thought Zane’s family was a little overly involved and not always very nice to him, of course he had not proven to be a very reliable fellow through his youth. Also I didn’t love that Brina was so closed-minded even though she had strong feelings for Zane. And I especially didn’t like that she wouldn’t listen to Zane at the climax of the story – I know it was necessary for the plot but it was so frustrating. Zane spends all this time proving to her how devoted he was and how much he cared about her, and she wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt and at least listen to what he had to say. It all worked out fine in the end but some parts I found frustrating. So overall I liked the book but I can’t say that I loved it.

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