2020 Monthly Status Update: September

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What a great month September was! It was my birthday month and a great month of reading. I was able to take a couple days off work even though we’re pretty busy right now. I found time here and there to read and I read some GREAT books! In addition to some of my scheduled books I was able to read a few fairy-tale retelling stories for my birthday month. Here are some reading highlights from September for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 9
# pages read this month: 3,483
# books read year-to-date: 68
# pages read year-to-date: 22,896

Other Posts this month:

No other posts this month!

Favorite books from this month:

Man I read some GREAT books this month!

Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown – 4.75 stars
The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter – 4.75 stars
Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey – 5.0 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • Mirror Image by Sandra Brown
  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
  • Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor
  • Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Hopefully October continues to be a productive reading month! It will definitely will be busy at work but if I manage my time I should be able to fit it in. Hope you all have a spooky October! Happy reading everyone!

2020 Book #64 – The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

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Title: The Lost Apothecary
Author: Sarah Penner
Date finished: 9/13/20
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Park Row
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Pages in book: 308
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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 forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

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.

The cover on this book looked so intriguing, as did the book description, so I was excited to get the chance to read this. This book was an interesting combination of historical fiction and a contemporary viewpoint. The plot was great – the plot twists at the end I just didn’t see coming and I really liked the overall plot line. Caroline’s character was intriguing and curious, and her growth throughout the story was wonderful to see. And I LOVED that she didn’t stay with her husband, who was a manipulative asshole. Overall this was a sweet story and I really enjoyed it, I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

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!

2020 Book #60 – Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Title: Here to Stay
Author: Adriana Herrera
Date finished: 8/28/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 393
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:

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.

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 haven’t read anything by this author before, but I’ve heard a lot about her books on a couple of the podcasts I listen to and I’ve been wanting lately to read one. I liked the description on this book a lot and was excited to read it. I liked it a good amount. The hero and heroine were so passionate and lively and it really made for an interesting read. I can see why her books are so popular because even beyond the normal romance plot line there were some important issues that this book dealt with: immigration and emotional abuse being the major ones. I loved hearing about the after-school programs Julia had organized and all the information about her background and her education. She was fiercely successful and it was so great to see such a strong female character in a romance novel. Julia and Rocco also had just the most adorable nicknames and it made me melt. Some of the plot was a tad off-putting for me because the main conflict was somewhat the result of communication issues – which isn’t my favorite. Other than that though it was a really enjoyable read and I’d recommend it!

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

2020 Book #58 – Wednesday, Walks & Wags by Melissa Storm

Title: Wednesdays, Walks, & Wags
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 8/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: The Sunday Potluck Club series book #2
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:

Bestselling author Melissa Storm reunites the members of the Sunday Potluck Club—and their canine companions—in a heartwarming story of friendship and second chances.
 
In the rapidly blooming courtyard beneath Bridget Moore’s new Anchorage apartment, the signs are unmissable: spring has come. As she unpacks boxes, Bridget hopes that she too is moving forward. With her tight schedule—college, working as a vet tech, volunteering at the animal shelter, caring for her beloved dogs—Bridget strives to keep too busy to register the pain of losing her mother just months ago.

Bridget’s new neighbor, Wesley, also seems to be running from something—quite literally. He and his two energetic dogs jog by twice a day. It isn’t long before she joins him. Bridget’s fellow members of the Sunday Potluck Club encourage her to enjoy Wesley’s company, though they understand all too well how tricky it can be to navigate life after loss.

But just as nature rebounds after the toughest winter, Bridget’s friendships, both human and canine, are a reminder that love and joy go on. With each outing, Bridget is rediscovering the simple pleasures that mean so much. A warm smile, a sun-drenched evening, a waggy tail—little by little, they may help Bridget find the path to happiness again . . .

My rating:  3.0 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 read the first book in this series earlier this year and enjoyed it – it was sweet and touching. And I enjoyed this one too, it was fine but maybe a little dull. Wesley’s inability to communicate was very frustrating and Bridget’s inability to stand up for herself was confusing. She seemed like a strong overall character but she was pretty young and had some things she needed to work through. This was a quick read and an ok story but it didn’t blow me away or anything. It was sweet and romantic though, and I loved how the four friends really come together to support each other. I would recommend it.

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

2020 Book #57 – The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson

Title: The Love Scam
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 8/15/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Pages in book: 308
Stand alone or series: Danger, Sweetheart series Book #2
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:

Rake Tarbell is in trouble. When the fabulously wealthy and carefree bachelor wakes up horribly hungover in Venice, it’s not something that would normally be a problem…except he has no idea how he got there from California. Or who stole his wallet. Or who emptied his bank account of millions. Or who in the world is Lillith, the charming little girl claiming to be his long lost daughter. For the first time in his life, Rake is on his own and throwing Benjamins around aren’t going to solve his problem. Now if only the gorgeous, fun, and free-spirited woman who brought Lillith into his life was willing to help the situation…

Claire Delaney finds Rake’s problems hilarious and is not in the least bit sorry of adding to them by bringing Lillith into the mix. A pretty Midwestern girl with a streak for mischief, Claire isn’t the type to hang around with a guy like Rake. Even if he is drop-dead handsome and charming as all get-out. Even if he needs help and she has all the answers. But if this helps Lillith, she will go out of her way. And with a guy like Rake, she’s willing to bend her rules a bit for some fun.

But when adventure-filled days turn to romantic nights as they search for answers, and someone starts following them through the streets of Venice, Claire realizes she’s playing more than just a game. And maybe, just maybe, she isn’t willing to let go of Rake or Lillith just yet.

My rating:  2.75 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 have read more than a handful of books by this author in the past – for a while I was very into the Undead series. And I was excited to read one of her newer releases! This author has a really characteristic dry and sarcastic humor that I’ve always really found hilarious. And this book was no exception – it was full of dry wit and extreme sarcasm. Which I normally love but I just felt kind of overwhelmed by it in this book. And I think due to not reading the first book in the series I just found the plot line a tad hard to follow. And the random side rambles (while humorous) got a bit distracting at certain points. I loved Lillith’s character – she was adorable and so very entertaining. There were definitely some interesting parts and I found it to be overall entertaining but it didn’t end up being my favorite. I’d still recommend giving it a read, especially if you like other novels by MaryJanice Davidson since it’s pretty in line with her normal humor!

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

Here to Stay BLOG TOUR!!

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Here to Stay was released today!! (August 25th), and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I’m still finishing up my read but so far I am really loving this book! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt:

SUMMARY

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year. 

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals. 

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South. 

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block. 

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s ‘Best Romance Debuts of 2019’, and one of the ‘Top 10 Romances of 2019’ by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezcla and Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective. Represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.

BUY IT HERE!

EXCERPT

Julia

I stepped into the elevator and shoved my phone into the pocket of my dress, took a moment to send a prayer to the employee discount that let me buy bomb clothes on a nonprofit worker budget, and did some mental math of what could be going on.

Was the program really in trouble? Could we actually get shut down?

Nope, I would not go there. I would not think about what it would be like to get on a plane back to New York dumped and unemployed. Not happening.

A distraction. That’s what I needed. Just as the door to the elevator was about to close, someone got in. The fact that I was eye level with the base of his throat was a good clue as to who it was, but when he opened his mouth and the now familiar knee-weakening baritone echoed off the walls of the elevator, I got my confirmation.

“Morning, Ms. Ortiz.” That voice could be used for interrogation tactics. Every muscle in my body loosened at the same time whenever I heard it.

I squeaked out a “Morning” and took my time lifting my head all the way up to look at the last person in the world I wanted overhearing my conversation with my mother.

Him.

Rocco Fucking Quinn, otherwise known as the “Team Leader” for the consulting firm looking to bag my job. The guy with the New York City-est name on the planet. I hadn’t exactly gotten personal with Mr. Quinn, but I picked up on that accent the first time we met.

“What’s good?” I really tried to sound polite, but my Queens jumped out in situations like this. I did not gulp, because I could not let this fucker see me sweat. I managed not to cut my eyes at him, but it was a close call.

I took him in, ramrod straight, every hair in its place, not a wrinkle in sight, and decided he could not be the proprietor of the laugh-choke from before. The man seemed to be completely lacking a sense of humor. I knew he must have teeth but I’d never seen them.

Yeah, definitely not him. That fact rallied my spirits a little bit as I stood close enough to pick up on how he smelled. Like the ocean and something woodsy. That was not helpful information.

Without saying another word, I ran my eyes over him. It struck me that he was not wearing something bespoke like pretty much everyone here. Don’t get me wrong, he still looked good enough to eat, but he was clearly on a budget. And at a place where everyone looked like they were heading to a New York Fashion Week photo shoot, it was sort of jarring. Still, the suit fit him well. And there was no question, this guy could wear the fuck out of a suit. I held back a whimper when I envisioned him in a Brioni or a Zegna. They’d have to put out a heat advisory for the building if that ever happened.

“I thought I could detect a familiar accent when I was coming down the hall.” His perfectly blue eyes twinkled at what I was certain was an expression of utter mortification on my face. He sounded pleasant enough, but he was also alluding to the fact that I was yapping on my phone. This wasn’t the first time he tried to be cute. Rocco Quinn seemed to like fucking with me. And it was only a matter of time before he stepped on my last nerve and I reamed him out.

Thankfully, just as I was scrambling to respond to his comment, the elevator got to my floor. I was planning to just leave him hanging and run off, but he was hot on my heels.

Dammit.

“Sounds like your mom misses you.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Why did he have to act all fake nice?

I nodded without looking at him. “She does. Listen, Mr. Quinn—”

“You can call me Rocco.”

Nope, that was not happening. I was not letting this sexy bastard talk me into getting all chummy with him. I was already on thin ice as it was. He could keep his pheromones and his slick-as-fuck expressions to his damn self. I came to a dead stop a few feet away from the conference room door where my boss—and whatever shitty news she was about to give me—was waiting.

When I turned around, Rocco was looking down at me with an expectant smile. God he was handsome, that jet-black hair so dark it almost had a tinge of blue and those eyes, piercing. And I guess he had teeth after all, and of course they were perfect. Asshole. I shook my head hard when my traitorous brain started wondering what Pantone color his eyes would be.

Get your head in the game, Julia del Mar.

I straightened my back, determined to fight off the debilitating effects of those gleaming teeth and perfectly pink lips. I had to remember this niceness was probably his way of getting us to let our guard down. He was here to find ways to cut jobs. I was not about to mouth off and get myself fired, but I needed to get some things clear.

“Look.” I was proud of myself for not rolling my neck or pointing at his face. “I know you’re trying to be nice, but you make me nervous.” I pulled on the hem of my blue polka-dot dress and smoothed my yellow cardigan, avoiding eye contact at all costs.

“Why do I make you nervous?”

Uh, maybe because you’re here to close down as much of the foundation as you can.

I refrained from actually saying that because I had not been raised by a Puerto Rican man and Dominican woman just so I could act like I had no home training with the guy who could get me fired. But it was a close call.

“I’m sorry for saying that. You don’t make me nervous.”

Lies.

Rocco Quinn didn’t just make me nervous. He made me want to run my hands all over that big-ass body and moon over his almost but not quite curly hair and blue eyes, in spite of the fact that I knew he was out here gunning for my entire program. And yet, I still wanted to kiss the hell out of him while I climbed him like a sequoia.

Copyright © 2020 by Adriana Herrera

ARC August 2020 – Update #1 – August 1st to 15th

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Since ARC August is a little less scheduled this year (and since I’ve been busy with work and haven’t had as much time for reading as I’d like), I’ve decided to do fewer check ins this year! Fortunately, today is Goal Day so I was able to focus on getting some reading done. From August 1st to today, here’s where I stand right now:

MY PROGRESS

August 2020 ARC’s 

-The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson – Finished today! Will post review later today likely
-Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting – Read and reviewed
-Here To Stay by Adriana Herrera
-Wednesdays, Walks and Wags by Melissa Storm – Reading next!

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’m hoping to get a little more reading done over the last half of the month but we’ll have to see how things go! Work will continue to be busy and I’m trying to focus as much energy as I can into getting caught up for right now. Anyways, I hope all you readers out there get to enjoy some down time! Happy reading!

ARC August 2020 Reading Challenge Sign Up Post!

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Woo Hoo! ARC August is here again, and I can’t wait to dig into some of my backlog and my upcoming releases. I still have wayyyyy too many ARC’s from the past FOUR years (jeeze) that I never got a chance to read, plus I have some great titles coming up in August! I’m not only doing ARC August this month but I’m also trying to get Bingo in the Ripped Bodice Summer Romance Bingo, so most of the ARC’s I’ll be reading this month will be romance. For those of you that don’t know, ARC August is a month-long reading challenge hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. and the only participation requirement is reading ARC’s! I participated in this reading challenge for the last five years (20152016, 2017, 2018, and 2019), and every year this reading challenge has helped me be super successful and productive. I hope to continue the productivity with this challenge this year since I have so much to read! I was a little worried that it wasn’t going to happen for 2020 but I am so happy to participate again. The bingo last year was so fun and I was hoping it would be repeated this year but I’m glad just to have the challenge to participate in again this year!

So here is the list I’m going to be working off of for this year’s challenge:

August 2020 ARC’s 

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

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 y Valerie Joan Connors
-Lies by T.M. Logan
-29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

And that’s my plan! I’m looking forward to a lot of the books I have lined up for August and I can’t wait to get to reading!