Friday, August 31, 2018

It's official: I loathe August. Not only is it back-to-school crunch-time for the kiddo -- and I'm probably more nervous for her than she is -- but it was just an all around awful month. Car accident. Fraud on my bank account. Higher stress than usual because of work. And that was only the first half of the month. BUT. could always be worse, right?

At any rate, I wasn't very good at keeping up with my reading this month because there was so much going on. Not that I wasn't reading, but I was in an epic slump for a week or so, picking up several different books and quite a few audiobooks and just not clicking with anything. And though I remember the titles of what I read, I might have trouble recalling details since I wasn't updating this post or Goodreads like I usually do. Oops. However, I did reach my Goodreads goal as of the end of this month, so there's that. :D And I'm still on track to read a book a day (365 for the year), which was my unofficial goal for 2018.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

Legendary* - The second half of this story really made this book. I gasped. I smirked. My eyes got misty. But now I am on tenterhooks, waiting for the next installment. Full review coming soon. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

The Catastrophic History of You and Me - This was probably the first contemporary-ish novel I picked up when I first started blogging. Not my first ever but definitely the first that made me see the genre differently. Maybe because it's more like speculative fiction or magical realism. Either way, it still holds a special place in my heart. And it was still pretty adorable upon re-reading. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

First & Then - Pride and Prejudice and football? Yes, please! I've been in a mood and I've also been missing football and a re-read of this book was just the thing to pull me out of the doldrums. And it's still so stinkin' cute! I see many more re-reads involving high school football in my near future. :P ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Keeping the Castle - An unexpectedly charming novel, but it definitely could've been longer to flesh out the characters and develop the relationships further. It definitely had the Jane Austen flair I've favored of late, drawing from both Emma and Pride and Prejudice with Althea's efforts to match-make and her antagonistic relationship with one Mr. Fredericks. This book was a delight, and though it doesn't number among my favorite Austen reimaginings, it definitely aided in pulling me out of my reading slump. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Interference - Told you there'd be more high school football-centric reads in my future. :P And it's another re-read and also a Jane Austen retelling. What can I say? I like what I like. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

9 Days and 9 Nights - This was everything I've come to expect from a Katie Cotugno book: gritty, genuine, and full of awful truths. The situations are awkward and uncomfortable but they make you think and consider how you'd react. The characters are real and the story is honest, and even when it's depressing, it's still oddly hopeful. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

All the Truth That's in Me - I first read this last summer after seeing a friend on GR gush about it, and I ended up loving it to pieces. And it's still just as amazing upon re-read. And now I have my bestie listening to it because what kind of friend would I be if I didn't force her to experience this amazing story, too? ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Bring Me Their Hearts - This book was such a disappointment, and I'm not even sure I can put my finger on what exactly it was that bothered me so much. Beyond the use of such modern language for a fantasy novel. That definitely grated on me, though I could have overlooked it had other aspects aligned more with my expectations. I think I was hoping for something more akin to To Kill a Kingdom with a fierce heroine and witty banter and all I got was some milquetoast waif who couldn't hold up her end of the bargain. I wanted a monster girl, full of darkness and secrets, and though there were brief flashes of that, there was more romance than anything else. Which would be fine if it had been a good romance but it just felt choppy and rushed and I couldn't get on board with it. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Finding Audrey - So, I ended up on a fairly awesome Sophie Kinsella binge this month. I don't know how I've avoided reading her books all this time when they're actually ridiculously cute. Except this one. This one was thoughtful and thought-provoking, and it was equal parts sad and hopeful. I think this is the author's first YA? I'm not sure and I don't feel like researching. I definitely prefer her less serious adult contemporaries, but it was nice to throw this one into the mix. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

13 to Life series (books #1-3, anyway) - Okay, so I'm definitely a different reader than I was back in 2011 when I first read this book/series. It's not as good as I remember, but I'm trying to divest my shelves of books I'm unlikely to read again or encourage my tween to read, so I thought I'd give the series one more go before eliminating it completely from my stacks. Also, I apparently never read the 5th and final book? That wasn't really my MO back then, but it's been the case in recent years, an issue I'm trying to rectify using my "so I can finish the series" shelf for re-reads and final books. And yet I still couldn't bring myself to read past the 3rd book. :( It's weird coming back to this series and realizing just how much I'd forgotten past book one and then remembering it and putting all the pieces back together. I still didn't love it as much as I remembered, but it's still kind of a fun guilty pleasure and I like how the author pokes fun at herself throughout, something I doubt I noticed upon my initial read. Also, my copies of the 3rd and 4th books are signed, and now that I think about it, I remember meeting her at ALA Midwinter back when I first got into the series, so despite my love for these books being less than what it once was, I still don't think I can part with them. And, hey, maybe my daughter will have as much fun reading them as I did the first go-round. :D ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

*ARC received from publisher for review purposes. This does not affect my review in any way.


The Anatomist's Wife - I've had this book on my shelf for ages -- I think the publisher sent it to me unsolicited? -- and it managed to make it into the donation pile without having been read. BUT, then I saw a Goodreads friend tearing through the whole series, and my curiosity was piqued. I went the audiobook route because, well, that's what I do, but I was excited when I saw that Heather Wilds was narrating. She's great at accents and since this story is set in Scotland, I knew she'd do a great job with the Scottish brogue. There wasn't much of that, to be honest, but there was plenty of mystery and red herrings and ominous foreshadowing, and I was very intrigued. If you're a fan of Deanna Raybourn or the Lady Sherlock books by Sherry Thomas, I think this series is a must-read. And I've only read the first book! But I've already got the next one downloaded because I can't wait to see what's in store for Kiera and Gage. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Mortal Arts - This is definitely a series that I'll be sticking out, if only in hopes of seeing Kiera and Gage make it to the altar one day. :D I love their banter and how protective Gage is and how Kiera still won't let that stop her from solving the mystery at hand. She's plucky and courageous and one day, I'm sure she'll get that gun she's been meaning to purchase. ;) Lord knows she's gonna need it if she keeps on her current path. I do wish there was more of an on-going mystery and not just a new case with each book, especially as the cases thus far have been a tad predictable, but even so, I still find these books suspenseful and captivating. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Claimed by Gods - I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with this RH story featuring Thor, Loki, Odin, et al. Would it be steeped in Norse mythology or based on the characters we know and love from the Marvel Universe? Eh. A little from column A and a little from column B. Or maybe the Marvel comparisons were simply my mind's own doing? Either way it was fun and that's my #1 prerequisite for a reverse harem story. But despite the humor and antics of the gods, this one still felt rather surface level. Sure, there's some bonding between the valkyrie and her cohort, but I just never felt connected to them or really their connection to each other. I'm hoping that the sequel really delves deeper because I'm not ready to give up on these characters yet...especially after that ending! ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Scandal's Daughter - So, even though I figured out everything by the 25% mark on this book, I still enjoyed it. Even if it did remind me of one of my favorite Lisa Kleypas books -- or rather, the book that leads into my favorite. Or maybe because of that? It made me want to go back and read all the Wallflowers books, anyway. I actually had planned on reading book 4 in this series first because I saw a review on GR that claimed my interest, but then I also saw that the hero in book 4 was the villain of book 3, and I decided I had to meet him as the antihero first. It was a good call because I also really liked the main couple in book 3. I liked the case of mistaken/stolen identity, how the scandal fell about them, and what it all meant for their relationship. But I also can't wait to see what happens to Beau...the real one. :) ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Suddenly You - This definitely wasn't my favorite Lisa Kleypas book, but it wasn't altogether unenjoyable. Though the hero and heroine both are completely pig-headed at times and made me want to bash their heads together, I enjoyed their interactions when they were bantering playfully, but it was hard to digest the lies and omissions of hard truths. It just irks me to no end when separation or betrayal could have been avoided by the characters having a simple conversation instead of making assumptions about each other. To that end, I didn't love this one, but it's still got publishing as a backstory and Jack has swagger for dayyyysss, so it was still a fun enough read. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

The Winter Duchess - Total snoozefest. It was too short for anything to really happen, but that's partially my fault for not noticing this was a novella instead of a full-length novel. But seriously, nothing happens. Girl marries Duke out of obligation. Duke marries girl so that he'll never fall in love and turn into his father. They end up snowed in at the Duke's country estate and well, you can probably guess the rest. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Consort of Secrets - I think that maybe Eva Chase isn't the RH author for me. This is the second novel of hers that I've read, but again I just felt like there wasn't enough meat to the story, no real building of the bond between all of the mates, or in this case, consorts. No connection to the characters and their relationships means that I'm just not invested in the story. And though this one had witchy goodness and the other had Norse gods, that's not enough to save the story for me. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

The Hating Game - Whenever I'm in a slump, it's The Hating Game to the rescue. No book puts a smile on my face like this one. I mean, after listening to it for the 5th or 6th time, I wanted to immediately start the audio over again. That's kind of magical. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Elements of Chemistry series - This series was fun. Frustrating...but fun. Kaitlyn reminded me a lot of Janie from the first Knitting in the City book, and I kind of adored her even when she was annoyingly naive. Martin was a textbook bad boy but also a real softie when it came to Kaitlyn. For the most part. I understood his frustration with Kaitlyn and it lessened the sting to some extent. I love Penny Reid's books and how genuine they are but also how inherently readable they are. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

The Viscount Who Loved Me - I was looking for a reformed rake type of story, and this popped up under that category in the Audible Romance Package, though it actually wasn't the type of story I was looking for at all. I've read Julia Quinn before and I didn't hate it, but she's also not a favorite author. Her books and characters are just...meh. I found the same to be true of this set of characters, though I did enjoy the pall-mall game during the novel and again in the epilogue. The hero was just so back-and-forth and too unwilling to put his heart on the line and it was endlessly frustrating. I probably would've used the "mallet of death" on him myself. ;) ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Heartstone - As I explained above, I've been on a bit of a Pride & Prejudice kick this month. I usually resort to some P&P when I'm feeling sorry for myself. It never fails to pull me out of a funk, but when you add wyverns and lindworms and a warrior for Mr. Darcy, well, I'm feeling more and more like myself as I think about it. :D ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Stranger in My Arms - I liked the premise of this story, as well as the execution, though I still found it predictable after the initial meeting of the separated spouses. But the fact that I still found it engaging is a true compliment to Kleypas' writing. I've pretty much always found that to be true of her books, though: it can still be a lesser story compared to others of hers that I've read, and yet it's still leagues better than others in the genre. I'll admit that her backlist, including this one and the one I read earlier this week, are more comparable to other historical romance, past and present. The hero is to sigh for, yet the heroine makes all kinds of questionable decisions, leaving me to bang my head against the desk. The plot is kind of ridiculous, delightfully so, but the one true bright spot was Johnny. I'm definitely more forgiving of this book because of that orphan...also, probably because I listened to it and Rosalyn Landor is a favorite narrator. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Bet Me - I enjoyed this book so much that I went on Audible and downloaded all they had available in the ARP because this story just left me with that giddy, happy feeling I've been missing in my life lately. Maybe I've developed a sudden taste for chick lit. Maybe they're not all as good as Bet Me. I don't care. As long as they keep me from feeling funky -- in the bad way -- I'll happily read all of Jennifer Crusie's books. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Strange Bedpersons - Cute and funny with an opposites attract vibe and the second chances trope, which isn't my favorite but really works here. Predictable but still sweet. I liked the subplot, though I guessed how that would turn out, but I really loved Nick and Tess together. I could give two figs about Park and Gina, but it wasn't really about them anyway. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

What the Lady Wants - This one was funny in a weirdly off-putting way. The premise was just...strange...and unbelievable in a it could happen but would it really way. But I liked the characters. And I liked the cameo of the couple from Strange Bedpersons, though the narrator for this one went a little overboard with the voice for Tess. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Getting Rid of Bradley - Again, not super plausible but also not completely out of the realm of possibility. I'm gathering that Jennifer Crusie's books would make for great made-for-tv movies, a la The Hallmark Channel. Assuming they haven't been already. I know I saw a Debbie Macomber book I read made into one around the holidays. ;) The main character was charming and quirky and the hero was rough around the edges in a sort of devil-may-care way. Cute and funny but weird seems to be Crusie's MO, not that I'm really complaining. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Charlie All Night - So, this is the Jennifer Crusie book I considered borrowing from the ARP while I debated whether to purchase Bet Me -- before it was part of a sale for $5. For some reason, I assumed the love interest was going to be younger than the MC, which put me off. But that's because I think of DJs in the present: as young people mixing music on laptops. Not the disc jockeys of before, what I think of now as radio show hosts. At any rate, I was wrong, and I ended up adoring this one. Especially how everyone took care of Samson, the puppy whose mother abandoned it. Also, this was written before the gay best friend was a thing and it includes a great one. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

The Cinderella Deal - If Bet Me is my favorite Jennifer Crusie novel, this is my least favorite. The characters were annoying throughout the novel and never endeared themselves to me...not once. Linc was so overbearing and Daisy was just bland, so very bland, no matter how the author tried to dress her up or make her quirky. And the whole fake relationship/marriage just really didn't work for me in this case. I needed there to be more substance to their relationship and it never developed. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

My (Not So) Perfect Life - My first Sophie Kinsella novel and it was just as I expected: cute and quirky and a bit awkward. I liked the reversal of fortune in this story, along with the idea that not everything is as it appears and that we all put on a front for the world. And I adored Katie and her attraction to Alex and her weird relationship with her boss -- not to mention her dad and stepmom -- plus the whole glamping business. It was cute. A little cheesy. But really cute. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

I've Got Your Number - So far, this one is my favorite of Sophie Kinsella's, and I say that after having read five of them. The story's a stretch but not that big of one, and I loved the sharing a phone aspect. Oh, and everything being flipped upside down, there at the end...definitely loved that. But it was also just really sweet seeing these two people from different walks of life coming together to help one another, though they were veritable strangers before the phone incident. Equal parts comical and sweet, this one definitely left me with a smile on my face. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Can You Keep a Secret? - At times, I adored this story and the characters, and at others, I was livid with them. And it started out so well! I mean, I still enjoyed it in the end but all of those trust issues -- well-earned, I might add -- and the secrecy, it made me reluctant to even like the love interest, despite my initial feelings toward him. Plus, it seemed rushed...their whole relationship. And I think I almost died of embarrassment on behalf of the main character. I don't know how she showed her face after that. She was definitely made of stronger stuff, that's for sure. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Wedding Night - This is by far my least favorite Sophie Kinsella novel but it still wasn't half bad. It was zany, awkward, and totally off-the-wall. I preferred the less crazy relationship that was developing between Fliss and Lorkin over the rushed thing that was Ben and Lottie, but I think that's the point. You're not supposed to like Ben and Lottie because Lottie belongs with Richard and Ben is just...not ready for that kind of commitment. Fliss and Lorkin are control freaks in their own right -- I can relate -- and they bond over their shared intentions to keep Ben and Lottie from the altar. Meanwhile, Ben and Lottie bond over their teenage fling from 15 years ago. I deeply appreciate Arthur's -- he's not important except as a wise naysayer -- sentiment that first loves should live in different places. You should never run into a first love because it won't be like you remembered it. So. Yeah... ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Remember Me? - A fluffy, frivolous Sophie Kinsella novel this is not. It's got the trademark quirky heroine who's easy to relate to and someone you'd probably definitely want as a friend. But the amnesia plotline itself was frustrating and heartbreaking and just plain sad. The romantic aspect is a little off-putting, with the main character having married sometime during the three-year period she can't remember, which means she doesn't even know her husband...or the other guy who's claiming they're lovers. And then there's the whole thing with her job and how she'd alienated all of her friends when she became boss lady. But regardless of all that, I liked this story. I liked the more thoughtful and thought-provoking side of Kinsella's writing. I could've used an epilogue because this one was a little open-ended, but I've got a pretty good imagination. :P ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!


  1. I'm sorry you've had a stressful month - I hope September treats you better! :)

    I really want to read The Catastrophic History of You and Me - it looks so good!

  2. August was so stressful for me and this month is a little better but not by much. I am so sad that you didn't like Bring Me Their Hearts its one of my favs. I did think that a lot of the wording sounded weird but the story itself I loved. I also really didn't care for 13 to life. I tried those forever ago and well they just didn't work at all. I still need to read First and Then I have had it for a while now along with another book from her and well they are still sitting around lol. One book I recommend is Ignite the Stars it was so good!

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