October 4, 2023

What I Read in September 2023

Six books read in September puts me at 59 books for the year – woefully behind my goal of 100 books, but still trucking forward!

I loved this rom com about a political candidate, which was smart and fun.

5 stars:

The Boyfriend Candidate, by Ashley Winstead: Alexis is a school librarian reeling from a breakup – her boyfriend cheated on her, lied about it, and told her she was mousy and boring in bed. So she decides to act out of character, be irresponsible, and pick up a one night stand at a bar to prove to herself that she’s not those things. Unfortunately, the hot guy she picks up turns out to be high-profile politician Logan, who’s running for governor, and after getting caught by the paparazzi, they agree to pretend to be in a relationship until the election. You can guess how that’s going to turn out… but even though the ending was somewhat predictable, the story was really fun and interesting, and I couldn’t put this down. In spite of being lighthearted, it was smart, romantic, and just plain fun. Highly recommend!

4 stars:

Darling Girls, by Sally Hepworth: Alicia, Jessica, and Norah grew up as foster children in a farmhouse called Wild Meadows, with an odd and extremely strict foster mother, Miss Fairchild. They grew to be like sisters, and treated each other as such even as they grew into adults. Now, the three have been called back to their former foster home to answer questions about human bones found buried under the house. The narrative goes back and forth between the past and present, and the creepy factor is high as the reader tries to figure out just who’s in the wrong and what’s really going on. There are a lot of twists and turns, and I really enjoyed it, but it also made me feel really sad throughout; it’s definitely not a light novel. Unlike most reviewers, I wasn’t a fan of Norah, and found her more annoying and difficult than charming, but all the character development is done well and makes it a great read that’s hard to put down. Definitely grab this when it comes out!

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1), by Sarah J. Maas: Fayre is a human who lives with her family in poverty just on the edge of a faerie kingdom. While hunting for food, she accidentally kills a faerie, and a “High Fae” Tamlin comes to her house for revenge, then tells her he won’t kill her family if she comes to live with him forever. While there, Fayre tries to figure out how to get home, but also learns that there’s a blight overtaking the entire world (faerie side and human side) – and she stands a better chance of stopping it if she stays with the faeries. This is QUITE a saga (and I then found out it’s actually only book one in a four book series), so I won’t spoil other plot points, but it does get more and more interesting as it goes on. However, it was so brutally violent that I found it really hard to read; as much as I’d like to keep seeing what happens with the characters, this book was really hard to stomach, and I doubt the violence is going to lessen in subsequent books. TBD if I keep going…

Reign (American Royals #4), by Katharine McGee: This book picks up where the other three left off: Queen Beatrice is in a coma after a car accident, Princess Samantha has run away with her boyfriend since they weren’t allowed to be together, and Prince Jefferson is now the acting king, with Daphne delighted because she’s tricked him into dating her instead of Nina. The many love triangles continue to meander in this book, but for the first time in the series, there is a definitive ending instead of a cliffhanger – good thing, since this is the last book in the series! Nearly all the characters got a happy ending of some kind (except for one who I felt was kind of left hanging), but while I enjoyed this frothy read, I’m kind of glad the series is now over, because it felt like there were only so many times the characters could rehash the same plotlines.

Love You, Mean It, by Jilly Gagnon: What a fun read! Ellie is frustrated to be living back in her hometown, running the family deli after the death of her beloved father, instead of living in New York City pursuing her dream of being a costume designer (which she was doing before her dad’s death). Unfortunately, the family deli is now under threat due to a local investor, Theo, who is partnering to bring a version of Eataly to town. This plot has all the tropes: amnesia, a faked engagement, enemies-to-lovers, small town life… and I LOVED it. Ellie was a little bit annoying, particularly as she refused to acknowledge her own feelings (even when directly asked), but I still thoroughly enjoyed this feel-good novel.

3 stars:

Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan: Carmen manages a bookshop in a small town in Scotland, but the shop isn’t doing well and may get bought out by a developer who wants to turn it into a tacky souvenir shops like he’s done with other shops on Main Street. Meanwhile, Carmen is living with her sister and her sister’s family in a beautiful home, but has been mooching off them for months with no sign of leaving; when her sister hires a nanny, Carmen finally gets the hint that it’s time to go – so now she has to worry about her own finances in addition to the bookshop’s – but she hates her sister for putting her in that position. I hadn’t read the Christmas Bookshop (not sure how I missed it), and didn’t realize this was a sequel when I picked it up. Maybe I would have liked it more if I read the first one, but I found Carmen to be fairly shiftless and and whiny, and couldn’t get into the story that much or root for her. I normally love all of Jenny Colgan’s books, but this one really missed the mark for me.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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