September Wrap Up

Another incredibly productive month in September. I read a total of 33 books – physical, ebooks, and audiobooks combined. There were two slight volumes (Finding Langston, and I’m Afraid of Men) that were less than 200 pages, but other than that, I thought this has been a legitimately fantastic month. Here is the list of the books read in September:

  • Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty ****/5 Stars
  • How To Stop Time by Matt Haig ****/5 Stars
  • When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton ****/5 Stars
  • Texas! Sage by Sandra Brown ****/5 Stars
  • Tempest by Beverly Jenkins ****/5 Stars
  • The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean-Weir *****/5 Stars
  • Eloquent Rage by Britney Cooper ****/5 Stars
  • The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones ****/5 Stars
  • Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston *****/5 Stars
  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandi ****/5 Stars
  • Fence, Volume 3 by C.S. Pacat ****/5 Stars
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary *****/5 Stars
  • The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie **/5 Stars
  • Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick ****/5 Stars
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Montfegh *****/5 Stars
  • Finding Langston by Lesa Ransome-Cline *****/5 Stars
  • I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya ****/5 Stars
  • Vox by Christina Dalcher ****/5 Stars
  • Breathless by Beverly Jenkins ****/5 Stars
  • Odd One Out by Nick Stone */5 Stars
  • Call Them By Their Names by Rebecca Solnit *****/5 Stars
  • Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin ****/5 Stars
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin **/5 Stars
  • The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin ****/5 Stars
  • Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins ****/5 Stars
  • The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci ***/5 Stars
  • The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett ***/5 Stars
  • Beard With Me by Penny Reid ****/5 Stars
  • Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta *****/5 Stars
  • How To Bang A Billionaire by Alexis Hall ****/5 Stars
  • Bear Town by Frederik Backman *****/5 Stars
  • Under Currents by Nora Roberts *DNF
  • The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais ***/5

I finally read a western type of Historical Fiction last month and I absolutely adored it. I’m hoping to pick up a few more when I go to the thrift shop one of these weekends. Old West by Beverly Jenkins was a fantastic trilogy. It features strong women and the men who love them. I was curious to see how Ms. Jenkins would explore the issue of race in that era and I was not disappointed. In particular, one of the women was a witness to a crime but because she was black, her testimony was readily nullified.

I have one DNF this month, which is Nora Roberts’ latest, Under Currents. It’s about a couple whose pasts were mired in domestic abuse. I honestly couldn’t get through it. The violence was a bit too visceral for me. I think I got through one chapter and that was it.

FAVOURITES

Beartown by Fredrik Backman | My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh | The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean-Weir

How was your month?

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On the Night Table [56]

Let’s just say I wasn’t very successful in reading what I’d planned last week. I only managed to start The Order of Nature by Josh Scheinert. I tried reading the other two books but they didn’t stick. This week, I’m trying to finish a couple of books that I’ve started this past weekend, and a starter series from Jennifer L. Armentrout.

I’m halfway through The Order of Nature and Frankly In Love. I’m loving both even if we didn’t get off to a good start. The Darkest Star is the first book to JLA’s spin off of The Luxe series. While I didn’t finish that series, I wanted to see if I’m going to have a better luck with this one. Wish me luck.

So these are the books I’m endeavouring to read this week. Have you read them?

Happy Reading!

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#fridayreads: Frankly In Love by David Yoon

Hello.

I hope y’all had a great week. I’m ushering in the weekend that has rain, rain, and more rain in the forecast with the latest by David Yoon. We truly are in our Fall season and I’m all for it. I want to get my chores out of the way tonight so my weekend will be free for reading, blogging, and drinking coffee!

I read some this week, but I’m definitely slowing down some. I finished three books – which is far less than my normal and I’m okay with that. It’s been a crazy work week so I’m pretty exhausted by the time I get home. So I haven’t been able to draft some posts and have not been able to visit y’all. I will try this weekend, though. Anyway, here are the books I read this week:

The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci | Beard with Me by Penny Reid | The Lady Roque by Jenn Bennett

The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci was a bit of a disappointment. If you don’t know, it’s a hybrid of Hunger Games and Gladiators in a way that it’s a fight to death until the eventual winner gets to marry The Savior. The Savior is basically a goddess; one who possesses magic and is considered to be a divine creature of the land. I love how bloody and gory it is; as well, the magic and fantasy elements to the book. But the hero annoyed me. I’m not going to get into this too much. Watch out for my review some time next month.

Beard with Me by Penny Reid is book #6 in the Winston Brothers series. It is the origin story of Billy and Clare. This was such a heart pincher of a book. If you’re not familiar with this series, the Winston brothers are 4 hillbillies that grew up in the mountains of Tennessee. They are wild, bearded, and oh-so-swoony. I’ve looked forward to reading Billy and Clare’s story since book 1. And unfortunately, this is not their book yet. However, this is their beginning — back when they were teens. It is a heart pincher because if you’re following this series, you know that Clare ended up marrying someone else (but was a widow by book 1). I think book #7 comes out in November, if I’m not mistaken, and that is their — fingers crossed — HEA.

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett. Sigh. I think I’m sticking to Ms. Bennett’s contemporary novels from now on. This one bored me to tears. It was not my cup of tea. So sad because it had all the potentials to be a favourite of mine, but it fell short.

What are you reading this weekend?

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[771]: The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones

I was able to get through Tim Wynne-Jones’ The Ruinous Sweep with great impatience. It was slow, and frankly, so weird. So I approached this book with trepidation. Thankfully, this was far from his 2018 release. Firstly, it wasn’t as verbose, nor as dense. It was a straight forward story telling that The Ruinous Sweep severely lacked. As well, this novel isn’t as ambitious as that Dante retelling.

Four months after his best friend disappeared, Nate is suddenly plagued with nightmares. Dodge, his best friend, was like a ghost or a restless soul that kept appearing in his dreams, pleading for Nate to find him. It is Spring in northern Ontario and winter has barely left, but he was confident enough in his survival skills to trek through the frozen landscape to the cabins both their families owned. It is where Dodge’s entire family perished and where he hoped to find Dodge. The bodies of his father and his brother were found, frozen and drowned. Dodge’s however, wasn’t. He was meant to go with someone else on this pilgrimage, but when his classmate was grounded, he decided to go on his own without the knowledge of his parents. It was a costly decision that would not only threaten his life, he would also come face to face with a family secret he thought was long buried.

He was in a race against a brewing blizzard, and the elements that was far from forgiving. With only two days to do what he set out to do, finding the cabins occupied by escaped convicts was not his idea of a good time. Now, not only is he pressed for time and the storm that was coming, he was also fighting for his life.

This was a fast pace read; it took me a day to finish it. Wynne-Jones’ writing didn’t let up from beginning to end. And though, I saw the twist from the get-go, it was still fun to see come to fruition. If you’re looking for an honest to goodness thrilling read, The Starlight Claim fits that bill. Bonus: the author perfectly captures the ambiance of frozen Canada and the coziness (if you can feel cozy whilst being hunted) of the cabin life.

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[770]: The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

It’s 1953 in Tehran. The country, for the most part, was governed by a democtratic prime minister. But it was in the grips of communism, regardless. Demonstrations happened every day, kids at school were divided in their ideologies. Roya, idealistic though as she was, remained somewhat detached. Her days were filled with family, school, and a once a week trip to a stationery shop where, for at least a couple of hours, enabled her to luxuriate in the words of Rumi.

Then one day, with a blast of cold wind, in came Bahman, ‘the boy who would change the world’. He had a penchant for politics. He was staunched in his belief that his country will remain unaffected by the pressures of globalization. He was handsome, charismatic, idealistic, and he shared Roya’s love for Rumi’s poems. The shop owner, seeing the palpable connection between the two, decided to intervene. Thus the relationship, albeit, short-lived, blossomed until Bahman’s proposal of marriage.

Then on the eve of their marriage, and on the night of the coup d’etat, Bahman disappeared. Desperate, Roya did everything she could to find him. Broken-hearted, not only for Bahman’s betrayal but for her country’s demise, Roya left Iran to study in America. It would be 60 years later would have the chance to find out why he never showed up at the meeting place they agreed to meet.

This novel is so sublime; quiet in its beauty. And despite the strife the country went through over the years, it still managed to paint Iran in all her glory. I can barely imagine this Iran, some sixty odd years ago. A country that somewhat progressive, depending on who was at the helm. In the backdrop of Bahman and Roya’s story was a history lesson of how many times their government was manipulated by outside forces, and how their people fought long and hard for peace and independence. Ideologies change over time; factions switch from one belief to the next so the country went through years of upheaval politically and socially.

They had one immovable force in their way: the dreams of a mother who favours status over the happiness of her own son. They were apart more than they were together. But even with the separation, their lives were governed by the memories of each other. And yet, their loved endured through decades. They each married different people but 60 years later, it’s as if nothing has changed.

The Stationery Shop was one of those unassuming novels that makes your heartache in the subtlest of ways. It spoke of a bravery for Bahman and Roya to move forward in their lives even though they know they will not be together. Roya’s life in America was not always the easiest. Being Middle Eastern and a woman at that, lent for some prejudice with which she had to contend. Bahman, on the other hand, grew to care for the woman his mother chose for him to marry. But despite the pretense, the memories of their young love was a ghost that haunted them.

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On the Night Table [55]

So I stumbled a little bit last week with my postings. What happened was, I weighed myself last Monday and the results showed that things are digressing. Subsequently, I went hard at the gym, increased my cardio a little bit by walking at lunch for an hour or after the gym at night. Yeah, I know. I went a little nuts. But if you don’t know it yet, I worked hard to lose 50 lbs in the last two years so it would be a shame if allow myself to fall back into bad habits. Rest assured, I’m making sure to manage my time better so I don’t neglect blogging again.

This week’s reading queue includes a book that I wanted to read for Fall, a book by an indie author, and a book that was sent to me for review that I thought I’d read already but apparently, I haven’t.

The Order of Nature is written by a Canadian author who drew from his experiences travelling in parts of Africa. In some countries of the continent, homosexuality is a taboo thing that could lead in imprisonment or worst. This is a book about a gay couple who was prosecuted for their sexuality and their experiences as they fight for their freedom, and ultimately, for their lives. I saw this book on YouTube as a book recommendation for fans of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, but I fail to see how something as heavy as this could be compared to Simon, to be honest. Simon’s problems seems so small somehow, that is, in comparison to imprisonment or death. Regardless, curiosity won out so I ordered a copy.

Girl, Wash Your Face is a book that I talked about in my Fall TBR. I want to get this out of the way. It’s a slight book, and like I said, the general consensus is that it was nothing groundbreaking but I want to read it anyway.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee was a book that was sent to me last year for review. I was sure I read and reviewed it, but I guess I haven’t considering I can’t find where I wrote my review. Perhaps it will come back to me once I start reading it.

R E A D L A S T W E E K

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin | Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin | Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin was a great family saga. Just a little weirded out that the story present point in time was decades well into the future. Like, 2079? So weird. Lol. 4/5 Stars.

I already talked about Giovanni’s Room last Saturday and how disappointing it was. I didn’t like the main character at all. He used people and deserted those who’ve helped him. He was spoiled and very entitled. 2 out of 5 Stars.

Serpent & Dove was great. It’s been a while since a read about witches and magic so it’s a great re-introduction. 4 out of 5 Stars.

Bear Town by Fredrik Backman | Call Them By Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit | Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Bear Town was so good. It’s a commentary on why women are terrified to come forward when they’re sexually assaulted, essentially rape culture and how men and women alike contribute to the narrative. It was a community who found themselves divided into two: those who believed the girl who was raped, and those who don’t. 5 out of 5 Stars!

Call Them By Their True Names discusses all the things that are wrong with America. Racism, classism, violence against coloured people, the corruption in the current government…and a partridge in a pear tree. You almost have to start over and erase the entire history in order to fix what’s wrong with America. Because, damn. It’s deeply rooted and has gone on since the birth of the country.

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins was fantastic. Really enjoyed the first book to this series. On to the next series from Ms. Jenkins!

DNF! My first DNF of the year belongs to Ms. Nora Roberts’ Undercurrents. This is a new release. Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far with this as it deals with abuse. It’s not for those with weak stomachs.

Let me know if you’ve already read any of the books I’m going to be reading this week. If so, did you like it?

I hope you’ll have a great week, y’all.

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Listening Library [3]

This week is a little light. I chose to actually pick up physical books to read instead of relying on audiobooks.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin | Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins | The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci | At the Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin was a disappointment. Not for the writing, but for the character himself. He was selfish, spoiled, and a user — in other words, no redeeming quality to him whatsoever. It’s really tough to enjoy a book when you despise the character. 2 out of 5 Stars

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins is the first book to her Old West series, which is the story of the girls’ Aunt Edie and Uncle Ryan. This was quite interesting as they were a mixed race couple. I especially love how determined Edie was to make a life for herself, with ambitions of owning her own restaurant. But she was so unlucky. Enjoyed this one. 4 out of 5 Stars.

The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci is a Hungers Game type of novel in a fantasy setting. I haven’t read this one. But I downloaded it from Audible. It’s a 20-hour book. Might listen to it the whole weekend.

At The Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino is a novel about the people who tasted Hitler’s food for poison first before he ate them. Looking forward to starting this one!

So these are all the books I downloaded on audio this week. I’m endeavouring to read my physical copies in the next little while as I have quite a few.

Have you read/listened to any of these?

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[769]: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Full disclosure: this book wasn’t in my radar until Jimmy Fallon featured it as a summer read for his book club. And while I don’t usually take any celeb’s reading suggestions to heart, there’s something about this book that called on my bibliophile sensibilities. And boy, was I happy I picked it up. This was an enduring, heart-captivating read about family, mental health, friendships, love and forgiveness for the people we love no matter the veracity of how they wronged us.

This is a story about two families whose lives are irrevocably connected regardless of time and circumstances over the years. We first meet the two patriarchs of the Stanhopes and the Gleesons in 1973. Besides being in the same profession (cops), they have nothing in common. But somehow, they end up living right beside each other. Behind closed doors, one wife dealt with the loneliness of young motherhood (Lena, Francis’ wife) while the other lived with mental instabilities that isolated her even in her home (Anne, Brian’s wife).

Years later, a friendship between Francis’ youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s son, Peter blossomed. When they were both fourteen, and during one of Anne’s episodes, a violent crime was committed that would change the trajectory of their lives. What followed was years of loneliness for both Peter and Kate as they tried to deal with the fallout of the tragedy that struck their lives.

This is one of those books that no matter how ugly your connections were, fate somehow, someway, intervenes. That regardless the distance or how many years have passed, the connection can’t be severed. As in the case of Peter and Kate. Because of how their stories were intertwined, they’re never too far away from each other’s thoughts. And while Kate tried her best to move on, Peter, being the sensitive soul that he was, couldn’t. He loved Kate right from the beginning, and vice versa. Despite their families’ wishes to not see each other, and the mental and emotional baggages that came along with them, they were irrevocably tied.

My heart ached for Peter. He was, for all intents and purposes, abandoned by his own parents. Even though both were physically present, they had emotionally checked out from his life since his knowing years. His mother suffered from a mental illness that made her unstable. She was abusive at times, catatonic, most days. But on her good days, she was a mother who doted on Peter. His father, on the other hand, did his best. And unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t strong enough to carry the load. He left Peter in the care of his brother, George — who gave him the emotional support of a father.

In the end, and in the rubble of years of heartaches and disturbing pasts, love survives. Forgiveness endures. Family remains. I think those were the foremost lessons I have gleaned from this book. There are no villains here. Just people surviving from one day to the next.

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On the Night Table [54]

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin | Beartown by Fredrik Backman | Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures by Cain, Thompson & Postlewait|

Happy Monday, all!

I had another outstanding reading week last week. Thanks to the very Fall-like weather, I was not motivated to go to the gym, so I ended up reading under the bed covers. Chalking that up to self-care. Lol. I read a total of eleven books. ELEVEN. Books. Yes. But to be fair, I read two shorties and one graphic novel: Finding Langston & I’m Afraid of Men, and Fence, Volume 3. So technically, I only read 9 books which, I guess would match my total from a week a go. Still an astronomical number, though.

So today, I thought I’d share what I want to get to this week. I started Serpent & Dove on Friday night. I’m conflicted. While this book started out great, I’m getting a little bored with it as I go along. I wish the plot would move a bit faster. Beartown by Fredrik Bachman is one I started a while ago but I had to put it down for whatever reasons. Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures is a non fiction about three doctors wholly involved in Doctors Without Borders. Basically, they tell theirs stories and experiences about being in the frontline of conflict. Can’t wait to finish all three this week.

Here are the books I read last week:

Fence, Volume 3 by CS Pacat | Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick | The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandi | The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary | Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome | My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Montfegh | Vox by Christina Dalcher

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya | Breathless by Beverly Jenkins | Odd One Out by Nic Stone

If I have to pick a favourite, I say it’s a toss up between The Flatshare and My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Let me know if you’re interested in any of the books I read last week.

xoxo

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Listening Library [2]

I honestly have more luck with my weekly downloads in my Libby than I do with my regular purchases. Out of all the books I downloaded last week, only one of them remain unheard (The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes). I so wish my library stocks more new releases. My credit card could use some breathing room. Lol.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin | Henry, Himself by Stewart O’Nan | Odd One Out by Nick Stone | Call Them By Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin follows a family from Connecticut and their strong bond amid a family crisis or two. I’m a huge fan of family sagas so this is right up my alley.

Henry, Himself by Stewart O’Nan. This book gave me the “A Man Called Ove” vibe for the simple facts that they are both at the same age as they ruminate about their past loves.

Odd One Out by Nic Stone 1/5 stars. Follows the story of three friends as they navigate through life on the path to self-discovery. I loved about three-quarters of the book, then hated the ending.

Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit is a collection of essays about violence against women. In the hands of the people they love, the police, and random acts of violence. This will be an anger-inducing, life-affirming commentary about women, more often than not, suffer the greatest at home.

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya | Finding Lanston by Lesa Cline-Ransome | Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer | Breathless by Beverly Jenkins

I’m Aftraid of Men by Vivek Shraya. Such a powerful, own voices read. 4/5 Stars.

From Goodreads:

“A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century .” 

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. LOVED this one. 5 /5 Stars. This was a sad, heart wrenching read about a boy who gets bullied in his school.

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer. I love me some M/M romance from time to time. This one follows two swimmers who are opposites — one openly gay, and the other, closeted. Excited to read this!

Breathless by Beverly Jenkins. I liked this one, too! 4/5 Stars. This is book 2 of the Old West series. Looking for the first book. I might have to use one of my Audible credits.

So these are the downloads that will keep me company on my walks and keep me sane during my workweek. Lol.

Happy listening!

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