What I Read: Oct. 24-30

Come As You Are by Jess K Hardy: This romcom is perfect for people who love cozy winter settings, forced proximity, a male lead who has overcome a difficult past, mature main characters and lovable (truly!) side characters. Oh, and there’s a villain who definitely gets what’s coming to them. The vibes are 90s grunge (but set in present day), the perfect blend of mixtapes and flannel. Thank you to the author for the NetGalley ARC!

Don’t Hex and Drive (Stay a Spell #2) by Juliette Cross: Overall, I enjoyed this even more than the first book. Isadora and Devraj were absolutely fabulous characters and I loved the mystery they worked to solve (alongside Jules and Ruben, who are likely going to be my favorite couple of the entire series – their book is out today!) I’ll be picking up book three in November (and there’s a collection of short stories perfect for the holidays so I won’t waste time getting to that, either!)

Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton: I preordered this MONTHS ago and it’s definitely worth the read. Felton discusses his interesting life in a series of stories – most are funny but some are incredibly emotional (and surprisingly dark). Absolutely essential reading for HP fans, especially if you’re around the same age as the actors and grew up with the series.

Isn’t it Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club #4) by Lyssa Kay Adams: I went in thinking that this was going to be my favorite book of the series (who doesn’t love The Russian?) but unfortunately it didn’t fully meet my expectations. I did enjoy Vlad and Elena’s journey and their story is really sweet, but it just wasn’t quite as good as the other books, in my opinion. However, I felt like this was really setting us up for Colton’s book, which comes out this week (and it’s Christmas-themed, so absolutely perfect for this time of year!)

What I Read: Oct. 17-23

The Kiss Curse (The Ex Hex #2) by Erin Sterling: While I didn’t enjoy this QUITE as much as The Ex Hex, I really loved Wells. Overall, both of these books are perfect October reads.

In the Weeds (Lovelight #2) by BK Borison: When I was reading Lovelight Farms, I was convinced that Beckett was going to be my favorite. I did enjoy Evie and Beckett’s story, but the first book takes the top spot for me (we’ll see how I feel about Mixed Signals!)

Duke Most Wicked (Wallflowers vs. Rogues #3) by Lenora Bell: This was a fun historical romance that did feel a teensy bit repetitive at times, but was completely redeemed by West’s crew of hilarious, adorable sisters. I’m definitely interested in reading more from this author! Thank you Avon Books for the ARC!

And Yet by Kate Baer: Poetry isn’t my jam, but Kate Baer’s brand of introspection sure is. If you already love her, you’ll love this. Thank you Harper Perennial for the finished copy!

What I Read: Oct. 10-16

Royally Screwed (Royally #1) by Emma Chase: This was such a pleasant surprise! Nicholas and Olivia were great characters individually and as a couple. Although the plot goes exactly where you’d expect, it’s still a fun journey getting there. I’m particularly excited for Logan’s bookThank you Valentine PR for the finished copy!

They Do It with Mirrors (Miss Marple #5) by Agatha Christie: I’m making decent progress on my attempt to read all of Agatha Christie’s books (trying to stick with one a month). They Do It with Mirrors was an interesting semi-locked room sort of mystery (really more of a secluded estate…) and, as of right now, it falls right in the middle of my ranking of the Marple series. For what it’s worth, I have seven more books to read in this series and they seem to (mostly) be getting better as they go.

Wolf Gone Wild (Stay a Spell #1) by Juliette Cross: This series is PERFECT for spooky season. Wolf Gone Wild focuses on Evie (one of the well-known Savoie witches) and Mateo (a werewolf with a problem. And a frustrating alter-ego…) Although this was a BIT too long at times, I enjoyed the story as a whole and i’m excited to read the rest of the series. I found this to be a good read for people who enjoyed Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day, but aren’t QUITE on board with the monster romance genre.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna: This is such a cozy little read, primarily focused on found family with a dash of romance and a heavy dose of witchy goodness. Every single character in this book is huggable, and I particularly loved Jamie (i’m a sucker for a grump with a gooey center!) Thank you Once Upon a Book Club for the finished copy and box of goodies!

It’s a Widow Thing (Never Too Late #3) by Karen Booth: This was a mostly sweet, relatively low-drama romance (it helps that both leads are in their 40s) but clocking in at less than 220 pages, it did feel a little bit underdeveloped. Also, content warning for some fairly in-depth discussions about the death of a spouse.

What I Read: Oct. 3-9

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill: This was just so depressing. It wasn’t particularly creepy, just sad (the last few pages were pretty terrifying but not really in a “horror” way). It’s a short book, so if you’re really interested then give it a go. If you’re on the fence, i’d recommend skipping this one.

Go Hex Yourself (Hex #1) by Jessica Clare: This was a fun read for October but it felt a little disjointed at times. I enjoyed it enough to want to read the next book in the series.

Sign Here by Claudia Lux: The main thing you need to know about Sign Here is I read it in one day – the chapters are short and the story is intriguing enough to keep you moving through at a fast pace. I did end up with a few questions once I finished, but this is a wild ride from start to finish and it’s a DEBUT which is pretty impressive. I’ve seen this recommended for fans of Grady Hendrix and that feels like the best way to describe the vibes of this book.

Lovelight Farms (Lovelight #1) by BK Borison: I absolutely LOVED this book! Luka is a top-tier book boyfriend, the Christmas tree farm setting is perfect and I cannot wait to read Beckett’s story! In all honesty, I’m ready to follow BK Borison off of a cliff (or, to be a bit less dramatic, immediately read everything she writes from here on out).

A Week to be Wicked (Spindle Cove #2) by Tessa Dare: Even though I DNFed book one, for some reason I thought that I would enjoy this one (it seems to be the Spindle Cove fan favorite). It started off really strong – I loved both of our main characters and there were some hilarious moments that made the reading experience fun. However, I started to lose interest about 70% of the way through, and I just kind of dragged myself across the finish line. I’m starting to think that Tessa Dare might be a real hit-or-miss author for me vs. a sure win.

What I Read: Sept. 26-Oct. 2

A Murder is Announced (Miss Marple #4) by Agatha Christie: This was probably the best in the series so far. The mystery was interesting, the characters were fun and Miss Marple finally felt like a real amateur detective instead of just an insufferable know-it-all. This does take place around Halloween, but it really could have been set at any time of the year — there are no Halloween mentions or vibes.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: This was…fine? It’s been on my list for awhile and I may have enjoyed it more if I had read it earlier in my contemporary romance journey. Michael was a bit too pushy at times (given Stella’s issues) and Stella felt almost childlike at times, which is not great for a romance novel.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: This is the coziest, loveliest little fantasy novel. You don’t have to be a fan of fantasy to enjoy this (fantasy is not my particular jam either). The plot is relatively light (orc leaves her violent past behind to open a cafe) but there’s enough substance there to keep the reader interested. If you’re looking for a low-drama, feel-good book, this is it.

Open Hearts (Bennett Sisters #2) by Eve Dangerfield: I really have a love/hate relationship with this book. I really enjoyed Dean, aka the dumbest, sweetest male lead in a romance novel. However, Ashley wasn’t my favorite and the overall plot felt a bit loose and unpolished at times. (Also this has easily one of the worst romcom book covers I’ve ever seen.)

Against a Wall (Stonecut County #2) by Cate C. Wells: I read this almost against my better judgment — Cash Wall is NOT my type (for a multitude of reasons) but I still find him incredibly charming and sweet. This isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s a fairly well-written contemporary romance (and it’s on Kindle Unlimited, which is always a plus!)

What I Read: Sept. 19-25

A Rogue by Any Other Name (The Rules of Scoundrels #1) by Sarah MacLean: I enjoyed the plot and characters in this, but it was just a little too long and repetitive and I found myself skimming the last few chapters. I do think MacLean’s writing has improved over time (this book is 10 years old) so i’m still interested in reading her more recent stuff.

That Summer in Berlin by Lecia Cornwall: It’s been a minute since I read (and enjoyed) historical fiction, but this was SUCH a fantastic read. If you’re tired of WWII historical fiction, this is a good compromise – it’s set mostly in Germany in 1936 during the Summer Olympics (the games do take a major backseat to the rest of the story). The overall vibe of this book was so tense and sinister at times that I was racing through certain chapters to find out what was going to happen. It does require a little suspension of disbelief at the very end, but is still a worthwhile read if historical fiction is your jam. Thank you Uplit Reads and Berkley for the finished copy!

Return to Cherry Blossom Way (Blue Cedar Falls #2) by Jeannie Chin: This series is like if Hallmark movies were rated PG-13. May returns to Blue Cedar Falls for work (she’s a travel writer) and can’t help but bump into her high school ex-boyfriend Han, who runs his family’s Chinese restaurant. This is an incredibly well-rounded book (the side characters are just as lovable as the main couple, and the small town setting is so vibrant I can’t believe it’s not a real place). I enjoyed the first book just a little bit more, but i’m excited to read more in this series!

What I Read: Sept. 12-18

Space Oddities (Space #3) by Sara L. Hudson: Okay this series started off really strong for me but I have yet to enjoy any of the books as much as book one. I did like this story more than book two, but not enough to convince me to finish the series…plus book four includes a trope I’m not a fan of.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: I’m only halfway through but that’s approximately 600 pages, and I honestly don’t know if I’m going to end up finishing this or not. It started off really strong and then started to lose me by taking massive detours into incredibly elaborate backstories about minor characters.

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman: This has SO MUCH promise. Inspired by a 2011 interview with Chris Evans, I really thought the vibe of this would be more fun and less depressing. Throw in some alcoholism, two divorces, two deaths (off page) and zero chemistry…skip this and read the real article instead.

What I Read: Sept. 5-11

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy: When I realized this was sold out everywhere, I placed a Libby hold assuming it would be months before it became available. Somehow, it popped up sooner than expected but only took me one day to read – I won’t say anything that anyone else hasn’t, but infinite content warnings for this (abuse, assault, disordered eating, and so on). Jennette did a very brave thing sharing her story, and this book is getting a lot of buzz for good reason. For the record, I was a tad too old for iCarly but I was somewhat familiar with the show – you don’t need any background with the show to appreciate this book.

Put Out to Pasture (Farm to Table Mysteries #2) by Amanda Flower: This was a read-in-one-day sort of cozy mystery that was good in the moment but not super memorable. The fall vibes are lovely and the characters are solid. However, I prefer the author’s Amish Candy Shop Mystery series. Thank you Poisoned Pen Press for the finished copy!

Below Zero (The STEMinist Novellas #3) by Ali Hazelwood: I have finally finished this little trilogy of novellas, and am almost caught up with Ali Hazelwood’s work. When it comes to her books if you’ve read one, you’ve kind of read them all…but I still find them enjoyable. I enjoyed the STEMinist novellas more than The Love Hypothesis, so i’m really interested to see where Love on the Brain ends up.

Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3) by Lyssa Kay Adams: This series is delightful and I do recommend reading them in order, just so you can feel like you’re part of all of the inside jokes by the time you hit book three. Noah isn’t my FAVORITE of the male protagonists, but he’s still a great character. The Russian’s book is next, and book five is due in November, so i’m thinking I might catch up with the series by the end of this year.

What I Read: August 29-Sept. 4

Girl, Forgotten (Andrea Oliver #2) by Karin Slaughter: Now that I’m totally caught up with Karin Slaughter’s backlist, I have to (impatiently) wait for her to release something new. Thankfully, anything and everything Karin writes is worth the wait, and Girl, Forgotten is just fantastic. I’m hoping there will be more books in this new Andrea Oliver series. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for the next Will Trent book…

We Are the Troopers: The Women of the Winningest Team in Pro Football History by Stephan Guinan: This appealed to me on so many levels: badass women in sports, specifically football, more specifically a team from Toledo. We Are the Troopers provides a really insightful look at the Toledo Troopers and their dominance in the 70s. Thank you Hachette for the ARC!

Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas: This book was like a ride at Cedar Point (fellow Ohioans, hello). Unfortunately, it was less like a rollercoaster and more like one of those rides that starts off at the top, with a fantastic view, and then quickly lets you down… Add in a trope that I really hate and a male lead who was a kind of a douchebag, and you have a recipe for a mediocre day at the theme park.

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell: When my copy of this showed up in the mail, I let out a noise that could best be described as a cross between a hungry manatee and a delighted raccoon. Thankfully, the horror of that noise is not indicative of the quality of this book – The Marriage Portrait is just phenomenal, and I liked it even more than Hamnet. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it’s best to just read the synopsis and dive right in. It gets so tense and terrifying at times that I’m hoping her next book leans in a horror direction simply because her ability to create vivid imagery and emotions through words is *chef’s kiss* Thank you Knopf for the finished copy!

What I Read: August 22-28

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes: I really enjoyed this book! The setting was cozy, the story was interesting and the characters were incredibly lovable (and the baseball angle was a huge plus!) This is basically the book version of a cable-knit sweater.

I Hate You More by Lucy Gilmore: Despite a relatively low rating on Goodreads, I had a fairly enjoyable experience with this book. It’s a little bit too “skimming the surface” to be considered REALLY good, but the characters are cute and there are some funny bits sprinkled throughout. My main criticism is that this is billed as “enemies-to-lovers” and that’s not really true. Our main characters get off to a slightly bumpy start, but if you’re looking for vibes similar to The Hating Game, this won’t do the trick.