Well folks, fall has drawn to a close and winter has arrived here in D.C. What a perfect time to snuggle up with a great book.
My library apparently thought the same, because all 10 of the library holds I submitted in September became available at the exact same time in November. Fun! Overwhelming! So much to read! Ahh!!!
So here we go, my reads from October and November!
(all summaries and covers from Goodreads)
1. Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward
Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood—even though his sister is married to a member, for he harbors a deadly secret that could make him a huge liability in their war against the lessers. As plots within and outside of the Brotherhood threaten to reveal the truth about Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in his darkening world, Ehlena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him—and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.
3 out of 5 stars
I feel like I am never going to be done with this series. But you know what? I’m good with that!! Bring on the sexy, dangerous vampires with awful names for the rest of eternity!!
Rehvenge’s story was pretty entertaining. It was nice to see another “race” explored a bit, but like Phury’s story, it didn’t entertain me as much as I hoped. Still a fun read though.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated Version) by JK Rowling & Jim Kay
The beloved first book of the Harry Potter series, now fully illustrated by award-winning artist Jim Kay.
For the first time, J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter books will be presented in lavishly illustrated full-color editions. Kate Greenaway-award winning artist Jim Kay has created over 100 stunning illustrations, making this deluxe format a perfect gift as much for a child being introduced to the series, as for the dedicated fan.
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.
All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley–a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry–and anyone who reads about him—will find unforgettable.
5 out of 5 stars
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read HP over the years, but I finally got around to reading the illustrated version of the series, which I’ve been collecting since they first started coming out a few years ago. Let me tell you: these books are beautiful. The illustrations are seriously breathtaking. Jim Kay truly did a spectacular job at portraying the scenes and characters in a way that felt fresh, even for someone who has seen the movies a billion times.
3. Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran – quite literally – into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either…
Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner.
The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?
2 out of 5 stars
Oof. This was a near DNF. It took me forever to get through because honestly, none of it hooked me. Not the FMC, not the MMC, not the plot… nothing. There was a lot of telling instead of showing, and I could barely tell the two POVs apart. It was an emotionless slog to get through and I found myself skimming quite a bit of it. Not to mention the supposed “meet cute” was more embarrassing than cute and really doesn’t describe anything that happens later in the story.
Also…… I am so tired of super tiny FMCs. Why are you bragging about being able to wear children’s shoes. As a Big Lady (for reference, I am 5’10” with the shoulders of a linebacker) I would truly appreciate seeing more romances with FMCs that are even average height or taller, because it seems like every freaking romance I pick up these days (except for a fantastic one from last month) features the Tiniest, Quirkiest FMC You Ever Did See. And I’m tired of it!!!!
4. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
One night. No one will know.
That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies.
Until the night she didn’t show up.
Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?
Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.
Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Whew, this was a hot one! Really not too much of a plot in my opinion, just a lot of “forbidden” sexy times strung together with some rivalry and family drama. I found myself getting a little confused by all the characters and their relationships to one another, but it honestly didn’t matter. Also, I couldn’t help but notice a few minor continuity errors here and there, but again, didn’t really matter. All in all, it was a sexy little romance with POC leads (woohoo!), although I couldn’t say I was all that invested in either one of the main characters (not so woohoo).
5. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Wow, I gotta say, I really liked this one. Heck, I think I liked it even more than The Kiss Quotient, which I adored. I nearly knocked this one out in one sitting, but unfortunately I started it on a Sunday night and I needed to be up for work early the next day. Lame. But you can bet that I finished it as soon as I could.
I loved both Khai and My/Esme. I loved watching their feelings for each other and their growth together unfold. I appreciate the autism rep this series has, and seeing things from Khai’s POV was always so interesting. Unfortunately, I did start to get a teensy bit bored with the last 1/3 of the story and the last little bit of conflict that happened, but the ending pretty much made up for it.
6. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?
Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Over the last few months, I had seen SO MUCH hype for this book. When that’s the case, I’m usually a little hesitant to pick it up and read it immediately. I’m always worried that I won’t enjoy it as much as everyone else or not see what’s so great about it.
But this one… yeah. It was worth most of the hype.
A complaint I had, though, was the need to suspend disbelief here and there regarding politics and various events, simply because the alternate universe McQuiston wants us to buy into is sort of hard to imagine at this point in history. Maybe it wouldn’t have been if it had been released in, say 2017, but in the current political climate I just… couldn’t feel the optimism she clearly wanted us to feel, especially at the end. (Also, I did think this book was just a tad too long, dragging in places where things really could have been snappier.)
That said, I still really enjoyed this book. It had me nearly in tears from laughing so hard at times. Like the Great Turkey Calamity—genuinely could not stop laughing. And, of course, what a romance. We love love.
7. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.
4.5 out of 5 stars
I’ve been a huge fan of Karen and Georgia’s My Favorite Murder podcast for years, and when I heard they were writing a book, I was ecstatic. Of course, me being me, I never manage to read brand new releases as soon as they come out, but here I finally am.
I actually ended up listening to the audiobook of this because I figured it would feel more like the podcast and allow me to enjoy it even more. And I think I was right. Had I been simply reading this, I might not have felt the same emotions I did hearing their stories in their own voices, especially at times like when Karen got choked up speaking about her mother. The emotional impact of that can’t be discounted.
As always, I loved hearing about their lives and experiences, and there’s plenty of good life lessons to be learned in this book. And if you’re not learning them for the first time, it’s always good to hear a reminder. Loved it.
8. The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem
In Zara Raheem’s fresh, funny, smart debut, a young, Muslim-American woman is given three months to find the right husband or else her traditional Indian parents will find one for her–a novel with a universal story that everyone can relate to about the challenges of falling in love.
To Leila Abid’s traditional Indian parents, finding a husband in their South Asian-Muslim American community is as easy as match, meet, marry. But for Leila, a marriage of arrangement clashes with her lifelong dreams of a Bollywood romance which has her convinced that real love happens before marriage, not the other way around.
Finding the right husband was always part of her life-plan, but after 26 years of singledom, even Leila is starting to get nervous. And to make matters worse, her parents are panicking, the neighbors are talking, and she’s wondering, are her expectations just too high? So Leila decides it’s time to stop dreaming and start dating.
She makes a deal with her parents: they’ll give her three months, until their 30th wedding anniversary, to find a husband on her own terms. But if she fails, they’ll take over and arrange her marriage for her.
With the stakes set, Leila succumbs to the impossible mission of satisfying her parents’ expectations, while also fulfilling her own western ideals of love. But after a series of speed dates, blind dates, online dates and even ambush dates, the sparks just don’t fly! And now, with the marriage clock ticking, and her 3-month deadline looming in the horizon, Leila must face the consequences of what might happen if she doesn’t find “the one…”
2.75 out of 5 stars
I’ll be honest: I liked this book and I appreciated the diversity and the message that the ending portrayed… but I won’t lie, I expected more. Can’t say too much without giving everything away, but yeah. This was Just Okay.
9. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
4 out of 5 stars
Y’all know I love a good fake-dating, hate-to-love scenario, and this gave me exactly what I wanted on both of those fronts. I definitely appreciated the attempt at diversity from them, but it did come off as a little inauthentic for some reason. That said, definitely enjoyed this! Managed to knock it out in about a day, which is amazing for me.
I’m so, so close to hitting my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal! Only three books to go, which I know I can finish next month. Let’s see if I can surpass my goal! I have two long train rides soon, and that means plenty of uninterrupted reading time.
Have you read anything good lately? Leave me your recommendations in the comments!