My birthday month is over, though it feels weird to say that since it’s also now my birthday week. The struggles of having your birthday fall on a Sunday and the last day of the month. I read quite a few books in September though, so I guess we’d best get started! I think I’ve added two new books to my favorites of the year this month: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, which I talked about in the first part of September wrap up, and Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert, which I raved about in my ContemporaryAThon Wrap Up. I guess we’ll see at the end of the year if they manage to stay on my list (but I’m pretty sure they will)!
11) Never Love a Highlanderby Maya Banks
Honestly, I didn’t like this book at all and would not recommend it if you want a woman to be able to be exactly who she is without being forced to change because she got married and her new husband has certain expectations of how a woman is supposed to act. The book essentially left me in a constant state of rage so it’s surprising I was able to finish it, honestly. And that’s really all I have to say about it.
12) Never Have I Ever by Alisha Rai
This book was so fun? Like, first of all, I didn’t know Alisha Rai even wrote paranormal romance and secondly, I am now quite distraught she didn’t continue this series. Like many of her independently published books, this one is VERY steamy so be warned. Essentially it follows this couple after the wife is sent some explicit photos of her husband in some positions in his youth that are a shocking contrast to their very vanilla sex life. So she suggests they take a vacation and uses that vacation to basically seduce him into giving her some very not vanilla sex. There’s also an emotional arc to the book to, but honestly, I just really enjoyed this novella for what it was.
13) Burn for Meby Ilona Andrews
Yeah… So the night before ContemporaryAThon, I decided it would be a good idea to start re-reading Burn for Me. I just love Nevada and Connor too much, y’all. Just too much. And honestly, this book just gets better each re-read. I don’t want to say too much more because it’s not like I haven’t talked about this book before, but if you haven’t read it… Try it!
14) Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert – 5 Star Perfection
15) The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – 5 Stars
16) Famous by Jenny Holiday – 5 Stars
17) Pretending He’s Mine by Mia Sosa – 4 Stars
18) Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh – 5 Stars
19) Always and Forever, Lara Jeanby Jenny Han
I read this book in one day and I really liked it. It’s funny because I saw a review about really not liking the way Lara Jean was kind of making plans based on Peter, but I actually found this plot point so important. There have been two times in my life where I’ve considered making my decisions taking into account someone else in situations where I really did not need to do so. It was really nice to see that struggle reflected and to watch how it unfolds. Also, just like, trust Jenny Han. Also, also, maybe because I haven’t re-read the first two books and have seen the movie, I was very pro Peter K. this whole time.
20) White Hotby Ilona Andrews
What can I even really say about this book considering it’s a sequel? Um… I’m obsessed with this entire series and if you haven’t read it yet… Reconsider? Also, I seriously love Connor Rogan. He’s such a gem. And Nevada? She’s amazing. Now, seriously, go read these books if you haven’t already.
21) Time’s Convertby Deborah Harkness
This is in theory, Marcus’s book, and tells the story of his life in becoming a vampire and before and hits the highlights of his life as a vampire. It contrasts with Phoebe’s story as she becomes a vampire. However, this really felt like more of Matthew and Diana, with interruptions from Marcus and Phoebe. If you weren’t already connected to the characters, I’m not sure how well this story would draw you in. In fact, I don’t think you can read this one without having read the All Souls Trilogy. Anyway, it was enjoyable for me because I am already connected to the characters, but I do feel like this book lacked a clear focus. Also, I listened to it and I think that was a really bad call for me.
22) Soft on Soft: #FatGirlsinLoveby Em Ali
My favorite part of this book is the text message exchange you see on the cover. I didn’t click with the writing style of this at all and felt like there were enough errors in the book to really be distracting. However, if you want a short, fluffy, sapphic novella with queer representation from so many angles, in which consent is embodied in virtually every exchange, however minor, this might be the novella for you. It’s genuinely the softest book I have ever read, but it turns out I maybe don’t like that? Anyway, basically this is about two women falling in love. Junie is a make-up artist who does Selena’s make-up for some of her shoots. Both are super into the other, but both are unsure of how the other feels. It’s cute.
23) Evidence of the Affairby Taylor Jenkins Reid
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that short pieces of literature are things I don’t connect well with, but um, Evidence of the Affair blew me out of the water. An epistolary short story, Evidence of the Affair follows Carrie and David as they try to deal with the fact that their spouses are having an affair. Carrie reaches out to David after finding the letters between her husband and David’s wife and what unfolds is just… A mastery of characterization, honestly. I really enjoyed it. I actually think it being a short story is likely what allowed me to enjoy it so much.
24) After the Goldby Erin McRay and Rachelle Maltese
First of all, I am obsessed with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Canadian ice dancing pairs who won gold at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and set our televisions on fire with their sexy pairs dance. Anyway, After the Gold was written to kind of capitalize on our love for Tessa and Scott and, well, it absolutely worked for me.
Katie has a lot of anxiety about what is coming now that she and Brendan have won Gold at the Olympics and she’s not good at handling this anxiety. Plus, she and Brendan have so much sexual and romantic tension and she remembers what it was like to be with him before she decided that their relationship was a curse for their success. I felt like After the Gold did such a great job of portraying anxiety for next steps, but there were some concerns I had. For one thing, I found it a little difficult to believe in the HEA because it seemed like Brendan did all of the compromising. (Which on the one hand, I appreciated because I feel like IRL it’s usually the woman making the compromise, but on the other, I just wasn’t convinced Brendan would be happy?) So anyway, I really enjoyed this one and I would definitely recommend if you too miss Tessa and Scott.
25) Falling for Him by Alisha Rai
Leyla Karimi finds herself staring at her neighbor in a state of semi-undress and this is a problem because her neighbor is her brother’s best friend, younger than her, and she kind of used to take care of him. Of course, now he’s all grown up and in his residency, and so very attractive, but…
Yeah, I really enjoyed this book. It’s actually less steamy than I was expecting given that it is one of Alisha Rai’s independently published books. Weirdly it really made me want to re-read A Gentleman in the Streets with a pretty fierce compulsion that I have thus far not given into (but I read this two days ago so…). Anyway, this is a fun fast read that I really enjoyed, but if you want to start with Rai’s strongest books, I would start with Hate to Want You or A Gentleman in the Streets.
What was your favorite read of September? Can you believe we’re already to October? I think October is my favorite month of the year just because I love watching the leaves change colors. I’m so excited that I live in the mountains again this year because Chapel Hill deprived me of this experience for the past four years. Any Fall things you feel like you absolutely must do?