I’ve just counted up the books we’re going to be looking at today and holy cow, I cannot believe how many I’ve read. What was I doing? I’m probably going to be brief for most of these because these posts are always so long anyway!! I’ll do my best to link you to anywhere I have additional content though if you’re curious about the book. As usual, we’ll start from the worst (in my opinion) and work our way up!
(Thank you to Books Like Whoa who originally inspired this post!)
46 – 42
We make quick jumps here rating wise from the first three being below a three star to moving solidly into good, but something made it not perfect for me that I can identify starting with Boyfriend Lessons and continuing for quite some time. So, As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr was a DNF because it genuinely did not work for me in any way. I’m sure there is a huge audience for it. It’s marketed at people who love Gilmore Girls and Hallmark movies and I would add for people who can suspend disbelief quite well (ARC Review). Then we have a book I should have DNF’d, An Island Summer by Jenny Hale (ARC Review). This book wasn’t offensive, it was just not a romance, didn’t fit the title or cover in my opinion, and I really just didn’t like anything about it. Then we have After Hours Temptation by Kianna Alexander, which was a category that I should have really liked, but ultimately it fell flat for me. I think there was too much plot packed in to a category length novel and I needed there to be more room to breathe (ARC Review). Now moving to the three stars, Boyfriend Lessons by Sophia Singh Sasson wasn’t paced in a way that worked for me, but I liked the overall plot pretty well. It just left me unsatisfied with the romance at the end of it because I couldn’t believe in it. (ARC Review). D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins should have been a winner for me, but ultimately, it fell flat. The fake relationship was great, but there was something about the tension in this novel that never hit right (ARC Review).
In all fairness to Mad About You, it probably could be ranked much higher on someone else’s list because it really is a good book, it’s just not a book that worked for me at all. I’m really struggling at the moment with themes of domestic violence, probably because it’s way too much of my job. Anyway, Mad About You has the signature McFarlane writing and pacing so it was enjoyable enough as one of her books, just not for me. (ARC Review)
Similarly, A Daring Pursuit by Kate Bateman was an enjoyable follow up to the first book in this series, but there was a lot of commentary that wound up really getting under my skin. I really hate books that focus on virginity as a concept and ruination. Especially in the context of reading this book around the same time as the Dobbs decision. (ARC Review)
Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley (ARC Review) is another book that I think could work for someone very much in the mood for something that’s got a really light, funny vibe. I felt like the actual plot needed a little more of a serious tone, but that’s a me thing, not a universal truth.
American Royalty by Tracey Livesay was so close to being a hit for me, but it turns out, I really struggle to believe in an HEA with this level of difference. Sure, I could fill in a Harry/Meghan HEA, but I needed a little more at the end to actually believe in it. Does that make sense? (ARC Review)
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher is very unique in my reading life and I think it’s a great book. Or a good book? And I think that’s my problem. I don’t actually know what to make of this one. (ARC Review)
The Return of the Duke was a little disappointing for me, only because of how much I loved the first book in the series and really enjoyed book two. Otherwise, it was a successful installment in Heath’s oeuvre. (ARC Review)
See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon was a really neat Groundhog Day type of book that I would definitely recommend if you’re interested. But, as I’ve already mentioned too many times in this post, once again, there was some content around Barrett’s first time that I probably needed a heads up about (and to listen and therefore avoid the book). (ARC Review)
Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter has some really intense mental health representation that I mostly really enjoyed. I didn’t think though that the pacing overall in this book made it completely successful for me, although I think it is definitely a book worth reading. (ARC Review)
Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour is another book I read these past four months that pushed me outside of my comfort zone with reading and I would say that if you’ve been loving those Sad Girl Summer/Sad Girl Autumn book recs on TikTok, this is the sapphic book for you. Because, it is sad literary fiction with lots of character development, though it skimps on some practical details that might have helped me stop arching my eyebrows at the practicalities. That said, LaCour’s writing is gorgeous and I would read from her again. (ARC Review)
This set of five books is where we take a turn to pretty solid reads that simply aren’t going to stick with me, though I would generally recommend them if you’re intrigued. Nothing But the Truth by Holly James is a fun story about a woman who made a birthday wish on a cocktail asking for the perfect day and the following morning wakes up and realizes she can’t lie, not even to herself. This winds up resulting in a whole lot of changes in her life, that really do set her up for success, but it’s an anxiety riddled journey. Content note here for sexual harassment and a bit of a #MeToo movement. (ARC Review)
The Roughest Draft is a very meta book about two co-writers who had a very public split with no reason given and are now being obliged to team up again and maybe it’s time to deal with those unresolved emotions. I enjoyed this one, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. I may have some additional thoughts (honestly not sure) in my Most Anticipated Books Check In.
The Crush by Karla Sorensen is a sort of second chance book wherein Emmett reminded me of Noah in his driven-ness and I couldn’t help but think that his priorities should have been different given how he grew up. That said, it was a good time, if you just ignored what any child belonging to Paige and Logan Ward should be like. You can see more thoughts of mine in my Karla Sorensen extended universe post.
Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert was a good time and I really enjoyed the compteition element, but ultimately, it wasn’t my favorite book in the Dark Olympus series. Between this one and Electric Idol though, I think she’s pulled me back into being invested in it.
Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman was a really neat time with the mixed media elements and the dual timeline situation of past/present. I just wish that it had been maybe a little longer? There was just something I can’t quite put my finger on about the pacing that made this book that could have been perfect for me, not.
Wild is the Witch by Rachel Griffin was a compelling read, in the sense that the atmosphere had me so excited about it and kept me reading. Overall it wasn’t completely perfect for me, but I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for something in the New Adult age range. (ARC Review)
The Plan by Karla Sorensen had me gripped pretty early on because I really enjoyed Lydia and the way Sorensen depicted Lydia dealing with the aftermath of the car accident she’d been in due to an overzealous reporter. I also find it hard to resist a bodyguard romance once I have actually picked it up. And Erik introducing Lydia to his family? The fake dating?? I mean, it was definitely a book that worked well for me and my trope preferences.
The Bride Goes Rogue by Joanna Shupe (ARC Review) has such an incredible beginning. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way it went from engaging me fully to somehow losing that spark that gripped me, but overall, I still think it’s a very solid read and would recommend. Especially since I still haven’t figured out what stopped working for me.
Look, My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey probably shouldn’t work for me as well as it did, but this was a really fun book to read while on vacation myself. Is this man so big in comparison to our FMC? Yes. Is he a ridiculous alpha male? Yes. Did I eat this book up like candy? Also, yes. So, if you like Tessa Bailey’s sort of over the top antics and can ignore her gender essentialist writing, let me tell you, this book is a good time. If either of those things are a no go for you, skip this book.
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian (ARC Review) is a book for people who are up for an adventure with a whole lot of antics throughout. I had a really good time with this one, though ultimately, I didn’t feel quite as connected to the characters as what I usually prefer. But given how much I struggled to get into the first book in this series, Marian Hayes felt like a breath of fresh air.
Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan (ARC Review) is a blend of women’s fiction and romance that will not work for everyone. But if you’re going to read it, allow me to recommend the audiobook because Julia Whelan is honestly just the most brilliant narrator and you deserve that in your life. This book has some difficult content, so check CWs before going into it. Overall though, for me, I really enjoyed this one.
A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin (ARC Review) is such a unique historical romance and I had a really good time with it. I really loved the way this explored the idea of fortune hunting and why people might choose to do so. It’s so interesting, honestly, how books tend to villainize people seeking fortunes in historical romance, but… like, sometimes people are poor and need money? So I really enjoyed the way this book set out specifically to deal with that. It’s been done before, I know, but this one targeted that trope in a way that felt unique. It’s also different in the way that it doesn’t really follow typical romance pacing. I had a good time with it, but it won’t be for everyone.
Hoops Shorts by Kennedy Ryan was unsurprisingly brilliant. It includes two short stories, one of which I’ve read before because it was originally included in Hoops Holiday. The other though was brand new (at least to me, but I think in general) and we finally got Quinn’s HEA, which I really loved. Both stories though have major content notes for suicide and suicide attempts.
For You and No One Else by Roni Loren (ARC Review) was a really impactful conclusion to this Say Everything trilogy from Loren. I really enjoyed this look at living one’s life very online and I really enjoyed the relationship between Eliza and Beckett.
Electric Idol by Katee Robert really brought me back to the Dark Olympus series. I wasn’t really sure if I was going to continue with it after I found the first book in the series to be just okay. But I wound up really enjoying Electric Idol. Getting married to keep one’s mom from murdering the woman who took a risk for you? I mean, how can one not be a fan?
One Fell Sweep is on this list because of the new Graphic Audio format that dropped this year that I am absolutely loving. That said, one Fell Sweep still isn’t my favorite book in the series, but I’m just so in love with the new audio format that I know I’ll be reading it again and again.
Something Wilder by Christina Lauren is a book that will not and has not worked for everyone, but I was able to have a good time. It reminded me of The Lost City (the new movie with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum) so I was there for the ride. It’s over the top and ridiculous and the villain is so awful. But you know, it was a fun time for me.
Compromised into a Scandalous Marriage by Lydia San Andres (ARC Review) was such a unique historical and I enjoyed the book a lot. That brother though. He is a monster. I did not appreciate anything about him. But all in all, I very much enjoyed the book and look forward to more from San Andres!
Storm Echo by Nalini Singh… Honestly, I’m so surprised this book sits as low as it does, but even though I really enjoyed it, I didn’t love it the way I normally do a new Psy-Changeling book. That said, she’s already teased that the next book takes us back to the bears and I cannot wait. (Review)
A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong (ARC Review) was such a neat book that I’m still so excited about. And every time I see or hear about Edinburgh, this is the book that comes to mind immediately. What an intense mystery book! And truly, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews is once again on this list because of the new graphic audio version of the book. And again, I’m just having such a great time with the series on graphic audio. It’s making me so excited to listen to other series like this.
The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen (ARC Review) is one of, if not the most unique book I’ve read ever. I feel like everything aboutthis world-building was new and the romance was so fun. It twisted all sorts of tropes for me, but still gave me the You’ve Got Mail vibes that it promised. I had a real good times with this one.
How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder (ARC Review) was such a fantastic debut and I cannot wait for more from Wilder. She delivered such a compelling celebrity focused read and I had the best time with it ripping my heart out and tearing at my emotions. Fake dating is such a great trope and I just really enjoyed the execution. My only quibble is that I needed more at the end to fully flesh it out and make me feel more confident in the overall health of the HEA.
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake was such a fantastic sapphic romance that really drew me in. I really loved the complex family dynamics and the relationship between Claire and Delilah. Delilah is messy in a way that I really loved to see, she’s not always likable. And really, just everything about the way that Blake fleshed out these characters worked for me.
Finding Me by Viola Davis is a brilliantly narrated and written memoir that is really devastating at times and told with an unflinching look at the hardships of what it really means to strive to be an actor. I think that Davis is a brilliant actress, but more than that, she shines through this memoir as a driven, gracious, and grateful human that I think we’re all blessed to get to see on our screens.
After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez (ARC Review) is a book that really snuck up on me. At first I was just reading it and then suddenly I was crying. I’m not even sure how I got so sucked in and emotionally attached to these characters, but I really enjoyed the ride.
Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon (ARC Review) is a quiet book that will not be for everyone. There’s not a ton of plot happening, but the character work is so brilliant and subtle. I really loved this one. I can’t wait for more from Devon.
Everything for You by Chloe Liese (ARC Review) is the latest installment in Liese’s Bergman Brothers series and I have loved each installment. This one felt particularly special because the grumpiness was just… *chef’s kiss* And the way Liese examines what it means to be a sunshine character… Just, absolutely brilliant.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry (ARC Review) is a divisive book, I’ve come to realize, and I think I understand why. Henry continues to really blend women’s fiction and romance in a way that is not working for a lot of people, but it is absolutely working for me. I really love reading about family and finding a place where you belong and so the way that this book explored both of those things and gave me Charlie? I was sold. This book was great for me.
Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews (ARC Review) was everything. I still don’t have words to say. I don’t really think I have words I can say because so much of why I want to scream and flail about this book are spoilers. But what I can say is that if you love family and you love found family, this series is great. And maybe Nevada and Conor have a more typical relationship pattern, but I really love Alessandro and Catalina just as much. Their love is a little quieter in some ways, but still equally powerful and I’m still here for them just as much.
And finally, we have You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (ARC Review). At the beginning of the year, if you would have told me that this book would be in my number one spot of the second third, I would have been shocked. I was so nervous going into this book, convinced the writing would be too literary and flowery for me. But instead, what I got, was such a gorgeous journey through some of the messiest relationships I’ve ever gotten to read about. What I got was a Emezi taking me and my morals on a ride that I absolutely enjoyed the heck out of. I am so looking forward to Emezi writing much, much more in the romance genre. I will caution you though, this book does not follow a typical romance pacing so please adjust your expectations before you go in!
I do love making these posts, but I’ll admit they’re always a little exhausting! I hope you have enjoyed and maybe that this has helped you decide what books to prioritize. We’ve been blessed with a lot of incredible releases lately and it can be really hard to figure out where to spend one’s time. Also, please let me know your thoughts on my rankings! Are there any books that you think should be higher? Lower? And what was your favorite book from May through August? Let me know!