For the month of September I read 11 books, which is becoming about average for me now. I thought my reading would slow down since I’m split between being in the office a few days a week and then working the other days at home, but I’ve found extra time for reading and I’m enjoying it while I can. Most of the books I read this month I did enjoy, a few I should have added to the DNF list, but since I did DNF three books this month, Transcendent Kingdom (I know people rave about it, I could not get into it), Island Affair and When We Believed in Mermaids, I felt I had to stick it out for some. Here is a breakdown on what I read in September and my thoughts on the books.
Tell Me Everything by Cambria Brockman
Synopsis: During her first few weeks at Hawthorne College, Malin meets five students who will become her closet friends and roommates during their four years of college. Malin is hiding some things from her friends, including what happened to her and her family in her past. By their senior year on Senior Day, Malin’s secrets and the secrets her friends are keeping start to become exposed and leads to one of them dying.
My Thoughts: I had this book on my TBR list for more than a year and I struggled with getting through this book, in hindsight, it probably should’ve been a book I DNF. It was a book the aggravated me because in my opinion there was not one character to root for. Every one of them was hiding something and when you found out what their secrets were, it did nothing to redeem them. The book is advertised as a thriller, and it really is not one. There are two main mysteries throughout the book, but you can start to piece together one of them while reading and the other one shocks you for about a second and then they quickly move on.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Synopsis: You Had Me at Hola follows Jasmine, a soap opera star and Ashton, a telenovela star, who are playing an ex-wife and husband in a new streaming show, Carmen in Charge. Jasmine’s goal is to become a Latin leading lady, while Ashton wants to revive his career. Jasmine’s life is being splashed across tabloids thanks to a public breakup, while Ashton lives a very private life to protect his family. After a bumpy first meeting, Jasmine and Ashton start to rehearse in private to ensure that they have on-screen chemistry. As they spend more time together, they start falling for each other which is the last thing either of them ever planned to do.
My Thoughts: I loved this book! Jasmine and Ashton are such great characters on their own and as a couple. Jasmine’s honesty was refreshing and I found her to be such a relatable character. I love when books give you both characters perspective throughout, I feel it gives the story so much more depth. It’s a fun read with some chapters playing out as the script pages they were filming and how they related to the story. All the secondary characters from Jasmine and Ashton’s families to the cast and crew of the show were wonderful as well.
They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman
Synopsis: As freshman at Gold Coast Prep, Jill and her seven friends are recruited to be part of the Players, Gold Coast Prep’s sort of secret society. During their last hazing ritual of freshman year, Jill’s best friend Shalia is murdered and her boyfriend Graham confessed to the crime. Now its Jill’s senior year and her and her five friends are determined to make it the best year since they are in charge of the Players. When Jill receives messages that Graham is not the one who killed Shalia, she starts to question everything that has happened in her high school years and if being a Player is as great as she thought it would be.
My Thoughts: I admit, this story was anticipated for me since it is set on Long Island where I’m from, but it was a big let down. It took me a while to get into it and when I did, I wasn’t that invested in what was going to happen. I felt like the main plot of the story was supposed to be Shalia’s murder and what really happened to her, but I feel like most of it was sidetracked with the real plot being all the drama of the Players. The book is going to be turned into a TV series and I actually think it may be more interesting that way.
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
Synopsis: Irene’s ideal life is turned upside down when she gets a phone call that her husband Russ, has died in a helicopter accident in St. John. Irene thought her husband was on a business trip but when her and her two sons get to St. John they learn that he was living a second life on the island, owning a house they never knew about and having an affair wtih Rosie, a local woman who died in the accident with him. As they dig into Russ’ life, they Irene spends time with Huck, Rosie’s stepfather and Maia, Rosie’s daughter and Irene’s sons Cash and Baker are stuck in a love triangle with Rosie’s best friend Ayers.
My Thoughts: I thought this was an okay book. I struggled the first time I read a Hilderbrand book a few years ago and gave this a try thinking I could get into her books. I’ll read the other two books in the series, but I don’t think I’ll be reading more of her books after them. If the book focused on just Irene and Huck, I think I would have enjoyed it more. I found Ayers, Cash and Baker to be very immature and did not like those characters and found myself skimming the chapters that focused on them.
Majesty by Katharine McGee
Synopsis: Majesty picks up right where American Royals left off, Beatrice is now Queen of America following the death of her father. As she adjusts to her new role, she is told that in order for America to take her seriously as their Queen, she needs to have a man by her side. Samantha still upset that Teddy has chosen Beatrice over her, decides to live up to her party princess role and meets Marshall, a royal party boy along the way. Nina is trying to get her life back on track after her breakup with Jefferson and starts spending time with his best friend Ethan. And Daphne is still her horrible self trying to marry Jefferson and become a princess no matter the cost.
My Thoughts: I could not wait for this sequel and it did not disappoint! I enjoyed Beatrice, Samantha and Nina’s storylines. I was rooting for Beatrice as she figures out how to be the Queen of America and figure out if Teddy or Connor will be part of her future and how to advocate for herself. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Samantha in the first book, but I think her journey in Majesty was my favorite of them all. You get to watch Samantha grow up through this book. I’ve heard this may be the last book and while I would love a book three, if this is how the series ends, I was pleased with the ending for most characters.
Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella*
Synopsis: When Ava goes on a romance writers retreat, one of the rules of the retreat is participants cannot reveal their real names or what they do for a living until the retreat is over. On the retreat she goes by Aria and meets Dutch, who was part of a martial arts retreat but joined the writing retreat when his was cancelled. Aria and Dutch instantly click and get caught up in a love affair while on the retreat. When they find out in the end they are both returning to London, they decide to carry on their relationship in the real world where Ava learns Dutch is Matt. As they learn more about each other and clash over many things, they need to decide if the love they found on the retreat is enough for their relationship to survive.
My Thoughts: Sophie Kinsella is one of my go-to authors, but I was not the biggest fan of Love Your Life. I really enjoyed the beginning when Ava/Aria and Matt/Dutch met at the retreat, I thought those chapters were some of the best in the book. When they returned to their regular lives, that is when the book slowed down for me a lot. Matt a character I originally liked became unlikeable to me. Ava reminded me a bit of one of my favorite Kinsella characters, Becky Brandon née Bloomwood. The end chapters did redeem the story for me a little bit, I wish we would have gotten to those sooner.
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Synopsis: Amber is in the hospital in a coma after being in a car accident. She can hear everything around her but cannot speak or move. She doesn’t remember the accident or some of the events the days before the accident. As her memory starts to return, the book flashes back and forth between the present and the past to tell Amber’s story and what lead her to be where she is.
My Thoughts: I loved the wild ride this book takes you on. This was my first book by Feeney and it definitely will not be my last. As soon as I thought I had something figured out, Feeney did a complete 180 and you start questioning everything that is going on. Everyone is a suspect while you are reading and you do not know who to trust. Was her husband driving the car and lying about it? Why does she hate her sister so much who seems to only want the best for her? It is a very twisted book and the ending will leave you questioning everything even more.
Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch
Synopsis: Senator Cleo McDougal has a lot of regrets, 233 to be exact. As she gets ready to announce that she is running for president, her ex-best friend Mary Anne writes an op-ed saying that Cleo is a horrible person who used people to get to where she is today. Gaby, her chief of staff thinks it’ll be a brilliant idea for Cleo to amend some of her regrets to show people who she really is.
My Thoughts: I’m going to be completely honest here, I did not like this book. I struggled to get through it and I really should have added it to the DNF list. I found Cleo to be such an unlikeable character, I couldn’t root for her to try to make amends. Throughout the book she calls herself a feminist, preaches feminism to her son and she was so far from a feminist. Any chance she got she was tearing a woman down, instead of rooting for them. The conclusion in the end with Mary Anne was not believable and by that point I was just rolling my eyes at what was going on in the book.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
Synopsis: From her childhood in Texas to the musician and businesswoman that she is today, Jessica Simpson shares with readers everything. She takes you on a journey as she shares being sexually abused by a family friend as a child, her disastrous Mickey Mouse Club audition, rise to fame, the good and bad in her relationship and marriage to Nick Lachey, her relationships after her divorce, how she started her business, her alcohol abuse, and her life today as a mother of three married to the love of her life.
My Thoughts: This was the first audiobook I made it through. I went into this not being a fan of Jessica’s, but I loved listening to her narration and learning more about her life. Like many people, I always thought of her as the ditzy person Newlyweds portrayed, but there is so much more to her and she is incredibly smart when it comes to business. Her honesty and willingness to be open with everything that has happened in her life from childhood to now made this a book I could not stop listening to. I have so much respect for her now and am rooting for her to accomplish everything she sets out to do.
Home for the Holidays by Sara Richardson
Synopsis: Home for the Holidays follows the Buchanan sisters, Dahlia, Magnolia and Rose, who are all living separate lives in different states. When their estranged aunt Sassy writes them a letter inviting them for one last Christmas at Juniper Inn where they spent the holidays growing up, they each make the trip to Colorado. Each sister is dealing with things in their life and can use the time away to figure out what they want for their future.
My Thoughts: I love a good feel-good family novel that reads like a Hallmark Movie and I adored this book, it is so charming! Each chapter is told from a different sister’s perspective and it made the story flow very easily. Their personal struggles felt authentic and relatable. While this book may be about Christmas, it’s really about family and being there for your loved ones.
The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel
Synopsis: Indian-American biochemical engineer Liya is perfectly fine being single, but her parents insist on setting her up with men they want her to marry. When her parents’ invite to dinner is a set up to meet a potential suitor, Jay, and his mother, Liya flees the scene. When the lawyer hired to save her company is Jay, Liya has to face him at work everyday and many verbal fights ensue. As they start to spend more time together at work, they realize that they just may be made for each other.
My Thoughts: Loved, loved, loved this book, definitely my favorite read of the month! Liya was such a strong character, she was someone who could stand on her own and knew what she wanted and how to obtain it. Jay is being added to my list of favorite male characters in romance books. The way he kept standing up for Liya, even after she turned him down countless times, you can’t help but love him. I wish there was more of Jay’s mom in the book because she was one of my favorite characters. I loved the female friendships in the book and learning more about the Indian culture. I can’t wait to read more books from Patel after this gem!
* I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher, who provide me with a digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions on the book are my own.