WWW Wednesdays – January 16, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

It turns out that taking a break from work and life and spending more than a week on the ocean in the Caribbean, helped me make some progress on my NetGalley backlog and my Winter Reading List. Then I picked up a bit of a cold, which prevented me from reading for a few days.

You will see a lot of Zadie Smith in my upcoming reads as she is the author I am focusing on reading more of in January. (See my 2019 A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge)

Currently Reading

Finished Reading – since my last WWW post (a month ago)

Hunger by Roxane Gay – audiobook ♦♦
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham – book ♦♦♦
The Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik – audiobook ♦♦♦♦
A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley – ebook ♦♦♦
Murder, She Wrote: Murder Never Takes a Holiday by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain – book ♦♦♦
The Library Book by Susan Orlean – ebook ♦♦♦♦♦
The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill – book ♦♦♦♦ ½

Reading Next

 

Have you read any of the books mentioned above? What have you been reading lately? Please share your WWW posts!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Book Review: A Christmas Date

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Title: 
A Christmas Date
Author: Camilla Isley
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: October 25, 2018
Pages: 231
Format Read: Kindle ebook
Standalone or series: Book #3 of First Comes Love series
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date Finished Reading: January 2, 2019

Goodreads Description: Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year.

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion.

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever.

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency.

So what’s a girl to do?

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend.

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalog of gorgeous actors to choose from.

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date…

A fun, festive romantic comedy with lots of bad behavior and Christmas spirit. Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously hilarious novel down. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Sally Thorne, and Jo Watson.

My Review: A Christmas Date is a holiday romance with some humor. Though it is the third book in a series, you can definitely read this as a stand alone, as I did.

I always enjoy watching and reading rom-coms. If you have seen the movie The Wedding Date, you will see a lot of similarities in Camilla Isley’s A Christmas Date. There are some slight differences though that created some enjoyable scenes. When Nikki hires a man to accompany her home for Christmas, she insists that he moves in with her for a couple weeks prior to the homeward visit, so they could spend as much time getting to know each other, and their relationship would be believable. I enjoyed Nikki’s roommate’s reaction to this plan and her protectiveness of Nikki.

I do wish that there had been less build up to Nikki actually taking her fake boyfriend home for Christmas and more focus on the time spent at home, because I really enjoyed the second half of the book a lot. The scene when Nikki’s sister, Julia, cooks a vegan dinner for the family made me laugh out loud. This scene leads into another great scene between the two sisters. I can totally relate to Christmas family drama.

Overall, I would recommend this fun holiday romance.

My Rating:  ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

WWW Wednesdays – November 14, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I’m making progress on my Fall Reading list for sure. Still lots more to read!

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

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I will say off the bat that you HAVE to read this! I own Jenny Lawson’s (aka The Bloggess) first book but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I saw Furiously Happy was available on audiobook through my Libby app and thought I could use a book of humor. This book was so much more than humorous. It made my commute to and from work so enjoyable. I laughed-cried so many times. Almost every day, I came home and made my husband listen to a part of it. As not to spoil some of my favorite parts of the book, I’m just going to list my favorite chapters: “Things I May Have Accidentally Said During Uncomfortable Silences”, “Koalas Are Full of Chlamydia” and “These Cookies Know Nothing of My Work.” I love the conversations and sometimes disagreements she has with her husband. I can so relate.

Most importantly, though, I believe that the way she addresses mental illness is so important. I have so many friends who turned to her long ago (when she was just a blog writer), as they needed someone who would understand that mental illness is a real thing and a difficult issue. It can often cost someone their life. Both my husband and I have lost people to mental illness. Her openly discussing her own mental illness has provoked so many people to discuss their own mental illness and has no doubt saved lives.

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild

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As the winter weather approaches, and the small town of Dawson in the Yukon of Canada is about to be cut-off from the rest of the territory, a murderer is on a killing spree. Can the murderer be caught before there is no way to escape?

I read this book for our mystery book club. It was a fast read, and the author really sets the scene beautifully. You really feel like you understand what life is like in Dawson. Her descriptions of the landscape and the local venues she discusses are true to the real-life city. Plus, having a murder mystery take place in a town that is about to be cutt-off with frozen rivers and impassable roads, is the perfect scene for a thriller of a story. However, outside of the scene itself, the author did not do a great job with developing the characters and the plot felt like it really fizzled out at the end. I also feel like there are some unanswered questions. Overall, the book was meh, but I did like learning a bit about the Yukon.

Reading Next

Another great reading week! What have y’all been reading this week? Any recommendations? Feel free to leave a link to your WWW posts in the comment section below if I haven’t already visited your site.

WWW Wednesdays – November 7, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I’m making progress on my Fall Reading list for sure. Still lots more to read!

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington – audiobook

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After passing out from exhaustion and breaking her face (cheek bone), Arianna Huffington changed her lifestyle to incorporate more sleep. In The Sleep Revolution, she explores multiple studies that have shown the many positive outcomes to getting more sleep. She discusses sleeps relationship to daily productivity, dream analysis, insomnia.

If you are like me, you have used the phrase “if only there were more hours in the day” or are just constantly fatigued. I often want to sit and read my book and end up falling asleep. It isn’t because the book isn’t entertaining. I am just tired. In The Sleep Revolution, the ideal daily pattern should be 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, and 8 hours of time for yourself. However, I don’t feel like that is a feasible pattern in society – especially in the US, where our lives are structured around work. Plus, how many of us get home from work and then have to cook, clean, take care of children, etc.? I feel that as much as we might try to manage our time better to include more sleep/rest, this has to be a change to our societal structure. I also am not into dream analysis, so I definitely could have skipped that section. Overall, though, I found this book full of useful tips (aka no reading your phone in bed) to getting a better night’s sleep and has convinced me to try to get the full 8 hours of sleep a night. This is definitely one book that we should all at least try to live by, because I think we would all be healthier, happier and more productive.

Murder Mile by Lynda LaPlante – book

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This is the fourth book in a series following a British police officer named Jane Tennison. Detective Sergeant Jane Tennison responds to a call, where a body of a woman was found in an alley. This discovery is followed by other bodies located nearby. Can they find the killer before he/she kills again?

I try not to read a later book in a series, when I haven’t read the previous installments. However, I received this book from BookishFirst and was anxious to read it. I thought the author did a fantastic job setting the scene and introducing characters. I felt this book was a well done stand alone. I didn’t need to read the first three books in the series to understand the characters and the plot. (However, there are spoilers throughout that will ruin the mystery of the first three if you are interested in reading those.) Jane is a fantastic detective with great instincts, but you feel her struggles as the only woman in a task force full of men. Somehow, even when her superior is rude and nasty to her, she continues to relentlessly search for the killer and follow her instincts. The story line was full of twists, turns, and red herrings. I wished that there had been a bit more of a twist at the end with some thrilling action, but it was overall a fantastic mystery thriller that is hard to put down.

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard – audiobook

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This historical fiction is set during WWII, following the men and women that went to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which was a city constructed as a production site for the Manhattan project. This led to the city’s nickname The Atomic City.

I know I don’t always gravitate toward historical fiction novels, but I recently loved The Masterpiece and enjoyed reading All the Light We Cannot See (another novel set during WWII), so this one looked fascinating. I have enjoyed reading about women’s roles in advancing science and thought this would be similar. I was very much disappointed. My first complaint is that based on the title, I thought the perspective of the book would be solely through the women who worked in the factories in The Atomic City. This was not the case. My second complaint is the lack of factual details or really any details that might help the reader understand what work was going on in Oak Ridge. We are suppose to feel the struggles of the characters as some of them are aware that they are helping create a weapon that could cause death and destruction, and yet the reader isn’t given the details or background of the Manhattan project to really care about those feelings. I did find it fascinating that workers weren’t allowed to know or talk about the work they did (a repeating theme throughout the book), but I still feel like we could have been given information about the tasks the women did during their work shifts. Did they all just read meters and fix accordingly? It was hard as a reader to picture myself in that time and place, because the author did little to put me there. I think the author should have focused more on certain characters and their day -to-day activities and done more research about Oak Ridge and the Manhattan project to incorporate in this novel. I overall thought it was a boring read and lacked substance.

Reading Next

So many great reads coming up that I am looking forward to! What have y’all read this week? Any recommendations? Please feel free to post your WWW Wednesdays link in the comments below if I haven’t already visited it?

HAPPY READING!!!

WWW Wednesdays – October 31, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I did very little reading this week and weekend between work and travel. This past weekend, I took a trip to Austin, Texas for the 2018 Texas Book Festival. (See my post about that event here.) The festival kept me so busy with all the things to do and authors to meet, that I did not get much time to read. It was worth it though.

Currently Reading

Recently Finished

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman – audiobook

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Sarah Weinman explores the theory that Nabokov’s Lolita was based off of the true story of the kidnapping of Sally Horner. This book provides an in depth analysis of Lolita and the story of Sally Horner, which I admit that I had not heard of before. I, overall, enjoyed hearing the comparisons between the two. However, I found two things rather annoying. First, trying to not spoil anything by giving away too many details, the author glosses over the fate of Sally Horner early on in the book and makes you wait until almost the end to find out exactly what happened to her. She should not have mentioned her fate at all until it was time to actually explain that. The second thing that I did not really enjoy was the end section that goes into details of what happened to characters in the book, many of whom were not very relevant to the story, so I cared little about what happened to them. It is a captivating read for readers like me who love true crime and also classic fiction.

Reading Next

I’m hoping to get a lot more reading done this week and weekend. What have y’all been reading this week? If you have a WWW post, please share the link if I haven’t commented already.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

2018 Texas Book Festival

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I decided that this would be the year that I attend my first book festival, and the Texas Book Festival in Austin did not disappoint. There were so many different authors from so many different genres and activities for all ages. When you want to attend all the sessions, it is hard to narrow down your must see/do list. I was fortunate enough to attend the book festival with a friend, who help me have the best experience. Here is what we experienced:

DAY ONE – SATURDAY 10/27

Meet the Indie Next Authors! Featuring: R.O. Kwon, Tommy Orange, Nicole Chung

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Book signing

Earth and Beyond: A Conversation with Scott Kelly in the Texas State Capitol

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Litsy Meetup on the lawn of the Texas State Capitol

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Book signing with Sarah McCoy

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Souvenirs – thanks to Texas Book Festival and Book People Bookstore

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Lit Crawl Austin – American Short Fiction authors play Ex Libris at Stay Gold, featuring Jamel Brinkley, Rita Bullwinkel, Rebecca Makkai, Jennifer duBois, Owen Egerton and Tommy Orange

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Lit Crawl Austin – Noir at the Bar where crime fiction authors read from their recent their novels at Stay Gold, featuring Lou Berney, Max Booth, Meg Gardiner, Mike McCrarry and Scott Von Doviak

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Won a crime fiction novel raffle with signed copies!

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DAY TWO – SUNDAY 10/28

Alternate Realities: Sci Fi in 2018 with V.E. Schwab and John Scalzi

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John Scalzi taking a selfie wearing V.E. Schwab’s cat ears

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The last presentation was amazing, and we were too tuckered out to continue with any more sessions, so we wandered around Austin a bit longer and then hit the road back to Houston. All the author/presenters we listened to were amazing, personable and friendly. We just wanted to be friends with all of them. Now I have to find a place in my house for all my lovely new books!

 

 

24 Hour Readathon Wrap-Up – October 2018

Another Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon has come to an end. I am bummed that we have to wait until April for the next one. It is always so much fun, and this time was no exception. This is how I did on the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the readathon – 24 Hour Readathon Begins! October 2018:

Readathon Goals:

  • I want to read for at least 13 hours today. – I succeeded in reading more than 13 hours. I participated to Hour 19, but I read about 15 hours of that time.
  • I want to complete 3 books. – I did read 3 books: a physical book, an ebook and an audiobook.
  • I want to read at least 500 pages. – I read more than 500 pages.
  • I want to complete at least 5 mini-challenges. – This is the one goal I didn’t complete.
  • Get Bingo. – Got bingo: see pic below.

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Social Media Activity:

I am not good with balancing my reading time and social media time. I tend to just want to focus on the reading part. I only did one Mini-Challenge this year. Any helpful tips you fellow readathoners can give me to help me participate in more social media challenges, while still getting quality reading time in?

  • Goodreads: Commented on 12-15 threds, including more than 10 of the hourly threds.
  • Litsy: Posted 6 times.
  • Instagram: Posted 4 times.
  • Twitter: Posted 7 times.
  • Blog: Posted 2 times.

Helpful Tips:

  • Do an audiowalk – even if the weather isn’t nice, maybe you can walk inside somewhere. Take an audiobook and stretch your legs for a while.
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  • Have healthy snacks as well as fun and slightly unhealthy snacks. I balanced out my taco dip (pictured below) with a fruit platter.
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  • Try to minimize distractions. I love having my husband around. He actually keeps me awake during the readathon, so I can participate longer. However, sometimes he can also be distracting. Plus, this year, I actually took a few hours out of the readathon to watch a baseball playoff game (been a Milwaukee Brewers fan since birth).

Closing Survey:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I bailed at Hour 19, which was about 2am my time.
  2. Tell us ALLLL the books you read! I read The Royal Runaway (NetGalley ARC ebook), Kiss Me, Kill Me (audiobook), and The Raven and Other Favorite Poems (book). I did also start Different Seasons and Rooms.
  3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners? I love everything by Ann Rule, so even though Kiss Me, Kill Me was a bit hauntingly disturbing and graphic, I would highly recommend it – especially for true crime lovers like me.
  4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you happy? Have a record of what everyone has read during the readathon.
  5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep? I’m already counting down the days until the next readathon! I might be willing to help organize and prep. I could maybe do an hourly question or two for Goodreads.

Things to improve on for next readathon:

  • I want to put in a bit more prep time. I had my TBR pile ready, but I waited until the last minute to get my snacks ready and was not prepared for updating on social media throughout the readathon. I appreciate any helpful tips y’all can provide me to improve my preparedness for the readathon.
  • I would like to actually participate in more mini-challenges.
  • I would like to have less distractions.

Next Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon = April 6, 2019

Here was the last book I picked up for the readathon:

It felt fitting for this Halloween season. How did you all do? Please share your readathon wrap-ups and any helpful recommendations and tips! Until next time….

24 Hour Readathon Begins! October 2018

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It’s that time!!!! Time for the semi-annual Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon!!!!  As always I’m super excited and ready to go! I’ve got my TBR pile, snacks, and clothing (see photo off to the right) all prepared. This is officially my 5th time participating in this readathon. I do not anticipate making it the full 24 hours, but I am geared up to get some quality reading time in that will help me achieve my yearly reading goals.

Readathon Goals:

  • I want to read for at least 13 hours today.
  • I want to complete 3 books.
  • I want to read at least 500 pages.
  • I want to complete at least 5 mini-challenges.
  • Get Bingo.

Bingo:

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TBR (soooo many to chose from):

Obviously I don’t intend to read all of the following, but I like to have a lot of options to chose from in all different types of reading tools, like physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks. I’ve learned that a variety helps utilize every moment of the readathon to accomplish all your reading goals.

Physical Books

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Ebooks

Audiobook

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If you have never participated in this readathon before, I would recommend that you try it! It’s so much fun!

Here is my first read of the day:

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WWW Wednesdays – October 17, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I didn’t read much this week again, because I went on a mini holiday to visit family, but I am looking forward to catching up on all my NetGalleys, book club reads, and Fall Reading list this upcoming weekend during Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Due to my intense work schedule and the fact that my body does not like me to pull all-nighters anymore, I won’t be able to read the entire 24 hours, but I intend to read most of Saturday. I will be creating my pre-readathon post in the next day or two.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Out by Natsuo Kirino – book

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Four women that work together at a factory outside of Tokyo, Japan conspire together to cover up a murder. This story follows these women and how the murder cover-up changes their lives and the lives of others that have connections to the women or to the murdered individual.

I read this book for an IRL mystery book club. While the story is disturbing (so many trigger warnings) and a bit depressing, I found that I still wanted to continue to read it to find out what happens to the four women and whether they really would get away with this crime. It may seem boring and tedious at points, but I believe those pages really help the reader understand the lives of the characters. No character is innocent, so you really don’t know who to root for. Another trigger warning – the end is just as disturbing (if not more so) as the beginning. It is a clever book and not like anything I have read before.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan – audiobook

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Ella Duran from the United States earns a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University in England for a year toward a graduate degree. She is a very ambitious political activist for education but always wanted to study at Oxford so does not hesitate to accept the Rhodes scholarship. While at Oxford, she meets a group of animated characters and develops an attraction to one of her professors. She juggles her Oxford life and her US educational policy ambitions, but begins to realize that Oxford is starting to change her and her life goals.

As someone who studied abroad every opportunity I had and absolutely loved Oxford when I visited last year, I had to read this book. It starts by painting this amazing picture of Oxford, which is in fact a stunning place, and English culture. I found myself laughing at Ella’s interactions with her English classmates and some of the locals. I can’t believe I never noticed how my British friends use negative adjectives to describe something positive (ex. “that is terribly brilliant”). This story soon turned into a romantic story. I didn’t read the blurb that compares this story to a Nicholas Sparks or JoJo Moyes book, so I was a bit caught off guard when the story turned from mysterious to a bit sad. (I may have shed a few tears while listening to it at work). Normally I don’t gravitate to these types of books, however, by that point, I was so invested in all the lovely characters that I had to see the book all the way through. It was amazing. So many emotions, but I loved every moment of it.

Reading Next

I hope you all had a fantastic week of reading! Any thoughts on the books I’ve listed? What are y’all reading? If I haven’t already commented on your WWW post, please include it in the comments below and maybe some of you will be reading with me during the readathon this weekend.

HAPPY READING!!!

Fall Reading – 2018

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Fall is officially here. There are so many fun events in the world of books during the fall, with book festivals (I’m really hoping to go to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX this year), readathons (like Dewey’s 24 hour readathon), and PBS announcing the Great American Read. With all these fun things happening this fall, I am hoping that this will inspire me to get through the following (or at least a majority of the following) reads:

NetGalley Reads

  • The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory 
  • I Hate You, I Love You by Elizabeth Hayley 
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu
  • Broken Ground by Val McDermid
  • Killer Classics by Kim Roberts
  • Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose
  • A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley

BookishFirst Reads

  • Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante 
  • Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich

Goodreads Giveaway

  • Postcards from a Stranger by Imogen Clark

Book Club Reads

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz √ 
  • Strange Things Done by Elle Wild
  • Out by Natsuo Kirino √ 
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson

Other

  • Different Seasons by Stephen King – ebook
  • The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn – book
  • Bonfire by Krysten Ritter – book
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver – book
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – book
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – book
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – book
  • Raven and Other Favorite Poems by Edgar Allen Poe – book 
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers – book
  • Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward – audiobook
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – audiobook 
  • Kiss Me, Kill Me by Ann Rule – audiobook 
  • My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan – audiobook √ 
  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – audiobook
  • Endurance by Scott Kelly – audiobook
  • The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre – audiobook 
  • The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman – audiobook 
  • Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White – audiobook √ 
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright – audiobook √ 
  • The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington – audiobook 
  • The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard – audiobook 
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – audiobook

What are you looking forward to reading this Fall?

Hope you all have a productive Fall Reading season!!! Happy Reading!!!