August 2018 recap


WHAT I…DID

• August is a big birthday month in our family. My dad, my niece, a few cousins, my aunt, and my uncle all celebrated birthdays last month. The blog also became a year older! August is also special for another reason: it’s our adoptionversary.

• The end of summer and beginning of fall is my absolute favorite. August saw a local summer harvest festival AND a wing cook-off. This weekend will be the fall harvest festival (along with my birthday) and I can’t wait!

• If your office is anything like mine, you’ll completely understand my instagram photo of the absurd amount of sweaters I keep in my car!

• Matt took a trip back down to Baltimore and it was just me and the pups for a few days. I got an awful lot of reading done, though August turned out to be a month of duds ugh.

• Last month I read 12 books, 6 on audio, 6 print/e-books. Sadly, apart from Lauren Blakely’s fantastic The Real Deal, all of the ARCs I read were absolute duds and disappointments. The highlight of the month was another Roald Dahl collection, this time several audiobooks where he did the narration! I also revisited Wuthering Heights, a classic I last read 12 years ago, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I still enjoyed it!

WHAT I…REVIEWED

JULY’S MINI REVIEW ROUND-UP featured the good, the meh, and a Middle Grade surprise. A start to a new historical romance series was among my favorite reads of the month, along with two non-fiction library grabs (one, a collection of letters Roald Dahl wrote to his mother over his lifetime and two, a biography of a French courtesan who rose through the ranks in society to become one of the wealthiest women of her time). I also quickly discussed a much buzzed-about thriller…that turned out to be just okay.

WHAT I…BLOGGED

JULY 2018 RECAP

AUGUST 2018 RELEASES I NEED TO GET MY HANDS ON

SEPTEMBER 2018 RELEASES I NEED TO GET MY HANDS ON

WEEKLY WRAP-UP
8/5
8/12
8/19

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August mini review round-up

With You Always by Rena Olsen
Julia is left feeling lost after a painful break-up when, seemingly out of nowhere, Bryce walks into her life. Gorgeous and effortlessly charming, Bryce is everything Julia could ever want – and her newfound luck has been spreading to other areas of her life: she’s practically handed a promotion and her boss is eager to have Julia as her right-hand woman. A quick courtship with Bryce soon leads to a new house and a ring. Her friends voice concerns, but Julia doesn’t listen…until it’s too late.

Oh dear. Olsen’s debut, The Girl Before, was enjoyable enough to where I was curious about her follow-up. On the surface, With You Always sounded like a Leah read: domestic thriller, fairy tale romance gone wrong, and for the first few chapters it reminded me of Behind Closed Doors, one of my top reads of 2016. All good, right? Unfortunately, the more I read, the angrier I became.

Bryce’s cult-like church ruled his life, deciding who he could or couldn’t date, the house he bought, his career. As he becomes more and more abusive, the Reverend and his wife (Bryce’s adoptive parents) quickly swept it all under the rug and definitely had a hand in one doctor being fired after she reached out to Julia. Being lovesick is one thing, but Julia goes FAR beyond naive: she tosses away her job for a man she’s only know a few weeks, readily accepts his proposal after three months, and steadfastly defends him from every. single. person in her life who sees through his facade. The cop-out ending was a few paragraphs of climactic showdown and…the end. No resolution, no comeuppance, nothing.

Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang
Jessie should be looking forward to a summer spent at her aunt and uncle’s house. Unfortunately, her cousin has an awful new best friend, which leaves Jessie out in the cold. She takes it upon herself to make the most of her summer, however, and convinces the grouchy neighborhood dog walker to take her on as an apprentice. When a rival dog walker begins stealing their clients, Jessie isn’t going to go down without a fight.

August was a month of books that sounded great but turned out to be massive duds. A Middle Grade novel about rival dog walkers! Um yes please! As it turns out, Rules of the Ruff was a book that tried to do too much and, as a result, suffered. Jessie’s mother died, she ends up falling for a new boy – who likes the awful new best friend (there’s a scene featuring a make-out session in the backseat of a car – uh, Jessie is 12 and the other characters were a year older), the local dog walker went through a divorce and might want to reconcile with his ex but there’s also one of his clients he’s been getting close to. Does a Middle Grader want to read about divorcees pining after their exes? The adult characters were far closer to my age and I didn’t want to read about their problems.

Vox by Christina Dalcher
On average, people speak around 16,000 words a day. In Vox, women have been almost totally silenced: now only permitted a vocabulary of a mere 100 words. With the language goes their ability to hold jobs, soon girls are no longer taught to read and write. Dr. Jean McClellan refuses to accept this new America and makes the ultimate decision for herself, her daughter, for every woman silenced: she will reclaim her voice.

Biggest disappointment of the summer? Of the year? This book started out great and immediately lured me in with its terrifying premise and just how quickly everything snowballed out of control: in the beginning women and girls had restricted passports, then cameras were installed on front porches. Soon girls were no longer being taught to read and write or do math above basic sums that would be necessary for running a house. Jean’s husband holds keys to their mailbox. She was once a highly renowned doctor..now her laptop is locked away in a cabinet she cannot access. Vox is clearly a dig at the current White House administration, from the First Lady “I remember her from before she married, when she decorated the pages of Vogue and Elle” to the predecessor, the President of Hope – and I was totally on board – then it all descended into madness when Jean gets into a physical fight with a chimpanzee. I’m not joking.

The Raging Ones by Krista and Becca Ritchie
The lack of interest lies on me here. I’m not a big fan of YA fantasy and I know this, but still I found myself intrigued by a publicist’s email about a band of rebel teens in space. How could I say no to that?

I hate to say it, but this one just didn’t work for me. It took me a good portion of the month to work my way through it; whenever I set it down I never found myself in any rush to pick it up again. My biggest issue was that nothing was explained. There’s a planetary system that’s not ours, but includes things like cars and telephones. There was a Great Freeze (or whatever they called it) centuries ago and now all the last names are variations of ‘castle.’ Icecastle, Lowcastle, Soarcastle, Elcastle. ..there’s no reason behind this. Also, the three main characters are somehow all linked to one another, they can feel what the others are feeling, taste what the others are tasting. Again, never explained, which makes things even more confusing by a reveal at the end of the book. I will admit that the notion of everyone knowing their deathday was really intriguing, sadly the rest of the book fell flat.

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness
I…don’t even know. This is a retelling of Moby Dick told from the viewpoint of a whale pod (okay, yes, tell me more). Bathsheba is Third Assistant to Captain Alexandra as they hunt for the legendary Toby Wick.

The whales swim upside down? They refer to the Abyss (the world of men) as physically below them. They tow their own ship behind them and have harpoons strapped to themselves. They take a human captive and are able to communicate with him in English and then one day he understands their whale language. I just.. I don’t think I’m the right reader for this, though I will say it was an extremely quick read at 160-ish pages including full-page illustrations.

September 2018 releases I need to get my hands on!

A new month brings new releases that are screaming my name! Inspired by a two-part series I did last year where I highlighted the books of the first and second halves of 2017, this year I’m doing it a little differently. Instead of breaking it down by genre, I’m focusing on each month’s releases I need in my life.

Curious about previous books I featured?
2017
non-fic
sci-fi/fantasy part 1 | sci-fi/fantasy part 2
contemporary part 1 | contemporary part 2
historical fiction part 1 | historical fiction part 2
mystery/suspense part 1 | mystery/suspense part 2

2018
May releases I need to get my hands on!
June releases I need to get my hands on!
August releases I need to get my hands on!

Sadie by Courtney Summers | September 4
Sadie is shaping up to be one of THE most buzzed-about books of fall! Inspired by Serial, this novel follows Sadie, a girl determined to track down her sister’s killer. A radio host overhears Sadie’s story and launches a podcast, tracking her journey and trying to figure out what happened.

When I first received a copy a few months ago there were already some pretty praise-worthy reviews. And now, as the release date inches closer, the gushing has only continued!

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory | September 4
Five months into dating her man-bunned, actor-bro boyfriend, the last thing Nikole expects is a big screen proposal at a baseball game (he can’t even spell her name right!) With her refusal comes a massive blow-up, not just from the disappointed fans in the stadium, but Nik’s social media once the video goes viral. Carlos was at that game, even helped Nik flee from the camera crews, but Nik knows this handsome LA doctor can’t possibly be looking for anything serious.

Out of the 8 books I featured for August releases, I had already received ARCs of 5 of them. Out of the 8 September releases, I shockingly have 6! The Proposal has some pretty big shoes to fill after Guillory’s wildly popular The Wedding Date, and I’m so looking forward to sinking into this one soon! As a bonus, it comes out just days before my birthday!!

Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch | September 4
After her FBI agent father is framed for murder, Kylene is sent to live with her grandfather – back to the town that drove her away and the boy that betrayed her. Kylene’s only focus is to clear her father’s name…but someone refuses to let go of a years-old scandal.

I’ll be a stop on the blog tour for this one!! I’ve had pleasantly fantastic luck with YA thrillers lately and the Veronica Mars comparisons isn’t hurting one bit!

Life on the Leash by Victoria Schade | September 18
Okay so Cora might be utterly lacking in the social-life department, but her dog walking business is thriving and as far as Cora is concerned, the only man she needs is her rescue Pit. Everything changes with a new client, drop dead gorgeous Charlie. Unfortunately, Charlie’s taken. Thankfully Cora has sweet, adorable, geeky Eli, always there to listen to Cora’s problems. As things take an interesting turn with Charlie, however, Cora’s floored to discover there just might be something there with Eli as well.

I mean, come on. Like there was any chance I wasn’t going to read this one.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White | September 25
Okay, I’ll be honest: that kinda gross kinda cool cover instantly caught my eye – and it’s oh so perfect for a Frankenstein retelling! As if the retelling bit wasn’t intriguing enough, early reviews have made a point to mention the book places more of its focus on the historical side rather than delving into fantasy. And I am SO there.

The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum | September 25
I’m weeping over the lack of nonfic this year! I’m a huge nonfiction nerd, especially when it comes to books with subtitles like One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Last year I read several books about food and how we eat and how our eating habits have changed over the years (not always for the better – a few chapters of one particular book were straight up horrifying) and NO ONE does science writing better than Deborah Blum!

Also, I’m positive this will suitably terrifying just in time for Halloween!

Last Night with the Earl by Kelly Bowen | September 25
Don’t mind the squealing and flailing, that’s just me losing my mind over this series! A few months ago I fell HARD for the first book in this series (also my introduction to Kelly Bowen, huzzah!) and have been itching to get my hands on the sequel ever since.

A young earl, presumed dead, turns out to be merely wounded after Waterloo – though he’s happy to let society think the worst. Unfortunately for Eli, when he sneaks back to his estate to hide away his scars in the comfort of his own bedroom, he discovers someone is already occupying the room. And not just any someone, but Rose Hayward. See, Eli had a hand in her fiance’s betrayal. Whoops. If this book is anything like the first, I know I’m in for an amazing time!

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier | September 25
In addition to nonfic, there’s a distinct lack of Middle Grade! The rest of 2018 better step up its game and I have a feeling this one will be just what I need.

19th Century England. Nan Sparrow, a 10-year-old orphan who works as a climbing boy, someone who assists chimney sweeps. Oh, and a golem. Yes, yes, and yes.

weekly wrap-up 8/19

• Matt’s been in Baltimore this week, so between a hectic work week and solely keeping two crazy pups under control (ha) the blog has been pretty quiet. This will be a super quick wrap-up!

• One plus to being home alone is I’ve gotten a decent amount of reading done! Four books down this week with hopefully a fifth finished by tonight. …unfortunately, it seems this week has been more about quantity than quality. Only one was a 3-star read (Tessa Dare’s novella Lord Dashwood Missed Out), the other three – sadly all ARCs! – were disappointing 2-star reads: Rena Olsen’s With You Always, Heidi Lang’s Rules of the Ruff, and Christina Dalcher’s Vox). So much for my excitement over August releases!

• I’ve mentioned that August is full of birthdays: the beginning of the month was my niece’s birthday (and the blog’s! Both turned 7), then two of my cousins, this afternoon we’re celebrating my dad’s, then the end of the month is my aunt’s and uncle’s, whew! The most exciting birthday? Right after all the August celebrations is mine! I’ll be turning 30 in the beginning of September and I can’t wait.

FOR REVIEW
Tell Me You’re Mine by Elisabeth Norebäck
I hadn’t heard of this book before it showed up at my door, but it sounds like a fun thriller: 20 years ago, Stella’s daughter Alice tragically disappeared on a family vacation. Stella always believed Alice ultimately died, yet when a young woman walks into her clinic, she becomes convinced Isabelle is the little girl she lost all those years ago. The tagline for this one is “Where is the line between hope and madness?” and I have to admit I’m intrigued. Thank you, G.P. Putnam’s Sons!

weekly wrap-up 8/12

• This weekend we celebrated Bay’s adoptionversary! It’s been three years and I can’t imagine life without her ♥

• Apparently I missed out on #InternationalCatDay! I don’t have cats or want cats, but I have an outrageous amount of cat-print clothing. Once I joked with a friend about wanting to wear nothing but cat clothes for a week just to see if anyone at work would notice! I might have missed the official day, but I made up for it the following day with a cute sleeveless blouse!

• But, naturally, sleeveless + office life does NOT mix and I shared a photo of the absurdity happening in my front seat. I have six sweaters and cardigans driving around with me right now, all different colors and weights so I’m always prepared for the tundra that is my building.

• Three books down this week, with hopefully a fourth by this afternoon. Lauren Blakely’s The Real Deal was a fantastic contemporary romance, I reread Wuthering Heights (I haven’t read it since high school – 12 years ago!), and I impulse-grabbed an audiobook called Daphne, written by M.C. Beaton under her penname Marion Chesney. Sweet and short.

• MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Just one post this week: the novel of August I need to get my hands on. There aren’t too many coming out this month that are calling my name, but out of the 8 listed, I have early copies of 5 of them! Lucky me!

August 2018 releases I need to get my hands on!

A new month brings new releases that are screaming my name! Inspired by a two-part series I did last year where I highlighted the books of the first and second halves of 2017, this year I’m doing it a little differently. Instead of breaking it down by genre, I’m focusing on each month’s releases I need in my life.

Curious about previous books I featured?
2017
non-fic
sci-fi/fantasy part 1 | sci-fi/fantasy part 2
contemporary part 1 | contemporary part 2
historical fiction part 1 | historical fiction part 2
mystery/suspense part 1 | mystery/suspense part 2

2018
May releases I need to get my hands on!
June releases I need to get my hands on!

Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black | August 7
First mentioned back in November, Girl at the Grave is a novel I’ve been looking forward to for nearly a year! This historical YA follows Valentine, a girl trying to outrun her mother’s infamous legacy. It’s only natural for fingers to point Valentine’s way once a new string of murders shake their small town. The one person who believes Valentine’s innocent? The son of the man her mother murdered.

I’m SO here for murder. Especially historical murder!

With You Always by Rena Olsen | August 7
Cheating already! I received a finished copy of this one a few weeks ago, though I had NO idea it was even a thing! I really enjoyed Rena’s debut, The Girl Before, and am delighted she has a new one for me to devour!

Julia feels lost after a painful break-up until Bryce seemingly swoops into her life out of nowhere. Handsome and charming, he encourages Julia to live her best life and keeps her grounded with his rock-solid faith. Julia views this new relationship as her picture-perfect ending…but as the months go by, she begins to realize her happily ever after is turning into a nightmare.

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker | August 7
Another I already own, but AAAAHHHH NEW K.A. TUCKER!! Honestly, I’ll read anything this woman writes ♥!

The Alaskan wilderness, a ruggedly handsome pilot, a daughter reconnecting with her father. Yes, yes, and yes.

Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang | August 14
Aaand another I have. (Even though I’m not featuring too many releases this month, I’m so lucky that I managed to score so many of the ones I wanted to read!) Jessie should be looking forward to a summer spent at her aunt and uncle’s house. Unfortunately, her cousin has an awful new best friend, which leaves Jessie out in the cold. She takes it upon herself to make the most of her summer, however, and convinces the grouchy neighborhood dog walker to take her on as an apprentice. When a rival dog walker begins stealing their clients, Jessie isn’t going to go down without a fight.

Oddly enough this summer I have two dog walker reads, the other an adult novel. If dog walking is the newest trend in books, sign me up!

Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul | August 21
Dual era ✔
Real historical figures ✔
Scandal and the monarchy ✔ and ✔

If there was ever a book for me, seriously. Another Woman’s Husband bounces between 1911 and 1997 as a 15-year-old befriends a carefree spitfire of a girl named Wallis Warfield and when the death of a princess shook the world. I’ll admit, I’m VERY intrigued by the Wallis Simpson story – though I’m equally looking forward to the Diana one. What’s interesting is that neither woman narrates, both sides are told through the eyes of another. The blurb also mentions “the revelation of a long-forgotten link” and you know I am already hooked!

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick | August 21
I first became aware of Nicola Cornick after a GoodReads Recommends post (based on my favorite read of 2016). I ended up receiving an early copy of House of Shadows and loved it even more than I expected, so it was a no-brainer when I heard she was coming out with a new one: I needed this book in my life. The powers that be smiled down on this little blogger and I received an early copy of The Phantom Tree, aaahhhh!!

While browsing antique shops, Alison comes across a painting of Anne Boleyn, though she knows the true subject is Mary Seymour. How? Because she was there at Wolf Hall with Mary…five centuries earlier in 1557. UM YES!

Vox by Christina Dalcher | August 21
Vox is already one of THE books of the summer and I have a copy all set for me to dive right into! On average, people speak around 16,000 words a day. In Vox, women have been almost totally silenced: now only permitted a vocabulary of a mere 100 words. With the language goes their ability to hold jobs, soon girls are no longer taught to read and write. Dr. Jean McClellan refuses to accept this new America and makes the ultimate decision for herself, her daughter, for every woman silenced: she will reclaim her voice.

In Another Time by Caroline Leech | August 28
1942, the Scottish Highlands. Maisie is doing her part in the war effort as a lumberjill with the Women’s Timber Corps. With her job comes her first taste of independence and blossoming friendships…including one with John. The more Maisie tries to get closer, however, the more John pulls away until a terrible accident one day, leading to John revealing the truth about his past and the pain he’s been carrying ever since.

I mean, what could be better than a swoony WWII Scottish romance? Exactly.

weekly wrap-up 7/5

• This weekend is our local orchard’s Summer Harvest Festival: a farmer’s market, tractor rides, games, and it’s also our town’s wing cook-off! As much as I love summer, we’re heading into all the fall festivals and I am SO excited! (Also, it means my birthday – 30! – is just around the corner!) What fun events does your town do??

• Speaking of birthdays, this week was full of them! On the 2nd, my niece turned 7 and the following day this little blog turned 7 as well!!

• A woman I used to work with would read/re-read one classic novel every summer. I was recently looking for a new audiobook to listen to and ended up becoming inspired by her – I noticed a copy of Wuthering Heights available at my library and pounced. It’s been 12 years since I read it and I’m curious to see how/if my feelings have changed! Have you revisited any high school required reading??

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? I shared my mini review round-up for July: historical romance, non-fic, Middle Grade, and a super buzzy thriller! I also recapped July.

FOR REVIEW
Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey
With a tagline like Has she been stolen or rescued? and blurbs from some pretty fantastic authors (Chevy Stevens, Zoje Stage, Wendy Walker, Kate Moretti, etc), it’s hard NOT to be intrigued! When Sarah spots 5-year-old Emma, she takes her and flees. In Sarah’s mind, she’s saving Emma from a damaging homelife with neglectful parents. Not surprisingly, a massive search for the girl soon gets underway and, as the pair hide out, they begin to form a bond…despite Emma’s real mother waiting at home for her daughter’s return. Over the weekend I started reading a few chapters of this one and I’m looking forward to diving back into it. Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!