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September 2021 Wrap-up!

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September was a wild reading month for me and completely unexpected. I was thinking I would maybe read 5 books but here we are… 10 new reads and 1 DNF later.

Since there are so many to go over, let’s get into it!

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet

Ironically I am seeing this one all over social media (I think there was a recent cover redesign) so the title may look familiar but I grabbed this one a number of months ago and finally read it. This is a fantasy romance (my first foray into this sub-genre) and it had a surprisingly good plot. I don’t know why I am still surprised by romance plots but most that I have read are better than many young adult books I’ve read in my opinion. I still gave this one a 3-star, so it isn’t perfect, but I was definitely entertained and will continue with the series. This one has many nods to Greek mythology (which was also unexpected) with a slightly confusing magic system but the politics and motivations of the world and characters were solid. Probably my biggest gripe would be the style of romance in that the love interest is a super typical alpha-male type (notoriously my least favourite romance archetype). Overall it was an entertaining and quick read.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Review coming soon but - spoiler alert - I LOVED this book. Absolutely perfection from the writing to the POVs to the research and beyond. If you are a historical fiction junkie (like me) this is a must read. It follows the lives of three code breakers during WW2 at Bletchley Park and is certainly one of my favourite reads this year.

Hitched to the Gunslinger (Gunslinger #1) by Michelle McLean

Another new sub-genre this month for me - Western Historical Romance. I’m not sure how many from this sub-genre I will end up reading because I can already see how this time period and location can get a little… repetitive. It was a fun read with a headstrong, independent woman roping an infamous nomadic gunslinger into posing as her fiance and then hi-jinx ensue. There wasn’t much depth but it was entertaining. I felt that Gray (our gunslinger) went along with things a little too easily throughout the book and the villain was more of an idea than a present threat. I did just find out this is the first in a new series so I will likely grab the next book to see if things improve.

A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham

Review to come for this one but quick thoughts are that this was a very sweet and unique story. It follows a woman who had a troubled past and wants to start over so she gets a job as a lady in attendance to a dentist in 1898. As a previous dental assistant myself, I was interested to see how Fordham would write the position in a historical context. While there wasn’t much actual dentistry, the characters were sweet and the plot took some surprising turns. I was expecting a grumpy/sunshine dynamic but Gilbert (out leading man/dentist) was more of a misunderstood homebody. This book mainly revolved around Hazel trying to correct things from her past which brought in a very interesting amateur detective aspect to it.

The Chariot at Dusk (The Tiger at Midnight #3) by Swati Teerdhala

Can’t say much about this one because it is the final book in this trilogy but I do hope to write a series review for it some time soon. I will say I liked this one better than book 2 but there were still points I felt dragged and others that could have been expanded upon. Overall though, I am happy that I read this series.

A Week to be Wicked (Spindle Cove # 2) by Tessa Dare

I had read book 3 before books 1 and 2 so I am now caught up to where I began! This historical romance follows the rake and innocent intellectual trope along with the ‘roadtrip’ and ‘only one bed trope.’ I will say, the contrived reasoning to cause the one bed trope to be a thing in this book was a stretch for me. I know it’s a historical romance and these silly plot devices are expected but sometimes they can be done really well. Tessa Dare did try something new with it though which is nice but it missed the mark for me since she made it based on past trauma for our rake character. The ending was a bit of a jumble for me but parts of the roadtrip hi-jinx did make me giggle.

Murder on Black Swan Lane (Wrexford & Sloane #1) by Andrea Penrose

Review to come but let me just say - yes, we all know I am a sucker for a historical mystery series that features a man and woman solving crime and having overtures of a bit of romance. I discovered this was an auto-buy type of book for me last year and I continue to find some amazing ones. Including this. Talk about layers! This book is full of them. The characters, the plot, the mystery, it is all so incredibly well-done. And I have to say that having a SMART female lead who doesn’t run off into danger just to cause the need for writing heroics is wonderful to see. I have books 2 and 3 on stand-by and plan to read them in October because… A) I need more of these characters, and B) spoopy season haha.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

And now we have made it to my DNF of the month. I really did try with this one. I picked up this book on recommendation, and it sounded right up my street, but after reading a few chapters I just could not get into it. I was forewarned that the writing is ‘different’ and many people have put it down because they couldn’t get through it but apparently if I stuck around, it would be worth it. I really did try. When I couldn’t get over the writing, I switched to the audiobook but even the audiobook was rough. The narrator had the most frustrating voices for the characters and the writing was still distracting me from the plot. Honestly, the only thing I kind of cared about was figuring out who the ghost was and the rest of the story I really couldn’t get into. I did DNF at 50% and never found out who the ghost was… but that’s ok.

The Footman & I (The Footman’s Club #1) by Valerie Bowman

Another not so good read. I gave this one a 2-star and I can’t decide if I want to give the next books in the series a try. The general idea behind it is super fun where men from the Ton go undercover as servants at a mutual friends’ party all for their own various reasons but end up finding love. This story is about the Earl of Kendall wanting to find his future wife by posing as a footman to see how the women at this party treat the staff. The idea being if she is nice to the staff, she’s a good person. A simple and fun premise. There were some very fun and entertaining moments but I think this would have been leaps and bounds better without the added ‘smut.’ I love a good smutty book (see above as well as previous wrap-ups haha) but the storytelling of this book was so light and sweet until, out of nowhere, it would get hot and heavy in a way that was incredibly jarring. It was extremely out of place with the rest of the book and not written overly well either.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

A classic and a re-read for me. This was a favourite of mine as a kid and I had picked up the word cloud edition a while ago and felt like giving it a re-read. Still delightful and I still love Robin Hood haha.

Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) by Diana Gabaldon

And lastly, we have my physical read and audiobook mix of the month. After this one, I think I am going to take a break from the Outlander series. I will definitely finish them all but Drums of Autumn was a let-down and I need some time haha. I obviously can’t get into too much since it’s the middle of an ongoing series but there was just lots of frustration over characters and really boring scenes that felt pointless along with a bunch of unnecessary romance moments that just had me rolling my eyes with the repetitiveness of it all.

Ending on a somewhat ‘meh’ note but I am really happy with everything I was able to read this month. Like I said, I did not expect to read as much as I did. Many of these also worked to cover prompts for The Magical Readathon but I have a few more to go before I write my wrap-up about stage 1 of the readathon. Look forward to it coming out in October though!

I hope that you were also able to have a good reading month and are ready for spoopy season to begin!

Until next time, keep reading!

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