Books I Read in October

Monthly Book Round-Up-4

Happy Halloween, fellow book lovers!

October found me in a spooky mood, meaning more than half the books I read were thrillers. (But not straight-up horror. Super scary books? No thank you!) It was a decent reading month, where I discovered that World War II Historical Fiction is not my jam and books that are plot-driven will keep me reading past my bedtime.

I’m finishing up the fiction books I’m currently reading and gearing up for Non-Fiction November, which will be a nice change of pace after all the novels I’ve read lately. Below are the books I read for the month along with my ratings and reviews:


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The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The premise of this book sounded promising. Based on a true story set during the Cold War, it follows a couple secretaries turned spies who are tasked with infiltrating Soviet Russia by way of the banned book Dr. Zhivago. It was interesting in a lot of aspects, but for me the story had too many character perspectives with storylines I didn’t much care for. I might have felt this way because I listened to the book on audio and had a hard time paying attention to the intricate plot points. I think this is one that needs to be read with the eyes and not the ears.


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Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Genre: Romance

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is as light a read as light reads can get. While there’s no distinct plot, this is still an enjoyable story. Newly widowed Evvie Drake takes in a recently washed up Major League Baseball pitcher as a tenant in her home to make extra money. Some parts were a little predictable, but I liked that this was a story about starting over and embracing who you’re becoming as opposed to being a straight-up romance novel. And anything to do with baseball (my other pastime love)  is a win in my book.


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Verity by Colleen Hoover

Genre: Thriller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I picked this up based on the hype it has received on the Monthly Book Club Facebook group. People loved this book. I thought it was good, but nowhere near as good as it was hyped up to be. It’s definitely plot driven, and it did keep me up past my bedtime a couple nights because I was eager to see what happened. It was very weird, and those who don’t like explicit sex scenes will not want to read it. But I did ultimately enjoy it, especially the open-ended ending.


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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5

I have seen nothing but praise and love for this book. This was another one of those hyped books that seems to be everywhere. While the writing is good, and the World War II setting is well-detailed, I was completely bored by this book. I had started to read the copy I’d borrowed from my aunt (who is a huge Kristin Hannah fan), but when it wasn’t holding my attention, I decided to switch to the audio version. It didn’t matter what format I read it in; I still found it boring. I think I realized after reading it that I am just not that into WWII fiction like some people seem to be. And that’s ok. I don’t regret reading it, and I’m happy it has helped me realize just exactly what my reading interests are.


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The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

Genre: Historical Fiction / Books about Books

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I read this as the November pick for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. I listened to it on audio in order to read it in time for the discussion in the middle of the month (which I still missed), and if I had tried to read it on my own, I think I would still be working on it. There are three storylines, each traveling through different time periods. The exact plot kind of went over my head, if I’m being completely honest. Something about a book or a manuscript that may or may not be a forgery? I don’t know. There was really only one storyline I was interested in, and that was of the relationship between the main character, Peter, and his love, Amanda. Proving to me that stories about relationships are what I’m ultimately interested in.


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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Genre: Thriller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved this book. It’s probably my favorite thriller that I’ve read this year. That could be that it’s not like the other thrillers on the market right now. Yes there’s a classic unsolved murder, but it also delves into family relationships, which is always a favorite topic for me to read. It also holds a strong message to how we never really know what a person is going through internally despite their external persona. The chapters are short, which makes this a super fast read. I one hundred percent recommend this book.


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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Genre: Thriller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I wasn’t particularly excited to read this one. I had read one of Jackson’s previous novels (The Almost Sisters) and thought it was just ok. But as soon as I started listening to Never Have I Ever it was hard to stop. This book was so unpredictable. As soon as you think you know what’s going to happen, the story takes a complete left turn. Which is why it was so thrilling to keep reading. And Jackson reads the audio version herself once again, which is always a treat when you get to listen to an author tell their story in their own voice. I very highly recommend it.


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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Thriller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Having recently started working for a domestic violence shelter, I’ve been learning more and more about the types of abuse and the different tactics abusers use against their victims. This book does a good job of showcasing these tactics without being overt about it. That may sound like a downer, but the book does have some twists that makes this a thriller worth reading. It reminded me a lot of The Last Mrs. Parrish (another thriller I read this year and loved), so it’s not exactly a story that’s never been done before. But it’s still a quick, easy read.


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Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Genre: Thriller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is another domestic violence-type novel, but with a twist. I won’t reveal what the twist is here, but let’s just say, be weary of couples who appear to be perfect on the outside. This was a fast-paced read (only 298 pages) that I got through in a couple of days. The main character has a sister with Down syndrome, which I loved. I can’t think of any novels I’ve read in the last couple years (or maybe ever) where a main character had the congenital disorder. The main plot can be very disturbing at times, though. Read this one with caution.


What were some good books you read this month? Let me know in the comments!

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October Reads 2019

Books I Read in September

Monthly Book Round-Up-3

September is coming to an end. It was a busy month with starting a new job and learning how to live a new normal. Somehow I was able to read eight books this month. I know I won’t be able to read anywhere near that many moving forward, but it was a good month with some quality reads. (Only one clunker for me in the bunch. I’d say that’s a very successful month!)

Below are the books I read (in the order I read them), along with my rating and review of each.


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The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved the concept of this book. Essie and her family have been in the spotlight her whole life thanks to their reality TV show. It’s an interesting take on what happens behind the camera and how these “realties” are oftentimes produced for the viewing audience’s pleasure. When Essie becomes pregnant at 17, her ultra-conservative mother works with the show’s producers to come up with a plan on how to cover it up. But Essie has a few secrets of her own up her sleeve. This story is told from three perspectives: Essie, her friend Roarke, and reporter Liberty Bell. I listened to this on audio and found myself tuning out during Liberty’s chapters, but I was intrigued by Essie and Roarke’s stories. This book would have gotten a higher rating from me if it weren’t for my disinterest in Liberty’s storyline, but this is a book I would definitely recommend.


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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I got this book from the library for my 12-year-old daughter to read as part of her summer reading requirement, thinking it would be fun for her to read a fairy tale retelling. After just one chapter, she deemed the story “too weird” and decided to read a Baby-Sitters Club book instead. I decided to read the book anyway and found the concept of a dystopian world with androids and a deadly plague interesting and entertaining. This book focuses on Cinder, a cyborg based on Cinderella. The world-building is great, and the subsequent novels in the series focus on other classic characters stories in the same world. It’s the first time in awhile that I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books in a series like this.


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City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Overall, I enjoyed this novel, but it felt like I was reading two separate books. The first half goes through main character Vivian’s introduction to New York City and the theater world in the 1940s. This is where the story is the strongest. I flew through the first half of this book. It was so interesting to learn of that time period and the behind-the-scenes of a theater company. But the second half dragged on a little bit in which we follow Vivian’s life over the next few decades. It felt a bit rushed, and while it was still interesting to read, it wasn’t as intriguing as the first half of the novel. However, I really like Elizabeth Gilbert’s style of writing. Vivian’s narration is unique and entertaining, and though this is a longer book (almost 500 pages), I got through it quickly. It was a good end-of-summer read.


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Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t tend to go for YA novels, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one. It was an Anne Bogel recommendation on her podcast, and a past pick in her book club, and I decided to read it based on her enthusiasm for the story. We follow Jessie to a new high school in LA after her widowed dad remarries. She is having a rough time transitioning when a boy who calls himself “Somebody Nobody” starts messaging her and helping her find her footing in this world of rich people. It was a little predictable in some areas, but overall I really enjoyed how deep and introspective the themes were. It made me more open to reading YA novels in the future.


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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

This was my first time reading a Ruth Ware novel. She is a very popular mystery writer, so I had high hopes going into this one. I listened to this on audio, and while the narrator was good, I felt the story was meh. By the end I was thinking to myself, What was the point of that? It didn’t really capture my interest, and it didn’t feel unique enough compared to some other thrillers I’ve read lately. Maybe this wasn’t the best Ruth Ware novel to start with? Maybe I’ll give her another shot, and here’s hoping that it will be more entertaining than this one was.


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Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I absolutely loved this book. It was one that I hesitated about even picking up, but I’m so glad I did. This book came on my radar through Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. It’s marketed as a Pride and Prejudice retelling (which I still haven’t read – don’t @ me!), and a modern day romance (a genre that is not my go-to). I was immediately drawn into the story within the first few pages. The main characters are Indian, and it was so interesting to learn about the Muslim culture while being invested in the love story between them. I tend to stay away from romance because of the super-corny sex scenes, but this novel had none of that nonsense. It was so enjoyable that I was sad to finish it, which is a rarity for me these days. One of my favorite books this year, for sure.


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I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Prescott

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book of essays had a lot of stories that I related to from being a Type A personality to the mundanity of every day life as a wife and mother. I laughed out loud more than a few times. Prescott has such a unique, yet easy-to-read writing style that made this book such a joy to consume. The essay format made it easy to pick up and read at my own pace, and her antidotes were an interesting take on what people experience daily while interspersing her life into the stories. (Hearing why she chose the title in the first chapter was a great way to kick things off.) A good read for anyone looking for a fast-paced memoir.


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The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Remember how I mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of romance novels with corny sex scenes? This book is filled with them. So why did I read this novel, you ask? This is a sequel to Guillory’s debut, The Wedding Date, which I read and was not particularly a fan of. But, I saw this book at the library and got it knowing it would be a quick read. I have to say, I enjoyed it much more than the first novel. There’s more focus on the storyline as opposed to sex scene after sex scene on every other page. The characters are a little more likable and better developed. Guillory seems to really be coming into her own as a writer with each subsequent novel she puts out. She’s been a guest on a couple podcasts I listen to, and she is downright delightful as a person. I plan to keep reading her novels in support of her.


Let me know what good books you read this month in the comments!

September Reads 2019-2

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Books I Read in August

Monthly Book Round-Up-2

It’s hard to believe summer is already coming to a close. It’s been a great season for summer reading. There’s a new job on my horizon, so it makes me that much more appreciative of the time I got to spend dedicated to books and reading these past few months.

Overall, it was a good book month. I read some great books and only a couple not-so-great ones. I read a total of 10 books (half audio, half physical/ebook), which is a huge number for me. I’m not sure I’ll be able to repeat that number going forward, but I’m sure going to try!

Here is my monthly ratings round-up:


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The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Usually I love listening to celebrity memoirs on audio. The author gets to dictate their own story, and being an actor brings out the fun in the way a story is told. All this to say, I was quite disappointed with Rainn Wilson’s book. He told it in a droll way, and some of the subject matters he gets into are just not to my taste (spirituality, acting tips, etc.). Plus it was about 50 pages too long. There were some fun Dwight Schrute guest writing “appearances,” but beside that, this one wasn’t as fun as some other celeb memoirs I’ve read this year.


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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I wrote in more detail about this novel in a past blog post (find that here), so I won’t repeat myself. This was one of the first historical fiction novels I’ve read set in World War II (which I’ve come to learn are very popular in the book community). The subject matter can be hard to digest sometimes, but I enjoyed learning more about what really happened in the concentration camps. Heather Morris has a sequel called Cilka’s Journey coming out at the end of September, and it’s best to start with this novel first.


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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I never would have picked this book up if it weren’t for the Facebook Monthly Book Club group. I don’t normally read sci-fi, mostly because some sci-fi concepts hurt my head to think about. This novel had a head-scratching premise (inter-dimensional universes??), but it was one that captured my interest and made me want to keep reading to find out what happened next. I listened to the audio version, otherwise I might not have been able to finish reading it on my own, if I’m being honest. Maybe that’s how I need to read sci-fi books from now on?


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Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My favorite book of the summer, if not the year. A family drama that spans decades, this is an excellent portrayal of how a character-driven novel should be done. It kept me wanting to read more, which isn’t always the case with contemporary novels such as these. The characters were relatable, and I found myself rooting for everyone of them, flaws and all. I can’t say enough good things about this book. This will definitely go down as one of my all-time favorites.


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All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

This was a subpar thriller that never really captured my interest. The story is told backward over a two week period, an intriguing set-up that just didn’t pan out in the end. The story was lackluster, the characters not likable. I listened to this on audio and found my attention wavering every time I put my headphones in. Miranda’s latest novel The Last House Guest was Reese Witherspoon’s August book club pick this month. Let’s hope it’s better than this one was.


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The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Another one I listened to on audio, but what made it stand out is that the author narrated it herself. I loved that fact, because she got to tell it in the way she envisioned when writing it. The story itself had an interesting premise: a comic book writer finds herself pregnant with a biracial baby after a one-night stand. She discovers a deep family secret when she goes back home to the South to take care of her ailing grandmother. It’s a good take on how racism is still prevalent in certain parts of our country. My issue with this novel, however, is that there were too many stories going on at once, plus I lost interest whenever the main character talked about anything related to comic books. But overall it was an enjoyable listen.


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Normal People by Sally Rooney

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was a quick read for me (it took less than a week to finish – that’s super fast for me!). A character-driven novel that focuses on two Ireland teenagers and their unusual love story, Normal People is deep yet entertaining. We follow Marianne and Connell from the end of high school into their college years and how their relationship changes. It’s a coming of age story that will make you nostalgic for your own youth and the consequences of the choices you made when you were young and inexperienced.


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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved this book. A therapist going to therapy to try to work out her own issues while relating some of her patients’ stories to her own. This book came out in a poignant time in my life where I’ve been going through my own psychological journey. Gottlieb’s writing makes you feel like you’re in the therapy sessions with her. She also provides information and history of psychological practices but not in a way that feels like you’re reading a textbook. And there’s a reason there’s a box of tissues on the cover. This is one of the first books I’ve read this year that had me tearing up – but in a good way! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great memoir.


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Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was so hyped that I had to know what all the fuss was about. I heard the audio version was excellent, so that’s how I decided to read it. It was a full-cast audio that included narration by Benjamin Bratt and Judy Greer, among many others. The cast did a great job, but this is the kind of book that I could also see myself devouring if I had read it on my own. The character development is excellent; each had their own unique voice and personality. The story was good too, though it kind of felt like any story about a 70s band you would see on VH1’s Behind the Music . Overall, I’d say the book stands up to the hype. I’m looking forward to reading Jenkins Reid’s previous novels.


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The Library Book by Susan Orlean

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really enjoyed this non-fiction account of the Los Angeles Public Library and the mysterious and devastating fire it endured in 1986. However, this seems like a love it or hate it type of book. If you love libraries and are interested in their history, you will love this book. Besides the fascinating history, this book has a true crime element to it that makes it hard to put down. Orlean is a great descriptive writer. How she describes the rage of the fire in the first couple chapters is so captivating. I read a couple passages aloud to my husband because of how unbelievable this true story was. Orlean is also from my neck of the woods, so it was fun to see Cleveland get a shoutout a couple times throughout the book.


 

What were your favorite reads in August? Let me know in the comments!

Books I Read in July

Monthly Book Round-Up

The end of July is here – how is that possible?? – and with it comes the round-up of books I have read and rated for the month.

This wasn’t the most productive month for me reading-wise. We hosted my visiting-from-Florida in-laws for a week, and because of that, the majority of my completed books were read through audio (5 of 8, to be exact). There were a couple books I absolutely loved, and one I wanted to throw out a window because it was so bad. But, it was a decent month overall.


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The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I devoured this book in about three days. I listened to it on audio, and was so captivated by the story and what was going to happen next that I just had to keep listening. Even though I figured out a major plot twist halfway through, I didn’t care. I had to keep going to know exactly how things were going to play out. Also, the narrators were great, which always helps with an audiobook. This novel is the definition of a fun, beach read.


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Thanks for the Money by Joel McHale

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have loved Joel McHale since watching his goofy antics on The Soup a decade ago. He’s got a sarcastic sense of humor that I can appreciate, and he never fails to make me laugh. His book is filled to the brim with his sarcasm, which kind of gets old after awhile. I listened to this on audio, and it was fun to hear McHale’s various celebrity friends read the chapter titles. Only a someone who is a Joel McHale fan will really be able to enjoy this one.


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The River by Peter Heller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I love Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next, and she had been recommending and gushing about this novel for weeks (it’s also a pick for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide). I happened to see it at the library and thought I would give it a try. With less than 300 pages, I thought I could get through it in no time… It took me over two weeks to complete it. I just couldn’t get into it. I like books with a lot of dialogue, and this book was just too prose-y for me. It was beautifully written, and very (maybe too much so?) detailed, but it just wasn’t my favorite.


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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

My Rating: ⭐️

I don’t like to use the word “hate”, so I will say I absolutely disliked this book to the core. Too many characters POVs. A lot of unnecessary storylines. Unsatisfying ending. This book was awful. I had read Hawkins’s previous novel The Girl on the Train and enjoyed it, but this novel did not enthrall me as that one did. I was for sure this was Hawkins’s debut novel because of the unevenness of the writing, and I was shocked to learn that this came out after Train. I asked about it in the Facebook group and people seem to be divided in their opinions, but I definitely wasn’t the only one left unsatisfied. Proceed with caution.


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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one was ok. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, it was just meh. This was a Monthly Book Club pick and not a novel I would have picked up otherwise. The story was one that’s been told before with some -what can only be described as- “ick factors” thrown in. It was quite unsettling at times, but it did keep me guessing on who the killer was until the end. This was another book I listened to on audio, and the girl narrating it wasn’t my favorite. This might be better read on paper.


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The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Listening to this book was like receiving a warm hug. It was a delight to listen to a novel that was filled with friendship and creativity. Though there is a disturbing scene toward the end, it didn’t take away from this book’s wholesomeness. The narrator was excellent, speaking with expertise in English, French, and Canadian accents. Set between 1940s England and modern day, it’s a historical novel that encapsulates the much-needed post-war excitement of (then) Princess Elizabeth’s upcoming wedding. This was another Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide pick, and I’m glad I decided to read it.


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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another Monthly Book Club pick (the first time I’ve read all three picks for the month). I’m not much into courtroom dramas, and I would never have picked this one up on my own. But boy am I glad I did. More than just a murder mystery, this novel explores so many themes from differences in culture to parenting a child with special needs to living with the choices we make. This is Kim’s debut (she’s a trial lawyer by trade), but she writes as if she’s been putting out novels for years. A great read for thriller and contemporary fiction lovers alike.


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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was my second time picking up this book. I had borrowed it from the library a few months ago and just didn’t have the time or patience to read it then. I decided to revisit it and downloaded the audio version this time. The story revolves around four siblings’ childhood visit to a fortune-telling gypsy who tells each of the kids the date they will die. Benjamin does a great job of exploring how knowledge can lead to untimely consequences. It was a good “thinker” novel. It’s very well written, and you can tell the Benjamin put in a lot of research behind it. However, I got a bit bored of it by the end, which is why I didn’t give it a higher rating.

 


 

What did you read this past month? Let me know in the comments!