Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2023

September has been quite a difficult reading month. I spent the majority of it reading ARCs and struggling for content because of them. 

You will notice there’s a week-long jump between books during the middle of the month, this is when I read one of my festive ARCs and it took me way too long to get through. They’re really kicking my butt at the moment. Sadly, this isn’t a problem that’s going to get solved soon as I’m only halfway through the festive ARCs and I have quite a few non-festive ones to get through. Wish me luck!

A British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreak by Laura Taylor Namey

Read: 1/9/23 – 4/9/23

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This was my first book from Laura Taylor Namey and it won’t be my last. If you haven’t A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, don’t worry, you can read this with no problem. It was such a great read and handled grief beautifully. 

Synopsis: Winchester, England, has always been home for Flora, but when her mother dies after a long illness, Flora feels untethered. Her family expects her to apply to university and take a larger role in their tea-shop business, but Flora isn’t so sure. More than ever, she’s the chaotic “hurricane” in her household, and she doesn’t always know how to manage her stormy emotions.

So she decides to escape to Miami without telling anyone—especially her longtime friend Gordon Wallace.

But Flora’s tropical change of scenery doesn’t cast away her self-doubt. When it comes to university, she has no idea which passions she should follow. That’s also true in romance. Flora’s summer abroad lands her in the flashbulb world of teen influencer Baz Marín, a Miami Cuban who shares her love for photography. But Flora’s more conflicted than ever when she begins to see future architect Gordon in a new light.

The Dream Factory Vol 1 by David Boriau & Goum

Read: 7/9/23 – 8/9/23

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I was given a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.*

I’m pretty sure it didn’t take me two days to read this, I probably forgot to mark it as read (oops). This was pretty decent and the art style was very fun. 

Synopsis: Living with narcolepsy is no picnic. Andy falls asleep everywhere, all the time, especially at the most critical moments. But one day, his condition gives him the opportunity to discover The Dream Factory. Posing as an intern, the teenager infiltrates the organization created to regulate everyone’s dreams and nightmares. With security agents hot on his tail, Andy is determined to find out why he falls asleep so often…

How to Fake-Date a Vampire by Linsey Hall

Read: 5/9/23 – 9/9/23

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

This definitely wasn’t my favourite read of the year so far, but it was fine. Take it at face value, a silly romance, and you’ll get on with it fine. Don’t expect any problems to have consequences though, most of it gets swept under the carpet. 

Synopsis: Faking it with a vampire duke should be simple, right? I’ve got one chance to prove to my coven that I’m worth my wand. But to do it, I’m going to have to make a deal with a vampire duke. I get to use his gorgeous estate in Cornwall to host the Beltane Ball–and in exchange, I’ll pretend to be his girlfriend. But it’s all a show for his grandmother. The rules of our fake relationship are No flirting. No emotion. No sex. Simple, right? Except I can’t seem to ignore the allure of the infuriating and devastatingly sexy vampire. Falling for a duke isn’t an option, though. I would lose the anonymity that protects me and my coven, and that would ruin my life.

Sunset Springs by Kacen Callender

Read: 9/9/23

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I didn’t like this at all, the good reviews on Audible betrayed me. 

Synopsis: No job, no money, no love – and to make things worse, 27-year-old Charlie has no choice but to leave New York City and move in with his mom in his isolated and conservative hometown of Sunset Springs.

Home isn’t a comfortable place for Charlie. One of very few Black residents and the only trans person around town that he knows of, this will be Charlie’s first time back in Sunset Springs since he transitioned. He expects confusion and maybe even hostility. He definitely does not expect Jackson Ford.

Jack was the brooding yet beloved football star at their high school, but now, he’s an outsider after coming out as gay. When Charlie and Jackson fall for each other in a swift and surprising romance, Charlie has to decide if he’s willing to exchange his old dreams for a new one.

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

Read: 16/9/23

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I hyped this up in my mind for far too long and it really disappointed me. I quite liked the art style but the story was a bit confusing, maybe I’m just a bit dumb, but it was a little all over the place.

Synopsis: Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen year old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she’s worked for.

Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.

When their worlds collide, Marjorie is confronted by unexplainable disasters as Wendell transforms Glatt’s Laundry into his midnight playground, appearing as a mere sheet during the day. While Wendell attempts to create a new afterlife for himself, he unknowingly sabotages the life that Marjorie is struggling to maintain.

And Don’t Look Back by Rebecca Barrow

Read: 17/9/23 – 21/9/23

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did. The twists were so well implemented and I can’t get over the ending. If you were thinking of checking this out, do it! You won’t be disappointed. 

ARC Review: And Don’t Look Back by Rebecca Barrow

Synopsis: Harlow Ford has spent her entire life running, caught in her mother’s wake as they flit from town to town, hiding from a presence that Harlow isn’t even sure is real. In each new place, Harlow takes on a new name and personality, and each time they run, she leaves another piece of herself behind.

When Harlow and her mom set off on yet another 3 a.m. escape, they are involved in a car accident that leaves Harlow’s mother fatally wounded. Before she dies, she tells Harlow two things: where to find the key to a safety deposit box and to never stop running. In the box, Harlow finds thirty grand in cash, life insurance documents, and several fake IDs for both herself and her mom—an on-the-run essentials kit. But Harlow also finds a photograph of her mom as a teenager with two other girls, the deed to a house in a town she’s never heard of, and a handful of newspaper clippings discussing the disappearance of a woman named Eve Kennedy, Harlow’s grandmother…relics of a part of Harlow’s life she never knew existed.

With these tantalizing clues about her mother’s secrets and the power to choose her own future for the first time, Harlow realizes she has two choices: keep fleeing her mom’s ghosts or face down the nebulous threat that’s been hanging over her for her entire life.

Too Scared to Sleep by Andrew Duplessie

Read: 24/9/23

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

This was an interesting selection of short horror stories and when I say short, I mean short. Most of them were only a few pages long so it is hard to really get invested in the book but it was entertaining. 

Synopsis: A garbage disposal that feeds on flesh . . .

A beloved stuffed rabbit that cooks up your parents . . .

Roses that require human blood to bloom . . .

From blood-chilling horror to supernatural scares, this collection of short stories from debut author Andrew Duplessie offers something to stoke anyone’s fear factor. But that’s only the beginning. In a first-ever twist, each story also comes with a pulse-pounding video that deepens the horror. Point your phone at the QR code and be prepared to scream! Maybe even share it with your friends, if you dare.

I Loved You in Another Life by David Arnold


*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

I’m really not a fan of DNF’ing books, but I got 40% through this one and I was so bored. It moves at a snail’s pace. The concept is definitely interesting but it wasn’t executed well in my opinion.

ARC Review: I Loved You in Another Life by David Arnold

Synopsis: Evan Taft has plans. Take a gap year in Alaska, make sure his little brother and single mother are taken care of, and continue therapy to process his father’s departure. But after his mom’s unexpected diagnosis, as Evan’s plans begin to fade, he hears something: a song no one else can hear, the voice of a mysterious singer . . .

Shosh Bell has dreams. A high school theatre legend, she’s headed to performing arts college in LA, a star on the rise. But when a drunk driver takes her sister’s life, that star fades to black. All that remains is a void—and a soft voice singing in her ear . . .

Over it all, transcending time and space, a celestial bird brings strangers together: from an escaped murderer in 19th century Paris, to a Norwegian kosmonaut in low-earth orbit, something is happening that began long ago, and will long outlast Evan and Shosh.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Read: 27/9/23 – 30/9/23

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It took me a long time to get around to reading this and I’m both regretting it and not. It was a very good book but I’m not sad that I didn’t read it sooner. I love Suzanne Collins so much, she can do no wrong in my eyes.

Synopsis: It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

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