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Monthly Reading Wrap Up: July

July was another amazing reading month with a nice array of genres. From a psychological thriller to an over 750 page fantasy read, I successfully knocked a few reads off my forever growing TBR list. Summer is one of my favorite times of year to read because I can get outdoors & still soak up some sun while I escape to these fictional stories. And I hope August will be just as productive.

Be sure to also check out what I read in June if you haven’t already: June Reading Wrap Up

Here’s what I managed to read in the month of July…

Layla by Colleen Hoover

I was craving a psychological thriller ( my comfort genre) although it’s the height of summer. This is characterized as a haunted romance & I was really excited to read this as I loved CH’s other thriller, Verity. Layla isn’t quite on the level of Verity, but I enjoyed it none the less. I especially was hooked for the first third of the book with the present & past POV’s. The writing style kept me on my toes wondering what would unfold next. I did find the character development to be a bit lack luster. But Colleen Hoover’s imagination is incredible. Such a creative author! Overall, I give this one 3.5 stars.

Synopsis: “When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her – until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed and breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences. Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow – another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.”

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Now, this is how you write a friends to lovers trope! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 we must protect Alex at all costs. Poppy & Alex’s friendship is top tier. This Emily Henry read has a special place in my heart for the main character being a blogger / columnist travel writer. I can live vicariously through Poppy & envy all their bucket list travels. I loved the past vs. present POV’s through multiple summers of their friendship. This is one of the first friendships I felt was very realistic. Not only this, but overall it was such a cute, light summer read. I’m so glad I enjoyed this one because unfortunately her other book, Beach Read just missed the mark for me. I give this book 3.5 or almost 4 stars.

Synopsis: Poppy & Alex. Alex & Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best friends. For most of the year they live far apart – she’s in New York City and he’s in their small hometown – but every summer for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she as last truly happy, she knows without a doubt that it was on that ill-fated final trip with Alex. And so she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together – lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees. Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Heartbones by Colleen Hoover

I feel like this is an underrated Colleen Hoover read & I absolutely loved it! I give this a solid 4 stars. At first, I thought this was a lighthearted summer fling story, but like so many CH books, it’s so much more than that. I loved Beyah’s character development & redemption of growing through proverty & a rough home life. I enjoyed the opposites attract story of Beyah [ poverty stricken / alcoholic parent ] & Samson [ very wealthy / troubled past ]. But they connect through sadness. Quite honestly, I found the story to be kind of slow in the beginning but once it hit past chapter 12 or so, it really got interesting. The twist was a little bit predictable which is why I didn’t give it 5 stars. Come to think of it, Heartbones feels like a darker version of The Summer I Turned Pretty series [ especially the volleyball scene]. What I loved most about this book & a reason I wish I owned the paperback, are the quotes. This is a perfect read for annotations. “Damaged people recognize other damaged people. It’s like a club you don’t want a membership to.”

Synopsis: Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself. With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan. Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface. She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. 

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

751 pages of pure magic. I absolutely loved this book of the series. It is filled with growth, friendship, battles & romance. In general, the thing I love most of this entire series are the characters and their banter. I personally, love Nesta’s character & the way we came to understand the reasons for her personality. I also really loved the bond between women & the strength of overcoming their pasts. The first 4 books mostly focuses on Nesta’s sister, Feyre, so to read about another character’s POV was really interesting. But SJM still managed to tie in subplots from Feyre & the rest of the Inner Circle. The thing that really ties me to loving this series is how developed each character is & their own personal stories. This book had me in tears, especially the last 100 pages. I annotated the shit out of so many quotes. If you have yet read this series, please add it to your TBR.

Synopsis: Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it. The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other. Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts. Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

If this book wasn’t so hyped up all over the internet, I’m not sure if I would have ever picked this up on my own. On some level I feared this book would give off the “forced to read in high school” type of vibe. And the Greek mythology theme was definitely outside my comfort zone. But if you push aside the dryness of the story & war, it was a beautiful story of a lifelong friendship between Patroclus & Achilles. It is a story about growth & how success can drive us either into a selfish direction or the latter. I kind of pose the question, “who was the true hero?” Also, a few characters I just couldn’t stand for their rudeness [ if you know, you know]. I found the writing to be extremely beautiful & highlighted so many quotes as I went along. It was such a heartbreaking tale & a bit of a twist at the end. The last few chapters did make my eyes blurry with tears. Overall, I give this a solid 4 stars for now. I feel like I need to read a few reviews to better understand some of the story. I’m glad I finally decided to read this though & it has encouraged me to read more books out of my comfort zone.

Synopsis: Achilles, the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful – irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath. They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in their name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The hubs recommended I start this series & I knew how much he raved about it so I finally decided to give it a go. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone – a dystopian sci-fi style read that gave off a mix of Hunger Games, GOT & Lord of the Flies. I was so surprised. I couldn’t put it down! I finished this within a day. And I can’t wait to read the rest of the series next month.

Synopsis: “His wife taken. His people enslaved. Driven by a longing for justice and the memory of lost love, Darrow will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies…even if he has to become one of them to do so.

Overall, i feel like I crushed my monthly goal & read quite a few books. Let’s see if I can read even more in August! A few reads I’m looking forward to read next month include Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover, the rest of the Red Rising series, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Book Lovers by Emily Henry & The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pakksten.

wanna know how i read so much? Check out my previous blog post: Why Replacing Screen Time With Reading Is Good For You

what are you currently reading?

– B

books, Uncategorized

A Major Book Haul: My 2022 TBR is Growing

Books. books. & more books! I’ve been reading like a mad woman the last few months thanks to all the recommendations on Tiktok, Instagram & Youtube. A bit of an update, I’m actually back on Instagram. The hiatus [ that I thought would be forever] is no longer & now I have not one but TWO Instagram accounts. That’s right – I finally decided to have a designated bookstagram called B’s Book Reviews for any amateur reviews I decide to share, stacks & book hauls. The husband suggested I call my little book community the Bee Hive. LOL. If you are just as obsessed with books as I am, I hope you check that page out & give me a follow. I’ve been loving the book community so far. With that being said, I plan to share even more book related content along with my usual intentional living content on the blog. I included it’s own category on the homepage. I’ve been finding reading to be my favorite self care activity & quite frankly – you can never have too many books [ & that’s coming from a minimalist]. My collection is growing so much to the point where a bookshelf is sitting in the Target online cart as I write this.

On To The Book Haul

This is a collection of books I’ve accumulated since the beginning of 2022. So, if it seems like a lot. It is. But we aren’t hear to critique my spending habits are we?

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This one has been raved about all of social media lately. Sarah Pekkanen & Greer Hendricks , the writers behind the book, “The Wife Between Us” [ which I have NOT yet read] have teamed up again to share this anticipated romantic thriller. I’m so excited to read this one & hope it lives up to the hype.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I read The Midnight Library back in February. And I have unpopular opinions about this Matt Haig novel. If you are triggered by topics of suicide, loss or grief – I wouldn’t recommend this one or just keep those in mind going into this read. The concept of how your life can go in different directions depending on which choices you make or “library books” you open intrigued me to read it. I understand Matt Haig is more of a self help writer & he combined that into a fictional story. I personally found this book to be quite depressing to the point where I didn’t even want to finish it. But my toxic trait is I always have to finish a book no matter how bad it is. But once I finished it [ predictable ending btw], I sold it.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

I read The Sanatorium in March after seeing a lot of people order this one off Book of the Month. Let me know if that subscription service is worth it btw. What got me interested in purchasing this one was it’s compared to Stephen King’s classic The Shining. Ha! Yea…ok that statement is a bit of a stretch. And I feel like Stephen King himself would be insulted. I loved the atmosphere of this book & the creepy santatorium turned hotel in the snowy Alps during a blizzard. It’s more of a who done it type of storyline where a detective tries to figure out who is murdering innocent guests of this hotel. I was hoping for more of a haunted vibe & so I kind of left unimpressed. Apparently, this is only the first of three novels & the second book, The Retreat is being released sometime this year. So, I’ll leave this one on a cliffhanger & hope the story wraps up better in the sequel.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

As this blog post is going up, I’m currently reading this gem of a book. I’m only a few chapters in & I can already tell this will be a favorite of the year. Let me know if you’d be interested in a yearly wrap up of my top tier reads btw. I know this book has been hyped up for a long time but I had no idea I would love this one so much already. As a writer myself & someone who loves journalism, this trope of a writer interviewing a famous actress & telling the story of her life is * chef’s kiss*. Not to mention this is seeming to be a novel within a novel. I’m trying not to read this one in one sitting but gosh – it’s so good!!

Beach Read by Emily Henry

I’ve been on the hunt for some summer vibey reads lately & I’ve heard great things about the author, Emily Henry. Not to mention, these book covers are beautiful! I’ve been told through unspoiled reviews, this book title is rather deceiving. It’s not set on a beach [ but a lake] so….i’m still going to probably read this on the beach. It’s about two opposite style writers who have extreme writers block & apparently swap stories.I hope I enjoy this one & find another author to rave about.

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

Staying on course with Emily Henry, I decided to also pick up her second book called People We Meet on Vacation. This seems like a good old heartwarming read about two best friends, Alex & Poppy who have gone to the same vacation spot for the last 10 summers. I feel like this is a friends to lovers trope which is always a good reading choice.

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Kind of out my comfort zone with the greek mythology but according to Goodreads, you don’t need to know greek mythology to enjoy this romantic novel. Plus, I feel like I know enough to get by. The reviews of this book made me decide to add to chart. It’s apparently beautifully written, heart wrenching, sad, funny & heartwarming all in one. Out of this entire book haul, i’m most intrigued about this novel.

The UnHoneymooners by Christina Lauren

I bought this book because I thought it would be perfect for our honeymoon since the story is based in Maui. It’s about twins who are complete opposites – one is unlucky [ Olive] while the other always gets her way like having her wedding in Hawaii[ Ami]. Olive on the other hand, needs to just make through the day without fighting with her sworn enemy, the best man – Ethan. It’s a enemies to lovers trope that will be a perfect read for my long flights next month to Maui.

Let Me Go by Kate Bold

This one [ technically] was free off Apple Books but I wanted to mention it because it’s good to know there are free books out there! I’ve found quite a few classics like Pride & Prejudice or Dracula that I plan to read. But basically, I read this book in one sitting. It’s about a woman who goes back to her home town with her new fiance to introduce him to her family. Little does she know her past is still there to haunt her & her ex husband is out of prison. Since it was free, I give this a solid 3 stars & recommend it if you are looking for a thriller / murder mystery. This is the first book of three in a series.

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

I’ve become a Colleen Hoover stan. Anyone else? After reading Verity & It Ends With Us – I was looking for more of her novels to read. And this one seems just has heartbreaking as It Ends With Us but hopefully I don’t leave as angry. This book is about a married couple on the brink of divorce & trying to mend what they are potentially going to lose. Sounds like a tear jerker to me!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Let’s move onto from romance & onto my all time love which is thriller & haunted stories. So many people on Twitter have told me to check out Riley Sager’s novels. So, I finally purchased Home Before Dark which sounds like the perfect haunted read that will probably keep me up at night. I can’t decide when to officially read this one. Maybe I should save it for Blogtober / October?

Horrid by Katrina Leno

Guilty as charged – I bought this book solely because the cover is GORGEOUS in a creepy & dark academia type of way. But I also picked it up because I’ve been itchy to read a proper new age horror novel. And this one seems like a strong contender. According to GoodReads reviews, this novel explores topics of mental illness, rage & grief with Stephen King like elements [ with this book – I can believe that]. Whether I like it or not, it will for sure remain on my bookshelf for the sheer beauty that is the cover.

Of course, my TBR is forever growing, so please comment below any books I should check out. Also, let me know what type of book related content you’d like to see. Amateur reviews? More book hauls? Or specific genres to focus on….

And don’t forget to follow me on my Bookstagram

-B