Now that we’ve officially headed into fall and the kids are back at school, I have a lot more time to listen and read books. So much time…that I got 12 books finished this month! Yes, 8 of them were audiobooks but listening counts. I’m constantly asked how I read so many books each month. Well, I drive about a million carpools, go to the grocery store, do laundry, cook, clean etc…and the whole time I’m listening to a book! This month, in particular, there were so many standout audiobooks, but if I had to choose one, it would be The Dutch House because Tom Hanks is the narrator. Jackie had a similar experience of lots of stand out books this month. Which is why we are highlighting so many different genres of books in September 2019 Novel Ideas. Historical Fiction, Romance, Literary Fiction, Fantasies and Mysteries are all reviewed. Let us know which books you are most interested in picking up next. Be sure to check out Kirsten’s Fall wardrobe update at the bottom too.
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Kirsten’s Stack – September 2019 Novel Ideas
Thanks to Atria for my copy. All opinions are my own. Philippa Gregory is back with a new non-royal series. Tidelands is set in 1648 in the midst of the English civil war. The king has been overthrown and the country is in turmoil, but in the marshlands of South, the villagers are worried about survival. Alinor is a healer whose services are both respected and feared. She carefully toes the line between wise woman and witch as she struggles to feed her family. One fateful night she decides to help a catholic priest to safety without realizing the danger this secret would bring to her family. I was shocked at the end of the book and I’m eager to get my hands on the second story. 5 stars.
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books for my copy. All opinions are my own. Finally! A thriller that actually thrilled me! One Little Secret is who-dun-it murder mystery about 3 couples who sublet a house in the Hamptons for a week. When one of them turns up dead, it’s up to Detective Watkins to figure out who did it. There were secrets unveiled on almost every page, but the last 50 or so had me gasping out loud repeatedly. I totally did not see the ending coming. If you are looking for a great thriller, look no further!! This is perfect for fans of The Silent Patient and Woman in the Window. 4 Stars.
Thanks to Atria for my copy. All opinions are my own. This historical fiction novel is part mystery, part love story, and part thriller. MacNeal’s debut takes place in Victorian England during the time of The Great Exhibition. Iris dreams of learning to paint like a true artist, while she tolls away with her twin sister in a doll shop. Silas is a curiosity collector that can’t seem to get Iris out of his head after their chance meeting, and Albie is the rag-a-muffin street urchin I wanted to take home. Their stories weave together in a slow-burn until the blood pumping, heart racing conclusion. 4.5 stars
Thanks to Libro.Fm and Riverhead for my copy. All opinions are my own. I’d seen this book on lots of anticipated reads lists and was eager to listen when I was given the opportunity. This poignant tale was told, and narrated, by multiple characters and jumped between the present and the past as it weaves together the story of a family. At Melody’s coming-of-age ceremony at 16, we find out about her own parents’ history. The story had me engrossed immediately and the ending brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I was a part of Melody’s story as I listened to the book. I highly recommend the audiobook because of the various narrators for each part. All the different voices bring such depth to the performance. Jacqueline Woodson is even one of the narrators!
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Thanks to Berkley for my copy. All opinions are my own. This was billed as historical fiction but it’s really historical romance. Heavy on the romance. In order to keep her scholarship to Oxford, Annabelle Archer must sway the Duke of Montgomery to her cause aka the suffrage movement which took hold of Victorian England in 1879. It’s such a heart-warming book that also taught me a bit about the British women’s suffrage movement. I learned a bit about inheritance law too, but it was FOR SURE the romance that had me flipping pages with a goofy grin on my face. The sparks between Annabelle and Sebastian were palpable. Bringing Down the Duke was a breath of fresh air for my reading stack and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 4.5 stars.
I’ve been reading the Fallen Crest series for what feels like forever at this point. I loved the books initially (see fluff reads), but I’m slowly starting to find them more insipid as the series goes on. Still, since there are only 7 books and this was book 6, I’ll clearly be finishing them all. As usual, Samantha and Mason have to fight some big bad that is slowly trying to tear them apart and ruin their lives. As always, Mason wins the day with some crazy plotting we don’t see until it’s revealed. This one does end on a pretty good cliffhanger though, so I’m eager to start book 7 quickly. 3 stars
Thanks to Libro.Fm and Flatiron for my copy. All opinions are my own.I was blown away by the Cruz’s latest novel which explores her Dominican roots. 15-year-old Ana dreams of moving to America, envisioning a life of glamour, wealth, and freedom. She accepts the hand of a husband twice her age to fulfill her dreams but is in for quite an awakening when she makes it to the Bronx. Her immigrant story was filled with strength and courage as over the course of a year-and-a-half meek Ana is molded into a strong woman. Miserable in her life, Ana is forced to choose between duty to her family and her dreams. 4 stars.
Thanks to GetRed Pr for my copy. All opinions are my own. Siblings can be our greatest source of strength or our greatest competition. Ginny and Julia Frank used to have a close sisterly bond until a tragedy from their past drove a wedge between them. Now estranged from each other, Ginny is still the first person Julia runs to when a headstrong decision throws her career into jeopardy. Set in the beautiful land of Arizona, Ginny and Julia have to face old wounds as Julia realizes that Ginny might just need her help too. 3 stars.
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Well Met by Jen Deluca
Thanks to Berkley for my copy. All opinions are my own. Sometimes you read a book and you just want to go back and read it again. I loved Well Met!!! I never thought I would be interested in a renaissance faire but this book gave me all the feels. Emily lost her job and her boyfriend at the same time that her big sister broke her leg. Emily decides to move to Willow Creek to help her sister care for 14-year-old April, where she is promptly tricked into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire run by Simon. So now Emily is a wench…Simon is a Pirate…and obviously we know where this story is going. It’s the journey on this one, guys. It’s filled with feels, cute scenes, and romance. I couldn’t put it down. I’m pretty sure hearts actually came out of my eyes at multiple points while reading. I loved it so much!!! This book gives me total modern-day Pride and Prejudice vibes. 4 stars.
I was OBSESSED with Gill Paul’s book Another Woman’s Husband when I read it earlier this year so I was eager to try another of her books. The Lost Daughter follows a similar format of skipping between two different timelines, this time exploring the Romanovs. The first tells the story of Grand Duchess Maria in 1918 and the second is set in 1973 when Val Doyle seeks to investigate her father’s dying words. Maria’s story drew me in immediately, but I floundered a bit when it skipped over to Val’s portions. I just didn’t feel a connection to her and found myself wishing it would get back to Maria’s parts. Still, it was a good story if you are interested in a lesser-known Romanov. 3 stars.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Thanks to Libro.Fm and Harper for my copy. All opinions are my own. Ann Patchett has done it again with this tale of sibling devotion. Danny and Maeve are victims of an abandoned mother and father who all but ignores them. Danny narrates the story of their lives as it ties into The Dutch House – a storied mansion that their father purchased in Elkins Park. This home is the blessing and curse of their lives. The sign of their father’s success and what ultimately breaks up their family. Emotional and complex, this book will be on our best of 2019 list for sure.
Thanks to Netgalley and Aria for my copy. All opinions are my own. What I wanted when I requested this book was a warm little holiday romance that would be the equivalent to a Hallmark Christmas Movie. Instead, it was more of a melodrama, with tons “dark secrets” for each of the main characters to deal with. Surprised after surprise of terrible events, characters that didn’t meet for the first 30% of the book, and lack of chemistry had me skimming the pages as I tried to finish in a hurry. I had such high expectations for this novel and I was sorely disappointed. I could see where this book would appeal to some readers, but for me – it was too much drama without much heart. 🙈 Sadly, this One Christmas Star only earned 1 ⭐️ from me.
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Jackie’s Stack – September 2019 Novel Ideas
Thanks to Libro.Fm and Atria for my copy. All opinions are my own. I just finished this book and it is so much more than I could have hoped for in a book. It is rare that a book comes along that fills in all the nooks and crannies in my heart and this book did just that. It is the story of four orphan children who find themselves traveling in a canoe down the Mississippi. The summary of this book does not do justice to the words within the pages. Read it. Love it. And then email me so we can talk about it. 5 stars
Thanks to Libro.Fm and Wednesday Books for my copy. All opinions are my own. The Hunger Games meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this haunting and disturbing tale. At the age of sixteen, all women must go into the wild for a year to release their magic. The people of Garner County call this the Grace Year and speaking of it is forbidden. As Tierney James Grace YEar approaches, she dreams of a world in which women aren’t pitted against each other in a battle to survive. This book is eery and completely creepy. I could not put it down. 4.5 stars
I was so happy to receive this book. I have never read Ann Cleaves before but I had heard such great things about her writing. Thank you so much to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Libro.fm for my copies of this book. There are so many things about this book that I loved. The book starts when Matthew Venn attends the funeral of his estranged father. When a murdered man is washed up on the beach, Matthew is brought back into the community that he left years before. The characters are rich, real, flawed, and likable. The story is driven by the characters who make the story compelling and unpredictable. I did not predict “who Dun it” which is always a huge bonus for me. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series 4 stars
I re-read this book with my daughter and we loved it. I have not read this book since I was a child and I think I loved it more this time. This classic story is the perfect feel-good book. Yesterday was Daughter’s Day and this is the perfect book to read with your little one. 5 stars
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I love Alice Hoffman and for me, this was her best book yet. During WWII, in Germany, Hanni Kohn knows that she must do something to save her daughter from the Nazi’s In desperation, she seeks out someone who can make a Golem take her daughter to safety. Instead of the Rabbi, it is his daughter Ettie who helps and creates Ava. The life of the three women is forever intertwined. This beautiful story about love, life, and friendship is more than I could have hoped for. 5 stars
This was a very cute book about what happens when your life takes an unexpected turn. When Marnie’s marriage ends after two weeks she returns home to start over. But, when she inherits a brownstone from her ex-husband’s aunt in Brooklyn, her life changes again. This was a very cute read that I felt was 50 pages too long. 3 stars
I love Louis Penny and this book is not an exception. The plot is always complex and the characters are beloved. When Armand Gamache receives a letter to go to an abandoned farmhouse, he learns that he is the executor of a will for someone he has never met. Meanwhile, Gamache is trying to track down the drugs that he let into the country before they are distributed and lead to hundreds if not thousands of deaths. Another gem from Louise Penny 4 stars
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this unusual book. It is s the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and I don’t always love literary pics. Sometimes I think the books chosen for these prizes are too weird. I thought that this book was unusual and quirky but I really enjoyed it. I started reading and I was not sure if I liked Arther Less but as the story progressed, I found myself drawn to his strange and endearing ways. 4 stars
There is a new library in town and we are psyched to go take a look. The new library on Temple’s campus has a book robot who gathers all the books that students want. The architecture on the Charles Library is absolutely beautiful, we are hoping to get down to see it very soon.
Also on Jackie’s obsession list? The new Downton Abbey Movie!!! Tell us you’ve seen it already!!!
Harry Potter Legos are back and my kids are loving the new sets. Have you seen them yet? Hagrid’s Hut is the set we are currently building and it’s great. The fireplace really lights up! There is a Yule Ball, Knight bus, Dementor Attack, and more!
I did my big fall shopping trip and I’m obsessed with my updated wardrobe! Unlike most people, I shop differently because I only shop once every six months for the next season’s clothes. I like to make it so everything goes together AND I only have to spend one-morning shopping instead of hours and hours trying on stuff. I’ve included my picks or items similar to my picks below.