What You Reading?

I was in the midst of a major reading slump at the start of this year. Life was moving at a slow pace (the kind of pace where you’re watching the clock tick by, waiting for something exciting to happen) but at the same time, there were plenty of distractions (not the good kind) to keep me occupied. But one day, I picked up a book and started reading again. That’s the thing about reading and new beginnings, you can always start again. 

Here is a quick review of all the books I read since the middle of July. I decided to list them in the order they were read, instead of grouping them by star category. I won’t do any in-depth reviews as you can easily find better ones on Goodreads but, as I always like to do, I will include how the book made me feel or what stood out about it. I tried to review each book as I finished them but I often found myself deep into another book before I could get to a computer so forgive me if the details are a bit lacking! Ratings are out of five.

In My Shoes: A Memoir by Tamara Mellon, William Patrick * * * *
Surprisingly, this was the book that pulled me out of my slump. Whether it was specifically this book or perhaps it was a perfect hybrid of opportunity meets time, I enjoyed it all the same. The drama, the rumours, the cut-throat business of fame and fashion. It was juicy and engrossing!

One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner [Mystery/Thriller] * * * *
I don’t really remember this book which is probably why I didn’t give it 5 stars but I still rated it pretty high so it must have been quite good! Oh yes, I remember. This was quite pulse-pounding. Kept me on the edge of my seat.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover [Contemporary Romance] * * * * *
Yes, the recent viral hit of ‘CoHo’ reached me. At first a bit really cheesy but I easily got right into it about a quarter of the way in, then I was invested. I knew of her but had never picked up any of her books until the recent buzz about this book. Truthfully, I originally rated it a 4-star out of 5 but then I went back and changed it to a 5-star. To be fair, it did keep me wanting more, kept me at the edge of my seat, toiled with my emotions and I wanted more of CoHo. Thus, 5-star!

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh [Mystery/Thriller] * * * *
This book I would have rated 3.5 but there is no halfsies so I decided to round up as it definitely was a page-turner and had me guessing to the very end!

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant [Mystery/Thriller] * * * * *
I loved this book. I had never picked up this author before but somehow this book landed on my TBR for over a year now and I only recently opened the book for whatever reason. It was very reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s, “The Road” (one of my favourites). If you’ve ever read that one, you will likely like this one.

Verity by Colleen Hoover [Thriller] * * * * *
One word: creepy! This book was one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. I never wanted to be home alone (i.e. without my 6’4” husband who would probably save himself before the thought of saving me entered his mind) while reading it. I was also reading this book during the time my 4yo went through a terrible bout of night terrors, screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night. I do not recommend it during such a time. Definitely revisit if so!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid [Historical Fiction] * * * * 
This book was good, but it definitely was overhyped, I think. I thought the ending deserved more but otherwise, a good read.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave [Mystery/Suspense] * * * * 
Also had this book on my TBR list for over a year and finally picked it up. Glad I did! Great page-turner.

An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher [Mystery] * * *
I am a fan of this author but her books have been hit-or-miss for me. The hits get me coming back for more (I enjoyed “The Wives” and “I Can Be a Better You”) but this one was a bit off-key.

Cul-de-sac by Joy Fielding [Mystery/Suspense] * * * * *
She was one of my favourite authors when I started devouring books. Her books lately haven’t been great hits for me and the general masses but this one was reminiscent of an earlier hit with great page-turning twists. I really enjoyed this one- couldn’t put it down!

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt [Young Adult Fiction] * * * * *
This was another book that’s making its viral rounds online (mostly a lot of Booktoks). YA has never been a genre I’ve gravitated towards but I loved this coming-of-age story. Perhaps I loved it most because of its length, too. It was a short read but sometimes heavy reads need to be short because that’s all the emotions we can take in one sitting. I will think of this one for a long time.

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray * * * * *
All I can say is this was a heartbreaking story to read, but a fascinating look at how one kid (who dealt the heaviest and worst cards) ends up fighting for her own life and not only surviving but thriving! I’m in awe of Liz Murray and what she’s been through. This book won’t be for everyone, but it’s an important one for perspective. It’s been touted as the next Glass Castle (one of my favourite memoirs) and I can’t disagree.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead [Academia Mystery/Thriller] * * * 
This was an average book. It kept my attention but it was one of those books where the characters are limitless and I had to keep track of who was who in my head. A very forgettable book for me.

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding [Mystery/Thriller] * * * * *
This book kept my attention all the way through. It was my definition of a page-turner. I gripped each page with bated breath at the anticipation of what would come next!

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune [Contemporary Romance] * * * * *
When I picked up this book, I didn’t know it was written by a Canadian author. This book was nostalgic of Toronto summers outdoors. I loved the lovers-to-friends trope and how beautifully the author wrote this angsty love story. Enjoyed every bit of it and will recommend it forever!

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham [Mystery/Thriller] * * * *
While this book earned all of its 4 stars, it was relatively predictable to me. I could see what was coming from a mile away, but I wasn’t mad at it!

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover [Contemporary Romance] * * * *
This book was good. If I wasn’t sitting next to my husband while finishing this book, I might have allowed myself to ugly cry at this Ugly Love. It was good, but not as good as her other hyped book. I am slowly getting into the CoHo territory here!

Every Last Secret by A. R. Torre [Mystery/Suspense] * * * * *
This is as juicy as a suspenseful book gets. I was halfway through it when I started editing this post and it took everything out of me to put that book down for just a minute!

The Chain by Adrian McKinty [Mystery/Thriller] * * * * 
This book had a very unique plot. I enjoyed the writing and the concept, it does play tricks on your brain though.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle [Contemporary Romance] * * * *
I loved the idea of this book. As humans, it’s very natural for us to always wonder about the what-ifs. This book tackles the idea of parallel universes. I loved the premise of this book.

We All Fall Down by Eric Walters [Young Adult Fiction] * * * * *
I rarely read books in one sitting. This one was good but also beautifully short. A coming-of-age, YA theme with a heartwarming message amid a world tragedy: parents, the good ones, are always doing their best.

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen [Mystery/Suspense] * * *
This book had great potential. The writing was fine but the plot itself was too wild and predictable. I felt like the authors just brainstormed every single plot scenario they could chalk up and threw it in the fire to see how it would turn out. In the end, it was too much- too many characters, too many suspicious individuals, too many parallel plotlines. Too much.

Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories by Kelly Ripa [Memoir] * *
Kelly Ripa does what very few celebrities do, she wrote the damn thing herself. And for that, I have to give her credit. I have a guilty pleasure of reading salacious celebrity memoirs gossip- it brings me joy (don’t know why, don’t ask). I’ve never been a fan of her show before or after the take-over but I always knew she was a funny woman. She does have great comedic flare but much of it, unfortunately, did not translate in written form. She also steered clear of the Strahan debacle which was why I think a lot of readers flocked to her book in the first place. 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren [Contemporary Romance] * * *
This was a cute book. I liked reading it while I was reading it but it didn’t do much for me in the way of romance. I didn’t feel compelled to any of the characters or their stories. Half the time I felt like I was trying to finish it quickly so I could move on (sadly). I really wanted to like it a lot.

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica [Mystery/Thriller] * * * * *
I gave this book 4.5 stars but rounded it up to 5. The ending was a bit unrealistic but it’s fascinating how one insignificant (at the time) choice down one path can lead you to a completely different outcome. An outcome hard to grapple with for most people.

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager [Mystery/Suspense] * * * 
This book had great potential, but somewhere around the middle of the book it took a sharp turn into the realm of the supernatural world, which is fine if that’s the book I expected to be reading, but it wasn’t. This is one of those books that I feel like the author had no planning and just gave up halfway through.

No Exit by Taylor Adams [Mystery/Thriller] * * * 
I had this book on my TBR list forever. I finally stopped delaying its delivery on my e-book app and read it (not sure why it took me this long). It was a good starting premise for the book which definitely hooked me but then I found it to be very unrealistic and the plot twists were piling on thick, to the un-believable realm.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren [Contemporary Romance] * * * * *
This book is a culmination of two things: love and the love of books. Right up my freakin’ ally. It was one of those books I loved the idea of. And while I wanted to dive in constantly, I found myself delaying reading it because I just didn’t want it to be over, even as curious as I was to get to the final twist.

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay [Mystery/Thriller] * *
 Usually, when books end up my on TBR list, it’s due to some sort of recommendation or positive review. For some reason, I delayed reading this book for a long time and finally gave it a shot. I conclude that I could have left it off my list!

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover [Contemporary Romance] * * 
As I’ve heard with CoHo books, they are each a hit-or-miss. Some of her books stay with you forever and give you the endless feels and others will leave you wondering why you suffered to the very end. I will never get these hours back!

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid [Fiction/Contemporary Romance] * * * * *
Speaking of the feels, this book gave me all of it! It was at times gut-wrenching and definitely broke my heart in two! I often found myself in this character’s shoes and as unbelievable as the storyline was, it was also an extremely fascinating plot! A true what-would-you-do situation!

If you are currently in a reading slump, hopefully you will find something (either from my list or elsewhere) to pull you out of it! Happy Reading!

What were some 5-star-rated books you read this year or of all time? Leave some recommendations below! 

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31 thoughts on “What You Reading?

  1. Wow, what an impressive list!! You definitely ended the reading slump. 🙂 I have some ideas for future reads now, thanks to you!
    My most recent reads were The Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island by Heather Webb and The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin, and I’m currently reading This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. All are pretty good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So proud of you for getting out of the slump and reading SO much. November was the first month of the year that I couldn’t find time to read a single book. 😦
    I made the mistake of reading CoHo’s ‘Layla’ right after ‘It Ends With Us’ and now I don’t feel like reading another book by her ever again. 🙈
    Hopefully I’ll be able to read a few more books this month. December is so perfect for cozying up and reading.
    Saving this post for book recommendations.
    My favourite read this year was ‘The Family Upstairs’ which I think you have already read. I’d recommend reading – The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. It is a light but heart warming read, perfect for this season. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂 I’m so proud of me too 🙂 Yes, I had Layla on my list but after a couple bad ones I gave up on CoHo. I recently just finished It Starts With Us (only because it seemed fitting to finish that series) and man I have regrets! Hope you have a cozy book-filled December!! 🙂


  3. You have been busy! Two books I read lately where I found it hard to put the book down were “As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow” by Zoulfa Katouh. The book is based in Syria during the war there. Really gives an eye view to that nation. Second was “Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Based in Alabama it tells the story of a young black nurse’s quest for justice in post-segregation Alabama.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been reading a lot more this year. I really enjoyed “Lock Every Door” and “Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager. Lisa Gardner’s “Before She Disappeared” was another good one. I am currently reading “Braiding Sweetgrass”, an eye-opening non-fiction book that’s a real wake-up call on what we’ve done to our planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a ton of books to plow through but I remember you said you read enroute to work, at lunch and I believe at night as well. I used to be like that when I took the bus. I’d hate to get to my stop, either going or coming home as I had to close the book!

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  6. Wow what a list of books. I myself have been bogged down by Pandemic by AG Riddle, which is a tome of a book. That’s brought down my reading progress, and I feel like I’ve been reading this book for forever. One book that stood out to me this year would have to be the Dungeon Crawler Carl series. So much humour with sci-fi and fantasy involved. Just my cuppa tea. Thanks for this, Jen!

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    • Thanks for sharing Stuart! I think in a previous comment we decided we were not on the same page with reading genres but love that you know what you like and stick to it! Me too! 🙂 Thanks for reading 🙂


  7. This doesn’t look like a slump to me, but then I don’t know you’re reading habits. It’s pretty obvious that Colleen Hoover is one of your favorites. Like you, I go through periods where I read far more than at other times. The beauty of reading is there’s always something for everyone, and we’re not relying on spotty internet service to do it.

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  8. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!! I live by your reading recommendations. The last time you did this I went out and purchased every book you recommended and have only “The German’s Wife” left to read. This new list has given me a Christmas list that my hubby and kids have been nagging me for!!!! Perfect timing is all I have to say…of course aside from thank you which I believe I have made pretty clear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm I wonder if you have me mixed up with someone else? I’ve never recommended or read “The German’s Wife” but if you do get around to reading any of the 5-star rated books I recommended, I sincerely hope you enjoy! Thanks for stopping by 🙂


  9. I didn’t read many books this year and the ones I did read were lightweight fare. I liked The Jane Austin Society by Natalie Jenner. I also read a book of essays, a memoir really, called I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott. Liked her vibe a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

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