What I Read This Week: August 22, 2021

Thanks to a non-COVID virus that had me out of commission for a few days, I finished five books this week and they were all pretty good reads.

Luster by Raven Leilani

Literary fiction

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This novel knocked my socks off! It’s the story of a young woman in her twenties who has been floating through life making one bad decision after another. She becomes involved with a man in an open marriage whose wife has struck rules that must be followed. It’s a darkly funny book with stellar writing, it’s shocking and crude at times. It’s also a fascinating exploration of human nature and relationships. I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Contemporary romance

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The fake dating trope doesn’t always work for me but it’s well done here and I loved it. Darcy and Elle have a rough first date but Darcy is so desperate for her brother to stop pestering her about her romantic life that she makes it sound like the date was a success and things snowball from there. Both Darcy and Elle’s motivations were clear from the start. I like that they both had something to gain from the fake relationship. Often they’re one sided in romance novels and I don’t like when one character seems blatantly used. That’s not the case here.I loved the astrology component to the story, especially how one woman was a believer and the other a skeptic. It added emotional and thoughtfulness to their hot chemistry. The writing is solid with some great humor. I highly recommend this one for readers of romance.

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

Contemporary romance

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Book two in the Written in the Stars series. This book was so lovely. It’s a perfect example of why I enjoy contemporary romances so much, particularly the friends to lovers trope. Annie and Brendon have known each other since they were kids but haven’t seen each other in eight years. They’re getting to know each other as adults, yet they have the foundation of having known each other in the past. It makes their whirlwind romance easy to understand. Their chemistry is immediate and hot, which makes for fun reading! While this is a romance and the relationship is front and center, Annie’s desire to do what’s best for herself remains a priority and I really liked that. All of the characters in this series are realistic and I’m having a great time getting to know them all. I highly recommend this series for readers of romance, start with the first book.

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Contemporary romance

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, expected publication February 1, 2022. I generally don’t read my ARCs this far in advance, but I loved the other two so much and was super excited for this one! Unfortunately, this didn’t live up to my expectations and I didn’t like it nearly as much as the other two. This felt like the author needed a third book for Margot so she just threw something together. Margo and Olivia’s relationship wasn’t as realistic and relatable as the previous books. Things between them moved incredibly fast and there should have been more difficult conversations between them to get them through their past, but that never happened. There were more sex scenes between them than actual relationship progression. Overall this was a quick, entertaining read and I recommend it for readers of this series. I don’t think it would work well as a stand alone. 

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Literary fiction/Audiobook

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This is a unique book done extraordinarily well. I don’t want to reveal much about the plot because I went in without any expectations and I’m sure that’s partly what allowed me to enjoy it so much. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Marin Ireland, who did a fantastic job building anticipation and capturing the characters’ confusion and emotions. This novel is a slow burn. It’s suspenseful and thought-provoking. While it’s labeled as a thriller/mystery, it isn’t either in a traditional sense. I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction.

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