11.2.20

On My Nightstand: October 2020

I know I said this in yesterday’s post, too, but I just can’t believe it’s November! This past month was crazy busy for me at work, but despite that, I was able to finish six books. When times are really stressful, I am exceptionally grateful for the respite reading provides—it’s so nice at the end of a long day to escape to another world and not spend the minutes before bed scrolling mindlessly on my phone. There are definitely times when I’m stressed that it’s harder to focus on reading—which is how I felt at the start of the pandemic back in March—but I am glad that has not been my experience as of late. I would love to know what you’re reading and loving these days, as I am looking for some books to read over the Thanksgiving holiday.

As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me!

You can always follow along with what I am reading in real-time over on Goodreads—feel free to friend me there!

WILD AT HEART // KA TUCKER

If you haven’t read The Simple Wild and don’t want spoilers, I’d scroll past this!

This installment of the series picks up where the last book left off—Calla is moving to Alaska to live with Jonah. Whens she arrives, she realizes she is still very much in love with Jonah, but in a new place—this time on a permanent basis—she is struggling to find direction and a sense of purpose in her new life. To complicate matters further, Jonah is out flying more than he’s home, so Calla is forced to learn the ways of Alaska from her grumpy old neighbor and an older woman who is like a drill sergeant.

Would I recommend it? Yes! I loved this one just as much as The Simple Wild, which I read at the end of September. Sometimes sequels really let you down, but this one was amazing—it really picked off where the first book left off. I am so excited the third installment in this series, Forever Wild, comes out December 1!

AMERICAN PRINCESS // STEPHANIE MARIE THORNTON

American Princess is a historical fiction book about Alice Roosevelt. You may know her because her father, President Theodore Roosevelt, once famously said, “I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.”

Alice’s mother died less than two days after she was born, and until her father remarried when she was about four, she was raised by her aunt. The focus of this book is on her coming out to society, her married to Nick Longworth, a Congressman 14 years her senior, and her later affair with Senator William Borah, with whom she had a child. (Fun fact, she wanted to name the child Deborah—I died laughing when I read that.) I loved learning more about this former first daughter and thought it was written in such an engaging way—it definitely wasn’t dry.

Would I recommend it? 100% This one had been on my to-read list for a while, and I am so glad I finally picked it up. I didn’t know much about Alice before reading this historical fiction, but now I want to learn more—she seemed ahead of her time in so many ways.

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN ITS TIME // JENNA BUSH HAGER

In one year, Jenna Bush Hager lost her three remaining grandparents—George HW Bush, Barbara Bush, and Jenna Welch. In this beautiful series of essays, Jenna pays homage to her grandparents and juxtaposes the two vastly different lives both sets lived; one on the national stage as President and First Lady, one a much quieter life in Midland, Texas. I admire her vulnerability in these essays, and her stories made me think of so many amazing memories I have with my own grandparents.

Would I recommend it? I finished this one in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. As long as Jenna is writing books, I’ll keep reading them. Make sure you have tissues close by—this one is a real tear jerker!

IN A HOLIDAZE // CHRISTINA LAUREN*

This book is basically the movie Groundhog Day set at Christmastime in Park City. Mae and her family spend every year at a cabin with a group of family friends; Mae’s parents met these friends at college and their kids were all raised spending holidays together. Only this year is the last year at the beloved cabin since her parents’ friends have decided to sell it since it’s too much work. As Mae’s family is driving away from her favorite spot, Mae puts out a plea to the universe, “show me what will make me happy.” The next thing she knows, her family car is getting hit and she wakes up on an airplane on December 20, to live the same holiday all over again. And again. And again. Until she’s able to figure out how to break free of this weird time loop and find her happiness.

Would I recommend it? This is a cute, light holiday read and I think it’d be the perfect one to curl up with over Thanksgiving weekend to get into the holiday spirit.

UNTIL IT FADES // KA TUCKER

Catherine is a 24-year-old single mom who works at a truck rest stop diner. One night on the way home from a blind date, she sees a car speeding down a backroad. When she catches up to the car, she realizes it hit a tree. She stops her own car, calls 911, and goes over to the car—she realizes the driver is dead, but the passenger is still alive, but trapped in the car and unconscious. While she’s waiting for the emergency responders to arrive, she smells gas and realizes the car is catching on fire. She saves the passenger before the car bursts into flames.

It’s not until after she realizes who she’s saved: Brett Madden, a hockey star. Since she already had her 15 minutes of fame and she wants her troubled past to stay out of the media, she chooses to hide her identity. But then the man she saves shows up on her doorstep, and it changes everything.

Would I recommend it? I knew I wanted to read more KA Tucker books after I read the first two installments of her Wild series, and this one was great. The summary sounds really cliche, but all the characters had a lot of depth and development and it was very well-written.

THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLENT GRANT // BEATRIZ WILLIAMS

The story opens in 1964, when Vivian Schuyler receives a large suitcase from the Swiss government. She has no idea why she was the recipient of said suitcase, but as a magazine journalist, she’s determined to follow the story through. Vivian quickly realizes her Aunt Violet, who she never knew, was the owner of the suitcase and its secrets.

Every other chapter, the story flashes back to 1912, ahead of World War I. Violent Grant, an American, moves to England to study physics and found herself in a disastrous, toxic marriage to a philandering fellow physicist. As Europe edges closer to war, Violet meets a charismatic British army captain, who draws her into a scheme that could free her from her marriage or end in disaster.

50 years later, Violet’s ultimate fate remains a mystery. But Vivian isn’t giving up on her biggest story yet and is determined to find out what happened to her Aunt.

Would I recommend it? I read A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams earlier this year and absolutely loved it, so I wanted to read more of her books. I liked this one okay, but it was probably my least favorite of all the books I read this month. There are two more books in this series—here and here—and I don’t have a strong desire to read them right away, so I think that says something.

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