What to Read in 2021

September was a productive reading month. I didn’t beat August’s record, but I did finish reading three books in three different formats. The good old-fashioned paperback is still my favorite, but the eBook and the audiobook formats came in handy, too. I have a book app on my cell phone so I can read whenever I have to wait (I’ve been known to read in line at the grocery store). But audiobooks kept me company during a recent 10-hour car ride. It’s good to have options. 

As a refresher, I am reading various sub-genres in the Women’s Fiction umbrella in 2021. Here’s the definition of Women’s Fiction: 

Women’s Fiction is an emotionally-driven story focusing on a female main character who is struggling with some aspect of life. A power struggle ensues and by the end of the book, the reader hopes to see the main character stronger, wiser, happier or whatever “—er” you have in mind.

On to the books: 

September pick #1:

One Last Secret by Krissy Bacarro read in eBook form. This book is in the Women’s Sleuth category, but I think it could also be Women’s Fiction. The main character, Ella Perri, not only has to solve the mystery in the story, but she also gets stronger as she makes decisions that challenge her beliefs. 

Side note: I’ve discovered there is a lot of crossover in book categories. Just because a book is in a certain category, doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t fit someplace else as well. Readers react to books in different ways. A mystery reader might see Ella as a sleuth compared to a Women’s Fiction reader who sees Ella as a woman searching for closure. 

Description from Amazon: 

When Ella Perri unraveled the secret that crept among her family for years, she unleashed a storm of darkness and destruction in its path.

A secret life. Whispers of murder. And the worst has yet to come.

1939~Gianna Russo knows she gave birth to twin daughters, but the midwife hands her only one. She quickly learns of her mother’s deception and vows to find her child. Days later, she walks into the woods with Luca Perri and doesn’t come out.

Present Day~Ella Perri is convinced she’s being stalked, and she suspects her discovery in Italy may have followed her home. A mysterious delivery suggests the darkest of family secrets await, sending Ella once again to Tuscany’s beautiful streets that harbor a terrible truth. A frightening reality chills her to the bone as she becomes trapped in a mystifying mansion with an evil past…and this time, she might not make it out alive.

Luca thought the secrets he buried decades ago would never come to light. But his niece, Ella, proves differently when she discovers Gianna, the grandmother she never knew, is very much alive. For drastically different reasons, Luca and Ella race to find Gianna in the Tuscan hills where she has been safe…until now.

My Take: 

I didn’t want to put this book down. It is a fast-paced adventure that sucked me in. I read the book in two days. It would have gone faster, but I had to eat and sleep, too! The main reason I enjoyed the book is due to Ella Perri, the lead character. She’s a multi-talented woman. Not only is she a surgeon, she is also a world-traveler and detective. She’s smart, but not so smart that she’s annoying.

This is the second book in a two-book series. You don’t have to read book one, but I suggest you do. You will fall in love with Ella and want to know more about her. Something else that  stood out to me is that the mystery didn’t magically solve itself. There was a good amount of work that went into the process and I could follow it (even though I’m not a sleuth)! It felt real.

And if author Krissy Bacarro’s name sounds familiar, that’s because I’ve shared Krissy’s work on the blog before, here and here. 

September pick #2:

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez read in paperback form. Again, this book is not considered Women’s Fiction. It’s listed on Amazon as City Life Fiction (which I was unaware was a category), but I found it on a table at Barnes & Noble with a number of other Women’s Fiction titles.

From the author’s website: 

VANESSA LIVES LIFE ON HER OWN TERMS — one day at a time, every day to its fullest. She isn’t willing to waste a moment or miss out on an experience when she has no idea whether she shares the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Besides, she has way too much to do, traveling the globe and showing her millions of YouTube followers the joy in seizing every moment.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, she is housebound, on mommy duty for the foreseeable future, and feeling totally out of her element.

The last person she expects to show up offering help is the unbelievably hot lawyer who lives next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. But as they get closer, Vanessa realizes that her carefree ways and his need for a structured plan could never be compatible for the long term. Then again, she should know better than anyone that life’s too short to fear taking the biggest risk of all.

My take: 

This book addresses some heavy subjects, chronic illness, addiction and the loss of a parent to name a few. Instead of being depressing, the author writes in an upbeat tone. The characters deal with conflict head on, but there is levity in the book. 

I admit I was extremely confused by the first chapter, though. As you can read in the book blurb above, the story is about Vanessa, a woman who finds herself thrown into motherhood. Adrian, the hot dude next door, is obviously Vanessa’s happily-ever-after. Let’s just say, I had to read the first chapter a couple of times to figure out the point of view. And the point of view character’s name is even in the chapter title. Once I got past that, things smoothed out. 

Random side note: the term “clickbait” is defined in the beginning of the book and referenced several times. If you are intrigued by this concept, be sure to check out the Netflix series “Clickbait”. It is a twisty, intriguing, surprising show. It is also a short commitment – one season, eight episodes.

September pick #3:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid listened to in audiobook form is found in Women’s Divorce Fiction. 

From the author’s website: 

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.

When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My take: 

I’m not sure if I would have liked this as much in print form, but the audiobook version was a performance piece. I felt like I was listening in to Monique’s interview of Evelyn. The flashbacks in the story were easy to follow and the twists and turns of the story gave it a real Hollywood feel. The book had a few surprises that some readers didn’t enjoy or felt were staged, but I thought Reid’s tale was realistic, gritty and satisfying. 

That’s all for September. Next month, I’m hoping to find something spooky to read. If you have any recommendations, let me know at carole@carolewolfe.com

Until next time…

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash