September 2021 Novel Ideas: 30 Quick Lit Reviews

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September 2021 Novel Ideas features more than 30 quick book reviews to help you find your next great read or listen.

Now that our kids are back in school, we’ve been driving them to activities, sports games, and practices.

Thank goodness for audiobooks! They are literally our lifesaver when it comes to getting reading in while doing errands. We use Libro.FM because they help to support local booksellers. You can see our whole comparison of Libro.FM to Amazon’s Audible, here.

Regardless of how you consume your books, below you will find all the books we read this month with our quick thoughts and a star rating for each.

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you.

Kirsten’s September 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Frazen is back with this incredible book about a pastor and his family as they navigate who they are in the midsts of the tumultuous 70s.

As each character questions their relationship with their family, with god, and with their community at large, they also turn inward and try to remain true to themselves.

The depth of the characters is meticulous, the plot had me flipping the pages (which at 500 or so is saying something.) I can’t recommend this story enough. It’s truly wonderful.

Thanks to FSG Books for my review copy, all opinions are my own.






Rating: 5 out of 5.

Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore

This particular romance is set in 1920s England and is the third in Ms. Dunmore’s women’s suffragette series. Hattie Greenfield, artist extraordinaire, is forced into marriage with Lucian Blackstone, a self-made man (V frowned upon by nobles at the time.)

While the romance itself is swoon-worthy, it’s the depth of non-romantic topics that make it a joy to read. I learned so much about the coal industry and the perils to coal communities in the process.

Thanks to Berkley Romance for my review copy, all opinions are my own.






Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

I adored this stand alone YA fantasy novel in which local wardens are responsible for recording dreams and later fighting the same dreams when they appear on the night of the new moon.

Clementine is training to be a warden under her father, but he loses his post, she swears revenge on the challengers. While plotting her revenge, she also seeks to overturn the curse that’s haunting the entire kingdom.

Thanks to Quill Tree Books for my review copy, all opinions are my own.






Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Hello Dark Academia. Centered around Devon and Chiamaka, the only black students at an elite private school, this is one wild thriller.

After being chosen by prefects on the first day of their senior year, Devon and Chiamaka quickly become the targets of the mysterious Aces – a dangerous gossip girl type character out to ruin their lives.

I was on pins and needles as this thriller unravelled, addressing systemic racism in private institutions in the process.

Thanks to Fiewel & Friends for my review copy, all opinions are my own.






Rating: 4 out of 5.

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

I loved the third book in the Well Met series. This is the third book that’s set again the backdrop of a small town High School’s annual summer Renaissance Faire.

This time we get the love story of our favorite kilted hunk, Mitch, and April AKA Emily’s sister from Book 1. I adored Mitch and April’s love story. He’s just the best!!!

Thanks to Berkley Romance for my review copy, all opinions are my own.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley 

The Vanished Days is set between 2 timelines, 1707 and 1684. Lily makes a claim of marriage to a deceased soldier looking for her pay, but without proof of her marriage, Adam needs to investigate if he claim could be real.

Set against the backdrop of the Jacobite rebellion, this is perfect for the Outlander fans of the world! I was engrossed in this story…then I got to the end, was shocked, and wanted to read the whole thing again!!

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy, all opinions are my own.






Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

For more books like Outlander, head to this post.

Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy

This story revolves around Sherri, an ordinary girl who decides to audition to be a playboy bunny at the Playboy Resort in Wisconsin.

I was expecting a fun, light read, but instead, I was a jumble of nerves as I watched Sherri lose herself and then figure out who she really is.

When Sherri hit rock bottom, I called Jackie asking if it would all turn out ok. It does but in a real-life kind of way.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy, all opinions are my own.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi

I’m a self proclaimed hot mess. I crave order and predictability but I get overwhelmed when I try to institute a million systems and organizational tools.

Enter the Lazy Genius! Kendra uses 13 principles to teach the average woman how to be a genius about what matters and lazy about what doesn’t.

It’s revolutionary! I find myself letting go of stuff that doesn’t matter to me, and leaning into doing things that make my heart sing!






Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Ganache #17) by Louise Penny

I will forever be in love with Louise Penny and the characters in Three Pines, Quebec. The 17th(!) book in the three pines series is as addicting as the first.

Set in a post-pandemic world, we see a statistician who believes she has found a way to save the world from over-population in one of the most atrocious ways possible giving a lecture at the local college campus.

From the threat of a mob to a murder on NYE, a look at post-covid life to Downes-syndrome, this book deals with a variety of topics that are timely and important.






Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

Set in Barbados, this searing fiction story peels back the facade of paradise. Lala, the main protagonist in this story, felt alive to me as I read this powerful story.

A robbery gone wrong, a dead baby, a murder, drug smuggling, and more captivated me as I was consumed by the story within the pages of this book.






Rating: 4 out of 5.

For more GMA Book Club Picks ranked, check out this post!

Grace and Glory by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The conclusion to the Harbinger trilogy found Zayne and Trinity preparing to battle the archangel Gabriel for the safety of the humans on earth.

We see the return of beloved characters like Roth, Michael, Layla, and Peanut, as well as Lucifer coming top-side. A wonderful YA fantasy for fall!






Rating: 3 out of 5.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’m not usually a sci-fi girl, but this book was just so special. It’s told from the perspective of Klara, an artificial friend who starts the story waiting to be purchased.

We see Klara’s life in the store as she waits for a friend, and then what her life is like when she’s chosen to be a companion for a young girl with a mysterious illness.

Klara draws her power from the sun, and so she believes she can use the sun’s healing rays to save her friend too. This moving story had me caring for a robot in a way I knew would have thought possible.






Rating: 4 out of 5.

For more GMA Book Club Picks ranked, check out this post!

Everblaze by Shannon Messenger

My journey into Keeper of the Lost Cities continues in the third book of the series.

I’ve been reading these aloud with my boys and listening to the audiobook and they are keeping our entire family entertained. We love hearing about Sophie, her magical Elven friends, and this incredible world.






Rating: 4 out of 5.

Z: A Novel about Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Anne Fowler

I read this novel for our September reading challenge prompt, books about writers.

While I knew of Zelda Fitzgerald, I knew little about her. I had no idea that she suffered from mental illness, was the inspiration behind Daisy in the Great Gatsby, or was a writer herself.

If you love historical fiction biographies, you will love this story about the sassy female and her husband.






Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

When I learned that Tessa Bailey used Schitt’s Creek’s Alexis as her inspiration for Piper, I knew I had to read this romance.

After getting in trouble one-to-many times for her party-girl lifestyle, Piper and her sister are banished back to their late father’s hometown in Washington.

While she’s learning to be responsible and money-conscious for the first time in her life, she needs to try not to fall for local fisherman, Brendan.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Guilty Pleasures: An Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Novel by Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita Baker is a vampire hunter who is forced to help the master vampire figure out who is behind the recent vampire murders plaguing their town. It gave me adult Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes.

While the first book in this series isn’t terribly romantic, my understanding is that it gets quite steamy as the series progresses. As in erotic level steamy, so prepare yourself for that before diving in.






Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Gods and Monster by Shelby Mahurin

The conclusion to the Serpent and Dove series, was my second favorite book in this trilogy. I had a little trouble getting into the beginning of the book, but once the action started, it kept going!

Louise and Reid are such a case of opposites attract and I loved that they got their happy ending. The scenes with Ansel made me cry, especially the epilogue. This is one witch book series worth reading this fall.






Rating: 3 out of 5.

Jackie’s September 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

I don’t know how to begin to describe this book. This is NOTHING like All The Light We Cannot See and yet, I absolutely loved it. It is part historical fiction, part sci-fi and absolutely amazing.

The book is set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, Five hundred years later in a library in Idaho and in a spaceship traveling to a new planet sometime in the near future. Even while trying to describe this book, it does not seem to go together and yet, the story of Cloud Cuckoo Land (a story within the Novel) acts as the glue that brings the characters together. The end result is an amazing book with a very powerful message.

This is not an easy read but is well worth it.

Thanks to Scribner and Libro.fm for my review copy. All opinions are my own.






Rating: 5 out of 5.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The best thing about Liane Moriarty is that her books never fail to entertain. This book was easy to read and be swept away into the Delaney family.

Joy and Stan Delaney have been married for 50 years with four grown children who have all moved out. When a stranger named Savannah knocks on their door bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend, the Delaney’s let her in to help her.

Months later, Joy is missing, Savannah is missing as well and the four children are not sure whether Stan is to blame.

Thanks to Macmillan Audio and Libro.Fm for my review copy. All opinions are my own.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Do Not Disclose, A Memoir of Family Secrets Lost and Found by Leora Krygier

Leora Krygier is a juvenile court judge who is a second generation holocaust survivor. One night, while at her parents house, she finds a file with the words do not disclose. The file is filled with letter written to her father.

The discovery of the file prompts her to go to a thrift store where she finds a postcard with the same words. She sets out on a mission to uncover the truth about her parents past and discover the truth about the postcard as well.

This is a very well-written book that uncovers truths that had me turning the pages and feeling heart broken.

Thanks to SparkPress for my review copy. All opinions are my own.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Cold Snap: A Viking Cat Mystery by Codi Schneider

This is a sweet cozy mystery that I enjoyed. Bijou is a cat who is descended from Vikings and lives with her human,Spencer. Together, with the help of the dog skunk, they run a Pet inn.

When a murder and dognapping occur, Bijou needs to solved the mystery. I really enjoyed this book and I am an animal lover but had a hard time with the concept of a viking cat detective. I thought the story was a fun and quick read

Thanks to SparkPress for my review copy. All opinions are my own.






Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

I have read all three of the books in this series and loved them all but this book is special. Anna is a violinist whose career is stuck as she finds herself unable to play a single song to the end. When her boyfriend of 5 years announces that they are going to see other people before getting married, Anna decides to go on a dating app. Her plan: one night stands.

Who does she find? Quan. This book is more than a romance. Hoang does an amazing job of bringing Anna and her struggles with her identity to life. Her pain is palpable and I found myself having trouble breathing I was so upset.

This is Hoang’s best book yet.

Thank you to Libro.fm for my copy of this book






Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris

I watched this show before I knew that it was a book and then I obviously had to read the book as well. Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress at a bar in her small town in Louisiana. She is quiet and keeps to herself except for the fact that she can read people’s minds.

When Bill Compton comes into the bar one night, Sookie cannot hear anything he is thinking and she is quickly infatuated. The feeling is mutual. But when murders start taking place and the two suspects are Bill and Sookie’s womanizing brother, Sookie starts to question her choices. There is nothing PG about this steamy series.

When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

Avery Spark owns and runs an event hotel with her two sisters. She doesn’t really have time to date. She spends her time when she is not working with her best friend and roommate Declan.

When Avery has a car accident and Declan feels responsible, the two end up spending more time together than they ever have. Eventually, the chemistry between them is undeniable. This best friend to boyfriend romance really hit the mark for me.

Thank you Sparkpoint for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own.






Rating: 4 out of 5.


We Begin at the End by Chris Witaker

This book was recommended to me by a dear friend who I trust so much when it comes to book recommendations. She was not wrong.

Duchess Day Radley is 13 years old and extremely protective of her five year old brother and often acts as a parent to her own mother, Star. Walk is the town chief of police and has never forgiven himself for giving testimony that sent his best friend Vincent to jail for thirty years.

Now, Vincent is out of Jail and Starr is murdered. I was not prepared for the emotional punch that this book delivered with each and every page.






Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

On Location by Sarah Smith

Alia has finally received the break that she has been waiting for: a chance to produce her own show about Utah’s national parks. Everything should be perfect until the new crew member turns out to be Drew.

Drew is the man that Alia met and had an amazing date with who then ghosted her. Now, they are together in the wilderness with nowhere to escape. To make matters worse, the host of the show is MIA most of the time which is leading to disaster.

I love that Alia is a strong women who is a problem solving powerhouse. This light romance was a fun read.

Thank you Sparkpoint for my copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Name Curse by Brooke Burroughs

Bernie is nothing like her great aunt Bernice. Bernice was adventurous and spontaneous while Bernie has not taken a vacation in years.

When her friends and family convince her to go on a hike to Alaska, Bernie can’t find an excuse not to go. When she meets Matthew on the trailhead and discovers that the two will be sharing a tent, he is clearly annoyed and she questions her choices.

This romance was such a fun read. Bernie and Matthew are funny and sweet and I loved every minute.

Thank you Sparkpoint for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own.






Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

A Chanukah romance? Yes please!!! I mean, I would have been happy read this book based only on that but the fact Rachel is a Rabbi’s daughter who is secretly a best selling author of Christmas romances hooked me.

Add in a splash of romance with Jacob, Rachel’s first kiss from summer camp/ arch nemesis and this book was the perfect light romance. I loved the humor and sweetness of this book. And I would not turn down food from Jacob’s Bubbie.

Thank you Mira and Netgalley for my copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu

My daughter read this book and loved it. This is her review. “Marya’s brother is going to be a sorcerer. When an accident happens, Marya is sent to Dragomir Academy. It is a place for troubled girls.

When she is there, the Dread attacks. The Dread is a cloud-like creature that can spawn itself and destroy villages.

I really liked this book because I love magic and the girls at the school work together as a team. This book was exciting and I want to read the next one.”

Thank you Sparkpoint for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.






Rating: 4 out of 5.

Frankie and Amelia by Cammie McGogern

My daughter read this book and had so much to say. This is her review. “Franklin the cat is left behind by his family. He sits outside a window and sees a boy named Gus and his service dog. The service dog gets Gus’s parents to alert them to the cat.

Gus brings the cat to show and tell to decide who should get the car when he finds out that his dad is allergic. Amelia takes home the cat and the two love each other very much. I wont tell more so I don’t spoil the book.

I loved that the book was about a cat and that the cat found someone to love him.”

Thank you sparkpoint for my copy of this book, All opinions are my own.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The post September 2021 Novel Ideas: 30 Quick Lit Reviews appeared first on Beyond the Bookends.

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