My October 2023 reads

Another month, another stack of great books.

Once again, I was transported around the world through my reading. October began for me alongside the overinvolved ballet moms of a California dance school as they pushed their daughters to win an exclusive scholarship with the Ballet de Paris Academie. Next, I was snowed in at a luxury lodge, trapped with a dysfunctional family and a murderer on the loose.

October 2023 reads

Afterwards, I traveled from wet England to sun-drenched Mallorca with a fun-loving group of sixty-year-olds who teach a retired workaholic that it’s never to late to learn how to live. Then I jetted to New York to follow a workaholic lawyer who meets a handsome, successful guy. He’s perfect … well, all except for the fact that he refuses to date lawyers. And I wrapped up the month flying over from London to remote Ireland, to discover family secrets from the past.

All were great, page-turning reads. All five were women’s fiction and contemporary reads. The latter is odd for me, as I’m mostly mixing contemporaries with historicals. Three of the five were also romace reads, or had strong romantic elements. All five were also NetGalley reads, meaning they’ve released recently or are about to be released … so you’ll want to check these out.

Truly enjoyed my October reads!


The Still PointThe Still Point cover

Tammy Greenwood

“You moms. You’re worse than we are, you know. You’re supposed to be the grown-ups, but when it comes down to it, you’re all vicious and jealous and awful.”

Truth be told, while I love opera and classical music, I’ve never been much of a ballet fan. But I love stories of hypercompetitive environments, where parents are trying to live (or relive) dreams through their child. And this is what I got in The Still Point.

This novel revolves around a southern California ballet school, where the moms are way too involved in their daughters’ lives. The story is told through alternating perspectives of ballet moms Ever, Lindsay and Josie, and Ever’s daughter, Bea. Competition is mild until the day ballet bad boy Etienne Bernay arrives from Paris, with his distinctive teaching style, and offering a full scholarship to the Ballet de Paris Academie … for one lucky girl.

“May the best young woman win” isn’t an option with this clutch of clingy ballet moms, and the tensions rise, both between once cordial mothers and the girls who have trained together from first grade. The alternating chapters move the action along and I enjoyed the various perspectives mad this an enjoyable tale. That said, I’m sure ballet moms or those who love ballet would enjoy it more and recognize the grueling practices and certain types. An enjoyable, voyeuristic view into the world of ballet.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


The LodgeThe Lodge cover

Sue Watson

Your former mother-in-law invites you to a remote, British lodge in the dead of winter for a family gathering to create a pleasing family tableau and celebrate her seventy-fifth birthday. A brutal snowstorm keeps you trapped in the lodge, with no possibility of getting out or anyone getting in. Your fellow guests include your grown children, your ex-husband, the second, younger wife who he cheated on you with in a very public manner, their new baby, and the young woman who would like to be his next love interest.

What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, apparently.

I enjoyed this twisty tale of family drama and dysfunction, told through the perspectives of Fiona, Wife Number One, and Dani, The Replacement Wife. This is my second Sue Watson novel, and it’s a fast, engaging read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


The Old Ducks’ Hen DoOld Ducks' Hen Do cover

Maddie Please

It’s never too late for second chances. In Mallorca.

Denny has just turned sixty, and she’s surprised to find herself adrift.

She has never married, nor had children, but has prided herself in pouring all of her energies into her work – to the extent of never taking vacations, certain the office couldn’t do without her. Sadly, she learns the office can do just fine when they place her on early retirement.

As she wallows in pity, her older stepsister, Juliette, invites Denny to escape Britain’s dreary weather on her bachelorette/hen holiday to Mallorca. There, Denny finds herself embraced by a feisty and fun-loving clutch of older women. Lifelong friends of Juliette, the Old Ducks quickly take Denny under their collective wings. Slowly, Denny crawls out of her shell and realizes she’s been sidelined most of her life, laser-focused only on work, while never truly living.

Enter former college love – aka The One Who Got Away. Between The Old Ducks and working through her feelings with her ex, Denny learns it’s never too late for second chances – in both life and love. This was a fun, feel-good novel, with amusing banter and reflections on embracing second (and third, and fourth) chances.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


Love Is An ArtLove Is An Art cover

Kathy Strobos

I’ve read all of Strobos’ novels, and I was pleased to discover her newest release, a fast-paced women’s fiction/romance read.

Tessa is an ambitious, New York corporate lawyer, reeling from a painful break-up and certain she’ll never meet the right guy. When her artist apartment-mate needs help unmasking a possible art scammer who is preying on struggling artists, Tessa offers her help posing as a gullible artist/possible target at an art opening. She certainly isn’t expecting to meet handsome, successful Zeke. Maybe she’s been too hasty writing off all men?

There’s definite chemistry between Tessa and Zeke, but Tessa can’t let her friend down and drop her cover. And Zeke’s’ just come off a disastrous relationship with a lawyer – and vowed to never make the same mistake twice. How long can a decidedly artistically-challenged Tessa get away with impersonating an artist? And can love destined to last be constructed on lies?

This story is told through the alternating perspectives of Tessa and Zeke, and it was a fun, romantic read that also tackles the pressures of career women caught up in competitive office politics, not even certain if they’re fighting for what they truly want. A fun, romantic and fast-paced read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


The Irish Lake HouseThe Irish Lake House cover

Colleen Coleman

I picked this book up because it boasted a scenic lake house off the western coast of Ireland and a young woman from London determined to fit together the mysterious pieces of her mother’s past. What’s not to love? Thankfully, execution perfectly matched expectations, and I greatly enjoyed this novel.

Daisy Clarke hasn’t had an easy start at life. Her dearly loved mother died when Daisy was only ten, beginning Daisy’s gloomy shuffle through modern-day orphanages. Despite a bruised heart, she’s managed to work her way through minimum wage jobs and to work as a children’s book illustrator. Like most young Londoners, she struggles to make ends meet, but she and her boyfriend are dreaming of getting on the first rung of the real estate ladder.

The surprising news that she’s inherited a lake house on the western coast of Ireland comes at a perfect time. The sale of the estate will solve Daisy’s financial problems. But when Daisy and her best friend, Kayla, journey to Ireland to complete the legal work, Daisy is bent on discovering the mysteries of her mother’s past and is increasingly drawn to life in the bucolic town her mother was so eager to escape.

This was an enjoyable, page-turning tale of family, love, opportunities lost and found, and strange turns of fate. I enjoyed rooting for Daisy and watching her grow and thrive as she explores Irish village life. An engaging, heartwarming story.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


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