July Reading Wrap-Up – Sock Bun Studios

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July Reading Wrap-Up

Somehow July has come and gone (sorry, the Olympics are on) and it's time to wrap up those July books! I managed to make it through six books in July before the Tokyo Olympics started and I loved all of them. Some more than others, but I can confidently say there isn't a bad one in this bunch!

Let's start with the book club pick this month:

And Now you're Back: Jill Mansell, 2021

If you've listened to the podcast at all when I talk about books, you already know that I love Jill Mansell. She's definitely my favorite go-to author when someone wants a recommendation on a fast, fun read. Her newest book, And Now You're Back sits at 370 pages and follows Jill's regular writing model - several characters with extensive backgrounds that somehow intertwines with at least three other characters. 

Meet Shay and Didi. They fell in love during a birthday trip for a high school friend to Venice 13 years ago. But, things go horribly wrong a few months later and Shay disappears. Thirteen years later, he's shown back up to fulfill the dying wish of his father and fix up their house (and his not so secret wish that Shay and Didi will get back together.) There's just one problem; Didi is engaged to be married that winter. Will they find their way back to each other? 

Obviously you know that answer is going to be yes, but it's HOW they end up back together that left me a little lackluster. I absolutely loved the overall story, the other characters of the town (I mean, I think we all know how I feel about small English villages), and how the overall events play out. But unlike 98% of Jill's other books, I just couldn't get into this book fully. Usually by page three I'm so invested I can't put the book down. This time it took me nearly a week to finish because the pacing just didn't work for me. That said, I'd still recommend it to anyone needing a fun (yet this one is also somewhat emotional) beach read. 

Moving on to all the other books this month!

The Switch: Beth O'Leary, 2020

After reading her latest book, The Road Trip last month, I couldn't wait to pick up another book by Beth O'Leary as I'd never heard of her before that. Unlike The Road Trip, The Switch was a little shorter at 336 pages and something you could easily read in a weekend like I did. 

Meet Leena and her grandmother Eileen. They, along with Leena's mother are still dealing with the after effects of the loss of Leena's sister Carla from cancer the previous year. After Leena suffers from a panic attack at work, she's sent on a two-month paid sabbatical to rest and clear her head. Something that work-obsessed Leena can't comprehend until she goes to visit her 79 year old grandmother Eileen in her tiny Yorkshire village (didn't I just mention British authors and tiny English village?) Eileen is trying to get back into dating, but that can be hard when there's only six eligible men in your age range. That's when Eileen decides to "Eileen" the situation. Why don't they trade places for two months? She'll go to London to date, and Leena can take a break in the country and help plan their May Day celebration. 

I loved this book. Beth's writing in this book felt a lot like Jill's books but also with the heavier elements of grief and life after loss. I absolutely loved Eileen and only wish I could tell my own grandma who passed away three years ago now all about it. The sign of good writing is when you have such a visceral reaction to a moment that you actually yell out to the book, and this book had a few of those moments. 

How To Love Your Neighbor: Sophie Sullivan, 2022

Where do I start? I guess I'll start by saying thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for giving me an advanced reader copy. I could not put this book down and I cannot WAIT for you all to get a chance to read it when it officially hits bookshelves next January. When I realized this was a semi-sequel to her first book (under this pen name) Ten Rules For Faking It, I actually screamed. 

Meet Noah Jansen, older brother to Chris from Ten Rules. He's officially all set up in California now and looking to make a new name for himself on the West Coast in his real estate business. What he wants more than anything though is to add a swimming pool to his own home, which means buying and demolishing the property next door. There's just one small issue, and her name is Grace. She's unlike any woman he's ever met before, which is a good thing and also his worst nightmare. Not only will she not sell him her house, but she's also a design student that ends up working on his house. This enemies-to-lovers book is so comprehensive, I feel like they're real and I need more.

I honestly don't have enough good things to say about this book. Noah and Grace are the perfect enemies to lovers combo and the chemistry absolutely jumped off the page (but in a behind closed doors way). I was laughing, I swooned, I wanted to slap Grace at times - I just couldn't get enough. Mark this down as a pre-order so you can start your 2022 with it. You won't be disappointed.

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It: Elle Cosimano, 2021

There is a REASON this book is in the "best books of 2021 so far" category on Amazon. Do not sleep on this book. The first 20-ish pages were a little stressful for me because I'm a millennial and people stressing about money stresses me out, but once I got past that, I was absolutely hooked. 

Meet Finlay, a stressed-out single mom going through a custody battle with her ex-husband who cheated on her with their real estate agent. After he let's their nanny go without telling her, and threatens for full-custody, she shows up late to a Panera to meet with her literary agent. Did I mention she's a romance killer author? It's a pretty important detail, until it isn't. During lunch, she's mistaken as an actual contract killer from a wife who wants her husband taken care of. Offering $50,000 she's offered Finlay her way out of deep holes. But surely Finlay couldn't go through with it, right? She doesn't...until she kind of does. Also, surprise! The nanny her ex fired, shows up and sees her trying to give CPR to a dead man in the garage. What's Finlay to do? 

This book is a perfect combination of I Love Lucy hijinks with modern day technology and love triangles. For a mystery killer book, I didn't know what to expect after I'd heard everyone and their mother gush over this book, but I get it now. The final page leaves you on an absolute cliff-hanger and I can hardly wait for next April for the sequel. 

The Hating Game: Sally Thorne, 2016

Y'ALL. Y'ALL. HOW?! HOW DID Y'ALL LET ME SLEEP ON THIS BOOK FOR FIVE. YEARS. Honestly, that's the electric chair for all of you that read this and didn't tell me. That said, if you're like me and you haven't read this book, run do not walk to grab this book. 

Meet Lucy and Joshua. They hate each other. Or do they? Well, Lucy may hate Josh, but Josh most certainly only loves her. Guys, I'm sorry I'm already squealing as I'm typing this out. A new position has been announced at the office and both are clearly in the running to win it. But before anything can happen there, they have to help each other out a little. First, Lucy comes down with a virus and Josh ends up taking care of her, and in return, Lucy promises to be his date to his brother's wedding. After her illness weekend, she starts to see Josh in a new way, but can they make a real relationship work? 

*Le sigh* *Big big big massive sigh*. Guys...I don't have words. Truly. When I gushed about Shipped by Angie Hockman, everyone said it was like The Hating Game met The Unhoneymooners, and they weren't wrong. It also reminded me a bit of People We Meet On Vacation (which would have taken this scene from THG) when Poppy gets sick before a vacation and Alex takes care of her, which was one of my only favorite parts of PWMOV. The ending completely shocked me and honestly was a bit rushed in my opinion. As in, I read it, screamed, "WAIT WHAT?!" and then it was just over and I flipped back saying, "WAIT.....WHAT?!" But I loved it. Definitely buying this one. Loved it.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me: Mariana Zapata, 2016

The last book I made it through in July was actually a book my friend Heather sent to me on Kindle unlimited because she's been begging me to read it since probably 2016 when it came out. This book...first of all, it's 672 pages, yes. You read that correctly. Second of all, this book was nothing like what I thought it was going to be, but in a really good way (?). 

Meet Vanessa and her boss, Aiden, the top defensive end in the NFO (a fictional NFL?). What started as a temporary job turned into a two-year stint as an underappreciated assistant. But all of that is behind her now, as she's officially quit and going out on her own as a graphic designer. Then the unthinkable happens; Aiden shows up on her doorstep saying he wants her back. Not only as his assistant, but also his wife. Yeah. He wants permanent status in America and he needs a wife to make that happen faster. How do you turn down the man who gets everything, known as The Wall of Winnipeg?

Honestly, I don't know if Love On The Sidelines on Hallmark copied this book or if Mariana copied the movie for her book, but either way I'm not mad about it. As much as I love Love On The Sidelines, I also really liked this book. It's incredibly long, more than double than the regular books I've been speeding through this year, but I read it in about two and a half days, so it's definitely a fast read. I figured it would be a pretty spicy book but surprisingly, it's an incredibly slow burner where nothing happens until literally the very end. Seriously, if Hallmark were a book that added some spice. All of that said, it's a very comprehensive book (which it should be for how many pages it is) and the relationship was really very sweet. Heather, this one's for you - you were right. 

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