Happy Hallowthanksmas everyone! It's the October wrap-up blog post that goes along with the Sarah Says October Wrap-Up podcast, and by the time this is done, I'll be head first in a million new Hallmark Christmas movies! Yay! No time to talk, let's get into the books I read this month! *As always, there are affiliate links in this post!
Witch Please: Ann Aguirre, 2021
This was simultaneously the book pick for SBS, as well as the new book club I'm in, and to be honest, I didn't love it and neither did anyone in the book club. It's not bad, it just also wasn't good exactly.
Meet the Waterhouse witches, Danica and her cousin Clementine. They're modern day witches who own a repair shop in a small town, casting their helpful spells with no one the wiser. A few streets over, you have Titus, aka CinnaMan. He's the town's baker, and even better? Single and attractive. When the two meet, it's instant sparks, literally and figuratively. However, as a "mundane" aka muggle, Danica tries to stay away to appease her Gram. But, sometimes, that's easier said than done. Can Danica really have her cinnamon roll and eat it too?
Rereading the bullet points of this synopsis, I guess I shouldn't surprised why this book was a little odd to me. Titus is a bisexual, virgin and convinced he's under a hex (spoiler alert - he is, and finding that out towards the end did make me laugh out loud). The randomness of ex relationships, one of them being a woman who then fell in love with his sister, seemed superfluous to the overall storyline. The whole book honestly comes down to Danica and Clem's grandma being a lying, manipulative, bigot and the showdown could have been more? Or less? I don't really know. I just know that I sped read through it because I didn't love it. At least I finished reading it though, which is more than I can say for other books this year! There's a second book surrounding her cousin Clementine coming out in April of 2022 and I'm currently on the fence on if I'll read that one or not. I guess time will tell!
Fall From India Place: Samantha Young, 2014
It wouldn't be me if I didn't practically start a month off without a Samantha Young book. Guys when I tell YOU...Marco may be my new favorite. I wasn't sure how it would work moving ahead in the storyline to Hannah, who the last time we saw her was seventeen, but it was *high pitched voice* so freaking cute to see everyone else with their babies I *squeals.*
Hannah Nichols has only ever loved one man, Marco D'Alessandro. Since he walked her home one fateful day when she was fourteen, she's known he was the one for her. But, after one night at India Place when she's seventeen, Marco leaves and Hannah is left to pick up the pieces of her life. Five years later, who should she run into at a colleague's wedding? Marco. Of course. He's ready to prove that he made a mistake and he's the man she deserves now, but is it too late? They both have secrets that they'll need to air out before they can live the future they want, but will those secrets be too much to get past? NOT ON SAMANTHA YOUNG'S WATCH I'LL TELL YA THAT MUCH!
Guys. Guys. *cracks fingers, swoons, big sighs, deep breath exhale* WHEN I TELL YOU. I can't stop with these books. I pick them up and they're like my own form of crack. I can't stop until I'm done. I've loved all the stories, but something about Hannah and Marco was just...more. I think part of it was because we've grown with them from Hannah telling Jo in her old childhood bedroom at Sunday dinners when she was fourteen, to Liv staging interventions at D'Alessandro's at seventeen. I won't lie, there was a point where I wanted to shake Hannah, but the thing about Samantha's writing is, she knows exactly how the reader is feeling and anticipates it by having at least one voice of reason in the book - Hannah being the biggest voice of reason in this one. Everyone else has their say too but Hannah can point blank point out her own faults throughout this book. Obviously they have a happen ending and as Joss points out - Marco may actually out-Braden, Braden. And I didn't even know that was possible. ONTO COLE'S STORY NEXT *squeals*
The Santa Suit: Mary Kay Andrews, 2021
Mary Kay Andrews has caught my eye a few times this year for her books but I've yet to pick any of them up until now. You know I'm all in for cute Christmas books, especially when they're short since I have a lot coming up and need fun fast reads. But sometimes, fun fast reads can be too fast?
Ivy Perkins is shaking up her life on her own terms this time. Finding out her husband and business partner had cheated on her was devastating, but now she's moving on and moving to a new zip code sight unseen. The Four Roses farm seemed okay from photos, but maybe she should have visited it before buying? Cleaning out the fully furnished house was a task she wasn't prepared for, but when she finds a handmade Santa suit in one of the closets including a handwritten letter from a little girl asking Santa to bring her daddy back from war, Ivy can't get the thought of finding the girl out of her mind. Starting over can be hard, but starting over in a small town could just be what Ivy has needed all along.
Okay, it's a novella. That's what this comes down to for me. Was it cute? Yeah. Was it choppy? Also yes. If it had been more fleshed out and a whole actual book, this would be a must read. As is, it's a "want a fun, quick Christmas read? Great!" but I wouldn't buy the book to keep forever. I am definitely waiting for Hallmark to turn this into a movie though, full stop. I will say though, the ending was something I should have seen coming but I didn't and I love when that happens. I sort of thought the mystery of the little girl and the letter would end up only semi-resolved, but where's the fun in that? I won't give it away, but yeah, the ending got me and that's the main reason why I'm waiting on Hallmark to turn it into a movie too - most likely over on Movies and Mysteries. Hallmark! Email me! Let's talk!
The Holiday Swap: Maggie Knox, 2021
There's maybe nothing I love more than having one of my friends or followers tag me on Instagram about something that makes them think of me. I was tagged a few weeks ago in a post about Maggie Knox's first book, The Holiday Swap, because she said it reminded her of a Hallmark movie. It does, coincidentally, follow part of the same plot as the 2017 Candace Cameron Bure movie, Switched For Christmas. Obviously you know I had to read it.
Twin sisters Cass and Charlie are identical in looks and jobs, but that's where the similarities stop. Charlie went off to culinary school and now co-hosts a baking show on TV, while Cass stayed in their small town to help carry on their family's bakery legacy. Now, twelve days before Christmas, the two are stress baking their way through their respective jobs when crisis strikes. Charlie is hit on the head with cascading pots and pans and is knocked unconscious. Coming to, she's checked out and finds she has a serious concussion and has lost her sense of taste and smell. She calls Cass asking for a major favor - she needs them to trade places like they used to as children. She's on track to get her own hosting gig, but she can't possibly wow anyone when she can smell what she's baking. Cass finds her own silver lining in this idea; her long-time boyfriend Brett has proposed when she's ready to end things once and for all. Maybe taking a break and switching it up isn't the worst thing for either of them. But one simple switch yields a white lie that spirals out of control when hometown firefighter Jake and physician assistant Miguel enter the picture. With only twelve days to Christmas, anything is possible.
This book was so cute and funny and had the drama that wasn't overly dramatic that made it perfect for a Christmas book. This is what we call a perfect fluff piece that leaves you with all the warm fuzzies you want at the holiday season. It was also an extremely fast read, as I found myself turning page after page to find out what the girls were going to do next. The only sad part is it's Maggie's only book so far, so I don't have anything of her's to move on to next, because I will definitely be reading more from her.
Echoes of Scotland Street: Samatha Young, 2014
I've said it earlier in this blog post, but I'll say it again, the On Dublin Street series is my own form of crack. It's great because when I want to fit a quick book in, I know these will be under 36 hours - more like under 24 hour read. The bad side of that coin is, I read them so fast all I want to do is then go back and restart it. I didn't know what exactly to expect from Cole baby's book - I mean, when we first met him he was a nerdy, shy teenager who was dealing with his alcoholic mother's abuse and standing up for his sister Jo to Cam when they didn't get along. But when I say FIRE. F I R E. LITERAL. FLAMES. Kiddies...BUCKLE UP.
Shannon MacLeod is a magnet for bad boys. First meeting as 15 year old's on a stoop outside of Scotland Street (hello anyone else remember Liv walking by Cole talking to "a cute red head" at Ellie and Adam's new place?????? *SQUEALS*), Shannon walks away from Cole and feels in that moment that she's made a mistake. Nine years later and a string of bad boys later, the latest leaving the worst mark on her, Shannon and Cole meet again, this time when she walks in to his tattoo shop he manages looking for a job. Determined not to make another mistake, she ices Cole out, seeing his outer tattooed persona as bad boy incarnate. But Cole being Cole, and seeing the likes of Braden, Adam, Cam, Nate, and Marco, fight for their relationships is determined to make her see that he's the real deal. Trusting Cole is the hardest thing Shannon has ever done, but she's ready to go big or go home.
Guys, I...I'm speechless. I really am. Shannon had every instinct and inclination to never trust Cole, but she puts in the work. When she tries to both appease her (crappy) family but keep Cole, it was actually Cole that made me want to punch a wall and I actually loved that turn of events? I fully expected Shannon to get spooked, much like Joss with Braden in book 1, but instead once Shannon gives her trust to Cole, she's all in. I thought I loved Hannah and Marco's book - and I do. But Cole really came for it all in this book. As per her ush, Samantha seamlessly weaved in all of our other characters - the tribe as they're referred to here, and it made me squeal even more. Hannah and Marco are having a second baby, Joss is on her fifth book being released, Jo and Cam's baby Belle is turning four. I just...my heart runneth over with love for this series and I'll be truly sad to leave them in the last book focusing on Shannon's brother, Logan.
Moonlight on Nightingale Way: Samantha Young, 2015
Book six already?! I wasn't sure how I was going to like this one when I originally was reading the plot lines because we didn't know Logan originally. But then I read Cole and Shannon's book and could not wait to dive in. As soon as I downloaded the book I flipped immediately to the end to see the epilogue because I had to know if everyone got an ending - and spoiler alert - they did and it was SO CUTE.
Logan MacLeod is officially a free man and making up for lost time. Done serving his time for attacking Shannon's abusive ex, Logan is Braden's right hand man at Fire and quickly becoming known as Edinburgh's king of one-night stands. One person who is not happy about it? His neighbor, Grace. She's a freelance book editor who is in need of a solid night's sleep and a front door not covered in vomit from his latest conquest. The two square off multiple times, and it's during one of their rows that they meet Maia, a fifteen year old with the same violet eyes as Logan and Shannon who claims to be his daughter. Now trying to find a balance for himself and Maia, can Logan see that he really does deserve it all with Grace? And can Grace let go of her own messed up past to accept his love?
Guys. GUYS. Samantha Young crushed this series ender in the best possible ways. Logan and Braden are so similar that I love their book ends to this series. He and Grace are so wonderful for each other and their conflict happens sort of in reverse order, so it was also a refreshing plot line. I couldn't have possibly asked for more in the epilogue endings, other than for this series to never end. Add some extra tables at Elodie and Clark's I say! This series overall is a 10/10 must read for me.
The Ex Hex: Erin Sterling, 2021
Guys I got it!! The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling was easily the hardest book to get my hands on this year so far, but I'm proud to say that I got my hands on it from the Libby app just before Halloween and finished it on October 31st. Not that I wouldn't have read it past then, I just wanted to get through it before spooky season ended, and I'm so happy to say that I did!
Never mix vodka and witchcraft. Not just a catchy slogan to sell on shirts and tea towels, Vivi knows it's the family motto. But being nineteen and dealing with heartbreak is too much to deal with sans vodka. This is how we find Vivienne Jones when we meet her. Soaking in a bath with every candle in the house lit, crying over Rhys Penhallow. Once her cousin Gwyn returns to find her in such a state, the pair drunkenly decide to hex Rhys over an orchard hayride candle. What can possibly happen?! Apparently a lot! Nine years later, Rhys, Vivi, and Gwyn are about to find out that curses over an orchard hayride candle are very much real, and they only have a few weeks before Halloween to reverse it before Rhys, and their beloved town of Graves Glen cease to exist.
This book was a quick 303 page read, which made it easier to get though in a short amount of time, and I appreciate that in a holiday read. It felt very Practical Magic to me, much more than Witch Please did, and yet I was still missing something. I'm not exactly sure what is miss, but something is. That said, it gets a very hearty 4.5/5 star rating from me and a must read badge of approval either this year or next spooky season! Rhys was thoroughly entertaining and I loved all the nods of magic in the town that instantly made you want to book a visit to Graves Glen, Georgia.