September Wrap-Up – Sock Bun Studios

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September Wrap-Up

September? More like Booktember! It was a book heavy month (which is probably good because the end of October signals Countdown to Christmas and the insane goal of watching all the Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies so there won't be much time left for books in November and December) and we have much to discuss! As usual, the links are affiliated and you can find more in-depth reviews of these books in the monthly Wrap-Up podcasts at Sarah Says

Roomies: Christina Lauren, 2017

We're back with the Sock Bun Studios book club pick this month with another Christina Lauren book (can you tell when it's Jen's turn to pick books?) As we know, CL either absolutely smashes it for me, or I could take it and leave it.

When a marriage of convenience turns into a real love story, are we all winners or losers? Holland has gone out of her way many times to run into subway musician Calvin and when he saves her from a drunken attacker she thinks it's fate. But then reality sets in. Calvin is in the country illegally after his student visa expired years ago, but now that Holland's uncle has offered him a position on Broadway a solution needs to be found, and fast. Enter a marriage of convenience...or is it? 

Roomies absolutely smashed it and broke my 50/50 tie on love/hate. For such a whirlwind and rash decision, somehow the relationship actually felt very mature? It sounds like an oxymoron but it worked. I had two foregone conclusions about the book going into it and halfway through it, but the big problem wasn't anything like I thought it was going to be which made it even more refreshing. It was fun, witty, and just a solid fast read. 

The Widow Of Rose House: Diana Biller, 2019

I joined a fun book club this month called The Thirsty Wallflowers and this was their September pick. What I love about book clubs and this year of intentional reading for me in general is that it's introduced me to books I'd never pick up/authors I've never heard of. 

Alva Webster is looking for a fresh start after the death of her abusive husband that she fled three years prior. Moving back to New York City, she's excited to restore a rundown Hyde Park mansion and her reputation. It's just a shame then that the house seems to be haunted. With the help of Professor Samuel Moore, they try to uncover the tragic story surrounding her new home, while he also tries to win over Alva's heart. 

Guys...I'm not going to lie to you - I did not finish this book. I tried. I really did. I skipped around a lot so I know the overall gist of the book but I just couldn't seem to find my way through it. The book club girls talked about it with such enthusiasm I want to renew it and try again to finish it, but for some reason I just couldn't stay focused on it long enough to read past 26% done. 

Accidentally Engaged: Farah Heron, 2021

Last January I read The Matchmaker's List by Sonya Lalli and found myself hiding laughter on the airplane back from California, so I was excited to try this new book by Farah Heron because it seemed somewhat similar. "We don't have daddy issues, we have Indian parents. That shit runs deep." is the best way I can describe both books, while also not being Indian myself. 

Nadim has moved in across the hall from Reena and is set to marry her. It's a shame then that Reena has absolutely no plans to marry Nadim - much to her parents' chagrin. But after a drunken night and one playful cooking video gets submitted for a new cooking show featuring couples, they have no choice but to pretend to be engaged for it. Just as long as no one in her family finds out. They say you can't fake chemistry, and the camera isn't lying. As they progress through the competition, can they stay "just friends" or was Reena's father right after all?

This book was laugh out loud funny and at the same time, bang your head against a wall frustrating. I guess that's what Reena means when she says she and Nadim don't have daddy issues, they have Indian parents? There's so many secrets being kept in Reena's family, and Reena and Nadim's budding relationship that you just want to scream, even though on one hand you can understand why Reena is so hesitant to open up. It was a solid 4/5 read for me and I'm definitely adding Farah to my author list to read other books by her.

Just Last Night: Mhairi McFarlane, 2021

Mhairi McFarlane has quickly become one of those authors that I just know I'm going to gain revelations while reading an otherwise "chick lit/romcom" style book. I read If We Never Met last year and fell in love with her writing, but admittedly couldn't get into You Had Me At Hello that I tried reading last month, so I was a little unsure of this book. All my fears were pretty quickly displaced, because I loved this book. I read it in three days and cried at a few parts. It was nothing like I expected but everything a great book should be. 

Sometimes family is who you pick. For Eve, she feels that way about her three best friends; Susie, Ed, and Justin. They've been friends since they were teens, and now in their mid 30s, their friend group is still as strong as ever. That is, until tragedy hits. In the aftermath of one fateful Thursday trivia night, Eve learns secrets that will change her views on her friends forever. 

Two weeks before I started college I lost one of my cousin's to a drunk driving accident. The college nurse told me that I was dealing with PTSD when I still couldn't get behind the wheel of a car a month later and woke up from nightmares. That was nearly 20 years ago and all those "what if" fear memories I had came rushing back with this book. It's hard to live life after a tragic accident to a young person. Eve's navigating her loss felt poignant and lighthearted while also not shying away from harder emotions. The final pages left me a wreck in only a way that you could feel having gone through a similar situation. This is a 5/5 must read on my list! 

Portrait of a Scotsman: Evie Dunmore, 2021

Finally we get book 3 in the League of Extraordinary Women series! I sped read Bringing Down The Duke and A Rogue of One's Own earlier this year in a week and have been not so patiently waiting to read this. I assumed it'd be much like Lisa Kleypas Wallflower series book three with St. Vincent and Evie but it wasn't. Almost at all. 

Harriet Greenfield is not entirely the shy reserving daughter of London magnate Julien Greenfield that one would expect. After running away once again from her protection officer, Hattie meets the piratical Scottish businessman, Lucian up close and personal and it's all downhill from there. A week later and a fateful "lean in" kiss, Hattie and Lucian are hastily married but all is not well. Can Lucian, who quickly falls for Hattie, prove that he actually loves her? Or will Hattie get her annulment she wants? I guess we'll see if a trip to Scotland can change her mind first.

By the time I finished the book, I loved it. But it was a very "trust the process" book for me. Putting myself in Hattie's shoes, not knowing Lucian's side, and giving it the time period, I can understand her hesitancy and reluctance. That said, I was hitting my head against the wall a few times at her flippancy when it was clear that Lucian was in love with her. His story was better than I imagined it to be and in the end, their union and relationship might be the most secure? All I really need to know though, having finished it - WHERE is a book 4 for Catriona?! This says "book 3 of 3" of the series, and I just *can't* abide by us not seeing Catriona with the Duke's brother that was teased in the first book.

Down London Road: Samantha Young, 2013

Book 2 of 6 in the On Dublin Street series, I couldn't WAIT to read this. But then I read it...and I...there are no words. None. I love this book and this series so much I literally *cannot* stand it. I can't. I CAN'T. (Imagine that in the TikTok sound). I know this one is about Jo and Cam, but it's still pretty much all about Braden Carmichael for ME. 

Johanna has the reputation of being a gold digger, but what if that's only skin deep? She may date rich men, but it's only for the benefit of her younger teenaged brother Cole that she takes care of away from their drunken mother. But then she meets Cameron MacCabe. He's her age, tattooed, and definitely not rich. And yet...he may just be the perfect person for her after all. 

Y'all...when I tell you that I screamed at two things: one, when Jo faces her biggest obstacle she actually reaches out to Joss and Braden and it was so freaking satisfying to see the character development. It honestly shocked me. And TWO, I vaguely remembered the title of the next book in the series so when Olivia, who we meet in this book, mentions signing her lease for Jamaica Lane I legitimately lost it shouting knowing the next book was about her. Even better was calling it from towards the ending that her love interest is Nate, Cam's best friend. This was EVERYTHING I could have hoped for in a second book, I mean it when I can't stand it. Joss and Braden and Ellie and Adam and Elodie's Sunday lunches - everything I loved from book 1 carried into book 2. Just, just read this series. I don't know what else to say about it. 

Talk Bookish To Me: Kate Bromley, 2021

Kara Sullivan knows all about love - well, mostly from romance books, but she writes all the best parts of it. Except, lately she's been stumped on her latest book which is quickly approaching deadline day. If that weren't enough to stress about, her best friend's wedding is around the corner and guess who just happens to be the groom's best friend since childhood? None other than her first and only love from college, Ryan Thompson. They didn't end well and have had ten years to deal with the fallout. But one deal with the bride lands them in the same apartment for a week. What could possibly go wrong? Or maybe right?

Y'all. YALL. I CANNOT with this story. It was amazing. Top to bottom, start to finish, I couldn't put it down. Which was a good thing since I had basically one day to read it before it was due back at the library through the Libby app. It was funny, sarcastic as hell, fast paced. It has all the makings for a perfect book turned movie plot. The secret Ryan is keeping was predictable and then also with a twist like a knife right to the chest. The story had me so sucked in, I found myself asking what I would do in Kara's situation. Her trip to Italy took me back to all my fun days running around Rome in college, and then the ending was just heart clutching good. IT'S A MUST READ FOR ME.

It Happened One Summer: Tessa Bailey, 2021

Piper Bellinger has it all; money, looks, fame, until she doesn't. Known for being an LA party girl, Piper decides to thrown an illegal rooftop pool party after her latest breakup and her stepfather has had enough. Cut off for three months, Piper is sent back to her original roots to costal Washington. Along with her younger sister, Hannah, the girls reconnect to a life they barely remember before their father was swept away at sea as a fisherman and their mother fled to the Hollywood hills to forget it all. No one thinks she'll last, least of all town local and favorite, Brendan Taggart. Captain Brendan Taggart that is. The two immediately clash, but there's just something about Piper that he can't say no to. Maybe Piper should have headed her mother's advice about being careful around the manly fishermen a little harder. Or maybe, Piper has finally found the place where she belongs.

I have tried to get my hands on this book since the beginning of summer or I think even before that because of a few authors I follow talking about it. Now I know why it was so hard to get a copy from the library. I had to laugh because it's another fairly spicy book masquerading behind a cute illustrated cover. I'm not mad about it! But...fair warning! You know I have an infinity for Scottish men lately, but surly fishermen I can get behind if they're like Brendan. I...speechless. I don't know what part I loved more, him joining instagram just to see her account, him building her a pergola, or him being concerned while he's away that she's eating the wrong takeout. I was literally whooping and fist pumping when Piper admitted she loved him first and when I read the final page and then saw that next March there's going to be a sequel for her sister and Fox I actually screamed "YES!" I am in a word, obsessed. 

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