Recent Reads, September 2023

I am having one of those months where I can’t quite decide what I want to read – I think I’ve picked up and started at least four different books, and then put them down and picked up something else because I just wasn’t in the mood for them! I will return to them eventually, once I figure out what exactly I am in the mood for. But here’s what I did read in September!

Enchanted to Meet You by Meg Cabot

I was incredibly into all of The Princess Diaries books when I was younger, so when I friend shared this Meg Cabot book, it seemed like a great book for fall! Jessica Gold owns a clothing boutique in the same town she grew up in – she’s a witch, but has been chastened a bit since a spell she did in high school went kind of off-the-rails. Then one day, a strange man comes into her shop, telling her that she’s the “Chosen One” who must help the “Bringer of Light,” a high school girl, save the town from ruin. She’s skeptical at first, but things do seem to be going wrong all over town. This book was fine, but not for me – I learned that “insta-love” is not a trope I enjoy, and the ending was a bit disappointing.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I loved this book about the power of books and stories! A.J. Fikry is a bookstore owner on a small island, who lives alone in an apartment above the bookstore after his wife died very young. Then one day, a small child is abandoned at the shop, and while he says there’s no way he can be a father, he finds there’s also no way he can not be a father, and his life is changed. The book is written backwards – Fikry is writing letters to someone about the importance of different books he read throughout his life at the beginning of each chapter. This is by the same author as Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and while the content is very different, the writing is just as beautiful. It’s a moving story about the power of books and love.

Pride and Prejudice and Pittsburgh by Rachel Lippincott

The minute I saw Pittsburgh in the title, I knew that I had to read this book! It’s kind of a modern take on Outlander, or Bridgerton with some time travel thrown in. Audrey, a high schooler, just found out that her boyfriend who broke up with her has already moved on to someone new, and she’s been waitlisted to her dream art college, with no inspiration for the new portfolio they’ve asked her to submit. Then, after a strange interaction with a regular at her family’s convenience store, she finds herself in 1812, where she meets Lucy – a girl whose controlling father has just decreed she’ll marry a bitter older man she definitely doesn’t love. Lucy agrees to let Audrey stay at Lucy’s estate while her father is out of town, and tries to help Audrey figure out how to get back home. The two become friends, and both start to think there’s maybe something more… and maybe they can help each other? It was a little predictable, but sweet.

Reign by Katharine McGee

This is the final book in the American Royals series, and picks up right where the last one left off – spoilers for the previous books ahead, skip to the next review if you haven’t read them yet! Beatrice is in a coma after a car accident, and Samantha has run away with her boyfriend, leaving Jefferson to be the acting monarch for the time being. I don’t want to give away what happens, but I did like that the love triangles / relationships and futures for Beatrice, Samantha, Jefferson, Daphe, and Nina were all tied up nicely. It was a fun ending to all of their stories!

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan

This was a sweet YA queer romance – Morgan is a queer athlete who recently transferred schools after some unknown drama with her previous team. On her first day she “runs into” Ruby, a beauty pageant car aficionado who is maybe not straight, but definitely not out. The two start to develop a friendship (and a will-they-or-won’t-they almost relationship), but Morgan gave up a lot to be openly out and isn’t willing to keep a new relationship secret, and Ruby isn’t ready to be out. There’s typical high school drama, beauty pageants, and even a grand gesture. It was a sweet high school romance, though at times I was hoping for a little more depth.

The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin

I got an ARC of this book through NetGalley, but it’s out now! Sarah Slade is a therapist and a self-help writer slash influencer who has just moved with her husband to an old house in a wealthy town. She’s decided that renovating the house will make great online content, and they got an amazing deal on the house because it was the location of a murder years ago. She’s also hoping it serves as a bit of a fresh start for her marriage, which is not in a great place. Instead, though, lots of strange things start to happen – weird interactions with neighbors, major snags with the renovations – and keep getting stranger and stranger. I had a few moments while reading this book where I wasn’t sure what was real and what was in Sarah’s head! It’s a good “spooky season” psychological thriller.

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