Featured Slider

My Girlish Whims Book Club #45

We are in the dog days of summer over here - not that I would really know because most days are pretty much the same cycle of feeding, changing, and playing with babies on a three hour cycle, hah.  Occasionally we get to do the cycle in other places: I took the boys to Sea Isle City in New Jersey in June for a few days to enjoy some time with my mom at the beach and camp out in my parent's RV! 


It was a bit of an adventure taking the boys to the beach: each baby had their own meltdown at different times but somehow I still managed to read my kindle for a few hot minutes while feeding Jack and Tyler napped on me. This is one of the main reasons why I still love reading off of a kindle at times instead of a real book because it is much easier to hold when your hands are full!!!


The best day of the trip was when we went and explored Cape May for the day.  We shopped, ate seafood outside for lunch, and even visited a winery! God bless Nana for giving a helping hand throughout it all, because that kind of day trip is definitely not something I could handle alone with two babies but we had such a fun time exploring. For night time sleep we set their travel cribs up in the main living area of the RV, put their sound machine on, and drew down the blackout curtains the RV already had installed and luckily they went to bed pretty easily every night.  After they were settled my mom and I would gather up our wine, books and cross-stitching (my mom's favorite hobby) and hang out in the screened in gazebo at our campsite and read and relax until we were ready for bed when we would sneak back into the RV to go bed without waking any babies up (surprisingly it worked!!!)


I finished up The Perfect Mother while I was on this trip, and here is my review of that and the other three books I read since my last set of reviews!

This post contains affiliate links


The Hotel Nantucket

By Elin Hilderbrand . Synopsis from Amazon:

My Girlish Whims Book Club #44

It's basically summer and I am in full on summer reading mode! I am flying through my books lately and even got to do some reading on the beach when we took the boys down to Chincoteague Island on our first trip away with them last month.


Our first trip away as a family definitely was a lot more work and prep than our trips down to Chincoteague in the past, but I fully expected that bringing twin infants along, hah.  It was still nice to have a change of scenery and to get out around the town with the boys!


Main Street on Chincoteague has a bunch of little shops and pretty water views so the first morning we were there while my hubby was working (perks of working from home - you can do it anywhere!) I drove into town, put the boys in their stroller and walked around to take it all in.  I hit up a coffee shop/wine shop, book store, and even the grocery store! I felt very accomplished doing that all with a double stroller and two babies in tow. The book store had to get a ladder out to unlock their other front door so we could fit through the entryway (I am a wide load with the stroller these days, hah.) I always enjoy visiting local small book shops while traveling and I perused all the new releases on their shelves (looking back on it, I wish I would have bought The Lioness, that's on my to-read list for sure!) but ultimately walked away with just two cute little pony themed books for the boys.


It rained a bit on our trip but we still had a nice time hanging around the family beach house and dock behind it, visiting our favorite outdoor beach bar and drinking fresh grapefruit crushes, and the sun came out on our last full day so we could hit up the beach as well! We will be back down for a full week in August with my in-laws and we are definitely looking forward to it.


I got one book finished while away in Chincoteague and started another so it's due time for my round up: here are the reviews of my most recent books since my last set of book reviews!

This post contains affiliate links


By Emily Henry.  Synopsis from Amazon:
One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming...Nora Stephens' life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

 

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

 

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.


My favorite thing about Emily Henry is her dialogue between the main characters in her books - there is always such dry comic banter that always makes me smile. Even if I cringed just a bit at some of the over-the-top small town charm vibes depicted for Sunshine Falls, I still definitely enjoyed reading this book. I liked how Nora was a bit brash but a bit broken, how Libby was so loving and her exaggerated, over-the-top personality, and the love story struggle with Charlie. Henry is a writer who writes about writers or those in the literary world who always poke fun at the typical tropes in fiction stories, all the meanwhile Henry goes ahead and sticks to those typical tropes as well. This was an enjoyable rom-com and a quick and easy chick-lit read for me!


The Latecomer

By Jean Hanff Korelitz . Synopsis from Amazon:

The Latecomer follows the story of the wealthy, New York City-based Oppenheimer family, from the first meeting of parents Salo and Johanna, under tragic circumstances, to their triplets born during the early days of IVF. As children, the three siblings – Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally – feel no strong familial bond and cannot wait to go their separate ways, even as their father becomes more distanced and their mother more desperate. When the triplets leave for college, Johanna, faced with being truly alone, makes the decision to have a fourth child. What role will the “latecomer” play in this fractured family?

A complex novel that builds slowly and deliberately, The Latecomer touches on the topics of grief and guilt, generational trauma, privilege and race, traditions and religion, and family dynamics. It is a profound and witty family story from an accomplished author, known for the depth of her character studies, expertly woven storylines, and plot twists.

This was my first book by Jean Hanff Korelitz and I am officially obsessed. I just loved her writing style! It was descriptive, deadpan funny at times, and oh so enjoyable. The Plot has been on my TBR list forever ever since Elin Hilderbrand (my fave) recommended it, but I just never got around to reading it so The Latecomer (which I got to read before it was released thanks to NetGalley) was my first from her and definitely won’t be my last! The book essentially is split into 3 different sections that follow three different parts of the Oppenheimer family and I loved each and every one. You really get to know six different characters throughout the novel and each one of them draws you into their story and you become extremely invested in their lives, struggles and ambitions.  The book is decently long and covers some heavy topics on grief, race, religion, sexuality and privilege but even with some heavy subject matter I still enjoyed it and looked forward to picking it up every time. I look forward to reading more of her writing!

By Ellery Lloyd. Synopsis from Amazon: 

To her adoring fans, Emmy Jackson, aka @the_mamabare, is the honest “Instamum” who always tells it like it is. 

To her skeptical husband, a washed-up novelist who knows just how creative Emmy can be with the truth, she is a breadwinning powerhouse chillingly brilliant at monetizing the intimate details of their family life.

To one of Emmy’s dangerously obsessive followers, she’s the woman that has everything—but deserves none of it. 

As Emmy’s marriage begins to crack under the strain of her growing success and her moral compass veers wildly off course, the more vulnerable she becomes to a very real danger circling ever closer to her family.

In this deeply addictive tale of psychological suspense, Ellery Lloyd raises important questions about technology, social media celebrity, and the way we live today. Probing the dark side of influencer culture and the perils of parenting online, People Like Her explores our desperate need to be seen and the lengths we’ll go to be liked by strangers. It asks what—and who—we sacrifice when make our private lives public, and ultimately lose control of who we let in. . . .

I decided to read this book after reading The Club in my last set of reviews and enjoying it. This book was written prior to The Club being released and gaining popularity and I realized I already owned it from grabbing it on Book of the Month awhile ago. This book was pretty interesting to me because of the subject matter - it's mostly based on an instagram "influencer" which is somehow a title that I have fallen into as well, so I enjoyed seeing the author portray Emmy in that role and how they perceived influencing to work. I found a few things amusing - the fact that if Emmy truly had a million followers she NEVER would have had time to reply to every single comment and DM.  I only have 133,000 followers and I can't keep up! The fact that everything was so fake for instagram irked me because I keep everything very real on my page...but it obviously made for a good fiction novel.  I didn't realize until after I read The Club that Ellery Lloyd is actually a husband/wife writing team, and I think the pair of them worked well in this book as the story alternated viewpoints from the husband Dan and wife Emmy's point of view which I enjoyed.  The book hits on some potentially triggering subject matter around infant loss which I read while literally breastfeeding one of my twins - talk about sucker punch to the gut there, man! Despite that, I read this one pretty quickly and enjoyed it overall.

By Rebecca Serle. Synopsis from Amazon:

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: to Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

I really enjoyed this book for a quick summer read! Although the book focuses heavily on grief from the death of Katy's mom, it's not a sad book overall but more of a coming of age with a little romance thrown in all in a beautiful setting.  It only took me around 5 days to finish this one through Memorial Day weekend  (which is saying a lot while I still take care of twin infants!) so it's a quick read but an enjoyable one. The premise of the book: Katy's dead mother shows up on Katy's Italy trip back in her youth is obviously not realistic - but isn't that was fiction books are for - to take some liberty with what is possible and what is not for the sake of a good story? I enjoyed watching Katy get to learn about her mother and her own past through becoming friends with young Carol. The setting of the book was gorgeous as well - I totally wanted to dive into the warm salty water in Italy right along with Katy, eat the heavy Italian pasta, drink the wine, wear the breezy swimsuit cover ups, and dance at the night club right along with her.  This won't top my favorite reading list this year but it was a perfectly enjoyable read for summer for me!

That's a wrap for now - I'm off on Monday to take the boys on an RV camping trip with my mom for a few days in New Jersey.  I have a few books thrown in my bag for our trip - lets see how many pages I can cover while away this time!

My Girlish Whims Book Club #43

Time for another book review round up!


I had a woman on instagram ask me recently how I have time to read lately with two infants, as she felt like she was always cleaning and doing laundry.  I snagged a pic of two of my recent reads here with my laundry waiting-to-be-folded (albeit in jest) to show that I too have laundry and cleaning I have to tend to, lol!! Gone are my days of lounging around and reading to relax for extended periods of time, that's for sure. I read in short spurts here and there - I still read when I eat, I read while I pump before bed, and I read when I get nap trapped by a little one now and again too :) 


I'm a big supporter of showing anyone can fit reading in if they would like to - you don't need hours of free time to devote to it.  A few minutes here and there of reading can be such an enjoyable and quick escape! It definitely takes me longer to get through books these days (my last 4 book reviews can be found here) but the company I have while reading them sure is a lot cuter!!

 Here's what I've been reading lately and my thoughts on each!

This post contains affiliate links

The Paris Apartment

By Lucy Foley. Synopsis from Amazon:

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone's a neighbor. Everyone's a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

I was sooo excited for this newest release from Lucy Foley. Overall I thought it was only OK and unfortunately I didn’t love it as much as I’ve loved her other books. The main character Jess just wasn’t doing much for me - I feel like the author tried to set us up to like her and feel bad for her from her rough foster home childhood and pervy boss past she was running from, but I still didn’t find her entirely likable and overall a bit vanilla of a main character. My favorite character was Ben who was either supposedly dead or missing for most of the novel and you only got bits of his story through flashback chapters. All of the weird love triangles in the book got to be a bit weird and excessive to me as well. I did enjoy following Ben’s investigation piece he was working on and seeing that mystery come to fruition, however the twist in the story (which I did not guess) felt like it was more of a twist for the sake of having one to fit this type of novel verse anything new and novel (hah, play on words intentional there). The past two novels from this author had very eerie and descriptive settings which I think she was trying to continue in this book, but the old building in France, no matter how much history she tried to give it, still just felt like an apartment complex and not another part of the story. I’m still a huge Lucy Foley fan but am hoping to be wowed just a little more with whatever she writes next!

Banana Oat Protein Lactation Cookies


Before I had the twins, my goal was to feed them by breastfeeding.  After they were delivered prematurely though and spent about 2 weeks in the NICU being fed by bottles and feeding tubes, we didn't start off great with breastfeeding directly so I switched to pumping for them with a goal of being able to provide as much of the milk they needed as possible myself.  That's a tall order with two babies so as I was building my supply I tried to incorporate snacks into my diet that could help my production.  This recipe for banana oat protein cookies was the easiest recipe I found by far, and it was easy to modify to add in an extra ingredient known for boosting milk supply.  Rest assured - if you are not pumping or breastfeeding you can easily remove that ingredient and these are very normal cookies to bake and enjoy! They only need a few ingredients and are a great way to use up two ripe bananas on your counter. 


The main ingredients needed are two medium to large ripe bananas, oats, protein powder, and chocolate chips.  Any type of chocolate chips will do (I have had a discount for HU chocolate - code "WHIMS" may still work for a discount!) Any type of protein powder will work as well - I like a snickerdoodle flavor from PEScience or I used the Clean Simple Eats brand as well).  Oats are known for helping with milk supply production, so leaving the ingredients as is will still make these a useful lactation snack but I do add in a tablespoon of Brewer's Yeast which has been known to help boost milk production as well.  


This recipe is pretty hard to mess up - the batter is very forgiving! If you leave out the Brewer's Yeast you may not need to add a tablespoon of almond milk if you have no issues combining the ingredients together.  If your bananas are smaller and the batter seems dry when mixing though you can add a tablespoon or two of unsweetened almond milk to help combine.


The batter will be very wet when it's scooped onto the baking sheet which is why I recommend using a silicone liner for baking. I wouldn't worry about forming a perfect cookie shape either - the batter just blobs on the tray but will come together after it's baked!


Any leftovers should be stored in the fridge, but it's pretty easy to work through this small batch pretty quickly since it just makes a dozen cookies! Adding the Brewer's Yeast does not effect the flavor at all either, so these are safe to be shared with any of your non-lactating friends as well (my husband eats a handful of these every time I make them!!)


I'm happy to report that I've boosted my milk supply to the point where I am pumping between 57-60 ounces a day for my boys! Occasionally when they are having a ravenous day I need to add in one bottle of formula for them, but I am pretty proud that I am able to supply most of what they need.  Pumping is a LOT of work - I'm hooked up to my pump every three hours pretty much around the clock, but these boys sure make it worth while (and the extra snacks are not a bad perk either, hah!)


Nutritional Information

My Girlish Whims Book Club #42

I've had some pretty big life changes since my my last set of book reviews in the form of two small and snuggly little bundles:


Tyler William, and Jack Owen Bardwell made their almost 6 week early arrival on 1/8/2022! After a little over two weeks in the NICU to help them feed and grow, our sons have been chilling back at home with us and doing great! Our world has quickly been turned upside down in the best way.  Two newborns are obviously a lot of work, but my heart has never been more full and I am just completely loving this new role as mom!

While my time is largely filled with baby care these days, I still am making time to read! Often times I'm reading while pumping or jiggling a baby in my lap and shoving lunch in my mouth at the same time, but yes - I'm still reading :)


Here's what I've been multi-task reading lately and my thoughts on each!

This post contains affiliate links


The Maid

By Nita Prose. Synopsis from Amazon:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

 I just adored this book! The main character Molly truly made the story.  She was quirky and kind and just the most likable type of protagonist out there. Of course, the sweetest and most likable characters are all too often taken advantage of, which we saw time and time again in this book. It made you angry as the reader and gave you extra motivation to keep reading to hope that everything turned out ok for her. Even though this book technically did have a mystery in it, the story was more about the characters than the mystery but I did appreciate that there was a neat and tidy wrap up to the mystery at the end and we were able to walk away from the book with all loose ends tied up.  While this book may be based "only on a simple maid" it has a heartwarming story wrapped up in it that extends far beyond the job title of the help the book was based on and is worth reading for sure.