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My Girlish Whims Book Club #52

It's book review time! This time I just HAVE to share some pictures of where I got my reading done for a few of these books. I recently went on a trip to the Bahamas on a Bachelorette party for a wedding I am in next month.  This was my first big trip since having kids and of course came with a huge mix of emotions.  I was very excited for a tropical vacation, but obviously very worried about leaving Jack and Tyler (especially because they both got sick right before I left, OF COURSE) and how my husband would handle me being away from Thursday - Monday. Luckily we are blessed with great support from our families so my husband had help everyday which made leaving easier. I was worried all the way up until I walked out the door Thursday morning...but then I had to realize that my husband is extremely competent, he encouraged me to go on this trip, and after I was gone worrying would do nothing for me...so I truly embraced vacation mode!!

Thursday was a travel day but we still had time to hit up the beach, explore our resort, and go to a nice steakhouse dinner. Friday morning was quite possibly one of the most blissful moments I've experienced in the last 15 months though. I woke up early (as is normal for me - even on vacation, sigh) and went and found some coffee and breakfast while my roommates were still sleeping.  I contemplated hitting up the gym at the resort but as I enjoyed the sunshine looking out over the beautiful water from the balcony in our room and saw that there was literally NO ONE on the beach yet, I cancelled any plans for the gym and immediately changed into my suit, packed a book and a mimosa to go, and went to the beach!

We stayed at "One Particular Harbor" which is part of the Margaritaville resort in Nassau.  There was a private beach just for our resort and I had the whole place to myself for a solid hour. I had the most peaceful and relaxing time reading, enjoying the sunshine and views, and the very large mimosa in my tumbler pictured below, lol.

We had lots of other activities as a group during the afternoons and evenings: having fun at the water park at Margaritaville, fancy dinners out, visiting some of the local casino resorts,  boating and fishing adventures, and time spent spoiling and celebrating the bride-to-be! I enjoyed all of our activities and celebrations but this morning right here was my picture perfect idea for my ideal morning away on vacation and I am SO glad I was able to enjoy it with a good book :)

If only I could have these kind of views for the books I'm reading now back home!!! Since I've already finished two more books since these four, it is due time to round up my current books since my last set of reviews!

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The Writing Retreat

By Julia Bartz. Synopsis from Amazon:

Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she must discover the truth—or suffer the same fate. 

A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of female relationships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.

I was pretty excited for this book, but unfortunately it really did not live up to my expectations.  I liked the beginning of the book, but just enjoyed it less and less as it went on. I didn't get the hype and obsession with crazy author Roza, I didn't expect all the love triangles or a sex scene with a demon while tripping on LSD (yeah....) and when things spiraled out of control as the retreat went on it and the drama increased it still became less and less enjoyable to read for me.  There is also a bit of a "book within a book" here with the novel Alex (who couldn't write a word for a year before this retreat, but now somehow manages to crank out 3,000 words everyday??) is writing for the retreat, and I found that entire novel super cringey and the writing style just super forced - trying to be overly descriptive and in no way some up-and-coming best selling novel like Roza is coaching Alex to believe it could be. I've read oodles of books that involve getting trapped in a big house during a snow storm where people end up dead/missing and much drama ensues and this was probably the worst one I've read with that set up.  If that's a setting you enjoy - pick up Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeny or One by One by Ruth Ware.  So much better than this one in my opinion! 

By JoJo Moyes. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Nisha Cantor lives the globetrotting life of the seriously wealthy, until her husband announces a divorce and cuts her off. Nisha is determined to hang onto her glamorous life. But in the meantime, she must scramble to cope--she doesn’t even have the shoes she was, until a moment ago, standing in.

That’s because Sam Kemp – in the bleakest point of her life – has accidentally taken Nisha’s gym bag. But Sam hardly has time to worry about a lost gym bag--she’s struggling to keep herself and her family afloat. When she tries on Nisha’s six-inch high Christian Louboutin red crocodile shoes, the resulting jolt of confidence that makes her realize something must change—and that thing is herself.

Full of Jojo Moyes’ signature humor, brilliant storytelling, and warmth, Someone Else’s Shoes is a story about how just one little thing can suddenly change everything.

I really enjoyed reading this book!  The synopsis almost had me thinking this was going to be a "freaky Friday" situation where the two protagonists magically switch lives when they switch gym bags, but luckily the shoe swap really just is a swap of shoes (not bodies!) and it bode very well for this cute storyline. Female friendships and empowerment were at the forefront of this novel and I loved cheering for each of the characters.  Even though Nisha comes off as rude, cold and stuck up at the start of the novel, you truly get to watch her reach her lowest of lows and see her fight to reclaim what she deserves and find out what real happiness and friendship looks like. I wanted to pound my head against the wall in frustration right along with Sam watching her deal with her depressed husband and despicable boss and thought her struggles were very relatable.  The supporting characters of Andrea and Jasmine gave great humor and really made this book shine. I absolutely loved "You Before Me" by JoJo Moyes and while that one left a bigger impact on me, this was still an enjoyable feel good read by a great author!

The IT Girl

By Ruth Ware. Synopsis from Amazon:

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

I liked reading this book, just did not love it quite as much as some of Ruth Ware's other novels. I really enjoyed the friendship between April and Hannah and how April came off as such a happy-go-lucky party girl, but also had a lot more depth to her even when she was not always the nicest person. I liked seeing the plot explained by alternating from the past and present and how determined Hannah was to find out the truth about April's murder.  Parts of her relationship with Will really irked me, but I still really overall enjoyed the mystery and was very invested in finding out the truth, and enjoyed all the drama and build up to the end and was surprised and satisfied by the ending!

The Senator's Wife

By Liv Constantine. Synopsis from Amazon:

After a tragic chain of events led to the deaths of their spouses two years ago, D.C. philanthropist Sloane Chase and Senator Whit Montgomery are finally starting to move on. The horrifying ordeal drew them together, and now they’re ready to settle down again—with each other.
As Sloane returns to the world of White House dinners and political small talk, this time with her new husband, she’s also preparing for an upcoming hip replacement—the latest reminder of the lupus she’s managed since her twenties. With their hectic schedules, they decide that hiring a home health aide will give Sloane the support and independence she needs postsurgery. And they find the perfect fit in Athena Karras.

Seemingly a godsend, Athena tends to Sloane and even helps her run her charitable foundation. But Sloane slowly begins to deteriorate—a complication, Athena explains, of Sloane’s lupus. As weeks go by, Sloane becomes sicker, and her uncertainty quickly turns to paranoia as she begins to suspect the worst. Why is Athena asking her so many probing questions about her foundation—as well as about her past? And could Sloane be imagining the sultry looks between Athena and her new husband?

Riveting, fast-paced, and full of unbelievable twists, The Senator’s Wife is a psychological thriller that upends the private lives of those who walk the halls of power. Because when you have it all, you have everything to lose.

I was very excited to read this book because I read and LOVED "The Last Mrs. Parrish" by this same author back in 2018 (book review here!) so I was pumped to read something new by this author duo. I received an ARC of this book which will be released in May of this year courtesy of Net Galley.  Unfortunately I was NOT impressed with this one and did not enjoy it at all! The dialogue was the WORST: it was so drab and forced and almost flat out embarrassing.  Parts of the book were a bit predictable, but I did get duped by one major plot point.  Even with the twist, it was still a miserable read because all of the conversations were just so downright awkward and the characters seemed pretty one dimensional. What a waste of time! 

Two of these books were misses for me, but I know I already have three great reviews coming up in my next review post so stay tuned for some more positives soon :)

My Girlish Whims Book Club #51

Well it's almost March but I am finally here to review the first four books I finished reading in 2023. It's been a fun year so far! We got to celebrate our twins turning one in January and have been enjoying lots of family time together with them.  It's been a bit unseasonably warm around here lately with no snow at all and I personally have not minded one bit! It's been so nice getting outside for some fresh air and to let the boys crawl around and explore.

Life has been pretty normal with our steady routine these days.  I've been prioritizing getting my workouts in daily, getting out for stroller walks with the boys when it's not freezing, and we've even started taking swimming lessons as a family! I've enjoyed hosting some playdates with other moms with kiddos in the area, getting together with my in person book club, going out with my hubby for a Valentine's Day date, and getting to spend some time at my craft room desk creating some new jewelry pieces during the boy's afternoon nap.

Of course I am still reading during any extra down time I have (which is still limited, hah, and hence why my book review posts are coming a little slower these days!) Here's what I've read since my last set of reviews from last year!!

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By Julia May Jonas. Synopsis from Amazon:

“When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.”

And so we are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It really surprised me as well - based on the cover art you'd think it was going to be a steamy romance novel, but it was so much deeper and complex than I was expecting. I thought the main character was great - very intellectual, confident in some ways and yet overly conscious in other ways (namely getting older, her waning metabolism, cellulite, etc. etc. which I thought gave her a  very likable human crutch.) There are some polarizing topics in the book - open marriages, sexual assault and the "me too" movement, and while those moved the plot along it still wasn't the full focus of the novel. In fact, most of the novel takes place in our protagonist's head - her obsession with Vladimir, her disdain at her lack of a writing career, her persistent insecurity over how old does she actually look? My favorite part was the writing - deeply descriptive, intellectual and blunt.  (I still cackle at a passage that described John stretching and farting before he left the bathroom). But also loved: 
"I wanted to take substances into my body like an immoral and immoderate businessman traveling on a company credit card.  I wanted everything that passed my lips to be decadent, full of sulfites or iron, with mouth-screwing flavor, to taste rich and deep"

This book was not what I was expecting, but found that I was very pleasantly surprised by it.  I would recommend picking this one up this winter season still - while I enjoyed it immensely I would say it is better suited for cold, dark nights at home vs. sunny beach day reading!

My Girlish Whims Book Club #50 & Favorite Reads of 2022

How fitting that my 50th book review post (!!!) will include a round up of my favorite books I read in 2022! I read 35 books this past year and considering the year started with welcoming preemie twin boys into the world, I think that is quite an accomplishment! 2022 was certainly an amazing year - dare I say my best one yet :)

I have three final books that I read in December to review in this post first, but keep scrolling after these are done for my top books I read this year. Here's what I finished up the year reading:

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A Merry Little Meet Cute

By Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone. Synopsis from Amazon:

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.

Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhilewhen she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.

But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.

And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

Well this was a cutesy holiday Rom-Com like no other I have read before! If you are looking for a Hallmark style Christmas novel with (there is really no other way to put this) a side of porn - this is the book for you. Whew! I picked four different Christmas themed Rom-Com to put up for a vote for my December book club holiday party and this steamy novel was the winner.  You have to know going into the book that there will be some heat involved since the main character is literally an adult film star, but just beware that it really doesn't shy away from any of the details.  Steam/sex/etc aside, I did think this was a pretty cute and funny book.  The original conflict in the story begins with a last minute accident at a festival which takes out most of the "regular" movie production team and the producer of the film (who is also an adult film star producer, unbeknownst to the squeaky clean Hope Channel team) has to fill in the cast with Bee as the lead star and some of the crew with his adult film crew.  Since no one is supposed to know about the X rated side gig most of the team is involved with, it leads to a lot of amusing interactions between the wardrobe manager who is used to dressing a cast in much less clothing, a lighting tech crew used to lighting a lot more flesh and a lot less horseback riding scenes, etc.  I enjoyed the female empowerment portion of this book and that the lead character was unashamedly plus size and how that was celebrated in the novel. Plot wise it delivered on a typical Rom-Com storyline - nothing earth shattering but enough to give you some fuzzy feel good vibes and some laughs along the way. 

My Girlish Whims Book Club #49

Last week we got to celebrate our first Thanksgiving as a family of four and it truly was our best Thanksgiving yet! Experiencing the holidays after you have kids truly changes everything for the better - even though my boys are still young it was so fun to dress them up, watch them interact with family and gobble up some turkey, stuffing and veggies at both Thanksgiving feasts we shared with each of our families. We've been doing baby-led weaning with them for over four months now where they eat real food instead of baby food and so both kids were fully prepared to share in the large meal with us (Jack especially did not disappoint and loved the extra servings he got, hah!)

I'm definitely looking forward to experiencing the entire Christmas season with them. Before I get into full on holiday mode, however, I need to finish rounding up the last books I read this fall since I popped in with my last set of reviews. Here is what I have been reading lately!

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The House Across the Lake

By Riley Sager. Synopsis from Amazon:

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces. 

Packed with sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy plot twists, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake is the ultimate escapist read . . . no lake house required.

This is my first Riley Sager book I have read and actually enjoyed! I read it during October and it gave me just the perfect amount of chilly/freaky reading vibes without being overly scary (not my jam!) I enjoyed/was surprised by most of the twists, however I will admit one towards the end of the book made me a little mad and I wish it was left out. I still thoroughly enjoyed this book  - even though it had potential to be a bit similar to The Woman in the Window with the voyager/watcher theme, I still thought this story was fresh and different. I liked Casey as the main character - she was a bit of a mess and her drinking added to the potential unreliable narrator situation, but somehow despite that she was still very likable and you wanted to watch her see the mystery through. For a contemporary, mildly scary book, this book really fit the bill for me and I loved reading it.

My Girlish Whims Book Club #48

It has really started to feel like fall this week and it is giving me all the cozy reading vibes! Since this is our first fall as parents we are of course enjoying getting out to enjoy some festive fall activities like our annual apple picking trip.

The boys may not have been much help with the actual picking, but they sure were cute companions! 

They have also fully enjoyed eating all the apples we gathered - especially little Jack here. He is my smaller twin (two pounds lighter than Tyler!) but has a ferocious appetite for solids these days and has LOVED chowing down on these cooked apple slices :)

When we are not out and about though I'm always in the middle of a good book so I'm back to review the most recent four books I read since my last set of reviews. A few of these are leftover "summery reads" so it's about time I get to it!

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Every Summer After

By Carley Fortune. Synopsis from Amazon:

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic story of love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

This book was a very popular new release this summer, and unfortunately it just didn't live up to the hype for me for as much buzz as it got.  There was nothing inherently wrong with the book, but I just got a bit bored with it.  It's a very familiar friends-to-lovers story with a second chance romance involved, but it read a bit more like a young adult book versus a modern and moving love story because the bulk of the story takes place when Percy and Sam are young teenagers.  The story does flip flop back and forth between present day and teenage years, but the present day story was pretty predictable and the meat of the story is about two 13-year-olds who fall in love at a lake house.  If that's your jam, give it a read - it was a quick and easy read for me - but personally I wasn't overly moved or impressed with it.

By Gabrielle Zevin. Synopsis from Amazon: 

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

I enjoyed this book, but my biggest qualm with it was that I think it was too long! I know it takes place over 30 years but unfortunately the last 1/3ish of the book just got old and pretty tiring to me and this would have been a much more positive review if it would have been wrapped up a bit earlier.  The characters in this book are extremely well written - Sam and Sadie were each damaged and quirky but extremely likable in their own individual ways.  I also really enjoyed Marx's character and Dov (even though he was a dick he was still pretty funny). The cast of characters was just wonderfully done and you really come to care about their lives.  This book is very much about video games - playing them, creating them, marketing them, etc. - but I still found it very enjoyable and easy to follow as someone who's gaming experience was just a few rounds of Mario Cart back in the day. There were very moving moments in this book - powerful and sad and even empowering, but I still hold the same thought that the book would have been a lot better wrapped up sooner.  I kind of grew tired of the back-and-forth in Sam and Sadie's relationship over dumb misunderstandings, and the entire "Pioneers" chapter felt completely out of place, long and drawn out.  Still a good book, lots of memorable moments and one I will remember positively (I'm just glad that I'm done it now...lol!)

The Lioness

By Chris Bohjalian. Synopsis from Amazon:

Tanzania, 1964. When Katie Barstow, A-list actress, and her new husband, David Hill, decide to bring their Hollywood friends to the Serengeti for their honeymoon, they envision giraffes gently eating leaves from the tall acacia trees, great swarms of wildebeests crossing the Mara River, and herds of zebras storming the sandy plains. Their glamorous guests—including Katie’s best friend, Carmen Tedesco, and Terrance Dutton, the celebrated Black actor who stars alongside Katie in the highly controversial film Tender Madness—will spend their days taking photos, and their evenings drinking chilled gin and tonics back at camp, as the local Tanzanian guides warm water for their baths. The wealthy Americans expect civilized adventure: fresh ice from the kerosene-powered ice maker, dinners of cooked gazelle meat, and plenty of stories to tell over lunch back on Rodeo Drive.

What Katie and her glittering entourage do not expect is this: a kidnapping gone wrong, their guides bleeding out in the dirt, and a team of Russian mercenaries herding their hostages into Land Rovers, guns to their heads. As the powerful sun gives way to night, the gunmen shove them into abandoned huts and Katie Barstow, Hollywood royalty, prays for a simple thing: to see the sun rise one more time. A blistering story of fame, race, love, and death set in a world on the cusp of great change, The Lioness is a vibrant masterpiece from one of our finest storytellers.

I'd like to call this a "fun read" because the setting in the savannah of Africa and action was so very different than any other book I've ever read before, but it's hard to label it as "fun" when there was so much death and a bit of horror involved! I did really enjoy this book but just a heads up - don't go into it expecting anything lighthearted and some parts are a tad gruesome.  Despite that, I thought the characters in this book were just excellent. I liked learning about each of their backgrounds in the flashbacks each chapter alternated with current events, how there were some cathartic moments in many of their stories, and how you grew to love some and hate some as well. I thought the story did a great job weaving in bits of African culture/history, safari and wild animal facts, racism and privilege issues, and old Hollywood stardom.  If you are up for reading about all of those things with some action and death on an African safari - this is a book for you!

The Lion's Den

By Katherine St. John. Synopsis from Amazon:

Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend's yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Belle hopes the trip will be a much-needed break from her stalled acting career and uniquely humiliating waitressing job, but once she's aboard the luxurious Lion's Den, it soon becomes clear this jet-setting holiday is not as advertised.

Belle's dream vacation quickly devolves into a nightmare as she and the handful of other girls Summer invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their controlling host—and in one terrifying moment, Belle comes to see Summer for who she truly is: a vicious gold digger who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Belle realizes she's going to have to keep her wits about her—and her own big secret closely hidden—if she wants to make it off the yacht alive.

I was very prepared to write a very mediocre review about this book until I finished it.  I don't want to give too much away, but this book ended up having a lot more depth to it than I expected and it ended up surprising me! Granted, there is a good amount of fluff in this book - petty girl drama, over-the-top lavish gifts and settings, boyfriend stealing & pining after, friends stabbing other friends in the back...ok, ok, maybe this isn't all just fluff after all...but parts of the book did seem a bit superficial.  How many times can Belle let Summer walk all over her? How original is a young, beautiful girl going after an old sugar daddy who is likely going to turn out to be an evil, cheating business man?? All that withstanding, I liked this one. Some parts were unrealistic, you wanted to knock Summer over the head with her Louis Vuitton bag a zillion times during it, but you still were always routing for Belle to succeed and it was a quick, easy and enjoyable read for me.

I'm currently finishing my next in person book club novel, but after that I am ready for some spooky reading in preparation for Halloween! I like books that are a little creepy but not downright frightening - let me know if you have any favorites for this season I should give a read!