My Girlish Whims Book Club #2

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I posted a round up of my recent reads back in May and enjoyed hearing what other books you all had been reading and who else had read the same things as me! I've decided to keep it up: I'm literally ALWAYS reading (my kindle goes everywhere with me!) so after I finish a few books I will be sharing them here on the blog with my thoughts!

I think summer time especially is the best time for reading, I love spending time at the pool or at the beach just reading the afternoon away. No better way to relax :) Here are the four most recent books I've read so far this summer!

The Affair

By Gill Paul. Synpsos from Amazon: LOVE. GLAMOUR. SECRETS.

Rome, 1961. As the cameras roll on Cleopatra, the world is transfixed by the love affair emerging between Hollywood’s biggest stars: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
But on the film set, tensions are running high. The money is running out, and a media storm is brewing over the Taylor-Burton relationship. When historical advisor Diana Bailey starts work on the film, she wants nothing more than to escape from her own troubled marriage and start anew. But as the heady world of Hollywood envelops her, secrets begin to emerge in the cast and crew. Is everything as it seems? And what really hides beneath the glamour of the famous film?
An enthralling story of love and passion from the bestselling author of The Secret Wife, set against the stunning backdrop of one of the most iconic Hollywood movies ever made.

This was the second book I’ve read from Gill Paul and while I liked The Secret Wife best, this was still another good read.  This story did not include quite as much historical fiction as the first book of hers that I read, but I don’t really read much historical fiction so I didn’t mind.  I have to say though I have never seen the movie Cleopatra, which this book was based around the filming of, but now I really want to watch it! There were two main characters in the book: Diana the protagonist but there was also a side story of a reporter working in Rome at the same time.  For most of the book the stories stay separate and you wonder how they will ever connect, but they eventually do at the end.  There is drama around (obviously as the title of the book indicates) an affair that Diana has while overseas in Rome, but surprisingly enough it was written in a tasteful way where we still like and admire Diana even while she embarks on some not-so-marriage-approved activities.  The book includes a bit of a “coming of age” scenario for Diana and I enjoyed the story line that revolved around that, the mysteries the reporter was working on at the same time, and the general background/setting of Hollywood & Rome that the story incorporated.

The Young Wives Club

By Julie Pennell.  Synopsis from Amazon: In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side in this charming debut novel perfect for fans of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Desperate Housewives.

Laura Landry’s quarterback husband was her ticket out of Toulouse. But when a devastating football injury sidelines him, they’re forced to move back to the small town she was so desperate to leave. As Brian starts drinking instead of rehabbing his knee, Laura must reevaluate what her future looks like…and if it includes her husband.

For years, Madison Blanchette has been waiting for bad-boy musician Cash Romero to commit to her. When wealthy George Dubois asks her out, she figures she may as well wait in style. Life with George means weekend trips to New Orleans, gourmet meals, and expensive gifts. At first she loves how George’s affection sparks Cash’s jealousy, but when George proposes to Madison, she finds herself torn between two men…

All Claire Thibodeaux wants is to be the perfect wife and mother. If she can do everything right she won’t end up like her mom, a divorced, single parent trying to make ends meet. But when Claire’s husband Gavin, a well-respected local pastor, starts spending late nights at work and less time in their bed, she can’t help but fear that history is about to repeat itself…

Gabrielle Vaughn never thought she’d end up with someone like her fiancé. The son of a prominent congressman, Tony Ford is completely out of her league—which is why she lied to him about everything from having a college degree to the dark truth about her family. She knows she has to come clean, but how do you tell the love of your life that your entire relationship is a lie?

As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.

I did not like this book until I got to about half way through.  I bought the book because it got good reviews and wanted an easy chick-lit book to read by the pool.   I was also a little intrigued by the story line because I once was a young wife as well (being married at 21 and divorced at 25). The story lines are a bit cliché, especially in the beginning.  I also didn’t realize how young some of these “wives” were: two of the stories revolved around girls still in or immediately out of high school and thus their story lines fell more into young-adult reading.  I have read TONS and TONS of young adult novels back in my day, but I feel like I’m kind of past that phase in my life.  I will say though that eventually the characters did grow on me.  Again, the storylines were very cliché but I was actually happy to see each character’s story resolve itself and end up with the cliché ending.  It’s an easy read, not sure if it’s worth spending $10 bucks on, but I guess wasn’t terrible overall.

The Identicals 

By Elin Hilderbrand.  Synopsis from Amazon: Identical twin sisters who couldn't look more alike...or live more differently.

Harper Frost is laid-back, easygoing. She doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. She likes a beer and a shot and wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything fashionable. She's inherited her father's rundown house on Martha's Vineyard, but she can't hold down a job, and her latest romantic disaster has the entire island talking.

Two beautiful islands only eleven miles apart.

Tabitha Frost is dignified, refined. She prefers a fine wine and has inherited the impeccable taste of her mother, the iconic fashion designer Eleanor Roxie-Frost. She's also inherited her mother's questionable parenting skills--Tabitha's teenage daughter, Ainsley, is in full rebellion mode--and a flailing fashion boutique on Nantucket in desperate need of a cash infusion.

One unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever.

After more than a decade apart, Harper and Tabitha switch islands--and lives--to save what's left of their splintered family. But the twins quickly discover that the secrets, lies, and gossip they thought they'd outrun can travel between islands just as easily as they can. Will Harper and Tabitha be able to bury the hatchet and end their sibling rivalry once and for all? Before the last beach picnic of the season, there will be enough old resentments, new loves, and cases of mistaken identity to make this the most talked-about summer that Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket have experienced in ages.

I have read multiple books from Elin Hilderbrand and always enjoy them – especially for a light beachy/summer read.  I actually started reading this book when I was less than half way through another more in-depth novel because I went to the beach for a weekend with my parents and didn’t want to be sitting relaxing in the sun reading about murder and depressed characters!! This was perfect for a light read: I actually legit LOLed in a few spots and enjoyed hearing the story being told from multiple points of view: each of the different sisters as well as a few other characters.  I think Elin has had books with a better storyline: this one was decent and kept me interested but the plot was nothing riveting and I was never on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next, but it was a fun and light feel-good read with good character development and a nice ending. 

Missing, Presumed

By Susie Steiner.  Synopsis from Amazon: At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep—and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.

Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows that this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.

The investigation starts with Edith’s loved ones: her attentive boyfriend, her reserved best friend, her patrician parents. As the search widens and press coverage reaches a frenzied pitch, secrets begin to emerge about Edith’s tangled love life and her erratic behavior leading up to her disappearance. With no clear leads, Manon summons every last bit of her skill and intuition to close the case, and what she discovers will have shocking consequences not just for Edith’s family but for Manon herself.

Suspenseful and keenly observed, Missing, Presumed is a brilliantly twisting novel of how we seek connection, grant forgiveness, and reveal the truth about who we are.

Overall I liked this book but it did take me a bit to get into it.  There were multiple difference characters in the book and each chapter rotated between being told from different character’s point of view and for a little while I had trouble keeping track of who was who exactly.  This was the book I stopped reading to read “The Identicals” while at the beach.  I like the mystery and suspense of this book but one of the main characters is depressed and it’s a story about finding a missing girl (and not knowing if she is going to be dead or alive) and overall is not the  most light hearted beach read! I jumped back into this book after finishing “The Identicals” though and I am glad I finished it.  The further I got into the book the more interesting the mystery became.  A solid read and the ending truly did surprise me – I really didn’t see the outcome beforehand. 

Have you read any of the same books? What were your thoughts on them? And of course PLEASE share in the comments if you have any good recommendations for what I should read next!

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