My Girlish Whims Book Club #5

  I just started my newest book for my January book club, so it's time to round up my last few reads and recap my last book club meet up!
 

We had another great turn out in November for my local book club at the King of Prussia Mall: Chaddsford Winery had a pop up wine garden outside of the mall for the holiday season that we meet at to discuss our latest read! This was a great spot to meet at: luckily it was really warm out still when we met in November and the pop up garden was really beautiful.  There was plenty of space for all of us to congregate to chat, drink, and be merry!

One of the fun things about meeting at the wine garden was that it was actually way cheaper to buy a bottle of wine than two glasses - hah! So most of us just ordered our own bottles to enjoy while chatting and took the leftovers home for later.  I actually ended up buying two more bottles to take home with me as well - Chaddsford Winery has some yummy wines!!!

I knew that I had found a great group of book club ladies when after I bought the first bottle instead of a glass they all started following suit with no judgement. Hah!!! We had a great time chatting about the book and catching up on life. Listed below is the book that I picked for book club as well as my other three most recent reads and my thoughts on them all!


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The Winter People 

By Jennifer McMahon. Synopsis from Amazon:

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

I picked this book for my October/Early November in person book club choice since it was Halloween season and I wanted something a little more creepy/spooky than I normally read to get in the Halloween spirit! Another girl from my book club recommended “Island of Lost Girls” by McMahon and I had never read anything of hers so I started researching her novels and picked this one to try first.  I overall liked this book and found it creepy without being TOO grotesque or gory.  It was a nice amount of eerie.  The story alternated back and forth from past tense to present tense which I liked: it kept the story suspenseful while allowing you to follow two different story lines at once.  It may be personal preference since I read a fair amount of psychological thrillers, but I’ve found some of those mysteries a little more intriguing than this story line. It didn’t blow me away, but I overall enjoyed the read and it was a nice change of pace from some of the books I typically read.

Sweetbitter

By Stephanie Danler. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job working front of house at a celebrated downtown restaurant. What follows is her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. The story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York’s most elite restaurants, in Sweetbitter Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the food industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young and adrift.

This was a good read for me.  I liked the story line: a "coming of age" type novel about a girl who moves to the big city and starts working in a fancy New York restaurant.  The story mostly takes place at the restaurant and it was really quite interesting having that as such a major player in the book.  We never really learn much about Tess's prior life or history but we learn plenty about the inner workings of a high-end restaurant and the different dynamics and relationships and drama that takes place there.  I enjoyed the writing style of the author: it varied between regular prose of simply telling the story line with a few vague and thought provoking paragraphs sprinkled in between that interrupted it from being just a straight forward story and more of a novel that made you pause and think deeper into the meaning behind the story.  The ending was not very satisfying for me...but I don't actually know what type of ending WOULD have been satisfying to me for how things were left off in the end.  Regardless of the ending I still really liked the book and was always eager to pick it back up and continue reading.

Winter Solstic

By Elin Hilderbrand. Synopsis from Amazon:

It's been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that's about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they've experienced in years. And Bart's safe return isn't the family's only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she's finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn't be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love--and some of the things we endure--about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.

I like to read one "festive" book every year around the holiday's and the final installment of the Winter Street series from Elin Hilderbrand was my pick for this year! I've read all the other books in the series prior to this one so it was fun to be reunited with the characters again.  I think the story lines in the first books were a little better, but that always seems to be the case by the time you get to the end of the series.  Still a good read, I liked that it started around Halloween time so I could start it a little earlier in the season and it was a quick, fun and easy read that hit me in the feels at the end while I finished the book on the couch Thanksgiving night with my pajamas on, a VERY stuffed belly, and the rest of the boys in the family watching football. The book was much better than the game that was on ;) The first book in the series is Winter Street - start with that one for a festive and fun series to read around the holidays!

The Party

By Elizabeth Day. Synopsis from Amazon:

Ben, who hails from old money, and Martin, who grew up poor but is slowly carving out a successful career as an art critic, have been inseparable since childhood. Ben's wife Serena likes to jokingly refer to Martin as Ben's dutiful Little Shadow.

Lucy is a devoted wife to Martin, even as she knows she'll always be second best to his sacred friendship. When Ben throws a lavish 40th birthday party as his new palatial country home, Martin and Lucy attend, mixing with the very upper echelons of London society.

But why, the next morning, is Martin in a police station being interviewed about the events of last night? Why is Lucy being forced to answer questions about his husband and his past? What exactly happened at the party? And what has bound these two very different men together for so many years?

A cleverly built tour of intrigue, THE PARTY reads like a novelistic board game of Clue, taking us through the various half-truths and lies its characters weave, as the past and present collide in a way that its protagonists could never have anticipated.


I really enjoyed this book.  It was a fun, easy read that I read pretty quick and it kept me entertained the whole time.  It alternates telling the plot of the story through the eyes of Martin and his wife Lucy and starts with Martin at the police station and weaves it's way backwards through time to tell the story of Ben and Martin growing up together, the interesting aspects of their very different upbringings and what that means for their relationship, and then how the events unfolded at the night of the party that led to the police interrogation.  Martin is an interesting lead for the story: at times you want to love him, at times you want to hate him, but the story line was overall pretty interesting.  Not an earth shattering novel for sure, but an interesting read about one boy's die-hard commitment to his friend and what the effects of his obsessive friendship led to as a child and continue on mean in adulthood.

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