My Girlish Whims Book Club #8

Who is ready for it to almost be summer reading time??? COUNT ME IN! My first beach trip of the season will be over memorial day weekend this year and I'm carving out some major time to kick the season off with plenty of reading.  Until then, I'm back to round up my most recent reads and I definitely think some of these books would make a great addition to your summer 2018 beach reads list!

My local book club met up in person this month at MidiCi Pizza in King of Prussia for some wine, pizzas and salads, and of course book chat.

The best thing about this restaurant was that it's actually a BYOB! This is the only BYOB restaurant in the King of Prussia Town Center shopping center and that definitely helped to keep my tab down - I think this was my cheapest book club yet haha.

We had so much fun at this book club that we decided to have two separate "after parties" after the dinner was done: half of us girls went out for one last glass of wine at Paladar and half of the girls went for dessert at Duck Donuts.  When the night ends with more wine or donuts, you know it was a great book club ;) We really only talked about the book for 10-15 minutes of the entire evening...but it's such a fun excuse to get a group of local girls together - especially fellow book worms like me!

For this book club we read "Little Fires Everywhere" which everyone seemed to like! I try to alternate picking books from the highest read charts with other genres, and this was one from the top of the charts and well worth the read for sure.  My full review is below along with the other three books I read since my last update!

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Beautiful Day

By Elin Hilderbrand. Synopsis from Amazon:

The Carmichaels and the Grahams have gathered on Nantucket for a wedding. Plans are being made according to the wishes of the bride's late mother, who left behind The Notebook: specific instructions for every detail of her youngest daughter's future nuptials. Everything should be falling into place for the beautiful event--but in reality, things are far from perfect.

While the couple-to-be are quite happy, their loved ones find their own lives crumbling. In the days leading up to the wedding, love will be questioned, scandals will arise, and hearts will be broken and healed. Elin Hilderbrand takes readers on a touching journey in BEAUTIFUL DAY--into the heart of marriage, what it means to be faithful, and how we choose to honor our commitments.

This was a cute and entertaining read.  If you follow my book review posts at all you would know by now that I love Elin Hilderbrand as an author: it's a serious bucket list item for me to visit Nantucket one day after reading so many of her stories that take place on Nantucket.  This was a fun read about a wedding that really wasn't so much about the wedding itself, but more how the wedding was planned to the specifications left behind from a deceased mother and all the family drama that occurs during the wedding weekend.  The ties of marriage are described in various formats in the book: from the widowed father of the bride who has remarried but cannot get over his first true love, to the divorced sister of the bride and maid of honor who doesn't believe in love or marriage anymore, to the young bride-to-be enamored with her betrothed and love in general until a hiccup along the way RIGHT before the wedding, to a divorced (complete with love child scandal) and then remarried father and mother of the groom...and even more interesting scandals and relationships in between...the novel walks us through various family relationships and dramas and marriage stories but ultimately left me walking away from the book with a very warm heart and hope for my own true love and marriage in the future.

The Last Mrs. Parrish

By Liv Constantine. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. 

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

I absolutely LOVED this book! I read most of it while I was on the beach in Jamaica on my vacation in April and I couldn't wait to keep reading more.  During this trip I would typically read in the morning on the beach and then go to the pool bar after lunch to be a bit more social, but the day I started this book I went right back to reading my book after lunch - I couldn't put it down! I will say for sure that I found the first half of the book slightly better than the second half, but overall it was a great read.  The story is told through two different character's viewpoints which I didn't realize at first, so when it switched view points to the second character about 1/3 of the way through the book I was shocked because I didn't realize we would also get to read the story through Daphne's voice - not just Amber's - which made it SO much more interesting.  There are some darker parts of the book which I found to be slightly cliché and overused for this genre of book which is based around how Jackson treats his wife...but overall I don't have too many complaints about the book.  Add it to your list for sure!

Little Fires Everywhere

By Celeste Ng. Synopsis from Amazon:

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

This was the book we read for our May book club read and I’m really glad we did.  It had a bit of a different storyline than most of the books we have read and it felt good to switch it up.  One of the main subject matters that it touches on: what REALLY makes a family a family – blood ties or care and affection – was pretty interesting as well.  I found myself going back and forth on some of the major conflicts of the book and not really able to make up my mind 100% one way or the other.  The book opens with a house fire: according to the firemen who later appear on the scene there were “little fires everywhere. Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident.” Hence the title of the book and the start of an intriguing storyline that back-pedals to tell the story leading up to the house fire and who and WHY set the fire to begin with. 


By Caitlin Macy. Synopsis from Amazon:

In the well-heeled milieu of New York's Upper East Side, coolly elegant Philippa Lye is the woman no one can stop talking about. Despite a shadowy past, Philippa has somehow married the scion of the last family-held investment bank in the city. And although her wealth and connections put her in the center of this world, she refuses to conform to its gossip-fueled culture.

Then, into her precariously balanced life, come two women: Gwen Hogan, a childhood acquaintance who uncovers an explosive secret about Philippa's single days, and Minnie Curtis, a newcomer whose vast fortune and frank revelations about a penurious upbringing in Spanish Harlem put everyone on alert.

When Gwen's husband, a heavy-drinking, obsessive prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office, stumbles over the connection between Philippa's past and the criminal investigation he is pursuing at all costs, this insulated society is forced to confront the rot at its core and the price it has paid to survive into the new millennium.

Macy has written a modern-day HOUSE OF MIRTH, not for the age of railroads and steel but of hedge funds and overnight fortunes, of scorched-earth successes and abiding moral failures. A brilliant portrait of love, betrayal, fate and chance, MRS marries razor-sharp social critique and page-turning propulsion into an unforgettable tapestry of the way we live in the 21st Century.

This was an ok read for me.  I liked the type of people the story focused on: the elite upper class of New York…but it was not the same version of upper class that most stories revolve around.  This version of upper class New Yorkers still have nannies and drivers and send their kids to fancy private pre-schools…but they also celebrate serving their children chicken nuggets versus home cooked meals and don't need to buy designer clothes or get weekly manicures to show off their wealth or lifestyle.  They are a more down-to-earth type of rich folk which was a welcome change of pace from the typical stereotypical upper class these stories often describe.  That was one of the only things I liked about the book though. It got to be so confusing at times because the story was told through so many different points of view: a husband, a wife, another husband, another wife, a sister, a 9 year old daughter, a collective “voice” of the other moms at the pre-school…at times it just became really hard to keep who was who straight.  I couldn't figure out any real protagonist in the story either.  The characters you think should be the protagonist all have character flaws that kind of make you despise them at one point or another in the I really didn't know exactly what to root for as an ending for the book. Overall it wasn't a terrible book but it is definitely NOT "The Next Big Little Lies" as Entertainment Weekly predicted it could be in the reviews used to advertise the book.

Overall, I would have to say "The Last Mrs. Parrish" was my favorite for sure.  "Beautiful Day" and "Little Fires Everywhere" are worth the read as well for their respective genres, but I would probably pass on "Mrs."  Be sure to let me know if you have read any of the same books or what you are adding to your list for this upcoming seaon!

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