My Girlish Whims Book Club #9

Things are getting pretty serious with my book club lately.  Our one year anniversary of meeting is coming up next month and we just ordered book club TSHIRTS. Come on now - are you even an official book club until you have tshirts made???

I'm still loving having a group of ladies to meet up with each month to discuss books, life, and share a meal together and I continue to enjoy sharing my reviews of these book club reads and the other books I've been reading here on the blog!  In June we met up at Seasons 52 in King of Prussia to discuss The Elizas and in July we met up at Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville to discuss When Life Gives you LuLulemons

I may or may not have showed up early to this month's meet up to pregame with some bubbly. What can I say: I'm just a champagne-loving book nerd living my best life over here ;)

Here's the review of the two books we read as a group and two more books I read since I posted my last update!

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The Elizas

By Sara Shepard. Synopsis from Amazon:

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

Fans of Pretty Little Liars, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 will be drawn to the drama of feeling like no one is on your side, the high tension of not knowing who you can trust, the hair-raising truths hidden among lies, and a faceless, nameless presence controlling Eliza’s life from the shadows.

This book was first a welcome change of pace type of read for me, and then slowly turned into a a slight disappointment.  This was the book we read for my June book club and was picked mostly by the other club members, not myself.  I was excited that is was written by Sara Shepard (even though I’ve never read or watched Pretty Little Liars, it’s so popular so I figured that must be a good sign) and the naming of books like Before I Go to Sleep  and The Woman in Cabin 10 in the previews for the book got me really excited to read it as well (LOVED both of those books!) but this book’s mystery was nowhere near as good as those two novels.  I liked how the book started: it’s takes place in modern time and starts with a big mystery right off that bat and a main character who is a little bit kookie but interesting all at the same time.  The story alternates back and forth between replaying current events and reading chapters of Eliza’s novel.  As the story progresses the plot of the “fictional novel” appears to be more and more similar to the mystery going on in Eliza’s real life, and you have to try and keep up of what is real, what is fake, and what actually happened to Eliza in real life.  Honestly, the mystery felt drawn out and not all that enticing to me overall.  The characters fell kind of flat in the book and while they were amicable, I just was never excited to pick this book up and wonder OH MY GOSH WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT. It was more like, ok, when will you FINALLY iron out all the details of this mystery so the book can end and I can move onto my next one.  Bah.  Not a terrible book and the general idea of having the connection between the novel & Eliza’s real life was a really interesting set up for the book, but in no way should it be making all these lists for “10 of the most anticipated books out in 2018" and everything else the online reviews are claiming.

Surprise Me

By Sophie Kinsella. Synopsis from Amazon: 

After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in.
They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.
With a colorful cast of eccentric characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella presents a humorous yet moving portrait of a marriage—its intricacies, comforts, and complications. Surprise Me reveals that hidden layers in a close relationship are often yet to be discovered.

This was a fun and easy read, but the only thing keeping it from being a GREAT read was that I've read much better from Sophie Kinsella. Her Confessions of a Shopaholic series is one of my favorite chick lit series EVER because they were all such hilarious books.  This book was cute and I will admit there were a few spots that actually made me laugh out loud, but I feel like all those spots would be what would play in the trailer for this if it was a movie, and then you go watch the movie and realize all the funny parts were already shown in the trailer, and that was it. It was still a decent read that focused on marriage, family, and even eventually female empowerment and we got to follow the story line of Sylvie fighting for both her job and her marriage and it was nice to root her on along the way in the book.  It was a feel good read with some humor thrown in along the way - but I would suggest reading some others of Sophie Kinsella's before picking up this one.

Red Sparrow

By Jason Matthews. Synopsis from Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling author and veteran CIA officer Jason Matthews comes the electrifying modern spy thriller Red Sparrow.

In contemporary Russia, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova has been drafted to become a “Sparrow”—a spy trained in the art of seduction to elicit information from their marks. She’s been assigned to Nathaniel Nash, a CIA officer who handles the organization’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception and, inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow.

For fans of John le Carr√© and Ian Fleming and featuring “high-level espionage, pulse-pounding danger, sex, double agents, and double crosses” (Nelson DeMille), Red Sparrow is a timely and electrifying thriller that is impossible to put down.

I was surprised at how much I liked this book.  I don't read many spy or mystery books but this one stood out to me since I saw it was recently made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence in it (and um, hello, she's amazing) so obviously I wanted to see the movie but then of course had to read the book first! I will say that the book starts off just a little slow/hard to follow due to so many different Russian names.  I started it while laying on the beach...and then quickly decided to switch to a more light hearted/easy read and picked this one back up later.  I'm glad that I did though because it ended up being a very intriguing and interesting novel.  I will admit from the description of the book I thought there was going to be a lot more PG-13 rated scenes since the concept of the book was literally that Dominika was trained in the art of seduction to act as a spy in that regard - but that is not really what the book focused on.  Granted, there still were a few scenes like that and some gory scenes as well - but the book also really focused on the character of Dominika and her handler Nathaniel.  We get to follow Dominkia as she grows and develops skills as a spy and also watch as Nathaniel tries to stop himself from falling in love with her.  There was a lot of action, a lot of mystery, and a whole lot of Russian names that still confused me a few times in the book as to who was who (hah) but I really enjoyed the book and even though it was lengthier than most of my other recent reads, I would be very interested in reading the next two books in the series as well. 

When Life Gives You LuLuLemons

By Lauren Weisberger. Synopsis from Amazon:

Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.
Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.

In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.

So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.

With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world—and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done.

I had this book pre-ordered ever since I saw it was being released since I was such a fan of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.  This was a pretty much slam dunk pick for everyone in my book club as well for the month of July, none of the other book options I had posted stood a chance against it! It was an easy going and fun chick-lit read but once again...the only thing keeping it from being a great read for me was how much BETTER The Devil Wears Prada was.  I really enjoyed the return of the character of Emily in the book: she's bitchy, she's funny, and she's not a standard protagonist for this type of book but you end up loving her anyway despite her flaws.  The other characters in the book ended up being a little stereotypical for me and while it was a fun and quick read, the plot wasn't astounding and the drama/conflict in the book wasn't enough to keep you wondering what would happen next.  You kept reading because it was easy and a bit funny and poked fun at modern upper-class suburbia but looking back on it I really wouldn't have picked it up to read before some of the other books on my list if it wasn't written by Lauren Weisberger who I expected so much from.

Make sure you let me know if you've ready any of the same ones and what your thoughts are! If I had to pick my favorite of these four it would be Red Sparrow unless you are just looking for a fun beachy read since it IS summer after all... and then I would say go for When Life Gives You LuLuLemons. Now...onto my next read!

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