My Girlish Whims Book Club #14

I'm gearing up for my next in person book club in a few days so it was time to share the rest of my recent reads! I posted my last books right before Christmas and since then I got together with my book club for a fun holiday party complete with a gingerbread house competition, lots of yummy snacks, and of course plenty of wine as well.

I posted a random poll on my instagram to vote on all the different gingerbread houses that were made to pick a winner and surprisingly enough my own house ended up the winner!!! I think it was the broccoli shrubbery that really took it over the top ;)

Besides fun at book club, I've been enjoying lots of down time at the house reading. My boyfriend isn't as big of a reader as I am, but he recently bought a book on Einstein and has been powering through it. Consequently we've had lots of cozy evenings at home just reading together in the living room.  On Christmas day, we actually only had family events in the morning and afternoon, so Christmas evening was spent wearing Santa Clause socks and cozied up on the couch with our books together :)

Here's the full list of the books I just read: I loved three of these, only one was actually a bummer!

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Something in the Water

By Catherine Steadman. Synopsis from Amazon:

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

 This was a great read that I really enjoyed.  Basically, two newlyweds go on a charming honeymoon where they discover something one day while out boating that changes their lives forever.  This very normal couple is then thrust into making some very questionable ethical decisions and navigating their way through some potential criminal activity that they never would have been involved in before.  I thought at first that the book started off a little slow, but I do realize now after finishing the book that the slower portions were laying some important framework for the rest of the novel, so make sure you power through those early moments!  Things really picked up after the couple finds that “something” in the water, and there was a LOT of action after that.  Besides just the story of the couple, the novel also delves into some background and storylines of some characters in Erin’s documentary that she was working on which was a nice reprieve from the main storyline, but also ended-up intertwining with the main story after all.  The ending of this book TOTALLY surprised me and I did not see it coming at all.  I read most of this book while on a flight down to Nashville and after we landed I only had 7 minutes left in the book and I KNEW I just couldn’t do anything else until I finished!!! I made my boyfriend wait for my suitcase to get off the plane while I sat in a corner of the airport and finished the book – lol!!! I just needed the closure!!! I would definitely recommend giving this one a read.

The Book of M

By Peng Shepherd. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.
One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.
Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.
Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.
As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.
Like The Passage and Station Eleven, this haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down.

This book disappointed me.  I forget who, but I think one of my favorite authors recommended it, so I put myself on the waiting list on Overdrive for it. It randomly became available a few months later so I decided to read it. I think the biggest reason this book disappointed me was because it is in the "dystopian fiction" genre and I just recently read Bird Box (Bird Box review here) which was also a dystopian fiction book, and I LOVED that one so much.  I feel like this one just dragged on and on and on.  The story was interesting at times, and there was good drama in the book, but the concept of people "losing their shadows" and then starting to forget their memories, but then also gaining magic  It just seemed far fetched to me and blah.  It wasn't terrible, I wanted to read through to the end to find out what happened and there was one MAJOR twist I was not expecting, but overall if you are looking for dystopian fiction, Bird Box was a wayyy better read in my opinion. 

  Winter in Paradise

By Elin Hilderbrand. Synopsis from Amazon:

A husband's secret life, a wife's new beginning: escape to the Caribbean with New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.

Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a plane crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband's death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John.

After Irene and her sons arrive at this faraway paradise, they make yet another shocking discovery: her husband had been living a secret life. As Irene untangles a web of intrigue and deceit, and as she and her sons find themselves drawn into the vibrant island culture, they have to face the truth about their family, and about their own futures.

Rich with the lush beauty of the tropics and the drama, romance, and intrigue only Elin Hilderbrand can deliver, Winter in Paradise is a truly transporting novel, and the exciting start to a new series. 

I'm well known for being a big Elin Hilderbrand fan (see this post where I went to Nantucket for a weekend JUST because of her novels) so I obviously had to read her latest novel, Winter in Paradise, that just came out in 2018.  This is the first of Elin's books that has NOT been set on the island of Nantucket, and to be honest I was actually a little skeptical going into the book on how much I would like it.  I think I was unfairly swayed by reading a bad review of the book from another big Elin fan, but I really should have just trusted my gut: Elin can write nothing bad! This was another wonderful novel and I'm so glad I read it.  I did miss a bit of the quaint Nantucket references, but Elin did such a good job describing the quaint qualities of St. John that she already has me falling in love in with the Island.  I wish I book a weekend trip to St. John just to laze around on the beaches, hit up happy hour at Woody's, enjoy dinner at La Tapas, and just wander around the remote and beautiful island ;).  It had everything I loved about Elin's books: a multitude of interesting characters, love and romance, drama and intrigue, and SO MUCH intrigue that I was almost pissed off when I finished the book because I forgot that this is the first of a trilogy! I was giddy when I finished the book and realized there still would be two more books in the series for me to dive into.

Still Me

By Jojo Myers. Synopsis from Amazon:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you find the courage to follow your heart—wherever that may lead?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she discovers who she is and who she was always meant to be—and learns to live boldly in her brave new world.
I've only ever read one Agatha Christie f the most published authors ever!) and I really want to read some more of her novels now.

I read this book for free on Overdrive, but the first time it came up as available to rent I passed on it.  I read the first two books in this series and really enjoyed them, but that was a little while ago and I kind of forgot how much I liked them and wasn't dying to dive into this one.  I passed on it once, but when it came up again for me to rent I decided to just finally go ahead and read it.  I am SO GLAD that I did because I truly did forget how wonderful this series is!!! Louise Clark is such a wonderful heroine to follow along and the author is so funny. I was giggling out loud during multiple parts of the book.  It was so nice to see some of the other characters come back, including Louisa's dotting mother, slightly rude sister, and the memories of her time spent with Will sprinkled throughout the drama of her new relationships.  If you have yet to read Me Before You, you MUST add it to your reading list immediately (that book had a MAJOR impact on me), and I would 100% say that the two remaining books in the trilogy are worth reading as well.

I'm finalizing this post while waiting at the airport to board a flight to Florida for a week where I will be making my way down to Miami to leave for a CRUISE to the Bahamas (!!!) and I foresee lots of time to read in my future.  I'll have some time to read on the plane, but I'm most looking forward to reading on the beach on the private island owned by Royal Caribbean with a drink in my hand.  Can't wait to get there!!!

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