My Girlish Whims Book Club #15

It's time to met up with my local book club again this week, so I'm back to review my newest books I've read since my last book reviews!

I read a lot of different places: at the gym while working out, at my desk at work on my lunch break, while waiting at a doctors office for appointments, laying in bed before I go to sleep...but my favorite spot to read is early evening, relaxed on the couch with a glass of wine, blanket, and good book!!! I had a random Saturday this past month where my boyfriend's work flight got delayed so he didn't get home until pretty late in the day on Saturday which changed up our normal routine.  I had most of the day to myself so I started it off by crushing an extra long workout in my basement gym, made some chocolate protein pancakes for breakfast, cleaned the entire house, and then showered up and relaxed and watched some girly shows while sitting at my beading desk and doing some beading.  By the time my boyfriend's flight had landed and he was heading home I started dinner (I made these yummy air fryer chicken tenders which are our FAVE) and then by 7PM I was relaxed on the couch with a glass of sweet Riesling and my book! After a bit we caught up on our favorite TV show (Top Chef) before tucking in for an early bedtime. It was a Saturday all spent at home but it was PERFECT and I so loved having some ME time to enjoy what I love: working out, beading, wine, and reading!!!

I do, of course, also love some quality GIRL TIME, which is exactly what I had last month at our in person book club meeting. We met at North Italia in King of Prussia and discussed Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.  We had a lot of differing options on this book, but keep reading to get my opinion of it at least ;)

Here's the full list of the books I just read, keep scrolling for my reviews on each one!

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Nine Perfect Strangers

By Liane Moriarty. Synopsis from Amazon:

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.
Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.
Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

This was our book club pick for our January meet up. Or...I guess I should say MY pick.  Normally I let the group vote between 3 different options, but since I love Liane Moriarty SO much and this was her newest book coming out, I figured it was SURELY going to be another winner so obviously was the best choice for our book club read to dive into next!

Boy. Was I WRONG! What happened Liane??? I didn't hate this book....ok.  Maybe I did.  I hated it compared to all of her other books because they were so good and I thought this was just such a dud!!! The premise of the storyline first and foremost wasn't that interesting: it was about all these strangers gather at a health retreat.  We get some reprieve from that storyline as we learn about the background of each of the characters, but most of the novel takes place at the health retreat and it just really was NOT that interesting.  Further more, there were NINE different characters and during certain"events" at the health retreat, Liane literally took us through each characters point of view from the same event so it took FOREVER for the plot to move along.  I was so bored with the book!!! I really didn't love the ending either.  The only saving grace was the main character of the 9 - "Frances," a middle aged romance novelist at the brink of a career change and going through menopause who was nice and quirky and fun to read along with.  There is also a decent amount of background and content regarding a suicide of a past family member, and Liane did do a good job of writing that content pretty emotionally - at halfway through the book in the meat of the explanation of that situation I was almost ready to burst out into tears.  Those were the only two saving graces though.  I would NOT go back and read this again, and would not recommend it either.  Bring us back another Big Little Lies next time Liane!!!

Murder on the Orient Express

By Agatha Christie. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

This is the third book I've read from Agatha Christie, and I knew after we read one of her books for our Christmas book club, I just had to read another. I'm ready to read a bunch more now too, because I just LOVE her writing style and stories!!! I love chick lit as much as any girly-girl book nerd, but I also love literature (got an A in AP literature in high school woot woot) and it's really refreshing to read books with such a great planned out storyline and characters and mysteries you can really dig your teeth into.  Since this book was recently made into a movie, I figured it was a good one to dive into next.  The main detective in this book was once again Hercule Poirot who is just such a wonderful character to follow along with - his wit and intelligence is astounding and I loved reading him work through this new mystery.  I also can't get over Agatha's blunt and dry sense of humor - certain parts of her description of characters literally had me giggling and I just loved the title of this chapter:

This was a great read, and as much as I wished I could have figured out who done it, there was NO way I could have seen that ending coming, and yet it ended up being the most perfect ending possible for the book.  This was a pretty quick and easy book to read: there are a multitude of characters introduced which became a little confusing at the start, but overall I loved the book and can't wait to check out the movie version. (Edited to add: the movie was no where near as good as the book was.  It was a bit of a disappointment actually! One of my favorite parts of the book was how bluntly it ended after the mystery was solved, while the movie dragged the ending on way more than I thought was necessary.)

 A Simple Favor

By Darcey Bell. Synopsis from Amazon:

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When glamorous Emily asks Stephanie to pick up her son after school, Stephanie happily says yes. Emily has a life that would make any woman jealous. She is the perfect mother with a dazzling career working for a famous fashion designer in Manhattan. Stephanie, a widow with a son in kindergarten, lonely in their Connecticut suburb, turns to her daily blog for connection and validation. Stephanie imagines Emily to be her new confidante and is shocked when Emily suddenly disappears without a trace, leaving her son and husband with no warning.

Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong. Unable to keep away from the grieving family, she soon finds herself entangled with Sean, Emily’s handsome, reticent British husband. But she can’t ignore the nagging feeling that he’s not being honest with her about Emily’s disappearance. Is Stephanie imagining things? How well did she really know her “best” friend? 
Stephanie begins to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

A Simple Favor exposes the dark underbelly of female friendship in this taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

This book has been on my radar to read for a little while, but when I saw it came out on demand as a movie with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively as the main characters, I knew I had to bump it up to the top of my reading list.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  There were a few different twists and turns to the mystery that I didn't see coming, and I enjoyed watching the storyline play out.  Sometimes I thought Stephanie's character was a little...over written??? Not sure exactly how to describe it, but her character was a little over-the-top at times and she had a multitude of facets, but overall I guess she was decently likeable.   The author packed a lot of drama into this story (probably more than necessary...) but I still enjoyed reading it.  I think it has gotten some bad reviews and while I do agree it didn't blow my socks off like a "Gone Girl" or something similar, it still kept me interested and I enjoyed the story and book overall.  Also, the trailer for the movie looks INSANE (and that a lot of creative liberties were taken with the plot) so I'm pretty pumped to watch that.

One Day in December

By Josie Silver. Synopsis from Amazon:

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

I picked this book as our February book club read because I knew it was about finding your "one true love" which I thought was fitting for the month of Valentine's Day.  I also heard it was a decently quick and easy read which we needed because we didn't go a full month between book club meets this round, so I didn't want something long and drawn out.  Well: I was right on the first account - it was a cute story about love and if you ever will ever end up with the person you are "supposed" to be with, but I was WRONG on it not being a long and drawn out novel. I liked this book - but it was LONG!!! It started in 2008 where Laurie has her "love at first sight" viewing of Jack, and follows their different story lines all the way up until 2017.  Nine full years of story line...and while there were some fun characters and cute moments in the book, it was still a very LONG way to drawl out a love story.  It definitely was a pretty light and breezy read and I did enjoy reading it, but I think it was a little longer than necessary.  In the end, I hardly even cared if Laurie and Jack ended up together, I was just ready to move on to something new.

There you have it: my last four books! I'm already over 1/4th of the way through my next book and now that this post is finished I'm about to pick it up to do some more reading.  It's an easy Saturday as I type this and my boyfriend and I have plans to meet friends out later tonight, so he went off to take a nap while I (the girl who is physically incapable of napping) decided to go with an alternate pre-going-out-method for the night: pregaming with a mimosa on the couch and enjoying some of my next novel :) Way better than a nap in my opinion!!!

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