My Girlish Whims Book Club #20

It hasn't been very long since my last book review but I spent 9 days of August down in Chincoteague, Virginia so I had a little extra time while on vacation to get some reading done! This was my fifth time visiting Chincoteague Island (my fiancé's family vacations there every year, and just bought a little spot down there this year too!) and every time I go I fall more and more in love with the island.  I mean, when you can catch sunrises like this off of the bay every morning, how could you NOT love it???

The beach is actually located on a national, protected seashore and on the drive over to the beach you can normally catch wild horses roaming the woodlands! It's so quaint and serene and the beaches are great as well - they are the perfect little spot to catch some rays.

Even if you are not a beach person, there's plenty of other activities to enjoy on the water.  Boating and fishing and water sports are huge down here.  I liked going along for the sunset fishing trips on Will's family boat: you won't ever catch me with a fishing pole in my hand, but the bay and the quiet rocking boat gave some beautiful backdrops to do some reading on while the others were fishing.

And speaking of having great views for reading...I certainly had plenty during this trip! I got to read in a hammock, on a floating dock on the bay, at the beach, and on the deck of our home that overlooked the bay and beautiful skyline.

On some vacations I love to GO-GO-GO and explore new places, try new things, get out and about and live it up! Chincoteague is not really that kind of island though: everything moves a little slower and it's definetly the place to visit if you just want to slow down and relax and enjoy some nature and maybe some good books along the way :) Here's the list of the books that I read on vacation, and since the last time I rounded up my reviews!

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Ask Again, Yes

By Mary Beth Keane. Synopsis from Amazon:

How much can a family forgive?
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next 40 years. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while haunted by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

I have mixed thoughts on this book.  I thought the quality of writing was excellent, the character development superb, the conflicts challenging and thought provoking, but even with all that, I can’t insist that I loved it.  I did enjoy getting to follow the story of so many different characters through the book – you really got to know each character well and it was nice seeing the different views of each one.  This was a bit of a longer read, and it covered a lot of plot and time – starting from when Lena and Anne were only pregnant with Kate and Peter and the story focused on them and their relationship with their spouses, all the way through to Kate and Peter being born and growing up and then eventually the story transitions to mostly focusing on their life.  I think the thing that got me about this book was how many hard and depressing topics are in it.  It covers mental illness, alcoholism, loneliness, family/friendship divides, affairs, illness and recovery, and more.  While all those conflicts were very well written and plotted out, it was still a lot of muck to read through.  I guess I just wish there were a few more happy moments in the book instead of constant conflict.  Regardless, I give a lot of props to the author for a well written story, but know going into it that this will not be the most light-hearted read.

The Proposal

By Jasmine Gullory. Synopsis from Amazon: 

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise—or happen in front of 45,000 people.
When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part—they've only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up—in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...

I decided to read this book because I read The Wedding Date (reviewed here) and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to try the next book in the “series.”  The two books are not really related, but there are a few shared characters between the two.  Basically, Carlos was the best friend of Drew, one of the main characters from The Wedding Date, and this book focuses on him and how he meets Nikole and how their relationship develops.  I really liked Carlos’ character in the book and following his story. He’s a solid guy, funny, caring, and you really wanted to like him and root for him during the book. Nikole was ok – but she annoyed me at times and wasn’t as likeable as the lead female from The Wedding Date.  I think that the plot went by pretty quickly, and the climax “conflict” of the novel came up pretty quick, and it was obvious how it would end up.  This is a chick-lit novel, of course they are going to end up together in the end ;) (sorry for the minor spoiler).  Overall, it was still an overall fun read, just pretty fluffy – not something unexpected or that you can dig your teeth into.  If you loved The Wedding Date it’s worth reading, but if you are torn between trying this one or that one – The Wedding Date was definitely better.

  The Unhoneymooners

By Christina Lauren. Synopsis from Amazon:

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

The book was such a fun read for me.  I read it directly following Ask Again, Yes while I was on vacation because I needed something that would be more of a happy and fun beach read.  This definitely fit the bill! I enjoyed the rift between the two main characters and watching their relationship evolve.  The backdrop of Hawaii made for a fun setting as well. I'd call this an "easy going" romance/chick-lit novel.  There was some steam, some plot, but not excessive amounts of any.  It was just a fun, feel-good book and I think we all need one of those every now and again, so I was very pleased after reading it!

P.S. From Paris

By Marc Levy. Synopsis from Amazon:

From Marc Levy, the most-read French author alive today, comes a modern-day love story between a famous actress hiding in Paris and a bestselling writer lying to himself. They knew their friendship was going to be complicated, but love—and the City of Lights—just might find a way.

On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”

Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript?

I purchased this book from Amazon on 8/1/17, so two years later I figured it was finally time to give it a read. This was my first book I've ever read from Marc Levy (a famous french author) and I don't think that it will be my last!  I really liked this book.  The beautiful city of Paris obviously makes a great setting for the book, but the best part about it was the characters and dialogue.  Paul may come across as a slightly gruff writer, but you can tell by how much his friends love and care for him that he's really a great guy at heart.  I really enjoyed the funny set-up situation where he and Mia were slightly forced into meeting, and really enjoyed watching their unlikely relationship grow throughout the book.  My favorite part of the book was the witty dialogue that had me cackling during many-a-chapter, and the unexpected twist towards the end of the book that brought a little more depth to the story. This was an easy and pleasant read, and it makes me excited to try more by this author.

My in person book club also met up recently where we celebrated our TWO YEAR anniversary of meeting up! I can't believe that we have been meeting up monthly for two full years now - I'm so glad that I decided started this little group of mine.  Having a designated time each month to get together with some girlfriends to share a meal and some cocktails, talk a little about books, a lot about life, and belly laugh throughout the evening literally brings me so much joy!

Two years down, who knows how many more to come! I can't wait for our next meet up :)

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