My Girlish Whims Book Club #21

I randomly woke up at 4am this morning, so I thought there was no better time to sit down and finish typing up my last set of book reviews. You see, I'm getting MARRIED this week (!!!) and sleep has just not been my friend the past few days. Too many exciting things to think about, too many random nightmares to have about forgetting to pack my clothes for the honeymoon and then my fiancé getting abducted on the way to the airport ( yes that seriously happened - lol.  Well, in my dreams I mean!!!) Ah well.  There are only a few days left to go now until the big day, and hopefully I'll have more time to relax and catch up on sleep when the wedding is over.
 

I did have plenty of time to relax last month when I went to Jamaica with some girlfriends for my bachelorette party! What a fun trip - I basically got to lay on the beach all day reading, hanging out with friends, drinking champagne, and floating around in the ocean.  Pretty much my perfect idea of vacation.


I was able to get a decent amount of reading done on that trip, and now I'm excited to dive into my next set of books to read on our honeymoon in Mexico! Before then, let's do a review of the last few books I've read since my last round up.


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The Two Lila Bennetts

By Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Synopsis from Amazon:

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.
In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.
Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

I got this book for free on Amazon to read, but I had seen some other "bookstagram" instagrammers discussing it and the plot of the book intrigued me, so I was excited to get it for free to read. The book essentially follows Lila through two different story lines based on one choice she makes: one story line leads to her being kidnapped and held hostage, and one leads to her continuing to live her regular life.  I found this book interesting because essentially, we really shouldn't like Lila as a protagonist: she's done some shitty things to some of the people she loves and hasn't always been a great person, but somehow the authors write her in a way that keeps us rooting for her to make amends for her past ways and become a better person.  I was very intrigued about how the book would finally tie the two story lines together or pick one versus the other to win out as the final ending (at one point I thought Lila just woke up from a "dream" which was one of the alternate story lines and I thought that was a MAJOR cop out - but I read it wrong and that's not what happened!!) and ultimately I was very satisfied with how the authors handled one story line ended and having the true story line win out.  You got a lot more context and character development by following two different life scenarios for Lila, and I really enjoyed the set-up of this book as something a little different and thought it was an enjoyable read!

Mrs. Everything

By Jennifer Weiner. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Do we change or does the world change us?
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world? them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...

I've really enjoyed some of Jennifer Weiner's earlier novels, so I really wanted to love this book.  One of my favorite authors, Elin Hilderbrand, also helped promote this book since it came out around the same time as her Summer of 69 novel so I wanted to like it even more because she endorsed it! But guys.  I just did not. like. this. book!!!! I felt like it just went on and on and on and was never going to end!!! This book covers a long time period: starting from when Jo and Bethie Kauffman are just little kids, all through their childhood, adolescence, young adult life, up through having their own families and middle aged life and then growing old.  I know the book is supposed to focus on the differences between the two girls and how they struggle to find their place in the world as times change, but man I STRUGGLED to stay interested in their struggles for the entire book! Neither sister really stood out to me as someone I really was invested in either: Jo's story line got a little too detailed into lesbian experiences for what I was expecting from the book, and Bethie's character went from being this cute and chaste character to a drug addict who then floats through life and lives on a compound for most of the book and it took awhile for her to come back to being a likeable character again.  Overall, I just got tired of the characters and the book and thought it was really not that special of a read.

  The Other Woman

By Sandie Jones. Synopsis from Amazon:

HE LOVES YOU: Adam adores Emily. Emily thinks Adam’s perfect, the man she thought she’d never meet.
BUT SHE LOVES YOU NOT: Lurking in the shadows is a rival, a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.
AND SHE'LL STOP AT NOTHING: Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.


Overall, I enjoyed this book.  Whenever I find myself getting involved in the story line of a book and actually becoming angry, frustrated, etc. at the different characters/situations, I know that I've been hooked! I don't think I would call this a psychological thriller though - it's more the story of one girl's relationship with a boy and his pain-in-the-ass mother who is trying to tear them apart (well, that is the overarching theme, but it gets a little more intense than that).  I do think at times the main character was a bit dumb: I don't think that the character of Adam was described to be as worthy of Emily's unfaltering admiration, and Emily is way too quick to lay down and be walked over by Pammie throughout most of the novel. It was still an enjoyable read for me - I loved Emily's friends Pippa and Seb and I truly was kept interested and invested in the story line, and was surprised and happy with the way it ended. 

The Wife

By Alafair Burke. Synopsis from Amazon:


When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.
Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.
This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?
 
This book kept me pretty entertained throughout the entire thing: the premise was pretty interesting to me.  Man is accused of making a pass at an intern, wife has to decide to stand by him or not, especially when further allegations come to light.  I think sometimes books too easily portray situations where a man cheats and then is immediately kicked out, the relationship is over, end of story.  I like how this book portrayed more of the overall struggle before potentially getting to that point.  Even if Jason did cheat, the book explained the struggle Angela had with not being able to immediately stop loving him: he was still her husband, the father figure for her child, and Angela had a very troubled past that bleed into their relationship, making things more complicated than they seemed at first.  The story line was definitely not as straight forward as it seemed and there was a bit of a mystery involved to figure out exactly what happened with a bit of a twist at the end that (i'll admit) was not completely surprising for this type of book (I'm just really waiting for another good psychological thriller that is not super predicable...) but I still overall enjoyed this read!
 

My in person book club met this past month to discuss The Other Woman and to be honest...we only talked about the book for about 5-10 minutes, hah! The book was an enjoyable read for me, but there wasn't a ton of meat there for discussion.  Instead we caught up on life and chatted and laughed and they surprised me with a cute little wedding present and this fun sign:


Book club is swell indeed :)  Hopefully our next book for November will be filled with a little more plot and content for discussion - I'll be back to fill you in on my next round up!

2 comments

  1. Oh, so happy for you! Enjoy all the wedding planning that you'll be doing this year. It's fun, even though it can be stressful. Our book club is the same. We talk about the book a little, but then move on to other things a lot of the time.

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    1. Hah! Glad our book club is consistent with the others out there ;)

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