My Girlish Whims Book Club #22

There's 10 days until Christmas and I'm not ready.

I feel like the season snuck up on me this year: maybe because Thanksgiving was so late and I'm a true "can't start celebrating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving" kinda gal, but we don't even have a tree up yet and I'm not feeling super motivated to go get one either!!! I mean...with only 10 days to go, I'm legit not sure if it's worth it right now.  Does that make me a grinch or make me a realist? I'm not sure if I want to know, hah.

I'm also not ready because I have 7 days left until my book club Christmas party and I'm less than halfway through the book! I'm going to have to do some power reading between now and then to get it done.  Maybe I should skip getting a tree today and just read instead, hah! Hey, at least the book is Christmas themed so I'm getting into the Christmas spirit SOMEWHAT.

I'll share what Christmas book we picked to read on my next post, but for now here's a round up of my most recent books I've read since my last round up!

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What Happens in Paradise

By Elin Hilderbrand. Synopsis from Amazon:

A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn't Irene's only shattering news: he'd also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death - of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they're about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of American's most beloved and engaging storytellers.

We all know by know how obsessed I am with Elin Hilderbrand, so of course I had to read the second book in her Paradise trilogy.  I read the first book, Winter in Paradise, and reviewed it in this post and really enjoyed it.  It's fun to read a Hilderbrand novel that doesn't actually take place in Nantucket, even though the Island gives so much charm to most of her novels.  I have to say - I definitely liked the first novel a lot better than this one, and I feel like the third one will be good too, but this one was a little bit of a random hodge podge of adding in back story to the first novel and setting some frame work for the next novel, while not a ton of stuff happened in between.  I loved Baker's story in the first novel, but his story line was pretty much a snooze fest in this one.  Cash redeemed himself a bit in my eyes in this book and I enjoyed his portion, but found Ayers to be a bit annoying in this book.  The best part of the book was getting the backstory on Russ and Rosie's love story: we never had Rosie's point of view during the first book: we only knew her as the "woman Russ was having an affair with" so it was enjoyable to get her part of the story and see it develop.  I'll still be reading the third one for sure, just be prepared going into this one won't be the most exciting book in the trilogy.


By Colleen Hoover. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of the night their family was forever altered.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

This was our November book club pick and it had me HOOKED! The very first page freaked me out for a second, but it was short lived. I really enjoyed the plot that developed during the book, I liked the characters, I liked the suspense, and I like the format of the book. The writing alternated between Lowen sharing her story in real time, and chapters of an autobiography written by Verity describing past events that Lowen had lived through and her life with Jeremy which really helped to keep the book interesting.  There was a decent amount of steam in this book (strong PG13/R rating) but I actually think it added to the book, and I enjoyed how it was suspenseful but not TOO suspenseful, ya know?? Hah.  Overall, this was an awesome ready for me that I didn’t want to put down – I would recommend it for sure!

  The Goldfinch

By Donna Tartt. Synopsis from Amazon:

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by a longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into a wealthy and insular art community.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love -- and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention. From the streets of New York to the dark corners of the art underworld, this "soaring masterpiece" examines the devastating impact of grief and the ruthless machinations of fate (Ron Charles, Washington Post).

This book was quite an investment.  I didn't realize when I bought it for my kindle that is was actually 760 pages! It was a long book FOR SURE, but I'm still really glad that I read it.  I don't think I've ever read any Pulitzer Prize novels, and I'm glad I finally have! The writing style of this book was amazing.  The author had such a beautiful way of stringing two completely different subject matters together all in one train of thought as we went through Theo's mind and watched him learn and grow.  Sometimes I tire of books that take us through a long period of someone's life: we met Theo first in the book at 13 years old and we follow him as he grows up into his late 20s/30s but I never tired of following along his different stages.  Boris was hilarious and a train wreck all at once and I'm so glad his character came back into the second half of the book. I feel like by the end of the novel the author was trying to teach us something, leave us with something to take away from the novel...and I'm still really not sure WHAT that was (hah) but what I took away most from this book was just beautiful writing, engaging characters, and great piece of fiction I never expected to like as much as I did. 

The Whisper Network

By Chandler Baker. Synopsis from Amazon:

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge.
But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.
Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies will be uncovered. Secrets will be exposed. And not everyone will survive. All of their lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.
"If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one of Chandler Baker's Whisper Network, “none of this would have happened."

I'm indecisive about this book.  Overall I enjoyed reading it.  I liked the corporate America environment it took place in and strong female lead characters, but I struggled a bit with how realistic it was.  Maybe I'm sheltered, maybe I've just personally been blessed with a fair work environment and never felt major stigma against women in the work force, but I thought some of the subject matter was a little over the top.  The book made it out to seem like all of corporate America was sexist and against women and working in this environment as woman was like entering a battlefield every day.  The whole "woman who don't help women are the worst kind of people" thing bothered me as well: I don't think that has anything to do with WOMEN helping other WOMEN, I think it's more about just people in general.  The woman in the story who didn't "help the other woman" wasn't "so, so terrible" because she was a woman: she was "so, so terrible" because she was a douchey person in general!!! I did enjoy getting to know the different characters though and especially liked following Rosalita's story.  I enjoyed the book and characters but felt it came off a little TOO feminist, and not in an empowering way.

My in person book club had a fun time meeting up this November at North Italia in King of Prussia.  This was my first time seeing the girls again since my wedding and honeymoon, so it was really fun to catch up with them all again.  We've been meeting so long that we've seen a few book club members get married now: it's fun having a group of friends to celebrate these life changes with.  We really enjoy our monthly meet-ups and I'm glad our mutual love for reading has brought us together!

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