My Girlish Whims Book Club #30

Well happy almost New Years my friends - here comes my last post of 2020 and WHAT A YEAR it has been! Even though this year has been a bit sucky overall in terms of the global pandemic, I am always a positive person and like to focus on the good things that have happened.  In 2020 I got to visit a few of my favorite places on earth: Nashville, The Finger Lakes, Nantucket, and Chincoteague Island.  I got to transition to working fully from home which cut out my long commuting times and allowed me to spend more time with my hubby.  I got a promotion at work and had my best sales year ever, rekindled my jewelry making hobby and started crafting a lot more, stopped tracking macros and started eating intuitively and stopped obsessing about my diet & weight, drank a lot of good wine, chose to move my body constantly even when the gyms closed, celebrated my one year wedding anniversary with my husband, and bought a new home together! 2020 has been a lot of things but it's still been a good one over here.

And of course as always - I did my fair share of reading in 2020! I will have read 34 books this year which is surprisingly a lot less than normal for me....BUT considering I read 3 of the first Outlander books this year which are all close to 1,000 pages each, I'm still quite content with this reading level! Before I get into my reviews for my most recent book reviews since my last set, I thought I would do a quick review of my top 5 favorites books I read in 2020! This is the first time I've done this since doing these book review round-ups but I figured this would be a good time to start!

This post contains affiliate links

NUMBER 5: The Outsider (original review in this post). I will say: number 5 for me was a hard decision between The Nightingale and this book but ultimately....this was the first Stephen King book I've ever read and there is a reason he is a famous author.  The character development, writing, and mystery just drew me in completely and I REALLY need to make a point to read another one of his novels in 2021!!!

NUMBER 4: The Silent Patient (original review in this post). If you are looking for a great psychological thriller, this one fits the bill! There are a lot of books in this genre that don't live up to the hype, but this one did FOR SURE for me and I enjoyed every minute of it. 
NUMBER 3: Daisy Jones & The Six (original review in this post). This book had sex, love, and rock and roll: what more could you want? Well, how about some really deep character development and a story line that felt so real I had to google the book because I really thought the band was real? This book literally gave me goose bumps at one point and I really really (really really) enjoyed reading it.

NUMBER 2: The Guest List (original review in this post). I'm kind of surprised I have this one listed as my number 2 book (to be fair it was hard deciding which of number 2 or 3 should have been number 2!!)   I don't think anything about this book was astounding or the most original ever - but when I think back about which book I really ENJOYED reading most this year, this one hands down comes top of mind.  You can critique plot or writing style or character development as much as you'd like but ultimately - reading is a hobby for me and something I do to relax and have fun.  This book kept me intrigued, curious, and I really enjoyed this new release this year.  It had good mystery and I enjoyed the eerie location and modern setting.  I would totally re-read this one again which I do NOT say often.

NUMBER 1: Outlander (original review in this post). Well: here we are.  I'm a bit late to the game on this series but let me tell you: it's worth the length, it's better than the TV show, it's simply put a semi-modern day classic.  Claire and Jamie's love story is...everything.  It's a historical fiction novel but it's never boring or dull: it's a romance novel but always tasteful and has just the right amount of *ahem* heat to it, it packs so much action and adventure and emotion into one book so no wonder it's so long.  I loved every character, hated every enemy, wanted to weep and cry tears of joy at so different parts of this novel.  A+++ to this book, this series, I am so glad I have so many more to keep reading!

And now: while none of the books I read recently made my top 5 list - two of them were really enjoyable! Here's my recap:

This Time Next Year

By Sophie Cousens. Synopsis from Amazon:
Their lives began together, but their worlds couldn't be more different. After thirty years of missed connections, they're about to meet again...

Minnie Cooper knows two things with certainty: that her New Year's birthday is unlucky, and that it's all because of Quinn Hamilton, a man she's never met. Their mothers gave birth to them at the same hospital just after midnight on New Year's Day, but Quinn was given the cash prize for being the first baby born in London in 1990--and the name Minnie was meant to have, as well. With luck like that, it's no wonder each of her birthdays has been more of a disaster than the one before.

When Minnie unexpectedly runs into Quinn at a New Year's party on their mutual thirtieth birthday, she sees only more evidence that fortune has continued to favor him. The gorgeous, charming business owner truly seems to have it all--while Minnie's on the brink of losing her pie-making company and her home. But if Quinn and Minnie are from different worlds, why do they keep bumping into each other? And why is it that each fraught encounter leaves them both wanting more?
A moving, joyful love story, This Time Next Year explores the way fate leads us to the people we least expect--no matter what the odds.

This was a cute read, especially fitting for around the holidays and New Years.  I wouldn't call this a romance novel, and it was not really laugh out loud funny, but it was still a heartfelt coming of age story with a bit of a long winded romance story tied in.  Some of the coincidences in this book were way too unrealistic, but there was a fun group of characters that made you smile often throughout the novel.  You couldn't help but feel bad for poor Minnie Cooper (yes, that's unfortunately her name) when she constantly has the worst luck every year on her birthday, but you also cannot help falling in love with her and rooting for her throughout the story.  If you want a book that's not overly original but will still make you smile and provide an easy and rom/com feel - this would be a good pick for you.

Leave The World Behind

By Rumann Alam. Synopsis from Amazon: 

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

I liked this book. It was slowly suspenseful without being freaky and I enjoyed the author's writing style. His style is very descriptive, but also very modern and weaves in a lot of current cultural comparisons that made you instantly connect with the young family at the center of the book.  My issue with the book is that I really didn't think it was about race or class at all which the synopsis of the book lead me to believe.  I feel like the book was more just about humanity: the story of a family with two kids, trying to keep everyone alive, safe, happy and healthy and the inner dialog that goes along with that, especially when their vacation is interrupted by the owners of the home they are renting and when things start getting a bit weird. If you are looking for a lot of action or satisfaction with plot, this is not the book for you.  If you enjoy getting an inside look at four anxious adults who start as weary strangers, but eventually have to bond together to figure out what is going on in the world and their emotions as they realize the delicate balance humanity as we know it is set upon...then it's worth a read. 

   In a Holidaze

By Christina Lauren. Synopsis from Amazon:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

This was a cute read for the holiday's, but it just wasn't my favorite.  I'm still glad I read it but it missed the mark just a bit for me.  The concept was interesting enough - the main character is constantly sent back in time to relive her holiday weekend with her family and friends over and over again until the "universe" deems she has changed/learned her lesson (think a bit Ebenezor Scrooge style) but it just wasn't quite as heartwarming/captivating as I hoped.  I mean we rooted for Mae since she was the main character but I still just felt a bit indifferent towards the plot.  There were so many different family members in the home and I feel like the authors tried to give them personality but they still fell a bit flat since there were so many involved.  And the love story.  Sigh.  I'd give this a solid PG-13 rating but I feel like the authors were pushing to make it more steamy but it just wasn't.  I didn't find the romance steamy at all and then just felt a bit...indifferent overall towards Andrew and Mae.  Sigh.  It's a cute read and if you want something mindless and cheery to read this fits the bill, just not my favorite holiday book ever. 

One by One

By Ruth Ware. Synopsis from Amazon:

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

I was a huge fan of In a Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware so I knew I needed to read this new one as well. Overall I liked it, but I will say I thought those other two were better. Still worth a read though: the book is about a hip new tech company that takes a company trip to a remote and extravagant ski chalet to vote on a buy-out option between divided partners. When an avalanche pummels through the mountain and cuts the group off from the outside world, a member goes missing and no one really knows if help is on the way or if foul play was involved until suddenly more victims are found. Questions of motive, money, affairs and more are brought to light as the group huddles together against the elements outside and the element of unknown: who is killing off the members and will help arrive before it’s too late? This book is the classic story line of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I enjoyed the ski chalet setting, mix of characters, and concept behind the tech start-up company and how the business and app played into the story. The story line keeps you guessing for a bit but ultimately it is decently easy to figure out “who done it” but I really didn’t mind. I kind of like being able to figure it out and to not be so clueless the entire time. The reason behind the crimes was interesting to me as well. While no Agatha Christie murder mystery, it’s still an interesting story line & copy cat concept and I enjoyed this more modern day take on it.

And that's a wrap for 2020 and my book reviews this year here's to another year of many more amazing reads!

1 comment