My Girlish Whims Book Club #31

Well January of 2021 is almost over and I’ve successfully read four books this month which makes me feel pretty accomplished for my reading goal this year! That would sound much more impressive if I actually had set an *ahem* reading goal for 2021 but hey let’s just go with it. In an seriousness, reading has always been a hobby of mine that I’ve always been pretty prolific with: if I finish one book I immediately have a few on deck ready to start next. I’ve been known to bring books to family gatherings, the gym, and even to overnight parties/stays with friends because you just never know when there will be some downtime and you will need a book to read!!! 
I know not every loves to read as often as I do though, so my goals for these continuous book review posts are one: to be a bit of a diary for me to keep track of what I've read, but also more importantly two: help anyone else who actually has a reading goal or wants to get back into the the hobby to see some great options to hopefully get excited about reading again and to find some new novels that look enticing enough to crack open a new book! Luckily since my last set of reviews I had multiple good reads, so let’s get down to my thoughts and reviews on each.

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By Julie Clark. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he's not above using his staff to track Claire's every move, making sure she's living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn't know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets—Claire taking Eva's flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it's no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva's identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

For fans of Lisa Jewell and Liv Constantine, The Last Flight is the story of two women—both alone, both scared—and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.


I really enjoyed this book! The set-up of the book was great: we basically got to read the plot in real time from Claire's point of view, and it alternated chapters going back in time leading up to the plane crash to also tell Eva's point of view.  What started as a book fully focused on Claire gained so much more depth, intrigue and emotion the more and more we got to read about Eva's background as well.  I felt anxious right along with Claire while she was on the run, I felt torn on the new relationship Eva developed in the story but couldn't commit to, I empathized hard for two women at the end of their rope who somehow ended up randomly or by fate connecting to switch plane tickets for a chance at a new life.  There were a few twists in this book and I was kept entertained reading it throughout the entire novel.  Would definitely recommend!  

   Troubles in Paradise

By Elin Hilderbrand. Synopsis from Amazon:

After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved. 

With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold -- including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.

As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John -- and the truth that transformed them all.

I really enjoyed the first two books of this series, so no matter what I would have read the final book in this trilogy. I feel like this book dragged on a little more than the first two - it had a bit less exciting drama than it's predecessors and realistically this series didn't need to be a trilogy to wrap up the loose ends.  That being said, I still just really enjoy reading Elin's books so I still liked it.  I liked getting to know douchey Dunk, I liked watching Irene go though a lot of character growth, I liked seeing the culmination of Ayers' flirtations with both brothers and her learning to stand on her own two feet.  I don't think any of these characters were perfect but I think that also made them a bit more realistic.  Overall it wasn't my favorite of the series but I still think Elin does a great job of bringing places to life and I still enjoyed following the end of these character's journey while on St. John.

The Things They Carried

By Tim O'Brien. Synopsis from Amazon:

A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.  

  This book has been sitting on my Amazon wish list for ages, and I finally decided it was time to dive in.  After I read a few too many "fluffy" novels (nothing wrong with them!!) I like to switch things up and dig into something with a bit more sustenance and boy did this one deliver.  I know this was a common book to be read in high school but I never did, and in fact I really never had many history lessons about the Vietnam War in general so I had a lot to learn overall from this book.  In short: it was beautiful and it was horrible, and you can't understand how those two can be correlated when discussing war and death and misery until you actually read the book.  The most amazing thing about this book was how artful the author crafted the stories to both share real life horror stories of the war, but still have them structured within tight, neat, cathartic stories with super moving prose.  I will never forget Kiowa and the field.  I will never forget the medic who went crazy.  I will never forget the vet who committed suicide because it was too much.  The Things They Carried were physical, they were metaphorical, and this book will remain as one I carry heavy on my heart for many years to come. 

The Hunting Party Book Review

The Hunting Party

By Lucy Foley. Synopsis from Amazon:

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

The trip begins innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps, just as a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage says. But how close is too close?



I picked this book because I really enjoyed reading The Guest List by this same author. In fact - it was my second favorite book I read in 2020 so I knew I needed to give another book a try by Lucy Foley. The overall concept is similar to The Guest List (the story takes place in a remote, intriguing location where a murder occurs and everyone left behind is a suspect) but while similar in that regard, there were many other differences and it's still worth reading - I really enjoyed this book! There was a good amount of characters in this book: enough to leave some mystery of who the murder culprit was, but not so many that it was too confusing to keep them straight.  I also really enjoyed the fact that you knew a murder took place from the beginning of the book, but you didn't actually know WHO was killed until towards the end of the book due to the book being written in alternating story lines and I thought that really added to the suspense of the book.  Many of the characters had secrets and as a woman in my 30s I related well to the fact that it was a group of 30 somethings who had been friends forever but even though they were old best friends there was a lot of tension and some relationship drama as they all gathered for their annual New Years Eve celebration: desperately trying to keep things normal, fun and cheery when really there was a lot of underlying issues and tension that eventually culminated in murder.  The book also focused on the background of the two workers at the camp they stayed at, the ominous setting of the remote hunting lodge, and even some drama and mystery and crime taking place around them in the Scottish highlands.  This will not be the best piece of literary fiction you will read in 2021 but it will be enjoyable and keep you guessing and I would totally recommend it!
We are supposed to get a bit of snow this weekend and into early next week: nothing like the massive blizzard they had in The Hunting Party but maybe 10-12 inches so lets all just keep our fingers crossed that there is no foul play involved during our storm!!! We might pop some bubbly and light our fireplace for the second time since moving in, but I think that's where our similarities will end to that book!!! We've only had one other snow this winter so far though so I'm actually looking forward to it.  I think winter eventually drags on and I get tired of snow, but at the beginning it's still a bit magical and makes a great background to peer out the window at while snuggled up inside with a good book!

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