My Girlish Whims Book Club #33

I feel like growing up there are certain things your mom focuses on teaching you and passing down to you, and other things that are overlooked a little.  My mom DEFINITELY taught and gave me her love of reading and crafting, but we were never the family that had super formal dinners growing up with elaborate table settings and menus.  In fact, I've shared before how I was raised that it was ok to read instead of talk at the dinner table, because we all loved reading so much!!! Well, this year I offered to host Easter for part of my family and my husband Will's family and while this sounded great in my head originally, of course then closer to the holiday I went into overdrive a bit about how I felt our house wasn't ready yet, how to set the dang table (totally had to google what side of the plate the forks go and the knives go) and how the heck I was going to make a two tier carrot cake from scratch!

Of course, the nice thing about being raised in a family that didn't really do much formal/fancy hosting, was that no one really cared if my carrot cake was slightly lopsided, I don't think anyone would have noticed if my table runner and napkins were not spring themed, and no one would have cared if I put the forks on the wrong side of the plate, lol.  We all had such a nice holiday just being together as a family (finally again!!!) and enjoying a bunch of really yummy food together!!!

I did end up having a lot of fun hosting for my first "formal" holiday at our new house, but I was definitely exhaused at the end of the day and having a little down time after everyone was gone and the kitchen was clean to sit outside on my deck and relax with a book was MUCH needed! I hope you all had an enjoyable Easter holiday as well - however formal or not formal your meal was ;) Links to some clothing/home items here:

Enough Easter chat though - let's get into books! Here is a new round-up of my current reads since my last set of reviews -hope you enjoy!

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Beach Read

By Emily Henry. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They're polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

This was my first book by Emily Henry and I just loved it!  Her writing style is modern, snappy and funny. She has such a unique way of being able to compare such simple/mundane situations to cultural references or other situations that just constantly made me smile.  I don't think this book is the type of typical story when you think of a "Beach Read." Yes, it has some romance but it also had a good amount of emotional depth to it too - about the loss of January's father and her coming to terms with his deception to her family and recovering from his loss.  I appreciated that about the book though - it wasn't just a total fluff read, it still had some depth to it and a good amount of character development.  I also really enjoyed the relationship between Gus and January.  I loved the dynamic between the two struggling writers and their little note cards they wrote back and forth made me smile.  Slight spoiler alert here so beware....but I also appreciated the fact that while there was some build up and wait until they got still knew they would be together in the end.  I hate romcoms where it's so obvious that the couple will get together but the author drags it out forever or gives dumb reasons for why the couple thinks they can't be together.  This relationship wasn't immediate but I thought the build up was fitting - both characters had some things to work out on their own before they could really make their relationship work together but their dates and "hook-ups" along the way kept the story and their relationship moving at a (what I thought) was a good pace.  Overall this was a great read for me and I would totally recommend!

Too Good to be True

By Carol Loverling. Synopsis from Amazon:
Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips—she’s smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family—she’s also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother’s death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result.

But now Burke—handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she’s met before—says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn’t who he claims to be. And interspersed letters to his therapist reveal the truth: he’s happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends.

In a third perspective, set thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke, a local bad boy, and make a better life for herself in New York City. But can her adolescent love stay firmly in her past—or will he find his way into her future?

On a collision course she doesn’t see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke’s scheme grows ever more twisted. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. And just when you think you know where this story is going, you’ll discover that there’s more than one way to spin the truth.

 I picked this of my March Book of the Month read.  I enjoyed reading the story, but I did get a pretty good idea of what was "really" going on in the story line pretty early on and eventually thought the book dragged on just a bit too much. While I enjoyed reading the narrative from each set of character's view there was no one person I really connected a ton with and wanted to win. I thought I liked Skye, then I got tired of Skye. I thought Heather was childish.  I think Burke needed to grow a pair. It was still an interesting story line but I thought the book started better than it finished and just didn't leave me with any "WOW I'm so glad I read that" feeling. While there were a few minor shockers in the story that did surprise me just a little, I'm still a bit indifference overall.  Insert "le sigh" here.
By Lisa Taddeo. Synopsis from Amazon:

Lina, a young mother in suburban Indiana whose marriage has lost its passion, reconnects with an old flame through social media and embarks on an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming. Maggie, a seventeen-year-old high school student in North Dakota, allegedly engages in a relationship with her married English teacher; the ensuing criminal trial turns their quiet community upside down. Sloane, a successful restaurant owner in an exclusive enclave of the Northeast, is happily married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women.

Hailed as “a dazzling achievement” (Los Angeles Times) and “a riveting page-turner that explores desire, heartbreak, and infatuation in all its messy, complicated nuance” (The Washington Post), Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women has captivated readers, booksellers, and critics—and topped bestseller lists—worldwide. Based on eight years of immersive research, it is “an astonishing work of literary reportage” (The Atlantic) that introduces us to three unforgettable women—and one remarkable writer—whose experiences remind us that we are not alone.
I know this book got a lot of buzz when it first came out in 2019 and I am really glad I finally read it, and I appreciate what it stands for. First off, it is a non-fictional book but reads very much like a modern fiction story so if you have trouble focusing on reading non-fiction like some people I know, (oh hi, hello - it’s me) this should be very easy for you to keep attentive too. Additionally, because it is nonfiction and all true, the stories in it make the narrative that much more shocking about how women are treated in the modern day world and what some men are able to get away with. 
Stepping away from that point, I do appreciate how much this book embraced feminine desire and did not shy away from it. Be warned, this is definitely an R or above rated book and there is a lot of sex so reader beware...but I for one found it refreshing to read how unabashed these three women were about their sexuality and going after what they wanted. I think too many fictional books either go over the top in this area (this is why I can’t stand romance novels), or focus much more heavily on male desire/make the woman out to be so much more chaste in unrealistic ways and I found it powerful and modern to read these stories."It felt as though, with desire, nobody wanted anyone else, particularly women, to feel it."

It was a heartbreaking read to see how poorly these women either were forced into or let themselves be treated throughout their stories. My heart broke with Sloane when she said "something inside {her} stopped. Not her heart, but something that kept her body running all the same. She could feel it, her actual soul melt out and skitter from the room" during one of the first shocking situations during intercourse in her story. I was mad and hurt for Lina for letting her worth and happiness be tied around someone who treated her so absentmindedly. And Maggie...well. There were too many grievances and shock at the fact that this is a real story to get into here, but I just cannot believe how an entire town rallied around a man was so utterly guilty, just because he was a man and popular teacher. I was heartbroken, moved, enlightened and heated up by this book which is a very strange combination...but overall I am glad this book was written and glad that I read it as well.

Writers and Lovers

By Lily King. Synopsis from Amazon:

Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with another instant New York Times bestseller: an unforgettable portrait of an artist as a young woman.

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.


Writers & Lovers follows Casey—a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist—in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.


  I really liked this book! It was the second book I read this time that was about an author struggling with grieving and also with writing a novel but this was very different from Beach Read. They both had unique writing styles but the writing in this book reallllly made you empathize with Casey.  You fall in love with her as a protagonist in the book as she is so constantly down on her luck, and you watch her try to navigate dating two different men (the scene meeting Oscar at the restaurant with his kids?? How could he not fall in love with her!) and stay afloat working a job that's not enough to pay off her debts while still staying true to her passions to finish the book she's been writing for the last 6 years.  This is not a fast paced book in terms of plot, but I personally didn't mind that.  I got so much more out of following the basic life of Casey - the constant reference to her "bees" and what was causing them, her comradery and humor with Henry at the restaurant, her singing to the geese, her time with a therapist and finally hearing the phrase "this is not nothing." All of those little moments and glimpses into her life and her struggle broke you a bit and made you love her all the more.  I will say: the ending felt slightly rushed, slightly cliché and too-good-to-be-true...but without giving any spoilers away, I didn't mind it. If you want action and adventure - this is not the book for you. If you enjoy literature, the art of writing, and watching a struggling character slowly come into her own with great writing along the way - pick up this book!

We finally had another in person book club meeting in April and it felt like the world was {FINALLY} semi-normal again.  We read Writers and Lovers for our book together and I found it funny because while I gave it such a positive review above, the consensus from my other book club members was less than positive, hah. I believe the words "pretentious" were thrown around a lot, and they didn't quite connect/empathize with Casey like I did.  Just goes to show that books are very personal! Just because I enjoyed something doesn't necessarily mean someone else will.  There a million different ways to connect with different books and luckily millions of books out there to discover.  If you come across one you don't like, you can just pick up a new one and move on :) Here's to finding more good ones!!!


  1. Your cake looks delicious! What a fun event to have everyone over. My home is much too tiny for hosting, but we do have a nice yard, and I enjoy having my mom and brother over for lunch sometimes.


    1. I'm very proud of that cake - haha! An outdoor area works just as well for hosting outside events! Hope the weather as beautiful for you this week as it is here in PA!!