My Girlish Whims Book Club #35

I'm flying through my books these days! It's been only about two weeks since I posted my last set of reviews but I'm back again with more to share. Since not much else has gone on in my life since my last reviews...(work, workout, snuggle my cat, eat, do a few productive things around the house, snuggle my cat some more, read on the couch, read in bed, read during meals, snuggle my husband for a second and then my cat again...) I'm just going to get straight into the last few book I've been reading and my thoughts on each!

This post contains affiliate links

Golden Girl

By Elin Hilderbrand. Synopsis from Amazon: 

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she's assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

With all of Elin’s trademark beach scenes, mouth-watering meals, and picture-perfect homes, plus a heartfelt message—the people we lose never really leave us—Golden Girl is a beach book unlike any other.
We should all know by know that Elin Hilderbrand books are auto-buys for me, so of course I was excited for her most recent summer release to come out! Sometimes I like to save these books for a trip or to read somewhere fun, but without any beach plans on our calendar until August I knew I couldn't wait that long! This book was set-up a lot different than most of Elin's novels.  While the chapters were still written with alternating characters as narrators, this story had one of the main characters literally looking down from above, watching her children live out their lives and revisiting memories from the past.  The set-up worked well and I did really enjoy reading this book, but I think I like some the the more traditional set-ups of prior books a little better.  Of course what always makes Elin's stories great though is two fold: the beautiful way she describes Nantucket island and makes you feel like you are a local right there with her, and the detailed, relatable, flawed but favored characters she develops. I loved following the growth Carson went through, routed for responsible Willa, and even hated Amy a bit but still managed to feel bad and empathize for her.  My favorite quote in the book is spoken from older sister Willa to younger sister Carson and I find it extremely relatable to Elin's books: "We honor Mom by offering forgiveness.  You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things - but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them.  Because they're humans." No one is perfect - real life or fiction and I'm glad that Elin follows through with that with her characters.  They may not always be found in the most moral situations or make the right choices - but instead of being offended by that I appreciate seeing wrong choices made in a book and how the characters can grow and move on from those mistakes. I thought this was a heart-felt novel and think it's a great book to pick-up to help you appreciate your life and loved ones a little more this summer!

The Last Thing He Told Me

 By Laura Dave. Synopsis from Amazon:
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

 Am I the only who did not think this book lived up to the hype??? I skipped getting this book the first month it came out on Book of the Month because it just didn't jump out at me and too be honest I didn't really like the cover, lol.  Then it was picked for Reese Witherspoon's book club and climbed the ranks on Amazon's charts so I made it an option for my in-person book club that got picked, and here we are.  I still enjoyed reading it but I did not think it was fast paced, I did not find it thrilling, and I did not think there were many crazy plot twists.  When the truth about Owen came out it didn't seem like a major breakthrough - it just seemed like a random part of the story that suddenly got explained. This felt like just a normal, slow mystery that we had to follow along. The characters felt flat to me: Bailey was a bit insufferable, Hannah felt like a bit of a pushover to me, and the ending made me mad too! It was a quick read and not a bad book just not as exciting or new and novel as I was hoping it would be. 
By Taylor Jenkins Reid. Synopsis from Amazon: 
Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
I am a huge Taylor Jenkins Reid fan. The Seven Husband's of Evelyn Hugo is probably one of my top 5 books I would recommend to others to read, and this book didn't disappoint either.  This author does well with the "rags to riches" story line that follows characters who come from little and make it big. I enjoyed the setting of this book in Malibu and the casual/cool surfer life vibes, and I liked following the alternate timeline between June and Mick's relationship and the family's upbringing along with the timely countdown of the day of the party in current time. You also know from the very beginning of the book that the night will end with Nina's mansion burning down, so it was interesting following along to see exactly how that would happen. I do think that this book fell a little more flat with the character development - Nina was the oldest and main character of the siblings but still having four siblings total with stories to tell just wasn't as great as it could be: I don't think that the others siblings stories really took off.  I thought Jay was a bit of a dick and I guessed Kit's big "reveal" way early in the story.  Also towards the end of the book there were so many characters making cameos during the party I couldn't remember who was who, let alone who was making out with who or getting high with who or getting arrested with who. I appreciated the story, I enjoyed watching Nina and June grow and struggle through their own battles, and I appreciated the unique bond through the Riva family throughout the story.  Not as good as The Seven Husband's of Evelyn Hugo or Daisy Jones and the Six in my opinion, but I still breezed through this in only 2.5 days and would recommend it for summer reading!

The Wife Upstairs

By Rachel Hawkins. Synopsis from Amazon:

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?
 I liked this book a lot.  It's supposed to be a modern re-telling of Jane Eyre but it's been about a solid 12 years since I read that classic and seeing as I forget everything about it, I just enjoyed this for a modern fiction thriller.  I enjoyed getting to know Bea's story through flashbacks in the book and appreciated her character and story a lot.  I wish that Jane's character would have had the same depth - even though she was the main character in this book I had a bit more trouble connecting with her and thought she could have been developed a little more for all the "mystery" around her past and build up about it.  I do think that the way she and Eddie connected so randomly and quickly was a bit unrealistic but I still enjoyed watching them together and following along as Jane tried to fit into the neighborhood.  I was shocked/surprised by some parts of this story which is part of the reason I enjoyed it so much.  My worst criticism though? Way too many F bombs that were not necessary!  I'm not opposed to language in books AT ALL but I don't think the amount of F bombs really added anything to the story.  Minor detail but worth noting, but I would still recommend picking this one up!
I'm typing this up as we head into a long Fourth of July weekend! We have plans to get together with my parents and siblings to do a cook out on Saturday which will be nice to get the entire family and all of my nieces together again! Besides that we have very limited plans for the weekend so I plan to celebrate Independence Day with a whole bunch of independent reading and not much else :)


  1. Thank you for sharing these great books.

  2. Wow! You've got these read so quickly! Awesome reviews.