My Girlish Whims Book Club #46

It seems I'm much better at reading books these days than getting my reviews up in a timely matter, go figure, lol.  Instead of a bunch of fluff about my life before getting into the reviews, here's a quick picture collage of our recent trip to the Finger Lakes - our first trip up there bringing the boys! If any one is interested in a full recap of our trip, let me know (maybe I'll get that posted quicker than these reviews??? Probably not!) But suffice it to say it was such a fun getaway! A lot of work with twin babies for sure, but looking at these pictures again already makes me ready to plan our next trip away.

I brought "Lessons in Chemistry" along on this trip (spoiler alert - I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!) and got some reading done after the boys were in bed each night.  Here are the other books I read since my last round up and we can get right into my thoughts on all of them!

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By Blake Crouch. Synopsis from Amazon:

At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.

But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.

Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.

And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?

Intimate in scale yet epic in scope, Upgrade is an intricately plotted, lightning-fast tale that charts one man’s thrilling transformation, even as it asks us to ponder the limits of our humanity—and our boundless potential.

I absolutely loved Dark Matter and Recursion by Blake Crouch so I was super excited to get a copy of this book from Net Galley to read before it was released.  My favorite thing about Crouch's books is that they definitely fall in the Sci-Fi category but they are not SO heavy laden with scientific terminology that they are difficult or confusing to read for me (someone who's worst subject in school was probably science!) The science in them is extremely believable as well: this book focuses on the fact humans have developed a way to tweak genes and DNA to change species for better or for worse which I thought was very interesting.  The book itself read very much like a thriller and had a lot of action in it, but also still had a lot of focus on family and relationships - Logan's troubled past with his mother, his new battle with his estranged sister, and his struggle to watch his relationship with his beloved wife and daughter slip away from him due to his upgrade.  There is an overarching theme in the book about the world being doomed because us humans are killing ourselves and the earth (ho-hum, blah blah, lol) and the major action scene at the end of the book got a little excessive to me, but this was still an enjoyable read for me. I liked his first two books a bit more than this one, but at this point I would say Crouch is an auto-read author for me because I really enjoy the change up to a sci-fi genre with the interesting stories he comes up with!

By Bonnie Garmus. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo. 

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

This will for sure top my list of favorite books I read in 2022: I just adored this book! The title and the book cover really did not appeal to me - it looked like a cooky modern romance novel with a chemistry trope by the cover to me and I just have never been a fan of modern romance books these days, so it was completely off my radar until an instagram follower touted its praises to me and said she thought I would love it too.  Bingo - she was so right! It is not a romance book at all but a frustrating and heartwarming tale of one female chemist Elizabeth Zott.  So many of the scenarios in the book make you extremely mad and frustrated at how poorly Elizabeth is treated as a woman in the 1960s.  The cooky but lovable protagonist fighting her way in the world reminded me a bit of The Maid which I read and loved earlier this year (posted about here) which also had a female lead, Molly, who was a bit odd but still very endearing and others took advantage of her. The book was heartwarming with such a cute cast of supporting characters - sweet Mad, busy body Helen, and the best character of all: six-thirty the dog.  Yes, there is a dog as a character in the book and it was hilarious! I loved every inch of this book and emoted so hard with Elizabeth throughout all the chapters - do yourself a favor and pick it up to see for yourself why!

{Edited to add after my book club meeting for any of the publishing powers out there: we think this book would have been much better off titled "Supper at Six" with a less modern cover, but just our two cents! The writing and story speaks for itself though, and I would recommend this book to anyone!)

This Time Tomorrow

By Emma Straub. Synopsis from Amazon:

On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?

I checked this new release out from my local library that I FINALLY went to visit and signed up for a library card! It's a pretty small library but I was impressed by their new releases section and availability.  I had seen this one mentioned a few times by authors I like/bookstagram accounts so I grabbed it from the library with one issue - I could only check it out for 7 days since it was a new release with no extensions! I was a little worried about finishing in time but turns out I was worried for naught - I finished with two days to spare! I enjoyed this book so I read it pretty fast, my only qualm with it is that this same scenario I feel like is just overdone: protagonist travels back in time to try and fix her life before figuring out the alternate lives you thought you may have wanted may not be better after all (it gave me lots of The Midnight Library vibes). While the story structure was not unique, I don't want to critique too harshly because I enjoyed Straub's writing a lot. This was my first book from her and I liked her modern style and I enjoyed the characters a lot.  I thought the book would be a bit depressing since so much of it focuses on her ill father and his pending demise...but even with that at the forefront it wasn't overwhelmingly sad.  My favorite quote from the book was "Happy endings were too much for some people, false and cheap, but hope - hope was honest. Hope was good." This is a story about self-discovery and learning to appreciate the things you have in life at every moment along the way and I enjoyed it! 


By Elin Hilderbrand. Synopsis from Amazon:

From marriage, infidelity, and the mayhem of motherhood to scandal, tragedy, and illness—three women seek peace and comfort in Nantucket as they cope with life's challenges.

Three women—burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues—tumble onto the Nantucket airport tarmac one hot June day. Vicki is trying to sort through the news that she has a serious illness. Her sister, Brenda, has just left her job after being caught in an affair with a student. And their friend Melanie, after seven failed in vitro attempts, is pregnant at last—but only after learning that her husband is having an affair. They have come to escape, enjoy the sun, and relax in Nantucket's calming air. But into the house, into their world, steps twenty-two-year-old Josh Flynn.
Barefoot weaves these four lives together in a story with enthralling sweep and scope—a novel that is as fun and memorable and bittersweet as that one perfect day of summer.

I saw this older book from Elin Hilderbrand sitting on an end cap at my local library I just joined and took it as a sign that I needed to grab it.  I am a hardcore Elin fan but have not read a few of her older novels so it was perfect timing to grab this one as a free rental from the library.  It was published in 2007 and some of the differences from just 15 years ago cracked me up (I laughed out loud when there was a reference to the computer game Snood which I used to play all the time!) Even if it's 15 years old, I still enjoyed reading this one - the Nantucket magic Elin depicts is always timely to read and escape to in the summertime. The book was not entirely light hearted though: I actually had to google when Elin herself was diagnosed with breast cancer because the way she wrote about Vicki fighting through lung cancer with the chemo treatments and the impact it had on her family was so heartfelt, I really thought Elin was speaking from experience (she was not diagnosed with cancer until 2014 though!) One thing I appreciate about Elin's stories is how sometimes they end how I believe things really happen in real life, verses how we want things to always end in a magical fairy tale. The characters she paints and their struggles and drama may be fictional, but I think they parallel real life people and situations extremely well without a lot of extra BS thrown in. This was an enjoyable back-list read from Elin for me, and I plan to continue with the rest!

I'm almost done my fourth book for my next set of books - so I will be back again soon{ish} to update you all on my next reads! Hope you are all clinging to the last bits of summer and reading time like I am :)

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