My Girlish Whims Book Club #47

I'm back to wrap up some of the most recent books I read, many over our summer vacation last month! We went back down to Chincoteague Virginia for a week with our family and it was such a perfect little getaway.

As always, traveling with twin babies is a LOT of work but it's still so much fun to get a change of scenery and enjoy a few relaxing moments when they pop up. The boy's morning nap was my favorite time to sit out on our balcony enjoying the breeze, views, and a good book!

And of course, when the sun was shining an afternoon beach trip was my favorite place to crack open a beverage and a book while the boys were busy exploring and playing in the sand (I don't even want to think about the amount of sand they consumed on this much sand everywhere!!!)

I managed to finish two books the week we were away, so here is the round up of the books I have finished recently! (Previous round up found here)

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The Vacationers

By Emma Straub. Synopsis from Amazon:

An irresistible, deftly observed novel from the New York Times-bestselling author of Modern Lovers, about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

I grabbed this from the library to take on our beach trip from a recommendation from Elin Hilderbrand (one of my fave authors) and it was an enjoyable read for me, just not a love read. I'm a big fan of Straub's writing style but I just couldn't get very absorbed into any of these particular character's lives. I couldn't connect with any of them and thought that none of them were exceedingly likable either.  Additionally, even though the book title is about the "Vacationers" and features a playful and relaxing appearing cover, it's really not a light "beachy" read at all - the Post family is working through a lot of issues and change and there is more drama and downhearted characters than easy breezy reading.  Not necessarily always a bad thing but something good to know ahead of time if you prefer something a little lighter for your own vacation! I still enjoyed the book and seeing the family work through their issues but it wasn't that memorable for me unfortunately.

A Flicker in the Dark

By Stacy Willingham. Synopsis from Amazon: 

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren't actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?

I enjoyed this suspense book! I did hear about some twists/unexpected "who done it"s in the book from some book club friends before reading it though so I was a little extra skeptical about every character.  I wish I would have gone into it a little more open minded and less skeptical about every situation, but even so I still was kept guessing while I read it. I thought that reading about a serial killer from the viewpoint of the daughter (Chloe) was an interesting take on this specific scenario. Chloe was a bit of a mess - hyped up on prescription drugs and alcohol and completely paranoid about everything.  While some don't enjoy the unreliable narrator scenario for phycological thrillers, I actually enjoyed this one due to the fact that Chloe was the psychologist actually self-medicating herself - she knew exactly what she was doing and just didn't seem quite as helpless and dumb as some unreliable narrators come off. Not a bad book overall, I was kept guessing and enjoyed reading it...well as much as you can enjoy reading a book about young girls getting killed over and over (it was NOT a happy book, but there were some cathartic moments in it at least!)

A Hundred Summers

By Beatriz Williams. Synopsis from Amazon:

Lily Dane has returned to Seaview, Rhode Island, where her family has summered for generations. It’s an escape not only from New York’s social scene but from a heartbreak that still haunts her. Here, among the seaside community that has embraced her since childhood, she finds comfort in the familiar rituals of summer.
But this summer is different. Budgie and Nick Greenwald—Lily’s former best friend and former fiancĂ©—have arrived, too, and Seaview’s elite are abuzz. Under Budgie’s glamorous influence, Lily is seduced into a complicated web of renewed friendship and dangerous longing.

As a cataclysmic hurricane churns north through the Atlantic, and uneasy secrets slowly reveal themselves, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional storm that will change their worlds forever.

I adored this book! I was so sad when it ended and actually missed reading it - a true sign of a good novel.  This was my second book I've read from Beatriz Williams, my first being The Summer Wives (reviewed here) which I also really enjoyed, so I know I will need to pick up some more by this author.  These two books definitely had summertime reading vibes, but the characters and stories are so timeless you could really read them any time of year.  I did, however, finish this one in less than a week over Labor Day weekend and it really was the perfect summery novel to close out summer with.  I loved the setting from the 1930s, the family drama, the steam and scandal, and how the story played out in alternating timelines. Lily was so likable: innocent yet jaded, Nick was always the perfect gentleman, and it drives you nuts that they are not together in the current timeframe and leaves you hanging for so long to see why not in the flashback portions. Aunt Julie was salacious and hilarious, Kiki was adorable and added so much extra surprise and mystery to the plot, all and all I just loved all of the characters and loved this book.  It will be one of my favorites I've read so far this year for sure!

Carrie Soto is Back 

By Taylor Jenkins Reid. Synopsis from Amazon:

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is pretty much an auto-read author for me ever since I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (reviewed here) which is one of my favorite books published in the last five years!! I didn't love this one as much as Evelyn Hugo or even Daisy Jones and the Six but I definitely still enjoyed it. This book gets pretty technical with tennis terminology and game strategy which is not really in my very non-athletic wheelhouse, but you don't have to be a tennis pro by any means to enjoy this book.  All of the strategy and game descriptions really just helps to immerse you into Carrie's life even further, as she truly really eats, sleeps and breathes tennis and all of the tennis talk helps pull you into her world.  While Carrie was not always fully a likable character you really do grow to admire her dedication to her sport, ambition, and love for her father Javier.  There are a few moments you want to whack her in the head with a tennis racket when it comes to her romantic pursuits, but I always think that's a sign of a good book - where the story and characters draw you in so much that you really care about what will happen next and who will make it in the end.  Jenkins Reid is great at writing strong female leads, and this book did not disappoint with any of the characters and plot points along the way!

That's a wrap for now! I leave tomorrow for another beach trip with the boys back to Sea Isle City, New Jersey to meet up with my parents at their RV.  Most of the week it will just be my mom and me with the boys - let's see if I can squeeze one more good book in before summer and beach weather is officially over!

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