My Girlish Whims Book Club #52

It's book review time! This time I just HAVE to share some pictures of where I got my reading done for a few of these books. I recently went on a trip to the Bahamas on a Bachelorette party for a wedding I am in next month.  This was my first big trip since having kids and of course came with a huge mix of emotions.  I was very excited for a tropical vacation, but obviously very worried about leaving Jack and Tyler (especially because they both got sick right before I left, OF COURSE) and how my husband would handle me being away from Thursday - Monday. Luckily we are blessed with great support from our families so my husband had help everyday which made leaving easier. I was worried all the way up until I walked out the door Thursday morning...but then I had to realize that my husband is extremely competent, he encouraged me to go on this trip, and after I was gone worrying would do nothing for I truly embraced vacation mode!!

Thursday was a travel day but we still had time to hit up the beach, explore our resort, and go to a nice steakhouse dinner. Friday morning was quite possibly one of the most blissful moments I've experienced in the last 15 months though. I woke up early (as is normal for me - even on vacation, sigh) and went and found some coffee and breakfast while my roommates were still sleeping.  I contemplated hitting up the gym at the resort but as I enjoyed the sunshine looking out over the beautiful water from the balcony in our room and saw that there was literally NO ONE on the beach yet, I cancelled any plans for the gym and immediately changed into my suit, packed a book and a mimosa to go, and went to the beach!

We stayed at "One Particular Harbor" which is part of the Margaritaville resort in Nassau.  There was a private beach just for our resort and I had the whole place to myself for a solid hour. I had the most peaceful and relaxing time reading, enjoying the sunshine and views, and the very large mimosa in my tumbler pictured below, lol.

We had lots of other activities as a group during the afternoons and evenings: having fun at the water park at Margaritaville, fancy dinners out, visiting some of the local casino resorts,  boating and fishing adventures, and time spent spoiling and celebrating the bride-to-be! I enjoyed all of our activities and celebrations but this morning right here was my picture perfect idea for my ideal morning away on vacation and I am SO glad I was able to enjoy it with a good book :)

If only I could have these kind of views for the books I'm reading now back home!!! Since I've already finished two more books since these four, it is due time to round up my current books since my last set of reviews!

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The Writing Retreat

By Julia Bartz. Synopsis from Amazon:

Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she must discover the truth—or suffer the same fate. 

A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of female relationships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.

I was pretty excited for this book, but unfortunately it really did not live up to my expectations.  I liked the beginning of the book, but just enjoyed it less and less as it went on. I didn't get the hype and obsession with crazy author Roza, I didn't expect all the love triangles or a sex scene with a demon while tripping on LSD (yeah....) and when things spiraled out of control as the retreat went on it and the drama increased it still became less and less enjoyable to read for me.  There is also a bit of a "book within a book" here with the novel Alex (who couldn't write a word for a year before this retreat, but now somehow manages to crank out 3,000 words everyday??) is writing for the retreat, and I found that entire novel super cringey and the writing style just super forced - trying to be overly descriptive and in no way some up-and-coming best selling novel like Roza is coaching Alex to believe it could be. I've read oodles of books that involve getting trapped in a big house during a snow storm where people end up dead/missing and much drama ensues and this was probably the worst one I've read with that set up.  If that's a setting you enjoy - pick up Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeny or One by One by Ruth Ware.  So much better than this one in my opinion! 

By JoJo Moyes. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Nisha Cantor lives the globetrotting life of the seriously wealthy, until her husband announces a divorce and cuts her off. Nisha is determined to hang onto her glamorous life. But in the meantime, she must scramble to cope--she doesn’t even have the shoes she was, until a moment ago, standing in.

That’s because Sam Kemp – in the bleakest point of her life – has accidentally taken Nisha’s gym bag. But Sam hardly has time to worry about a lost gym bag--she’s struggling to keep herself and her family afloat. When she tries on Nisha’s six-inch high Christian Louboutin red crocodile shoes, the resulting jolt of confidence that makes her realize something must change—and that thing is herself.

Full of Jojo Moyes’ signature humor, brilliant storytelling, and warmth, Someone Else’s Shoes is a story about how just one little thing can suddenly change everything.

I really enjoyed reading this book!  The synopsis almost had me thinking this was going to be a "freaky Friday" situation where the two protagonists magically switch lives when they switch gym bags, but luckily the shoe swap really just is a swap of shoes (not bodies!) and it bode very well for this cute storyline. Female friendships and empowerment were at the forefront of this novel and I loved cheering for each of the characters.  Even though Nisha comes off as rude, cold and stuck up at the start of the novel, you truly get to watch her reach her lowest of lows and see her fight to reclaim what she deserves and find out what real happiness and friendship looks like. I wanted to pound my head against the wall in frustration right along with Sam watching her deal with her depressed husband and despicable boss and thought her struggles were very relatable.  The supporting characters of Andrea and Jasmine gave great humor and really made this book shine. I absolutely loved "You Before Me" by JoJo Moyes and while that one left a bigger impact on me, this was still an enjoyable feel good read by a great author!

The IT Girl

By Ruth Ware. Synopsis from Amazon:

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

I liked reading this book, just did not love it quite as much as some of Ruth Ware's other novels. I really enjoyed the friendship between April and Hannah and how April came off as such a happy-go-lucky party girl, but also had a lot more depth to her even when she was not always the nicest person. I liked seeing the plot explained by alternating from the past and present and how determined Hannah was to find out the truth about April's murder.  Parts of her relationship with Will really irked me, but I still really overall enjoyed the mystery and was very invested in finding out the truth, and enjoyed all the drama and build up to the end and was surprised and satisfied by the ending!

The Senator's Wife

By Liv Constantine. Synopsis from Amazon:

After a tragic chain of events led to the deaths of their spouses two years ago, D.C. philanthropist Sloane Chase and Senator Whit Montgomery are finally starting to move on. The horrifying ordeal drew them together, and now they’re ready to settle down again—with each other.
As Sloane returns to the world of White House dinners and political small talk, this time with her new husband, she’s also preparing for an upcoming hip replacement—the latest reminder of the lupus she’s managed since her twenties. With their hectic schedules, they decide that hiring a home health aide will give Sloane the support and independence she needs postsurgery. And they find the perfect fit in Athena Karras.

Seemingly a godsend, Athena tends to Sloane and even helps her run her charitable foundation. But Sloane slowly begins to deteriorate—a complication, Athena explains, of Sloane’s lupus. As weeks go by, Sloane becomes sicker, and her uncertainty quickly turns to paranoia as she begins to suspect the worst. Why is Athena asking her so many probing questions about her foundation—as well as about her past? And could Sloane be imagining the sultry looks between Athena and her new husband?

Riveting, fast-paced, and full of unbelievable twists, The Senator’s Wife is a psychological thriller that upends the private lives of those who walk the halls of power. Because when you have it all, you have everything to lose.

I was very excited to read this book because I read and LOVED "The Last Mrs. Parrish" by this same author back in 2018 (book review here!) so I was pumped to read something new by this author duo. I received an ARC of this book which will be released in May of this year courtesy of Net Galley.  Unfortunately I was NOT impressed with this one and did not enjoy it at all! The dialogue was the WORST: it was so drab and forced and almost flat out embarrassing.  Parts of the book were a bit predictable, but I did get duped by one major plot point.  Even with the twist, it was still a miserable read because all of the conversations were just so downright awkward and the characters seemed pretty one dimensional. What a waste of time! 

Two of these books were misses for me, but I know I already have three great reviews coming up in my next review post so stay tuned for some more positives soon :)

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