My Girlish Whims Book Club #53

Alright friends: it's just about here - can you smell it? Can you feel it? Can you taste it? SUMMER READING SEASON is right around the corner!!! Even though the season's don't make much of a difference in my schedule these days except lots more time playing, walking, and hanging out outside as a SAHM of toddlers, I still love summer time and the promise of at least a few of beach trips to plop my butt on the beach and read a few pages of a good book.  I think there will be considerably less plopping this year (toddlers), but I'm excited none-the-less! Per normal, I am extremely far behind on updating you on my most recent books I've read since my last set of reviews so let's get down to it so I can start working on writing the reviews for the four books I've read since these five! 

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Romantic Comedy

By Curtis Sittenfeld. Synopsis from Amazon:

Sally Milz is a sketch writer for "The Night Owls", a late-night live comedy show that airs every Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life.

But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actress who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch called the Danny Horst Rule, poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman.

Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder if there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy—it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?

With her keen observations and trademark ability to bring complex women to life on the page, Curtis Sittenfeld explores the neurosis-inducing and heart-fluttering wonder of love, while slyly dissecting the social rituals of romance and gender relations in the modern age.

I overall enjoyed this book! I love watching Saturday Night Live and so I really liked the behind-the-scenes look that this book provides into how a show like that is made from the perspective of Sally the writer.  I loved Sally's humor and the first section of the book was by far my favorite watching Sally and Noah interact during the show and get to know each other.  I didn't really care for the second section of the book, the format was a little dull I thought and it was a big transition from the first part of the book that I liked so much.  The format changed again in the third section of the book and I found myself getting constantly angry at Sally for being so self-depricating and trying to sabotage her relationship. I think the "woe is me I'm not good enough for this boy" thing is a bit overdone in romantic comedys (perhaps this was intentional as a nod to the title of this book?) regardless, it got old.  I did appreciate Noah picking up on Sally's anxiety and being gentle with her about it in that regard. Overall this was a pretty sweet book and a fun concept and I liked it!

Stone Cold Fox

By Rachel Koller Croft. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Like any enterprising woman, Bea knows what she’s worth and is determined to get all she deserves—it just so happens that what she deserves is to marry rich. Filthy rich. After years of forced instruction by her mother in the art of swindling men, a now-solo Bea wants nothing more than to close and lock the door on their sordid partnership so she can disappear safely into old-money domesticity, sealing the final phase of her escape.

When Bea chooses her ultimate target in the fully loaded, thoroughly dull and blue-blooded Collin Case, she’s ready to deploy all of her tricks one last time. The challenge isn’t getting the ring, but rather the approval of Collin’s family and everyone else in their 1 percent tax bracket, particularly his childhood best friend, Gale Wallace-Leicester.

Going toe-to-toe with Gale isn’t a threat to an expert like Bea, but what begins as an amusing cat-and-mouse game quickly develops into a dangerous pursuit of the grisly truth. Finding herself at a literal life-and-death crossroads with everything on the line, Bea must finally decide who she really wants to be.

Oh this was such a fun read for me! I rushed through it and enjoyed every minute of reading it. Even though Bea is essentially conning her way into a new life and family, you really find yourself routing for her and wanting her con to work! The story alternates between present day and back to when Bea was growing up with a mother that constantly used Bea to aid in her own con schemes. She was just a little girl seeking her own mother's approval and love but in return was really just treated awfully.  These flashback showing how she was raised really make you feel for Bea even though she's (as the book title suggests) really just a stone cold fox and not a very nice person.  I loved her personality though: full of herself to a fault but it was almost comical hearing the insides of her brain work as she touted her own beauty and self-righteousness. I appreciated some of the growth Bea went through in her quest to fully become "Mrs. Collin Chase" and even if she denied loving her husband, I feel like ultimately she really does by the end of the book in her own twisted way. There was a lot of catty girl drama that turned ugly and dark that really drove the storyline and fanned the drama flames. I ate this one up!

The Housemaid & The Housemaid's Secret

By Freida McFadden. Synopsis from Amazon:

THE HOUSEMAID: Every day I clean the Winchesters’ beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. And I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor.

I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But as I look into Andrew’s handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. The walk-in closet, the fancy car, the perfect husband.

I only try on one of Nina’s pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it’s like. But she soon finds out… and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late.

But I reassure myself: the Winchesters don’t know who I really am.

They don’t know what I’m capable of…

THE HOUSEMAID'S SECRET: It’s hard to find an employer who doesn’t ask too many questions about my past. So I thank my lucky stars that the Garricks miraculously give me a job, cleaning their stunning penthouse with views across the city and preparing fancy meals in their shiny kitchen. I can work here for a while, stay quiet until I get what I want.

It’s almost perfect. But I still haven’t met Mrs Garrick, or seen inside the guest bedroom. I’m sure I hear her crying. I notice spots of blood around the neck of her white nightgowns when I’m doing laundry. And one day I can’t help but knock on the door. When it gently swings open, what I see inside changes everything…

That’s when I make a promise. After all, I’ve done this before. I can protect Mrs Garrick while keeping my own secrets locked up safe.

Douglas Garrick has done wrong. He is going to pay. It’s simply a question of how far I’m willing to go…

I've never reviewed two books at once before on my blog, but I am going to for this series! My reason is two-fold: I read them back-to-back and I read them slightly out of order (whoops!) and I think if you like the first book, you will also enjoy the second in the series so I'm just lumping these both into one! My book club read "The Housemaid" for our monthly pick a few months back, and I made it 25% of the way through the book before one of my friends texted me about the character Nina and I was like - wait, what?? There is no Nina in the book I am reading! Annnnd that's when I realized I started the second book first.  Whoops! I swapped back to the first one but anyway, now both of the books just always get lumped together for me, haha.  REGARDLESS - I really enjoyed both of these books!! They were extremely quick reads that kept you guessing and the twists were unexpected and added so much to the story. Millie was an ok lead character - she had a lot of personality traits that annoyed me actually but I enjoyed the story in each book so much that it wasn't the end of the world that Millie was just kind of ho-hum to me.  I'm not going to over-analyze or over-review these two: they are very fun, quick books that keep you entertained, keep you guessing, and are perfect little thrillers that I'm so glad I picked up!

All the Dangerous Things

By Stacy Willington. Synopsis from Amazon:

One year ago, Isabelle Drake's life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.

Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.

Isabelle's entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle's past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust... including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.

This was a pretty decent read for me! I tried to guess the ending when I was only about 24 pages into the book (totally was wrong) but I was very pleased with the twists and was kept entertained during the book. I think the author did a great job describing the raw and emotional grief Isabelle was going through when her son was taken. I also liked how the story alternated from current day to the past - the stories and background of how she grew up and her sleepwalking and dynamics with her family was equally as interesting as the present day story.  The only negative thing I have to say is for some reason - both books I've read by Willington have been enjoyable to me but just not super...memorable? I like the twists and mystery and I always have felt satisfied after reading them, but I feel like neither of her books would be ones that would come to mind when making book suggestions to friends.  Good books, just nothing memorably "great" to me if that makes sense!

We leave for our first beach trip of the season tomorrow, and I am so excited! We are meeting up with my parent's in New Jersey at their RV.  "Nana and Pops" are actually going to watch the boys overnight for us on Saturday (gasp!!! This will be our only second night away together since the boys were born!) and we are going to meet up with friends in Atlantic City! We'll come back Sunday and I'll stay into next week at the campground with the boys :) I know I won't get much reading done on the beach, but I will for sure at the campground after the boys are asleep. Onto my next books!

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