My Girlish Whims Book Club #54

Summertime is the best time :) We've only been away on one mini trip as a family so far this summer to the Jersey shore but even a few days at the beach is enough to make my heart happy! 

Summer is still my favorite season back at home: we've been enjoying taking the boys to our gym pool a few evenings and afternoons on the weekend when the weather cooperates and of course when the sun is shining you don't have to drag me very far to get out and enjoy it! I'll fill up our kiddy pool and water table on the deck and let the boys splash around so I can sneak in 5 minutes of reading before someone tries to climb up and join me ;) 

Despite the five minute chunks, I'm chugging right along with my summertime reading! Here's what I've read and my thought on each since my last set of reviews

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Happy Place

By Emily Henry. Synopsis from Amazon:

Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.

They broke up five months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.

Which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blissful week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.

Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week…in front of those who know you best?

This book was SUCH a letdown for me!!! I loved Henry's debut novel "Beach Read" (reviewed here) and also really enjoyed "Book Lovers" (reviewed here) but this one was just a BAD read for me.  I thought the story was slow, the characters were nothing noteworthy/not super likable, and the drama between the main characters was essentially a misunderstanding blown out of proportion and not worth writing an entire novel about.  Despite the "crazy chemistry and sex life" Harriet and Wyn supposedly had while dating it didn't translate well into their present day relationship that you SHOULD be rooting for. I just kind of felt overall indifferent towards them and really didn't care one way or the other if they ended up back together.  One of my my favorite parts of Henry's writing is her fast paced dialogue and witty banter between characters, and even that couldn't help salvage this book for me. I still love this author but would not recommend this one. Iwish I would have skipped it!

The Good Sister

By Sally Hepworth. Synopsis from Amazon: 

"There's only been one time that Rose couldn't stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be...dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern's mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

This was the very first book from Sally Hepworth I have read and it IMMEDIATELY became a favorite! I absolutely adored this book. Fern was such a great character: she has sensory issues and operates a little differently than most adults, but she is also the most loyal and kind, smart but straightforward, and entertaining and eclectic main character you fully support and cheer for.  I loved the fact that she was a librarian, I loved her crazy outfits, I loved the journey of her relationships with her co-workers, and I loved every part of her budding relationship with Wally (the date with the headphones and goggles? Sweetest thing ever). I also really enjoyed the underlying mystery/sister drama/twists that went on in the book - down to the very last lingering chapter. I would recommend this to anyone to read - 10/10!

The Soulmate

By Sally Hepworth. Synopsis from Amazon:

Picture a lovely cottage on a cliff, with sloping lawns, walking paths, and beautiful flowers. It’s Gabe and Pippa Gerard’s dream home in a sleepy coastal town. But their perfect house hides something sinister. The tall cliffs have become a popular spot for people to end their lives. Over the past several months, Gabe comes to their rescue, literally talking them off the ledge.

Until one day, he doesn’t. When Pippa discovers Gabe knew the victim, the questions spiral. . . .Did the victim jump? Was she pushed? And would Gabe, the love of Pippa’s life, her soulmate . . . lie? As the perfect fa├žade of their marriage begins to crack, the deepest and darkest secrets begin to unravel. Because sometimes, the most convincing lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

Since I loved The Good Sister so much I decided to keep the Sally Hepworth trend going by reading her newest release that I got in one of my book of the month deliveries this summer.  I still enjoyed reading this one, I just didn't love it quite as much as I loved The Good Sister  which seems to go along with the consensus of other reviews I've read. Since this was only my second Hepworth novel though I still really enjoyed a twisty plot that had a lot of surprises thrown in along the way. To be honest I am writing this review very belatedly (I think I've read about 6/7 novels since this one, whoops!) so I don't have anything knit-picking bad I remember to point out, it just wasn't quite as memorable of a read for me. I would still recommend it - the location of this novel by the cliff, relationship dynamics between Pippa and Gabe, and all of the surprises built into the story all really worked for me and kept me entertained for sure!

Remarkably Bright Creatures

By Shelby Van Pelt. Synopsis from Amazon:

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late. 

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

This was our book club selection in June and oh my heart! I just loved this one so much. The premise of the story seems kind of silly by just reading the description of the book - like how is an octopus going to be a main character in fictional novel without it coming off as corny or even fantasy like??? It seems silly but somehow it just worked SO well and the short chapters written from Marcellus the Octopus' viewpoint were seriously my favorite.  There's a little bit of mystery in this book but one that the reader can catch onto pretty quick and then you just have to wait in anticipation for the characters of the book to figure it out as well.  The characters in this book were amazing - I wanted to give Tova a big hug, chat with Ethan at grocery store checkout, and have a cup of coffee while catching up with the Knit Wit ladies. This book is a bit heartbreaking but mostly astoundingly heartwarming and it will be one of my favorites that I have read this year!

Four more reviews checked off ☑️ and now to catch up on reviewing the five books I've read since this before I head off on a girls trip to Florida next week! Since I will actually be childless for a few days (gasp!!!) I should be able to sneak in some beach and pool reading in longer chunks than 5 minutes and I'm excited for some more summer novels to tackle!

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