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The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

GAH. Elin Hilderbrand is the Queen and can do no wrong.

If that's not a ringing endorsement, then I don't know what is. 

Elin Hilderbrand is always an author whose new books are ones I highly anticipate. She's probably one of the only authors whose expansive collection of work I own in its entirety. Yeah - all 21 novels. And of those, this one ranks right up at the top of my favorites.

Want proof? Here you go:

The Perfect Couple is exactly the kind of summer novel I want to read. I was completely absorbed with the characters and plot pretty much immediately. It jumps right in to the action - a murder mystery in which the maid of honor at a Nantucket wedding is found dead in the water the morning of the wedding. With the maid of honor dead, it's left to Nantucket's Chief Ed Kapenish to find out what actually happened.

Basically this is a summer beach version of Clue and I am so here for it. 

The Queen of the Summer Beach Read out did herself with this one. As usual, there's an incredible ensemble cast that keeps the reader engaged and questioning every one's motives. With interwoven storylines and betrayals - Hilderbrand does an outstanding job keeping everyone on their toes. There were so many times in this book that I thought I had it figured out but kept changing my mind. In the end, I had a pretty decent idea of what actually happened - but was never sure until the last page.

I loved catching up with some of my favorite characters from past novels - Roger Pelton (Beautiful Day) is one of my favorite Hilderbrand characters and I think every bride deserves to have someone like Roger at her side for the big day. The new characters were fabulous - Featherleigh cracked me up (especially while she was hitting on Nick (The Greek) during her questioning). The bride's mother Karen, who is battling breast cancer, was also one of my favorite characters. Her wisdom and courage were some of the best parts of the book, I LITERALLY CRIED.

With memorable characters from Hilderbrand's backlist (Nantucket Nights, Beautiful Day, The Castaways, and A Summer Affair) and of course the charming Nantucket backdrop that we expect and love about Elin's books, this is exactly the kind of book you want to bring with you to the pool or anywhere. If you loved her earlier work you'll enjoy this - and if you're new to her work I think you'll enjoy this. Definitely one of my favorites so far this year.

The Book Gawker's buy it or borrow it recommendation: Buy It

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My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella's name is synonymous with adorable chick lit. Most people are familiar with her extremely popular Shopaholic series, which are mindless, yet fun books that for me are the perfect escape. They're easily digestible and entertaining. So as expected, My Not So Perfect Life checks all the boxes of a fun Kinsella novel that offers a perfectly light reading experience.

If Instagram is any indication of one's success and posh experiences, Katie's living the life of a successful London millennial with the perfect marketing job, amazing friends and fine dining. But in reality, she's living in a closet, her flat mates are definitely not her best friends, she can't afford that hot chocolate she posted on her social media and her job is definitely far from dream worthy. In fact, her boss, Demeter, is an absolute nightmare. But moving from the country into the city is what Katie's always dreamed of and she's determined to make her life look perfect even if it's a far cry from it. But things don't always go as planned, and when Katie is let go from her job she trudges back to her home town to help start a "glamping" business at her family's farm.

This book is darling and quite entertaining. I did enjoy the commentary on social media - which I think is a big part of the narrative. Katie does everything she can to appear happy and successful when she really isn't, and it's interesting how we manipulate our lives to appear a certain way on social media. This is a super fun book that had some vibes reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada, and I think that for what it is - it's well done.

Light and fluffy - predictable but fun. Look - if you're wanting to read something that's quick and entertaining, I would pick this book up. It doesn't offer anything to really sink your teeth into, but it's a fun read that will keep you entertained for an afternoon. Adept readers will see the major plot points coming, and Katie can get in her own way quite a bit. Even still, I enjoyed it.

The Book Gawker's buy it or borrow it recommendation: Borrow It

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The High Season by Judy Blundell

This is exactly the kind of book I want on my summer reading list. I love a nuanced domestic drama that keeps me flipping pages and that's exactly what I got with The High Season by Judy Blundell.

The novel is the quintessential beach read, from the setting right down to the ocean blue cover art. This story takes place in Orient - a cozy and less popular spot than the sparkling, prestigious Hamptons - where Ruthie lives with her daughter and runs the local museum. It's here that she owns a beautiful beach house, but every summer has to give it up to be able to afford it. When her tenant for the summer turns out to be a New York socialite with ties to Ruthie's past in the art world, the summer becomes less predictable, setting off a chain of events that will change North Fork.

I loved this book so much. To be honest, I find that I enjoy a domestic drama with characters who are flawed, their motivations questionable at best. These are the characters who come to life on the page for me, and this book was full of them. There were the obvious villains - I mean who could stand the petulant child that is Adeline's step-son (I'll be honest, I wanted a different outcome for him). But my favorite was Doe, who had questionable morals and who's actions sometimes blurred between right and wrong - but wasn't afraid to go after what she needed. These are the types of characters I find interesting, their stories and motivations compelling.

This isn't a huge plot book - instead it's a character driven narrative about betrayal, love and finding your way when things don't go the way you expected them. This book is exactly what you'll want to be taking with you on vacation or settling in with a crisp glass of wine for an evening escape.

An advanced Egalley of this book was provided by the publisher and netgalley for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Book Gawker's buy it or borrow it recommendation: Buy It

Buy It

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Okay, there are a lot of things I liked about Love and Other Words and then there are some things I have questions about. This is a really sweet, romantic book with a lot of elements that I think readers in the romance/lighter fare women's fic genre will enjoy - but I do think that readers who are looking for a little more depth will see this as some sort of lightweight Nicholas Sparks novel - elements of The Best of Me come to mind.

I won't go too much into synopsis here - if you're reading this review you likely already know the premise of this book. You know that Macy and Elliot spent their adolescence together, they were best friends who became more than friends and then something happened that caused Macy to completely drop Elliot from her life. Eleven years after the thing they run into each other and it completely disrupts their lives.

Things I liked:

-Elliot obviously. What's not to like about the super sweet book boy who's always pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose or how he listens so intently to Macy and gives actual quality feedback. He's basically a unicorn and he's the sweetest.

-All the chapters that take place in the past. I really enjoyed Elliot and Macy's friendship, how comfortable they were with each other. I think that many aspects of their relationship will be relatable for people and this relationship is believable.

-Pacing and writing style. This book is about 400 pages and is a very quick read. I read the majority of it in a day. And that wasn't me sitting around all day long doing nothing. The writing is good, very accessible and didn't feel the need to roll my eyes.

The Things that don't work for me:

-Macy in the present. Okay, this might be an unpopular opinion - but come on girl, you can't go from zero to sixty in the matter of a week. Part of my issue with this is that we know that something really bad happened in the past, but we don't find out what it is until almost the last chapter of the book. So I get that it's been eleven years and she was heart broken all that time and couldn't get over the thing, but I feel like we should have had more internal conflict here or something because even though we get the back story in the end it felt really clichéd.

-Convenience. So let me explain. I felt that the supporting characters were a little flat and conveniently moved the story in one direction. Especially Sean. There's supposed to be conflict throughout this book, but everything happens so conveniently for the characters. I wanted there to be a little more conflict and emotional toil.

-THE THING Okay, it's not necessarily the thing itself (that was bad though) - it's that we don't know what exactly happened until the end of the book! And then I'm supposed to believe that after the air is cleared everything is just okay? Just like that? IDK. I have a hard time believing that after eleven years of holding onto the hurt and heartbreak she would just let it go so easily. But that's just me. Also this is the MAJOR CONFLICT of the book and it seemed resolved very easily with little processing on either party's behalf. In my opinion this would have been stronger if we would have been able to watch the characters work through this.

So, overall this isn't a perfect book in any way, but I did enjoy reading it. I think that there is a certain group of readers who will really love this - it'll be right in their wheelhouse and that is amazing. I enjoyed the book and would definitely pick up another Christina Lauren novel - but I can't overlook the areas that suffered in this one. If you're looking for something with a little more depth and emotional pull to it, I would probably pass on this. But if you're looking for something that is sweet and quick - check this out.

Bookgawker's Buy it or Borrow it Suggestion: Borrow It

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