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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

My favorite genres to read tend to lean toward Women's, Literary and Historical Fiction - with the majority of my time spend nose deep in a historical fiction novel. Both World War I and II are standard reading fare for me - I'm not sure what it is about that time period, but I cannot get enough. So of course, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was perfect for me.

I loved this book so much. It was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick last year and I would highly recommend this to anyone who loved The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah or has enjoyed Beatriz Williams' work (one of my all time favorite authors).

The Alice Network is everything I want in a historical fiction novel. It's told in alternating voices from two very different women. Eve Gardiner in 1915 and Charlie St. Clair in 1947. Eve's chapters chronicle her time spent in the infamous "Alice Network" - based on an actual network of female spies in WWI. Her chapters were crackling, tense and full of anticipation for the next page. I couldn't tear myself away from them. Fast forward 30 years to socialite, Charlie St. Clair, who is unmarried and pregnant. Accompanied by her mother, she's en route to Switzerland with the plan of taking care of  "the little problem." Little does her mother know, but Charlie has other plans and embarks on a journey to find her cousin Rose who was living in France during WWII. She's convinced that Rose must be alive and is determined to find her. When a common name and place draws Eve and Charlie together - they take off to France (along with Eve's driver, a wily Scotsman with his own secrets) to find out what happened to Rose.

This book is a triumph, it's fast paced, emotional and wonderfully written. I loved Eve and Charlie's stories so much. Both women show courage despite heartbreak and I couldn't get enough of their moxie. For those of you who like a little romance thrown in - that's there too and I couldn't get enough of it. This book is plotted beautifully - I highly recommend.

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

Buy It

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

Buy It

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

Buy It

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