The Guest List by Lucy Foley

4.5 stars Fiction

It was a slow burn at first, as the bridal party gets situated on the deserted island first.  The groom is a celebrity, his bride a publisher and the bridal party is a mish-mash of individuals, all linked to the couple, who each seem to have some hidden secret.  As the events of the story unfolded, I loved how the book picked up speed. As I tried to put the book down, to attend to other matters, my mind wouldn’t let go of the island, as the lights flickered, and the guests tried to make sense of what was happening.   

I could see why the couple had chosen this island for their special day with its seclusion, size, and the service that the owners provided. I really enjoyed the mixture of characters that the author included in this book and their interactions with each other.

When the big day arrived, the guests arrived on the island, ready for day of celebration.  With an abundance of individuals to keep track of, I found this confusing at times yet the connections that they had with one another, made this book intriguing and remarkable.

As the secrets start to surface, I didn’t know who might be the next one to unburden their heart.  Some of these, I had suspected but there were some that, made my jaw drop.  With twists and turns, and ups and downs, this book was a great escape. 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the Book Club Girl Early Read program. This review is my own opinion of the novel and I thank Harper Collins and the Book Club Girl Early Read program for sending me this copy.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

4 stars Middle School

Everything her mother ever said about Zoe’s father was negative when she asked. Zoe knew where her father was but she didn’t know what he did, to end up in prison.  Now, on her 12th birthday as Zoe grabs the mail from their mailbox, she finds an envelope addressed to her with a return address from the Massachusetts State Penitentiary.  That envelope could only contain one thing, something from her father. 

This book had an excellent flow to it and the story was fun to read. I thought the author did a great job showing us the different emotions that Zoe experiences throughout the book and I liked how grandma tried to do the balancing act with the different characters.  I understood exactly why/how grandmother felt the way she did, as she maneuvered around the individuals in her life. Zoe’s friend Trevor, was good for her.  I was surprised how quickly he forgave her and how willing he went along with her suggestions.  I don’t think Zoe gave enough credit to Trevor. 

There were a few instances in the book that didn’t make sense to me.  These were based on the characters and our current time period.  I don’t want to spoil the book by mentioning them but Zoe is only twelve-years old and some of the things that she was doing just didn’t seem feasible for a person of that age.  But, if you let your imagination take you away, anything is possible.

In the book, Zoe begins to secretly write her father in prison, asking him a variety of questions.  Her father claims that he’ll be honest with her in his return letters but Zoe is torn between believing what her mother has said and the man, who she has never known.

Her grandmother accidently discovers Zoe’s secret and grandmother strikes up a deal with Zoe and now, who knows where this will all end.  I understand grandmother position in this mess but I also feel that there’s going to be fireworks, if and when Zoe’s mother finds out (and she will eventually find out, she has to, you just know she will).

If that’s not enough, Zoe told her parents that she would do a summer internship at her aunt’s bakery.  She needs to prove to them that she’s ready to enter a kid’s cooking competition on the Food Network. Did someone say cooking competition?  Zoe believed that this would be a great opportunity for her, yet when she arrives, it’s not what she expected.

It’s an eventful summer for Zoe with her internship and secretly corresponding with her father in prison.  It jumps into high speed when she learns some interesting information about her father and decides to explore it further it.  A conflict with her best friend Trevor, will need to be resolved quickly as she can’t do this alone.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

5 Stars Thriller

The deeper I got into this book, the more intense and captivated I became in finding out the truth behind this sisterhood. As the pages turned, the more my curiosity and adrenaline rose.

I loved the connection that these “sisters” had but the more that I read about them, the more removed I became to their alliance. Oh, I totally understand how they felt and the reasoning behind it BUT, there is line that they had crossed.  

When Shay witnesses a suicide on the subway, it changes her life.  Spying a piece of jewelry nearby, Shay is now connected to Amanda’s “sisters,” as Shay picks up the jewelry and takes it with her.  Shay needs to find out more about the suicide victim meanwhile, the “sisters” can’t believe that Amanda would commit suicide.  On a collusion course, Shay ends up meeting the “sisters” and to her, this is destiny. 

Shay feels a connection with the “sisters” and her life finally starts to turn around.  The “sisters” are there for Shay and take Shay under their wings.  Shay loves how everything is working out for her but dang, if only Shay knew the truth. The pages aren’t turning fast enough but I don’t want to miss a word on the pages.  

Slowly, the author reveals the details of the sisterhood and how each member became involved. It’s crazy good but it’s wicked at the same time. There’s time travel involved as we hear each member’s story but that’s important as I needed to know when these events took place.

Wow, that was an excellent, invigorating story that had me hooked from the beginning.  I have enjoyed all the books that Hendricks and Pekkanen have written together and I hope that they continue to write together! Breathe……

This book is now available and I highly recommend it.  Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. #YouAreNotAloneBook

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig

Mystery 3.5 stars

There are three actual stories in this book but they all have one common thread. That common subject lies in a building, which has had many purposes over the years, if only the walls of that building could talk. 

I liked the idea of how this huge building served many purposes over the years.  The history that this building contained and how it served others was fascinating.  To think, how many people walked and in-and-out of its doors intrigued me.  Then, to read how the three women in this novel were also connected to this building, just added more significance to the structure.  I had to wonder if there were any standing building today that have these same traits.  Hum?

Anyways, back to the book. Following a trio of women, we crisscross over three different time periods (1892, 1920, and 1944) which I found confusing at times as I couldn’t keep everyone straight.  These women are all from the same family, just years apart, which made it more confusing to me.  I finally wrote everyone’s name down on a piece of paper and drew arrows to keep individuals separated as the romance in this novel adds even more complications.

Somehow over the years, these three women find their way back to New York, to this same building yet they’re there for different reasons.  As the novel comes together, you’ll find out what ties them all together. 

It’s a mystery that covers many generations.  With strong-minded women and a terrific setting this book provided for me an interesting read. 3.5 stars

She Crossed the Line Too Many Times. Too Close by Natalie Daniels

5 stars Fiction/Suspense

If only she had listened to her gut feelings, perhaps her life would have turned out differently.  I had to wonder as I turned countless pages, was this woman really off her rocker or was it something else that pushed her over the edge? This was one of those stories that carried me along, page after page, chapter after chapter (and those chapter are long!) until the very end. 

I met Emma, a forensic psychiatrist, who was assigned Connie, a patient at a mental hospital. Emma has a great professional front but personally, Emma is hiding something. What Connie did to land in the hospital, I have no idea at this point, but Emma’s job was to decide if Connie would be able to stand trial. I immediately liked Connie when I met her but as story progressed, my feelings towards her were all over the place.  Connie was clever, crafty and also manipulative yet at times, I was wondering what had possessed her, her actions were driving me up the wall! 

The story flashes back and forth, from the past to the present. We get the story how Connie ended up hospitalized and also about Connie and her relationships now.  The author threw in a few dramatic punches in the stories which I really enjoyed and I couldn’t get this book out of my head. 

With the doctor constantly visiting, Connie gets tired of her endless questions and battering.  She just doesn’t know the answers and doesn’t want to remember. Then, Connie sees an opportunity and decides to turn the tables. It becomes rather fun now when the doctor arrives, as Connie tries on her own invisible white coat and plays her own version of doctor.  In the doctor’s volatile state, Connie manipulates her way into the doctor’s head rather quickly.  I began to wonder with the door closed, who was the patient and who was the doctor, as the line began to get rather blurry.

It all still comes back to, what did Connie do to land herself into the hospital?  The plot deepens as her children are introduced and their feelings towards her are revealed.  I liked that the author slowly reveals parts of this mystery to the readers throughout the chapters, creating suspense and drama.  I could feel the tension building.  This was a great suspenseful story, one that I really enjoyed and one that I highly recommend.

Thanks to HarperCollins Publishing and BookPage for supplying me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I won a copy of this book in a Sweepstakes at BookPage. I’m sorry that I missed the ARC’s debut deadline.   

The Vanishing Season By Joanna Schaffhausen

4 stars Mystery

It’s that time of the year again, Ellery’s birthday is right around the corner.  For Ellery, unfortunately, she suspects that again, this birthday will not be a time for celebration.  It always began with her mail.  Opening the envelope, Ellery knew the minute her eyes landed on the colorful front what she was holding.  The greeting inside was just the beginning, its deception was just a part of the mystery that Ellery was a part of. Would this year be any different?

Ellery is a female officer who has moved into a small town where she is the only female on the payroll.  Ellery believes that some murders have been committed yet there haven’t been any bodies recovered. She has been connecting the “dots” in a few cases and she believes that she’s uncovered a pattern.  Now, Ellery is predicting the next murder.  However, no one is listening to her.  The real story is, Ellery is not telling her colleagues everything she knows about these cases and the clock is ticking.  What are you going to do Ellery?  You can’t delay your birthday.

With twists and turns, I enjoyed this griping mystery as Ellery works to uncover the pieces and get everyone on board.  I enjoyed the small town of Woodbury, the main characters with their flaws and the character’s history.  This was an entertaining, exciting book and Joanna Schaffhausen is an author that I look forward to reading in the future.   

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

5 stars Mystery

If only! Dang, as I drove the streets the Gabe, I kept thinking, if only……  It seemed that Gabe’s mind was finally concentrated on what should have been important many years ago but now, it seemed it was too late.  If only he had done this or that, he might not be behind the wheel of the only thing that he feels he has left in this world, searching for an answer. 

Alice grips the bag firmly as though it holds her life possessions.  Never far from her side, Alice feels a deep connection to its contents. Fran is there for her, again.  It’s Fran who helps Alice in her time of need yet I begin to question their story as something doesn’t feel right as the novel picks up speed.

It’s a job and it gives her money.  Each shift that Katie works, is different.  With the individuals who become frequent guests and those that are just passing through, they all make each day unique at the restaurant.  Katie’s had her own share of problems over the year yet this frequent customer intrigues her. I wondered if Katie saw a part of herself in this man and that was why she became concerned with him. As he visits the establishment, Katie begins to wonders about this man and what has caused him to carry such a burden on his shoulder?  Day-in and day-out, Katie notices how heartbroken this man is yet, she doesn’t reach out to him.

Leading their own lives, these individuals will merge eventually in this book. I liked how the three parts were laced together and how smoothly the book flowed. I kept thinking that I enjoyed one story over another one but I kept changing my mind on which story I enjoyed more.  Each story was different and carried with it, different emotions. 

I had a hard time putting this book down in different parts.  You know it’s bad when you fall asleep and the iPad hits you in the face (I only wanted to finish the one section I was reading). There were a few parts that I raced to get through as events were building up.  

These are the stories that get my adrenaline going.  They put a smile on my face when I’m finished as I think about everything that transpired during the book and the ride that I took.  It was a fun adventure and one that will stick in my mind for quite a while.

I received an ARC of this book from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

3.5 stars Fiction

I listened to this book and what surprised me the most was that I didn’t think this book was a creepy or mysterious as I thought it would be. I was hoping for a good suspenseful story to listen to but I didn’t find that. I really enjoyed the story but I didn’t find it suspenseful, it was more action-packed with a few moments of mystery thrown in.

I thought that there were some really weird things about the house and the family to start with. We didn’t even need to add Rowan to the mix. What’s up with all those cameras and the audio in all those rooms? Can you not have any privacy? What are they afraid of? Then, the technology that supposed to make living in the house easier but seems like it’s overkill. I thought the family seemed a bit off. Did anyone find it strange that the parents left the kids, with their new nanny, on an extended amount of time, immediately after they hired her? I was glad that I had the e-version of this book as there were some things that just didn’t seem to be adding up and I thought I had missed something but as I read through the book, nope ……it was just strange.

I liked the character of Rowan as I thought her true personality came through when she needed it. I liked her determination yet she also had moments of uncertainty. I loved how the author wrote this novel. Important, unknown pieces of the story are fed to us readers throughout the novel as we follow Rowan along in her new nanny position.

I wanted more thrills and chills but in-all, it was a good read. I thought the last half of the book was really good. I’ll be looking out for Ruth’s book. 3.5 stars

Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly

4.5 stars Thriller

Creepy, weird, and the details……this book was right up my alley!  I’d read that this book shouldn’t be read in the dark but I’ve read that statement many other times for other books which I felt didn’t actually apply but this book, it’s twisted so dark would be perfect.  I can’t tell you how many times I chatted, shouted and questioned this book while reading it, I really needed to step away from this book but I just couldn’t.

So, what made this so grand? First, let me tell you that the story moves quickly, which I enjoyed.  The book starts off swiftly and it doesn’t let up until the very end.  As I was speeding along, flipping the pages, there were times that I was shaking my head, and yelling at the main character Dixie, as I couldn’t believe what she was doing, she had to be crazy! 

What happened? When Dixie was 18-months-old, her father killed their entire family and then, committed suicide.  Dixie lost her parents and her four siblings that day and was then, raised by her Aunt Celia who has never really told Dixie about that day.  Guess what?  Dixie is an adult now and her childhood home is for sale, so she visits it. 

Yeah, it should be okay, she was 18-months-old when her life was turned upside down inside that house, she was too little to remember. Except, Dixie doesn’t see the houses best features on her showing but something more personal and startling.  She still falls in love with the house and she buys it! Of course, she does! Talk about strange. The creepy doesn’t stop there though, as it’s Dixie’s LUCKY day and she’s blessed with the actual furniture that her parents kept in that house.  Her relatives are so thoughtful and saved it.  If you are thinking what I thought, you are correct, what is wrong with her? 

The fun or bizarre activity continued and I just couldn’t stop gripping the sides of this book. The book is very descriptive (which I loved) but it’s not done in a disgusting and/or exaggerated way.  I enjoyed the way the author kept the book moving forward, how there were reveals along the way so I could check things off that were going on inside my head as I tried to figure out exactly what was happening.  There were not a lot of characters in this book either.  I liked the author’s execution and her style and I will definitely be reading more of her work in the future. 

I liked the journey that I took while reading this book, it’s not always about if someone can solve the book early or not.  It’s about the journey.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

5 stars Fiction

I have to thank Macmillan Audio for making this novel so captivating. This was the first audio that my husband has ever listened to and it was an experience. We went to visit relatives for a long weekend which required a long car drive. Normally, I read part of the way but I had some audio books I wanted to listen to and this was one of them. I have to say, I think my husband enjoyed it more than I did. I never expected such a great response from him.

First off, I have to say that my husband reads about 3 books a year. I won’t talk about the book but just give you his response to the book as I think that pretty much tells you how we felt about it.
When he told me to put the book in the CD player, I was shocked, as we normally listen to country music stations on our car drives. We were about 3 CD’s into the book, when he pushes the stop button and starts to give me his commentary about what is happening in the book and his thoughts about what is about to happen. Again, I am shocked, he is actually absorbed, really absorbed as this is some deep thinking here! We have a short discussion and he resumes the CD. Again, during the next CD, he stops the player a few times to tell me his thoughts. Who is this man? I’m seriously loving that he’s into this book and analyzing it to death!

We arrive at our destination and we still have some CD’s left to listen to but he pulls the CD out of the player, saying that he doesn’t want to listen to the story on the short little trips that we’ll take around town. We’ll listen to the rest on the way home.

On our way home, we finally get done talking and I put the CD in, it starts from the beginning. He remarks that he has heard this part before and “let’s get to the part where …….” I had to laugh, he knows exactly what track to begin on and he doesn’t want to waste any time. There were many times on the way home that he stops the player to talk about the book which by now, I am used to but it appears that I am getting slow in my response time. When the CD in the player begins to start over again on track #1, he gets my attention and tells me that I really need to start paying attention and put a new CD in. I mean, really?!? Give me a second. Then, when I was relaxing with my eyes close, he thought that I was not listening and he proceeded to tell me what I had missed on the CD. This was so much fun!

So, thank you Macmillan Audio for this audio. Now, my husband understands when I sit in the garage after returning home and I continue listening to my audio books in my car.