REVIEW: THE DISINVITED GUEST, BY CAROL GOODMAN

Lucy Harper still has traumatic memories and lingering health problems from the 2020 pandemic. So, when a new virus surfaces years later, she and her husband, Reed, seek refuge on his family’s private island off the coast of Maine. Ostensibly safely sequestered with their five closest friends and family, Lucy should feel at ease. So why does she feel the weight of the island’s dark history pushing down on the group?

As Lucy uncovers Reed’s family secrets and the island’s history as a quarantine hospital for typhus patients, she becomes obsessed with the past and feels her own grip on reality slipping. Tempers flare, strange signs appear in the woods, and accidents turn deadly. Is the island haunted by the dead? Or is someone amongst the living taking their revenge?
 
 
 
curl up and read thoughts

The Disinvited Guestis the story of people trying to escape a second pandemic, one that surfaced after the first one in 2020. On a private island in Maine, they hunker down, hoping to survive with friends. But family secrets and stories of past quarantines recounted in an old journal stir them and create anxieties that are unexpected. Fears even extend to others sharing the island retreat, creating suspicion and lack of trust. How had some of previous guests on the island died, and what would happen to those who remain? Who should stay and who should be forced to leave?

I found the story haunting as it kept me reading, although I was bored by the journal tales from the 1800s. I did like the ending, despite the sadness that clung to those who remained. 4 stars.
 
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MONTHLY WRAP-UP, YEAR’S END

Another month has ended, and even more impressive, we are at year’s end.  I only read and reviewed seven books in December, and read 107 books in the year.  Here are my two favorites for the month:

 

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Genres:

Mysteries/Thrillers – 5

Contemporary Fiction: 1

Literary Fiction: 1

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DECEMBER 2022:

1.Are You Awake? (e-book), by Claire McGowan – (333 pages) – (thriller) – 12/3/22

2.A World of Curiosities (e-book), by Louise Penny – (394 pages) – (mystery) – 12/14/22

3.Last Invitation, The (e-book), by Darcy Kane – (397 pages) – (thriller) – 12/13/22

4.Personal Assistant, The (e-book), by Kimberly Belle – (344 pages) – (thriller) – 12/6/22

5.Sister Dear, by Hannah Mary McKinnon- (347 pages)- (contemporary fiction) – 12/27/22

6.Where the Crawdads Sing (e-book), by Delia Owens – (368 pages) – (literary fiction) – 12/16/22

7.Wrong Mother, The (e-book), by Charlotte Duckworth – (335 pages) – (thriller) – 12/21/22

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That was my month.  What did yours look like?

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REVIEW: SISTER DEAR, BY HANNAH MARY MCKINNON

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

curl up and read thoughts

When the man she believed to be her father dies, Eleanor is devastated. Especially after learning the identity of her biological dad. Sister Dear takes the reader into Eleanor’s new world order as she tries to learn about her “real” dad, and then begins to deal with the rejection. Devastation clings to her, but she has chosen to learn everything she can about her bio sister, who has her place in that family, and before she realizes it, she has created a whole new identity and family in her mind.

What will happen once she has completely immersed herself in this recreated family? Will she finally fit in? Or will she always have to be the one outside looking in? A captivating tale that earned 5 stars.

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REVIEW: WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, BY DELIA OWENS

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

 

curl up and read thoughts

 

As I absorbed the characters, settings, and natural world of Where the Crawdads Sing, I was so caught up in it all that I simply could not put it down.

As events unfolded, and even when secrets came to light, I felt a deep connection to everything within the pages and rooted for the little Marsh Girl and the life she led.

Kya and Tate were so perfect for one another that I kept rooting for them to finally be together. And I longed for the peace that the natural world brought to them. A perfectly pulled together five star read.

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REVIEW: A WORLD OF CURIOSITIES, BY LOUISE PENNY

It’s spring and Three Pines is reemerging after the harsh winter. But not everything buried should come alive again. Not everything lying dormant should reemerge.

But something has.

As the villagers prepare for a special celebration, Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir find themselves increasingly worried. A young man and woman have reappeared in the Sûreté du Québec investigators’ lives after many years. The two were young children when their troubled mother was murdered, leaving them damaged, shattered. Now they’ve arrived in the village of Three Pines.

But to what end?

Gamache and Beauvoir’s memories of that tragic case, the one that first brought them together, come rushing back. Did their mother’s murder hurt them beyond repair? Have those terrible wounds, buried for decades, festered and are now about to erupt?

As Chief Inspector Gamache works to uncover answers, his alarm grows when a letter written by a long dead stone mason is discovered. In it the man describes his terror when bricking up an attic room somewhere in the village. Every word of the 160-year-old letter is filled with dread. When the room is found, the villagers decide to open it up.

As the bricks are removed, Gamache, Beauvoir and the villagers discover a world of curiosities. But the head of homicide soon realizes there’s more in that room than meets the eye. There are puzzles within puzzles, and hidden messages warning of mayhem and revenge.

In unsealing that room, an old enemy is released into their world. Into their lives. And into the very heart of Armand Gamache’s home.

 

curl up and read thoughts

A twisted tale that takes the reader into A World of Curiosities. Armand Gamache is back on the scene, finding new answers to old puzzles.

The characters of Three Pines return and take us to strange events that could have stayed in the past, but haven’t.

The tale was confusing at times, as it went back and forth and revealed what we didn’t know. A 4 star read.

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GOODBYE TO NOVEMBER!

Welcome to December, the final month of this year.  I had a lackluster reading total, but did finish some engaging books.  For the year, I read 100, and perhaps I will do better in the next month.

Here are my two favorites:

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Genres:

     Mysteries/Thrillers – 5

     Contemporary/Historical Fiction – 2

 

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Click on the titles to read my reviews:

NOVEMBER 2022:

1.Couple at the Table,The (e-book), by Sophie Hannah – (358 pages) – (mystery) – 11/27/22

2.Girlfriend, The (e-book), by K. L. Slater – (310 pages) – (thriller) – 11/4/22

3.Prisoner, The (e-book), by B. A. Paris – (295 pages) – (thriller) – 11/7/22

4.Rewind, The (e-book), by Allison Winn Scotch – (344 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 11/24/22

5.Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six (e-book), by Lisa Unger – (387 pages) – (thriller) – 11/18/22

6.She’s Gone (e-book), by David Bell – (313 pages) – (mystery) – 11/12/22

7.Such a Pretty Girl (e-book), by T. Greenwood (312 pages) – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 11/1/2022

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BOOKS READ IN NOVEMBER:  7

PAGES READ IN NOVEMBER: 2316

BOOKS READ YTD:  100

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What did your month look like?

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REVIEW: THE COUPLE AT THE TABLE, BY SOPHIE HANNAH

Jane and William are enjoying their honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort…

…until Jane receives a chilling note warning her to “Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours.” At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or farther away than any of the others. It’s almost as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless—but why would anyone do that?

Jane has no idea.

But someone in this dining room will be dead before breakfast, and all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could have possibly committed the crime.

curl up and read thoughts

 

In a stunning and twisted story, The Couple at the Table takes the reader through a series of events that lead to the murder of one of them.

Lucy’s husband was stolen by Jane, her life has turned upside down, and even her vacation at a resort she loved had changed everything for her.

But when Jane is murdered during that vacation, everyone is a suspect, including Lucy, but Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer are determined to find the truth.

So many twists and turns carry the reader through until the truth unfolds in strange ways. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE PRISONER, BY B. A. PARIS

Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a life for herself, she is swept up into a glamorous lifestyle where she married the handsome billionaire Ned Hawthorne.

But then, Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

curl up and read thoughts

A dark thriller, The Prisoner takes the reader through a tempestuous experience as a captive held for unknown reasons. The story is told alternately between the past and the present, which is a good thing, as focusing only on being kept in a dark and lonely place, frightened and not knowing what would happen next, would surely be a dreary experience.

Amelie has inadvertently found herself in a situation with a wealthy man named Ned who might be her ticket to having enough money to go to law school, but which she will soon realize is more dire than she could have imagined.

As we follow her journey in the dark, even as we also learn more about her past, we soon realize that everything is a lot more complex than we had realized. I loved how the journey unfolded, which was much more exciting than I thought it would be. A 4.5 star read.

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP: HELLO, NOVEMBER…

We are now saying goodbye to October and looking ahead to the last two months of the year.  In October I read nine enjoyable books, and had two favorites.

Genres:

      Mysteries/Thrillers:     6

      Literary Fiction:  2

      Nonfiction:  1

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Below are the titles; click links to see the reviews.

 

OCTOBER 2022:

1.Big Shot (e-book), by Julie Mulhern – (218 pages) – (cozy murder mystery) – 10/28/22

2.Favor, The (e-book), by Nicci French – (428 pages) – (murder mystery) – 10/22/22

3.Home Truths (e-book), by Tina Seskis – (322 pages) – (mystery) – 10/19/22

4.Left on Tenth, by Delia Ephron – (287 pages) – (memoir) – 10/4/22

5.Mad Honey (e-book), by Jodi Picoult, et.al. (455 pages) – (literary fiction) – 10/15/22

6.Neighbour Upstairs, The (e-book), by Kathryn Croft – (318 pages) – (thriller) – 10/17/22

7.Nursery, The (e-book), by Sue Watson – (304 pages) – (mystery thriller) – 10/24/22

8.Our Missing Hearts (e-book), by Celeste Ng – (347 pages) – (literary fiction) – 10-8-229

9.Silent Woman, The (e-book), by Minka Kent- (259 pages) – (thriller) – 10/1/22

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BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER:  9

PAGES READ IN OCTOBER: 2938

BOOKS READ YTD:  93

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What was your month like?

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REVIEW: THE NURSERY, BY SUE WATSON

Then: Morning light shines into the nursery, casting shadows across the pale pink walls and wooden cot in the middle of the room. She opens the door expecting to hear the soft coo of her daughter Sofia stretching herself awake. But the room is silent. The cot is empty. Her little girl has vanished…

Now: Twelve years have passed, but Emily will never forget the night her life changed forever and she’s happy to have her daughter back beside her. A teenager now, Sofia—who was once a star student—is getting into trouble at school and she’s started asking questions about when she was a baby, but Emily can’t tell her what really happened the night she went missing. Nobody would understand why Emily did what she did, and if anyone ever found out, she could lose her daughter forever.

But when Emily catches Sofia messaging a stranger online, her heart pounds in her chest as she reads the last message received.

Your mother isn’t who you think she is.

Days later, Emily returns home to find the house silent. She checks every room but Sofia has vanished, again. She shudders as she remembers that night in the nursery. Has her past finally caught up with her? And is she already too late to save her precious daughter?

 
 
curl up and read thoughts

From the first pages of The Nursery, the reader is gripped by the danger that seems ever-present in the lives of Emily and Sofia. There are secrets Emily carries from the past, and now she is constantly watching out for Sofia and what might happen to her because of her online connections.

At first, we think we know Emily’s secrets, but more of them come stumbling out from unexpected places, and a dangerous person from her past, aided by someone new in her present, keeps me on tenterhooks. And even when we think we have the answers another twist comes at the very end. A 5 star read.

 
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