The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

578DDDC0-4D1E-4AE7-8D9B-FB261B433B1BThank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a free copy of The Last House Guest in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This book might just be the perfect summer read for mystery and suspense lovers.  If you have followed my reviews for a while, you know that a great setting is one of my most favorite things in a good book. The Last House Guest takes place on the rocky cliffs of Maine, overlooking the ocean. Miranda used that setting to create such an unsettling atmosphere and I enjoyed her landscape descriptions throughout the novel.

The characters: Avery, a simple girl from modest upbringing, is the black sheep among the crowd of wealthy summer-home-by-the-ocean crowd she has fallen into. I found Avery to be very relatable, yet all of the snobby people she hung out with as the love to hate  variety. Their snarkiness and cruelty made them all easy suspects for the crime at hand.

Taking place at a party on the last day of summer and alternating with the summer after, Avery looks back at what everyone thought was an accident and starts to piece to together what is beginning to look like a lot more like a crime. The setting, the characters, the party all made for a very atmospheric (and summery) suspense novel.  It did start off a little slowly but after the halfway point I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this one for suspense lovers and anyone else who is looking for a little more excitement in their beachy reads!  I rate this one 4 out of 5 stars.

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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

E6C8ED3C-518C-48D1-A914-C2FEED316B26Thank you to Dutton for providing me with a free digital copy of Lock Every Door in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

To put it simply: I loved this book!  I wish I could forget it all so that I could read it and experience it all over again!  I truly  enjoyed every single page of this suspenseful, dynamic thriller. The third from Sager, Lock Every Door is by far my favorite from this author and I feel like each of his novels just get better and better.

Every element of Lock Every Door was so well balanced, like a perfectly mixed cocktail.  Nothing was lacking, no part taking over.  What really pulled me in was the setting:  The prestigious, yet mystery Bartholomew wasn’t what you would expected as a creepy apartment building because of it’s gorgeous descriptions. It sounded like the most posh, luxurious building in NYC.  However, Sager does a great job of mixing in a few curious details to cast doubt, just enough that you aren’t sure if strange things are really happening or if it’s just in your head.

It really bothers me when a novel relies heavily on a character’s past and flashbacks to hold up what is happening in the present but that was NOT the case with Jules.  Her previous experiences were described just enough to help you understand her actions and choices.  I actually found her to be relatable and gregarious.

The direction this novel was going for the majority of the book had me thinking that things were going to turn out in an unnatural and creepy cacophony, yet ended in what I found to be a disturbingly realistic turn of events.

I loved the format of this book, days counting backwards to the climax, I loved that every chapter had something happening, not just characters mulling over what had already happened. The suspenseful pacing was perfect and I honestly have nothing bad to say.  I loved Lock Every Door and recommend it to mystery and suspense lovers everywhere!

 

The Desert Sky Before Us by Anne Valente

The Desert Sky Before Us by Anne Valente

2B6AF085-24DD-4C8F-ACAF-D480F0FFC9ABThank you to TLC book tours and William Morrow for the free copy of The Desert Sky Before Us. All opinions are my own.

This road trip story is full of discovery and healing between two estranged sisters. I liked the idea of this novel but I didn’t love it like I wanted to so let me go over some of the pros and cons:

Pros: This novel definitely has a unique idea. The sisters have lots of secrets so what better way to hash them out than stuck together in a car for a road trip. The description of the places they went were gorgeous and the whole book had a great adventurous feeling.

Cons: I didn’t like either of the main characters at all. They were flat and dimensionless. I also felt like the concept of a road trip was enough, but there was a lot about their mother and her work as an archeologist that I just didn’t need. I would have liked the story to focus on just the sisters.

Overall I can’t say that I didn’t like the book because I did, but I also feel like it was lacking that magical little spark that hooks a reader. I will put the synopsis in the comments so please, give it a try if it sounds like something you might like. I have seen many positive reviews on goodreads for this one!

The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan

The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan

BA7B5157-31A4-48C6-BC60-84A782B2A113Thank you to Dutton books for sending me a free copy of The Killer In Me in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

Synopsis:

Murder convict Sean Hennessy is released from prison to return to a seaside community in Dublin. He has always professed his innocence. But within months of his release, two bodies appear in the peaceful suburb of Clontarf.

With a TV documentary pushing the public’s sympathies in Hennessy’s direction, the original evidence against him is called into question and Detective Frankie Sheehan finds herself doubting her original analysis of the case.

But when another, fresh victim connects the two cases and the threat closes in around her family, Sheehan must look deep within herself in order to spot the killer who hides in plain sight.

My Review:

Wow! The Killer In Me is an extremely well done detective thriller. Compared to the first novel in this series, TKIM shows off how much Kiernan has grown as a writer. What I liked most about this novel is how much more I was able to connect with the characters. All of the characters were realistic and well developed, so much so that I was rooting for a few of them to pull through and be ok.

Police and detective procedural mysteries tend to have lots of harsh and gruesome crimes. The crimes in this book were no different, yet the reader has the chance to look at the personal reasons and choices that led a person to commit such heinous acts. I was actually reminded slightly of Inspector Gamache in the Louise Penny mystery series, who is always looking for the passion behind the crime as a means to solve them.

The ending of this book was fantastic, I didn’t see it coming yet it made total sense! Multiple characters and storylines all came crashing into each other so perfectly, I felt like I should have seen it from the start. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes crime fiction! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine

Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine

3C06537F-8220-4E1C-A0EA-75E5F52E2D82Thank you to NetGally and Amazon Publishers for providing me with a free digital copy of Wolfhunter River in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Gwen Proctor escaped her serial-killer husband and saved her family. What she can’t seem to outrun is his notoriety. Or the sick internet vigilantes still seeking to avenge his crimes. For Gwen, hiding isn’t an option. Not when her only mission is to create a normal life for her kids.

But now, a threatened woman has reached out. Marlene Crockett, from the remote town of Wolfhunter, is panicked for herself and her daughter. When Gwen arrives in the small, isolated rural community, Marlene is already dead—her own daughter blamed for the murder. Except that’s not the person Marlene feared at all. And Gwen isn’t leaving until she finds out who that was.

But it may already be too late. A trap has been set. And it’s poised to snap shut on everyone Gwen loves. Her stalkers are closing in. And in a town as dark as Wolfhunter, it’s so easy for them to hide…

My Review:

I absolutely love, LOVE, the Stillhouse Lake series! I devoured both the first and second books in the series which is going to make this review tricky to write because I had a different experience with Wolfhunter River than with the first two books. I think the best way to go about this is to discuss what I did and didn’t like.

What I liked: Gwen is still one of the most badass female characters in a thriller novel that I have ever read.  She is smart and strong yet still shows vulnerability which also serves to make her realistic. She is a woman scorned too harshly to allow anyone to mess with her or her kids. Wolfhunter River has that same Gwen, hooray! The other aspect of this book that pulled me in is the heart pounding suspense, but unfortunately it didn’t occur until the end of the book, which leads me to what I didn’t like…

What I didn’t like: The first two books in this series were suspenseful from page one! Wolfhunter River took a long time to build up and didn’t really pull me in until about the halfway point.  The last 20% of the book was hard to put down, which of course I loved, but I wished for more suspense throughout. I also felt like the plot was a stretch from the previous two novels. It didn’t really fit in with what happened before, Gwen just sort of got caught up in someone else’s life or death drama… and the action ensued.

So I guess I did like this book, but I didn’t love it.  I wish it continued more of Gwen’s story but instead this was just a continuation of Gwen’s character. If there are more in this series, I am undecided about whether or not I will read them.  I rated this one 3 out of 5 stars.

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

DABD3E65-901D-43BC-A254-4AE7E8E658FFThank you to Berkley Publishers for sending me a free copy of The Last Year of the War in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.

The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

My Review:

I knew going into The Last Year of the War that I was in for a treat.  Last year I read another of Meissner’s books, As Bright As Heaven, and really enjoyed it.  TLYOTW did not disappoint!  Meissner is a skilled story teller and seamlessly weaves fictional characters in with real historic events.

One of the reasons why I love historical fiction so much is that in each novel I read, I learn about something new even if it’s about some aspect of history I thought I already knew a lot about. In TLYOTW, I learned about life for immigrants in American during the war and how they were treated, specifically German immigrants.  I also learned what life in an internment camp was like, which is something I haven’t yet read about.  I am always amazed, specifically with the WWII historical fiction genre, how there continue to be new stories to be told and new viewpoints to be seen.

I rated this one four out of five stars, the main reason I didn’t give it five stars being that a lot of this story focused on the friendship of the two girls.  I enjoyed their story, and I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book and all the new things I learned about, however I just wished for more historical reference.  So much was put into the girls trying to find each other, yet I didn’t feel like their friendship was all that natural to begin with. With that being said, I did like this one a lot.  The Last Year of the War is a very well written novel, many historical fiction fans will really enjoy it.

 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

2B52C6AC-9BDB-49C0-95D1-772AB20F8722Thank you to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow books for sending me a free copy of The Hunting Party in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

My Review:

The Hunting Party is a classic mystery with very vintage vibes that has a lot going for it. First of all, the set up is perfect: Long-time friends meeting up for New Year’s Eve at a secluded lodge in the forest, with a heavy winter storm headed their way.  With a setup like that, how could this book go wrong!? Throughout the novel, there are flashbacks to different friends in the group and their times together.  These brief windows into the guests lives help the reader see the holes in their relationships, making a crime much more believable.

A clever turn for this mystery is the crime itself: the victim isn’t revealed until much later in the book.  So you know someone gets murdered, but you don’t know who, not even male or female.  So the reader is left to guess not only whodunit but who-was-it?  I thought that aspect put a unique spin on the plot.

The Hunting Party is a slow burning thriller, more character driven than plot driven.  With that being said, this one did move a little too slowly for my own personal preferences, but if you enjoy that slow tension and buildup, then this one is for you.  I enjoyed the overall concept and execution of this mystery and rate it a solid three stars.

To purchase The Hunting Party, click any if the links below…

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062868909/the-hunting-party/

https://amzn.to/2WtiEmh

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-hunting-party-lucy-foley/1128113425?ean=9780062868909#/