Review: Winterhouse by Ben Guterson

Winterhouse (Winterhouse, #1)Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars!!!**

Elizabeth Somers is an orphan being raised by her miserable Aunt and Uncle in the equally miserable town of Drere. Just when Elizabeth thinks things can’t get any worse, her Aunt and Uncle ((…like these people could give the Dursleys a run for their money)) tell her they are shipping her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel for three weeks over Christmas Holiday. Are they going with her? No, of course not. They are taking their own, much more glamorous holiday, abroad.

Thus, Elizabeth embarks on the holiday that will change her life forever. Strange events begin occurring to poor Elizabeth before she even sets foot on the Winterhouse property. On the train enroute to the hotel you can tell something is amiss. This book has a wonderful blend of mystery, intrigue, fun and adventure throughout. You follow Elizabeth as she makes new friends, including her new constant companion Freddy who is also spending his holiday sans parental figures, and as she explores the hotel and the many mysteries held within its walls.

The cast of characters in this was one of my favorite elements. You have the two kids, Elizabeth and Freddy, both major word nerds, who develop a very strong friendship rather quickly. You have Norbridge Falls, the eccentric owner of the hotel who spews forth droplets of wisdom onto the children with every turn. ((e.g. “The moment we start feeling better than other people because of our capabilities is the moment we start to lose ourselves.”) And of course, as every good Middle Grade novel should, this story also has a very malevolent set of baddies, the Hiemses, a husband and wife pair that seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times and in the most inconvenient places.

For all of us booknerds, there’s more! There is a library! A library with a very special book hidden on its shelves. The Book. It is when Elizabeth comes across this book that things start to really heat up for her. There is so much here to enjoy: messages hidden in paintings, skeleton keys, codes, orbs of red light, coffins hidden in back bedrooms, long-held family secrets and so much more.

As mentioned before, this story occurs during the Christmas holiday season and I would highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself, or that Middle Grade reader in your life that will be haunting your halls this holiday season looking for something to do because he or she is bored!!

This entertaining little book could be the perfect cure for that! Additionally, the next book in the series is releasing at the end of December so they won’t have long to wait for the sequel!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., for providing me with a copy of this delightful book to read and review. As always, I truly appreciate the opportunity to provide my feedback on a book and I cannot wait to pick up the next book in this series!

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Review: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When James ‘Jamie’ Watson gets shipped off to boarding school in Connecticut he is sad about leaving his life in London behind. It doesn’t take long however before he is elbows deep in intrigue and thinking nothing about shoddy old London (totally joking on the shoddy part, obviously). You see, Charlotte Holmes, the descendant of the infamous Sherlock Holmes, also attends this very same boarding school. Coincidence? I think not.

Jamie, the descendant of John Watson ((the one who penned those cute little Sherlock tales)), has heard all about Charlotte Holmes and wants nothing more than to get in her good graces. In the flesh, Charlotte is beautiful, edgy and addicted to opiates and he wants to get to know her better. Before long they are seeing one another on a regular basis and Charlotte really seems to be warming up to him. That’s something because she’s not particularly warm with many other human beings.

After a fellow student, one that Charlotte has a very messy history with ((putting this SUPER mildly)), ends up dead and another on the brink of death, Charlotte and Jamie need to work together to prove they are innocent of these crimes. They are being framed and in ways reminiscent of cases the original Sherlock and Holmes investigated.

This was a pretty good story. There was nothing bad about it but it never really reached a level where I was compelled to read it either. I read it, it happened and then it was over and I moved on very quickly. I guess I was hoping for a little more if I am being honest. I’m not sure if I will continue on with the series. I may read the synopsis of the next and some of the reviews to see if anyone like it better than this one. For now, if I had to choose a YA Mystery series to continue with it would be the Stalking Jack the Ripper series over this one, as I just finished the first one in that series in October.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Read Before 2019

Happy Wednesday fellow bookworms. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. Thanksgiving is almost here, which means Christmas is almost here, which mean New Year is almost here! Can you believe it? This fits well with this week’s ‘Top 5 Wednesday’ topic: The 5 books I want to read before 2019. Oh my goodness, there are so many to choose from. Narrowing it down will be difficult but I shall do my best. Here we go:

  1. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – I actually received this book as an ARC way back in February but I haven’t gotten to it yet because I am terrible. Just terrible. The release date for this book was 9/18/2018 here in the U.S., although it had released previously in the U.K. Overall, this unique mystery/thriller has received great reviews. The current Goodreads rating is 4.08 for 11,265 ratings – quite strong for a thriller on GR. This story follows Aidan Bishop as he wakes up every day at Blackheath House in a different body with the aim of solving the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day. I have never heard of a mystery book like this before and I am really looking forward to reading it. I plan to start this one by the weekend!
  2. Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm – Releasing on November 27th, I received this cute YA Contemporary from the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, as an ARC to review. I am planning to start this one by this weekend as well. This book follows Rosie and Henry, two American teen chefs, who travel to Paris to attend a prestigious cooking school run by celebrity chef, Denis Laurent. I expect this one to be humorous and heavy on cutesy romance. Sparks will fly – I can just feel it! I love cooking competitions on television, my favorite being The Great British Bake Off. As soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I wanted to give it a try.
  3. The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone – This horror novel, releasing on December 4th, is another book I have an ARC copy of which I received from the publisher, Atria Books. I really don’t know how to describe this one, it sounds very unique and like it could be a wild ride. Basically, it follows two computer programmers, Shawn and Billy. After a fallout, Shawn goes on to become rich and famous while Billy is a complete failure. Seeking revenge against Shawn for perceived wrongs, Billy sets up a ‘smart house’ computer program at an old mansion they used to live near and all hell breaks loose from there. I am not sure what I am going to get from this as the reviews have been mixed ((which you see a lot with horror novels)) but Ezekiel Boone is an author I have been curious about so I am looking forward to reading something of his.
  4. Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas – This is the 5th installment of the widely popular Sarah J. Maas series, Throne of Glass. The 7th and final book of this series just released on October 23rd and it basically broke the internet. It is hard to stay away from spoilers so I really need to finish up with it! This is a YA-high fantasy series with a kick-ass female protagonist and a ton of REALLY great side characters and relationships. Maas knows how to bring the drama and her books never disappoint. This series keeps getting better and better for me so by the final book, my head may actually explode. We will hope not of course but there you go.
  5. Song of Susannah (Dark Tower #6) by Stephen KingThe Dark Tower series truly is King’s Magnum Opus. The size and scope of this series has been mind-boggling to me from the very beginning. I am currently reading the 5th book in the series, Wolves of the Calla ((I have about 45-pages left)) and I can tell you I have purposefully slowed down my pace. It recently hit me that I only have two more books and then I am at the end. As a HUGE King fan this series really means a lot to me. I am sure that I will read it again in my lifetime, start-to-finish, but you only get that ‘1st time’ feeling once. This book connects so much to his other works and connects those works together until you could have one giant flow chart of King goodness that would make any Constant Reader ((King’s loving nickname for his fan base)) swoon. It’s really hard to explain this series. Suffice it to say it is an all consuming story of a tight-knit group of individuals (a ka-tet in Tower speak) from different times and different places who must band together to protect the ultimate good from the ultimate evil. It is a parallel universe story that is so incredibly constructed it will leave you shaking your head in awestruck admiration. Certainly not for everyone but the people who read it all the way through never forget it, I can tell you that.

So, that’s it folks! Those are my top 5 picks for books I need to get to before the end of the year. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are some books you are hoping to finish up before the end of the year? I want to hear about them. Leave a comment below or connect with me through any of my social media outlets – links to the right!

Cheers & Happy Reading!!

Review: The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

The Lying WoodsThe Lying Woods by Ashley Elston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Lying Woods follows teenage protagonist, Owen Foster, in the aftermath of his Father being exposed as a white-collar criminal. Mr. Foster steals millions of dollars from his company – the largest employer in town – and leaves Owen and his mother behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. People in the town are furious, they believe Owen’s Mom knew what he was doing and they begin threatening her and Owen. Forced to leave his posh private school when they can no longer afford the tuition, Owen returns to his hometown public school where he finds it close to impossible to fit in. A great number of the students come from families directly effected by his Father’s crime. Luckily, Owen is able to rekindle a relationship with his old friend and neighbor, Pippa. Through her guidance, Owen begins to understand the destructive scope of his Dad’s actions.

Angry and confused, Owen vows to learn the truth about what happened. How can the Father he knows and loves actually have done this? He is having a hard time grappling with what seems to be a secret side of his Father’s personality. When he first returns to town, Owen secures a job on a local pecan farm and quickly learns that his Dad once worked there as well and and even lived on the property. The owner for the pecan farm, Gus, was not only his Dad’s employer but also a mentor to him. Owen feels if he sticks around the farm long enough he may be able to piece together his Father’s past; he hopes this will help him to understand the present.

This story reads like a hard-hitting contemporary but there is a strong mystery element that runs throughout. The format was great because you get half of the book from Owen’s present day perspective and the other half from his Dad’s perspective at the time that he worked on the pecan farm and first met Owen’s Mom. You get to see their relationship build and learn about the obstacles they overcame to be together. I liked this structure a lot as I felt it was a very creative way to reveal the truth at the heart of this story.

Elston’s writing is smooth and organic. She is really a fantastic storyteller. You sit down to read a few pages and the next thing you know hours have gone by. I truly felt drawn into these characters and this story and I needed to know how Mr. Foster could have done what they said he did. It seemed so out of character with the person you meet through his own perspective. The major twist in this gave me chills. It was completely unexpected and then everything unraveled to the truth very quickly.

This is a story of first love, redemption, discovering who we really are and what is truly important in our lives. I loved the dual perspectives and also thought it was interesting to explore white-collar crime as a topic in YA. I don’t think I have ever read something like this before. Elston has very quickly become one of my ‘autobuy’ authors and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for giving me the opportunity to read this book early and provide my opinion. I cannot wait for more readers to get their hands on this so I can finally discuss it with some of my book buds! This is definitely going on my favorites list for the year.

Original: Starting tonight!!! One of my most anticipated books of the year. I am actually proud of myself for holding off until release month. A feat I frequently FAIL at!

I love how they kept the cover to this along the same vein as This is Our Story even though they are completely unrelated. They’ll still look great next to each other on my shelf!

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Review: Abandoned (Max Revere #5) by Allison Brennan

Abandoned (Max Revere, #5)Abandoned by Allison Brennan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Investigative reporter, Max Revere, sets out to solve the most important cold case of her career in this 5th installment of the Max Revere series. Abandoned by her Mom at the age of 9, Max was left in the care of her very wealthy grandparents. Eventually her Mother stopped sending postcards on Max’s birthday (always belated) and withdrawing from her trust fund; she disappeared without a trace. Now aged 32, and a successful television personality and author, Max is finally ready to uncover the truth behind her Mother’s disappearance.

This is actually the first book I have read in the Max Revere series and I don’t think that diminished my enjoyment for this book at all. You could definitely pick this up as a stand-alone novel if you wanted. After reading this, I am absolutely interested in reading the other books in the series. I loved Max as a character. She was smart, strong, independent and not afraid to make it through life on her own. No matter how dangerous her investigation became she never backed down. She was willing to do whatever it took to get to the truth and I respect that.

Overall, this is a very solid mystery with strong investigatory elements. There were a lot of leads to follow as there is so much going on in this book: family drama, small town secrets, art theft and forgery, con-men/women and more! I usually do enjoy mystery/thrillers where the protagonist is a journalist but this one is especially well done in my opinion. The story leaves off with a lot of changes going on for Max so I definitely think this series will be continuing and this won’t be the last time I read about Max Revere. That’s for darn sure.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Max is just the kind of protagonist I love so I had a really great time reading this!

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Friday Reads: Currently Reading

TGIF bookworms! I hope everyone is having a successful week. It has been a hectic one for me but nevertheless I have made some progress on some of my current reads. I thought I would take a moment to update you all on what I am currently reading and my thoughts so far. As many of you know, I am an unapologetic multi-volume reader. I generally read between 6 and 10 books at a time. As of this moment, I am working on 8 books, they are as follows:

1. The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston – This YA Mystery book is set to release next Tuesday, November 13th. I was provided an early galley copy from Disney-Hyperion. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year. Some of you may recognize Elston’s name from her 2016 release, This is Our Story (spoiler alert: which I am also currently reading). The Lying Woods follows teenage protagonist, Owen Foster, in the aftermath of his Father being exposed as a white-collar criminal. Mr. Foster steals millions of dollars from his company, the employees, shareholders, etc., and leaves Owen and his mother behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. People in the town are furious, they believe Owen’s Mom knew what he was doing and they begin threatening her and Owen. Forced to leave his posh private school when they can no longer afford the tuition, Owen returns to his hometown public school and is humiliated daily by other students whose parents were victims of Mr. Foster’s theft. Owen vows to learn more about his Dad and hopes to find at least a portion of the money to return it to those it was stolen from. I am currently 68% through with this book and am absolutely loving it. Elston’s writing is smooth and organic. The way this is formatted, portions from Owen’s perspective and portions from the perspective of his father as a teenager, is unique and I am enjoying the insights into his father’s life. I am planning to finish this one in the next couple of days and would highly recommend this to fans of YA Mystery and/or YA Contemporary.

2. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This very short Adult Thriller novel is part slasher book, part satire. Set in Nigeria, this story follows Korede, a nurse, who is bitter about always being the one who has to pick up after her little ((and beautiful)) sister, Ayoola, who is, you guessed it, a serial killer! When we first meet Korede she is helping Ayoola with her latest ‘mess’. Later she marvels at how her perfectly cute sister seems to feel no remorse after what she does. I actually just started this today, so am not too far in, so far I am liking Korede’s voice and I am excited to see where exactly this is going to go. Published by Doubleday Books, this is set to release on November 20, 2018.

3. Abandoned (Max Revere #5) by Allison Brennan – Investigative reporter, Max Revere, sets out to solve a cold case very near and dear to her heart, the disappearance of her mother, Martha Revere. Abandoned by her Mom around the age of 9 or 10, Max was left in the care of her very wealthy grandparents. Now aged 32 and a successful television personality and author who investigates cold cases, Max is finally ready to uncover the truth. There is so much going on in this book: family drama, small town secrets, art theft and forgery, con-men and women – it is so good! Lately I have been dedicating a lot of time to this and am about 75% of the way through. This is actually the first book I have read in the Max Revere series and I don’t think that has diminished my enjoyment for this book at all. You could definitely pick this up as a stand-alone novel if you wanted. I can say after reading this much, I am interested in reading the other books in the series. I actually received this as an ARC from the publisher, Minotaur Books, but ran out of time to read it before its August 14, 2018 release date. I am really glad I kept it on my TBR list though and picked it up now. I usually do enjoy thrillers where the protagonist is a journalist but this one is especially well done in my opinion.

4. Winterhouse by Ben Guterson – Orphan Elizabeth Somers is being raised by her absolutely dreadful Aunt & Uncle in London. Seriously, these people could give the Dursleys a run for their money. One winter break, they inform Elizabeth that she is going to stay at the Winterhouse Hotel without them. This seems very mysterious as Elizabeth knows there is no way they can afford to send her to the lavish Winterhouse. Without much choice however, she heads off and gets herself checked in for a two-week holiday. The people at the hotel were definitely expecting her and strange things start happening pretty much right away. This Middle Grade novel is absolutely enchanting and delightful. There is so much mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s stay and the Winterhouse hotel itself. There are riddles and mysteries aplenty. I am really enjoying this one and am sad I put it off this long! I received this as an ARC from Henry Holt & Co., but as sometimes happens, I didn’t get around to it prior to its January 2, 2018 release date and then just kept putting it off. ((I am getting better at this, I promise!)) This book gives me total Matilda meets the Series of Unfortunate Events vibes and I would definitely recommend it for all Middle Grade readers over the holiday season! BONUS: There are super cute and creative illustrations throughout!

5. Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton – This YA Fantasy is horrific and beautiful at the same time. The writing in this has such a deep magical quality that I feel like I am reading an old school fairytale. Set in the town of Three Graces, that once made a pact with the devil, young men must sacrifice themselves anytime the Slaughter Moon rises by ‘running’ into the Devil’s Woods. The sacrifice of the best young man among them guarantees the safety and prosperity of the entire town. No one gets sick, crops are healthy and full, animals stay plump and provide a rich bounty, and so on and so on, until one day, the Slaughter Moon rises early. Rhun Sayer has always been assumed to be the next one among them to run into the Woods but his two closest friends, Mairwen and Arthur have other plans in mind. This book has some deep levels of exploration into different types of relationships and gender identity that are unique and so far ((I am 45% through)) very well done. This is a ‘cool’ book, to put it mildly, and I am really glad I picked it up in the Fall, as the Autumnal vibes are on point!

6. This is Our Story by Ashley Elston – Another YA Mystery penned by Ashley Elston, this follows our protagonist, Kate Marino, a senior in high school and an intern with her local DAs office. The current case is that of four wealthy young men, dubbed The River Point Boys, who went on a hunting trip…well, actually, five boys went on the hunting trip but only four came back. They’re the talk of the town and the biggest case to hit the DAs desk probably ever. Kate becomes immersed in the investigation , she knew one of the boys and desperately wants to find out what happened and why. But the boys, and their wealthy parents, are covering for one another and won’t go down without a fight. When a secret is revealed, what Kate thought she knew is turned on its head and she is left reeling. With well formed characters and taut prose, Elston is proving why she is one of my latest ‘autobuy’ authors. If you love YA & Mysteries, do yourself a favor and pick up one of the books written about here…or both!

7. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia – This is one of the oldest books on this list, published in 2014, that I have actually owned for about three years and randomly decided to pick up. I bought it originally because it follows an oddball cast of characters at a Statewide Music event set in a large old hotel reminiscent of The Overlook Hotel from The Shining. The best kids in the state in orchestra, band and chorus, come together for a weekend long cram session of rehearsals and performances to prove who is the best of the best. This is an odd fact about me but I love stories that involve classical music in anyway. Strange I know. Blame it on my years playing violin and piano. I have been really pleasantly surprised by this book. There is a lot of mystery and thrillery vibes to this and it reads just like a Wes Anderson film. The ‘voice’ of the book is smart, unique and definitely keeps me turning the pages. I am glad that I finally decided to give this one a go!

8. Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower #5) by Stephen King – My journey to the Tower continue with this, the 5th installment, in King’s epic fantasy The Dark Tower series. Roland and his ka-tet are still following the path of the beam and piecing together pieces of the puzzle of how best to protect the rose and the tower from the forces of evil. Spanning different times, worlds, cultures, lifestyles, storylines from other King’s work, this series is vast enough to literally boggle the mind. How the heck did he come up with ALL OF THIS whilst also writing so many other damn novels? It’s bloody brilliant and I’m obsessed with it all. I have 80 pages left in the 960 page tome and cannot wait to immediately pick up Book #6, Song of Susannah! There is not too much I can say about this book that anyone who hasn’t read the first four books in the series would understand, so just know this, reading this series has been such an enjoyable journey for me and I cannot wait to wrap it up and then read it all again someday!

That’s it folks! Those are the eight books that I am currently reading. What are you currently reading? Have you read any of these or plan to read any of these? I want to know! Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

 

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Largest Books on my TBR

Happy Wednesday Geeks & Gals! This week’s ‘Top 5 Wednesday’ topic is ‘the largest books on your tbr’. For those of you who are unfamiliar with #T5W it is basically a social group on Goodreads where a different topic is selected for each Wednesday of the month and book bloggers, booktubers, reviewers, etc., can discuss the particular topic on their various bookish social media channels. I haven’t done one of these in a long, long time but am ready to get back into them. Without further ado, let’s get to the largest books on my current tbr:

  1. The Stand by Stephen King – (1,327 pages for the Hodder paperback edition, published 2007) Yes, I have read The Stand before. In fact, it is my favorite book of all time. The ultimate tale of good versus evil. I am planning to reread this monster in 2019 so recently added it back to my tbr. The Stand follows a ragtag group of survivors after a virus carried outside of a government laboratory wipes out 99% of the population. The cast of characters in this is well developed, some heroes, some villains and some in-between. I cannot wait to dive back into this as time has lost some of the finer plot points.
  2. It by Stephen King – (1,156 pages for the Scribner paperback edition, published 2016) I am petrified of clowns. I have been my whole life. I have never read It and until my 40th birthday this year, in September, I had never watched any of the adaptations. I finally got up the nerve, with my fiance’s help, and a couple glasses of whiskey (liquid courage) to watch the newest movie version of It. Although quite a few parts were watched through my fingers whilst exclaiming various expletives, I did thoroughly enjoy the characters and the story and am now looking forward to reading the book. Pennywise is still very scary but I need to read this story. Fear will not hold me back anymore!
  3. Under the Dome by Stephen King – (1,092 pages for the Kindle edition published in 2009) Most people may be familiar with the basic premise behind Under the Dome because of the Fox television series based off the book. I watched the first season and really enjoyed it. A small town inexplicably becomes trapped inside of a glass dome. What is behind it? The government? Alien forces? I don’t know, I haven’t read it, but I’m definitely looking forward to it!
  4. The Dark Tower (Book 7 of The Dark Tower series) by Stephen King – (1,072 pages in the Pocket Books edition published in 2016) This is the final book in King’s epic Dark Tower series which follows gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, and his ka-tet as they battle the forces of evil on their quest to find the Dark Tower. I am currently 85-pages from the end of Book 5, The Wolves of the Calla. This series is mind-boggling. Absolutely astounding in its scope. The connections between this series and King’s other works are so enjoyable and really an experience any of King’s ‘Constant Readers’ should undertake at least once in their lifetime. If you are a fan of King’s works, I cannot recommend this series enough.
  5. A Feast for Crows (Book 4 of The Song of Ice & Fire series) by George R.R. Martin – (1,061 pages in the Bantam Books paperback published in 2011) Many people are familiar with HBO’s hugely popular show, The Game of Thrones. I myself am obsessed with it. I did watch the show first and then began reading the books. I felt that helped with this series. It is so epic, I felt it was helpful when picturing it all in my head (and also, let’s be honest, with the pronunciation of names). I have thoroughly enjoyed the first 3 books in this series but have been putting this one off for a while. Because of the page count and the dense nature of some of the writing, they are an undertaking and definitely not for everyone. All fans of epic grimdark fantasy though MUST read!

That is a grand total of 5,708 pages just for those 5 books! Wow! That is an incredible page count and to have 4 of them come from the same author, unbelievable. King can certainly write some tomes. I look forward to reading all of these books and will most likely get to either my Stand reread or Book 7 of the Dark Tower first.

What is the longest book on your tbr? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through my social media, links to the right>>>

Cheers & Happy Reading!

 

Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

The WonderThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Last night I was discussing Emma Donoghue books with a friend. She had just finished Room and mentioned that although she liked the writing, she had to push herself to get through it. I mentioned that I had only read one of her books, The Wonder. I looked it up on Goodreads, as having finished it in March of this year, I couldn’t recall what I had given it for a star rating and discovered I had not written a review yet!

Since one of my 2018 book goals was to review every book I read, I am here to report a few of my thoughts on this one. The Wonder follows an English nurse, Lib, sent to a rural village in Ireland in the late 1850s to investigate a young girl reported to be living for months without intaking any food. Her family claims she is a living miracle, tourists are flocking to the village to witness this and journalists are covering the case. Lib, highly skeptical from the very beginning works closely with the girl, making sure she is never out from under supervision. What sort of fraud is this? Or is it indeed a miracle?

Some of the writing regarding the Irish people and village was a little off putting but I kept reminding myself this was from the perspective of this nurse, traveling to this location from London, in the 1850s and was probably an accurate portrayal of the ideas/prejudices that someone in her position may have had at this time. I don’t want to say too much more about this aspect of the story, it was just something that annoyed me a wee bit whilst reading.

Overall, I felt this was a compelling and enjoyable read. I would have preferred a bit more mystery and a little faster pace but I did definitely enjoy unraveling this tale.

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November TBR

Happy November bookish friends! I’m a little late with this post as it is currently November 5th but better late than never. October was a phenomenal reading month for me. I completed 16 books which is a new personal record! ((proud moment))

For November, although I have been tempted by a couple of different readathons, readalongs, etc., I have decided not to take any on. I am just going to read what suits my mood at the time. This being said I do have three arcs I am planning to read this month, one of which I have started already, and a few other things high on my priority list which I am counting as my ‘November TBR’ (to be read).

First up is The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston. This is an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) that I received from Disney Hyperion, so thank you so much to them! This is one of my most anticipated books of the year as I am a fan of Elston’s writing. It is a YA Thriller and set to release on November 13th. This story follows Owen Foster who is disgraced after his father, a successful business owner, steals millions from his company and flees, leaving Owen and his mother behind. Owen has to leave his posh boarding school, as they can no longer afford tuition, and return to the public school in his hometown. His father’s theft affected many people in the town and Owen’s presence is not received well. So far I am really enjoying it and am anxious to see where it is all going. I call it a Thriller but thus far it reads more like a Contemporary. One interesting aspect is there are flashbacks to when Owen’s parents first meet and start dating; I like this as it is a unique take for a YA story. I think it will provide a lot of information as to his father’s motivations regarding the current scandal.

Next up for ARCs will be, My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite, described as “Satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.” Thank you to Doubleday Books for providing me with early access to this one. This book is set to release on November 20th and should be good to keep those Spooktober vibes going! It is also fairly short, coming in at just 240-pages, so I anticipate being able to get through it quickly.

My last of the November ARCs is, Insane Mode: How Elon Musk’s Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil, by Hamish McKenzie. This is a nonfiction book and I think the subtitle sums up pretty well what this book is about. Elon Musk is a fascinating human being, someone I follow and look up to quite a bit. I am really looking forward to reading this and learning a bit more about the company and the disruption it has caused. This book is set to release on November 27th and is published by Dutton Books. ((Thank you, Dutton Books!))

So, these are the three November ARCs that I need to read this month. Some other books that I have on my radar that may get picked up this month, in no particular order, are: Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Senile Squad by Chris Legrow, Song of Susannah, Book VI of The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King, Elevation by Stephen King, Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward and Furyborn by Claire Legrand.

What books are you most looking forward to reading this month? Are you participating in any challenges, readalongs or readathons? If so, I want to hear about it/them – leave a comment below or contact me through social media!

Cheers & Happy reading!

Review: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

An Unwanted GuestAn Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lapena redeemed!!

An Unwanted Guest is the second book I have read from Shari Lapena. To say I was less than enthusiastic about the first I read, The Couple Next Door, would be to put it kindly. I was left scratching my head as to what people seemed to like so much about it. I have some really great book friends who love her books though so I said I would give her another shot and I am glad that I did. Go me!

I knew going in that this book would be more in my comfort zone being a ‘locked room’-style mystery. Basically, a cast of characters shut in a confined space, bodies start dropping, whodunit? This had the formula of a classic Christie tale: you meet the cast quickly, all in the beginning, none of them are particularly likable, they all check-in to a fabulous, secluded old hotel, interactions begin, someone gets killed and then another and then another…

The setting for this was a family-run hotel where our guests go to escape from the world, reconnect within their relationships and unwind. However, when a powerful ice storm hits and the power is knocked out…oh, and the MURDERS begin, these weekend warriors get much more from their holidays than they initially anticipated.

As I mentioned previously, none of the characters were particularly ‘likable’ in the traditional sense but they were definitely interesting. Everyone seemed to be hiding something and I had absolutely had no idea who the killer was. After ‘hidden information’ was finally revealed all fell into place. I liked it. I really liked it. There was a special little twist at the end that I felt was really fun and satisfying. Overall, I am super glad I gave Lapena another shot and I will definitely pick up more books from her in future!

Original: Alright, alright, alright. Let’s see if Ms. Lapena can redeem herself for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Couple Next Door ((to put it mildly)) but have heard good things about this one. ‘Locked room’ mysteries are some of my favorites so I think this could be right in my wheelhouse!

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