Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a twisted tale of long buried secrets and newly developed deceptions. Mostly set at a decrepit old estate property where the coldness gets under your skin, I think I enjoyed the setting most of all. I went into this hoping for a gothic atmosphere that would pull me into the story and that’s exactly what I got.

Our main character, Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway, is a very young woman down on her luck since the unfortunate hit-and-run death of her beloved mother. One day as she is believing she has hit rock bottom, she receives a letter in the mail announcing that her Grandmother, Hester Westaway, has passed and that she is due to the solicitor’s office to attend the reading of the will as she is named a beneficiary. Harriet, knowing there must be some sort of mistake as her Grandparents died years ago, decides to test her luck and go pretend to be the Harriet Westaway named in the letter. At most she is expecting a small financial payout that will allow her to pay off some debt and perhaps live a little more comfortably. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined what would take place once she entered into this dangerous game.

I don’t want to say too much more regarding the plot as I feel it is best to go into it knowing as little as possible. I will say that the family she meets upon traveling to the Westaway estate, Trepassen House, is very interesting indeed and it was a ton of fun watching the truth unfold. Again, to me the setting and atmosphere of this were fantastic. I could picture the cold, the snow, the eerie lake, the attic room with the bars on the windows; the estate was brought to life within the pages. I live for that in a story. At times, I felt I knew the answer to the mystery and I was correct on parts of it, but it was so twisted it was hard to tell until the final reveal whether I was on the right track or not. Truly a lot of fun to read.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes some gothic vibes weaved throughout their mystery/thrillers. My only slight criticism was that the beginning was a little slow. I had this same feeling while reading, The Woman in Cabin 10, another one of Ruth Ware’s books but luckily, for me, the introductory portion of this story didn’t drag quite as much as that one.

In the end, I am so happy that I picked this one up and I will definitely continue reading Ware’s books in future. If this one is any sign, it’s that her works are getting stronger and stronger!

Original: Spookathon Book #2 (read a thriller) – switching up my initial TBR (as I ALWAYS do) and starting this before it’s due back at the library! Excited to start!

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Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

AllegedlyAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Allegedly was Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut novel. I am still reeling from this book. I finished it last week and have been thinking about it ever since. It is hard for me to wrap my head around this being her first book. I have already purchased Monday’s Not Coming and am really looking forward to reading that as well.

This novel follows, Mary Addison, after being released from ‘baby jail’, she is living in a group home and trying to get her life on track. Mary was sent to ‘baby jail’ for killing a baby that she was helping her Mom take care of. Allegedly. The majority of the book is stream of consciousness narrative which can be very hit or miss for me. This is how it should be done.

It was incredibly moving to hear Mary’s remembrances of various parts of her childhood, her challenging relationship with her mentally ill mother, and of her ‘crime’. The rest of the book cleverly fills in the blanks with an excellent assortment of mixed media sources such as police interviews and court transcripts. I thought the blending of these two styles together was executed perfectly to reveal the ‘truth’ behind the story.

The thing I appreciated most about this book was the way it reflected upon the juvenile justice system and the hopelessness and desperation these kids are experiencing; the problems with that and the systematic failures put forth onto hundreds to thousands of kids. Behind every case number, inmate number, statistic, is a story. This is just one. Of Mary Addison, a smart, mixed race girl, who struggles with feeling self worth and who never really had a chance. Her codependency with her mother and her mental illness was so raw and real. I felt for this girl. I was drawn into her story. It was such a struggle to get through some sections but worth it. It was so well done that at times, I would be so wrapped up, I had to remind myself…this is FICTION. But for a lot of kids out there, too many kids, this story would be all too real.

I did listen to the audiobook for this and DAMN, Bahni Turpin can make you feel all the feels. She is so talented and truly brought the story to life for me. I was listening to Mary as far as I was concerned. I could not recommend this audiobook more highly. Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Previously: Chills. That ending was a complete surprise – not at all what I expected but in the brief time I have had to reflect on it, I think it is actually perfect. Anything else maybe would have seemed false – too good a conclusion or too bad…I do need to think more on this one before I write my final review. Tiffany D. Jackson is one hell of a writer – I will leave it at that for now.

Original: Starting this audio tomorrow for Contemporary-A-Thon! This will be counting for my dark book, as it is definitely not a light-and-fluffy contemporary, and my non-traditional format book ( = Audio )! I could also count it as a diverse book but I have another one I think I will use for that challenge.

🤓📚🤓

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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs    |    Publication Date: June 7, 2011    |    Rating: 4-stars!

What a wonderful time this was! I decided to read this book as part of my Unread Shelf Project 2018 – basically I am working backwards through my virtual GR ‘to be read’ list and picking one book per month to read off the backlist. I added this book to my tbr in November of 2015. I have no excuse really for not getting to it before now. Sometimes I do end up avoiding hyped books subconsciously; it’s a problem. I did attempt to watch the movie adaptation of this book but didn’t make it through.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this! I listened to the audio in conjuncture with also reading a hard copy so I moved through it really, really fast. I loved the unique storyline and the characters. Jacob, our MC, is so funny – I laughed out loud several times in regards to his dialogue or observations. Another aspect of this I really enjoyed was the use of so many antique (ahem, creepy) photographs that tie right in to the storyline. I have never seen that done in quite this way before and it was really refreshing. I am sure I am probably one of the very few middle grade readers left on the planet to not have read this one, so I am beyond the moon to be crossing it off my list. There are two other books in this trilogy and initially I was thinking I would stop with this one, but after completing it, I do think I will move on with the series. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, middle grade read – it was quite an adventure!

So, I mentioned a while back a bit about my Unread Shelf Project – just a quick update, the first book I selected for that official project was ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote, which I had added to my tbr in October of 2015. I am currently reading that and absolutely loving it. I had read this book in high school, or shortly after high school, but really didn’t remember anything about it besides that it is a classic true crime narrative. I am so glad that I am rereading it because Capote’s writing is just so brilliant and I don’t think I was really able to appreciate that the first time around since I was so young. Now, as an old goat, I can really take my time and enjoy the dramatic way he constructs this horrific American crime.

Next up for this project is a book I added to my tbr in December of 2015: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This is a fairly well loved post-apocalyptic novel that I am actually buddy reading with some friends from Bookstagram; so really looking forward to that! As luck with have it, my copy arrived in the mail today, so I should be starting it this week!

What are some books you are looking forward to checking off your tbr? I want to know! Leave a comment below or reach out to me through my contact links.

Cheers~

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Publication Date: July 14, 2016

3-Stars:  I will get this out of the way up front – I listened to the Audio version of this book. The narrator…let’s just say, her style wasn’t my favorite as far as narration goes. This being said, I’m not sure how much that ended up affecting my ultimate rating for the book but I wanted to be sure to point it out.

I went into this book completely blind, I had heard a little buzz about it through social media, but really had no idea what it was about. I was completely surprised by the fact that the action kicked off so quickly. There were quite a few twists and turns, places where I thought I had it figured out, moments of revelation, etc., but overall it was pretty bland for me. It was a good book but I really had no feelings for it after it was over. It was a thing that happened, it kept me occupied, told me a little tale and then…that’s it. I did not enjoy any of the characters at all – I actually believe one of my mid-book status update comments was, ‘every character in this book is an asshole’ – so yeah. Bottom line, it was good, it didn’t blow me away but it was good. Average.

In other, much more exciting news, I pre-ordered my copy of Stephen King’s newest novel, The Outsider, which will be released on May 22nd!!!  Raise the flag, I am so excited to add a new, gorgeous King hardback to my bookshelves.  Check out the cover below – very creepy and cool!

2017 Wrap-Up, Post #1

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I thought it may be a good time to work on some year-end wrap-up posts.  In book news this year, I discovered audiobooks.  One reason I had never considered audiobooks a viable option for me was the price, they are really expensive!  However, due to a bookish forum I am a part of on Facebook (specifically the Owlcrate subscribers forum) I discovered the Overdrive app which allows me to loan audiobooks from my local library for free!  What a revelation.

How does it work? It is so simple! I browse their electronic library, check-out the book I want and download it directly to my phone on loan for 14 days. Now I can listen to books while walking my dog, driving to and from work and cleaning around the house.  Having made this discovery has really enhanced the number of books I can get through per year and has truly become a staple of my every day life.

One of my favorite books that I have read this year was actually my 2nd audiobook – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (the pen name of the beloved J.K. Rowling – yes, that J.K. Rowling).  Originally published in 2013, this gritty crime novel introduces us to the gruff and brilliant detective, Cormoran Strike and is the first book in a currently four book series.

As an audiobook the narrator they chose was wonderful; absolutely perfect for this story. I hope he continues on as narrator for the rest of the series. The story itself was right up my alley. I love characters like Cormoran – gritty and flawed yet super intelligent, humble and genuine. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Cormoran and his accidental assistant, Robin. I can’t wait to watch their relationship grow as the series continues. The mystery was very strong – it never let up and the police procedural aspect with which Cormoran went about his investigation was spot on, I felt. I will definitely be continuing with this series! Well done, JK!