Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

the guest list lucy foley

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Thriller

The Guest List was among my most anticipated reads for this year, after falling in love with Lucy Foley’s writing in The Hunting Party. The Guest List follows two days in a small, beautiful but haunted island in Ireland where the biggest wedding of the year will take place: Jules Keegan, successful founder of The Download magazine, and Will Slater, a TV celebrity. On the wedding day, just after the cake was cut, a body is found, and everyone is a suspect.

This was a very engaging read, and I love that Lucy Foley keeps you guessing who’s victim and who’s the murderer until the end, it’s just such fun (I got both wrong). Her writing is so beautiful, not too flowery but just enough to give the perfect creepy atmosphere. I wanted to savor this for several days but could only manage to do that for 2-3 days, and devoured the rest in one sitting. I also loved the setting in a mysterious, haunted island during a storm, it was an incredible atmosphere.

It is difficult to tell if I would have given this 5 stars if I hadn’t read The Hunting Party first, but I think not, since my 5-stars are for books which leave me in awe, and this was a great read but it lacked a sense of more urgency – I just did not quite believe a lot of the characters could be the murderer at all, and only in the later part of the book do tensions actually go high enough for me to consider that one of them could actually murder the other. The Hunting Party was more gripping, the stakes felt higher and the sense of danger more concrete. I actually felt that anyone could murder or be murdered, and it was fun trying to guess, whereas in The Guest List I felt that the potential victim was pretty much narrowed down to just a few characters. I think The Guest List does some things better though, namely the writing and who the murdered person was (which I found a bit frustrating in The Hunting Party), and all in all it’s an intense, enjoyable read which made me feel the same “oh my god this is great I have to know what happens next!!” feeling that I did as a child and teen reading Agatha Christie.

Review: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

disappearing earth julia phillips

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Mystery

Disappearing Earth was another book chosen for the Squad Longlist, and I was very excited to read this slow-burn mystery set in Siberia. Although the blurb might imply this is a series of events started by the kidnapping of two sisters, this is less a plot-driven book and more about each of the characters. We get several different point of views and explore the motivations, fears, nostalgia, disillusion and loss of these people, who are connected to the kidnapping in one way or another, sometimes only very loosely.

Each chapter focuses on a different character, and this makes Disappearing Earth very much a slow burn, as we see month by month a snapshot of their lives. The author did such a great job in turning a narrator in one story seamlessly into a secondary character in another’s a few chapters later. Each character has a rich inner life, and is haunted by loss, uncertainty, societal pressure, judgment, by lack of options in such a remote place. Their dreams and aspirations often turn to nothing, and my heart broke so many times, even for characters I didn’t particularly like. This book was a beautiful exercise in humanity. Continue reading

Mini-Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

the hunting party lucy foleyRating: ★★★★★

Categories: Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

In The Hunting Party, a group of old friends gets together in an isolated hunting lodge in Scotland to celebrate the New Year, as they do every year. Although they seem to be excited and happy to see each other, old and new grudges escalate the tensions between them, and on January 2nd, a body is found.

This is one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read! I fell in love with the writing from the first chapter, so atmospheric and engrossing. This book came highly recommended from my sister, who is the best source of thriller recommendations, honestly. Each of the characters has secrets, the guests who claim to be friends but seem sometimes to actually hate each other, and also the people working in the lodge. Every story line, every secret, every character was so interesting, I could not stop reading this! It was also super intriguing to not really know who died until quite far into the book, keeping the reader guessing who killed whom and why, suspiciously analyzing the actions of everyone. It was so fun to read and reminded me a lot of the way I devoured Agatha Christie books when I was younger. This was absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to read Lucy Foley’s The Guest List!

eARC Review: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

you are not alone greer hendricks sarah pekkanenRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Thriller

Goodreads

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

In You Are Not Alone, Shay Miller is a 30-something year old whose life isn’t going how she wished. She’s living with her roommate, who’s she’s secretly been in love with but is dating someone else; her job is getting her nowhere; she feels just so alone. One day, when she witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks eerily like herself, she cannot help but get obsessed: who was she? Why did she do this? Who are her friends, what was her life like? When she crashes the memorial of the woman and meets her friends… she just wants to be a part of them. Those women are so glamorous, so beautiful, so successful. And they seem to like her. Continue reading

eARC Review: He Started It, by Samantha Downing

he started it samantha downingRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Thriller

Goodreads

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

He Started It is Samantha Downing’s second book, telling the story of three siblings who must take a road trip together if they want to receive the inheritance their grandfather left them. Each has their own agenda and secrets. If only they can complete two weeks of travelling like they did twenty years before, they’ll all live millionaires.

I don’t think there’s anyone out there writing unlikable women in thrillers quite like Samantha Downing – our narrator Beth is cold, with quite a lot of uncharitable thoughts about everyone, manipulative and lies all the time, but I loved her so much. You don’t necessarily root for her all the time, and I think a lot of readers might side with one of the other siblings in this story. From the beginning, Beth tells you she isn’t your heroine in this story, but that is for the reader to tell, anyway. Continue reading

eARC Review: Death in Her Hands, by Ottessa Moshfegh

Death in Her Hands Ottessa MoshfeghRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Literary fiction, mystery

Goodreads

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Death in Her Hands starts with a mysterious note Vesta finds one morning during her daily walk with her dog. The note says Magda is dead, and no one will ever know who did it. There is no body, no signature, no clues. As Vesta gets more involved, her quiet routine becomes more turbulent, and it will make her face the truths about her marriage, the death of her husband and what it meant for her freedom.

As much as I tried to make the synopsis not sound like this is a murder mystery, it still kind of does – don’t be fooled, it is not. I started this book somehow convinced it would be basically a literary whodunit, and after half of it had gone by, I started to accept that I was wrong. It was a frustrating couple hundred pages, so I warn now early in the review: this book is about Vesta, her past, her thoughts, perhaps her descent into confusion and grief; it’s not exactly a murder mystery. I don’t know if this spoils the book somehow, but I think not, as I could only enjoy this book once I understood this. Continue reading

Review: Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams

queenie candice carty williamsRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads

When Tom says he needs a break and Queenie needs to move out, she tries to tell herself it’s not as bad as all that, she’ll live for a few months in a shared apartment and then go back to he relationship, even better than before. But as her break becomes messier and messier, Queenie’s mental health deteriorates and she makes increasingly worse choices.

Whew, this book knocked me out of the park and left me a mess. It starts off rather runny, I was snorting on my lunch break, but as Queenie starts to make terrible choices and act detached from her own life, my heart started to break. I think this book hit me hard because I went through a breakdown too, some years ago, and jeopardized a lot of things in the process, including not doing my job and ignoring my friends and family, detaching myself from my life – so as Queenie becomes more unlikable and makes worse choices that a person doing okay never could understand, I couldn’t help but sympathize. We did not go through the same things at all (I’m not a black woman, for starters, and had the support of my family and boyfriend), and my heart aches so much for all the horrors she had to go through. Continue reading

Review: How We Disappeared, by Jing-Jing Lee

How we disappeared by Jing-Jing LeeRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads

How We Disappeared tells the story of Wang Di, an old woman from Singapore who’s just lost her husband before she told him her story of the war and listened to his own. Trying to find out the truth is much harder now that the war is long over and so many people are dead or missing. Her own story hurts too much and she tries to not think about it if she can – she’s never told her husband she was a “comfort woman”. On the other side of the town, Kevin finds out his grandmother found his father when he was a baby and never gave him back to the biological father she later found out still lived. Continue reading

eARC Review: The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James

the sun down motel simone st jamesRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Ghosts

Goodreads

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

In 1982, Viv Delaney disappeared during her night shift in the Sun Down Motel and was never seen again. No one knows if she’s dead or alive, and her family doesn’t talk about her. Except for Carly, her niece, who in 2017 is trying to find answers about what happened to her aunt. She finds herself drawn to Fell and the Sun Down Motel, working the same night shift where Viv worked, and finding that there is something going on there which maybe can only be explained by the supernatural. Continue reading

eARC Review: The Lady Upstairs, by Halley Sutton

the lady upstairs halley suttonRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Mystery, Noir, Psychological Thriller, F/F

Goodreads

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Jo has been working for the Lady Upstairs for three years , and is so close to paying her debt. She makes ends meet by finding the perfect girl to seduce a powerful, awful man and with her help, blackmail him for the things they do to the girls. Things start going wrong when one of the girls starts falling in love with her mark, and then things escalate and she finds herself dealing with a dead body. Continue reading