Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

One of the things that I’m discovering about Lucy Foley is that she is fantastic when it comes to character development. I’ve read two books by her so far and in each, the voices are varied and pointed. I also must say that I listened to both as audiobooks. It’s easy to get swept away by all of the accents, the acting from the voice actors, the emotion behind the words. 

I honestly think I like this book better than The Hunting Party (read my book review for it here). Usually, there is a bit of confusion where there are so many characters. So many points of view. A blending of time. Crossing plot directions. Not for Lucy Foley.

As a fellow writer, I want to see her story grids. I’d like to crawl in her head and see how she comes up with all the characters and make them all have depth and purpose. In the story’s plot, there’s an ebb and flow of small twists and big surprises and I love it. No small feat to keep the reader, reading.

I actually listened while cooking dinner and planned to stop when it was time to eat but every time I felt like I was at a good stopping point I just….kept going. In the book, you really dig into the many layers of a wedding party, and the event’s guests, and see all the horrors of what is supposed to be a beautiful day.

The setting is just as lovely as it was in The Hunting Party. In The Guest List, the setting is strong and idyllic: a secluded place, torturous waters, a nervous host, and no way to escape. At the end of this book I found myself wanting more! I enjoyed the distraction.

So, I would definitely recommend The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

Link to Book

5 Books NOT to Read During a Pandemic

5 Books NOT to Read During a Pandemic

Mid-June, I pulled myself out of the stupor I’d fallen into due to Covid and our cross country trip. I started going for daily walks, I reintroduced myself to my apartment away after 6 weeks away, I started reading again. Not that I hadn’t been reading before, but I started to truly enjoy it again. Not just listening to the words or flipping pages mindlessly.

One of the first things I did to take back control was find books about wide-spread diseases, pandemics, the removal of humans (mass exodus or disappearance), etc. It, of course, didn’t start that way. At first, I wanted to read The Stand by Stephen King. 

I had already borrowed it from the library several times before but the behemoth scared me. I had read large books before but I had just spent the last few months unable to turn a page without this underlying sense of fear and frustration. It seemed insurmountable.

So, I bought it.

I became addicted quite quickly, flipping through the pages until one night passed by at the speed of light and my eyes burned from staying open so long. From there it spawned and I began looking for other things with the same subject.

Among others, I found these 5 books. You might see reviews for these separately but it was important for me to put them on an awesome list. The title of this post is misleading, I want you to read these books. I want you to read them today!      

The Stand by Stephen King

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen.

In the first pages of this book, you see just how quickly the spread of a disease can happen. Heck, it might even frustrate you when you see the resemblance between the book and some goings-on at your local grocery store.

Link to Book

Pandemic Robin Cook

When an unidentified, seemingly healthy young woman collapses suddenly on the New York City subway and dies upon reaching the hospital, her case is an eerie reminder for veteran medical examiner Jack Stapleton of the 1918 flu pandemic. Fearful of a repeat on the one hundredth anniversary of the nightmarish contagion, Jack autopsies the woman within hours of her demise and discovers some striking anomalies: first, that she has had a heart transplant, and second, that, against all odds, her DNA matches that of the transplanted heart.

The crazy thing about this book is that I had no idea this book was a part of a series until I looked it up to write this. I randomly picked it up as a ‘related to’ book of The Stand. There’s a TV show coming out soon!

Link to Book

Phantoms by Dean Koontz

They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body, strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California.

At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease.

I had actually read part of this book before but I think I was distracted by another book. Either way, when I picked it up again I was reminded how much of a suspense GENIUS Dean Koontz is. This book has a movie adaption.

Link to Book

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city—a city that includes his wife and son—before it is too late.

An epic battle for survival begins between man and vampire in The Strain.

This was book was a different look at Vampires (or vampiric virus) than I’m used to dealing with. I’m used to romance, and heat, and vampires being good – or marginally so. This book is evil vampires, ancient vampires, and a weird inner alien-looking, sucking thing that flies out of the throat vampires. This one also has a tv show adaption. I began watching it and I really liked it, surprisingly.

Link to Book

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it.

This one was absolutely phenomenal! I read it in one sitting because it was that fantastic. It is also a behemoth but totally worth it. This book is also getting an adaption. Isn’t that crazy? All of these were fantastic in their own way and now we’ll get to see them on the screen. 

Link to Book

If you have any other pandemic, disease, or exodus novels that you really love and would like to suggest, please do so! If you are interested in another round of these, I’ll share other books like this that I’ve read in the last year.


Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Reviews: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

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.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

This book had an interesting cast of characters, an idyllic setting amongst woods and snow, and a slow pace. I appreciated the slow pace as it gave me a chance to get to know each character, and play whodunnit. I’ve always been a fan of Clue type books and movies, especially ones like The Hunting Party, that go back and forth in time.

There were a few twists in the novel that felt predictable if you paid attention, but it was still worth it. Seeing how it all turned out at the end definitely made this one a good Weekend Read. 

One thing that I disliked about the book was that it has this slow build and just when it starts to pick up it’s over. That may be my fault though. When you listen to an audiobook, your phone is most likely turned off.

You can’t see that you are nearing the end. You think it’s going to keep going and you’re invested and possibly on the edge of your seat and then you hear the words “Epilogue”. I even paused in the car just so I could listen because things were ramping up and then I was shocked to discover the end wasn’t as impactful as I expected.  

That being said, one of the great things about listening to audiobooks is that you can truly hear the difference between characters. Their mannerisms, the pauses between words, the terror in their voices. That’s why I love listening to books with a large cast. Being a writer myself, I know how important it is to make each voice stand out and give them depth. 

Lucy Foley paid careful attention to this in The Hunting Party and it translates well. It also doesn’t hurt that the accents were so cool. And you know how Americans love accents!

One of my favorite characters is Miranda. Her arc is amazing because she knows she’s terrible. She knows she’s a shitty friend. She even feels guilty about it sometimes. Rarely, but it’s there. Does this stop her or make her change her ways? No. We all know a person like Miranda. Maybe it’s a friend you love to hate. Maybe it’s a sibling you wish would be nicer. Heck, maybe it’s you. You might see some of yourself in Miranda, so watch out!

I also love the setting in this book. And the way characters said “loch”. This ‘snowed-in’ novel is perfect for this quarantine time. Being in isolation, not able to leave, not able to touch anyone, even being upset at an unexpected guest couple. It’s perfect for the winter weather as well.

Link to Book

If you have any suggestions, don’t forget to leave me a comment or send a message to me on social media.

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

The Word is Murder: A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.
A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.
A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.

The Sentence is Death: Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise. Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Heya,

I discovered The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death while looking for another book by the author Anthony Horowitz. It made all of my little girl fantasies come true. I grew up obsessed with romance novels (and their many subgenres) but when I was in seventh grade I came across my first mystery novels. I fell in love with detective stories, murder mysteries – I’d even throw psychological thrillers in there. Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, John Grisham (because everyone needs a good lawyer mystery) and more.

I also fell in love with the idea of becoming a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. I wanted to be a professor with a messenger bag and a magnifying glass. I loved the idea of solving crimes, deciphering codes, and pulling apart the mysteries of life. Through the novels by Horowitz, I found that. He puts himself in the book as an actual character. A Watson to Hawthorne’s Sherlock and I absolutely love it.

I love that the books are in first person and you feel like the mystery is unfolding before you. The fact that Hawthorne is an anti-hero with few redeeming qualities, and the fictional Horowitz is slowly becoming a sleuth in his own right (because everyone knows Watson was also a bit of a genius) makes me love the books even more. I have to say plural because I enjoyed both books the same. Often times, when you read a sequel you think ‘hhmm…this doesn’t seem like it has the same PUNCH as the first one’ but it does!

After reading the first book I knew what to expect and so I often found myself trying to find clues in the second book as I went alone. It was absolutely fantastic.

I saw that the second book The Sentence is Death came out in 2019 and the first was 2 years prior. I’m really hoping, seriously hoping, that there is another book coming out in the series next year. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

If I had to give these books stars I would do 4.5 for both of them! So I definitely recommend you reading them! If you do, let me know in the comments how you liked them.

Link to The Word is Murder

Link to The Sentence is Death

P.S. If you have any other suggestions for me please let me know in the comments!

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Read: August 2020

Method: Audiobook

Heya,

I’ll admit, I wasn’t impressed with the synopsis for The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. I’ve been playing hide and seek with this novel for months. I usually use Overdrive for my audiobooks and I kept seeing that it was available for lending but I never requested it. I really enjoyed -in a dark, dark, wood – by the same author and I was partially afraid that nothing would live up to that novel. I even put it back on my TBR (To Be Read) pile so that I can read it again. It was that good. I also enjoyed The Death of Mrs. Westaway ( and heck, I might just have to write a cumulative review on this author one day because I’m sure I’ll read more novels by her).

Lately, I’ve been struggling to find a novel that I wanted to read – that isn’t Stephen King, as I’ve been reading a ton of books by him this year. Stay tuned for a review set of his novels – and so I was like FINE!!!! I requested The Turn of the Key and started listening.

I will admit, again, it started slow for me. I had strapped on my bluetooth headphones before I left the house to go shopping and thumbed through the available audiobooks on my homescreen. I tried out two or three audiobooks but it wasn’t until I was standing in Dollar Tree, looking for candy, that I started TTotK. Then, as it began I rolled my eyes. Previous bias. Then I realized that the narrator is British (is the author British?) and I usually love that and so I decided to let it continue.

I was pleasantly, VERY PLEASANTLY, surprised to discover that the book is amazing. The narrator and the low way she says “creak, creak, creak” and how the emotion of a scared nanny comes across through every chapter. I loved the way the story is told in second person, structured as a letter written to a solicitor. I enjoyed the way it unfolds, from in-scene-prose to reader, and back. I also thought that the way the ending is handled – no spoilers here – it was genius! I was about 20 minutes away from ending the novel and I was like OH NO! PLEASE TELL ME ____ HAPPENS! I had predicted what would happen early on, but not some aspects,  and yet, I was happy with the way everything unfolded. So I’ll say, I easily enjoyed it.

The pacing of the novel made me want to listen to it straight through, though it was 10 hours, and so I did. I think I took one small break in the middle to watch a recipe for dinner. Then I was back at it. It was more than emotion from the narrator and pacing. On a sentence level, with phrases and the genius of metaphors, Ware made me feel connected to this character who lived in a different place, narrated by a different culture.

If I had a rating system I would give this an amazing 3.5 out of 5 stars! Thank you, Ruth Ware, for yet another great story.

Jade

Link to Book!

If you have any books you’d like to recommend I read, feel free to comment them below!
theturnofthekey

Book Review: The Shadows by Alex North

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Read: August 2020

Method: Audiobook and Physical (Mostly listened)

One of the great things about The Shadows by Alex North is that it was inspired by the Slender Man legend. I must admit that before I read this book I read a few articles interviewing the author as well as about the Slender Man. It’s a morbid curiosity as well as an interest in the role legends and myths play in society. It all made me giddy inside. 

I listened to The Shadows in one day, willing to sacrifice sleep in order to keep listening. I loved the narrator, the way you could feel the emotion from the main characters and the mystery. I feel that narrators should really get the kudos they deserve because you truly believe that the person is the character. The inflections of Paul, the worries of Amanda, the spooky woods, all come through because of the phrasing and the tone of the narrators. So, bless them! That being said, I felt that this book was much slower than The Whisper Man (another book by Alex North that I read recently). I felt that I kept waiting for things to really take off. This anticipation wasn’t fulfilled until later in the book but it was worth the wait. I just wished that there was more of a sense of urgency earlier on. I also felt that I might’ve missed something, regarding the timeline of deaths, while listening. Due to this, I spent the last half of the book looking for answers that I never got. This makes me feel like I need to reread the book, or at least search for that answer via Goodreads or reviewers (because others might’ve had the same question). 

I feel that even wanting to find those answers shows just how much I liked this book. The fact that despite this hiccup, I still want to learn more about the novel, as well as read more about Slender Man, says it all. I would definitely recommend The Shadows to anyone looking for a mystery. If I had a rating system, I would give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars! Fantastic!    

Jade

Link to Book!

If you have any book suggestions you’d like me to read, comment them below!

theshadows

Book Review: Them Bones by Carolyn Haines

No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth’s situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she’s flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state–or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend’s prize pooch to raise some cash.

But soon Sarah Booth’s walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she’s hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself…and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.

 
Heya!!

So I felt really bad. Past tense. I saw a suggestion for this book and quickly requested it from the library. I preceded to keep the book for a month and a half. Started accruing library fees and I didn’t even realize it. At the time, we’d just moved from the old apartment and I thought I had packed all the library books in the same box. Not true.

Anyway, so by the time I found it and opened it, I already had an $8 library fine. YIKES! So, of course I thought, I might as well read it now. I practically own it.

So I did. And it was glorious. I was so happy with this book that I read it all in one day. Well into the night. I then looked up the sequel to request. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn it in for three more days. ARGH!

 

thembones

 

So basically, I really liked it. I liked the character development, the mystery, the coziness (har har har) and the pacing. I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries and I didn’t know it! I like to giggle and sense suspense at the same time. Who knew?

If you’ve read this book, liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it (or listened to it) yet but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any book suggestions or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Good Readdance,
Jade

Link To Book

Book Review: You Will Pay by Lisa Jackson

It starts as a prank—a way to blow off steam after a long summer at Camp Horseshoe. Among the teen counselors, tensions and hormones are running high. No wonder the others agree when Jo-Beth Chancellor suggests they scare Monica O’Neal a little . . . or a lot. Monica has it coming, and no one will really get hurt. What could go wrong?
Everything. That summer, two young girls went missing.
Each one knows something about that terrible night. Each promised not to tell. And as they reunite, a new horror unfolds. First come texts containing a personal memento and a simple, terrifying message: YOU WILL PAY. Then, the murders begin.
It started years ago. But it will end here—as a web of lust, greed, and betrayal is untangled to reveal a killer waiting to enact the perfect revenge.

 

This was another one of those books that I read fairly quickly. I had forgotten how much I liked to read books by Lisa Jackson.  She writes mystery with just a hint of romance. In this book, you follow a sort of contorted ‘who done it’. You get the comparison of the characters when they were young and impressionable and them as adults when they have had a chance to put the past behind them. There are a few twists and turns in the story that were pretty exciting and unexpected.

lisa jackson

I will say this book is longer than I expected it to be. I think it could have been shorter and we still would’ve gotten the same level of character development. Some parts did drag on just a bit. This may just be me though, with my attention span and the fact that I have so many books to read so I really have to be very invested in every chapter.

I would recommend this book if you are looking for a quick mystery read. If you’ve read this book, liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it yet but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any book suggestions or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

 

 

Good Readance,

Jade

Book Review: I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

 “Almost two years after someone snatched Alexandra “Zan” Moreland’s then three-year-old son, Matthew, from his stroller while his sitter dozed, Zan, a New York City interior designer who remains devastated, has been unable to trace her son. To make matters worse, somebody is using her credit cards to purchase expensive items just as she’s on the verge of landing a prestigious account for her fledgling business. Worst of all, evidence emerges that suggests Zan kidnapped her own son. Meanwhile, a priest is troubled by a woman whose confession reveals that a murder is being planned. Contrivances that prevent key information from reaching the heroine as well as characters without personality in the service of a plot with at least one major hole won’t please those who prefer their suspense firmly grounded in reality and logic.”*

 

It almost happened again. I almost let it happen again. It t’was the night before Christmas…just kidding. It was about 2am this morning and I started to read an e-book that was recommended to me earlier in the day and then I thought, Crap! I need to read those damn library books! So I went to the large stack sitting on my dinning room table and picked up I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark. I got into the book and it took me until, around, 4am to finish it.

I'll Walk Alone.jpg

I thought the book was pretty great, although there were some parts that really annoyed me. It’s already established from the first moment that someone is impersonating her and that most won’t believe it but she spends the majority of the book acting like a crazy person. She often asks herself if she really did have something to do with her son’s disappearance. Of course, I expected her to be upset, frustrated, exhausted and even a little unhinged but the dramatics was an unnecessary addition to the plot twist.  I feel as if we didn’t answer most of the questions (lotta worry, lotta call backs with no pay off; thinking of the Stephen King suspense method).

I am always a fan of hers but I definitely pay attention to each book as it’s own separate work. I must say, I did enjoy the plot twist in this one. It wasn’t as explosive as some of her other stories but I enjoyed it. I’d recommend this book if you just need something to curl up with or a quick read with a little suspense.

If you’ve read this book, if you liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it but have plan to…let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you have any book suggestions for me to read or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Happy Reading.

Jade

 

*Link to Book and synopsis: http://bit.ly/2CTpnPG

Book Review: Loves Music, Loves To Dance by Mary Higgins Clark

Hi!

So I am beyond excited to do a review on this novel! When I was in private school I found myself as a definite outcast amongst the other students. You might say that it was because I didn’t come from a rich family like many of the others and that i just didn’t relate to them in anyway. The honest answer is just that I was very shy back then. I didn’t really know a lot of people and wasn’t very good at making friends.

You might’ve guessed, I spent most of my childhood with my nose stuck in chapter books. The majority of the books I read were romance novels. I  was caught up in the whirlwind of what it meant to be in love, the tug and war of the relationships and how the heart comes together. Then it was like the flood gates of everything amazing opened and rained down on me. I came across a novel by Agatha Christie and my heart swelled. All things mysterious, intriguing and thriller flowed out. I was referred to read Mary Higgins Clark by a teacher and I was skeptical. Agatha was the only step I’d taken to broadening my horizons and I balked at the idea.

lovesmusiclovestodance

I fell in love with her style of writing. I had no idea what I was in store for. A few days ago I found one of her novels in a thrift store and I instantly knew I had to buy it! The story was one of my favorite in all of the books and genres I’ve ever read. The entire time I was on the edge of my seat. I literally jumped up, screamed and did a little dance when the killer was revealed. It was a really great story!

It was basically like reliving my childhood, curling up and unable to put the book down. I was angry, at one point, that the other characters in the story weren’t paying attention. I screamed “pay attention” at least ten times! To my hearts content, there was even a romantic storyline at play!

You have got to read this novel!

Good Readdance!

Jade