Thursday, January 17, 2019

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up. It's winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell's Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul. The power's down but they've got candles, blankets, and wood--a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up--surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. They can't leave, and with no cell service, there's no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it's their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there's nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm."

My Thoughts:

An Unwanted Guest was a thrilling read that kept me guessing until the very end!  I just could not resist the premise of this book and am so glad that I didn't wait to read it!  I'm a sucker for books that feature snowstorms and especially ones like this where the characters are cut off from the world due to the weather.  There is just something about a huge snowstorm that I just love....and when you add in a creepy mystery I'm completely hooked!  One of the things that really caught my attention before I started reading this book was the comparisons to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  This is actually one of my favorite Agatha Christie books so that really put this book on my radar!  And I can definitely see the comparisons.  It's almost like this author was creating a homage to that book and Christie herself.  She did an amazing job of creating a very similar vibe where you didn't know who to trust and what was really going on.  That creepy, suspenseful vibe kept me reading this book late into the night because I just had to see what was going to happen next!  I loved that I was kept guessing and changing my mind throughout the book on who the possible killer could be. It was just a very suspenseful read and I loved every minute of it!  I don't want to say too much more than that because really this is a book just to be experienced yourself in my opinion.  It's the perfect book to read this time of year and especially if you are due to get a winter storm yourself.  Then you can thoroughly creep yourself out!

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book immensely!  Was this book as good as Agatha Christie's?  Well no, not in my opinion but then again I don't think you can really compare ever to Christie.  It was a really great tribute (not sure if that's exactly the right word here but) to her book though and really great in its' own right!  I don't usually rate books on here but I would give this one 4.5 stars easily!  I found myself immensely satisfied with one part of the ending but I won't say more than that.  I just enjoyed this book in general.  I'm really looking forward to reading more by this author, and am glad that I have a couple more of her books to look forward to!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful thriller that kept me guessing!  I'm so glad that I read this one!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Thoughts are my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Ragnar Jonasson burst onto the American scene with Snowblind and Nightblind, the first two novels in the Dark Iceland series, and the praise was overwhelming. Now he launches a new series featuring a completely new sleuth, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police department.

When a young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, is found murdered on the seaweed covered rocks of Iceland, Hulda starts to ask questions. But it isn't long before she realizes that no one wants her to investigate this murder. She eventually must decide whether solving this case is worth losing her life."

My Thoughts:

The Darkness was an atmospheric, quiet thriller that has started off a series that I cannot wait to read more of!  Hulda is dealing with a lot of change in her life.  She is basically being forced into retirement but is allowed to investigate one last case of her choosing.  Hulda chooses to investigate the case of a young woman who came to Iceland seeking asylum but instead lost her life.  As the pages go on, the author also starts to share pieces of Hulda's past with us.  I was so intrigued as these little tidbits definitely hinted at a dark and troubled past.  I took my time with this book and just really immersed myself within it.  It was the perfect winter read and the author did an amazing job of conveying Iceland's beauty.  I would love to visit there someday!  This book made me a bit sad though as Hulda's struggle with retirement and what to do with the rest of her life just was a bit heartbreaking to read about.  That being said - I enjoyed my time with this book immensely.  And I'm going to get just slightly spoiler-ey here but that ending!  I honestly can say that I did not see it coming whatsoever.  It was such a bold move and one I would love to discuss with other readers!  Who else has read this book?  

Overall, I am so glad that I decided to read this book because it was the perfect read for this time of year!  This book isn't a book to rush through in my opinion but instead is one to just savor and enjoy.  I enjoyed Hulda's character so much and am curious to see where the author goes next with this series.  I will definitely be there for book two!!  I think that fans of mystery and suspense will enjoy this book.  I don't read a ton of translated fiction but books like this really make me want to read more.  I need to catch up and read more authors and books just like this, that's for sure!  This is an easy book to recommend!

Bottom Line:  An atmospheric mystery that left me pining for the next book!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Thoughts are my own!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly."

My Thoughts:

This was an amazing way to begin my year of reading in 2019!  What a page turner this book was!  I've been seeing such great reviews of this one on Instagram lately so decided to begin my year with this book.  And what a book it was!  An Anonymous Girl begins with Jess signing up to participate in a study on morality where she just basically answers questions anonymously.  Obviously the book goes on from there but really I don't want to tell you much more than that.  It's going to be hard (when it feels like everyone is talking about this book) to miss spoilers but I really think that this is a book to just dive into without knowing much.  I really don't think that you will be disappointed!  It was such a compelling read and I found myself unable to set this one down.  There was this layer of suspense and tension throughout the entire book.  Reading it was like just waiting for the shoe to drop.  You know things are going to turn bad - but you aren't sure how or when.  Sorry for all of the metaphors but it was like this snowball building up and I was just waiting for it to hit and destroy everything.  I almost found this one stressful to read at times (yes I'm a dork like that) but I still loved every minute of it!  It definitely made me anxious as I really liked Jess's character so was worried about her throughout.  The authors built the tension perfectly and I just couldn't stop reading as I had to see what was going to happen.  I loved that they also kept me guessing throughout the book unsure of who I could trust.  It was a wild ride that I just couldn't get enough of!  

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this book and am eager for more!  I desperately need to go back and read The Wife Between Us by these authors that released last year.  I'm kind of kicking myself that I let that one pass me by unread after enjoying this one so much but at least I have it to look forward to.  The hype on this one is well deserved in my opinion!  I'm so glad that I didn't wait to read this one as I sometimes am prone to do with books where it feels like everyone is talking about them.  It was the perfect way to begin my year of reading in 2019 - if I enjoy all of the books I read as much as I enjoyed this one then this will be my best reading year yet!

Bottom Line:  A thrilling and compelling read that I couldn't stop reading! 4.5 stars!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  These are my honest thoughts on it.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Bout of Books Read-a-thon (2019)

"The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 24 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team"

I'm so excited to sign up and participate in the upcoming Bout of Books Read-a-thon!  This is one of my favorite read-a-thons to participate in, and is a great way to jump start my year of reading in 2019!  I'm not great about participating in the daily challenges per se but I do enjoy the extra push to read, read, read!  

My goals for this read-a-thon are to read at least two books!  I'm going to be working a TON of overtime next week so I can't see myself being able to finish more than that but you never know.  The kids also start back up to school next week so back to the busy schedules we go!  I'm looking forward to it though (I'm weird like that) and also really looking forward to using this read-a-thon to push me to read more!  I'm not sure what I'm planning on reading.  I have a huge stack of books that I would "like" to read this month so I'm sure that I will choose from those and my current library stack.  Here are the two library books that are currently calling my name the loudest though so they are strong possibilities:

I'll keep you posted as I'm sure this will all change (as my reading moods do) by the time the read-a-thon actually begins.  Are any of you planning on participating with the Bout of Books read-a-thon as well?  Let me know so that we can cheer each other on!!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Top Ten Reads of 2018

Happy New Year!  It's pretty crazy to think we are in 2019 already - I've been blogging now since 2007 which is even crazier to think about.  I had a really great year of reading in 2018 which is always a good thing.  I managed to read 71 books which wasn't quite my goal but is up from last year so that makes me very happy.  It's been a great year in books and I'm hoping that the new year goes just as well.  I can tell you that I'm planning on "trying" to be more present in the new year.  We will see how it goes but that's the plan currently!  Let's move on to my top ten reads of 2018 though!

Look For Me by Lisa Gardner is book nine in the Detective D.D. Warren series but only my second book read by this author so far.  It is also the 2nd time this author (and series) has made it on my top reads list for the year.  That should tell you everything you need to know about these books and my love for this series!  I'm so completely pumped that I have a copy of the upcoming book in this series to read and hopefully love in the new year!

The Body Counter by Anne Frasier is the 2nd book in another amazing series that has fast become a favorite of mine!  I enjoyed the first book a ton but it was this second book that has placed this series on my must read list.  It is dark mystery series but super compelling!  I'm so excited that there looks to be another book coming out in 2019 - I will be there for it for sure!

Caged by Ellison Cooper is the beginning to a new mystery series that I just couldn't get enough of!  This was a dark and twisty page turner that I just couldn't put down.  I'm so excited to read more of this author and series in the new year!  2019 is going to be an amazing year of reading at this rate!

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier was such a dark and thrilling read!  I feel like that's almost a theme from my reading in 2018 (so I have no idea what that says about me and the books I enjoy but...).  This book was such a compelling read but it wasn't always easy to read.  I've read two books by this author so far - and both were amazing!  I can't wait to read more by her!

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine was one of the most intense books that I read this year.  It was heart pounding and such a complete page turner!  I luckily have the next two books in this series to look forward to reading in the new year.  This was a nonstop heart-pounding read that I just couldn't get enough of.  Easily a five star read and has cemented my love of this author and her books!

Watch The Girls by Jennifer Wolfe was a thriller like no other!  This one had some serious horror vibes to it and I just couldn't get enough of it!  I cannot wait to see what this author comes up with next because she also takes dark and twisted to another level.  This book is probably the most underrated one on my list this year - I hope that other readers find it and enjoy it as much as I did!

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn was such a delightful beginning to this historical mystery series!  I adored my time with this book so much and am really looking forward to reading the next book in this series soon!  If you love mysteries with just a hint of romance (I'm sure hoping for more though) then I cannot recommend this series enough!

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons is the 3rd book in the D.I. Kim Stone series and the third five star read for me in it!  This is one of my must read series that I just adore.  Kim Stone is such a great main character that I can't get enough of!  I love these books and this series so much!

Blue Monday by Nicci French is the second book I've read in this series but actually the first book in this series.  I read this one in a day which goes to show how much I enjoyed this book.  I actually read this one while my husband was going through shoulder surgery which goes to show how much of a page turner this was for me that it could keep my attention during a stressful time.  I cannot wait to continue on with this series!

The Dry by Jane Harper was such an atmospheric mystery that I couldn't get enough of!  I'm so glad that I took the time to knock this one off of my TBR list because it was just amazing.  I found myself just swept away in the pages of this book.  I'm really looking forward to picking up book two in the new year.

Well there you are - my top ten reads for 2018!  I'm not going to even try to give honorable mentions this year because there would honestly be SO many!  There are just so many amazing authors that I read this year.  It's crazy looking back how amazing my year of reading really was.  So many good books, so many new series and authors to follow, and so little time!

Here's to hoping that 2019 is just as amazing!