Tuesday, July 27, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #1)


Summary from Goodreads:

"In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm."

I'm trying something new here - and giving less of a summary.  One, because sometimes the summary gives too much away.  Two, because I like the idea of one sentence or very short summaries that just pull readers in with buzzy words like the above one did for me.  Let me know what your thoughts (if you even read this part of my posts has me curious honestly).

My Thoughts:

Shiver was everything that I had hoped it would be from the above summary.  I love nothing more than a "locked room" type of mystery setup where the characters are being picked off one by one as a play off of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  What made this book stand out for me as the reader is that it was set in the alps during a snowstorm.  I LOVE a mystery/thriller set in the middle of a snowstorm which is effectively trapping the characters from leaving.  It's almost like this book was written for me personally because it had everything that I love all in one book.  And the best part was that I truly loved this book!  I found it to be one of those books that just pulls you in and doesn't let you go.  I'm writing my thoughts on this one months after reading it and I can still clearly remember the tense atmosphere that the author created within the pages.  I was left guessing the entire time I was reading it trying to figure out who was behind it all.  There were certain things that I guessed but others that I didn't whatsoever.  I also really enjoyed the snowboarding aspects that the author included within this book.  I've always enjoyed watching snowboarding so learning more about the competitive side of it was really intriguing.  There were just so many great things about this book and I cannot say enough good things about it!

Overall, this is a book that I highly recommend to both mystery and thriller readers.  This is an author to watch in my opinion because it was just that good.  I will be picking up whatever she comes out with next - that's for sure!  

Bottom Line: A book that is very likely to make my top reads list of this year!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  I ended up reading a physical copy courtesy of my local library.

Summary from Goodreads:

"Lana Lee runs her family's Chinese restaurant in Cleveland's Asia Village like nobody's business. When it comes to actual cooking, however, she's known to be about a step up from boiling rice. So Lana decides to go to culinary school on the sly--and prove that she has what it takes in the kitchen after all. But when course instructor Margo Chan turns up dead after class, Lana suddenly finds herself on the case, frying pan in hand.

Since she was the one who discovered the body, Lana must do double duty in finding the killer and clearing her name. Now, with or without the help of her boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana launches her own investigation into Margo's life and mysterious death. Doing so leads her on a wild goose chase to and from the culinary school--and all the way back to the Ho-Lee noodle shop, where the guilty party may be closer than Lana thinks."

My Thoughts:

This is the 7th book in one of my favorite cozy mystery series!  This book was another fun addition to this series.  One of the reasons that I love this series so much is the characters.  Lana always finds herself in the middle of things (like yet another murder investigation) and her friends and family always end up helping her out.  I particularly am a fan of her best friend/roommate who always encourages Lana to investigate even when she doesn't want to.  This book was particularly fun because the majority of the book was set at the local community college where Lana was taking cooking classes.  I just thought that it made the mystery and book feel fresh.  These books always make me hungry while reading them and this book was no exception.  I really can't say too much more - at seven books in I don't want to spoil anything that has happened in previous books.  This is just a series that you should definitely pick up - you don't have to read them in order.  It will just enhance your overall reading experience if you do start at the beginning.  Readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, those who enjoy books that feature food, and those readers who enjoy just fun reads definitely need to give this series a try.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  Another fun addition to one of my favorite cozy mystery series!

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

Friday, July 16, 2021

Fierce Little Thing by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (thoughts)


Summary from Goodreads:

"Saskia was a damaged, lonely teenager when she arrived at the lakeside commune called Home. She was entranced by the tang of sourdough starter; the midnight call of the loons; the triumph of foraging wild mushrooms from the forest floor. But most of all she was taken with Abraham, Home's charismatic leader, the North Star to Saskia and the four other teens who lived there, her best and only friends.

Two decades later, Saskia is shuttered in her Connecticut estate, estranged from the others. Her carefully walled life is torn open by threatening letters. Unless she and her former friends return to the land in rural Maine, the terrible thing they did as teenagers—their last-ditch attempt to save Home—will be revealed.

From vastly different lives, the five return to confront their blackmailer and reckon with the horror that split them apart. How far will they go to bury their secret forever?"

My Thoughts:

I'm having trouble writing up my thoughts on this one which makes it sound like I didn't like it which wasn't the case.  I just don't know how to put into words how I felt about this book so be patient with me.  This book is dark.  Like dark, I didn't expect it to go there even when I had inklings, dark.  It won't be for everyone.  But it was also really good and such a compelling read.  In this book it is basically told from two different storylines: the present day where Saskia is being faced with having to return Home being the first storyline, a place that she once loved but where things ended very badly for her and her friends, and then also the storyline where we see Saskia as a young teenage girl and how she ended up at Home and her experiences living there.  I'm trying to be as deliberately vague as possible so I don't spoil anything.  The book goes back and forth between those two storylines seamlessly.  And the entire time I was reading there was this feeling of dread almost that was present in both of the storylines.  That feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak.  It really ratcheted up the tension and feelings of suspense that were present throughout the book.  Throughout the book I could never get a full read or understanding of Saskia.  I knew that there must be more to her story but wasn't exactly sure what it could be.  And the author drops these hints....enough that you know as the reader that something really terrible happened in her past even if you don't have the full story yet.  Just wait.  Because this is a compelling read that kept me engrossed within its' pages even if I wasn't sure that I wanted to be there.  And the ending...whew.  Even when I had parts figured out, I cannot begin to explain how I felt about that ending.  It left me clearly at a loss for words even now.  I'm actually eager to see what other readers think of this one and to discuss it.  This is an author that I will definitely be watching from more of because wow - she crafted a story that I won't be forgetting about any time soon!

Overall, it feels wrong to say that I enjoyed this one due to the content but I do still think it was a really good read.  I don't think it will be for everyone and message me if you need some specific content warnings before going into it.  But if you enjoy books about cults, character focused books, and a suspenseful read that you won't forget about anytime soon then pick this one up.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A dark but very compelling read!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher. Honest thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Perched high atop a seaside cliff in Ireland, a lonely Victorian mansion is home to Temple House School. And at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.

Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.

Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle—igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.

There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary, a journalist—a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa—delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?

Because remember—at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems."

My Thoughts:

The summary of this book made this one feel like a must read for me.  Any time that a book has an isolated school setting and/or a mystery that goes back years ago means that I'm instantly intrigued.  But it was that last line that really hooked me and filled me with questions.  What do they mean that nothing is ever as it seems? I just had to know!  This book instantly pulled me in from the very beginning pages.  Louisa was a very interesting character.  As the reader, I didn't fully understand her in the beginning but she had me intrigued.  Then there was the weird relationship between Victoria and Mr. Lavelle to try and sort through.  And the relationship between all three of them.  There were just all of these questions that I had about what was happening or wasn't happening while I reading this book based off of these characters and their connections to one another.  The book was also set up in such a suspenseful way.  We flashed back to the time when Louisa and Victoria were both in school together before the disappearance for portions of the book.  We also got to see in present day the reporter's investigation into the disappearance from years ago.  These two storylines combined into a suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages.  I really appreciated this because let me tell you that my reading mojo has been off a bit recently.  Instead of struggling like I have been, this book kept me reading and left me unable to set my kindle down.  That was a really nice and needed change of pace for me.  If I had one complaint with this book it was that I was left feeling slightly dissatisfied with the ending but I cannot put my finger on why.  It was a good ending really but there was just something that held me back from fully enjoying it.  That being said, this was a really strong debut that left me excited to read more by this author!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so glad that it helped me get out of the dreaded reading slump that I had been in.  The atmosphere and setting of this book was something that I just could not get enough of!  Give me ALL of the boarding school books set in isolated settings with gothic vibes and I would be one happy reader - that's for sure!  I think that readers who enjoy dark academic type of books, those who enjoy gothic vibes and books filled with atmosphere, as well as those readers who love a character driven suspense filled novel should pick this book up.  I'm so excited to see what other readers think of this one so I can discuss it with them!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: A suspenseful read that I just couldn't set down!

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