The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf hit shelves earlier this week! If my feelings after reading a preview copy (courtesy of the publisher) are any indication – it’s going to be a huge success! Set in three timelines or narratives, this suspenseful novel twines threads of suspense together into a novel that kept me guessing and that I couldn’t put down. The present is set in the midst of an isolated farmhouse in a snowstorm and shines the spotlight on a true crime author who is on a quest for truth and stumbles upon more than she expected when trouble arises right outside her very own doorstep. Please note, this novel does deal with some heavy themes and darker elements – the kidnapping of a young teenager and a family that is murdered. Be warned – it’s not your knitting club’s warm and cozy mystery read.
In a snowstorm, the safest place is home. Or is it?
True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.
As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. How long had the child been there? Where did he come from? Bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.
THE OVERNIGHT GUEST Author: Heather Gudenkauf ISBN: 9780778311935 Publication Date: January 25, 2022 Publisher: Park Row Books
Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica sounded intriguing enough when I first heard about it, but I’ll give a warning that as far as psychological thrillers go, this was a bit darker than I’d usually read. It was most definitely *not* a fuzzy, comedic whodunnit. I have been seeing it pop up on social media and in reader emails as we approach publication date with advance praise for the hook factor, but also many comments about it being “dark.”
FROM THE PUBLISHER:
People don’t just disappear without a trace… Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.
Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…
In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
I almost closed the book within the first chapter. I didn’t like where I thought it was heading but was assured by someone else who read it to keep going. It starts dark, but didn’t stay there in as much as a psychological thriller can. If you read the summary, it involves a missing child and that always makes it iffy for me. This story is, however, twisty. It’s not slow, per se, but not hurried – a lot of detail, but entrancing. As the story unwinds, the mystery doesn’t and I’ll admit that until one key pivotal moment, I sat there going “but what does this have to do with what happened?” It’ll keep you on your toes! There are a ton of content warnings I could give and I don’t think it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay – it will definitely work for some and be a bit too much for others. (You can head to Goodreads or StoryGraph for some of the highlights on the content warnings.) It’s got a lot going on – this neighbourhood has secrets – and there are some graphic, skin crawling scenes – ick. If that’s not your jam, give it a pass for sure. If you like an intense chilling thriller, pick it up – once I got past my own reservations, I needed to see it through to the end because it really sucked me in!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, and THE OTHER MRS. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel THE OTHER MRS. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week,Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles,Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more.Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times). LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is her seventh novel.
My thanks to the publisher for the complimentary digital ARC. All opinions are my own.
Local Woman Missing Mary Kubica On Sale Date: May 18, 2021 ISBN 9780778389446, 0778389448 Hardcover $27.99 USD, $34.99 CAD Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological 352 pages
I have had some disappointing reads lately that have just been “blah” and left me in a bit of a reading slump. I haven’t been quick to pick up any new NetGalley titles because I’ve been leery of feeling disappointed and not quite knowing how to weave my thoughts into constructive criticism – which is the whole premise of the program. When a reminder popped up that I was to post as part of the Harlequin 2020 Fall Reads Historical Fiction blog tour for Nicola Cornick’s newest title, The Forgotten Sister, I realised I had procrastinated long enough and it was time to jump into something new. It took me a day to read and it was easy-going – no drudgery involved. What a relief!
FROM THE PUBLISHER:
In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…
1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…
Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.
This was a well-crafted easy-to-read novel. During the opening scenes, I had some doubts about compatibility, but kept reading and was pleasantly entertained. I shouldn’t have doubted, as I’ve read and enjoyed Cornick’s work before. I pondered the relevance of the title at times but that too resolved itself to my satisfaction. This is a fanciful work of fiction with some extrasensory elements. I don’t typically travel to the Tudor period in my historical reading, so was unfamiliar with some of the key characters. The author’s note at the end made it even more interesting to me!
I was able to read the book throughout one day (without neglecting my family!) I was entertained, my curiosity was piqued, and the plot caught me by surprise. Overall I would recommend The Forgotten Sister as it held (without taking away from the merits of Cornick herself as an author) a Susanna Kearsley-esque appeal. Released today, you should be able to pick up a copy from your favourite local bookseller or any of the usual online retailers
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.
THE FORGOTTEN SISTER Author: Nicola Cornick ISBN:9781525809958 Publication Date: November 10, 2020 Publisher: Graydon House Books
Every once in a while I like to take a break from romance and history and jump into a captivating mystery or thriller. I take it as a personal challenge trying to untangle the threads the author weaves into a twisted, complex puzzle. Of the five titles in the header above, I’ve read two, compliments of the publisher: Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle and Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass. I just finished the latter and it was a sinuous, beguiling tale – more on that below.
From the Publisher:
You’re not alone. Someone’s waiting. Someone’s watching… Someone’s listening.
In SOMEONE’S LISTENING (Graydon House Books; July 28; $16.99) Dr. Faith Finley has everything she’s ever wanted: she’s a renowned psychologist, a radio personality—host of the wildly popular “Someone’s Listening with Dr. Faith Finley”—and a soon-to-be bestselling author. She’s young, beautiful, and married to the perfect man, Liam.
Of course Liam was at Faith’s book launch with her. But after her car crashes on the way home and she’s pulled from the wreckage, nobody can confirm that Liam was with her at the party. The police claim she was alone in car, and they don’t believe her when she says otherwise. Perhaps that’s understandable, given the horrible thing Faith was accused of doing a few weeks ago.
And then the notes start arriving—the ones literally ripped from the pages of Faith’s own self-help book on leaving an abusive relationship. Ones like “Secure your new home. Consider new window and door locks, an alarm system, and steel doors…”
Where is Liam? Is his disappearance connected to the scandal that ruined Faith’s life? Who is sending the notes? Faith’s very life will depend on finding the answers.
This tale starts with a back and forth perspective after a terrible accident and sabotaged career. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this title is so much more than just a missing persons whodunit. I was lulled into complacency through the first half of the novel – it wasn’t particularly “thrilling” at that point, but was needed backstory for the big hits in the last half of the book. The author carefully crafts an adversary with just enough detail to make you think you have it figured out but also with just enough vagueness that you may second guess your conclusions. There are a few red herrings that add layers of mystery to the novel, and the elements of suspense are devised to keep you engaged. The novel was easy to read without any overly disturbing scenes or imagery, but includes one high-stakes, possibly triggering sequence as part of the finale.
Someone’s Listening (ISBN 9781525836749) was released today (July 28) by Graydon House Books and can be purchased at your favourite bookseller including popular online retailers:
Author Bio: Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas- Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone’s Listening is her first novel.
Soon to be released, Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle jumped out at me when I was looking at my download options from the Harlequin 2020 Summer Reads Blog Tour – Mystery & Thriller list. It was not what I expected going in, and I mean that in a good way. Sometimes you read the book blurb and think you know exactly what you’re getting and this exceeded my expectations.
From the Publisher: When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.
At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.
As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.
My Thoughts: I had some serious trust issues with many of the characters. I really couldn’t quite get a handle on whether they were telling the truth throughout the dialogue. The pacing was excellent and most of the characters were appealing… until they were not. There were flashbacks that drew an interesting comparison between personalities as teens vs. who they grew up to be. I had niggling doubts (those trust issues, again) because I couldn’t determine who was lying and being true to their character.
The author did a wonderful job of conveying Charlotte’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Her voice and the threads throughout the novel made me more and more curious throughout. There was a lot of convenient scenarios that had me arguing with myself about whether it was too convenient or just a matter of luck and I think that speaks well to the author keeping things muddy enough to keep the reader interested. Again, it was not a fast paced thriller, but it had me going “hmmmm…” more than once and through in some unforeseen twists and turns.
About the Author: Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.
It’s a bit of a gloomy spring day and somehow it seems a little atmospheric while sharing about the newest title from author Heather Gudenkauf. Just released, I’m taking part in a blog tour organized by the publisher, Park Row Books, an imprint of Harlequin, and throwing my two cents into the hat.
From the Publisher:
With the eccentricity of Fargo and the intensity of Sadie, THIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row Books; May 12, 2020; $17.99) is a timely and gripping thriller about careless violence we can inflict on those we love, and the lengths we will go to make it right, even 25 years later.
Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is dreading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.
Maggie has her work cut out for her. Everyone close to Eve is a suspect. There’s Nola, Eve’s little sister who’s always been a little… off; Nick, Eve’s ex-boyfriend with a vicious temper; a Schwinn riding drifter who blew in and out of Grotto; even Maggie’s husband Sean, who may have known more about Eve’s last day than he’s letting on. As Maggie continues to investigate, the case comes closer and closer to home, forcing her to confront her own demons before she can find justice for Eve.
As far as a mystery/thriller, this one was excellent. There were portions that I maybe didn’t quite buy as far as how things went down, but overall it was a gripping and evocative read. It was atmospheric and intense – I felt every emotion, saw every incident with a vividness that indicates the magnitude of the author’s talent in delivering a well-written scene.
I seem to enjoy the proverbial small town setting where everyone is in everyone’s business. This small town just happens to also be rife with bad seeds and deep, dark secrets. Fortunately, truth always tells… that or DNA testing. Threads of history keep unraveling as the horrible event and incidents leading up to the death of a beloved friend are revealed throughout an investigation by someone with very close ties to the murder. On the whole, it did what a thriller should – kept me on my toes and I couldn’t put it down!
About the Author:
Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.
While historical fiction and women’s fiction seem to be my regular go-to’s when it comes to genres I enjoy, every once in awhile I enjoy pulling out a heart-pounding, fast-paced thriller or suspense. I’m excited to say that Harlequin hooked me up and I’ve recently had the chance to read The Third to Die, the highly anticipated first book in Allison Brennan’s new series. This title hits shelves on February 4th. All the Buy Links and author information will be posted way down below if you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy for yourself – and if you’re a fan of this genre, you’ll want to pick up a copy.
From the Publisher:
New York Times bestselling author and gifted storyteller Allison Brennan’s new standalone thriller features a troubled female police detective and an ambitious FBI special agent who wind up at the center of a ticking-clock investigation into a diabolical serial killer.
Brennan’s novel will launch a book-a-year series featuring a fabulous cast of recurring characters. It’s the story of a troubled female police detective and an ambitious FBI special agent who wind up at the center of a ticking-clock investigation into a diabolical serial killer; and the bond they forge in this crucible sets the stage for the future books in the series.
Detective Kara Quinn is visiting her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, after being placed on administrative leave by the LAPD, when she comes upon the mutilated body of a young nurse during an early morning jog. The manner of death is clearly ritualistic; she calls it in. Meanwhile back in DC, special agent in charge Mattias Costa is meticulously staffing his newly-minted Mobile Response Team. One of his first recruits is the brilliant FBI forensic psychologist Catherine Jones. When word reaches Matt that the Washington state murder appears to be the work of the Triple Killer–it will be the first case for the MRT. Jones has done the only profile on this serial killer, but she is reluctant to join the unit, still shaken by the death of her sister a year ago under circumstances for which she holds herself responsible. But only she holds the key to understanding the killer’s obsessive pattern–three murder victims, three deep slashes a piece, each three days apart, each series beginning on a March 3rd–3/3, then a three-year hiatus before he strikes again.
This time they have a chance to stop him before he claims another victim strikes, but only if they can figure out who he is and where is is hiding.
About the Author:
Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. She was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers, has had multiple nominations and two Daphne du Maurier Awards, and is a five-time RITA finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. Allison believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five kids. Allison and her family live in Arizona. Visit her at allisonbrennan.com
Ms. Brennan is an award winning author for a reason – simply put, she knows what she’s doing. This book was fast-paced and had my heart-pounding. Twists and turns will keep you on your toes in anticipation. She gets inside the mind of a psychopath so well, but also paints a picturesque view of the surrounding landscapes. Her heroes are brilliant, damaged, and likeable and the whole package will keep you engrossed until the very last page. The Third to Die is the very ideal of a page-turning, nail-biting, read-it-all-in-one-sitting-don’t-talk-to-me type of novel – suspenseful, intense, and entertaining!
For my more discriminating friends, I’ll leave you with this caution: reader discretion is advised for violence, mature situations, and strong language. This is not a tip-toe through the tulips, neat and tidy, no rough edges fiction. It’s dark and gritty as the plot is all about stopping the lowest dregs of humanity.
The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron is the latest in the Lost Castle series. You may have read my review for the previous book, Castle on the Rise, here, back in January. I mentioned in that review that: “The modern characters weren’t as well developed (in my opinion), but it was a colourful novel…” Same goes for this one!
That being said, I loved this book. It was even better than the second. It spans three eras and includes art, love, loss, mystery, war, and follows the stories of three women whose lives intertwine across time. If I had to pick a favourite timeline, I would say WWII countryside England… or would it be the Victorian Era portion where women of the upper class were under-estimated for any talents aside from needlepoint? I couldn’t choose. Even with my statement above regarding the modern characters, the contemporary storyline was still intriguing and enjoyable. The women are strong. Their stories are moving.
I love watching the threads unravel through the back and forth of the stories and then ultimately weave back into a beautiful tale of secrets and triumphs in a beautiful historical castle.
“I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”
I would recommend this entire series for those who enjoy a poignant, heartwarming read with a strong dose of mystery to untangle. Pre-order your copy of this title so you have it on hand for its Tuesday release!
Published by: Thomas Nelson Fiction Publication Date: October 15, 2019
There are certain authors that you read and you know – with a great deal of certainty – that you’re bound to enjoy the storyline. Coleen Coble is one of those authors for me – she has a formula for mystery and thriller with a dash of romance that works.
I was given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Strands of Truth before publication (it came out yesterday!) I, not surprisingly, enjoyed it. Strong characters, the right amount of dangerous tension, and a storyline that was easy to follow, but left you wondering just a little.
My only two complaints, as they were, is that I feel like, blink, and all the preexisting tension between our lead characters disappeared and they fell, a little unbelievably, in love.
Secondly, I wanted to know a bit more about the research… and not just the byssus. I wanted a little more “meat” to some of the important, heavily referenced details.
Now, those complaints vocalized, I will say that I found this absolutely enjoyable to read. I enjoyed how everything was all neatly wrapped up. I enjoyed the secondary characters and the story arc as a whole.
As the publisher touts, “Suspense, romance, and generational secrets meld in this engrossing new novel fromUSA TODAYbestselling author Colleen Coble.” I can’t say that I disagree. Tension and promise were balanced nicely providing a fast-paced easy-to-read seaside escape.
I received a complimentary copy of this title with thanks to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
I am a huge fan of historical fiction relating to WWII – books along the lines of The Nightingale or Lilac Girls hold a little corner of my heart. I am sure this stemmed from my childhood readings of The Hiding Place or even one of my favourite titles as a teen, Vienna Prelude. This genre sheds light on a terrible time in our recent history, but somehow softens the delivery a bit while still gripping emotions as we recognize how absolutely horrible it was to live through that dark time.
I recently finished The Family Secret by Terry Lynn Thomas. It’s the second title in the Cat Carlisle series. It was easy to read as a standalone, but I think you would understand more of the characters’ histories if you read the first novel, The Silent Woman (which I have not yet read.) I was vaguely expecting this to be more along the lines of the titles mentioned above, and was surprised when it actually was a bit more mysterious and focused on an investigator and his romantic interest, in their small town escape from London. Rather than being the main backdrop for the events and going-ons, the war actually loomed distantly on the horizon, influencing decisions (i.e. evacuating from London.) (This surprise is all on me – it was definitely touted as historical mystery.)
All that said, I was not disappointed in this read. It was well-written and colourfully descriptive. Characters were developed enough that even though you were invested in their doings, you didn’t necessarily love them. Spoiled teens, entitled adults, nosy neighbours… you’ll find them all. The plot – the actual mystery – was engrossing and intriguing, the character backgrounds giving them a bit more depth, and I loved the dramatic climax.
Overall, while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I was pleased I picked it up. It was historical fiction set in an era I enjoy reading about – just from a different perspective than I typically enjoy. A good solid 3-star (I liked it) rating from me.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
Publisher: HQ Digital Publication Date: March 1, 2019