Quick Thoughts: THE LAST HOUSE GUEST by Megan Miranda


Publisher: Corvus
Release Date: May 2, 2019
Source: Borrowed from the Library
Rating: ★★★¼


Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone known more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.


Sadie and Avery are unlikely best friends, the former a girl from a rich family who summers in Littleport, Maine, and the latter a lonely local girl with a tragic past. Avery’s world is upset once again when Sadie dies of an apparent suicide, though Avery has her doubts. A year later odd occurrences and new clues make Avery want to figure out what really happened the night Sadie died.

I was drawn in by the premise of this book, and coastal Maine is one of my favorite settings. While there were a few interesting surprises & twists, the characters and suspense felt a bit flat — nothing quite grabbed me. I liked & was curious about the mystery, though the pace was slowish. Excellent location! Borrowed from the library.

Quick Thoughts: HOW QUICKLY SHE DISAPPEARS by Raymond Fleischmann


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★★½


The Dry meets The Silence of the Lambs in this intoxicating tale of literary suspense, set in the relentless Alaskan landscape, about madness and obsession, loneliness and grief, and the ferocious bonds of family…

My proposition is very simple: I am going to ask you for three gifts, and for each gift you deliver, I will take you one step closer to Jacqueline.

It’s been twenty years since Elisabeth’s twin sister, Jacqueline, disappeared without a trace. Now thirty-year-old Elisabeth is living far from home in a small Alaskan town. She’s in a loveless marriage and has a precocious young daughter she loves more than anything but who reminds her too much of her long-missing sister.

But then Alfred, a dangerous stranger with a plan of his own, arrives in town and commits an inexplicable act of violence. And he offers a startling revelation: He knows exactly what happened to Elisabeth’s sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if she fulfills his three requests.

Increasingly isolated from her neighbors and imprisoned by the bitter cold and her own obsession, Elisabeth can almost hear her sister’s voice saying, Come and find me. And so she will, even if it means putting herself—and her family—in danger.


This was my final selection from Penguin’s First to Read program. Unfortunately it is shutting down today! I’ve greatly enjoyed being a part of the program for the past few years. I’ve found many favorites through them, including this book, HOW QUICKLY SHE DISAPPEARS.

A historical suspense novel set in Alaska in the 1940s was too tempting to pass up, and I got pulled into the story right away. A tiny, isolated town in the Alaskan Interior was the perfect setting for this eerie story. I was very intrigued by Elisabeth’s quest to find her missing sister, gone for 20 years, and the lengths she’d go to get answers. Alfred was a truly creepy character, and I was flipping the pages to find out what he knew! The author did a great job building up tension, and I was pleased with the conclusion. Haunting, riveting, and enjoyable!

Disclosure: A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts on Books (#18): FINDING COLIN FIRTH / WAITING FOR TOM HANKS


Finding Colin Firth
Finding Colin Firth by Mia March
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Three women, Bea, Veronica, and Gemma, experience a life-changing summer when Colin Firth comes to town to film a movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect in this book, but what I found was a heartwarming story about motherhood, identity, loss, family, and magical elixir pies.

What’s really at the heart of this book is Hope Home, a refuge for pregnant teens near Boothbay Harbor, Maine, that’s approaching its 50-year anniversary. Veronica was a resident 22 years ago, and she gave up her baby for adoption, hoping for a better life for her daughter than she could give. Bea has just recently found out that Veronica is her birth mother, and she’s come to town to learn her history. Gemma is at a turning point in her life, newly unemployed and pregnant, and doing a freelance story on Hope Home. She’s conflicted about motherhood and at odds with her husband about how and where to raise their child.

I enjoyed and connected with all of the characters, and their conflicts were realistic and emotional ones. Lovely Maine setting too. FINDING COLIN FIRTH is a wonderful summer read with depth and heart. Enjoyed!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Waiting for Tom Hanks (Waiting for Tom Hanks, #1)
Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS is a light & cute story about a young woman so obsessed with romantic comedies that she’s holding out on love until she meets her perfect Tom Hanks. Annie is an aspiring screenwriter living in Ohio with her quirky uncle. When a film crew comes to town to shoot an upcoming romcom, her uncle uses his connections to get her a job as director’s assistant. Will she find her perfect match in Drew Danforth, the film’s leading man? Of course, like any true romcom, the road to HEA can be a bumpy & unexpected one.

Overall, I thought this book was fun and occasionally silly, with a grown woman thinking she could eventually live inside one of her favorite films. I never quite understood her rudeness toward Drew, like she was creating a conflict where there shouldn’t have been one. I greatly enjoyed the secondary characters, especially her Uncle Don and best friend Chloe.

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS is a charming beach read with plenty of funny moments. After finishing this book, I had to pull out my DVDs of Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and watch them again. ♥

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2019: Mid-Year Reading Wrap-Up

Hello & Happy Summer or Winter, depending on where you are in the world! Here we are at the midpoint of 2019, so I thought I’d check in with a wrap-up of what I’ve read (or attempted to read) so far this year.

I’ve attempted 38 books, read 35 of them, and DNF’d three. I think that’s pretty darn good considering this year has been trying at times. My goal was to read at least 5 books a month, so I’m over that by a few. Here are some reading stats:

  • 87% Women Authors
  • 74% Review Copies
  • 47% Suspense/Thrillers
  • 45% British Settings
  • 16% Library Books
  • 13% Cozy Mysteries
  • 13% Historical Fiction
  • 11% Audiobooks

Below is the list of books I’ve read this year in order, in groups of 10-ish. If you click on the title, it will take you to my review on Goodreads 🙂 📚 →

THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES by Edgar Allan Poe (5)
THE AU PAIR by Emma Rous (4.5)
THE LIAR’S ROOM by Simon Lelic (4)
ONE FATAL MISTAKE by Tom Hunt (3.75)
THE SUSPECT by Fiona Barton (3)
NO ESCAPE CLAWS by Sofie Ryan (3.75)
LITTLE DARLINGS by Melanie Golding (4.5)
A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness (3)
NORTHERN ENCOUNTER by Jennifer LaBrecque (4)
HER ONE MISTAKE by Heidi Perks (4)

THE PARTING GLASS by Gina Marie Guadagnino (4)
MAGRUDER’S CURIOSITY CABINET by H.P. Wood (3)
BLOOD ORANGE by Harriet Tyce (5)
THE WEIGHT OF LIES by Emily Carpenter (DNF)
THE STRANGER DIARIES by Elly Griffiths (4.5)
THE SHADOW GUEST by Hillary Waugh (5)
THE TURN OF THE KEY by Ruth Ware (5)
THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS by Kris Waldherr (3.5)
THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides (5)
THE MISSING YEARS by Lexie Elliott (3)

MURDER ON CAPE COD by Maddie Day (4)
LOVE IN CATALINA COVE by Brenda Jackson (DNF)
THE HUNTING PARTY by Lucy Foley (2)
THE RAVEN’S TALE by Cat Winters (3.75)
ANY DAY NOW by Robyn Carr (4.5)
THE BOOKWOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by Kim Michele Richardson (5)
MURDER AND METAPHORS by Amanda Flower (4)
SNIPER’S PRIDE by Megan Crane (3.5)
ONE MORE LIE by Amy Lloyd (DNF)
THE BOOK SUPREMACY by Kate Carlisle (4)

THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish (4)
DEATH IN A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY by Julia Buckley (4)
THE SUMMER GUESTS by Mary Alice Monroe (3.5)
YOU, ME, AND THE SEA by Meg Donohue (4)
WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey (3)
FINDING COLIN FIRTH by Mia March (4)
THE LYING GAME by Ruth Ware (3.5)
HOW QUICKLY SHE DISAPPEARS by Raymond Fleischmann (Currently Reading)

There you have it! Do you see any favorites? A not so favorite? Let me know! As always, thanks so much for visiting my blog. I’m looking forward to the next six months. Happy reading!


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THE SUMMER GUESTS by Mary Alice Monroe {Review}


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★½


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.


THE SUMMER GUESTS is the first book I’ve read by Mary Alice Monroe. I know she’s well known for her Beach House series, but I wanted to jump in with a summery standalone novel.

As a Category 5 hurricane is barreling toward the coast of Florida and South Carolina, a mix of different people from the equestrian community, as well as their horses and several rescue dogs, evacuate to the safely of Grace and Charles Phillips’ farm in North Carolina. As they ride out the storm together, each faces personal and interpersonal conflicts that must be resolved for them to move forward.

I enjoyed how the cast of characters represented a range of age groups, from the early 30s to 60s. The characters were strong, though some of their stories felt rushed given the large number of them. The details of horses, horse riding, and the equestrian community were well researched. Maybe a bit too horse-heavy for me, though someone into that scene would appreciate it more.

I adored the descriptions of Grace and Charles’ Freehold Farm, set in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina. It was the perfect, magical place to take shelter from an impending storm. The amazing location was probably my favorite character. THE SUMMER GUESTS is a lovely warm-weather read, though I wish the focus had been on a couple of main characters versus having to keep track of so many.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


About MARY ALICE MONROE:

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.