THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#7): The Death of Mrs. Westaway / The Summer That Made Us (Audiobook) / The Secrets She Keeps (Audiobook)


The Death of Mrs. Westaway
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

★ This was my 500th review posted on Goodreads! ★

First, I want to point out that stunning Gothic book cover: bleak foggy weather, black iron gate, and menacing magpies looming overhead… It fits this dark, atmospheric tale perfectly!

Harriet Westaway, who goes by Hal, ekes out a living as a tarot card reader on the pier in Brighton. Hal is alone in the world, and life is a struggle, especially during the off-season when clients are scarce.

Things are pretty bad for Hal, until one day she receives a letter telling her that she’s been named as a beneficiary in her grandmother’s will. However, the deceased Mrs. Westaway isn’t her grandmother – but does that really have to matter?

Hal thinks that maybe her years of reading tarot cards will help her pull off a grand deception and walk away with the inheritance money. So, she’s off to Mrs. Westaway’s creepy ramshackle estate and the dark secrets hidden there…

This was an eerie, suspenseful, and well-written Gothic mystery. I could definitely see influences from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (which I loved). I enjoyed trying to figure out how Hal’s puzzle piece fit in with this haunted family. The sinister atmosphere and delicious twists kept me glued to the pages.

Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Summer That Made Us
The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Robyn Carr’s books. She’s one of my favorite authors, so it was a joy being a part of her new family of characters in THE SUMMER THAT MADE US, even though these women were dealing with some major dysfunction!

The Hempstead sisters (who married two brothers) were once very close, and they spent every summer with their daughters (three each) at the family’s idyllic Minnesota lake house. Then during the summer of 1989, tragedy strikes. As a result, the family is torn apart; lives are turned upside down. It’s not until decades later that the women dare venture back to the lake house and attempt to make amends – some more willing than others.

THE SUMMER THAT MADE US is an emotional and complex family drama, with the characters dealing not only with their estrangement from each other, but also with difficult personal issues. The author did a beautiful job constructing this story, especially with so many voices. There were a couple of characters that I wished we’d heard more from, but overall I think the focus stayed where it needed to be. Fantastic summer read!

(Parts of this book I listened to on audio, and as always, Therese Plummer did a fabulous job of bringing Robyn Carr’s characters to life.)

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Secrets She Keeps
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Agatha and Meghan, two women with very different lives, have one thing in common: they’re both pregnant with due dates close to each other. To Agatha, Meghan’s life seems perfect. Meghan already has two beautiful children, as well as a handsome and successful husband, while Agatha must get by on a grocery store clerk’s salary and a detached boyfriend. But, as so often’s the case, not everything is as it seems.

THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS is an absorbing psychological thriller, and the first book I’ve read by Michael Robotham. The story alternates between Agatha and Meghan’s points of view, and I was impressed with how well-developed their characters were, and how quickly I was wrapped up in their web of secrets and lies.

This book isn’t as twisty and fast paced as most thrillers. It’s more a suspense novel that makes you think about the characters, their actions, and what has brought them to this point in life. Victim or villain – who should we sympathize with?

Listening to this book on audio was an enjoyable experience. Lucy Price-Lewis gave distinct voices to Agatha, Meghan, and the cast of supporting characters.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.


“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END by Patti Callahan Henry


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


The women who spent their childhood summers in a small southern town discover it harbors secrets as lush as the marshes that surround it…

Bonny Blankenship’s most treasured memories are of idyllic summers spent in Watersend, South Carolina, with her best friend, Lainey McKay. Amid the sand dunes and oak trees draped with Spanish moss, they swam and wished for happy-ever-afters, then escaped to the local bookshop to read and whisper in the glorious cool silence. Until the night that changed everything, the night that Lainey’s mother disappeared.

Now, in her early fifties, Bonny is desperate to clear her head after a tragic mistake threatens her career as an emergency room doctor, and her marriage crumbles around her. With her troubled teenage daughter, Piper, in tow, she goes back to the beloved river house, where she is soon joined by Lainey and her two young children. During lazy summer days and magical nights, they reunite with bookshop owner Mimi, who is tangled with the past and its mysteries. As the three women cling to a fragile peace, buried secrets and long ago loves return like the tide.


THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END is an engaging story about two fifty-something friends at a crossroads in life who return to their childhood vacation home to face the ghosts of their past. Lainey and Bonny were known as the Summer Sisters around the idyllic waterfront town, and they had the happiest times together until tragedy struck. Lainey’s mom disappeared without a trace, something that has haunted her for nearly 40 years. Bonny is dealing with her own issues, including a crumbling marriage and a medical career on the line due to a careless mistake, plus a troubled collage-age daughter and a lifetime of unrequited love for Lainey’s brother Owen. Yep, there’s a lot going on here!

This was a beautifully written, character driven novel, and the descriptions of time an place were gorgeous. The characters were real and easy to empathize with. Even when obstacles seemed insurmountable, they did the best they could and persevered. Woven throughout the book is the mystery of Lainey’s mother’s disappearance which kept me intrigued, though the conclusion left me with mixed feelings. I’m not sure I accept the reasoning behind it. Maybe.

THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END is a lovely story of friendship, forgiveness, and starting over, and a great choice for summer reading.

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

THE FOREVER SUMMER by Jamie Brenner


Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★


When a DNA test reveals long-buried secrets, three generations of women reunite on Cape Cod for the homecoming of a lifetime.

Marin Bishop has always played by the rules, and it’s paid off: at twenty-eight she has a handsome fiancé, a prestigious Manhattan legal career, and the hard-won admiration of her father. But one moment of weakness leaves Marin unemployed and alone, all in a single day. Then a woman claiming to be Marin’s half-sister shows up, and it’s all Marin can do not to break down completely. Seeking escape, Marin agrees to a road trip to meet the grandmother she never knew she had. As the summer unfolds at her grandmother’s quaint beachside B&B, it becomes clear that the truth of her half-sister is just the beginning of revelations that will change Marin’s life forever. THE FOREVER SUMMER is a delicious page-turner and a provocative exploration of what happens when our notions of love, truth, and family are put to the ultimate test.

Full of delicious descriptions of coastal New England and richly imagined characters, THE FOREVER SUMMER is an emotional, hot-topic page-turner and a summer must-read.


How shocking would it be to take a genetics test as a work-related project and get matched with a half-sister you knew nothing about? Marin Bishop is sure there must be a mistake with the test when someone from California makes that claim. This discovery leads the two young women to spend the summer on the northern tip of Cape Cod, home of a grandmother they’ve never met.

THE FOREVER SUMMER is a bittersweet tale of family secrets, love, and forgiveness, with a perfect summertime setting. I enjoyed the multigenerational cast of strong female characters, and reading about how this group of strangers forged a bond. There were tears, heartache, and other trying revelations along the way. This was a great beach read, and the Provincetown location was beautifully described. Sounds like an amazing place to spend the summer!