Thoughts on Books (#15): Turn of the Screw / The Peacock Summer / The Little Stranger / Her Pretty Face [Audiobooks]


The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Another ambiguous ending in this gothic fiction classic…

When a governess is hired to care for two children at a British country estate, she begins to sense an otherworldly presence around the grounds. Are they really ghosts she’s seeing? Or is something far more sinister at work?

Has the governess succumbed to madness? (If so, why?) Or are there really malevolent spirits out to get her young charges? In the end, it’s up to the reader to decide. I understand why authors do this, but sometimes it feels like a cop-out. Are there ghosts or not??

The writing was beautiful and descriptive, and there was definitely a strong creepy vibe throughout the story. I listened to this on audiobook, and Emma Thompson’s performance was amazing. Very passionate and entertaining.


The Peacock Summer
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If she could reach back through the years and warn the person she once was, what would she say? What would she say to the ghosts who now inhabit her days? So many of those she has loved are now nothing but dust and memory.

I listened to this lovely and heartbreaking novel on audio last summer, narrated by Elisabeth Hopper. It was just the right blend of mystery, historical and Gothic fiction. Dark family secrets are hidden in the walls of Cloudesley. Can Lillian save granddaughter Maggie from her same fate? Wraps up with a bittersweet ending. Enjoyable ♥


The Little Stranger
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

I’ve had THE LITTLE STRANGER on my wish list for years, so I decided to use an Audible credit and listen to it in October. The audio was narrated by Simon Vance, and I enjoyed his performance very much. I love his voice – first heard him when I listened to BRING UP THE BODIES (which was wonderful!).

THE LITTLE STRANGER is a slow-burn, atmospheric novel of suspense. I thought it was beautifully written, quite absorbing, and downright creepy at times. It was a story that I looked forward to jumping back into. That said, I also thought it was a bit too long and drawn out, and the ending doesn’t wrap up with a tidy bow.

Set in the late 1940s, this book centers around an English physician’s relationship with a down-on-its-luck aristocratic family and their crumbling ancestral home called Hundreds Hall. Odd things are happening in the house, and family members suspect the cause is a malicious supernatural presence, but the doctor is not easily convinced.

Like I mentioned before, there’s no neat and tidy ending where everything is explained, which is a bit frustrating. I drew my own conclusions from the evidence given, and I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with that.


Her Pretty Face
Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Awkward Frances doesn’t fit in with the snobby moms of elite Forrester Academy, so she’s surprised when the beautiful and perfect Kate wants to be her friend. The two women become very close. However, neither one knows that the other is harboring a dark secret, and one of them is a murderer.

HER PRETTY FACE is very much a slow-burner; there’s not a big mystery to figure out or fast paced suspense. The story alternates between past and present, and between three characters’ points of view: Frances, Daisy (Kate’s teenage daughter), and DJ (the wild card). Can criminal sociopaths change, and if so, should they be forgiven after serving their sentences? Do they deserve anonymity, or does society have the right to know who and where they are?

The subject matter is dark and disturbing, and according to other reviewers, this book was inspired by true events. I was hoping for a stronger mystery element, though the identity of DJ revealed at the end threw me for a loop. I listened to this on audiobook, with performances by Rebekkah Ross, Cassandra Campbell, and Kirby Heyborne. I’m already a fan of Ross and Campbell, and all three voices fit well with their character.

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


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Thoughts on Books (#13): The Masterpiece / Flight Patterns


The Masterpiece
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

THE MASTERPIECE is about two women, fifty years apart, whose parallel stories suddenly intersect at New York City’s historic Grand Central. It’s clearly well researched regarding what was happening at the train station in the late 1920s and early 1970s, on the verge of the Great Depression, and later, at risk of being demolished.

I have mixed feelings about this book. While I thought Clara’s story in the earlier time period was more interesting, I never quite warmed to Clara’s character (though I was sympathetic to her struggles). And while Virginia was likable and relatable, her story in 1974 wasn’t as gripping. The plot seemed to struggle to move forward at times, and I had trouble staying engaged. The twist at the end was a good one, though! I think readers with an interest in the 1920s art scene will enjoy this book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.


Flight Patterns
Flight Patterns by Karen White
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Beekeeping, rare china patterns, and a decades-old mystery are the intriguing components woven into Karen White’s family drama, FLIGHT PATTERNS.

Georgia and her sister, Maisy, have been estranged for a decade, and Georgia promised never to return to their coastal home of Apalachicola, Florida, where their grandfather is a beekeeper. That changes when Georgia, an expert in vintage things, is asked by a client to identify an unusual pattern of china, one that she’s sure she saw before, on a lone piece hidden in her mother’s closet years ago.

Reluctantly Georgia heads home with her handsome and guarded client, James, to search for the elusive piece of china with the unusual bee pattern. Not surprisingly, her return to Apalachicola is met with a chilly reception. What was it that drove the two sisters apart, and what family secrets are tied to the missing china? How does it all tie in with James?

FLIGHT PATTERNS is a beautifully written and bittersweet story in Karen White’s classic writing style. She knows how to convey a sense of place. I could taste the honey, smell the ocean, and feel the humidity! Of course, the compelling characters are what truly draw you in. They can be flawed and frustrating at times, but that just makes them more realistic. I really enjoyed the multi-layered mystery and how all of the pieces fit together. Wonderful! A great book for summer reading and fans of Southern fiction.

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


“If you want things to change, you have to stop waiting for someone else to make the first move.” ― Karen White, Flight Patterns

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#11): What We Find / The Book of Lost and Found


What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing, #1)
What We Find by Robyn Carr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WHAT WE FIND is the beginning of another heart-warming small town saga from Robyn Carr. She’s my “most read” author, so yep, I enjoy her books very much.

This series is set in Colorado, at a place called Sullivan’s Crossing, located near the intersection of the Continental Divide trail & Colorado trail. How gorgeous would that place be? *sigh* Yet another Robyn Carr location I want to live in…

At Sullivan’s Crossing, there’s a campground and general store, and it’s all run by Sully, a cantankerous yet kindhearted guy who’s been there forever. It’s to Sullivan’s Crossing that Sully’s daughter, Maggie, returns, during a turbulent time of loss and great stress in her life. At the campground she encounters the very private Cal, someone else searching for calm and healing.

The easy pacing of this book was enjoyable, giving readers time to get to know the characters and the beautiful setting. Maggie is a strong and courageous woman, and if I was ever in trouble, I’d want her on my side. I was touched by Cal’s back story and was rooting for him to find happiness again.

I didn’t think the plot was particularly strong, though I know what the two main characters were headed for. Things had to be worked through. Closure first, then possibly a second chance at love? WHAT WE FIND is a solid start to the Sullivan’s Crossing series, and I’d recommend it to any fan of romantic women’s fiction. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Book of Lost and Found
The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The cover of this book drew me in (American edition, 2015). That location is so gorgeous; I want to be there! Part of the book is set in Corsica, and the descriptions are amazing.

THE BOOK OF LOST AND FOUND is about a young woman’s quest to discover the story behind a portrait done 50 years ago, and one that her grandmother kept hidden for many years. The “present” (Kate’s story) was set in the 1980s, while the young artist’s love story was set in the 1930s. Who is the mysterious woman in the portrait who looks so much like Kate’s mother?

The premise of the book is completely my kind of story, though overall I wasn’t “wowed.” While the descriptions of time and place were beautiful, I thought that it was too wordy and slow. The relationships presented weren’t all that convincing.

This book covers many things – love lost, grief, separation, and family secrets. An OK read for me, just never truly hooked me. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson