Weekend Update — Mid-July

This week I’m linking up with Sunday Post and It’s Monday! What are you reading? Thanks for hosting, Kimberly and Kathryn!

My reading and posting slowed down some this month. We’ve been busier lately, doing this and that. I found out there are going to be some big changes in our classroom this upcoming school year which has me a bit stressed. It’s outside of my control, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to worry about it!

My son finished up his summer orchestra camp today with a group performance. He plays viola and was the only one in the camp. Violas are in demand! My daughter plays cello and made it into the high school’s chamber orchestra for her senior year. We’re very proud of both of them. It’s hard to believe we have a senior and sophomore now.

The cicadas are singing which means summer’s days are numbered! I know they annoy a lot of people, but I like listening to them. They seem quiet this year, though maybe it’s August that they’re louder.


Read Since Last Time:

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE by Riley Sager

SUMMER’S EDGE by Dana Mele

SUN DAMAGE by Sabine Durrant *

THE SAFE PLACE by Anna Downes *

* I’m loving the South of France setting!


Posts Since Last Time:

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE by Riley Sager [Review]

IN ANOTHER LIGHT by A. J. Banner [Review]

142 OSTRICHES by April Davila [Review]


Currently Reading:

THE LAST TO VANISH by Megan Miranda

New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda returns with a gripping and propulsive thriller that opens with the disappearance of a journalist who is investigating a string of vanishings in the resort town of Cutter’s Pass—will its dark secrets finally be revealed?

 

A SUMMER TO REMEMBER by Erika Montgomery

Experience the salty breeze of a Cape Cod summer as it sweeps through this sparkling, romantic, and timeless debut novel tinged with a love of old Hollywood.

Hopefully I can do some blog hopping this weekend and catch up with everyone. Thanks for stopping by & have a wonderful week! — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

142 OSTRICHES by April Davila

Set against the unexpected splendor of an ostrich ranch in the California desert, April Dávila’s beautifully written debut conjures an absorbing and compelling heroine in a story of courage, family and forgiveness.

When Tallulah Jones was thirteen, her grandmother plucked her from the dank Oakland apartment she shared with her unreliable mom and brought her to the family ostrich ranch in the Mojave Desert. After eleven years caring for the curious, graceful birds, Tallulah accepts a job in Montana and prepares to leave home. But when Grandma Helen dies under strange circumstances, Tallulah inherits everything—just days before the birds inexplicably stop laying eggs.

Guarding the secret of the suddenly barren birds, Tallulah endeavors to force through a sale of the ranch, a task that is complicated by the arrival of her extended family. Their designs on the property, and deeply rooted dysfunction, threaten Tallulah’s ambitions and eventually her life. With no options left, Tallulah must pull her head out of the sand and face the fifty-year legacy of a family in turmoil: the reality of her grandmother’s death, her mother’s alcoholism, her uncle’s covetous anger, and the 142 ostriches whose lives are in her hands.

Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

★½

An ostrich ranch in the Mojave Desert is the unique setting in this beautifully written novel of self-discovery. The location drew me into the story, and the author did a wonderful job creating a sense of place. Did you know ostriches can grow up to nine feet tall and weigh over 300 pounds? I would be pretty nervous about taking eggs from their nests!

In 142 OSTRICHES, young 20-something Tallulah Jones begrudgingly inherits the family ranch from her grandmother who died under suspicious circumstances. Having lived and worked there since her early teens, she’s ready to make a quick sale and leave as soon as possible. But when the birds suddenly stop laying eggs, she’s forced to pause a moment and finally face decades of family dysfunction.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this book, but I ended up greatly enjoying it. The characters were realistic and flawed, and in the end I could sympathize with all of them, even the not-so-likable ones. I’d highly recommend this family drama set in the stunning California desert to readers looking for something a bit different.

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

IN ANOTHER LIGHT by A. J. Banner

The death of a look-alike stranger leads a grieving woman down a troubling path in this riveting novel by A. J. Banner, bestselling author of The Poison Garden.

Three years ago mortuary cosmetologist Phoebe Glassman lost her husband in a tragic accident. No longer the hopeful wife and mother she once was, Phoebe is disappearing into her grief and into the quietude of her job — restoring to the dead the illusion of life. Then the body of a woman named Pauline Steele arrives in the mortuary, and for Phoebe, everything changes.

Pauline is unmistakably Phoebe’s mirror image and bears an alarmingly familiar tattoo. Even more startling is that among Pauline’s effects is a faded photograph of Phoebe. Aided by an eccentric colleague, her curiosity sparked, Phoebe investigates her doppelgänger’s life and death — and uncovers surprising clues to a shared past.

Phoebe’s emotional journey soon leads to shocking revelations about those closest to her…and even herself. When she’s driven to the brink, how much of what she discovers can she trust?

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

★★★★

What first drew me to this book was protagonist Phoebe Glassman’s job as a mortuary cosmetologist, someone who makes the decedent (new word for me!) look how they did in life. That’s something I could NOT do, but I find it fascinating. The funeral home where Phoebe works specializes in “green burials,” the eco-friendly alternative to traditional cemeteries, which is something else I’d recently discovered. Again, fascinating!

When the body of a woman looking exactly like Phoebe arrives at the mortuary, she ends up down a rabbit hole investigating this identical stranger’s past. This book is also about the heavy burden of her grief from losing her husband and daughter a few years earlier. IN ANOTHER LIGHT is a suspenseful mystery and journey of coming to terms with the past. It’s a very quick, engrossing, and emotional read.

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

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE by Riley Sager

The New York Times best-selling author of Final Girls and Survive the Night is back with his most unexpected thriller yet.

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey becomes consumed with finding out what happened to her. In the process, she uncovers eerie, darker truths that turn a tale of voyeurism and suspicion into a story of guilt, obsession and how looks can be very deceiving.

With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy surprises, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake unveils more than one twist that will shock readers until the very last page.

Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
Source: Borrowed from the library

★★★

This book made me think of The Woman in the Window and the Kristen Bell thriller parody on Netflix. The protagonist in Riley Sager’s latest is an alcoholic woman spying on her neighbors. The wife goes missing, and she decides to investigate.

I’m keeping this as vague as possible. There are a few fantastic twists in this book, but one of the big ones I had figured out very early on, then I was annoyed with myself for ruining the surprise. Ha.

I thought the pacing was a bit slow during the first half or so, then things got kind of wacky. THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE was entertaining for the most part, but it was no HOME BEFORE DARK. That one scared the crap out of me, and I loved every minute.

Do you have a Riley Sager favorite?