Quick Thoughts: THE LYING GAME by Ruth Ware


Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★½


On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


THE LYING GAME is told from the perspective of Isa Wilde, a 30-something Londoner and mother of a baby girl. Isa befriended Kate, Fatima, and Thea as a teen when they attended Salten House, a boarding school in a small coastal English town. The foursome had a “lying game” they liked to play, which of course earned them the reputation of being cruel liars. After tragedy strikes and they’re faced with a scandal at school, the girls leave Salten House and go separate ways, but the stress of what happened there will continue to haunt them. Fast forward 17 years, and the four women must return to Salten to face the lies of their past.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Ruth Ware is one of my favorite authors, but I don’t think this book had the best build up of tension. Lots of drama though! I was very curious about the mystery that the women were hiding, but I felt like the plot was a bit too slow moving. I think I would have preferred hearing other characters’ POVs instead of just staying in Isa’s head. I did love the creepy atmosphere of the setting. Kate’s home is a tumbledown mill right on the water. A solid mystery, though I was hoping for more suspense, less drama.

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

Quick Thoughts: YOU, ME, AND THE SEA by Meg Donohue


Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed from the Library
Rating: ★★★★


From the USA Today bestselling author of All the Summer Girls and Dog Crazy comes a spellbinding and suspenseful tale inspired by Wuthering Heights that illuminates the ways in which hope—and even magic—can blossom in the darkest of places.

To find her way, she must abandon everything she loves…

As a child, Merrow Shawe believes she is born of the sea: strong, joyous, and wild. Her beloved home is Horseshoe Cliff, a small farm on the coast of Northern California where she spends her days exploring fog-cloaked bluffs, swimming in the cove, and basking in the light of golden sunsets as her father entertains her with fantastical stories. It is an enchanting childhood, but it is not without hardship—the mystery of Merrow’s mother’s death haunts her, as does the increasingly senseless cruelty of her older brother, Bear.

Then, like sea glass carried from a distant land, Amir arrives in Merrow’s life. He’s been tossed about from India to New York City and now to Horseshoe Cliff, to stay with her family. Merrow is immediately drawn to his spirit, his passion, and his resilience in the face of Bear’s viciousness. Together they embrace their love of the sea, and their growing love for each other.

But the ocean holds secrets in its darkest depths. When tragedy strikes, Merrow is forced to question whether Amir is really the person she believed him to be. In order to escape the danger she finds herself in and find her own path forward, she must let go of the only home she’s ever known, and the only boy she’s ever loved…


What a lush and beautifully written story inspired by Wuthering Heights! Merrow was raised on an isolated farm on the windswept coast of Northern California. The setting was absolutely vivid & amazing! Merrow lives at Horseshoe Cliff with her eccentric father and very cruel older brother. One day her father brings home an orphaned boy named Amir to live with them, and her lonely life changes. She and Amir become the closest friends. They grow up together in this wild & wonderful place by the sea, until tragedy strikes and their worlds are turned upside down.

YOU, ME, AND THE SEA was an atmospheric & emotional tale of love, friendship, secrets, and survival. I enjoyed the parallels to Wuthering Heights, and also the ways they differed. Lovely! Borrowed from the library.

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.