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 WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10
THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Whoa! This book was a wild ride. It’s going to take a while for me to calm down, lol. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 is Ruth Ware’s second thriller, and I enjoyed this one even more than her debut, IN A DARK, DARK WOOD.

Travel reporter Lo Blacklock is given an amazing assignment, a week-long cruise aboard an exclusive luxury ship. Only ten cabins, so you know the small group of guests will be pampered as they sail from England to Norway. The excursion is lovely at first, but Lo’s fun comes to an end when she sees a woman tossed overboard from the cabin next door.

I really enjoyed the setting of this mystery. A small ship, alone on the chilly North Sea, spotty internet, seemingly cut off from the rest of the world, possibly with a killer on board. Very eerie and ominous atmosphere. With all passengers and crew accounted for, the others doubt Lo’s story. Then odd things start to happen.

I enjoyed this clever mystery very much. It made me nervous, but it was a good kind of nervous. Lo’s character was kind of a mess, always teetering on the brink madness, which was understandable given the circumstances. Loved the ending too, including the final twist.

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

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware

InADarkDarkWood
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★


What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.


IN A DARK, DARK WOOD was an enjoyable mystery with an eerie Gothic atmosphere. The overall feel of the book was subtle suspense more than fast-paced thriller, though it kept me hooked with its intriguing set up. The book begins with main character Leonora badly injured and in the hospital, and she doesn’t know what’s happened to put her there. The story switches back and forth between her hospital stay and the days leading up to the incident. Her memory is fuzzy, so the pieces of the puzzle are slowly revealed over time.

What brings Leonora to a creepy glass house in the woods is an invitation to a friend’s bachelorette party – a friend she’s been estranged from for a very long time. In fact, each guest seems like an odd choice to invite. Something is definitely off. The author did a great job giving the story an ominous feeling from the beginning – you’re never quite sure who to trust. The culprit’s reasoning behind the whole weekend was disturbing and surprising. The characters were annoying at times, as they came off as childish for twenty-something adults. Some of the things that went on between them were too hard to believe.

This is Ruth Ware’s debut novel, and quite an entertaining one at that. I’ve already got my eye on her next book. I listened to a big chunk of this book on audio (borrowed from the library), and the narrator, Imogen Church, was fantastic.

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