“This is the terrible thing about a tragedy. It isn’t with you every minute. You forget it, and then you remember it again.” ― Laura Dave, The Last Thing He Told Me
Summary: Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.
Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.
My thoughts: This was my first Laura Dave book, and she hooked me right from the start. Her writing style, the characters, the plot, and the pacing felt authentic. Hannah narrates events in the present moment, but we also get flashbacks to her marriage to Owen. It helped that Hannah doesn’t feel sorry for herself. Her emotions are subtle, real, and honest.
While the mystery of Owen’s past is intriguing, the strength of this book lies in the characters. This is not as much about Hannah’s relationship with Owen, but more about her relationship with Bailey. Overall, I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to read more by Laura Dave!
Summary: 2017: Tallulah Murray, a nineteen year old mother, goes out with her boyfriend to the neighborhood pub for dinner. The next morning her mother, Kim, finds that neither one of them have come home. Kim knows that Tallulah would never abandon her baby son. As she talks with Tallulah’s friends she find out that they were last seen at a party at Dark Place, a manor house outside the small village.
2018: Sophie Beck has just moved into a little cottage on the grounds of a private boarding school. Her partner is the new head teacher while Sophie is a mystery novelist. As Sophie explores her new home she finds a sign in their garden with the words, “DIG HERE”, written on it. As she digs she uncovers a missing link in the mystery of the disappearance of Tallulah Murray.
My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book from the beginning until the end. Normally the time jumps can be confusing but since each time had a different narrator that made it easier to follow. The end was excellent. I was on the edge of my seat, trying to finish it as fast as I could. And of course, that’s when my dog decided he needed to go outside!
I liked the characters of Tallulah and her mother Kim. Sophie felt like more of a filler character to help solve the mystery. She was the like her characters in her book which the comparison is drawn in the books as well. Her part felt more cozy. But I think Jewell did a great job of bringing Kim’s pain and Tallulah’s struggles out. They were relatable and I could sympathize with them as their lives changed through the story. After Jewell’s last book I was hoping that this one would be much more entertaining. Thank goodness it was!
FYI: Audio book was read by Joanne Froggat (Anna Bates from Downton Abbey).
First line: She’s at Mrs. Ruthie’s house, eating one of Mrs. Ruthie’s peanut butter cookies, staring out Mrs. Ruthie’s living room window and waiting for her parents to come home.
Summary: After the death of her parents, Lo Denham, has spent years trying to find and reconnect with her sister Bea. As Lo was recovering from the accident Bea left and joined The Unity Project. The group preaches love, does charity work and helps out the community. They have slowly been growing but Lo has always been suspicious of them. Then one day a man comes into the office of the magazine she works for. He claims that The Project killed his son. Lo sees this as her chance to expose the group and finally find her sister.
My Thoughts: I wasn’t so sure about this book when I first started it. It has dual timelines with different narrators and time periods. It was a little confusing as the story set out and took a little time to get going. But as Lo learns more about The Project the story gets more twisted. Things start to reveal themselves but like most thrillers, not everything you hear and see is true.
Cults are scary things. As I read, I could easily see how people are drawn into them. They are looking for something or someone to guide them. They want a community. Someone to understand them. But then there is always the dark underside. And the author delivered all this.
I had a hard time rating this book. I struggled at the start but enjoyed the ending. It was worth a read and kept me invested until the end.
First line: The door opens, and I look up as a man with ruddy cheeks and a crew cut walks into the restaurant, shaking rain from his baseball cap.
Summary: Newlyweds, Annie and Sam, have moved from New York City to Sam’s hometown to be closer to his ailing mother. He finds the perfect location for his psychiatric office in the extra room of an old house. Even though the owner seems to be a little strange he doesn’t let this bother him. Then one night after Sam leaves his office he goes missing. There is no sign of him. As Annie and the police look for Sam they discover thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Did Sam run away? Or is someone else behind his disappearance?
My Thoughts: Though I have never read Misery(but I plan to) I know the basic story line. This was very reminiscent of what I know of the story. Molloy fills her story with lots of twists and turns. Every few chapters something new is revealed. I really enjoyed how fast paced everything was. I would find myself trying to find time to listen to it whenever I could.
The one part of the audio book that I wasn’t too sold on was the voices. At the beginning I thought they did not find actors that fit the characters. And then as reveals happen it makes more sense. So it starts as misleading and then makes sense but also seems to hint at something to come. It helps and hinders the story.
When one of their friends goes missing they are all shocked but Elise
does not believe that Julie is dead. Even after a year and a funeral she
still holds out hope that she will return. Then suddenly after two
years she reappears with no memory of what happened to her.
the hopes of learning what happened and reconnecting the friends decide
to get together for a long weekend in a swanky new hotel in the
mountains. Upon arrival they notice that something is wrong with Julie.
She looks different. She acts different. But no one wants to bring up
these changes. As the weekend continues Elise starts noticing strange
happenings around the hotel. She cannot decide if it’s her imagination
or something truly odd is occurring.
My Thoughts: I do not know how to feel about this book. I like it but something is not sitting well with me too. At the beginning I compared it to The Shining and Pet Sematary but as the story progressed it verged away from this. I liked the little hints of creepiness. I loved the strange hotel. But the ending was just not what I expected. It became more gory than spooky. And the final chapter was just kinda dumb.
The characters were a little
bland. I liked Elise. I could relate to her. But I got two of the
friends constantly confused and the fact that their names both start
with M made it even more confusing.
First line: The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.
In 1982 Viv Delaney is hitchhiking through New York when she is dropped
off at the Sun Down Motel. That night she is offered the job of the
night clerk for the motel. On her first nights she learns that not
everything is as it seems at the Sun Down. The strong smell of
cigarettes, doors opening and closing on their own and ghostly voices
around every corner. Then one night in November Viv disappears without a
Flash forward to 2017, Carly Kirk travels to the town of
Fell, New York to find out what really happened to her aunt who
disappeared from the Sun Down Motel in 1982.
This was so much fun!! I read it in just 2 days. I loved the old motel,
the people and the mystery. I always drive by old motels and wonder who
actually stops there. This answered it for me. St. James’ descriptions
of the place are just eerie. It is a place stuck in a time bubble. I can
easily imagine the smell of the old smoke, the dirty carpets and the
old bedspreads. Add to the creepy hotel a few ghosts and you have the
recipe for a perfect story. The first time that Viv sees the woman it
gave me chills.
FYI: If you love a good ghost story than this is for you!
First line: Alice Lake lives in a house by the sea.
When Alice notices a man sitting on the beach behind her house in the
rain she wonders what he could be doing there but decides not to get
involved. Several hours later he is still sitting there. When she takes
out a coat to the man she starts to talk to him and learns that he has
lost his memory. With no idea who he is or how he ended up on the beach,
Alice invites him to stay in her guest house for the night.
Lily Monrose has been married for three weeks. Her husband loves her very much but one night he does not come home. The police look into who he is and where he might have gone. As they search they discover that her husband, Carl Monrose does not exist. Lily is determined to find her husband and get some answers.
My Thoughts: I enjoy everything I have read
by Lisa Jewell. Her books have a fun mystery with twists and turns. The
story always moves along quickly with intriguing characters and
situations. However, I was a little disappointed in this one. I enjoyed
the story but it was really predictable. I kept hoping that the ending
would have an OMG moment like her newest books have had but it did not.
It wrapped up nicely and everyone ended up “happy”.
I did enjoy
the characters and the events of the book. I really liked the flashbacks
to 1993. It was dark and disturbing. It was the typical Lisa Jewell.
Maybe I need to stick to her newer books rather than trying some of her
older ones. But if you like a good story than this is one.
FYI: We have an audio version available on Hoopla.
First line: Ginny gazed up at the building, her feet planted firmly on the sidewalk but her heart as wide and churning as the sea.
The rules at the Bartholomew are strict. No visitors. You must spend
every night in the apartment. And no disturbing the other residents.
Jules believes that even though the rules a little ridiculous they are
worth the large sum of money she will receive as an apartment sitter.
After losing her job, her boyfriend and her apartment she is desperate
for a new start.
Shortly after she moves into the apartment she
meets a fellow sitter, Ingrid. But when Ingrid mysteriously disappears
in the middle of the night, Jules decides to do some digging into why
and try to discover what is going on at the Bartholomew. In her research
she learns about the dark past of the building and some of its former
residents. With this new knowledge she is determined to get out before
she meets the same fate as Ingrid.
My Thoughts: Riley
Sager has become one of my favorite thriller writers. This is his third
book and it was fantastic. The suspense and mystery are perfectly
blended. I was easily creeped out in the first couple of chapters. I
mean who wouldn’t be tempted by a high paying job as an apartment
sitter? But once strange things start happening? Nope. I’m out.
did find the middle of the story a little slow. It seemed to stretch
out a little too much as Jules looks into the residents and the history
of the building. I assume that Sager was just trying to give us some
more little clues or hinting at the sinister past but it seemed to be
And holy cow! The last few chapters are great!
My heart was beating so fast and I could not read fast enough. As I
finished it I was on an adrenaline high and had to start another book in
order to calm down a bit for bed. Read this. It is worth it.
First line: Those months, the months before she disappeared, were the best months.
Fifteen year old Ellie is the golden child. Then one day she disappears
without a trace. Ten years later her mother, Laurel meets a man in a
coffee shop. He is charming and appears to be the perfect man. As her
relationship with Floyd progresses she meets his daughter who bears a
striking resemblance to her missing daughter, Ellie. What happened to
Ellie? After all the years of wondering Laurel is determined to find
My Thoughts: Lisa Jewell is a new discovery for me. I recently read her latest book, Watching You, on the recommendation of Dawn (who writes our Lit Pairings blog posts). I was hooked immediately. Her novels are fast paced filled with lots of twists and turns. I was pretty sure I had everything figured out early on in the novel. However, I was wrong. Things continued to get more twisted as I read.
The book was divided into different parts
with different narrators. As the story progressed we got different looks
at the events of then and now. I was very shocked and little saddened
by the ending. If you read it you may understand. There were lots of
pieces that are very hard to read. But Jewell is an amazing writer. Even
if the story had been less intriguing her writing would have saved it. I
will definitely be on the hold list for any more of her upcoming
FYI: This is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.
First line: The cat under the front porch was at it again.
Summary: Leah Stevens was once a reporter in Boston but when a story she wrote ruined her reputation she decided to pack up and move to a small town in the middle of the Pennsylvania wilderness with an old roommate. However, the sleepy town is anything but. First, a woman, who looks strikingly like Leah, is attacked and then her roommate, Emmy, disappears. Very little is known about either woman. Leah uses her skills as a journalist to help her find her friend and get the answers to who attacked the woman in the woods.
Highlights: Creepy. Stalkers and mysterious voices on the phone. Roommates with secrets. A lookalike attacked nearby. I was filled with many theories but each seemed to fall through as each new detail was revealed. Megan Miranda has once again delivered a great psychological thriller that is hard to put down.
Lowlights (or what could have been better): The last chapter was a little anti-climactic. It wrapped everything up which was good but at the same time disappointing. I wanted to be left with a “didn’t see that coming” feeling.
FYI: It is number two in the All the Missing Girls series but it does not have to be read in any order. The stories are completely unconnected.