The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Description

“Rich, dark, and intricately twisted, this enthralling whodunit mixes family saga with domestic noir to brilliantly chilling effect.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author

“A haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read.” —Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

I got this one weeks ago and can’t wait to share it with you all! I love, love, love Lisa Jewell. She is an amazing suspense writer!! This novel combines all sorts of suspenseful elements: lost family, unknown history, unsolved murders, to make for a thrilling read, one that is hard to put down! If you regularly read Lisa Jewell you will know that she’s done it again with The Family Upstairs!

Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

I adore the cranky and wonderful Olive Kitteridge; and I truly enjoyed the first novel about Olive and how wonderfully written it was. This one continues Olive’s story, basically for the rest of her life. It is so well-written that it makes the story of her life beautiful. Elizabeth Strout has an amazing way of making the ordinary extraordinary.

Here’s the overview (and thanks for my ARC galley through Net Galley!):

Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions.

“Strout managed to make me love this strange woman I’d never met, who I knew nothing about. What a terrific writer she is.”—Zadie Smith, The Guardian

“Just as wonderful as the original . . . Olive, Again poignantly reminds us that empathy, a requirement for love, helps make life ‘not unhappy.’”—NPR

NAMED ONE OF FALL’S MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS BY People • Time • Entertainment Weekly • Vanity Fair • BuzzFeed • Vogue • USA Today • The Seattle Times • HuffPost • Newsday • Vulture • Bustle • Vox • PopSugar • Good Housekeeping • LitHub • Book Riot

Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). TheNew Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us—in Strout’s words—“to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”

Praise for Olive, Again

“Olive is a brilliant creation not only because of her eternal cantankerousness but because she’s as brutally candid with herself about her shortcomings as she is with others. Her honesty makes people strangely willing to confide in her, and the raw power of Ms. Strout’s writing comes from these unvarnished exchanges, in which characters reveal themselves in all of their sadness and badness and confusion. . . . The great, terrible mess of living is spilled out across the pages of this moving book. Ms. Strout may not have any answers for it, but she isn’t afraid of it either.”The Wall Street Journal

Mistletoe at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

Available today! And just in time to get you in the Christmas spirit!

I love, love, love this series about a woman finding love after 40. As a woman who found love after 35, I can relate! Plus, she has this little miniature horse as a pet and I want one!

Susan Schild sent me a galley of this novella (about 70 pages) and I loved continuing with Jenny’s story. Thank you! I believe it is only available via Amazon kindle. Just a note: it would be considered a “clean read”.

Here’s the overview:

Ready for a feel good read that will ease you into the Christmas spirit? 

Join forty-three-year-old newbie innkeeper Jenny Beckett at the Lakeside Resort on beautiful Heron Lake. Jenny’s dreading Christmas. With almost no cabins booked for the holidays, she’s accidentally made promises on social media about dazzling Christmas festivities happening at the Lakeside Resort. Trouble is, the holidays are fast approaching, Jenny’s not begun to finalize plans, and she keeps running into roadblocks.

Stretched tight, Jenny scrambles to book a decent Santa Claus, a horse-drawn wagon for Currier and Ives-style sleigh rides, and the Christmas choirs she’s so enthusiastically described online. To complicate matters, Mama has a frightening fall, Charlotte and Ashe are at odds about their upcoming wedding, and Jenny’s getting the jitters about marrying and building a cabin with her fiancé, Luke.

When Jenny shares her fears with Luke and her best girlfriends, she starts to feel the wonder of the season. Friends gift her a new vintage camper, Mama and Landis make a startling announcement, and friends and family pitch in to help her deliver the dazzling Christmas she’d promised. Jenny realizes she already has all she needs for a magical Christmas and a happy future.

With cozy romance, classic carols, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and happily ever afters, Christmas joy is always on tap at The Lakeside Resort.

USA Today Bestselling author Susan Schild writes heartwarming novels about women over 40 having adventures, falling in love, and finding their happily ever afters. Follow her on BookBub for updates.

Lords of St. Thomas by Jackson Ellis

A few months ago, I received a copy of Lords of St. Thomas from the author, Jackson Ellis. This novel is the story of a family who is one of the remaining inhabitants of St. Thomas, Nevada, a town that is set to be demolished and go “underwater” with the expansion of Lake Mead. Henry, the main character, is a young boy, and we see his family and his daily life through a child’s eyes, whether he is playing under the house in his secret spot, going to school, or just riding the ups and downs of life.

Here’s the overview:

Winner of the 2017 Howard Frank Mosher First Novel PrizeShortlisted for the 2016 Plaza Literary Prize
In the Mojave Desert, at the southern end of the isolated Moapa Valley, sat the town of St. Thomas, Nevada. A small community that thrived despite scorching temperatures and scarce water, St. Thomas was home to hardy railroad workers, farmers, shopkeepers, teachers, and a lone auto mechanic named Henry Lord.

Born and raised in St. Thomas, Lord lived in a small home beside his garage with his son, Thomas, his daughter-in-law, Ellen, and his grandson, “Little” Henry. All lived happily until the stroke of a pen by President Coolidge authorizing the construction of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Within a decade, more than 250 square miles of desert floor would become flooded by the waters of the Colorado River, and St. Thomas would be no more.

In the early 1930s, the federal government began buying out the residents of St. Thomas, yet the hardheaded Henry Lord, believing the water would never reach his home, refused to sell. It was a mistake that would cost him―and his family―dearly.

Lords of St. Thomas details the tragedies and conflicts endured by a family fighting an unwinnable battle, and their hectic and terrifying escape from the flood waters that finally surge across the threshold of their front door. Surprisingly, it also shows that, sometimes, you can go home again, as Little Henry returns to St. Thomas 60 years later, after Lake Mead recedes, to retrieve a treasure he left behind―and to fulfill a promise he made as a child.

I will admit that I have a strange fascination for stories about towns underwater. I grew up near one and there’s one not far from where I live now. The whole idea of a town lying beneath the stillness of a lake is both terrifying and oddly compelling. So my odd predilection for books about flooded towns drew me to this novel, but the strong writing and storyline kept me reading. I really enjoyed it and still think about little Henry. I would recommend it highly.

Thank you for my review copy!

For My Ears: The Guestbook by Sarah Blake

Overview:

A lifetime of secrets. A history untold. 

No. It is a simple word, uttered on a summer porch in 1936. And it will haunt Kitty Milton for the rest of her life. Kitty and her husband, Ogden, are both from families considered the backbone of the country. But this refusal will come to be Kitty’s defining moment, and its consequences will ripple through the Milton family for generations. For while they summer on their island in Maine, anchored as they are to the way things have always been, the winds of change are beginning to stir. 

In 1959 New York City, two strangers enter the Miltons’ circle. One captures the attention of Kitty’s daughter while the other makes each of them question what the family stands for. This new generation insists the times are changing. And in one night, everything does.

So much so that in the present day, the third generation of Miltons doesn’t have enough money to keep the island in Maine. Evie Milton’s mother has just died, and as Evie digs into her mother’s and grandparents’ history, what she finds is a story as unsettling as it is inescapable, the story that threatens the foundation of the Milton family myth.

Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, The Guest Book asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. It shows the untold secrets we inherit and pass on, unknowingly echoing our parents and grandparents. Sarah Blake’s triumphant novel tells the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning.

While I listened to this one while driving around this summer, I almost wished that I had gotten it as a book as I really needed to pay attention to it and that’s hard to do in traffic! This was the story of a family that moved across time, but not chronologically, and I had moments of confusion. At the end of the book I had questions: How/why did one character drown? Who was one character’s father? What did I miss? None of my friends were able to answer me. The audio felt super long to me (but not boring) and a quick check just showed me that it’s almost 500 pages. One note that seriously irritated me was that the narrator referred to this wealthy family attending “Groton” but pronounced it, on at least two occasions, as “Grow-ton”. Groton is a very famous prep school that is alive and well today, so a quick check would tell the people directing this audio that it is pronounced “Graw-tin” with no long /o/. Somebody make a note of it!

I’d love to discuss this book with someone who also read it. I felt that Ms. Blake made some statements through her novel regarding race, class, and gender that the reader should not overlook. It would make a great book club pick!

Overall, I really liked it and would look to read more by this author.

(purchased with an audible credit)

My Name is Eva by Suzanne Goldring

Description (via Net Galley)

You can pay a terrible price for keeping a promise …

Evelyn Taylor-Clarke sits in her chair at Forest Lawns Care Home in the heart of the English countryside, surrounded by residents with minds not as sharp as hers. It would be easy to dismiss Evelyn as a muddled old woman, but her lipstick is applied perfectly, and her buttons done up correctly. Because Evelyn is a woman with secrets and Evelyn remembers everything. She can never forget the promise she made to the love of her life, to discover the truth about the mission that led to his death, no matter what it cost her…

When Evelyn’s niece Pat opens an old biscuit tin to find a photo of a small girl with a red ball entitled ‘Liese, 1951’ and a passport in another name, she has some questions for her aunt. And Evelyn is transported back to a place in Germany known as ‘The Forbidden Village,’ where a woman who called herself Eva went where no one else dared, amongst shivering prisoners, to find the man who gambled with her husband’s life …

A gripping, haunting and compelling read about love, courage and betrayal set in the war-battered landscape of Germany. Fans of The Letter, The Alice Network and The Nightingale will be hooked.

As you readers know, I love the WWII genre and never tire of reading about courageous and resilient women who survived the war. The novel was told both in present day and then the past, as we see the events shaping Eva’s life, her husband’s, and the man she came to despise. What I loved about this novel, though, was how Eva worked hard to come across as a bit “batty” in the present day so that no one could discover her secrets.

A great read that is not the typical “formula” fare. Highly recommended!

Thank you for my review e-galley!

Find Your Light by Beverly Conyers

I recently was sent a copy of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything from Ms. Conyers’ publicist. This is a lovely little book that is quick to read and very pertinent to daily life. You can read it in little bits or read it straight through. The focus is on how you can be mindful and use mindfulness to aid in recovering from addiction or really any type of stressful and demanding situation (full disclosure: I do not suffer from addiction, but found this little book very pertinent and helpful).

Here’s the overview:

Author Beverly Conyers—one of the most respected voices in wellness and recovery—has guided hundreds of thousands of readers through the process of recognizing family roles in addiction, healing shame, building healthy relationships, releasing trauma, focusing on emotional sobriety, as well as acknowledging self-sabotaging behaviors, addictive tendencies, and substance use patterns. With her newest work, Conyers shows us how the practice of mindfulness can be a game-changing part of recovering from any- and everything.

Early in our recovery journey, we focused on healing. Further along in the process of recovering, we dare to believe it’s possible to embark on a new chapter, but often feel stuck. At times, we wonder…how do we create the breakthroughs we want?

With a mindfulness practice—meditation and other habits of awareness—we develop the courage to look within. As we hold space for ourselves, we find the light within that can spark change, personal growth, and self-compassion. Mindfulness is an irreplaceable part of the health and healing toolkit because it illuminates our true selves; as a result, it illuminates our recovery.

Conyers gives us an approachable mindfulness book with carefully designed reflections and practices that set us on a path forward. Her insight guides our way whether recovering from unhealthy relationships, addictions of all types, compulsive habits, anxiety and stress, workaholism, disordered eating, or mental health and emotional challenges—and whether we follow the Twelve Steps or not.

Discover why Beverly Conyers’ books have been a mainstay for support groups the world over, and why so many have turned to her insights and guidance. As the author of the recovery classic Addict in the Family, she has inspired hope and healing in a way few others have managed to match.

Thank you for my review copy!