My Girlish Whims Book Club #49

Last week we got to celebrate our first Thanksgiving as a family of four and it truly was our best Thanksgiving yet! Experiencing the holidays after you have kids truly changes everything for the better - even though my boys are still young it was so fun to dress them up, watch them interact with family and gobble up some turkey, stuffing and veggies at both Thanksgiving feasts we shared with each of our families. We've been doing baby-led weaning with them for over four months now where they eat real food instead of baby food and so both kids were fully prepared to share in the large meal with us (Jack especially did not disappoint and loved the extra servings he got, hah!)

I'm definitely looking forward to experiencing the entire Christmas season with them. Before I get into full on holiday mode, however, I need to finish rounding up the last books I read this fall since I popped in with my last set of reviews. Here is what I have been reading lately!

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The House Across the Lake

By Riley Sager. Synopsis from Amazon:

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 bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; 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 isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces. 

Packed with sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy plot twists, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake is the ultimate escapist read . . . no lake house required.

This is my first Riley Sager book I have read and actually enjoyed! I read it during October and it gave me just the perfect amount of chilly/freaky reading vibes without being overly scary (not my jam!) I enjoyed/was surprised by most of the twists, however I will admit one towards the end of the book made me a little mad and I wish it was left out. I still thoroughly enjoyed this book  - even though it had potential to be a bit similar to The Woman in the Window with the voyager/watcher theme, I still thought this story was fresh and different. I liked Casey as the main character - she was a bit of a mess and her drinking added to the potential unreliable narrator situation, but somehow despite that she was still very likable and you wanted to watch her see the mystery through. For a contemporary, mildly scary book, this book really fit the bill for me and I loved reading it.

By Deanna Raybourn. Synopsis from Amazon: 

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.

When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.

Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman—and a killer—of a certain age.

I had very high hopes for this book and even picked it for our in person book club back in October! Unfortunately I felt like it was trying too hard to be a super spy thriller and super funny comedy all at once and it just didn't quite meet the mark on either for me. The action and spy thriller plots all seemed a bit excessive/unrealistic and while parts of the book did make me chuckle a bit, overall I thought some of the humor was a bit tacky/overdone.  Seeing as I am not "of a certain age" maybe I just couldn't quite resonate with this one as much??? I will say that the plot certainly was unique and nothing like I've ever read before! If you are closer to menopause than I am (lol) you may enjoy this one a bit more than I did!

Pieces of Her

By Karin Slaughter. Synopsis from Amazon:

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them.

I picked this as an add on from Book of the Month club because I saw the mini series out on Netflix but obviously knew I needed to read the novel before I could watch the show! It really was a good pick because I really enjoyed this book. It's the first that I've read by Karin Slaughter and I had never actually heard of her as an author but I would definitely try other books by her.  I loved the mystery Andy went through learning the secrets from her mother's past, I loved the flashbacks that told Laura's side of the story, I loved watching Andy go from a character stuck in the mundane motions of a life with a backtracking trajectory to a character forced to take charge and be brave so she can survive and see her family again. I thought this book, although on the longer side, had good pace, action, intrigue, and overall it was a win for me!

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six

By Lisa Unger. Synopsis from Amazon:

Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend's yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Belle hopes 

This was an average read for me.  The name, setting and premise of the book made me pretty excited since it reminded me a bit of One by One from Ruth Ware, The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, or Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney (mysteries that take place in an exotic, secluded location where bad weather hits) and I loved all of those books a lot! Unfortunately I don't think that this location really lived up to the hype and wasn't described as vividly as possible to really make the setting as much of a spooky/interesting part of the story as it could have been. What I loved about this book through was the two different storylines that alternated being told throughout the book and you had no clue (or at least I had no clue!) how they were related until the reveal at the climax of the novel. Almost all of the characters in this book had secrets, the DNA testing kit drama was a unique plot point, and there were a few red herrings thrown in to add to the intrigue of this book. The ending seemed a bit too long for me but overall I found the book as a whole enjoyable, just nothing entirely new and notable.

I can't believe that 2022 is almost over! I'll be back soon to round up any final books I get to read in December as well as my top favorite books I read of the year :)

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