Tag Archives: rachel hawkins

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Villa By Rachel Hawkins Edition

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Villa By Rachel Hawkins Edition

Hello!! The last book that I read was called Verity and it sucked EGGS. It was quite possibly the worst thing that I have ever read and I thought I would go insane if I didn’t read something else to eliminate the bad taste from my mouth. To remedy this, I cracked open the brand new Rachel Hawkins novel called The Villa and finished it in a matter of days. I have read a few books by Hawkins before and have always enjoyed them and The Villa was just right for what I needed: A palette cleanser. Was it my favorite book by her? No. But it served its purpose well. 

Before we begin our spoiler free review, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Villa for murder, violence, and the loss of a child. Now, let’s get to it:


Emily and Chess have been besties since grade school and are still thick as thieves into their mid-thirties. Well… Sort of. While Emily found moderate success in writing cozy murder mysteries, Chess soared to fame as a self-help guru making their communication sporadic but still wonderful when it happens. As Chess enjoyed her newfound wealth and guest starred on Oprah, Emily was riding the struggle bus. A mystery illness left Emily incapacitated for months, which triggered her husband leaving her and insisting on a significant chunk of her earnings as an author.

At one of their few yearly meetings, Chess can sense Emily’s stress over lunch and comes up with a solution: A best friends summer in Italy. There, they can soak up the sun, have fun, and finish the books that they both have due. With nothing tying her to the home she once shared with her husband, Emily agrees and hops on a plane to meet Chess at the gorgeous Villa Aestas. The villa is tucked away in scenic Orvieto and it seems like the perfect place to enjoy each other’s company and work when they felt like it! Oh yeah, it was also the perfect place for murder.

In the 1970s, Villa Aestas was called the Villa Rosato and it housed a group of artists for the summer. Noel Gordon, an infamous rock star invited his faithful drug dealer, Johnnie, as well as the up and coming musician Pierce Sheldon and his girlfriend Mari and her stepsister named Lara to the villa. What promised to be a summer of Pierce taking his talent to the next level was anything but. Drugs and booze limited the amount of music Noel and Pierce made and the girls ended up with the fame. That summer, Mari wrote her first horror novel, Lilith Rising, and Lara made her first album, Aestas. Their holiday ended with Mari and Lara completing their masterpieces while Pierce ended up six feet under at the hands of Johnnie.

Staying in a “murder house” doesn’t particularly thrill Emily but the villa is beautiful and she is excited to be with Chess. During a low key day, Emily looks for something to read and cracks open Lilith Rising. As she reads, she noticed striking similarities between the book and the summer that the author spent at the same villa. She even finds references from the book in the house itself, like an etching on the glass by Mari’s desk. Was Lilith Rising something Mari made up off of the top of her head, or was it an autobiography of what truly happened at Villa Rosato that summer almost fifty years ago?

As Emily begins researching and writing about the Villa Rosato murder, she becomes increasingly paranoid of Chess. Emily wants this book and the success she knows it will achieve to herself. Chess, however, has other plans as well as secrets that Emily couldn’t conjure up in her wildest dreams. What will become of the best friends staying in a home that the locals call “cursed” all summer? Read The Villa to find out!

The Villa was, in my opinion, not Rachel Hawkins’ best but it was still a decent read. I can imagine that her books are perfect for reading by a pool – they’re not especially gruesome, intriguing enough, and peppered with humor that makes me lol. Not groundbreaking by any means, but pretty fun! I enjoyed the way The Villa was set up as it went back and forth between Emily in present day and Mari in 1970. Articles and scripts of podcasts discussing the Rosato murder were interspersed for good measure as well, which is also something I always like.

The characters in The Villa were just alright. I found Emily to be kind of bland while Chess was fairly annoying with her new age BS about the “powered path”. I definitely enjoyed reading what was going on in the 70s more than the present day. It was a much darker tale and I felt so sorry for Mari and Lara as they navigated their summer with these boys who didn’t seem to care about them one way or the other. I would have liked to root for Mari more, however, the flamboyant and sarcastic Noel was my primary focus. He sounded hot AF and I think we can all agree that he was inspired by the incomparable Noel Fielding!

Although there were a lot of interesting points to the general plot of The Villa, it still felt like something that I had heard before. There were no twists and turns that left me shook and I didn’t feel a sense of companionship with any of the key players. It certainly cleansed my palette from the last book I read and for that I am grateful. It just didn’t hit as hard as The Wife Upstairs or Reckless Girls, which left me feeling disappointed overall.

I am going to award The Villa with a five and a half out of ten stars. Rachel Hawkins is much better than this book and I would recommend skipping this one in lieu of one of her other novels!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah



Lil Red’s Book Club: Reckless Girls By Rachel Hawkins Edition

Lil Red’s Book Club: Reckless Girls By Rachel Hawkins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, as always, we will be discussing a thriller called Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins. If the author’s name sounds familiar, it should! I reviewed her book, The Wife Upstairs, a few weeks ago and I am very impressed with her work. Before we get started, I will be placing a trigger warning on Reckless Girls for general violence and trauma. Now, let’s get to it:


After a series of unfortunate events in Lux’s life, she finds herself at a crossroads and moves to Maui with her boyfriend, Nico, on a whim. They have grand plans of adventures on the open seas in Nico’s boat, just the two of them traveling the world and making incredible memories. Money, however, is tight and their dream seems farther away than what they originally thought.

Luckily, a big opportunity comes Nico’s way to sail two college friends, Amma and Brittany, to the deserted Meroe Island for a huge pay day. They insist on Lux coming too and, despite initial feelings of hesitance, she agrees and they set sail. Meroe Island has a troubling history of people stranded there and resorting to cannibalism to save themselves. But that was so long ago and it will be an experience of a lifetime, right?

Upon arriving at the island after a long sail, the group is surprised to find another boat already there. Jake and Eliza, the owners, become fast friends and the first few days on their own private paradise is filled with bonfires, drinks, and good food. Lux finds herself feeling happy for the first time in ages but there’s just something about Brittany’s friend, Amma, that seems a little off.

Lux is able to push past the awkward tension with Amma and is settling into island life just fine until a newcomer, Robbie, harbors at the island. Instantly disliked, Robbie is a definite outsider and flees into the dense island jungle after Lux finds him snooping around Jake and Eliza’s boat. Then, things take a turn for the worst.

After being shamed by the new little family, Robbie decides to seek his revenge and destroys the radios on each boat – making it impossible to leave the island until a back up one arrives on a passing ship over a week later. Stranded until they can set sail again, the island starts to work its strange magic and begins turning the tight knit group against each other.

As people turn up missing and bodies are found, Lux realizes she’s not in paradise at all but a prison. The people who she felt so close to end up feeling like strangers and the only thing she has on her mind now is survival. However, some people on the island aren’t strangers to each other after all and one devastating plan puts everyone in jeopardy. Will anyone live to tell their tale of Meroe Island? Read Reckless Girls to find out!

Although I liked Rachel Hawkins’ The Wife Upstairs just a little bit more than Reckless Girls, I still thought that this was a great read. Maybe because I figured out the main and several minor plot twists prior to its end and didn’t see the final plot twist in The Wife Upstairs coming at all. Reckless Girls was a lot of fun, though, and I finished the fast paced read in just three sittings. I felt disappointed every time I had to close it, making it a definite unputdownable book.

While Reckless Girls, at its core, is a classic whodoneit, it felt unique because of the creepy island setting. When things began to take a downward turn, you could literally feel Meroe Island closing in, creating a claustrophobic, paranoid vibe. Thanks to the insight provided by stories of each character’s past, it felt like danger was lurking around every corner, which made this read even more gripping.

I also really enjoyed Lux as a main character. She was strong and determined which was a nice change of pace from the main character in The Wife Upstairs who was very meek and plain. Lux was so easy to root for because of such a relatable past. I am partial to alternating narrators in a book but, for once, I didn’t mind hearing everything from Lux’s perspective so that’s really saying something!

I am going to award Reckless Girls with an eight out of ten star rating. My main qualm was the predictability of this book and I would have enjoyed to have a jaw dropping moment that I didn’t see coming from a mile away. It is still worth a read, though, and I recommend giving it a try.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah


Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wife Upstairs By Rachel Hawkins Edition

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wife Upstairs By Rachel Hawkins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by Rachel Hawkins called The Wife Upstairs – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we begin, I will be putting a trigger warning on this book for general violence. Now, let’s get to it:


Jane is on the run from her old life after a not so desirable experience in the foster care system and one major incident. Desperate to start fresh, she winds up in the apartment of a skeezy friend in the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama. After a stint slinging coffees in a local cafe, she lands a gig as a dog walker in the posh Thornfield Estates, a gated community crawling with Stepford Wives, huge properties, and lots and lots of money.

Plain Jane has an eye for pretty things and is a chronic kleptomaniac. She feels right at home in the mansions she works in, although constantly feeling like she doesn’t belong from her lack of funds. This is all about to change drastically, though, after a chance encounter with a widower named Eddie.

Eddie is charming, handsome, filthy rich, and has been grieving the loss of his wife, Bea, and her best friend in a tragic boating accident. A whirlwind relationship between him and Jane begins and it is like a dream come true for her. In the blink of an eye, Jane has access to more money than she can imagine and can’t believe her good luck. What she doesn’t know is that Eddie is hiding a terrible secret in his own home.

While Jane is enjoying her newfound duties of live in girlfriend and fitting in with the neighborhood wives, a police investigation begins. The body of Bea’s best friend, Blanche, has been found and it appears that her death was no accident. This puts Eddie and Blanche’s husband at the forefront of the investigation and Jane begins to wonder if she ever knew Eddie at all. Will the body of Eddie’s wife be found? And is Jane next? Read The Wife Upstairs to find out!

When I first started reading this book, I admit that I wasn’t immediately sold on it. The first forty or so pages, I feared that The Wife Upstairs was a bit too cutesy for my liking but then the pace picked up drastically. I devoured this thriller in three days and my only regret is that it wasn’t longer. It. Was. SO. Good!

The Wife Upstairs is a far cry from the usual murder mysteries that I read and I think that’s why I liked it so much. With multiple narrators, there were twists and turns at every page and, for once, I didn’t see the final grand reveal coming at all. Believe you me, I’m just as surprised by that as all of you are.

This book is a true testament to the age old adage of “money can’t buy happiness” but, despite each character’s flaws, there were things that I liked about all of them. This made it difficult to determine whodoneit because my loyalty shifted each time there was a plot twist. I can’t give away some of these game changers without spoiling things right off the bat, but just know that this book is definitely worth the read.

I am going to award The Wife Upstairs with the coveted ten out of ten stars. I was so pleasantly surprised by it and loved being blindsided with every page. If, like me, you like to try and figure out the grand reveal of a book beforehand, I advise not making split decisions and viewing each character with a more discerning eye. I highly, highly recommend this book – especially if you are looking for a “lighter” thriller.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah