Tag Archives: suspense

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Club By Ellery Lloyd Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Club By Ellery Lloyd 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 by Ellery Lloyd called The Club. I have been nursing this book for a while because I haven’t had much free time to read and I was very happy to be done with it; Partially because it took so long and partially because it wasn’t my favorite book in the world. It definitely fell under the “pretty good” but not great category! Before we begin, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on The Club for murder, violence, and rape. Now, let’s get to it:

Screenshot 2023-04-12 at 06-48-24 Sarah Mushenheim (@lifewithlilred94) • Instagram photos and videos

The Home clubs are a celebrity’s playground with ultra lux resorts in locations ranging from London to Italy and Manhattan. There is an insanely high membership fee and with that comes the privilege of privacy. No cell phones are allowed on Home properties so the members have no fear of paparazzi or unflattering photos and have the freedom to do what they want when they want. The Home clubs have been in the Groom family for a long time and was passed down to the eldest, Ned, after his grandpa’s death. After a fire burned down the original location, Ned began expanding his empire to what it is today and did it almost all by himself with minimal help from his younger brother, Adam.

Now, Ned is preparing to launch the most ambitious Home club yet; Island Home. Yeah, he bought an entire island for his new resort and the caveat is that it can only be accessed when low tide reveals a causeway from the mainland to the island. Ned is a loud, brash man that can be difficult on a good day to work with, but his staff remains ever faithful. To assist him, there is his loyal PA named Nikki and the Hospitality Manager, Annie. A new staff member named Jess has also been welcomed aboard as the Head of Housekeeping. Before the weekend long launch party begins, it is anarchy on the island as everyone works diligently to turn Island Home into the best one ever.

By the time the rich and famous arrive on the island, it is perfect with huge cabins, a spa, gym, underwater restaurant, and private screening room just to name a couple of the many accommodations. Before a big launch, Ned likes to invite his chosen few to a feast to catch up, eat, drink, and be merry. The night, however, takes a drastic turn when Ned announces that there will eventually be a package waiting in the room of four of his most wealthy, celebrated guests. The packages will arrive at different times and each member is very anxious to find out what it could be. And, what it is is something that they would never expect.

The first package delivered is to a Jackson Crane – well known actor and husband to model and humanitarian, Georgia. After the dinner party, Jackson returns to his cabin to find a memory stick and a demand for an exorbitant amount of money for his yearly membership fee. And, one by one, the other three of the chosen receive their “gift” too. These memory sticks reveal the deepest, darkest, career destroying secrets of each member and all of the recordings were done in their rooms of various Home resorts. The asking fee to keep their secrets at bay is astronomical and even with all of their wealth combined, eventually the well would run dry. Essentially, Ned now owns them.

Other than Ned, Annie, Adam, and the chosen, no one on the island knows that they are constantly being recorded and continue to go about their weekend at Island Home. And why would they suspect anything, anyways? The whole point of Home clubs is to not be constantly recorded. As the celebrities enjoy and the staff caters to their every need, plots of murder begin to form and not just from the guests being blackmailed. It turns out that high ranking members in the Home hierarchy have secrets too. Nikki, Annie, and Jess all have a past that directly correlates themselves with guests on the island and have vengeance on the mind as well.

The grand finale of the Island Home launch party is an immersive theater event that will take the members around the island and back to the Manor to party. To keep everyone’s identity a secret as they wander the grounds and for the name of theater, everyone is required to wear a cloak and mask. It is the ideal scenario for revenge to be exacted and as the night plays out, several people meet their demise. What will become of the blackmailed guests of Island Home and the man who grew wealthy from their secrets? Read The Club to find out!

There were several things about The Club that I enjoyed. I thought that the plot was very interesting and loved the idea of these “private” places where celebrities could let their hair down for good or bad. I admit that I am a sucker for all things lux so I also really liked to read about all of the clothes, accommodations, and locations being described in the book. However, there was something about The Club that just didn’t connect with me no matter how hard I tried to make it happen.

The Club is told from the perspective of Jess, Nikki, Annie, and Adam and you all know I love a multiple narrator book. The problem was that I couldn’t stand any of them! Literally none of the key or supporting players in The Club were likeable in the slightest and it made for a very dry and stilted read. For the most part, I liked the ideas of each individual chapter but I couldn’t get into the characters as they spoke their piece. Not only that, but this book’s grand reveal left a lot to be desired and each twist and turn could be easily guessed before it happened. While nothing pleases me more than getting reveals right, I like to be surprised even more than that.

I feel very torn about The Club because the idea of the book was a winner but the execution just wasn’t there for me. Overall, I am going to give it a four out of ten stars. If this review sounds interesting to you, give it a try because it was still kind of fun. If not, you can most definitely skip on this book!

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

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Lil Red’s Book Club: We Were Never Here By Andrea Bartz Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: We Were Never Here By Andrea Bartz 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 by Andrea Bartz called We Were Never Here. Was it the best book I ever read? No. But it was pretty good and a nice change of pace after reading the sweetly sentimental A Man Called Ove. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on We Were Never Here for violence and murder, sexual assault, abuse in all forms, and harm to an animal. Now, let’s get to it:

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Kristen and Emily. Emily and Kristen. Kremily for short. They have been inseparable besties since college and are still going strong over a decade later. While Emily resides in Wisconsin, Kristen moved to Australia for work but they talk all day every day and take a best friends trip once a year. During their travels, they explore locations that are outside of the norm of Paris and London. They much prefer locations like Uganda, Vietnam, and Laos to name a few.

Every trip that they have had left Kristen and Emily giddy and the travel bug continued to bite, until something bad happened in Cambodia last year. What should have been an awesome one night stand for Emily with a handsome stranger went horribly wrong and ended in his murder when Kristen arrived on scene. Panicked and in a foreign country, the best friends put their heads together to dispose of the body, get back to their respective homes, and put the whole thing behind them.

It took a lot of work for Emily to get back to a good place and where she is still isn’t great but better. In fact, she has even got back into the dating scene by going out with the adorable Aaron. She had Kristen to thank for getting her through the toughest time of her life and being strong for the both of them. And, finally, the fear of being caught dwindled into an annoying thought that would sometimes pop up in the back of her head.

Despite what happened in Cambodia, the girls still take their annual best friends trip and find themselves in Chile. The getaway has been amazing and Emily truly believes that her and Kristen are closer than ever and completely made it through their shared horrors. Until the last night of their vacation. In a terrible instance of lightening striking twice, they find themselves in an eerily similar situation to Cambodia. This time, Kristen was the victim and her attacker was dead well before Emily burst through the door.

Emily and Kristen were on a massive time crunch before returning to their homes and had to hastily bury the body in a shallow grave in a remote farming community. Understandably, Emily is freaking out because there is no way they are going to be able to get away with murder twice. Kristen, on the other hand, is acting strange. Really strange. As if nothing happened at all and that everything is A-okay.

Unsettled by her friend’s far from normal reaction, Emily begins to pull away from Kristen and, for once, the distance between them feels like a good thing. Emily continues to avoid until it becomes impossible because Kristen shows up at her front door, claiming to be “over” Australia. Once Kristen is home, she begins popping up everywhere to the point of being stalkery; Emily’s favorite yoga studio, brunch with her boyfriend, even her therapist’s office.

Desperate to get away from Kristen but afraid to say so, Emily agrees to a birthday weekend at the lake house belonging to Kristen’s grandparents. Still wary, Emily decides to do some good old fashioned snooping and is shocked from her findings; Kristen’s childhood best friend committed suicide two weeks after Kristen’s parents died in a house fire. Is Kristen literally the most unlucky person on planet Earth or were three deaths in one month the result of something more sinister?

The walls are closing in on Emily from all sides because the backpacker they disposed of in Chile has been found and a handsome reward is offered for information. She no longer trusts Kristen and for good reason – five people are dead and they might all be at her hands. All Emily knows is that she is not safe and neither is her new beau. Will Emily get to the bottom of Kristen’s dark past once and for all? And will the girls get away with murder twice? Read We Were Never Here to find out!

As I said, We Were Never Here definitely fell into the “just okay” category for me. It was good, but not great. It was also incredibly easy to figure out every major twist and turn, which is both a blessing and a curse. I like the feeling of being right, but I like being surprised by grand reveals much more! Despite consistently knowing where this book was going, I still considered it to be unputdownable and finished it in a matter of four sittings. Perhaps not so much for the plot as much as Andrea Bartz’s writing style being very similar to Rachel Hawkins, an author who I really enjoy.

As far as characters go, I honestly didn’t care much for Emily, Kristen, or any of the supporting characters for that matter. Kristen and Emily were truly Yin and Yang. Kristen was bubbly, vivacious, and strong. Emily was anxious, fumbling, and weak in comparison. Both of the girls remained the same throughout the duration of the book and it bored me. There was no real character development and that was another reason why it was easy to figure We Were Never Here out; Nothing Emily or Kristen did surprised me.

I’ll be the first to admit that the plot of this story is one of the more far fetched ones that I have read and that’s fine. The crazy plot wasn’t supported with major shocks, though, and I never felt like there was a definite climax or resolution. We Were Never Here fired on all cylinders until it was over and it made the read less fulfilling. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless it was a palette cleanser read, but I would read more by Andrea Bartz because she does show promise as an author I could get into.

Overall, I am going to rate We Were Never Here with a four and a half out of ten stars. This is a book that you can definitely skip on if you are looking for something better than just “pretty good”!

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: Joyland By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Joyland By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a super fun read by Stephen King called Joyland – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Set at the old fashioned amusement park, Joyland, in Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina, this book was completely charming. And, yes, I realize that Stephen King’s books don’t get described as that often but Joyland was such a far cry from his usual full fledged horror writing and I couldn’t put it down! Before we begin, I will be putting a trigger warning on Joyland for violence and murder. Now, let’s get to it:

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Summertime is approaching for twenty-one year old college student, Devin Jones, and he is in desperate need of a job. He is utterly heartbroken from his previous relationship, broke, and wants to be anywhere but cleaning up in the dining hall. On a whim, he decides to apply at Joyland as a general employee after seeing an ad in the classifieds. During his trip to the park in Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina for his interview, Devin decides that there are worse places to spend his summer and accepts the gig.

During his tour, Devin learns that Joyland is an old school amusement park with carny flare. There are a few big rides but the majority of attractions offered are for the entire family, making it an ideal summer destination. The games, rides, and vending stands are all ran by year round “carny from carny” folks, which is The Talk for a family of carnival workers. Don’t worry, you’ll get familiar with The Talk (Joyland’s secret lingo) soon enough! Joyland is in the business of selling fun but there is one ride that even the bravest employees don’t like to be around – the Horror House. A young woman, Linda Gray, was murdered on the ride and it is believed to be haunted. Oh yeah, and the murderer is still at large.

After a few short weeks, it’s time for Devin’s summertime job to begin and he enjoys it immensely. Kind employees like Lane, Fred, and Pop take him under their wings and show him the ropes about everything from operating rides to “wearing the fur”. AKA dressing up as the park’s mascot: Howie The Happy Hound. He has even managed to make a few friends, Tom and Erin, who live in the same boarding house as him and also work the park. Devin spends his days working hard and is eager to get a glimpse of the Horror House ghost and maybe even solve the mystery of her death.

As summer continues on, Devin becomes a staple in the lives of Annie and Mike Ross who live in a beautiful beach home that he walks by every day to and from work. Annie is a young mom and her son, Mike, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which confines them to their home. And, let’s just say that Annie makes it a bit easier for Devin to forget his ex girlfriend! In fact, Devin decides to stay on as a full time employee at Joyland – half for the Rosses and half for Linda Gray.

Thanks to some research from Erin, who is now back at school, her findings show a pattern of other young ladies killed in a similar fashion. Linda Gray’s killer has murdered several girls and Devin is nowhere closer to solving the crime. But, there’s something about the photos that Erin shows him that bothers him. The pictures of the killer at the park with Linda has a familiarity to them that he can’t put his finger on. Perhaps, the killer has been under everyone’s noses the entire time. Will Devin be able to bring the killer forward and put Linda Gray’s ghost to rest? Read Joyland to find out!

I seriously loved everything about Joyland and my only regret is that it wasn’t longer. After I read the last page, I told Johnny that I wished there was more or that a TV series was made about it. It was just so good and, honestly, really cute. And, once again, it feels weird to me to describe a Stephen King book as such! King’s writing made you feel like you were walking along the Joyland boardwalks with Devin and the carny Talk that the employees used further enhanced the old time park vibes. It was such a fun read that I wanted to take a ride on the Carolina Spin and Delirium Shaker myself!

While this book was based around solving a murder, it was really not as gruesome as you could imagine for a King book. It almost seemed like an afterthought to the story of Devin growing into an adult. It was exciting to read about the unsolved crime but it was even better to read about Devin’s sweet relationship with Mike and the other characters that made Heaven’s Bay special. I enjoyed how character rather than plot driven Joyland was and I wanted to be friends with all of the people who graced the pages.

I will say that the grand reveal was very easy to solve and that’s okay. I think anything too convoluted would have taken away from the overall simplicity of the story. I actually wouldn’t mind reading it again from the perspective of knowing who the killer is because certain parts immediately popped out at me and I’d like to find more. If you like to play detective like me, just keep in mind that everyone puts on a mask when they are in the business of selling fun.

I am going to award Joyland with the coveted ten out of ten stars. Stephen King might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I think that everyone will be able to find something that they like about this book. I highly recommend it and plan on reading it again in the future!

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: Two Nights In Lisbon By Chris Pavone Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Two Nights In Lisbon By Chris Pavone Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing a thriller called Two Nights In Lisbon by Chris Pavone – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This book was just okay for me. I liked the story line well enough but the writing style of Pavone didn’t do it for me and there were some parts that dragged on SO hard. I’ll let you be the judge of it if you read it! Before we begin, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on Two Nights In Lisbon as it deals with sexual assault and violence. Now, let’s get to it:

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Ariel Pryce is nearing fifty and is newly married to John. He is handsome, successful, and ten years her junior. Ariel owns a small farm and local bookstore and is looking forward to her new life with her husband and tweenage son, George. Things seem picture perfect now but that hasn’t always been the case for Ariel. Her current life is a humble one, which is a far cry from her previous life as a New York City socialite with her ex-husband. Ariel paid a highly traumatizing price for her past wealth and fame at the hands of her ex’s business partner. She has been working hard on letting go of the worst time of her life and can’t wait to have a getaway with John in Lisbon, Portugal for one of his business trips.

Ariel and John’s first day in Portugal is amazing and filled with sight seeing, delicious food, and romance. Although Ariel was originally wary of this trip and leaving George with her mom, she realizes a little vacation might just be exactly what she needs. The newlyweds head to bed after a long day and fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Then, when Ariel wakes up the following morning, John is nowhere to be found.

At first, Ariel thinks that her husband went for a walk and will be back shortly. She calls him to confirm but his phone goes straight to voicemail and he hasn’t even bothered to leave a note. As the hours tick by, panic mode takes over Ariel and she starts fearing the worst. It’s hard not to when she’s in a foreign country, doesn’t speak the language, and she can’t find her husband. The logical place to go is the police. However, the two officers won’t report John missing yet since he has only been gone for a few hours. They also imply, much to Ariel’s distaste, that maybe she doesn’t know her husband as well as she thinks.

Refusing to simply wait around for word from John, Ariel next heads to the American embassy where she hears more of the same thing. It isn’t until a man on a motorcycle hands Ariel a burner phone demanding three million euros as a ransom for John that people start taking her seriously. Despite her husband’s success, they don’t have that kind of money and Ariel has no idea who to call to help. Well… She does. It’s just that she really doesn’t want to.

As the police and the CIA work the case, they have a vague idea of who it might be that Ariel called as well as extorted for the ransom. And, if it is who they think it is, then they have a major issue of national security on their plates because her call just proved that the future vice president of the United States can be extorted. Is John’s kidnapping a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or is it a carefully constructed plot to bring one of Ariel’s attackers to justice? Read Two Nights In Lisbon to find out!

For the first two hundred or so pages of Two Nights In Lisbon, I was really into it. This book moved at a fast pace and began with John being kidnapped right from the jump. It was nerve wracking to read as Ariel navigated through Lisbon and essentially tried to solve the crisis herself, knowing that law enforcement wasn’t completely on her side. Then, it started getting very convoluted very quickly. Between the local law enforcement, CIA, FBI, and journalists on the case, I found it difficult to keep track of everyone. Breaks in the case, new details, and new people all became muddled together and I was ready for the book to end about halfway through. 

I feel torn about this book because I actually really liked the story line and grand reveal. I also am all for the overall message that is being conveyed. I just wasn’t a huge fan of Chris Pavone’s writing. In this book, he was quite fond of going into paragraph long litanies that were essentially one big run on sentence. It drove me crazy! The wordiness bogged down the reading experience and I felt like so much of it could have been eliminated, which would have made for a smoother read. In fact, if it was a different author who wrote the book, I probably would have liked it way more.

One praise that I do have for Two Nights In Lisbon is Ariel’s character. She is a bonafied badass and even though I didn’t love how the book was written, I was still in her corner all the way till the end. Ariel is such a strong, brave heroine and I liked that she was both book and street smart. There were so many times throughout the book when I was thinking “good for her” and those were my thoughts once I read the final page too.

Overall, I am going to rate Two Nights In Lisbon with a five out of ten star rating. There was a lot about this book that I enjoyed and would have rated it much higher had I connected more with Pavone’s writing. I suppose I would recommend it simply for the fact that the grand reveal was pretty awesome. However, you’re not missing out on anything if you choose to skip this one!

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 Dry By Jane Harper Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Dry By Jane Harper Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving away any spoilers, as always, we will be discussing a thriller by Jane Harper called The Dry. This is a book that has been sitting on my shelf for several years when I got it FO FREE in a library’s give away box. I decided to finally read it because I haven’t been to the library in a while and I am glad I did. I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite book but it was still a really good read. Before we begin our discussion, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Dry for abuse, extreme violence, and murder. Now, let’s get to it:

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Aaron Falk has not been welcome in his hometown of Kiewarra, Australia since he was a teenager. After his friend, Ellie Deacon was found drowned in the river and a note with Aaron’s name was found in her bedroom, he and his best friend, Luke Hadler, became the prime suspects for her death. Aaron and his father were driven out of the small farming community after one too many threats from unfriendly neighbors, fled to Melbourne, and haven’t looked back since.

Now, close to two decades later, Aaron must return back to Kiewarra after learning that his childhood friend, Luke, his wife Karen, and son Billy were killed. Everyone suspects Luke of going off his rocker due to dire financial circumstances thanks to a two year drought. His parents, however, refuse to believe that Luke was capable of such a heinous crime and enlist Aaron’s help to put these rumors to rest. Aaron works with the police in Melbourne for financial crimes and figures looking over their finances is the least he can do. Plus, going through their banking statements means he doesn’t have to talk to anyone because he hasn’t encountered a friendly face since his arrival.

By sharing his findings with the local sheriff, Raco, a full on unofficial investigation begins because things just aren’t adding up. Sure, they have hunches over who might have committed the crime but with no solid evidence, fingers continue to point back to Luke. The death of Ellie has haunted Aaron throughout his life and, now, he begins to wonder if the triple murders were payback for her untimely demise. Ellie’s father and cousin make good candidates for the Hadler family murder but it could be anyone.

Tensions in Kiewarra are high because a drought means no money for the farms and Aaron and Raco poking around puts everyone on edge. With Aaron’s time in his hometown drawing to a close and his safety threatened with every turn of the page, the chances of solving the murders and shining a light on who killed Ellie are bleak. Will the Hadler family finally be able to rest in peace? Or will Aaron return back to Melbourne with his tail between his legs? Read The Dry to find out!

As I said before, The Dry was a great read. It wasn’t the best thing that I have ever read but it was extremely unique and I devoured it in four sittings. This book was unputdownable for several reasons, mainly because it wasn’t just about the Hadler family murder. While Aaron was working on the case, he was also trying to find out once and for all who drowned Ellie and it was interesting to read the similarities in two totally different circumstances. The people in Kiewarra were also unfriendly at best and threatening at worst and it made the danger that Aaron was in feel so much more imminent.

While the story line of The Dry was quite original, what I really enjoyed was the layout of the book. The chapters were always narrated by Aaron. However, there would be segments in the book that would take you back into the past as recalled by other characters. This was something that I had never seen done before and I loved it. As you all know, a multiple narrator book is my favorite and this was a similar set up but so different than what I am used to and kept me turning the page feverishly.

As far as characters go, it was easy to like and root for Aaron as well as Sheriff Raco. While Raco was an open book, Aaron complimented this by being difficult to read, even by people who know him best. In the beginning, this made it difficult to appreciate his subtleties. But, as his character developed throughout the book, I was fully invested in his well being – it just took some time to get warmed up to him.

Finally, in terms of grand reveals, the one in The Dry was alright. I had figured it out prior to it happening and I didn’t particularly care for it but I understood why it happened the way it did. If you’re like me and try to play amateur detective while reading, my advice is to not put your blinders up when reading The Dry. There were so many people who could have committed each crime but it’s not always what it seems!

Overall, I am going to give The Dry a seven out of ten star rating. The dire situations in the book and a format that was different than anything I have read before made for a good reading experience. I would definitely recommend this book and would happily read more by Jane Harper!

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 Maid By Nita Prose Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Maid By Nita Prose Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new month here on lifewithlilred! To kick start November, we will be discussing a delightfully charming read by Nita Prose called The Maid – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Both my mom and I read this book and we really enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it so much that I wouldn’t mind reading it again! Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Maid as it deals with the death of a loved one and domestic violence. Now, let’s get to it:

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Molly simply loves her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. She loves her uniform, the routine, and returning each room to a state of perfection. Her self worth fully relies on her employment now that her beloved grandma is deceased. So much so that Molly would rather be at work than in the small apartment that they used to share.

Molly sees the world differently than her coworkers and falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. Since the passing of her grandma, her life went from vibrant and rich to incredibly lonely. She does have a few friends, however. Every day, Molly tends to Giselle Black’s room. She is the wife of a business mogul and she is just as lonely as Molly in her own ways. Through this shared bond, a friendship forms. Molly cleans the room and Giselle teaches her about makeup and explains the things that Molly doesn’t fully understand – like when a coworker is making fun of her.

Of course, not all of her coworkers are completely awful and Molly also enjoys her friendship with kindly Mr. Preston, Juan Manuel, and Rodney, whom she has a huge crush on. Rodney is the perfect man for her and surprises Molly through his “thoughtfulness”. For example, after entering one of the rooms she was scheduled to clean, Molly stumbles upon Rodney, Juan Manuel, and two intimidating looking strangers who she assumes are their friends. Rodney explains that Juan Manuel’s work permit has expired and he has no place to live. He asks Molly if she can give him a key card to an unoccupied room every night, stow his overnight bag, and clean up every morning. And she does.

Every day, Molly looks forward to her visits with Giselle and her friends until something awful happens. During her usual rounds in the Black’s suite, Molly finds Giselle’s husband dead in his bed. Originally, she wasn’t a suspect to a possible murder. But, after doing a few favors for some of her so called friends, Molly is arrested for murder, drug charges, and having an illegal firearm. Desperate to prove her innocence, Molly and the people who only wish the best for her rally to fight the charges. But, it’s going to take Molly being pushed out of her comfort zone to do it. Can they pull it off? Read The Maid to find out!

I wasn’t expecting to like The Maid as much as I did but I literally couldn’t put it down to save my own life. I devoured it in three days and wish that it wasn’t such a quick read! This book tapped into every emotion possible in barely two hundred and ninety pages. It was equal parts heartbreaking, hilarious, enraging, and inspiring. If you don’t find yourself rooting for Molly with every turn of the page, then there is a good chance that you don’t have a heart.

Not only did The Maid have me emotionally invested but the plot was great too. There were so many twists and turns cleverly interwoven into the mundane life of a hotel maid. It was so different than anything that I have read recently and that was exciting. Throughout the book, Molly prided herself on being an invisible cog in the hotel machine. Or rather, what her boss describes as a bee in a hive. Being able to watch Molly develop and be seen for the first time in so long was an absolute joy.

I am going to award The Maid with an eight out of ten stars. This was an original and fun read that will make you want to cry as you stay on the edge of your seat. Highly recommend!

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 It Girl By Ruth Ware Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The It Girl By Ruth Ware Edition

Hello everyone! We interrupt your regularly scheduled bonus pictures from my Pumpkin Patch Party OOTD with a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club. Today, without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing a thriller by Ruth Ware called The It Girl. To be frank, I have never been overly impressed with Ware’s books but this one was very good. In fact, it’s my favorite book that she has written. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on The It Girl for violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Hannah Jones appears to have it all. A husband, Will, who she has loved since first sight, a baby on the way, and the charming life of a couple in their late twenties. Could she have said the same for herself a decade ago? Not at all. Ten years ago, her roommate, April, at the prestigious Pelham College at Oxford was brutally murdered. Despite her seemingly picture perfect life, Hannah struggles with this on a daily basis. She did not have a role in April’s death but she played a big part in the trial.

During her time at Pelham, Hannah was joined at the hip with the gorgeous, effervescent April. April was, indeed, an It Girl and everyone knew about her beauty and wealth. Their friend circle of Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily seemed to revolve solely around April but her and Hannah shared a bond that only roommates could have. Hannah felt completely at home in her new life at Pelham except for one major issue… John Neville.

Neville was a porter at Pelham and he seemed to have it out for Hannah from the jump. Hannah was uncomfortable walking alone and would plan her routes to avoid John but he seemed to be everywhere. He was also the last person to see April alive and is what sealed his conviction for her death due to Hannah’s testimony. There have always been whispers that Neville was innocent. However, his recent death in prison means he will never see justice and the case is blown back open. If Neville is innocent, then April’s killer is still on the loose ten years later.

After Hannah talks to a journalist who claims to have new information on the case, she begins to doubt her story even more than she already did. Now, it is up to her to put the pieces together and find out what really happened the night of April’s death. If Neville is out of the picture, everyone is now a suspect. Her old friends, teachers, and even her own husband. Will Hannah solve the case of April’s killer? Read The It Girl to find out!

While I have enjoyed previous Ruth Ware books before, I have never felt too excited when she has a new book out. In comparison to other thrillers, her novels always seem to fall just a bit short. Needless to say, I was incredibly surprised with how invested I was in The It Girl right from the start. It was completely unputdownable and I couldn’t wait for free time so that I could read more!

The It Girl featured one of my favorite things of going back and forth between Hannah’s past at Pelham College to present day. This allowed you to get to know the main suspects in their youth and in current times. It also made it very difficult to pinpoint the killer because all of these players were incredibly likeable despite the usual flaws of first year college students. And, any tension in present times from them felt understandable after ten years of trying to get April’s death out of their minds. Every lead felt like a Red Herring and it made you relate to Hannah even more as she continued to second guess everything she thought she knew.

I loved Hannah as a main character and I thought that she was really brave. Her pregnancy also heightened the suspense because her sleuthing could turn dangerous at any moment. It was so easy to sympathize with her after all that she had been through. I definitely spent the whole book rooting for her to have the life she always wanted.

My advice if you read this book and you like to try and figure out the grand reveal ahead of time is to go with your gut. Like Hannah, I second guessed and then vetoed one of my initial instincts and I ended up being right on the money. It’s also very important to pay close attention to everything said and done at Pelham because it will all come back soon enough!

I am going to award The It Girl with a seven and a half star rating. I was originally going to give it an eight but I realized that that was only because I liked it better than other Ruth Ware novels. Was this the most groundbreaking thing that I have ever read? No. But, it was a fun read and it put Ware back on the map for me after years of feeling wishy washy. I think you all will like it too!

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: Mexican Gothic By Silvia Moreno-Garcia Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Mexican Gothic By Silvia Moreno-Garcia 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 suspense novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia called Mexican Gothic. Before we begin, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on this book for disturbing content and violence both physical and sexual. Now, let’s get to it:

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Noemi Taboada is a young socialite living in Mexico City in the early 1950s. She is a tenacious woman and when she isn’t spending her free time dancing the night away she is diligently working towards a Masters degree in anthropology. Noemi’s biggest concern is what to wear on a night out but this is all about to change drastically after her family receives a disturbing letter from her cousin, Catalina.

Catalina is a bit older than Noemi and has been married for about a year to the handsome Virgil Doyle. She lives a fair distance away in the remote El Triunfo in the Doyle estate called the High Place. Noemi’s family assumed she was too busy being a newlywed to be in contact often and her letter is the first correspondence they’ve had since the wedding. In her letter, she describes hearing and seeing ghosts and desperately requests Noemi’s presence.

In exchange for checking in on Noemi, her father will allow her to go to a co-ed college to continue her studies. So, she packs her bags and makes her way to the High Place. Noemi’s destination is a looming estate shrouded by mist and an overwhelming darkness. The dark cloud is not limited to the property itself but to those who inhabit it too.

What used to be a flourishing mining community run by the Doyle family is now limited to a handful of zombie like servants and the remaining Doyles. There is Catalina and her husband Virgil, Virgil’s aunt and cousin named Florence and Francis, and Howard who is Virgil’s father. To Noemi, each one seems more unpleasant than the next and she has half a mind to turn around and go home.

The rules of High Place are strict and something that Noemi is not used to. No talking at dinner, no smoking, speak in hushed voices, and not to disturb Catalina because she needs her rest. The longer she is at the Doyle home, the worse Catalina seems to get and Noemi begins to get a taste of what her cousin suffers from.

Noemi starts to have dreadful bouts of sleepwalking, distressing nightmares, and terrifying encounters with the Doyle family. She used to scoff at the idea that there are ghosts lurking in the High Place but begins to see that Catalina might be right. High Place had a dark past and even more disturbing plans for the future of the Doyles. Will Noemi and her cousin make it out alive? Read Mexican Gothic to find out!

Upon finishing Mexican Gothic, I felt rather torn. I liked the book overall but found the plot twist to be extremely farfetched. Then, I began to take it for what it was despite its unlikelihood and decided it was still a very worthwhile read. I am not used to reading books with a touch of dark magic (Which is all I will say about the grand reveal.) and found that I enjoyed it even more after having time to digest it.

Noemi carried this story so well as the only narrator and I loved her sass, determination, and panache for bending the rules. She came to High Place with a mission of protecting her cousin and refused to leave until that was fulfilled. This showed so much strength and perseverance on her end because the easiest thing for her to do was simply leave – especially because the villains were completely despicable.

I will admit that some parts of Mexican Gothic kind of dragged on but it wasn’t as slow of a burn as books I have read recently. It continued to hold my attention until the very end and I will rate it with a seven out of ten stars. This is not a read for the faint of heart but if you dare to visit the High Place, you won’t be disappointed!

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: Behind Closed Doors By B.A. Paris Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind Closed Doors By B.A. Paris Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by B.A. Paris called Behind Closed Doors – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we begin, let me start off by saying that this book was JACKED UP and, easily, one of the most disturbing things that I have read in a while. So, it should go without saying that a big fat trigger warning will be placed on it for physical and mental abuse, intended abuse, animal abuse, and a plot that had me fucked up (For lack of a better word!). You’ve been warned, now let’s get to it:

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Could Jack and Grace Angel be any more perfect? Jack has the perfect job of defending battered women and has never lost a case. Grace is a perfect, beautiful stay at home wife and cooks lavish meals to entertain their friends in a perfect mansion. To all concerned, they are the epitome of the perfect couple and surprise those they know by never arguing and constantly looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. Although, they have no idea what is going on Behind Closed Doors.

Within the walls of the Angel home, Grace is under the strict control of her psychopathic husband and is confined to one room with nothing but a bed and a bathroom. Jack has created the persona of perfection for them both and has painted Grace as mentally unstable to divert attention from her attempts to escape and claims of being held prisoner. That is, truly, the pot calling the kettle black because Jack is about as mentally unstable as it gets.

Ever since spotting Grace and her younger sister, Millie, who has Down Syndrome at the park, Jack knew that he had to have them both. He thrives on fear and has since he was a child and considered Grace and Millie the perfect candidates for his sick torture games. For now, Millie is safe because she is away at boarding school. As soon as she turns eighteen and lives with Jack and Grace, however, is a totally different story.

The birthday countdown for Millie is fast approaching and Grace knows that her chances of saving them both become less likely with each passing day. With her determination and the ingenious help from Millie, Grace begins to plot their escape. But can it even be done when Grace can’t leave the cell in her own home and Jack is always ten steps ahead? Read Behind Closed Doors to find out!

Behind Closed Doors left me purely and utterly shook and I am still digesting it days after finishing it. The plot was somewhat of your classic “secret room” thriller but it had so many unique and, honestly, disgusting twists that it was in a category all of its own. Behind Closed Doors allowed you to tap into Grace’s mind in her past and present as a severely abused woman and there were times when it felt like you were suffering right along with her.

After finishing Behind Closed Doors, I was very curious to find out what other people had thought about it and read some reviews. There were many who said that it was one of the best thrillers that they have read in years. However, I was surprised to see so many reviews in which people called it “boring”. I knew that it was not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I have a hard time understanding how it bored the reader.

As someone who was in a mentally abusive relationship, the psychological torture that Grace faced hit close to home. Her paranoia, constant fear, and huge sense of betrayal were all such real feelings that I felt personally and was invoked in this book. I do agree with the reviewers saying that the situation in Behind Closed Doors was not plausible BUT the emotions Grace felt and her own diminishing mental state was all too real.

As far as characters go, Jack was the worst of the worst villains that I have read about in a long while. This, in itself, was enough to keep you rooting for Grace and Millie even after finishing the book. I simply adored Millie who was brilliant, sweet, and hilarious. Grace was a formidable heroine who continued to fight no matter how many times she was foiled if not for her sake than for Millie’s. I loved the bond that Millie and Grace had with each other and it provided a glimmer of sunshine during such a dark read.

Overall, I am going to rate Behind Closed Doors with a ten out of ten stars. I keep trying to find reasons to rate it lower and I can’t. Despite its brutal subject matter, it was a hell of a read that kept me emotionally invested several days after reading the last page. This is not a read for everyone and I recommend not reading it if you fall under that category. However, if you can stomach it, then you will not be disappointed.

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 Family Across The Street By Nicole Trope Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Family Across The Street By Nicole Trope Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing an intense psychological thriller by Nicole Trope called The Family Across The Street – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This book was absolutely insane and before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on it for graphic violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Katherine West lives in a posh neighborhood in Sydney, Australia with her husband and their set of twins, Sophie and George. They live on a quiet street and the residents can’t even remember the last time they heard a police siren or seen a cop driving by. It is picture perfect and safe as can be for Katherine, Gladys across the street, and all their neighbors. But, we all know that this is never the case in a thriller.

Logan is a former convict and is covered in violent tattoos inspired from his lifetime of struggle. He is finally turning into the man that he wants to be for himself and his wife and has been working as a delivery driver for his brother in law’s company. On the hottest day of the year, his day begins at Katherine’s home to deliver her new laptop.

At Katherine’s door, she tells Logan that she cannot open it and to leave her purchase there. He can’t do that, however, because it needs signed for and throughout his day, he can’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong. The nosy Gladys across the street feels similarly and throughout her day, she stops by Katherine’s door too only to be told it can’t be opened.

The perfect stranger and neighbor were right, of course, but what is happening in Katherine’s home is something that they never could have guessed. A hostage situation is unfolding in the West’s living room and Katherine and her two twins sit huddled on the couch as they are held at gunpoint. Who is the person that could possibly do this to such a beautiful family? That’s something you will never guess too so read The Family Across The Street to find out!

The Family Across The Street was a rollarcoaster ride of a read with the craziest twists and turns happening every chapter. This is why I had to keep the synopsis short and sweet because every shocking twist is so important to the story. The grand reveal is one that I would have never seen coming in a million years and I am still mulling it over several days after finishing it. It left me totally and completely shook.

The past few books that I have read have been slow burn thrillers and although I enjoyed them, it was nice to read something more fast paced. The Family Across The Street started out with a bang and the punches kept rolling until the last page. The chapters alternated between Katherine, Gladys, Logan, and the person holding the Wests hostage and I just had to keep reading to find out what happens next.

Other than the guilty party in this book, all of the characters were so likeable and it made all of the blows that much more painful. I loved brave, determined Katherine and her children. I eventually came around to busybody Gladys and simply adored Logan who was so desperate to keep himself on the straight and narrow. Needless to say, these characters would have never crossed paths had tragedy not struck and their interactions were really cool to read.

Overall, I am going to rate The Family Across The Street with an eight out of ten stars. This book was gruesome and difficult to read at times so if that’s not your bag, then don’t bother. However, if you are looking for a mind blowing thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat, then I can’t recommend it enough!

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