What I Read: January 2023

Heather Gudenkauf: The Overnight Guest

True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace. As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. After bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.

The Overnight Guest was one of the best psychological thrillers that I have read in a long time. I undoubtedly love some snowed-in locked-room mystery/thrillers, and I can happily say this one delivered and even exceeded my expectations! It was told in three distinct narratives. I must admit that I was a little confused in the beginning and had a hard time keeping all the characters and time lines straight. Thankfully, that did not last that long. Eventually, Gudenkauf brilliantly and skilfully wove all three plots together. Every plot was so atmospheric and edge-of-your-seat tense and the further I read the harder it was to put down. There’s really nothing about this book I would change, it was exactly what I needed to read. Suffice it to say, this is the perfect book to cozy up to during a cold winter’s night


rebecca yarros: the things we leave unfinished

Georgia Stanton has to start over after she gave up almost everything in a brutal divorce Now back home at her late great-grandmother’s estate in Colorado, she finds herself face-to-face with Noah Harrison, the bestselling author. He’s just as arrogant in person as in interviews, and she’ll be damned if the good-looking writer of love stories thinks he’s the one to finish her grandmother’s final novel…even if the publisher swears he’s the perfect fit. Noah is at the pinnacle of his career. With book and movie deals galore, there isn’t much the “golden boy” of modern fiction hasn’t accomplished. But he can’t walk away from what might be the best book of the century—the one his idol, Scarlett Stanton, left unfinished. Coming up with a fitting ending for the legendary author is one thing, but dealing with her beautiful, stubborn, cynical great-granddaughter, Georgia, is quite another.  But as they read Scarlett’s words in both the manuscript and her box of letters, they start to realize why Scarlett never finished the book—it’s based on her real-life romance with a World War II pilot, and the ending isn’t a happy one.

This was simply beautiful. At first, it took me a bit to get into the story because of the dual timelines and the story within the story, but the more I read, the more involved I became, and it was just so amazing and full of feels. And that twist! OMG, it was simply brilliant. To produce not only one, but two enchanting stories in one, and to keep my undivided attention shows how thoroughly plotted out this novel is.  One love story is set in the 40s, where the main couple was Jameson and Scarlett and the other in present time with, Scarlett’s great granddaughter, Georgia and Noah. Even though both stories were interesting, Jameson and Scarlett’s was my favourite! I could go on and on about this book because it was one of my favourite love stories ever. What a phenomenal author. I’m definitely picking up more of her books!


jodi picoult,J.F.Boylan: The mad honey

Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She moves back to her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, and takes over her father’s beekeeping business. Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start. And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can she trust him completely . . .Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in him, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.

This was my first book by Jodi Picoult and I now see what I was missing. The main reason I couldn’t put this book down was mesmerising writing . Picoult and Boylan’s style blended perfectly and at any point it didn’t feel like it has been written by two authors. Let me just say it, this book is definitely going to be one of my favourite this year. The first half was so good and I loved the story right from the start. I don’t want to give anything away about the plot because it’s the best to go in blindly but I will mention that bees and beekeeping are a subtopic of this book. Let’s just say, during the book you’ll learn a lot about it. But I loved it! I was fascinated by the bee and the beekeeping facts and amazed at how it could be related to many life topics. You’ll also learn about another topic that is the one I do not want to mention, so as to not spoil it for you. I cannot recommend this book enough. Although it is without a doubt one of the saddest books I have ever read, it is by far one of the most beautiful.


freida mcfadden: the housemaid

Every day I clean the Winchesters’ beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. And I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor. I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But as I look into Andrew’s handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. The walk-in closet, the fancy car, the perfect husband. I only try on one of Nina’s pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it’s like. But she soon finds out… and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late.But I reassure myself: the Winchesters don’t know who I really am.

This was a very addictive read that was so hard to put down! You’ll more than likely find yourself reading deep into the night because it’s a genuine page-turner. I loved all the little revelations that pop up here and there on top of an incredible story. Just when you think you have it figured out, this novel turns your world upside down. This book had everything I looking for in a thriller, it’s quick, fast paced, and multiple twists I didn’t see coming. What more can you ask for?! I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series, The Housemaid’s Secret!


abby jimenez: The happy ever after playlist

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back. Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

After I finished this book I found out that it’s actually the second book in a series! So the first one is called The Friend Zone and synopsis of this one kind of spoils the first one so I won’t go back to read it. Now… I loved Sloan and Jason. They’re adorable, Tucker is adorable, Kristen and her husband Josh are hilarious … I loved pretty much every character by the end. Something else I loved is that every chapter started with a song title and music artist, and if you’re so inclined, you can find the playlist on Spotify: The Happy Ever After Playlist. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. It was all a bit too convenient and unrealistic.


b.a. Paris: The Prisoner

Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a life for herself, she is swept up into a glamorous lifestyle where she married the handsome billionaire Ned Hawthorne. But then, Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

This was so good at first! I was all in! With short chapters, alternating between the past and the present, I was hooked. But then it started feeling like a low budget movie! I found myself rolling my eyes more than not. I don’t mind suspending my belief while reading, especially with thriller books, but this was so over the top! Also it was a really slow burn so I started losing interest. To be fair to the author, The Prisoner has its moments, it’s got mystery and suspense, and the plots an intriguing one, but unfortunately this one just didn’t grip me in the way I had hoped.


kristin Hannah: the Four winds

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.  In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

This was my second book by Kristin Hannah and I sort of knew I should’ve expected lots of misery and hardship and probably tears. But…this was a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, this was a good book and a very interesting time in history to learn about. The Four Winds started off strong for me, Hannah’s description of the Dust Bowl and drought of the Great Plains was so vivid and immersive you could actually feel the suffering of Elsa, her family and the farmers of that region. I was also fascinated with the descriptions of life in the squatter’s camp later. I found myself googling this extremely interesting period of time and reading more about it. Now the things I didn’t like… I understand that the author was trying to paint a depressing picture of a very dark time in history; however, it was all too much and definitely over the top giving the story less credibility.  The last 25% of the book I really didn’t like so that’s why unfortunately this won’t be a 5 star read for me.


mary kubica: just the nicest couple

Jake Hayes is missing. This much is certain. At first, his wife, Nina, thinks he is blowing off steam at a friend’s house after their heated fight the night before. But then a day goes by. Two days. Five. And Jake is still nowhere to be found. Lily Scott, Nina’s friend and coworker, thinks she may have been the last to see Jake before he went missing. After Lily confesses everything to her husband, Christian, the two decide that nobody can find out what happened leading up to Jake’s disappearance, especially not Nina. But Nina is out there looking for her husband, and she won’t stop until the truth is discovered.

I almost skipped this book thanks to the bad reviews but I’m glad I didn’t at the end. Maybe this will be unpopular opinion but I actually liked it! Considering it was a slow burning thriller/mystery with some of the most gullible, selfish and unlikable characters ever, I couldn’t put it down! The book is told in two parts Nina’s perspective and Christian, Lily’s husband. I thought the choice to have Christian instead of Lily was interesting and I ended up liking it. The writing style and format was a bit different from the usual Mary Kubica style and format and in some places was too detailed and in some not enough detailed. But putting that aside I really liked the story, plot and that amazing twist at the end that I never saw coming!


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