Hagen Carmichael’s Review // An Unwanted Guest

An Unwanted Guest // Shari Lapena

⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Publication: August 7, 2018

Genre: Psychological Thriller; Murder Thriller; Women’s Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 304

Pace: Fast-Paced


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Overview:

It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead–it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic. 

Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm–and one another.Source.

Review:

Though I expect nothing else from the author of The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House, this novel is spectacular. 

This novel began and I knew it was going to a new favorite. I love creepy novels set in remote and gorgeous areas. Lapena does a great job of describing the setting of the beautiful and eerie snow, the old and grand hotel, and the myriad different, and strange, guests who are keeping their own secrets.

When the guests begin dying, I didn’t know who, or what, to believe. I read many mysteries and pride myself on figuring out whodunnit, but this novel had me stumped. I frequented skipped back to search for foreshadowing, and though I found it, the novel was so well-written that I was truly invested in the ending. 

Hagen Carmichael’s Review – The Couple // Sarah Mitchell


The Couple

Sarah Mitchell

⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publication: February 5, 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Pages: 302

Pace: Fast-Paced

Overview:

Whatever you think you know… you’re wrong.

Following a whirlwind four-month romance, lawyer Claire and hotel entrepreneur Angus are engaged to be married. Happy and successful, and ready to start their new life together, Claire and Angus find what they believe to be the perfect home.

But when Claire meets Mark, the man selling them the house, he looks eerily familiar. He looks exactly like the man she loved five years ago, the man she couldn’t bear to lose.

As Claire finds herself irresistibly drawn to Mark and crosses lines she never thought she’d cross, Angus’ behaviour becomes increasingly suspicious. Soon Claire doesn’t know whether she can trust Mark, Angus… or even herself.

The Couple is a psychological thriller with a stunning twist, perfect for fans of The Girl Before, The Wife Between Us, and The Woman in the Window.

Readers love The Couple:

‘A fiendishly smart psychological thriller, and I simply devoured it in a single day.’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

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Takeaway:

Honestly, I felt like I had read this story before. Claire is like every other heroine who is smarter than the men she falls in love with, and if the four-month romance seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

There were twists and turns, but with a premise that just seems ridiculous, no plot twist seemed out of the question. I also didn’t find myself invested in the characters and their issues.

Overall, I’m not upset that I read this novel, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for others to read.

Dream Home

Do you ever find yourself wishing your home was more picturesque and that having a nicer home would somehow fix your life? I know we’re all guilty of this – especially in a culture that teaches us to always want more – but we should try to be content and grateful for what we have.

My tiny little apartment is extremely old, like pre-WWII era old. I can hear my neighbors below me laughing, the neighbor beside me when she turns on the water, and the older woman who calls her cat outside my door. Some of the outlets in my room don’t work, I don’t have a washer or dryer, and I really, really miss a dishwasher. The kitchen is smaller than the closet I grew up with, and my significant other and I constantly are running into one another.

However, while my home is actually perfect for me and I absolutely love (for its price tag and charm), I find myself drooling over the picturesque homes on Pinterest.

So, here’s to all the homes on Pinterest that I think about as I spend Saturdays washing clothes and each night as hand dry dishes. And to remember that what makes a home isn’t what it looks like, but who’s in it.

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What does your dream home look like?

Necessary People // Anna Pitoniak

Necessary People

Anna Pitoniak

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Publication: May 21, 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Pages: 352

Pace: Extremely Fast-Paced

Overview: 

A propulsive, “chilling” (Lee Child) novel exploring the dangerous fault lines of female friendships, Necessary People deftly plumbs the limits of ambition, loyalty, and love. One of them has it all. One of them wants it all. But they can’t both win. 

Stella and Violet are best friends, and from the moment they met in college, they knew their roles. Beautiful, privileged, and reckless Stella lives in the spotlight. Hardworking, laser-focused Violet stays behind the scenes, always ready to clean up the mess that Stella inevitably leaves in her wake.

After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. In this fast-paced world, Violet thrives, and her ambitions grow — but everything is jeopardized when Stella, envious of Violet’s new life, uses her connections, beauty, and charisma to get hired at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce — and taking all the credit. 

Stella might be the one with the rich family and the right friends, but Violet isn’t giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, each reveals just how far she’ll go to get what she wants — even if it means destroying the other person along the way.

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Reaction: This novel was exciting and brings to question: What is more important? Intelligence or breeding? The friendship between Stella and Violet has elements everyone can recognize, however, theirs is extremely different in how competitive they are. The ending left me wanting a little more, though I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and devoured it in two nights. 

Words of Wisdom

Whenever I start to feel myself wear down, I have to look at some inspirational words. I save these pictures on my phone and look at them when I feel overwhelmed and just “need a minute.”

Hopefully, these bring you some peace. Let me know if you have any you love.

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Do you have any quotes or images that you look at to give your inspiration, motivation, or peace?

Hagen’s Review of The Stranger Inside


The Stranger Inside

Laura Benedict

What would you do if you came back from a trip and suddenly your locks were changed and a stranger was living in your home? This is the issue the protagonist of Laura Benedict’s The Stranger Inside faces as she returns from a weekend getaway.

This psychological-drama and thriller tells the story of Kimber, who is honestly the first protagonist I’ve encountered that I actively disliked but still wanted her to succeed. When she returns home from her cabin weekend, the stranger in her home tells her that he knows what she did, indicating some familiarity, though she does not realize why.

Kimber’s life slowly unravels as she reveals how her family history may impact her current situation. The reader becomes invested in Kimber’s life and is surprised at the many twists and turns that keep you in suspense until the last page. The ending is truly shocking and wraps up the novel in a way the reader would not anticipate.

If you’re a fan of psychological dramas, thrillers, and mysteries, read this book. 

Hagen Carmichael’s Review of Run Away by Harlan Coben

How brilliant would you have to be to publish over 31 novels and have a Netflix series based upon one of your stories? This is essentially just some of what Harlan Coben’s prolific career has accomplished, and I am continually beyond impressed with his storytelling ability. I previously read Fool Me Once and No Second Chance and looked forward to Run Away.

Here’s a brief synopsis from Coben’s website:

“A perfect family is shattered in RUN AWAY, the new thriller from the master of domestic suspense, Harlan Coben.

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.”

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Once I finished Run Away I immediately recommended it to my mom because it truly was that addicting. She also finished it over one weekend. I’ve been on a thriller/crime genre-bender, and this novel definitely fits in with that genre. It was a smart, quick read that had many plot-twists – the end had me up late reading. I’ve gotten used to predicting endings, but this novel had me guessing. The characters are so well-developed, and you’re attached to each of them.

Definitely put this novel on your to-read list.