The Dinner Party by R.J. Parker

51W5JqCD4GLHow can a simple dinner party with a group of good friends go so terribly wrong?

Ted and Juliette are having  a dinner party with three other couples at their house.  As the wine begins to flow, one guest has an idea for a game.  The game consists of a truth and a forgiveness.  The couples must write down a secret they are keeping from their partner.  Without knowing what the secret is the other spouse must forgive them and burn the paper without ever knowing its content.  Although most of them feel uncomfortable playing this party game, they reluctantly go along with it.  What really could go wrong?

When two of the guests are found dead the next morning, the others are left with unimaginable guilt for many reasons.  Could the game have caused a terrible fight which lead to murder?  Do they tell the investigators about this crazy game they played?

As Ted and Juliette begin to try and piece the puzzle together, Ted begins to question everyone’s motives…even his wife’s.  Then another death occurs!

What secrets are being hidden and why does Ted feel as is Juliette is not being honest with him? Could this silly game have had anything to do with what is happening to all of them?  As marriages and friendships are being tested will anyone survive?

This fast paced psychological thriller hooks you from the very first sentence.  The story so well told I gave up trying to figure out who did it and just enjoyed the twists and turns and surprises with an I did not see that coming ending which will make you think…wait what?? Wow!

I will say this…at the next dinner party I attend, when someone suggests playing a game…that is going to be my cue to leave!

Thank you to #NetGalley #HarperCollinsPublishers #R.J.Parker #TheDinnerParty for the advanced copy.

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

thClaire and her husband Jason live on Nantucket Island.  Jason owns a company and Claire is a well-known glassblower artist. They have four children and although not one of the very rich elite, lives pretty comfortably.  She is a cautious happy, always trying to make sure everyone else is ok.

Locke Dixon, a wealthy resident is the head of a local charity called Nantucket’s Children which is an organization that assists the children of the locals who live on the Island all year.  When Locke asks Claire to chair the Nantucket Children’s major gala the following year, the sole fundraiser which keeps the charity afloat, Claire, against her husband’s wishes says yes, and thus begins a summer affair.

Claire and Locke quickly start a relationship which begins to tear Claire apart.  Always a pleaser, Claire also agrees to not only make a glass blown chandelier to auction off at the gala, but to try and get her high school sweetheart turned mega rock star Max West who she has not seen in twenty years to perform a concert at the event.

As Claire’s marriage suffers, and pressure to make this fundraiser a success, the closer the day comes the more Claire’s life spirals out of control.  The day of the gala, which should go without a hitch turns into a disaster, which some people are thrilled about.  As Claire suddenly realizes the importance of family, love and self-esteem, will it be too late to put the pieces of her life back together? Does she even want to?

We learn no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors and although someone may look put together, facades are common and sometimes no one sees the true heartbreak people really endure. And heartbreak can come in all forms…

The title takes on many meanings throughout this enlightening book.

Christmas Shopoholic by Sophie Kinsella

thAnyone who has read Sophie Kinsella’s Shopoholic series will not want to miss this newest installment after Kinsella took a brief hiatus from Becky to work on other projects.

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) now lives in a little village in England with her darling husband Luke and her young daughter Minnie.  She works for her best friend and continues happily to enjoy her true passion…shopping.

When her parents move into a very unconventional neighborhood, Becky decides to host Christmas at her house.  Which means not only preparing her place and shopping for gifts, but it means she needs to grant the wishes of her guests, who seem to be multiplying on a daily basis.  Her father has a new obsession with avocado and would like a supply on hand at Christmas dinner, her sister is insisting she won’t come unless there is a vegan turkey and of course there are the brussel sprouts.

In the meantime, an old flame of Becky’s has moved into town with his new girlfriend and they have taken an unusual liking to Becky and Luke. And per usual there are misinterpreted goings on with laugh out loud blunders.

Becky’s most comical errors (I truly don’t want to give them all away!) are when she desperately tries to find her husband a Christmas gift and the lengths to which she will go to find her daughter the only gift she wants for Christmas.

And of course thrown into the mix of the story are Becky’s shopping sprees which make for pure delight for the reader.

I read this book with a smile on my face from beginning to I never want it to end.  As she goes from one misadventure to another, as she innocently makes major mistakes, you think this book cannot get any funnier and then it does!

Thank you #NetGalley #TheDialPress/RandomHouse #SophieKinsella for the advanced copy. This book will ensure a happy holiday season!

 

 

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

thSophronia Carver is a wealthy widow who lives in a castle with her elderly maid in Pale Harbor, Maine during the 1800’s.  She has not left her house since her husband died.  Seeing as the whole town has accused her of killing him, and thinks she is a witch, she does not want to show her face and incur anymore of their wrath.

Gabriel Stone is a widow who has come to Pale Harbor as their new minister.  After losing both his wife and child during childbirth, Stone made a commitment to his late wife to become more spiritual. Hence his new found interest in religion.

Sophronia and Gabriel’s paths cross and there are instant sparks which does not go over too well with Sophronia’s maid Helen who feels she must be the only protector of her employer.  Having cast spells on Sophronia before, she starts again to use her powers to assist her.

But the town is being bombarded by dead ravens and other eerie happenings which are being attributed to Sophronia.  She tends to ignore the talk, until the murders begin.

Townspeople are being killed by someone whose motives have been inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s stories.  Each murder is one of Poe’s tales come to life! Then both Sophronia and Gabriel begin to get mysterious notes. They begin to work in tandem to try and find out who is doing the killings and why.

In a town where it seems everyone is hiding a dark secret, who could be doing the killings and what does Sophronia have to do with it all? And why are they using Poe as their blueprint?

The Widow of Pale Harbor is more than your average cozy mystery.  A great read for Halloween, it has murder, love and the macabre which holds the reader spellbound.

Thank you #NetGalley #GraydonHouse #HesterFox for the advanced copy.

The Furies by Katie Lowe

thAt Elm Hollow Academy, an all girl’s boarding school, there is more than just academics going on as Violet, who lost her father and sister in an auto accident and whose mother has become clinically depressed since will soon find out.  Violet is given the opportunity to attend the school because of her grades and her situation.

Feeling out of place and awkward she befriends a  group of girls, Robin, who seems to be the leader, Grace and Alex.  She falls headfirst into their drinking and drugs lifestyle.  When she is told her talent in art makes her eligible for an advanced art class which also includes her friends,  she jumps at the chance.  But what she finds is that their art teacher, Annabel, is not only teaching art but other mystical and occult themes which have been taught to special girls at the school throughout the years.

Violet begins to become obsessed with the girls (known as The Furies), especially with Robin.  She starts to question situations and finds her life spiraling out of control.  She finds out that the year before one the group’s friends disappeared and was never seen again. Someone she is told looks similar to her.

Violet begins to put two and two together and realizes the occult themes may in actuality be reality. She becomes entangled with her friend’s secrets and secret powers and she is  frightened, yet she cannot break the spell the group seems to have on her.  She feels she is lost and is nothing without them. And when the group implodes on itself she feels the brunt of the guilt. Knowing she can only trust herself she must make some difficult choices.

This book has been compared to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History one of my all time favorite books and I totally agree!

The Furies is filled with history, occult, murder, hate, greed, abuse and envy. A very dark yet delicious read!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress # TheFuries #KatieLowe for the advanced copy.  The Furies is available now.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

th

Comedian Ali Wong has been a hilarious stand-up comedian, a writer for Fresh Off The Boat, as well as an actress.  Now she can add writing a hysterical memoir to her list of accomplishments.
Dear Girls is an incredibly funny, heartfelt, sometimes raunchy, love letter to her two daughters, both of whom make appearances in Wong’s two Netflix specials (she is pregnant in each special), the first Baby Cobra (with daughter Mari) and Hard Knock Wife (with daughter Nikki). Each chapter starts out Dear Girls and then Wong proceeds to give her best advice such as not to go to knock-off Vietnamese restaurants, to how their dad once took her on a romantic date watching YouTube videos of Adele.
She gives us a look at her college years of drinking in excess to falling in love (not with their dad).  She takes us on an eating tour of Vietnam along with meeting some of her relatives as she tries to find out about her Vietnamese roots. She comically explains how she played the C-section card with her husband having to have a C-section after 24 hours of labor.  According to Wong, she did not change a diaper the first month of her daughters life!
She tries to explain to her girls how she slept with two homeless men (accidentally) but they turned out to be really good dates!   We get to learn how she landed her husband Justin a Harvard Business School graduate and how they got married (at City Hall) and how she found her dress (on E bay)! Did I mention he was a Harvard Business School graduate?
But as funny as the book is, it is as much a love letter to her dad whom she adored and who passed away and whom she misses terribly, and to her mother who has been an incredible help since the birth of her children and to all her relatives and friends.
This book will make you laugh and cringe (at the same time)! It will make you root for Wong (and all women), and will teach you about cultures and where not to eat! The Afterward, written to their children by her husband is just an extra bonus to quite an enjoyable book!
Thank you #NetGalley #RandomHouse #AliWong for the advanced copy.  The book will be out October 15.

The Ghost Clause by Howard Norman

thWriter Simon Inescort died of a heart attack on a ferry, yet he still lives at his and his wife Lorca’s home in Vermont. Simon, who is a ghost now, tells the reader stories about what he witnesses of the comings and goings of the new occupants of his home, Zachary and Muriel.  He also reminisces about the love of his life Lorca.

Simon shows us Zachary, who is a private investigator trying to solve the case of a young child who has disappeared. Heartbroken and haunted, Zachary will not stop until he finds her. We see through Simon’s eyes the day to day relationship between Muriel and Zachary, warts and all as they decide to try for a family.

He entices us with the love story between himself and Lorca, how they met and fell in love.  How they too wanted to start a family in the same house Zachary and Muriel are now living.  How just before he set off on his last boat ride, he and Lorca tried to resolve their own marital problems.

The particular irony in all this is that Simon is aware of a clause in the deed of the house called the “Ghost Clause” which allows the current owner to be reimbursed by the previous owner if it is found there is a ghost living in the house.  This is something he would never want to do to Lorca.

But with the alarm constantly being set off and with particular books being placed face down in the library will Zachary and Muriel get suspicious?  What would they do if they knew?

The Ghost Clause is a “haunting” look at two marriages whose problems sometimes parallel each others through heartbreaks and joys and happiness and love everlasting.

Thank you #NetGalley #HoughtonMifflinHarcourt #HowardNorman #TheGhostClause for the advanced copy.