Blogtober Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

GoodReads Summary:
Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
The Woman in Cabin 10Review:
Ware’s books have been pretty hit or miss for me, but I enjoyed this one. It was interestingly formatted. The story starts with our main character, Lo, experiencing a break-in and assault (she’s hit by the intruder with her bedroom door) in her own apartment. This leaves her really unsettled. Her significant other is out of town and she doesn’t really have any other sort of support system. So, she’s obviously struggling after this event, but just days later she sets off for a week on a luxury cruise for her job. She’s not as excited about this cruise as she should be. Especially when she hasn’t slept more than a few hours at a time since the break-in.
The first night she spends aboard this luxury (but small!) cruise ship, she thinks she hears the guest in the next room (that she met before dinner) thrown overboard sometime during the night. She calls the head of security and they work together to try and figure out who went overboard. But when all the staff and guests are accounted for, the mystery remains. Instead of doing the job Lo was sent on this cruise to do, she becomes a little obsessed with solving the mystery of what she heard and saw.
While this story progresses following Lo, we also get a bit of outside information in the form of emails sent to Lo that she never received. We also, once the story gets going, start getting news articles that up the suspense of the story and bits and pieces of social media from Lo’s loved ones. I really liked this method of storytelling. We’re getting the beginning of the story and what we think is the end of Lo’s story, but the middle is a mystery. I think telling the story this way was a really effective way of keeping the reader in suspense and really wanting to know what was going to happen next.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. It was mysterious and suspenseful. The main character was one that I had a lot of empathy for. I really enjoyed the creativity of the story too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

GoodReads Summary:
What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.
Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?
I Killed Zoe SpanosReview:
If you need a mystery/thriller for spooky season, this is the one you need to pick up. This book is almost 400 pages but I had to keep reading until it was finished. I needed to know what really happened and how the story ended. I didn’t love how it concluded, but I loved everything else.
I Killed Zoe Spanos follows a few different perspectives. We get to see ‘now’ and ‘then’ chapters. The story starts with our main character Anna in a juvenile detention center. But then we go back and see her spending her summer in Herron Mills working as a nanny. I think this was of storytelling was so effective. We get to know a bit of the present and a bit of the past and are left wondering the details of what happened in the middle. Frick did an amazing job of giving little bits of the relevant details here and there, just enough to leave the reader wanting more. I don’t usually come up with theories or predictions, but with this book, I had so many that were constantly changing. My first theory that I was so sure was right was completely wrong, but I did have a second one that turned out to be true.
I really liked Anna. She’s a girl that’s let her life get a little out of control. She parties too much and has more nights that she can’t remember than she would like to admit. This is something I can relate to because parts of high school were like this for me as well. So, she moves to Herron Mills for the summer to try to get away from it all. She needs a break and this is her chance. But while she’s there she gets a weird sense of déjà vu, like she’s remembering things that she shouldn’t know. I thought she was an interesting character. She wanted to do the right thing, which led her to get arrested for Zoe’s murder.
We also sort of follow Martina who is best friends with Zoe’s younger sister, Aster. Martina has a podcast all about what happened to Zoe. We get some chapters that are transcripts of the podcast, which I really enjoyed. Martina interviewed people and gave a new perspective to the mystery of what really happened to Zoe. I liked Martina too. She’s Aster’s best friend, but they have issues about the podcast, especially in the later episodes. We also get to see Martina and Aster in the past when they meet Anna for the first time and hang out with her at other points.
Overall, I liked this book so much. It was so good. The different aspects of the story kept me sucked in. I also thought it was interesting that the story for Anna’s ‘then’ chapters were in the first person, but all of the chapters for ‘now’ were in the third person (until the past catches up with the present of course. I am just so impressed by this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

GoodReads Summary:
In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
The Night Olivia FellReview:
I’m having a hard time while thinking about this book. I don’t think I would say that I enjoyed it, but I really needed to know what happened. I think the author did a good job writing this story. The twists and turns were not ones I predicted. I think I would have liked this book if Olivia had just died. But her being in the hospital with no brain activity, but being kept alive because she was pregnant made me uncomfortable. I think that’s because I have a daughter and since having her, I have a tough time with bad things happening to kids.
I liked that the story went back and forth between Olivia’s perspective in the past and Abi’s perspective in the present. I thought this was a good way to create more suspense. We follow Abi as she tries to figure out what happened to Olivia, but we also get to see the events from Olivia’s point of view leading up to that night.
Overall, this was a well written and interesting story. Certain parts didn’t sit well with me, but that’s a personal thing for me. The book was suspenseful and I couldn’t put it down until I knew exactly what had happened. I was also really happy with the ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

GoodReads Summary:
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Final GirlsReview:
Final Girls follows Quincy who is the most recent ‘final girl.’ Ten years later, she mostly has her life under control, but she still doesn’t remember most of what happened the night her closest friends were murdered. She currently works from home, baking for her popular blog (yes you can expect a Books & Baking post from this book). She lives with her boyfriend, Jeff. She has a pretty good life. But when Lisa, the first final girl, is found dead things start to change. Sam (final girl number two) shows up on Quincy’s doorstep and upends her life.
I liked Quincy for the most part. It was clear that she wasn’t actually okay and Sam brought out the worst parts of her. I liked that she had coping mechanisms, but they’re not working. I also wasn’t totally invested in her relationship with Jeff. He was mostly supportive but I just didn’t care about them. When Quincy starts to remember bits and pieces of what happened that night is when the story really gets interesting.
Overall, this story was a wild ride. Quincy does things that she probably never would have without Sam’s influence, but it also teaches her about herself. She learns that she is not as alright about her past as she thought she was. She’s also remembering what really happened that night, remembering things that changes everything. The ending of this book is not one that I saw coming (though I think others might have). I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author. This is a great one for the spooky season because it’s a little bit confusing, but also pretty dark.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

GoodReads Summary:
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.
The Death of Mrs. WestawayReview:
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is one of the last couple of mystery/thrillers that was on my TBR. I’ve been on a thriller kick this October so that I can clear out the books that have been sitting on my shelves for entirely too long (and so that I can start collecting new ones for 2021 spooky season). Ware’s books have been hit or miss for me, so I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy this or not despite being pretty interested in the synopsis.
I will start by saying that I totally guessed a part of this story pretty early on. I developed lots of theories and dismissed them just as often. This story was a really great one to guess what the truth really was. I liked Hal. I could understand the choices she made and why she made them. I probably would have done the same thing in her position. But I did find myself wanting her to just tell her new family members the truth. She did eventually tell the truth, which is when things got a little wild.
Overall, this story wasn’t super fast paced, but the suspense made it enjoyable. The desire to get answers to the questions that I had pushed me through the slower parts of the story. I think the ending was completely unexpected and a big part of the reason why I enjoyed this story so much. I never could have guessed the truth behind what was really going on. I thought this was a pretty good mystery and I would definitely recommend it for an October read.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

GoodReads Summary:
You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.
You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.
Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.
You Are Not AloneReview:
What a wild ride this book was. I have to start by sending a thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this book. There were parts that were kind of confusing because there were so many characters. Let me explain. We start by meeting Shay. She witnesses a woman, Amanda, kill herself via jumping in front of a train. Shay is understandable thrown by this and through a series of events, meets Amanda’s friends. Enter the Moore sisters. The most interesting thing with this book was that I liked all of the characters. I understood and even cheered for their actions at times. But as the story went on things got darker and it was an uncomfortable feeling to have once cheered for the things these sisters did. Along with the Moore sisters, there were a few others in their friend group. Once we start to meet them, the chapters start to jump around in time to explain how these friends met the Moore sisters. This was where it was confusing. Trying to remember all of the names and the origin story of each of these women was a lot. This was a pretty short book, so to be given so much information about characters whose story would quickly be over was too much. I liked the chapters of Amanda’s final days that were included, but I think the history of the other friends could have just been explained in the Moore sister’s chapters.
This book was fast-paced and compelling. I liked all of the characters and really came to love Shay. I loved that Shay figured out what was going on before it was too late. I liked that the authors made the Moore sisters so likable that when their true colors were shown it was uncomfortable for me as the reader. I’m always impressed by this author duo and You Are Not Alone was no exception.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.