REVIEW: THE LAST HOUSE GUEST, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

 
Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.

Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her.

In The Last House Guest, we follow a story that takes us back and forth in time, from a fatal party in the summer of 2017 to the present. Each time the story circles forward, we learn more tidbits. As if we bring fresh eyes to the scene.

I liked watching Avery as she pieces things together, circling through events and clues like the detectives who know that “follow the money” will take us where we need to go.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, we leaped to a final reveal that shone a bright light on the corruption in small town life. 5 stars.

***

LET’S SPARK SOME INTRIGUE: WAITING ON “AFTER SHE’S GONE”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Every week, we gather around the blogosphere and search out the upcoming book releases, sharing our thoughts and blurbs. 

Today’s featured book is a thriller from an author I’ve enjoyed in the past: After She’s Gone, by Lisa Jackson, is a story about the deep bond between two sisters and their shared dream that becomes a harrowing nightmare of madness, hatred and jealousy…The book will be released on December 29, 2015.

 

 

41moyvgARvL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Cassie Kramer and her younger sister, Allie, learned the hazards of fame long ago. Together, they’d survived the horror of a crazed fan who nearly killed their mother, former Hollywood actress Jenna Hughes. Still, Cassie moved to L.A., urging Allie to follow. As a team, they’d take the town by storm.  But Allie, finally free of small-town Oregon, and just that little bit more beautiful, also proved to be more talented—and driven. Where Cassie got bit parts, Allie rose to stardom. But now her body double has been shot on the set of her latest movie—and Allie is missing.

Police discover that the last call to Allie’s phone came from Cassie, though she has no recollection of making it. Instead of looking like a concerned relative, Cassie is starting to look like a suspect—the jealous sister who finally grew sick of playing a supporting role. As the tabloids go into a frenzy, Cassie ends up on a Portland psych ward. Is she just imagining the sinister figure who comes to her bedside, whispering about Allie—a visitor of whom there is no record? Is someone trying to help—or drive her mad?

Convinced she’s the only one who can find Allie, Cassie checks herself out of the hospital. But a sudden slew of macabre murders— each victim masked with a likeness of a member of Cassie’s family—makes Cassie fear for her safety and her sanity. The only way to end the nightmare is to find out what really happened to Allie. And with each discovery, Cassie realizes that no one can be trusted to keep her safe—least of all herself…

***

What do you think?  Does the blurb grab you?  Are you as eager as I am to turn these pages?

***

FRIDAY SPARKS: BOOK BEGINNINGS/FRIDAY 56 – “CROOKED RIVER”

4-30-curlupandread-001-framed-book-beginnings2friday 56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s featured book is an ARC from Amazon Vine:  Crooked River, by Valerie Geary.

 

 

20663102

 

 

Beginning:  (Sam)

We found the woman floating facedown in an eddy where Crooked River made a slow bend north, just a stone skip away from the best swimming hole this side of anywhere.  Her emerald green blouse was torn half open and her dark, pleated skirt was bunched around her waist, revealing skin puckered and gray, legs bloated and bruised.  Her hair writhed like black snakes in the current.

***

56:  I was halfway up the ladder when he (Bear) said, “Did everything go okay with Deputy Santos today?”

I missed the next rung and almost slipped off.  I balanced, found my footing again, and kept climbing.

***

Blurb:  With the inventiveness and emotional power of Promise Not to Tell, The Death of Bees, and After Her, a powerful literary debut about family and friendship, good and evil, grief and forgiveness.

He is not evil. I am not good.

We are the same: broken and put back together again.

Still grieving the sudden death of their mother, Sam and her younger sister Ollie McAlister move from the comforts of Eugene to rural Oregon to live in a meadow in a teepee under the stars with Bear, their beekeeper father. But soon after they arrive, a young woman is found dead floating in Crooked River, and the police arrest their eccentric father for the murder.

Fifteen-year-old Sam knows that Bear is not a killer, even though the evidence points to his guilt. Unwilling to accept that her father could have hurt anyone, Sam embarks on a desperate hunt to save him and keep her damaged family together.

I see things no one else does.

I see them there and wish I didn’t. I want to tell and can’t.

Ollie, too, knows that Bear is innocent. The Shimmering have told her so. One followed her home from her mom’s funeral and refuses to leave. Now, another is following Sam. Both spirits warn Ollie: the real killer is out there, closer and more dangerous than either girl can imagine.

Told in Sam and Ollie’s vibrant voices, Crooked River is a family story, a coming of age story, a ghost story, and a psychological mystery that will touch reader’s hearts and keep them gripped until the final thrilling page.

***

What do you think?  Do these excerpts grab you?  Intrigue you?  I know that I am eager to read this book.  I hope you’ll stop by and chat.

***

FRIDAY SPARKS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — KIND OF CRUEL — MAY 31

4-30-curlupandread-001-framed-book-beginnings2friday 56

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s feature is an ARC of Kind of Cruel, by Sophie Hannah.

16171235

Beginning:  Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Amber:  Look:  there is nothing special about this place.  Look at the gaps between the bricks in the gateposts, where the pointing has fallen out.  Look at the ugly UPVC window frames.  This is not a place where miracles happen.

***

56:  The notebook wouldn’t stay open at first.  Simon had to bend the covers right back.  “You all know Charlie’s handwriting,” he said.  “Those of you who can be bothered to look can see it’s her writing.”

***

Amazon Blurb:  “Kind, cruel, kind of cruel.” Amber thinks it’s just nonsense, a side effect of being hypnotized for the first time. But when she’s arrested for a brutal murder two hours later, those four words are the key to clearing her name… if only she could remember where she’d seen them.

Amber Hewerdine suffers from chronic insomnia. As a last resort, she visits a hypnotherapist, doubtful that anything will really change. Under hypnosis, Amber hears herself saying, “Kind, cruel, kind of cruel.” The words awaken a vague memory, but she dismisses the whole episode as nonsense. Two hours later, however, Amber is arrested for the brutal murder of a woman she’s never heard of, and the only way she can clear her name is by remembering exactly where she’s seen those words.

Kind of Cruel
is the latest page-turner in Hannah’s Zailer and Waterhouse mystery series, and will enthrall Hannah’s ever-growing readership.
***
I love this series!  Can’t wait to dive in….what are you spotlighting today?

PREDICTABLE MURDER ROMP….

The other day, I was thinking about movies I’ve enjoyed over the years, and thought of this film starring Burt Reynolds and Theresa Russell—from the late 80s.

Physical Evidence was a flick that I thought would be fun to see again.  And it was.

My favorite parts were the interactions between the characters.  Theresa Russell portrayed a defense attorney named Jennifer Hudson, while Burt Reynolds was Joe Paris, the cop on trial for murder.

Watching the growing attraction between these characters as they tried to solve the case (in between trial scenes) was fun, if a bit predictable.

The movie was set in Boston, so I also enjoyed the street scenes, as well as the interiors of some really gorgeous homes, like the loft where Theresa Russell’s character lived with her very annoying fiance, who was materialistic and a bit of an obsessive-compulsive snob.

Lots of action, some violence, and a few thrill scenes, especially toward the end—all added up to a so-so movie that I’ll probably watch again, but it certainly wasn’t one of my favorites.  Not like I thought it would be, since back in the eighties I obviously had different tastes.

However, I decided that it deserved three stars.