Book Review: Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

I love Ruth Ware. I think she is an amazing writer. I wish she had more books than I could greedily read with a crazy fury. The first of her books that I read was The Woman in Cabin 10. WOW. What a book. I quickly followed with In A Dark, Dark Wood, which was really good too. Then I read The Lying Game, which was pretty good. It is my least favorite, but still good. I just read her latest book The Death of Mrs. Westaway and it was fantastic!

Image result for Death of Mrs. Westaway

Harriet (Hal) Westaway has had a tough life. She grew up with a single mother who read tarot cards on the touristy pier. And when her mother died in a hit and run accident three years ago, Hal had to drop out of school and take over her mother’s business. She is avoiding a loan shark and barely making ends meet. And she has no one to turn to for help – no family, no close friends, no one. Then one day, her luck seems to turn around. She receives a mysterious letter saying that her grandmother had died and she might be receiving some inheritance.

The only problem is that Hal’s grandparents died long before she was ever born. But out of desperation, Hal decided to go to the funeral and use her people reading skills as a way to possibly convince the family that she is in fact the long-lost granddaughter.

Once at the large, old estate that was Mrs. Westaway’s, Hal realized that something is very wrong with the entire situation. And Hal decides she must figure out what is really going on.

This was a GREAT book. It was super creepy (so perfect for this time of year with Halloween coming up!). It takes place in England (as all of Ruth Ware’s books do), in freezing Cornwall. The entire setting gave me chills. And the writing is excellent. It was really crazy because all thrillers should be crazy. And really hard to put down.

Have you read The Death of Mrs. Westaway? If so what did you think? If not, you should absolutely add it to your reading list!

Book Review: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

I chose two books for my September book of the month picks – Fashion Victim and Cross Her Heart. I was not a fan at all of Fashion Victim (I don’t ever review books I don’t like, but since it was one of my BOTM picks, I thought I would just mention it briefly), but I really enjoyed Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough. It is a super dark thriller.

Image result for Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Lisa is a single mother who lives a very quiet life. Her entire world revolves around her 16-year-old daughter Ava. And she has a best friend Marilyn, who is also her co-worker. All Lisa wants to do is protect herself and her daughter from the outside world, because Lisa’s life is a lie. But when a handsome client shows interest in her, she allows herself to dream about what could be and letting her guard down just a bit.

Ava is 16, and she wants her mother to stop smothering her. Her mother is always hovering, asking where she has been, what she is doing, who she was with. Ava just wants to be a normal teenager. Luckily for Ava, she has three best friends who help her to escape her mother. And while her mother has secrets from Ava, Ava has secrets that she is keeping from her mother as well.

Suddenly, Lisa’s world comes crashing down when Ava rescues a boy who was drowning in the river and their pictures are in the newspaper. Lisa’s life is exposed, and she is left trying to figure out who she can trust, and how to survive.

This book was so good. It was really dark – I feel like I really need to stress that it was dark – and really psychological. It was also pretty creepy and somewhat disturbing. I don’t want to say why it was disturbing because I feel like it will give some of it away but let’s just go with this is not a light read at all and you need to mentally prepare yourself. I loved that I didn’t see the end coming. Like you think you know but then you don’t.

With that being said, if you like crazy thrillers that are super psychological, Cross Her Heart is definitely for you! I really enjoyed it (apparently I like disturbing?). Another win for Book of the Month!

If you want to know more about Book of the Month (which I highly recommend), I wrote about my first month here. And you can get a free book if you use this link and use code SUGARHIGH.

Book Review: Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

I recently finished Tell Me Lies, which is the first book by author Carola Lovering, and let me tell you – this book was crazy. It bordered on disturbing because one of the main characters is such a piece of work.

Paperback Tell Me Lies Book

Lucy first meets Stephen at the beginning of her freshman in college in California. Lucy wanted to get as far away as possible from her life on the East coast and her mother, who she cannot forgive for her betrayal which she can’t talk about with anyone. Stephen isn’t the most handsome or has the best body, but he is confident, charming, and complicated, and Lucy is drawn to him in a way that she doesn’t understand. Stephen is also from the East coast, not far from where Lucy grew up and is also trying to forget about his past life. Although she turns down his initial offers, eventually she gives in to his charm.

The two date off and on throughout Lucy’s time in college (and beyond), and although Lucy knows there is something about Stephen that she can’t trust, she also is unable to stay away from him and is drawn deeper and deeper into his trap.

The book alternates between Lucy and Stephen’s perspectives and follows their story from the beginning of Lucy’s college days to a few years post-graduation.

This book was really crazy. It is really psychological, but not in a thriller sort of way. It is interesting because you always read & watch movies about great relationships – the ones that end with happily ever after, the great romances. But what about the ones that don’t? And what about the really unhealthy ones? Lucy and Stephen’s relationship is really unhealthy – in fact, I would call it toxic.

The author did such a good job writing Stephen’s point of view! I loved to hate him. and I just wanted to scream at the book, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING??” so many times. I think that if you find yourself wanting to scream and slap a character in a book, then the author has really done her or his job.

So, have you read Tell Me Lies? If yes, what did you think? If not, you should definitely add it to your to read list!

Book Review: The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told is one of two books I got for my October Book of the Month (the second one was The Clockmaker’s Daughter, which I am reading now). This was a super crazy thriller by Camilla Way. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Image result for The Lies We Told

The Lies We Told follows two different storylines. The first storyline follows Beth beginning in the 1980s. She and her husband have a daughter, Hannah, but there is something very not right about her. In fact, she scares them a bit. She seems to have no emotion and delights in hurting others.

The other storyline follows Clara. She lives in London with her boyfriend Luke. When the book starts, Luke has not come home the night before, but Clara is trying to not be an overly clingy girlfriend. But then he doesn’t show up for work the next day. And he misses an important meeting at work for a promotion. And none of his friends or family have seen or heard from him. On the outside, Luke seems like the perfect guy from the perfect family. But as they begin to look for Luke, it turns out he isn’t so perfect and neither is his family. Lies that were told have put Luke in danger, and there is a race to find him before it is too late.

So I’ve said this before, but I love it when I can’t guess the ending. There were lots of twists and turns, and I had 100 pages left and had absolutely no idea where it was going, which was awesome! Because it was two different storylines, I knew they were going to intersect in some way, but I just couldn’t quite put it together. And it definitely had a major creepy factor to it too.

And let me just say, the opening line of this book I was like WTF!! And was totally hooked. I read it multiple times like DID I READ THAT RIGHT?? This is the second book by Camilla Way, so I am looking forward to reading her first Watching Edie at some point.

Have you read The Lies We Told? If you haven’t, you should definitely add it to your list!

Book Review: Rush by Lisa Patton

A long time ago when I first graduated from college, I worked for a small magazine. It was an exhausting job where I had way too much responsibility and very little help. But one of my favorite parts of the job was that I got to read books, write reviews and sometimes interview the author. This is how I first found out about author Lisa Patton, who is from Memphis (which is where I am from and live 20 minutes from). I read her first book Whistling Dixie in a Nor’eastern and loved it. So I was really excited when my mom told me she had a new book coming out called Rush.


Rush is about what you might expect – sorority rush and it is set at Ole Miss. It is told from three different perspectives. Miss Pearl is the beloved housekeeper at one of the sororities, Alpha Delta Beta. She has worked there for 25 years and considers the girls to be like her own children. The girls come to her when they need advice or someone to talk to, and the parents look to Miss Pearl to take care of their babies when they aren’t there. Cali is a freshman who is hoping to rush. She grew up in a tiny Mississippi town and was raised by her grandparents. She desperately wants to join a sorority, even though she lacks “pedigree” and only has recommendations for a few houses. And if her secret is discovered, she certainly will be dropped from all of the houses. Wilda is the mother of another freshman and a former member of Alpha Delta Beta. She is recruited to join the rush advisory board by Lilith Whitmore, another former member and Wilda’s daughter’s roommate. At first Wilda is excited, but when she realized things that are really going on and what Lilith and her daughter are really like, she regrets getting involved at all.

I really loved the completely different perspectives of the points of view. They really are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but I think it is what makes this book really work and allow the reader to connect better.

Now I enjoyed this book, especially the last third of it. But I am going to be completely honest – I was not in a sorority and therefore a lot of the over the top-ness that goes on about rush in the South just didn’t connect with me. But that isn’t the book, that is me. For a lot of Southern women, being in a sorority is super important. In fact, it is everything. But that just isn’t me.  But I promise there is a lot more to the story than just that. I do know, however, that the over the top, crazy stuff that goes on (think “dorm room designers” that cost thousands and thousands of dollars) are 100% real.

So I definitely think if you live in / are from / went to school in the South and / or you were in a sorority, it is worth the read. It might not resonate quite as much if you don’t fall into any of these categories, however I did really enjoy it and think it is absolutely worth the read.

Have you read Rush? Were you in a sorority in college?

Book Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

For the month of October, I chose two books for my Book of the Month picks (because I honestly have no self-control). The first one was The Lies We Told. And the second one was The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Here is the thing that I really love about Book of the Month – I find myself picking books that I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise and it has really encouraged me to try new types of books. I had seen some things about The Clockmaker’s Daughter coming out, but I would have never bought it if it hadn’t been a book of the month pick. It just wasn’t something that I would normally read, but I am so glad I did! I think maybe this would go under the historical fiction category, but it bounces back and forth between present and past.

The Clockmaker's Daughter

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists decided to spend the summer at Birchwood Manor, a country cottage owned by Edward Ratcliffe, one of the artists. But soon after they arrive, one of the women is murdered, another woman is missing and a precious family jewel is gone.

In present time, Elodie Winslow is an archivist in London, who begins working on a box of items that were forgotten about. In that box was a leather satchel containing a photograph of a woman and a sketchbook.  When she looks at the sketchbook, there is a drawing of an old cottage that is so familiar to her, but she doesn’t quite know why. Elodie makes it her mission to find out who the woman in the photograph is, if and how the satchel, the photograph, and the sketchbook are all connected, and why she feels so connected to the house in the sketch.

This book was so beautifully written. There were several lines that I had to stop and re-read because I loved the way it was written. And there is a LOT to it in more ways than one. There are a lot of different story lines that take place in several different time periods. And I love the way the characters weaved together in some way or another. I will say there are several points of view in this and a lot of characters. BUT stick with it. It will all make sense, I promise.

There is a little bit of everything in this book – mystery, death, romance, arts, theft, passion, loss, grief…

Now one thing I want to note – my mom only likes things that can really happen (books, movies, etc), and there is definitely a … let’s call it a supernatural element to the story. So if you are like my mom, this might not be the book for you.

Have you read The Clockmaker’s Daughter? If not, I highly recommend it!

Book Review: She Was The Quiet One by Michele Campbell

I have always loved books about school, especially high school, which is funny because I hated high school. But there is something about school that makes for a great book (or movie or tv show). When my mom finished She Was the Quiet One by Michelle Campbell, she passed it on to me and I was really excited to read it. And it was SO good. I could not put it down. I am categorizing it as fiction, however, I would say there is are elements of suspense and mystery to it.

She Was The Quiet OneRose and Bel Enright are twin sisters who move in with their wealthy grandmother after their mother passes away. They are quickly shipped off to the prestigious New England boarding school Odell, where their father also attended as a teen. The twins couldn’t be more different. Rose is excited about boarding school – she loves school and is the rule follower. Bel is not looking forward to boarding school – she is the rule breaker. And the school only brings out their differences more.

Bel quickly falls in with the bad crowd – a group of wild seniors who take Bel under their wing. Rose objects to Bel’s new friends, and their relationship becomes more and more strained until an event occurs that blows their relationship up.

The book is told from each of the twin’s perspectives, as well as Sarah Donovan, who is a teacher at Odell and is married to another teacher Heath. Heath is extremely handsome and desperate to rise to success at Odell. Sarah is trying to support her husband but worries about what it will do to their family and how far her husband will go to achieve success.

At the beginning of the book, you know that one of the twins is dead, and it is believed that the other one killed her sister. But you don’t know which one. And so much happens, it could really be either. There are so many twists and turns in this book, and the end has a really nice twist!

I thoroughly enjoyed this. I honestly read the last several chapters SO fast because I just HAD to know. I am really excited to read her first book It’s Always the Husband soon.

Have you read She Was The Quiet One? If so, what did you think? If not, I definitely recommend it!

Book Review: Mind Without A Home by Kristina Morgan

It’s a Monday and, to top it off, I was up at 5:30 this morning and on my way to the gym, so my brain is basically useless so far today.  I’m going to use the Goodreads description for this one:

In her brutally honest, highly original memoir, Kristina Morgan takes us inside her head to experience the chaos, fragmented thinking, and the startling creativity of the schizophrenic mind. With the intimacy of private journal-like entries and the language of a poet, she carries us from her childhood to her teen years when hallucinations began to hijack her mind and into adulthood where she began abusing alcohol to temper the punishing voices that only she could hear.

I’ve always enjoyed memoirs that deal with mental illness, but I’ve become particularly interested in them as I’ve started playing around with writing a bit myself about depression.  This is obviously a far different beast, but it jumped off the shelf at me as one that would appeal.


I’m torn on how to appropriately review the writing in this one.  On the one hand, it is a remarkable look into the mind of a person with schizophrenia.  It is complex and disjointed, but creative and lyrical as well.  The author does an amazing job of capturing her mental illness and presenting it to the reader as if we were seeing into her mind.  That picture, however, can be difficult to follow and reads, at times, like random strings of words.  While this gives the reader insight into the disease and how it causes the author’s mind to work, it can also be tiresome to read pages of incoherent thought.  In the end, the author accomplishes precisely what she set out to do, but it wasn’t always pleasurable to read.

Entertainment Value

Again, the lack of coherence got to me by the end of the book in terms of overall enjoyment.  I found myself skimming some portions where I just couldn’t follow the author’s train of thought.  That said, the author has a truly amazing story to tell and I’m glad I read it.  Not many people with schizophrenia are able to accomplish what Morgan has, and her story is inspiring and thought-provoking.


I think it’s definitely worth reading, especially if the subject of mental illness or the idea of seeing life from the point of view of someone with a significant mental handicap is of interest.  I think it was well-done and gives a very accurate glimpse into the lives of people who struggle with schizophrenia.

Thank you to TLC for providing me with a copy to review!

Book Review: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Middle Ages people building a cathedral plus political and religious intrigue and suspense. That’s really all you need to know.


This is my first Ken Follett, but it definitely won’t be my last. I was very pleased with the writing, particularly the depth that went into creating the characters and their stories. There’s a lot of architectural detail and, I’m not going to lie, at a certain point I started skimming that. I knew I wouldn’t be able to visualize it without in-depth research and architecture is just not my thing. That said, the real treasure of the book is found in its characters and their interactions with each other. While the plot is certainly important (and not slowly paced), the characters just shine so brightly it’s hard to focus on anything else.

Entertainment Value

This goes on the “couldn’t put it down” list for me. I read it for hours on end – and it’ll take hours on end because it’s approximately 1000 pages long. As long as it is, I never once felt like it needed to be cut short in any way. Even the lengthy descriptions of architecture (that I somewhat skimmed) felt like they belonged in the story. The only time I felt compelled to put it down was when I was too physically tense to keep reading or when I was crying too hard to see the pages.


Yes, yes, yes. Read this book. I’d give it a comparison to Game of Thrones in setting, characterization, and intrigue, but sans dragons and magic. You’ll be seeing this on my best of the year list for absolute sure. I’ve got the next one already lined up on my Kindle waiting to be read!

Ok so there’s a much more detailed description of the book that you can get if you click on the Goodreads link, but I’m just putting what I knew about the book going into it here because I think that’s the best way to do it.

Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.