Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

OUT june 2nd 2020! Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

From Amazon

♥♥♥♥ (4 stars)

Friends, family, and loved ones gather on a remote island off the coast of Ireland to celebrate the marriage of a perfect couple. In fact, all anyone seems to be able to talk or think about is how good Jules and Will look standing next to each other. And they do seem a perfect match. He, a reality TV personality, the star of his own survival show. She, the founder and CEO of a successful blog and lifestyle brand. But when tragedy hits on their wedding day, one is left to wonder if looks are in fact deceiving.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley is an exciting thriller told both in split narrative and split timeline. Chapters alternate from perspective to perspective, and readers are treated to the thoughts of the bride, several wedding party members, wedding guests, and the wedding planner. The story jumps back and forth in time during the wedding weekend on the island, as Foley expertly reveals tantalizing bits of information little by little. She likes to take her time with the reveals, which only adds to the delicious suspense. Readers are also treated to multiple flashbacks from several of the characters. Foley’s The Hunting Party follows a similar structure, so if you’ve read that and enjoyed it you will most likely enjoy The Guest List as well.

Foley excels at weaving a good mystery, drawing us in, leading us astray, only to shock with a juicy reveal that changes everything. While some of her twists were predictable, some were genuinely a surprise! And even those that felt obvious were still exciting to follow, thanks to Foley’s skill with suspense. Her characters are created with true humanity and feel very real, their actions believable. What happens when you feel like you don’t belong? When you already doubt yourself, and then someone takes advantage of your insecurity? How much harm can be done, and what are the ripple effects? This book examines the tensions between classes and ‘boys just being boys’. It will inflame your rage and satisfy your thirst for vengeance.

And can I just take a second to discuss this SETTING!? Talk about setting as a character. Treacherous cliffs, deadly tides, quietly fatal bogs, winds that threaten to rip you apart. In both The Guest List and The Hunting Party, Foley selects settings that are both stunning and brutal. Nature alone would kill you in these places, but their beauty is so enticing. This is just like how I would imagine a siren to be. The island itself is so dangerous and holds so much death, grief, and history that you can never quite count it out as the perpetrator.

This was a fast-paced, plot-driven, wild ride full of twists and turns! Like many people, I’m finding it hard to focus on reading right now. My attention span is all over the place. But reading The Guest List was so much fun and proved to be a welcome delight and distraction from the stress of life right now. It swept me up and kept me entertained. If you are likewise struggling to focus, I highly recommend picking up this new release.

The summary of The Guest List on Goodreads describes it as an update of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, which I think is an excellent comparison. Make no mistake, Foley is the Christie of our time.

 

 

The Shameful Book Club: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

December’s genre is mystery, my personal favorite. I paired it up with December because it’s usually a cold and stressful time with the holidays and the winter and such, so I figured I should be allowed to treat myself to my favorite genre in the midst of unpleasantness. I picked The Murder of Roger Ackroyd because it is arguably Agatha Christie’s best novel, and I, as a massive Christie fan, had not yet read it. I actually haven’t read as much Christie as one would think. I can count on one had the number of novels and novella’s I’ve tackled, so I personally find that rather shameful.

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Me and a real cool dude on Halloween. I am Agatha Christie, holding her book Halowe’en Party, at a Halloween party.

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Annd a close up. The only thing I can explain in this picture is that I deliberately drew age lines on my face so I look old.

I was very excited to finally get to Ackroyd. I’ve seen it appear on tons of lists like “Top 5 Biggest Twist Endings of All Time” and “Novels That Will Make Your Head Spin So Hard It Will Pop Right Off You’ve Been Warned”. And a coworker of mine, who actually hates this kind of old-school Scooby Doo novel, told me she really enjoyed Ackroyd because of it’s unique twist. I was very successful in avoiding spoilers and could not wait to try to guess who committed the crime, which I did at around page 133. I was very proud of myself.

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The Shameful Book Club: Mystery Novel Update

Not to get ahead of myself, but I might actually finish all my books for this season’s challenge. I might even finish the bonus books as well! Last month I read three of my six mystery novels for Spring. A bit of mystery and intrigue was the perfect way to welcome the warm air and sunshine back into my life. Yes, murder and 70-degree temperatures really brighten my mood. My first batch here were all older and all written by women. They range in tone, mystery style, and types of characters.

BA28X1_MEDFirst up for me was The Circular Staircase, which is the oldest novel on my list (1908) and also one of the funniest. Rachel Innes, an old spinster, plans to spend an extended vacation in the country with her niece and nephew, Gertrude and Halsey, in a lovely house they’ve rented in the country. The first night of her stay, she deals with a trespasser trying to break into the house and a strange noise that sounds like something large falling down a circular staircase at one end of the house. The next night there is an unexplained murder near the same stairs, and a body is discovered. This throws the family into a whirlwind of trouble. First Halsey is a suspect, then his friend that was visiting with them that evening, then almost everyone in the town! The pieces of the puzzle are so intricate and intertwined, that it was very hard for me to guess most of solution until rather close to the end of the book. There are several overlapping narratives at play and they just happened to coincide in a perfect storm. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, she’s one of the first originators of the “if I had only known” style of mystery, and if Rachel had only known one or two pieces of this puzzle, she would have probably been able to solve it much quicker.

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The Shameful Book Club: Mystery Novels for Spring

magnifying-glasMystery novels — my favorite! My selections for this Spring’s reading challenge are by far the most random, but I think they will compliment each other well. I put together a healthy mix of classic and contemporary detective and mystery novels from writers I love and writers I’ve never read. There are six core novels and then three bonus novels on this list. But since these are fast-paced, exciting, and usually short books, I hope I’ll be able to get through at least the majority of them in the March-June timeline. I don’t have the greatest track record, however.

As usual, there are some books on this list that are embarrassing for me to admit that I haven’t read them yet, but that is the entire reason for the Shameful Book Club. If you have read any of these already, let me know what you think of them. And if you have a good mystery series that you think I should pick up, let me know! If mysteries aren’t really your thing, take this as an opportunity to give them a try. Otherwise, I’ll be doing science fiction novels in the summer. I hope you guys participate with me this season. It’s going to be a thrilling thaw.

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