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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 30 books. 30% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

27 / 51 books. 53% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

21 / 25 books. 84% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

34 / 50 books. 68% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

41 / 52 books. 79% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

17 / 40 books. 43% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

19 / 25 books. 76% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

59 / 109 books. 54% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Highly Anticipated 2021 Release a Disappointing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When her documentary becomes instrumental in freeing a man she feels was wrongfully convicted of murder, filmmaker Tessa Shepherd is thrilled.  She spent countless hours interviewing Oliver Barlow, even coming to think of him as a friend.  Tessa believes—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that he's innocent, a victim of bungled policework.  After fourteen years in prison, Oliver Barlow can finally return to his wife and kids.  And he has Tessa to thank.

Eighteen months later, Tessa is shocked when Oliver posts a video online.  In it, he confesses that he has kidnapped a young woman and plans to kill her.  It's not long before a stunned Tessa is being vilified by the outraged public, all of them wondering how she could have been hoodwinked by a monster like Oliver.  When he mentions her name in a subsequent video, Tessa feels not just trapped but also hunted.  After the will of her recently deceased mother reveals that Tessa and her sister have inherited an old family home they didn't know existed, she decides to hide at Fallbrook.  The crumbling mansion is the site of an old, mysterious tragedy.  Now, it's inhabited only by ghosts.  Its elderly caretakers know what really happened there, but they're not talking.  Tessa is determined to unearth Fallbrook's secrets, no matter what it takes.  What went on in the isolated home?  What are the caretakers hiding?  Tessa has always been adept at reading people, but she was oh so very wrong about Oliver ...

As you can tell from the plot summary, there's a lot going on in The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell.  I went into the book thinking it would be an intriguing family drama with a little mystery thrown in along with a lot of creepy Gothic atmosphere.  So, I was a bit confused when the story seemed to center more on Tessa's investigation of Oliver Barlow.  Frankly, I cared little about anything happening in her present; my interest was in Fallbrook.  Unfortunately, Maxwell just couldn't seem to decide whether she was writing a cat-and-mouse mystery/thriller or a spooky drama/ghost story.  The mash-up didn't work for me.  The Caretakers ended up feeling unfocused, melodramatic, and weirdly paced.  I still whipped through the novel in a day because I wanted to see what would happen next, but overall, the tale felt dissatisfying to me.  This was one of my most highly anticipated novels of 2021, so I'm bummed.

(Readalikes:  The Gothic-y bits remind me of novels by Carol Goodman and Emily Carpenter)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (two F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Caretakers from the generous folks at Lake Union Publishing via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

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Zero Days by Ruth Ware


Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen

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