Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing this but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Last week I mentioned that I was pressing on with my SPFBO finalists and those plans managed to stay on track.  I completed the book I was reading and also managed to fit in another SPFBO book which means I’m now at the halfway point. In review books I read The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley which I really enjoyed and already reviewed earlier this week.  I also read Gallant by VE Schwab and my review for that one shall be posted soon.  I do have some catching up to do.  I’ve not been responding to comments and I’ve not been keeping up with my buddy read or blog hopping – I thought I had to push on with my SPFBO and make some headway and also I can’t deny that recent ‘world events’ have definitely had a very negative impact.  I won’t go into that on here though.

Books read this week:

Next Week’s Reads:

I shall of course be starting another SPFBO book.  I’ve started Sundial by Catriona Ward and I’m also hoping to pick up Last Exit by Max Gladstone.

  1. The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn
  2. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Outstanding reviews:

Gallant by VE Schwab

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Posted On 24 February 2022

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Lucy Foley Does It Again

TheParisA

This is my third read by this author and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed all three.  I would say before I start this review that this book had a slightly different feel to the previous two.  Still, effectively a locked room mystery with plenty of potential suspects but this one had a slightly different tone. I’m trying to put my finger on why this one feels slightly different but it’s eluding me somehow.  I think possibly because the mystery does have outside influences that broaden the story a little and it definitely moves into some much deeper territory along the way.

To quote the description “The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.”

I won’t over elaborate on the plot.  As we begin we meet Jess who has travelled to Paris to stay with her half-brother Ben.  Jess is going through a bad patch and although Ben isn’t enamoured with the idea of her coming to stay blood is thicker than water and he reluctantly agrees.  However, when Jess arrives, her brother is mysteriously absent and the rest of the residents in the apartment building are less than welcoming or forthcoming as to his whereabouts.  As Ben’s disappearing act lengthens Jess becomes increasingly anxious to track him down revealing potentially dangerous secrets as she digs into the other residents.

A little background. Jess and Ben’s mum died while they were both children leading to care and foster parents.  Ben was lucky enough to be adopted fairly quickly which led to their lives taking completely different turns.  Ben had much more opportunity, was well educated and eventually went into journalism.  Jess, traumatised by an event from her past had a more difficult upbringing and her job opportunities were not as forthcoming.  The two still share a strong bond though and this helps to drive the storyline in terms of Jess’s determination to find Ben.

I really liked the setting.  Of course, Paris, but more specifically the once ever so grand but now slightly dilapidated apartment building.  I loved this place and it really lends itself to the whole creepy atmosphere.  Once a stylish house the place is in desperate need of some TLC but this lack of care leads to some great plus points for the setting.  An old, metal cage style lift.  Stylish, if slightly dated apartments with high ceilings and plenty of period charm.  There’s a penthouse with access to a terrace.  An old wine cellar in the basement, the lights in the public areas are motion triggered and frequently time out leaving our main character standing in the dark (at the most inopportune moments), there’s an attic where the servants used to sleep and at least one hidden passageway.  On top of this we do travel beyond the confines of the apartment building as the mystery is ramped up.

The characters themselves.  Well, I think the supporting cast are a little bit ‘hammed’ up but in a way that I really couldn’t help liking.  Everyone is hiding something and there’s a deal of sneaking about and whispering behind closed doors.  I actually really liked Jess.  Her upbringing has definitely hardened her up somewhat and whilst, at first, she comes across as maybe a little bit brash, it’s this unabashed shamelessness that helps her to poke and pry where others would perhaps fear to tread.  She frequently creeps around looking for clues and I was often a bunch of nerves waiting for her to be caught red-handed.

The writing is easy to get along with.  As with her previous novels Foley manages to give you an easy feel for the people and place. Her style is definitely what I would call ‘reader friendly’ and she manages to provide enough information about the characters and setting without going overboard with descriptions. We jump back in time every now and again to catch glimpses of not only Ben and Jess as children but also to look at the other characters and how they eventually became involved in the mystery.

Overall, I had a good time with The Paris Apartment.  It definitely moves into slightly different territory than the past two books I’ve read with the themes involved but it still manages to retain that certain ‘feel’ that a locked room mystery usually provides.  It held plenty of intrigue, there were some moments where I was reading and holding my breath and yet on the whole this doesn’t become too overwhelmingly dark or ‘real’ and I think it’s this element of not taking itself too seriously that I really enjoyed.  On top of which short paragraphs and ever increasing tension definitely gave this one some great pacing and kept the pages turning.  This is definitely the type of book where you repeatedly say to yourself ‘oh, just one more chapter’ before realising you’re into the early hours.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Posted On 22 September 2021

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Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley – because I’ve loved her last two books and can’t wait to read more.  Here’s the description:

TheParisApartmentJess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

Expected publication : February 2022

December Countdown, Day 8 : Baubles

December book meme (details here). Baubles – these add some colour, a very colourful and striking cover :

HuntingParty

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Posted On 20 February 2020

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TheGuestlistAround the end of 2018 I picked up The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and really enjoyed it (my review is here)- so much so that when I saw The Guest List was due to be published this month I nearly had a conniption rushing to request a copy.  And I was so lucky to be approved that I positively danced a little victory dance.  Okay, I did dance that dance but I refuse to be shamed by it.  I was a happy reader (having a request approved just never gets old for me and always amazes and delights me in equal measure).

So, the Guest List.  Did it live up to my high expectations?  It most certainly did, in fact I think it surpassed them in some ways and if pushed I’d probably say I liked it even more than The Hunting Party (more victory dancing).  Foley has a fantastic way of taking a group of characters and really bringing them to life.  She seems an expert in creating murder mysteries where everyone has something to hide and I’m simply loving her work (no pressure at all there then).

This is a story that definitely has Christie vibes.  Here we have a group of people assembling on a remote island to enjoy a wedding.  It should be a joyous occasion (although we all know how disastrously these little get togethers can be, people who haven’t met for years with old grudges coming out of the woodwork).  The setting is very remote – this is a tiny island off the coast of Ireland accessible only by boat.  Of course, in true murder mystery fashion the weather is not going to co-operate and what starts off as a bright and sunny day soon looks like a different kettle of fish as stormy clouds gather on the horizon and as the weather changes so does the mood of the guests and there’s this terrible tension before things go horribly wrong.

Okay, this shares a lot of themes with The Hunting Party – but they’re such good themes that they work.  The isolated setting.  The meeting up of a group of people, all with their own secrets and motives and the eventual discovery of a body that for a while is part of the mystery itself as the identity is not immediately revealed.

The story is told in two timelines, ‘Now’ and ‘The Day Before’ and has five different POVs.  Now, to be clear, this may sound like a lot of jumping around and lots of names to remember, but Foley has made it all deceptively simple by not only clearly heading each chapter but also by giving people relevant titles so we have The Bride, The Bridesmaid, The Plus One, The Wedding Planner and the Best Man.

The wedding itself is a big posh celebrity affair.  The Groom is an up and coming star who is the leading man in a successful survival show.  The bride is the owner of a very popular online magazine that sets trends and dictates fashion ‘must haves’.  Of course the two are going to have a lavish affair that showcases their beauty, success and taste and the wedding has been planned down to the finest detail (although the murderer has a different agenda).

I will say that if you plan on reading this you need to be aware that some of the characters are a little unlikeable – although as you get to know them you start to get a deeper understanding of their own personal drivers.  The bride for example.  A little (a lot) vain, desperately needs to be in control and ensure that everything is perfect and she comes across as a little cold and calculating.  She does reveal a different side as the story progresses though so be patient.  The groom, who doesn’t have his own POV chapter but we see through the other pov’s eyes.  So dazzlingly attractive that he stops most people in their tracks, charming and able to smile his way into anybody’s good books.  What the groom shares with both his Best Man and Ushers is a past.  They all attended a top notch private school for the privileged and most of them have been incredibly successful as a result.  Foley does an excellent job of portraying these characters and their bully-boy ways painting them in rather aggressive or patronising tones dependent upon who they’re trying to curry favour with or belittle.  The bridesmaid (and younger sister to the bride) has experienced some sort of trauma in her past that has made her retreat into herself.  She has withdrawn to a dark and lonely place and finds it difficult to connect to anyone.  Basically, I’m not going to give a description for everyone as these people are best discovered during the read.  Suffice to say that there are a lot of secrets here and they will all be revealed in a most deliciously startling and jaw dropping fashion.

The setting is great and really plays into the story.  Here you have a tiny island, only two miles long and a fraction of that in width.  Very little wifi signal and no residents other than the owners of the wedding venue.  There are beautiful, sheltered, white sandy coves with sparkling turquoise waters.  The old house has been renovated to perfection and outside stands the remains of a chapel – open to the elements – where the wedding will take place.  It all sounds simply superb.  Of course, the sunshine has a way of beautifying everything doesn’t it.  Roll in the stony skies and the seas crashing against the rocks and the cliffs and bogs take on a more threatening demeanour, especially with all the rumours of ghosts running amok and the dodgy electrics going out at the most inopportune times.

The pacing is brilliant and I love the way Foley writes.  She puts me very much in mind of DuMaurier with the easy way she brings her characters and settings to life.  I had a difficult time putting this down and was always anxious to sit back down and pick up where I left off.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this isn’t a particularly long book and there is plenty fitted into the available pages.  I guess this could have been expanded slightly to help develop some of the characters at a slower pace, for example, the bride and groom – I wasn’t totally convinced by their relationship.  They were definitely in lust with each other but I couldn’t quite understand why they’d decided to marry.  The ending in particular feels almost over a little too quickly – but, I think that’s just me being greedy for more.   This is a two day event and fittingly I actually devoured it in the same time frame.

I highly recommend The Guest List.  If you like mysteries with lots of secrets then you really can’t go wrong with this one.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5 of 5 stars

 

 

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