BOOK REVIEW: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Taking place between 1950 and present day, Evelyn Hugo, which we’ll call it for short, tells the story of the beautiful titular movie star who, throughout her long and complicated career and seven marriages, hides a secret that could destroy her. In the twilight of her life she enlists a 35-year-old journalist to tell her story, and finally admits to the things she’s been hiding.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Hal Westaway, an orphaned fortune teller from Brighton, receives a letter in the mail informing her she is eligible to claim a significant sum of money from her dead grandmother’s will. The notice comes with perfect timing: Hal owes money to a rather unsavory group of people and is desperate to pay off her debts and get on with her life. The only problem is that the Mrs. Westaway mentioned in the notice is not, in fact, her grandmother.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

The Snowman is a frightening a story: a serial killer is haunting the streets of Oslo and Bergen, snatching women away on the first day of snowfall, and leaving behind nothing but a snowman as a signature. Hole, along with new department addition Katrine Bratt, tracks the killer and becomes so deeply invested in the case that he may not be able to extricate himself.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

In her dreamy, introspective sophomore novel, Karen Thompson Walker takes us into Santa Lora, California, a small college town plagued by a mysterious illness that causes its sufferers to fall into a deep sleep from which they can’t be woken. The Sleepers, as they come to be known, are dreaming, although no one can figure out what it is they dream about.

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[9/50] A Stranger In The House by Shari Lapena

I always get excited about Canadian authors. There are so many amazing Canadian writers out there, and I want to dedicate a part of my 50 book challenge to showcasing their work. Shari Lapena falls into this category. The Toronto-based author has taken off since her first book The Couple Next Door was published. It was a domestic and international bestseller. A Stranger In The House is her much-awaited follow up. Here are two articles, one from MacLean's and the other from Quill & Quire, about Lapena and her work. I definitely recommend giving these a look. Lapena is very accomplished, and it's so nice to see a Canadian author getting such stellar coverage.

After reading The Couple Next Door, I had a good sense of what Lapena is like as a writer. She drops major plot-twists throughout her books. She also relies heavily on unlikable characters - people who are flawed and misdirected and at times downright cruel. A Stranger In The House focused on a few central characters, and I can't say that I really liked any of them. They are definitely not the kind of people that I would want to spend time with. That being said, Lapena pulls off something pretty impressive by writing a book about terrible people and still managing to make it readable.

A Stranger In The House is about Karen Krupp, a New York housewife who is accused of committing a crime that she can't remember committing after suffering from a head injury in a car crash. As the investigation into her deepens, Karen realizes that she is going to have to come clean to her husband about her past and the lies she has told him, all while trying to piece together her whereabouts at the time of the crime.

A Stranger In The House falls into the category of suspense or thriller. At its core it is a murder mystery, but it is also a drama about family, friendship, and lies. At times I felt like the central mystery was a bit too easy for the reader to piece together. It wasn't until the end that I realized that maybe that was the whole point. Lapena draws you in and has you make assumptions and decisions about the characters, and then in the end she finally gives you all of the information you need and you see that you were completely wrong.

I can't honestly say that I loved this book. It was a fun, entertaining read, but I never felt particularly attached to any of the characters. I almost didn't care what the outcome was because I wasn't rooting for anyone. This is the kind of book that would be fun to read on a weekend holiday or during a long car trip because it's pretty straightforward and easy to read. If you're looking for something with more depth and character development, this may not be what you need.

Overall, A Stranger In The House is fun. Ever since I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I have been searching for similar kinds of books. Both of Shari Lapena's books are great for people who like mysteries and thrillers, and I think this is the kind of book that fans of Gone Girl will flock to.

If you liked this you might also like:

- The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

- Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris