The Guest List by Lucy Foley – A Review

The Guest List Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Mystery | Thriller
Published by William Morrow
Released March 19, 2020
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

One of the things that I love about Book of the Month is that the service prompts me to read outside of my comfort zone. I’ve been surprised several times in the past, but with Lisa Foley’s The Guest List, it was the biggest surprise of all.

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Lucy Foley

I don’t care for murder mysteries. I never have. In high school and college I tried several times to read Agatha Christie novels, and always DNF’ed them. Over the years I’ve lost count of how many murder mystery novels I’ve put down unfinished. I like dark, morbid stories, so it would make sense for me to love books like these, but it is what it is.

I went into The Guest List skeptically for just that reason, but within the first fifty pages I was hooked. The dark, moody, Irish atmosphere, the multi-perspective narrative, and the flow of the story pulled me quickly in and kept me engaged until the very last page.

The story takes place on a small island off the coast of Ireland during a high-profile wedding:

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

This is a multi-perspective narrative, which works well for this type of whodunnit story. At the same time though, the number of narratives and characters we follow can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re the type of person who dislikes multiple-perspective novels. We hear from the bride, the bride’s best friend and his wife, and multiple wedding guests. For me personally it worked really well and kept me intrigued, but keep that in mind if you prefer single or dual narrative stories.

I loved the complex relationships between the characters which, aside from being entertaining, also served to heighten the suspense of the story and to keep the pace moving quickly. The groom and his best men have a tight relationship after attending the same school together in their youth, and they’re incredibly caught up in their teenage days. The bride’s best-friend’s wife is suspicious of her husband’s friendship with the bride. The bride’s little sister seems a little off, although no one actually knows why. There are plenty of secrets that come out slowly as we meet and get to know each character, and that’s a large part of why I found the story so intriguing.

I want to say again that I’m not typically a big thriller/murder mystery reader. Lucy Foley’s The Guest List genuinely surprised me. If you like atmospheric mystery novels, and if you want to read a book where the author masterly tells the tale from almost too many perspectives, I 100% recommend this book to you.




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August Book of the Month Unboxing

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I love Book of the Month so much. For August I decided to go a bit crazy (in the most vanilla way possible) and select three books.

If you’re new to Book of the Month, they are an absolutely wonderful monthly book subscription box. Each month, they select five books that you can choose from for $14.99, and you can add up to two additional books for $9.99 each. The books are all new releases and good-quality hardcovers with Book of the Month branding, which I adore.

One of the things that I love the most about Book of the Month is that I’ve consistently been finding titles that are brand new to me, that I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.

If you want to give Book of the Month a try, here’s my link to get you started. Trust me, it’s so freaking worth it.

Here are the three books that I chose for August:


Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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I selected this as my first choice the second that my eyes landed on it, and it’s one of my most highly-anticipated books of the summer. It’s a hate-to-love romance that takes place at a Renaissance Faire. That’s all I need to know.


House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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This book wasn’t even on my radar until I heard Chelsea Palmer raving about it on her YouTube channel. My reading tastes seem to align with hers pretty frequently and the novel also sounds nice and dark, so I’m really looking forward to this one.


One Day in December by Josie Silver

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Book of the Month lets you select their backlisted titles as add-ons until they’re sold out, and that’s what this one is. I’ve had my eye on this romance novel for a hot minute and decided to just go for it. I’ve heard it compared to Love Actually which is my favorite romance movie ever made.



Want to see more hauls?

September Book Haul | Why You Should Shop at Thrift Stores




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If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

The Municipalists by Seth Fried – A Review

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The Municipalists by Seth Fried
Science Fiction
Published by Penguin Books
Released March 19, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

I finished this book on June 1st, and I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. Part of the reason for that is that I simply don’t have very much to say about it. I only mildly enjoyed reading it, and it was overall an average book. The best word I can think of to describe this novel is meh. This review will be short, though, because I started forgetting parts of this book as I was still reading it.

The Municipalists takes place in the near-ish future where people are flocking to huge megacities. One of these cities, Metropolis, is the largest and most populated.

Henry Thompson is an employee of the U.S. Municipal Survey, an agency that works to improve how cities are run. One day, the agency’s AI system, named OWEN, is hacked, and around the same time, the Municipal Survey loses communication with their Metropolis office. Henry is chosen to go undercover in Metropolis to try to learn what’s going on, and he’s given a partner to go with him. The partner is a bit of a surprise, however, as he is the physical, projected embodiment of OWEN.

The book is a humorous, action adventure of a novel, but I felt so bored while reading it. The type of humor reminded me of a novel I read last year that I enjoyed, called Battlestar Suburbia, but The Municipalists felt too forced in most places.

As I was reading the book, I kept forgetting that the main character’s name was Henry. It was bad enough that I would read his name and completely blank on it a page later. That’s an example of how forgetful I found this novel to be.

The first couple of chapters in this book are a perfect example of info-dumping. Everything was presented quickly and with little to no feeling behind it. The inciting event in this novel, which was OWEN being hacked, was written somewhat like an afterthought. I feel like it would have been better for Seth Fried to spend more time on such an important event, but it felt brushed over.

The character of OWEN bothered me immensely. He’s arrogant, drinks like a fish, and seems like such a cliche of every detective story ever. We do find that there’s a reason for that in the novel, but it didn’t change the fact that, of the two main characters, one is annoying and the other utterly forgettable.

Overall, I would recommend skipping The Municipalists. There are much better stories on the market.


Have you read The Municipalists? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!




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May Book of the Month Selections

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Book of the Month is one of my favorite book subscription boxes. Every month, they offer five new releases that you can pick from for just $14.99. If you want to add more than one book, you can add an additional two books per month for just $9.99 each.

If you want to read budget new releases in hardcover, then this is the subscription box for you!

At the moment Book of the Month is only available in the U.S. If you sign up through my Refer-a-Friend link, you and I both get a free book!


My May Picks

This month I went with one of their current books and one of their backlisted titles.

(Synopses courtesy of Goodreads and the publishers)

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The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer

The long-awaited new work from the best-selling author of The Invisible Bridge takes us back to occupied Europe in this gripping historical novel based on the true story of Varian Fry’s extraordinary attempt to save the work, and the lives, of Jewish artists fleeing the Holocaust.

In 1940, Varian Fry–a Harvard educated American journalist–traveled to Marseille carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to rescue within a few weeks. Instead, he ended up staying in France for thirteen months, working under the veil of a legitimate relief organization to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and set up an underground railroad that led over the Pyrenees, into Spain, and finally to Lisbon, where the refugees embarked for safer ports. Among his many clients were Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, André Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall.

The Flight Portfolio opens at the Chagalls’ ancient stone house in Gordes, France, as the novel’s hero desperately tries to persuade them of the barbarism and tragedy descending on Europe. Masterfully crafted, exquisitely written, impossible to put down, this is historical fiction of the very first order, and resounding confirmation of Orringer’s gifts as a novelist.


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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.




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September Book Hauls – Book Outlet & Book of the Month!

I was fortunate enough to obtain some really great books in the month of September, most of them from Book Outlet, as well as a couple from my first Book of the Month box.

Book Outlet

I just recently learned about the discount book website Book Outlet, and I’m officially obsessed. I spent at least an hour browsing their massive selection, before settling on seven books, which ended up costing just $35, including shipping and tax. Yes, really.

The important thing to note about Book Outlet is that their stock rotates frequently, so if you see a book you really want, you should purchase it as soon as you’re able to. I just got this box of books, and many of them are already sold out, so for those, I’ve included links for you to purchase them on Amazon.

Another quick note: many of the books available on Book Outlet are bargain books or scratch and dent copies. I chose the bargain books, some of which have a small scratch or line marked on the top or bottom of the pages.

Here are the books I got, and why I’m excited to read them:

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  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    This is one of two from this haul that I’ve started reading already and, despite being only halfway through it, I’m in love. I’ve been craving a great high fantasy novel, and this certainly is that. It takes place in a world where people who could do magic, called Magi, once ruled. Now, however, the magic is gone, and those Magi are being repressed and killed. We follow the story of Zelie Adebola, a young girl who is given the chance to bring magic back and save people like her.
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    In this collection of poems, Woodson talks about growing up as an African American in the 60s and 70s. The prose is beautiful, and the topic is an important one.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
    I don’t know much about this book but purchased it because I’d heard from a plethora of sources that it was an incredible story. It follows a couple, one of whom is accused of a crime that they didn’t commit.
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    It’s been ages since I’ve read historical fiction, and I really want to get back into it. When I came across this on Book Outlet, I checked ratings on Amazon, and it’s rated 5 stars with over 37,000 reviews. So yeah, I bought it.
  • Scythe by Neal Shusterman
    This is the first part of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. The second book, Thunderhead, was also available, so I’m actually going to be placing a second order next month to get that. The trilogy sounds so interesting – it’s a world where scythes are the only people who can end a life, which they do to keep the population under control.
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
    The first sentence of the synopsis of this book had me hooked: “In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism.” I can’t wait to read it.
  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
    When I went back to Book Outlet today to grab the link to this book, I saw that The Night Masquerade is now available as well, which is book five in this series. I’ve seen my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, write good things about this series, and I trust his judgment, so I wanted to give it a shot. I’m not sure about the rest of the series, but book one is very short – more a novella than a novel, so I feel like I’ll be able to finish it in a just a few hours.

Book of the Month

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I’m obsessed with subscription boxes. I love coming home from a long day at the call center where I work to find a box full of goodies waiting for me. There are so many I would love to subscribe to, although subscribing to all of them would definitely be way outside of my current budget.

Thus, I ended up choosing two to start with: Book of the Month and OwlCrate. While my OwlCrate subscription is starting in October, I did receive my first Book of the Month box in September.

The thing that attracted me to Book of the Month was its simplicity and affordability. For $14.99 per month, you get to pick a book out of their monthly selection, and extra books from their backstock just add $9.99. The books are hardcover editions, so that’s quite a bit cheaper than buying the books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

For my monthly selection, I chose The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, even though it was a tough decision between that and The Mermaid and Mrs. HancockThe Silence of the Girls takes place during the events of The Illiad and is told from the point of views of the women who are captured and enslaved, including Queen Briseis.

I also got to choose a free book because I had a discount code, so I selected The Line that Held Us by David Joy. I’d never heard of that book before, and selected it on a whim, but when I received it, I was excited to see that the author is from Sylva, NC, which is where I went to college. I’m looking forward to reading it.

If you want to try out Book of the Month, I have a referral code you can use!


I hope you enjoyed this book haul! I’m thinking about doing them more often since I frequently find myself in situations where I impulse buy discount books. Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? What were your thoughts?


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