Book Review Tuesday: House of Sorrow by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites, The Street Party by Claire Seeber @claireseeber @bookouture #psychologicalfiction

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Thank you for joining me for another Book Review Tuesday. Today, I have a short story from friend and Story Empire colleague, Joan Hall. House of Sorrows serves as an introduction to Joan’s upcoming release Cold Dark Night, the first in her Legends of Madiera series. The second novel, The Street Party by Claire Seeber is the first of many NetGalley ARCs I hope to review in the weeks and months ahead. Both of these excellent novels fall into the category of psychological suspense.

Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.


This short read is set mostly in the 1960s and serves as an introduction to the author’s upcoming Madeira series. Ruth Hazelton and her husband, Lee, have just moved into a beautiful old Victorian home. Lee has accepted a job as Madeira’s new police chief and the world is looking up for them.

Ruth is a wonderful character. Social and outgoing, someone who quickly establishes herself as a friendly face in her neighborhood and community. I particularly liked her friendship with her neighbor Sam. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon, opinionated, but highly likeable at the same time. He also believes in curses. It’s through Sam that Ruth learns several of her new home’s former residents died unexpectedly. The history of the house is a mystery that serves to open the door for Hall’s series.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the way the author wove events from the 1960s into the story. Some are delivered via journal entries from Ruth, others through narrative and dialogue. As someone who has long been fascinated by that time period, those references were highlights for me.

I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing how this series unfolds, and can’t wait for the release of the first full-length novel which will be set in present day. I have a passion for books that combine historical elements, old legends, and contemporary settings. Legends of Madeira promises to deliver all three!



The party was supposed to be the highlight of the summer. If only I’d known that night would destroy our lives…

All the neighbours were laughing, drinking out of plastic glasses and getting along. I almost felt happy. Almost forgot about the terrible argument earlier and the sinister messages I’d been receiving from a strange address all week, threatening to expose the lies behind my perfect life.

As we finished with the red and gold fireworks and welcomed everyone back to our house, I believed that everything would be okay.

But I didn’t know who I was inviting in.

I never could have imagined what would happen here, in our home, after I’d gone up to bed.

Everyone saw something different.

It’s my daughter’s word against the story the boy from down the road is telling. But how can I find out what really happened that night without everyone finding out the truth about me?

An absolutely gripping story of the secrets you would do anything to keep hidden, with a twist you just won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Big Little Lies and The Girl on the Train.

Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC!

I was initially drawn to this story by the cover of the book, then I read the blurb which sounded delicious. The Street Party is told from the first person POVs of three different women—Ruby, Melissa, and Nella. Ruby and Melissa are good friends, while uber-rich Nella is a client of Melissa’s (who teaches yoga). When a street party is planned as a community fund-raiser, all three become involved, along with their teenage children.

The novel is written by a British author, so there was a slight adjustment for me with various references and slang. After a while I settled right in, especially as it became clear not everyone was as they appeared. There are enough crackling undercurrents and hidden motives to start a fire. As the lives of the three women and their families unfolded, I had specific opinions about each, but several of those changed over the course of the story.   

The first half of the book is pre-party, with the last half post-party. There is plenty of set-up and several seemingly random events which later come into play. When Nella’s daughter accuses Ruby’s son of inappropriate behavior toward Melissa’s stepdaughter (got that?) it sets off a chain of events that will alter the lives of all three women. The book takes a while to get off the ground, but keeps you flipping pages to discover how it all plays out.

This is a story that looks at what some people are willing to do to fit in, the sacrifices others make without even realizing the hole they’ve fallen into, and the fragility—and strengths—of family and friendships. Several of the plot threads surprised me. There is a large cast of characters but they’re easy to keep track of. By the end of the novel the various threads (and there are many) have all been woven into a neat bow. I wouldn’t term this a thriller as much as slow-build suspense with layers of mystery. Ruby is a strong, likable character. I was really cheering for her and Melissa throughout, but even the less than savory characters are presented in a way to make you understand their actions. Some of the men (and women) are positively wretched but their story arcs are well done. The writing is casual, which makes it easy to say “just one more chapter” which I did on several nights. I would read this author again.


And that’s another wrap for this week on reviews. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for a Book Spotlight, and on Thursday for a Guest Author post. Both feature new releases from authors I admire and have read before. I can’t wait to share their latest with you! In the meantime, I hope one of the above novels have snagged your attention, or you’re currently immersed in a book that won’t let you rest until you finish it. Aren’t they the best kind?

Happy reading!

63 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday: House of Sorrow by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites, The Street Party by Claire Seeber @claireseeber @bookouture #psychologicalfiction

    • Glad to know you enjoyed House of Sorrow, too, Priscilla. I can’t wait for the first book in the series. And The Street Party kept me flipping pages. Another great read!


  1. Wonderful reviews, Mae. I’m looking forward to reading Joan’s story – waiting on my kindle. Claire’s book sounds very interesting as well. Thank you for posting both!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Street Party is my first NetGalley book. I still have to go back and request some more, but I want to knock out a few other titles on my tBR first. I’m going to love NG.
      And Joan’s book was fabulous. A quick read, but so engrossing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed your reviews, Mae, and both of these books are right up my reading alley! House with dark past and secrets – delicious! Neighborhood and family intrigue – count me in! I will be checking both books out further on Amazon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I read Joan’s story and loved it. Can’t wait for the novel it leads into.

    The suspense novel you reviewed sounds pretty good. Sometimes I like a slow burn instead of a breakneck thriller. You have me intrigued.

    Thanks for the reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m like you, waiting impatiently for Joan’s novel. House of Sorrows was so good!

      I definitely enjoyed The Street Party. I don’t mind a slow burn novel at all. Even though there was no breakneck action in this book, it kept me flipping pages well into the night.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Joan’s short story is next up on my TBR list and I look forward to it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on both of these books, Mae. The Street Party sounds like high drama (which I love!) and I’m going to check it out. Have a great day!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s awesome about Joan’s novel, Jan. I loved all the 60s references in addition to the mystery plot. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

      The Street Party was awesome, too, especially how everything came together at the end. I have a new author on my radar now!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fabulous reviews as always, Mae. House of Sorrow intrigues me. Love the title, too. Thankfully, I can pass on the other. I discovered something about me a while back: I’m a book snob. *hangs head in shame* If it’s not written with US spelling and phrases, I get pulled right out of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Street Party sounds wonderful as does House of Sorrow. I read so many British books, I find myself using the slang sometimes. I think when I start calling a sweater “a jumper” then I’ll know the conversion is complete 🙂 Great reviews, Mae! My TBR pile sort of thanks you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I almost called a trash can a “bin” the other day at work!

      Most of the psychological suspense I read seems to be by British authors, so I’m used to a lot of it, but this one was a little more heavy handed. After two chapters, I settled right in.

      And I know what you mean about the TBR. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Joan’s book is on my TBR. I’m looking forward to it. I usually like slow burns more than edge of my seats. The Street Party sounds like a good read, but then, you make every book sound good. You have a knack:)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, I am really immersed in a book that is quite different and that is: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon.
    Nice reviews Mae, The Street Party sounds like a book I had read two years ago…’What you Did’ by McGowan.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent reviews of both interesting books, Mae. Joan’s short story is a great introduction to her series. This book reminds me of the house three doors down the street with four untimely deaths. I always wonder if the house is haunted! The Street Party seems to reflect on some social groups or communities where people try to do what it takes to fit in. Thank you for sharing the reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Guest Author Thursday: Joan Hall with House of Sorrow #newrelease #mystery #psychologicalfiction @JoanHallWrites | From the Pen of Mae Clair

  11. Running a solid week behind (thanks to my second COVID shot being a lot harder on me than the first one was), but I still want to get both of these 5-star reviews out to the world, Mae. Congratulations to ClaireSeeber and to Joan Hall for their stellar work, and best of luck to both of them with these stories! SELL LOTS OF BOOKS, Ladies!! 😁


I love comments, so please scribble a thought or two!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.