Book Review Tuesday: The House Guest by Mark Edwards, Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

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

Happy Tuesday! I have two books today, both from authors I depend on for awesome stories. Sadly, both fell short of what I’ve come to expect from them, based on knockouts they’ve written in the past. As always, my reviews are opinions only, and others might rate these five stars. I consider each a three star read, or an average diversion, just not something I’ll shout about from the rooftops, or read again. That said, both of these authors will remain auto buys for me.

I’m not including blurbs for brevity, but feel free to follow the Amazon link to check those out in detail.


This is a quick mystery read with a few twists along the way. I’ve always enjoyed Mark Edwards, and while this book kept me interested, I wasn’t fully enamored, especially of the last half. The story wasn’t on par with what I’ve come to expect from this author.

A lot of that is personal preference. I’m not a fan of the central plot thread (no spoilers). By the time I realized where the story was headed I was too invested to back out.

Adam, an aspiring writer, and his girlfriend, Ruth, an up and coming actress, are house sitting for a couple they met on a cruise, when a stranger (Eden) shows up at their door, claiming to be friends of the couple. In short order she inserts herself into Adam and Ruth’s life. After a night of heavy drinking, Adam wakes up to find Ruth and Eden have disappeared. 

As Adam tries to discover what has happened to Ruth and who Eden really is, he’s met with obstacles at every turn. Many of his actions frustrated me, especially when he was interacting with the detective investigating the case. There were times I had to grit my teeth.

The ending has a clever wrap, but even then I’m not certain how I feel about the final resolution, especially as related to Eden. Many fans of mystery and suspense will certainly gobble this up. It reads quickly and has more high notes than low, but having read Edwards before, this one didn’t quite deliver on the scale I expected.


This is a good murder mystery with plenty of subjects. Fred and Shelia Merton invite their three children, along with their spouses (or in the case of the youngest, a boyfriend) to Easter dinner. The next morning both Fred and Shelia are found dead, Fred’s murder particularly gruesome. Because the Mertons were extremely wealthy the case is thrust into the spotlight, along with the surviving children, each of whom (along with others) has motive to want their parents dead.

The premise is great, and the pace is swift but be prepared the characters are highly unlikable, especially the parents. Unlikable characters aren’t always a problem for me when I read a book, but the more this one progressed, the more frustrated I grew with the behaviors of each.

If you enjoy a soap-opera type book with greedy, money-hungry siblings (and others), this is for you. The title speaks volumes about the family and the resulting relationships. There was really no “oomph” when the murderer is unmasked, but that revelation is followed by a quasi-clever twist which makes the ending a bit more satisfying. I will continue to read anything Shari Lapena writes, but this particular book didn’t resonate with me.

58 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday: The House Guest by Mark Edwards, Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

    • Yeah, these both left me disappointed, Kim, but it’s true that every book a favorite author writes isn’t always going to resonate with the reader. In the case of Mark Edwards, and Shari Lapena, I’ll be looking forward to their next releases.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I always find it difficult to write reviews on books like these, Priscilla. They’re okay reads, just not what I expected. I guess I went into them with certain expectations and was left wanting!


  1. I tried unsuccessfully for an ARC of Not a Happy Family. I looked forward to it after reading An Unwanted Guest.” If our library gets a copy, I’ll probably read it, otherwise, there’s no way I’d pay the purchase price.

    I’m intrigued by “The House Guest.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Smart move on Not A Happy Family, Joan. I tried to get an ARC as well and failed. Because I’ve read everything Shari has written, I went ahead and paid the purchase price. I wish I would have gotten the ARC, LOL. An Unwanted Guest is her best work with The Couple Next Door running a close second IMHO.

      I’m glad you’re intrigued by The House Guest. It was a decent book, I just didn’t care for the underlying theme. You may really like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have the Mark Edwards book and one day I will read it. Your review has me wanting to make that day sooner rather than later. And, I’ve heard lots of good things about Not a Happy Family. That one needs to be on my list, for sure. Great reviews, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tessa, I will definitely be interested in seeing what you think about these two books.I’m a fan of both authors. That’s interesting about Not a Happy Family. I think I’m in the minority in not giving either of these 5 stars.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean about unlikable characters, Noelle. I don’t necessarily mind books like that, but too many close together is too much, and I generally want to have at least one character I can cheer for! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have entire shelves of my favorite authors books (back in the days before my Kindle), and on almost every single one, there’s one book that didn’t quite do it for me. Guess authors can’t deliver their best every single time. But they’re pretty dependable:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Betsy.I have to say I rarely read YA, only every now and then when I need a break from my go-to genres of mystery/suspense/thrillers. I’m really glad you enjoy Survive the Night. That would be considered thriller/suspense but the age of the MC would have qualified as new adult. With a really good thriller, I would be fine with YA, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your reviews are always impressive and helpful, Mae. These two may not have made the top of the list, but you’ve offered us points to consider. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is probably for the first time that both the books you’ve shared sound average. Thanks for heads up Mae. ‘Best selling author’ is a tag that is often misused, as all books of an author could never be the same. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you, Balroop. As much as I love certain authors they don’t always deliver, but I guess that’s to be expected. I’m already checking out the new release by Mark Edwards and hoping it falls into “home run” territory!


  6. I haven’t read either of these authors, but I’ve seen the Edwards book on several blogs. Sorry they didn’t work out for you. I had a few back to back like this, but then a fabulous book broke that streak. Hope it happens for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was lucky to hit a really good one after these (Reckless Girls) and I’m reading an Pendergast novel now. Preston & Child never let me down, so I have high hopes for this one, LOL!
      Happy reading, Teri!

      Liked by 1 person

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