Harlequin Trade Publishing Winter Reads Blog Tour: The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf @HTTP_Books @hgudenkauf

THE OVERNIGHT GUEST
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778311935
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Publisher: Park Row Books

About the Book:

In a snowstorm, the safest place is home. Or is it?

True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.

As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. How long had the child been there? Where did he come from? Bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.

About the Author:

Heather Gudenkauf is the critically acclaimed author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Weight of Silence. She lives in Iowa with her husband and children.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed Heather’s previous novels, Not a Sound and This is How I Lied. When I found The Overnight Guest amongst the offerings for Harlequin Trade Publishing, Park Row’s winter reads blog tour, I downloaded it immediately.

There are quite a few characters in The Overnight Guest. The book is set in August 2000. Josie and Becky are best friends. Little do they know their lives will never be the same again…

The plot then skips to the present day. Wylie is a true-crime writer. She’s looking to finish a book about events that happened years ago in Burden, Iowa.

Who is the little boy outside in the snowstorm? Should she invite him in?

The Overnight Guest had me hooked on its synopsis and the twists and turns are amazing, as with the other books of Heather’s I have reviewed. The setting is atmospheric and the plot is engrossing.

Thanks to Heather Gudenkauf and Harlequin Trade Publishing, Park Row for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

I am looking forward to more books by Heather.

5 stars

Where to Buy:


BookShop.org
Harlequin
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books-A-Million
Powell’s

Social Links:


Author Website
Instagram: @heathergudenkauf
Twitter: @hgudenkauf
Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor
Goodreads

Excerpt:

Three

“Maybe we can go outside and play?” the girl said as she peeked around the edge of the heavy curtain that covered the window. The sky was gray and soft drops of rain tapped at the glass.
“Not today,” her mother said. “It’s raining and we’d melt.”
The girl gave a little laugh and then hopped off the chair she had dragged beneath the window. She knew her mother was teasing. They wouldn’t actually melt if they went out in the rain, but still, it made her shiver thinking about it—stepping outside and feeling the plop of water on your skin and watching it melt away like an ice cube.
Instead, the girl and her mother spent the morning at the card table cutting pink, purple, and green egg shapes from construction paper and embellishing them with polka dots and stripes.
On one oval, her mother drew eyes and a pointy little orange beak. Her mother laid the girl’s hands on a piece of yellow paper and traced around them using a pencil. “Watch,” she said as she cut out the handprints and then glued them to the back of one of the ovals.
“It’s a bird,” the girl said with delight.
“An Easter chick,” her mother said. “I made these when I was your age.”
Together, they carefully taped the eggs and chicks and bunny rab-bits they created to the cement walls, giving the dim room a festive, springy look. “There, now we’re ready for the Easter Bunny,” her mother said with triumph.
That night, when the girl climbed into bed, the butterflies in her stomach kept chasing sleep away. “Stay still,” her mother kept re-minding her. “You’ll fall asleep faster.”
The girl didn’t think that was true, but then she opened her eyes, a sliver of bright sunshine was peeking around the shade, and the girl knew that morning had finally arrived.
She leaped from bed to find her mother already at the tiny round table where they ate their meals. “Did he come?” the girl asked, tucking her long brown hair behind her ears.
“Of course he did,” her mother said, holding out a basket woven together from strips of colored paper. It was small, fitting into the palm of the girl’s hand, but sweet. Inside were little bits of green paper that were cut to look like grass. On top of this was a pack of cinnamon gum and two watermelon Jolly Ranchers.
The girl smiled though disappointment surged through her. She’d been hoping for a chocolate bunny or one of those candy eggs that oozed yellow when you broke it open.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Thank the Easter Bunny,” her mother said.
“Thank you, Easter Bunny,” the girl crowed like the child on the candy commercials that she’d seen on television. They both laughed.
They each unwrapped a piece of gum and spent the morning making up stories about the paper chicks and bunnies they made.
When the girl’s gum lost its flavor, and she had slowly licked one of the Jolly Ranchers into a sharp flat disc, the door at the top of the steps opened, and her father came down the stairs toward them. He was carrying a plastic bag and a six-pack of beer. Her mother gave the girl a look. The one that said, go on now, mom and dad need some alone time. Obediently, the girl, taking her Easter basket, went to her spot beneath the window and sat in the narrow beam of warm light that fell across the floor. Facing the wall, she unwrapped another piece of gum and poked it into her mouth and tried to ignore the squeak of the bed and her father’s sighs and grunts.
“You can turn around now,” her mother finally said. The girl sprang up from her spot on the floor.
The girl heard the water running in the bathroom, and her father poked his head out of the door. “Happy Easter,” he said with a grin. “The Easter Bunny wanted me to give you a little something.”
The girl looked at the kitchen table where the plastic bag sat. Then she slid her eyes to her mother, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, rubbing her wrist, eyes red and wet. Her mother nodded.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
Later, after her father climbed the steps and locked the door behind him, the girl went to the table and looked inside the plastic bag. In-side was a chocolate bunny with staring blue eyes. He was holding a carrot and wore a yellow bowtie.
“Go ahead,” her mother told the girl as she held an ice pack to her wrist. “When I was little, I always started with the ears.”
“I don’t think I’m very hungry,” the girl said, returning the box to the table.
“It’s okay,” her mother said gently. “You can eat it. It’s from the Easter Bunny, not your dad.”
The girl considered this. She took a little nibble from the bunny’s ear and sweet chocolate flooded her mouth. She took another bite and then another. She held out the rabbit to her mother and she bit off the remaining ear in one big bite. They laughed and took turns eating until all that was left was the bunny’s chocolate tail.
“Close your eyes and open your mouth,” her mother said. The girl complied and felt her mother place the remaining bit on her tongue and then kiss her on the nose. “Happy Easter,” her mother whispered.

Excerpted from The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf, Copyright © 2022 by Heather Gudenkauf. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Bloganuary Day 24: What Dream Do I Remember? #bloganuary

I don’t remember many of my dreams, but I have always wondered what my dreams might mean.

For example, the dream my ideal honeymoon was finally here and that we had a round-the-world trip of a lifetime to South America, the USA, Thailand, the Caribbean, Australia and many other places. Everywhere was perfectly adapted and accessible. This really is a dream as these are places I want to go to one day.

Then, there was the dream where I got to meet the cast of my favorite TV shows: ER, Friends and Sex and the City, 9-1-1 and This is Us.

I also dream a lot about something if I really want or need it.

My identical twin sister is in my dreams. I often wonder what she, and life with her, would have been like had she lived.

Those I have lost are also in my dreams: aunt Jane, my gradmother Lily, aunt Susan and Tala, the last family pet who passed away.

Of course, there are also bad dreams, the ones before surgeries or some medical tests (especially MRIs and if I know I have to have a blood test).

Whether they are good or bad, I have always found dreams very interesting and I would like to find out more about their meaning and the general study of dreams.

Bloganuary Day 23: Interview With A Fictional Character: Tiffany, From My Superheroine Shopaholic Young Adult Book Series. #bloganuary

Q: Hi, what’s your name?

A: I’m Tiffany. I’m really excited to be here today. I was reading this blog and I know that it’s author mentioned me in a blog post she did recently. I’m so happy in fact that I went and bought a whole new outfit just for this interview (Tiffany turns her wheelchair around in a circle which makes the long skirt she’s wearing flare out in a fan of purple and pink to reveal camel brown high heeled leather cowboy boots underneath).

Interviewer: Nice boots Tiffany! And the whole look is amazing.

A: I know! I bought the cowboy boots when we were in the US. I wish I were back there actually, it was amazing. But more about this outfit….When I saw this top I just had to have it (she touches the black, off-the shoulder top with pride).

Q: Tell me more about your time in the US. I heard you got into a difficult situation in the desert.

A: (Sighs, looks uncomfortable). Yes, I wasn’t well with heatstroke and things were scary. I didn’t expect to have to have a hospital stay while we were away, but my boyfriend Donovan and my best friend Clara were amazing. I loved LA and also San Francisco. There was a scary situation on the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh, did you know Katherine has a lipstick with the Golden Gate Bridge on its packaging? That’s mentioned on her on her blog too. I think this is such a cool idea for a lipstick design.

Q: That’s very unique. I want to know about your love life. Donovan proposed to you didn’t he?

A: Yes, not then, but we’re engaged.

Interviewer: Congratulations

A: Thanks so much! Just look at this rock (she holds up her hand and a huge diamond twinkles in the studio lights.

Q: Why did you decide to travel to the US?

A: There was a superhero convention. You know, I didn’t expect to become famous so quickly, I mean I was just helping people which is what I love to do. Since I am a superheroine, I had to be there. I love London, as it’s where I was born, but I wanted a change of scene.

Q: People are raving about you, your passion for fashion, shopping and style, the way you help people and how many people’s lives you’ve saved.

A: It’s all in a day’s work for me. I have the support of Donovan, Clara and of course my PA, Maria.

(Maria, a Spanish lady with her hair in a bun) walks onto the set).

Tiffany. Sorry to interrupt, but Snowball won’t stop squirming. The backstage crew have fed him, petted him and played with him. Now, he’s bored.

(She puts a long haired fluffy white cat on Tiffany’s lap who looks up at her adoringly while purring loudly)

Q: Snowball is part of your group always too, isn’t he?

A: Yes, and I hope he’ll be around for a long time.

Q: Where do you think your next adventures will take you?

A: I don’t know. Wherever my author wants to take me. I have heard a rumor that there may be a world tour in store for me. There are so many places I would love to go. And of course, Donovan, Clara Maria and Snowball are coming along too.

I want to thank my author, Katherine for creating me and all the characters in our book. I wish we were real and not in a book. I want to get to know her. I want to thank her for creating characters that I hope will bring joy to many and hope that one day the world will be a better place for those of us with disabilities and everyone else.

Both she and I have the same disability, Cerebral Palsy, and she has other disabilities that I don’t have, but this wheelchair I have is amazing! If I could I would give her an electric wheelchair.

She has given me the gift of jet packs so nowhere is inaccessible to me. I was reading her blog as I said and I know this is a superpower she wishes she had, to have everywhere be accessible to her.

Q: If you could go back to the US, where would you go and what would you do?

A: I would meet the Sex and the City cast and I want to go shopping with them. Katherine can come too. I want to meet her husband, I hear he’s a great guy.

Thanks for the interview Tiffany,

Thank you! Oh, before I forget I want to give you a gift. (She motions to Maria who walks over to a table that has been set up on the stage. The table is full of perfumes, lipsticks and books).

Here you go, perfumes and lipsticks and a copy of the first two books for the audience here today.

Thanks Tiffany. Good luck to the world tour and good luck to Katherine on her writing project when she starts the book.

I wish Katherine luck, too. If the first two books were amazing adventures then I can’t wait for the world tour! Good luck with publishing all the books in the series. Thanks for having me, I really enjoyed myself.

Bloganuary Day 22: What Is Your Favourite Quote and Why? #bloganuary

This is another post that is hard for me, because I love quotes. I can’t choose just one. I have a Pinterest board with quotes and I will link to that here:

I like quotes from TV shows, movies and books, and just life in general. I also have my own things I will always say. I like these quotes as I feel they are powerful and I identify with them.

When I was at University, I loved the movie Todo Sobre mi Madre by Pedro Almodóvar. I watched it again and again as the DVD was amongst many I bought during my time there. I still love it.

I discovered favourite quotes:

Anoche mi mamá me enseñó una foto de cuando era joven, le faltaba la mitad. No quise decírselo pero a mi vida también le falta ese mismo trozo.

Last night, my mum showed me a photo from when I was young, half was missing. I didn’t want to tell her but that same piece was missing from my life

-Eloy Azorín, (Esteban) Todo Sobre mi Madre

Gracias, quien quiera que seas siempre he confiado en la bondad de los desconocidos, which translates to “Thank you, whoever you are, I have always trusted in the kindness of strangers.”

-Antonia San Juan (Agrado), Todo Sobre mi Madre

“When you love someone, you say their name different, like it’s safe inside your mouth.”

Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care

Maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it.

Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing

Benjamin Franklin

Each person has a literature inside of them

Anna Deavere Smith

As a modification to this quote, I always say people have a book inside of them if I want to encourage people to write a book

You just get on with it and take each day as it comes. I always made sure I found one good thing in each day. It didn’t matter how small it was and made me happy.

Cathy Glass I Miss Mummy

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken

Oscar Wilde

So many books so little time

Frank Zappa

A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you

Elbert Hubbard

A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphazises your possibilities.

William Arthur Ward

Some quotes of my own:

Cerebral Palsy, Hydrocephalus and visual impairments are part of me, not all of me. They affect my body but not my mind

I am highly observant despite my visual disabilities

My body moves in its own unique way but it’s my body and I am proud of it, so do not rush me

My scalp and abdomen scars from my hydrocephalus surgeries are part of who I am: a survivor

Just because I don’t respond right away doesn’t mean I don’t hear or understand you.

My wheelchair is my wings

Books make me escape the real world and dream for awhile

My eyes are always dancing

-Me, trying to make someone understand nystagmus (involuntary eye movements)

Trying to control a body that does what you don’t want it to do when you don’t want to do it is exhausting, but this is my life. My life is also the only one I have and it is beautiful

Involuntary movements are like going to the gym multiple times a day

When I was younger, I wanted a horse. I wanted to use the garage as a stable. I’m 40 and still want that horse

“You’re a mermaid” My husband as I was in his arms in the swimming pool and he saw my smile at being in the water.

“You have enough makeup to open a Sephora store” My husband before I am about to buy yet more makeup. Of course, I go ahead and do so anyway

I have my strengths and weaknesses but I am just me, just Katherine- The inspiration for the name of my blog

Bloganuary Day 21: What Year Would You Time Travel To And Why? #bloganuary

Time travel has interested me ever since I saw my first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a teenager. I loved the show as, for me, it was pure escapism and allowed me to travel to an unknown stardate and get a glimpse of the future from the viewpoint of different characters and species.

I still like the show and the idea of time travel. Movies that have made me think were The Time Traveller’s Wife and In Time.

I’m not exactly sure what year I would time travel to but I have always hoped for a future in which the following will happen:

There will not be a shortage of housing for anyone and especially those of us with disabilities

All homes will be able to be controlled via switches and adaptive technology and this will be installed when the homes are built.

When the rights, wishes, wants and needs of people with disabilities are met by service providers and social services without question. Because I, and many others, have had to explain time and time again and been misunderstood too many times.

When the prices of essential equipment and aids will not exclude people from getting them, or make getting them more difficult.

When humanoid robots will be available to help those who need them to help in their lives and this way no elderly person will have to be alone and no person with disabilities or support needs will be vulnerable.

Most of all I dream of the day when those of us with disabilities truly are equals and when there is real equality between people with disabilities and without them.

Until then, I will keep fighting and hoping.

International Day of Acceptance: More Than A Day.

I have been posting here about International Day of Acceptance for years. I have shared whatever my thoughts were every year that I have posted, and I have shared my experiences of disability and 3E Love’s Wheelchair Heart, the company who came up with this day.

I have always felt we need more than a day of acceptance, because those of us with disabilities go through so much all day every day, and the acceptance in society should reflect the understanding of that. I am still dreaming of a society in which everyone is accepted.

I have found acceptance in my husband Alfredo.

I was wondering what we’d do today. I wasn’t sure and then he suddenly suggested we go back to our search for my wheelchair accessories. A few hours later and we had our list.

When trying to describe my posture, he said “you either slip to the side or front when you’re sitting. I know, I see you.” It’s nice to have him be observant when I am concentrating so hard on just trying to sit and keep myself in my wheelchair.

He accepts me and is helpful and honest. He doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the fact that I need what I do and will do his best to help me get it.

I am very happy with what we did today.

Bloganuary Day 20: What is Your Favourite Photo? #bloganuary

How can I answer this? Well, for a start, I can’t take photos myself. I can’t coordinate my movements to hold the camera, focus it or my eyes well enough to take photos or press the buttons.

One of the best days of my life was our wedding day on 11 April 2019. I have so many photos from that day, taken by my sister, and I spent time today trying to choose some of the ones that I thought would sum up that day. Our wedding cake was a chocolate cake.

Our Wedding Cake

This is a photo taken by staff at the registry office who were really excited as they hadn’t seen a bride and groom before the Big Moment before.

It will be our third wedding anniversary on 11 April this year.

Bloganuary Day 19: Write About Something Mysterious #bloganuary

When I found out what the topic of today’s post was, my mind initially drew a blank as to what I would talk about here today.

Then, much like many of my ideas, it just came to me.

I have a lot of mysteries in my life. There are the fictional ones, like the Famous Five books I loved as a child. The books were by Enid Blyton and about Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina (George) and her dog Timmy.

I did not only love the books, but a group of girls who lived on the same street as me growing up would gather in the playground at break time and wait for me to join them. From that moment on, we would be in a fantasy world as the Famous Five. I was Anne. I remembered the character’s name as I was so familiar with the books by now and also because Anne is my mother’s name.

Anne was “mother” figure of the group, and the one who would do chores wherever the group of five friends went. She was a listener, and sometimes sensitive. I was secretly glad they had cast me in the role of someone so important, but I did feel bad that my disabilities would not let me act things out. I would say “I’m going to clean the house now” rather than being able to do it.

I was jealous of the girl who played Georgina, because of her faithful dog, Timmy. I wanted to have a dog like him by my side. Back then, my favourite dog was a border collie, which was what Timmy was. I loved his black and white fur.

Yesterday, I thought back to other childhood books I liked. The Babystitter’s Club by Ann. M. Martin was another series I loved. One of the characters, Claudia, loved mysteries, and in particular Nancy Drew mysteries. I found myself searching the Nancy Drew mysteries on Amazon and am glad they are there as I am interested in getting the ebooks. The Ghost at Dawn’s House (The Babysitter’s Club Book 7) was a mysterious book to me. There are Babysitter’s Club mysteries too which I never bought and would like to.

I was recently approved for the book The Christie Affair via NetGalley and have been recommended the Maisie Dobbs series by Jaqueline Winspear and The Nº 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, both of which I am looking forward to.

The real life mystery is the fact that I have always wanted to know more about what happened around the time of my and my identical twin sister’s birth and before, but my efforts to find out have been met with silence and/or evasive or vague comments. I have tried to piece the what I know of puzzle together in my own way in my memoirs but it’s hard to do.

I hope that one day I can. get the answers to all my unanswered questions and listen to all the mystery books.

Bloganuary Day 18: What Book Is Next On Your List? #bloganuary

This question is like asking me “what clothes/shoes or makeup do you want to buy next? If I were in my favourite clothes store or shoe store. It’s like being in an Urban Decay store or Sephora and someone asking me “What makeup or products do you want to buy today?”

My answer would be “Everything I find that I like!”

But this blog post requires focus. I love books as much as clothes, shoes and makeup and so that’s why this post is also hard.

Louise Douglas’ books are a good mix of suspense, unforgettable characters and excellently visual settings.

I had the pleasure of reviewing two of her previous books, The House by the Sea

and The Scarlet Dress

courtesy of Louise and her publisher, Boldwood Books.

I requested her current novel, The Room in the Attic but was too late to get a copy from NetGalley and didn’t do the blog tour.

I knew I wanted this novel so badly, so naturally it was one of my books of choice during my most recent online shopping spree.

I’ll review it on my blog when I’m finished but for now I’ll leave you a synopsis.

Discover the latest chilling, unputdownable novel, from the Richard and Judy bestseller.
A child who does not know her name…

In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…

In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.

Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…

All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.

Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…

Find out more about the book and buy it here:

Bloganuary Day 17: What is a Superpower You Would Love to Have? #bloganuary

I have a draft of a book in which my main character is a superheroine. She has a wheelchair which is powered by jet packs and which flies everywhere. I am proud of her and think she does her best to help people. She certainly gets into some interesting challenges! It didn’t take me long to create her character and I think she’s original and unique.

The book has a sequel and may have a third part in the future.

I would love to have her jet packs so I could fly wherever I wanted. This way, nothing and nowhere in the world would be inaccessible to me.