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The Secret Place

Teenage girls can be the worst. My apologies if you are one of the good ones, because there are some amazing girls out there. I taught hundreds of them. But some are just wretched. They are mean and spiteful and a nightmare to be around. Unfortunately, this book features some awful girls, which greatly increased my dislike of the book. And although I love this series, this book grated on my nerves.

The entire plot is to figure out who killed this teenage boy who attends an all-boys school. The girls of the sister school are being interviewed, since they have a lot of contact with the boys. They are simply asking the girls if they know anything. These girls are clams. They won’t say a word, but enough slips out, a tiny bit at a time.

The plot is fine. Just another unsolved mystery. The detectives are clever and likable, and we get to see a very familiar face at one point. But the girls. Ugh. The two cliques involved are just so mean. Sadly, French captures this perfectly. I have known plenty of girls like this. She is spot-on with her portrayal. But I hated most of these girls so much that it just distracted me from my enjoyment of the book.

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A Good Marriage

It’s rare to find a thriller that’s from a lawyer’s perspective, or at least rare by what books I’ve read. So, when I selected this one for my most recent Book of the Month club pick, I was looking forward to it simply for that reason. I appreciate books that are told from a bit of an unusual perspective. Murder mysteries are usually told from a victim’s family or a police detective, so a defense attorney at least provides a different viewpoint.

Zach and Lizzie are old friends, so when Zach is arrested after the murder of his wife Amanda, he reaches out to Lizzie to defend him. She has to retrace Amanda’s footsteps and dig into her secrets, as well as deal with some secrets of her own. The story is told in past/present alternating chapters. Present is from Lizzie’s perspective and past is about Amanda’s life leading up to her murder.

There is a wide cast of friends in Amanda’s life, who you really don’t know whether or not to trust. Any one of them could have been the murderer, including Zach himself. The story is tightly woven and some good twists, turns, and reveals, and I found myself really enjoying this and not knowing where the plot would end up. Definitely recommend this one!

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As Far As You Can Go


I’m really not sure how this little known book came on my radar. It only has 300 or so reviews on Goodreads. My guess it that someone called it a good thriller, then I added it to my “to read” list, but that’s as far as I can speculate. That said, it is a good thriller, but a very slow-burning one.

If you are looking for something intense or fast-paced, this isn’t the book for you. But I felt like the Australian outback, the sparse landscape, the heat, the isolation, perfectly matches the pace of the book. Clearly, things are amiss. An Australian man hires a British couple to go to the middle of nowhere Australia to be caretakers of the farm and of his mentally ill wife. The man is a painter, and he’s expected to teach the wife the art. The woman cooks, tends to the garden, etc. Things aren’t what they seem, though. This book isn’t creepy, but you know things aren’t right. Trying to figure out just what *is* going on was a lot of fun. This book isn’t spectacular, but it is well-written and I enjoyed it.

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books and reading

The Guest List

This book was my first from Book of the Month. I was shocked to know that the books are only $15 with add-ons just $10. That’s a heck of a deal for brand new books. I don’t buy a ton of new books, but this deal is too good to pass up. You get to select one book from five choices and add-ons are other books from that month (if you can’t pick just one) or previous book selections. I love a good thriller, so unless the other options are authors I already know and love, I’ll usually end up getting a thriller. Coming soon….my review for the May thriller I chose.

The Guest List is set in Ireland and doesn’t use dialect, but does use common Irish phrases, so a few things went right past me because I was unfamiliar with them, but overall, this book was pretty easy to read. The story is told from various perspectives, as well as the day before a wedding, the morning of the wedding, and the wedding night. Each chapter is easily labeled, so it’s not confusing. And I really wanted to like this book. The premise is great, wedding on a spooky island, people have secrets, Bridezilla, but ultimately, I thought it was preposterous. I ended up giving it three stars because I did want to keep reading, but by the end, I was rolling my eyes so hard that I couldn’t finish the book quickly enough.

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books and reading

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

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I’ve been hearing about this book for a while. A friend convinced me to put it at the top of my reading list. Sadly, my library has been closed and only has hardcopies, so no ebook for me. I went ahead and put it on hold in the hopes that it comes to me eventually, and thankfully they started curbside pickup last week! I sat down, started reading, and finished the same day. I could not put it down.

Jake is taking his new girlfriend home to his childhood home to have dinner with his parents, but the story’s told from the girlfriend’s perspective and we learn that she’s deciding whether or not to break up with Jake. Things just aren’t going how she hoped. He’s a nice guy, but just not really her type. The trip is just very odd. It’s dumping snow, and it is hard to drive in. The farm Jake grew up on is more remote than she was expecting, and his parents are, well, you’ll see.

Obviously, this is a book where spoilers will entirely ruin the story, so I’m keeping quiet. But I will say that, even though you know things aren’t right, where the story goes was very clever, and I didn’t see it coming at all. And I haven’t read a book like it. I am always looking for a good, unique thriller, and this one delivers. Highly recommend. I loved it.

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Final Girls

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I’ve heard a lot of buzz around Riley Sager’s books. You know I like a good thriller, but I’m pretty skeptical when I hear great things about a book or author because I’m usually disappointed. The Woman in the Window and The Woman in Cabin 10 and Pretty Girls come to mind. I heard they were SO GOOD, and I was so disappointed. They were full of overused tropes and red herrings and ridiculous plot twists that were obvious a mile away.

So, when I started Final Girls, I just wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype. I’d say that it mostly did, though. The language was a bit cheesy in parts, but overall, I ended up giving it four stars because it kept me guessing, the red herrings were ridiculously stupid, and I didn’t see the plot twists coming. I know *something* was up, but Sager did a great job keeping me guessing.

The story focuses on Quincy who is the sole survivor of a massacre. She’s a “Final Girl” alive. She joins an unwanted club of two other girls, Lisa and Samantha, who are also sole survivors of their own massacres. But the mess comes when Lisa is found dead and Samantha turns up at Quincy’s house. The plot gets pretty crazy trying to figure out of Quincy truly has memory loss, or if she just refuses to speak about that night. Whether or not Samantha is being totally honest, whether Lisa’s death is as straightforward as the police think, and whether or not Quincy is going to handle Samantha’s questions.

I went through this book quickly and really enjoyed the twists and turns. I’m also looking forward to reading more of his work. Fingers crossed they are just as clever as this one was.

 

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No Exit

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I’m always on the hunt for a good thriller. This one came highly recommended by my online book club. We have a book of the month that we all read, but we also read all kinds of stuff and recommend to each other. Several of them said this one was worth reading. I’m always skeptical because so many thrillers end up ridiculous, but I’m happy to report this one holds up. It’s excellent, kept me guessing, and didn’t fall into terrible tropes.

Basic premise is that college student Darby is on her way home to see her mom before she has surgery for cancer, but Darby gets snowed in at a rest stop in Colorado. There are three other people who seem nice enough, but one guy is pretty creepy. While trying to get a cell signal outside, Darby sees a small child’s hand in the back of a van. Alarm bells go off, and our story begins.

The story takes place over the course of one night, and although there are twists and turns, none of them are implausible, and Darby is a great heroine. She’s not irritating, she tries to be the hero because it’s right rather than for any kind of glory, and she is level-headed. Who Darby can trust in the rest stop becomes part of the mystery, and I was kept guessing and on the edge of my seat most of the book. The writing is tight, and the plot moves rapidly. Highly recommend this one!

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I Choose You

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Kindle firsts is a pretty great program. I’ve discovered some pretty great books and authors this way. You get one book free, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read all the rest the next month. This is one that I didn’t select but made a point to read at some point.

I’m always on a quest for a good thriller, and I wish I could say this was one. It was too…messy? I’m not sure how to explain it. I feel like it tried to do too much. There was a plot about babies possibly switched at birth, a person who dares people to commit suicide, two families who are intertwined in way too many ways, babies given up for adoption, and chapters that switch between then, now, and interstitial first person account from the mind of an alleged killer. It was a bit much to keep it all straight, honestly.

In the “then” chapters, you see Elise and Nathaniel dealing with the murder of their daughter, Ida. But they aren’t sure if she was dared to commit suicide by the mysterious person called the “Suicide Watcher” who they believe forced both their mothers to commit suicide. Elise and Nathaniel met in a group for Suicide Watcher victims. Then there’s Elise’s father, Ray, who is a psychiatrist, but an unusual one. There’s also Sonny, Elise’s long-lost brother who was given away at birth but has found his birth family. This isn’t even beginning to list the characters and plot devices. Like I said, too much.

Maybe this complexity works for some people. I  just felt like nothing was developed or explained all that well. Maybe if the author had picked one plot and stuck with it, I would be more likely to recommend this book. It just was too all over the place for me.

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Verity

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What in the fucking fuck did I just read? My gosh. I’ve read a lot of crazy stuff, but this one might be at the top of the list. Infidelity- check. Murder- check. Narcissism- check. Secrets- check. Botched abortions- check. Child abuse- check. Descriptive sex scenes- check. Psychopaths- check. Stupid character names- check. This book has it all!

Lowen (ugh) is a mediocre writer who has been asked to finish a popular book series written by Verity (ugh) Crawford. Lowen will go live in Verity’s house with Verity’s husband, Jeremy (the only reasonable name in this entire book) and their son, Crew (ugh). Verity was recently in a car accident following the tragic deaths of her daughters, Chastin (seriously, I can’t make this stuff up) and Harper. Verity is unable to complete the series, so Lowen is getting paid to take over.

Weird things start happening in the house. Verity is awake, but unaware and non-responsive. However, Crew mentions talking to his mother, and Lowen claims to see Verity walking around. Lowen also finds a manuscript that Verity wrote about her life. Lowen quickly discovered that Verity is probably a psychopath and no longer feels badly for her.

Of course, this book must have ridiculous sex scenes between Lowen and Jeremy, because he can’t stand to have her in the house for two weeks without falling in love with her, even though he’s fully committed to Verity’s recovery. Give me a break….Ugh.

I kept reading this book, mostly to see if Verity was faking or not, or if Lowen was going crazy. I’ve only read one other CoHo book, and apparently, this one is out of the norm. I just don’t think she’s a writer for me.

 

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The Perfect Nanny

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I love a good thriller. Only a few stand out, though. The Silent Patient, Gone Girl, All the Missing Girls, and Girl in Snow, and Baby Teeth all come to mind as being better than the rest. I’m always searching for another good one. Unfortunately, most are just ridiculous. An Anonymous Girl, The Woman in the Window, The Woman in Cabin 10, all just irritated me. Sadly, The Perfect Nanny joins this list, but for reasons different from the aforementioned titles. Most fall into terrible tropes, namely the “I drink too much and can’t remember anything” one. I am just so over that type of story.

The Perfect Nanny starts with the ending. And I HATE that concept. It completely takes me out of the plot. Instead of wondering what will happen, I am left wondering why. I *should* be wondering both, especially in a thriller where a terrible event happens. Even though it’s not the first chapter, I’m not going to say what it is, other than awful. Skip ahead a bit, Louise is a dream come true in the nanny world. The kids adore her, she cooks, cleans, can stay late or come early, and the parents end up relying on her more and more. All seems well.

What’s frustrating about this book is that it’s an omniscient narrator, so you never really get into Louise’s head. She’s clearly not a good person, and you learn a bit about her back story, but nothing really explains her anger. She has a “mood disorder,” barely mentioned, but that’s really all we learn about her mindset, other than a few flashbacks. This book would have been so much better from her perspective to really get into the unreliable narrator’s thoughts. I fit this book into the “book with a three-word title” for the PopSugar Reading Challenge but was ultimately disappointed.