Reading

When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole | A Book Review

When No One is Watching - Alyssa Cole

Title: When No One is Watching

Author: Alyssa Cole

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone that follows Sydney Green who lives in Brooklyn, but her neighbourhood is changing and people are disappearing. As she works on a walking tour with her new neighbour Theo, they learn that the gentrification of their community might be more sinister than anyone realizes.

First impressions: The title, cover, and premise made me curious, so I was looking forward to seeing what would happen. I feel like the pacing is slower at the start, but it picks up as the story unfolds.

Characters: The main protagonists are Sydney and Theo. I wasn’t invested in them right away, but they grew on me. Both characters have their own problems from the past that they work through individually and together. I enjoyed the conversations they had with each other.

Quote:

“Not thinking too deeply before I act has led me down some pretty bizarre paths in life.”

Writing: It’s almost 350 pages with longer chapters that alternate between the perspectives of Sydney and Theo. The language and themes are mature, so the book is more suitable for an adult audience instead of young readers. Cole explores issues such as racism, class, and inequality in an eye-opening and thought-provoking way.

Final thoughts: A lot of events happen at the end. I liked the ending more than the beginning of this novel because it was more interesting. If you’re looking for an eerie thriller about gentrification and revitalization, check out When No One is Watching.


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Reading

The 6:20 Man – David Baldacci | A Book Review

The 620 Man - David Baldacci

Title: The 6:20 Man

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone that follows Travis Devine, a former soldier turned financial analyst. One morning, he gets an anonymous email that one of his coworkers named Sara Ewes was found dead. To avoid a secret from his time in the army being exposed, Devine has to participate in the investigation into her death.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I’m a big fan of David Baldacci, so I was excited to read his latest novel. The beginning does a good job of introducing the Devine and sharing his past.

Characters: I enjoyed learning more about the protagonist as well as other people who play a key role in the story. There are a lot of different characters, but they are distinct from one another, which makes it easy to keep track of everyone.

Quote:

“What would you do today if you knew tomorrow wasn’t coming for you?”

Writing: It’s a little over 400 pages with short chapters. The plot and red herrings kept me guessing all the way through. Some scenes contain graphic, gruesome moments.

Final thoughts: I didn’t see the ending coming, so it took me by surprise. There’s closure and everything makes sense. I know this is a standalone, but I would love to see Devine as the main character in a series. If you’re looking for a murder mystery set in the world of finance, I highly recommend The 6:20 Man.


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Reading

Ali Cross: The Secret Detective – James Patterson | A Book Review

Ali Cross The Secret Detective - James Patterson

Title: Ali Cross: The Secret Detective

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Middle Grade

About the book: It’s the third book in the series that follows Ali Cross, a middle school student and secret detective. Ali sneaks out to crime scenes, and he finds himself in the middle of a debate about police violence.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I was curious to see how this story would unfold. Although I haven’t read the other books in the series, it’s still easy to follow. I thought the premise would revolve around Ali solving a mystery, but Patterson explores the subject of policing in more detail.

Characters: The book is written in first person point of view from the perspective of Ali Cross. He’s a flawed character who isn’t perfect, and I think young readers may relate to him. At times, I felt more invested in the characters than the plot itself.

Quote:

“But I’m telling you this—it’s something I learned because I’ve lived so long. And here it is: we all need one another.”

Writing: It’s about 250 pages with short chapters. The author examines some complex issues using simple writing. I wish there was more of a mystery or a case for Ali to solve, but he does grapple with difficult questions.

Final thoughts: The ending isn’t hard to predict and provides closure. I think Ali Cross: The Secret Detective is an interesting book for preteens and young adults who want to read more about police and crime in America.


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Reading

Handle with Care – Jodi Picoult | A Book Review

Handle with Care - Jodi Picoult

Title: Handle with Care

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone about the O’Keefe family whose child has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. Charlotte wants to give her daughter Willow the best life possible, but to do so, she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her obstetrician and best friend.

First impressions: I’ve enjoyed many of Picoult’s novels before, so I was excited to delve into this one. I like the premise and the complexity of it. The book is told from different points of view, but it’s easy to follow.

Characters: I felt for the O’Keefe family, especially at the end. They have their own flaws and challenges to overcome, which makes for an interesting read. Picoult does a great job looking at everyone’s perspective and portraying their side of the story.

Quote:

“I know perfectly well that doing the right thing for someone else occasionally means doing something that feels wrong to you.”

Writing: It’s about 600 pages with short chapter breaks. There are many sad, emotional scenes throughout the book. The author also explores some tough topics such as an eating disorder and self harm. I enjoyed how Picoult writes about medical ethics and legal issues.

Final thoughts: The pacing is slower at first but picks up speed afterwards. I wasn’t sure how the ending would wrap everything up, so the twist took me by surprise. If you want to read a thought-provoking novel that explores morality, disability, and family, I would recommend checking out Handle with Care.


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Reading

The Rumor – Elin Hilderbrand | A Book Review

The Rumor - Elin Hilderbrand

Title: The Rumor

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the book: It’s a standalone that follows two best friends in Madeline King and Grace Panick. Madeline is a novelist, but she struggles with writer’s block and a looming deadline for her next book. Grace works with a landscape architect to transform her family’s backyard, yet she gets a little too close to him. As the small town of Nantucket gossip about them, the two women try to set the record straight.

First impressions: I was curious to see how the story would unfold. As a writer myself, I felt especially interested in Madeline’s perspective because I thought I would resonate with her challenges.

Characters: The novel revolves around Madeline, Grace, and their families. I didn’t expect the story to have so many secondary characters with uncommon names. That said, it wasn’t too confusing to keep track of everyone. The two women are different with their own flaws and problems.

Quote:

“There was nothing in the world, she decided, that wounded like silence.”

Writing: It’s almost 350 pages with short chapter breaks. There are multiple points of view, but I found it easy to follow. Even though the plot isn’t too hard to predict, the pacing didn’t feel too slow. Hilderbrand explores a variety of issues, some more mature than others.

Final thoughts: I think the ending does a good job wrapping things up and providing closure. If you’re looking for a story about family and friendships, check out The Rumor. It’s a fun, fast read about romance and betrayal.


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Reading

The 20th Victim – James Patterson and Maxine Paetro | A Book Review

The 20th Victim - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Title: The 20th Victim

Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s the twentieth book in the Women’s Murder Club series that follows Lindsay Boxer, an SFPD sergeant, as she investigates a string of murders. She finds out that the victims were dealing drugs, and the shooters are preparing to kill again.

First impressions: A few years ago, I read another book in the series. The premise of this one sounded promising, so I was curious to see how the story would unfold. It would be easier to pick up the books in order, but they can be read on their own.

Characters: There are a lot of different characters, so I found it tougher to keep track of everyone. The story follows a group of four women in Lindsay, Yuki, Cindy, and Claire. They work in different professions, helping to solve various crimes together. I appreciate that the main cast is diverse.

Quote:

“Now he is left to take the weight of justice alone.”

Writing: The writing is simple, and the sentences are short. It’s a little under 400 pages, but the pacing felt slower in the middle. Patterson and Paetro weave multiple storylines, and I was more invested in some than others. I think that’s partly because I haven’t read most of the other novels in the series.

Final thoughts: The ending ties up loose ends, and everything is explained. At times, I could predict what would happen next, so the twists and turns weren’t that surprising. The 20th Victim is a crime thriller with many moving parts.


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Reading

Throwaway Daughter – Ting-Xing Ye | A Book Review

Throwaway Daughter - Ting-Xing Ye with William Bell

Title: Throwaway Daughter

Author: Ting-xing Ye with William Bell

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s a standalone about Grace Dong-mei Parker, a Canadian teenager, who travels to China in search of her birth mother. After China introduced the one child per family policy, thousands of infant girls were abandoned or killed. Grace was adopted by a Canadian couple, but she sets out to discover the truth of what happened to her mother.

I received a reader copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: As a Chinese Canadian myself, I was excited to read this novel and learn more about Grace’s journey. I like the title as well as the cover. There’s a map of China and a short prologue that introduces some of the characters.

Characters: I enjoyed following Grace because I could relate to her and some of the struggles she faces. Although there are many different characters, I found it easy enough to keep track of everyone.

Quote:

“I had learned at an early age that hoping makes life hard to live.”

Writing: It’s a quick read at about 240 pages with short chapters. Some of the scenes are quite sad and heart-breaking. The author explores history, family, and identity by weaving events of the past with the present. I love that the author uses pinyin to write out Mandarin words with English translations throughout the novel.

Final thoughts: I’m a fan of the ending as I think it does justice to the story. If you’re interested in a young adult adoption story, check out Throwaway Daughter.


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Reading

Daylight – David Baldacci | A Book Review

Daylight - David Baldacci

Title: Daylight

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s the third novel in the Atlee Pine series that follows an FBI agent as she searches for her missing twin sister, Mercy. When the girls were six years old, Mercy was kidnapped, and Atlee’s search takes her to New Jersey. She accidentally stumbles into military investigator John Puller’s case. They work together to uncover a shocking scheme while Atlee discovers the truth about what happened to her sister.

First impressions: I’m a big fan of the author, so I was excited. I didn’t know that John Puller who is the main character in another one of Baldacci’s series would play such an important role in this novel, but I’m happy he did.

Characters: Pine and Puller are great individually, so I enjoyed their interactions. We see a different side of Atlee Pine, especially as the story goes on, which made her even more relatable in my opinion. There are many different characters, so it helps to have read the previous books.

Quote:

“And sometimes dredging up the past can be more devastating than people realize.”

Writing: It’s a little over 475 pages, but the pacing doesn’t feel slow or dragged out. I found myself wanting to turn the pages. Some scenes are quite sad and mature.

Final thoughts: I can’t often predict exactly how Baldacci’s books will end, and this time was no exception. The ending answers some questions while setting the stage for the next novel. If you’re a fan of fast-paced crime thrillers about family and conspiracy, check out Daylight.


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