Reading

Never Coming Home – Hannah Mary McKinnon | A Book Review

Never Coming Home - Hannah Mary McKinnon

Title: Never Coming Home

Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone that follows Lucas Forester who hires a hitman to kill his wife because he wants to inherit her fortune. He thinks his plan is perfect, but when Lucas gets a cryptic note and photo on his doorstep, he realizes someone knows what he’s done.

I received an advanced reader copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The premise piqued my interest because the story is told from the antagonist’s point of view. I wanted to know what would happen, and the beginning does a good job of setting the stage for what’s to come.

Characters: Lucas is a villain but also the main character with an interesting backstory. The story is told in first person, and it was fun to follow Lucas as he tries to get away with his crime. There are more likeable characters who I enjoyed learning more about as well.

Quote:

“Good things come to those who make them happen…and then wait for the payoff.”

Writing: The book is a little over 350 pages, and it didn’t feel too long or short to me. I could easily keep track of the timeline as the story is broken up into days of the week. The the pacing is slower in the middle but picks up at the end. Some scenes are more graphic and violent in nature.

Final thoughts: I did predict some events, but I enjoyed how everything comes together at the end. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers that explore how dark and deceiving people can be, consider picking up Never Coming Home.


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Reading

Stay Close – Harlan Coben | A Book Review

Stay Close - Harlan Coben

Title: Stay Close

Author: Harlan Coben

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone that follows Ray, a talented photographer now working as a paparazzi, Megan, a mom of two who used to walk on the wild side, and Broome, a police detective trying to solve a cold case. They find themselves hiding secrets from everyone around them. The three are haunted by the disappearance of a man seventeen years ago, and when another person disappears on the same date, they have to confront their pasts.

First impressions: I’ve read another novel by Coben before and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this one. The premise sounded promising, which made me curious to see how things would play out.

Characters: Ray, Megan, and Broome grew on me as I learned more about their lives. I found them to be complex characters with messy pasts. The secondary characters also added another layer to the story.

Quote:

“You can find joy and be happy—but you don’t get to have everything.”

Writing: The book is almost 450 pages with short chapter breaks. There are multiple points of view, but I didn’t find myself struggling to follow along. Coben explores some mature topics and difficult issues.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the ending because it answers lingering questions. I couldn’t predict everything, so the twists and turns kept me turning the pages. In my opinion, this book is a fun thrilling read with a satisfying epilogue. If you’re a fan of funny yet dark murder mysteries, check out Stay Close.


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Reading

A Nearly Normal Family – M. T. Edvardsson | A Book Review

A Nearly Normal Family - M. T. Edvardsson

Title: A Nearly Normal Family

Author: M. T. Edvardsson

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: Stella Sandell, an 18-year-old teenager, is accused of murdering an older businessman. Her father, Adam, is a pastor and her mother, Ulrika, is a defense attorney. As the trial unfolds, the family learns that it isn’t love that will keep them together but rather lies.

First impressions: I was intrigued after reading the synopsis. The noel starts off with a prologue followed by the father’s point of view, then the daughter’s, and lastly the mother’s.

Characters: It follows the family before and during the trial where they’re faced with difficult decisions. I found them to be complex with their own strengths and shortcomings. Although Adam, Stella, and Ulrika aren’t the most likeable, there are reasons behind their choices.

Quote:

“Two people who have gone through everything we have together, who have come through an ordeal like ours in one piece, belong together in a way that is hard for others to comprehend.”

Writing: The book is over 500 pages, so it’s longer and more in-depth. Some parts felt a little repetitive to me, especially in the middle. That being said, the pacing picks up at the end. I couldn’t predict everything, but some events were easier to foresee. The novel explores several mature and tough topics.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed seeing the story unfold at the end as it wraps up loose ends. The epilogue also makes everything clearer without going into too much detail. If you’re a fan of long legal thrillers that explore family relationships, you might enjoy A Nearly Normal Family.


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Reading

Before She Disappeared – Lisa Gardner | A Book Review

Before She Disappeared - Lisa Gardner

Title: Before She Disappeared

Author: Lisa Gardner

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s the first in the Frankie Elkin series that follows a recovering alcoholic as she tries to find missing persons. She searches for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager, who disappeared months ago from a Boston neighbourhood. When Frankie starts asking questions, she realizes someone doesn’t want them answered.

First impressions: I’ve read another book by Gardener and enjoyed it, so I was excited to read this one. The premise sounded right up my alley. I liked how the story started.

Characters: I think Gardner does a great job weaving Frankie’s backstory with her current life where she’s trying to find Angelique. I found myself invested in both narratives, and everything made sense in the end. There are several different characters but not too many that it’s hard to keep track of everyone. I also appreciated the representation because it made the events feel more real and relatable.

Quote:

“Resolve to do better, because that’s the best any of us can do.”

Writing: It’s a little over 400 pages and told in first person point of view. In my opinion, the pacing is good as it’s not too fast or too slow. I couldn’t predict most of the twists and turns, so the plot kept me guessing.

Final thoughts: I’m happy with the ending, and I’m curious to check out the next book in the series. If you’re looking for a thrilling read about an everyday person who searches for people who go missing, I recommend Before She Disappeared.


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Reading

Every Last Fear – Alex Finlay | A Book Review

Every Last Fear - Alex Finlay

Title: Every Last Fear

Author: Alex Finlay

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone about Matt Pine, a university student, who finds out his family died from an apparent gas leak while on vacation in Mexico. Meanwhile Matt’s older brother, Danny, is in jail for the murder of his girlfriend Charlotte; however, some people think he was wrongfully convicted. The local police think it’s an accident, but the FBI take on the case, and Matt has to uncover the truth behind the night Danny was sent to prison.

First impressions: The premise sounded interesting, so I was looking forward to reading this novel. I like the title and cover.

Characters: It took some time for the Pine family to grow on me, but I found myself more invested in everyone halfway through. I enjoyed how they had different personalities and problems.

Quote:

“Memories formed under intense emotions are seared into our thoughts, branded by the hot iron of trauma.”

Writing: It’s over 400 pages with short chapters and alternating points of view, but I could follow along no problem. The book covers some mature issues, which may be difficult for some readers. It also reads like a movie as Finlay writes in a way that makes it easy to visualize what’s happening.

Final thoughts: The pacing is slower in the middle but picks up at the end. It was fun to see all the pieces coming together as I couldn’t predict everything. If you’re a fan of mystery thrillers with developed characters and layered storylines, pick up Every Last Fear.


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Reading

The Boy from the Woods – Harlan Coben | A Book Review

The Boy from the Woods - Harlan Coben

Title: The Boy from the Woods

Author: Harlan Coben

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s the first book in the Wilde series where he tries to find a local girl who goes missing. As a boy, he was found living in the woods with no memory of the past. He’s content with being an outcast, but in order to find Naomi Pine, he returns to a community where powerful people have secrets with dangerous consequences.

First impressions: I’ve never read anything by Coben before, but I’ve wanted to for a long time. The premise piqued my curiosity. Although the story started out differently than I expected, I enjoyed it nonetheless. Even from the beginning, I found the characters to be intriguing and the plot to be interesting.

Characters: Wilde is a complex individual with a mysterious past, so I think the author will continue to explore his backstory in the rest of the series. There are morally grey characters who do questionable things but have good reasons for doing so. I liked the depth of the interactions and conversations as well.

Quote:

“Memory is faulty because it insists on filling in the blanks.”

Writing: It’s a little over 400 pages with short chapter breaks. In my opinion, Coben did a great job in regards to the pacing of the novel. Some of the twists and turns surprised me.

Final thoughts: The ending wraps up loose ends while also setting the stage for the second book. Overall, it’s a solid read that weaves character development with a layered plot. If you enjoy a novel with multiple storylines about power and politics, check out The Boy from the Woods.


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Reading

The Good Samaritan – CJ Parsons | A Book Review

The Good Samaritan - CJ Parsons

Title: The Good Samaritan

Author: CJ Parsons

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone about a mother named Carrie whose five-year-old child gets abducted from the park. She’s unable to read people’s facial expressions, which may have put her daughter in danger. When a stranger brings Sofia home after a few days, Carrie wonders if the good Samaritans who helped her have ulterior motives.

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

First impressions: After reading the premise, I was excited to see where the story would go. I also like the title and cover. The beginning made me even more curious about the characters.

Characters: The diversity and representation added a different layer to the story. Carrie is a complex but likeable individual. She has social-emotional agnosia, so she can’t read people’s emotions. While the plot is interesting, I found myself more invested in the people involved because I could relate to them.

Quote:

“Because when it matters most, you’ll know who to trust.”

Writing: It’s almost 400 pages with short chapters written in the third person. The pacing of the plot picks up at the end. Some events aren’t too difficult to predict, but it was fun to see how everything played out, especially at the end.

Final thoughts: The ending is satisfying in that it wraps up loose ends without dragging things out. I also enjoyed the police procedural parts where an investigator and her team try to find out who abducted Sofia. If you’re looking for a thriller with great characterization and development, check out The Good Samaritan.


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Reading

The Replacement Wife – Darby Kane | A Book Review

The Replacement Wife - Darby Kane

Title: The Replacement Wife

Author: Darby Kane

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone about Elisa Wright who’s convinced her brother-in-law, Josh, is a killer. He has a dead wife, a missing fiancée, and a new girlfriend. Elisa tries to discover what happened to the women in his life while dealing with her own trauma.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I like the title, cover, and premise. The beginning sets the stage for the rest of the story by introducing the main characters. The chapters are short, especially at the start, which helps to build suspense.

Characters: Many of the characters are flawed with problems of their own. They aren’t always the most likeable, but I could still relate to them. Although I went through a different traumatic event than Elisa, the scenes that talk about her trauma resonated with me.

Quote:

“You get to struggle with what happened for as long as you need to.”

Writing: It’s a little over 400 pages, written in third person point of view with an unreliable narrator. The pacing slows down a bit in the middle, but things pick up at the end. Some of the issues explored include trauma, mental illness, and family relationships. As such, it’s not the easiest read because of the sad, stressful events in the story.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t too sure how it would end at first. Since there aren’t too many people involved, it’s not impossible to predict who did what. The ending answers most of the lingering questions. If you enjoy domestic psychological thrillers about different characters, you may want to check out The Replacement Wife.


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