Reading

Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson | A Book Review

Before She Knew Him - Peter Swanson

Title: Before She Knew Him

Author: Peter Swanson

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone novel about Henrietta Mazur who moves into a new house with her husband Lloyd. When she meets Mira and Matthew, the couple next door, Hen sees an object in Matthew’s office that is connected to an unsolved murder. It leads her to think he’s a killer, but no one believes her.

First impressions: I liked the premise because it sounded like a suspenseful and compelling thriller. Even from the beginning, there’s a creepy, dark undertone to the story that continues throughout the book.

Characters: I enjoyed learning about Hen and Matthew. The characters have their own flaws and shortcomings, but I found myself drawn to them nonetheless.

Quote:

“They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret.”

Writing: It’s about 350 pages long, so the story isn’t too long or too short. The author is descriptive and writes in a way that makes the plot easy to follow.

Final thoughts: The author explored many mature issues, so it isn’t a suitable read for everyone. I didn’t see the plot twist at the end coming at all, but the ending more or less ties up loose sends. If you love psychological thrillers about killers, check out Before She Knew Him.


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Reading

A Reasonable Doubt – Philip Margolin | A Book Review

A Reasonable Doubt - Philip Margolin

Title: A Reasonable Doubt

Author: Philip Margolin

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s the third book in the Robin Lockwood series following a former MMA fighter who is now a criminal defense attorney. When a magician named Robert Chesterfield dies in the middle of his magic trick, Robin finds herself trying to figure out how he was murdered in front of three thousand people.

First impressions: I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I was intrigued by the premise. I was expecting more investigation scenes with Robin in them, yet the beginning goes over what happened more than a decade ago when Chesterfield is accused of killing two people.

Characters: At the beginning, I found myself trying to keep track of everyone involved. I liked Robin but I wanted to learn more about her, and some of the secondary characters.

Quote:

“My job is helping people in trouble, not judging them.”

Writing: The chapters are short with a good balance of dialogue and description. At around 350 pages, it’s a quick read. The story is easy to follow as a standalone, so you don’t have to read the series in order, but there are a few references to events that occurred in the first two novels.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the ending with Robin solving the case. If you are a fan of magic and mystery with investigation and courtroom scenes, consider picking up A Reasonable Doubt.


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Reading

Hindsight – Iris and Roy Johansen | A Book Review

Hindsight - Iris and Roy Johansen

Title: Hindsight

Author: Iris and Roy Johansen

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s the seventh book in the Kendra Michaels series. She was blind for twenty years before getting a surgical procedure, and now she’s an investigator. When two staff members at a school Kendra attended are murdered, she puts her life on the line to discover why.

First impressions: I haven’t read anything written by these authors before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t even realize this novel was part of a series. It’s easy enough to follow along as a stand-alone though.

Characters: I liked some of the secondary characters, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kendra. She has a combative personality, constantly getting into arguments with others. I didn’t enjoy the relationships and interactions because it felt like the same issues were repeated throughout the book.

Quote:

“No one knows everything about a person, because everything around us keeps changing.”

Writing: There’s a lot of dialogue, so most of the information is revealed when characters speak to each other. I liked certain aspects of the plot, but at times, I had to suspend disbelief to enjoy the story. It’s a little under 400 pages, so the book isn’t too long.

Final thoughts: The pacing picks up at the end. I enjoyed the ending and learning about the killer’s motivations. If you are a fan of murder mysteries with some romance mixed in, you might enjoy Hindsight.


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Reading

Deep State – Chris Hauty | A Book Review

Deep State - Chris Hauty

Title: Deep State

Author: Chris Hauty

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s the first book in the Hayley Chill series, following a young army veteran who starts an internship at the White House. One morning, Hayley finds the White House Chief of Staff dead in his home from something other than natural causes. With powerful government figures attempting to undermine America’s future, she is in a race against time to save the president of the United States from becoming the next murder victim.

First impressions: I love a good thriller as much as anyone, and I like the simplicity of the cover. I don’t know much about US politics and government, so I was interested to learn more. The prologue introduces Hayley and gives readers a glimpse into her life.

Characters: Hayley is a likeable protagonist, and I could relate to her. I enjoyed reading about the villains and their backstories. The juxtaposition between secondary characters added depth to the story.

Quote:

“Know your enemies better than you know yourself.”

Writing: The chapters are long, but there are breaks in between. Hauty is a screenwriter who has a descriptive writing style. The story alternates between the perspectives of different characters, but I found it easy to follow along.

Final thoughts: I didn’t see the plot twist coming at the end, so it made the ending even more fun to read. If you want to pick up a political thriller, check out Deep State.


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The Runaway – Lisa Childs | A Book Review

The Runaway - Lisa Childs

Title: The Runaway

Author: Lisa Childs

Genre: Romantic Suspense

About the book: It’s the first in the Bane Island Trilogy. Rosemary Tulle gets a message from her sister, asking to be picked up from a treatment center that used to be an asylum. To learn the truth about Genevieve’s disappearance, Rosemary turns to a man she wants nothing to do with in Whit Lawrence.

First impressions: The premise intrigued me because I love a good mystery. The title and cover do a good job hinting at what the novel is about. I found it easy enough to get into the story thanks in part to the short, suspenseful chapters.

Characters: There are more characters than I expected, and it took some time for me to warm up to them. I liked how the relationship between Rosemary and Whit developed.

Quote:

“Every man has something or someone in his past that haunts him.”

Writing: The book is a little over 300 pages long, alternating between different perspectives. In my opinion, the narrative unfolded at a good pace, especially at the end. It’s well-written aside from a few mistakes here and there.

Final thoughts: I saw some twists coming, but I still enjoyed seeing the story play out. The ending ties up many loose ends while also setting the stage for the next novel. If you like mystery with a romantic subplot, check out The Runaway.


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Reading

The Berlin Girl – Mandy Robotham | A Book Review

The Berlin Girl - Mandy Robotham

Title: The Berlin Girl

Author: Mandy Robotham

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the book: It follows Georgie Young, a reporter, who arrives in Berlin when the country is on the brink of war. Georgie and Max Spender, another journalist from London, put their life on the line in Nazi Germany.

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

First impressions: I’m a fan of historical fiction, especially stories set around wartime. The premise piqued my curiosity, so I was excited to pick up this novel. I haven’t read anything by Robotham before, so I didn’t know quite what to expect.

Characters: The story mainly revolves around Georgie and Max. I adored how their relationship with each other evolved. I found myself rooting for Georgie because she’s such a strong protagonist. I also enjoyed learning more about the secondary characters, which included other journalists as well as Jewish families.

Quote:

“Feeling had become a luxury he couldn’t afford.”

Writing: It’s about 400 pages long. The chapters are short, and the chapter titles hint at what’s going to happen. I felt a lot of different emotions while reading as the author examines difficult issues.

Final thoughts: The ending is interesting, and there’s also an epilogue. Robotham uses newspaper articles to show what happens to the different characters after the war. If you want to read about the influence of journalism in Europe leading up to the war, I would recommend The Berlin Girl.


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China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan | A Book Review

China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan

Title: China Rich Girlfriend

Author: Kevin Kwan

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s the second book in the Crazy Rich Asians series that follows Rachel Chu as she prepares to get married to her fiancé, Nicholas Young. In an interesting turn of events, Rachel discovers the identity of her birth father, and she’s drawn into a world where everyone seems to be rich.

First impressions: I enjoyed the first novel, so I decided to check out the next one. The beginning wasn’t what I expected, but I liked it nonetheless. I found it easier to follow the different storylines because I was already familiar with the characters.

Characters: There are some new characters introduced but not too many. As such, it was easier to keep track of who was who. I like Rachel and Nick, but I also adore some of the secondary characters. Even though they are so rich, I still found myself being able to relate to them.

Quote:

“What she truly wanted, what she had always wanted but failed to realize until this moment, was someone who loved her just the way she was.”

Writing: It’s over 500 pages long, which doesn’t make for a fast read. The author is very descriptive, including a lot of detail about what people are eating, wearing, etc. Kwan uses footnotes to elaborate further or to provide a translation when he uses Chinese words.

Final thoughts: I felt the middle dragged on for a little bit, but I enjoyed the ending. I recently read Crazy Rich Asians, and I liked it better than the sequel. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, consider picking up China Rich Girlfriend.


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A Court of Frost and Starlight – Sarah J. Maas | A Book Review

A Court of Frost and Starlight - Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy (New Adult)

About the book: It’s a companion novel to the A Court of Thorns and Roses series that follows Feyre, Rhys, and their friends as they rebuild after the war. With the Winter Solstice near, this story picks up where A Court of Wings and Ruin left off and sets the stage for the next novel.

First impressions: I liked the previous novels in the series, so I was interested in reading more. I wasn’t expecting this book to be so short at a little over 200 pages long, but at least it makes for a quick read.

Characters: This novel focuses more on the characters than on a plot, so readers get to learn more about Feyre, Rhys, Mor, Amren, Cassian, Azriel, Elain, Nesta, etc. I enjoyed the conversations and interactions between everyone, even the secondary characters.

Quote:

“I have to create, or I will crumple up with despair and never leave my bed.”

Writing: The chapters alternate perspectives with Feyre’s and Rhys’s point of view written in the first person while the others are told in third person. There are also some sexual scenes, so I’d classify it as new adult rather than young adult.

Final thoughts: The novella is short and sweet, giving readers more insights into the characters. If you’re a fan of Maas and this series, you might enjoy A Court of Frost and Starlight.


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