Reading

Bring Me Back – B. A. Paris | A Book Review

Bring Me Back - B. A. Paris

Title: Bring Me Back

Author: B. A. Paris

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone about Finn and Layla, a couple on vacation. Finn stops at a service station but returns to find Layla has disappeared. Twelve years later, he is about to get married to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Everything changes when someone from his past calls to tell him that Layla might still be alive.

First impressions: I thought the premise had a lot of potential for an interesting read. The pacing at the beginning is good, but it slows down afterwards before picking up again.

Characters: The story doesn’t have too many characters, so it mainly revolves around Finn, Layla, and Ellen. They lack depth and didn’t develop much. As such, I didn’t find them likeable or relatable.

Quote:

“That’s the thing about losing someone; you tend to remember every careless remark, even those made in jest.”

Writing: The book felt a little repetitive at times. I was hoping the plot would be more unpredictable with different twists and turns. The ending didn’t take me by surprise as I saw some things coming before they happened. The author explores dark themes that are quite mature in nature.

Final thoughts: Everything is revealed at the end and loose ends are tied up. The events aren’t very realistic, so I had to suspend disbelief while reading this novel. Even though I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers, Bring Me Back wasn’t really for me. It’s still an easy read with short chapters that might entertain some readers.


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Vortex – Catherine Coulter | A Book Review

Vortex - Catherine Coulter

Title: Vortex

Author: Catherine Coulter

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s the 25th book in the FBI Thriller series that follows FBI agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich. Mia Briscoe, a political journalist, attended a college party seven years ago where her best friend was never seen or heard from again. Olivia Hildebrandt, a CIA operative, is nearly killed on a mission in Iran and attacked at her home later. Mia and Sherlock unravel secrets that some powerful figures will do anything to keep hidden. Olivia and Savich work together to find out who compromised her mission.

First impressions: Although I haven’t read the previous books in the series, I was able to follow along easily enough. The premise piqued my interest, and the beginning sets the stage for the rest of the story. There are different mysteries and many characters involved.

Characters: I liked learning more about Mia, Sherlock, Olivia, and Savich. I was more invested in the storyline revolving around Mia and Sherlock than the others.

Quote:

“I’ve always believed each of us has infinite value, no one individual more than any other.”

Writing: It’s about 400 pages with short chapters. The plot isn’t too hard to predict, but I still enjoyed seeing the story unfold. I think the pacing isn’t too slow. Also, the novel explores some dark and serious issues.

Final thoughts: The ending ties up loose ends, and the epilogue provides even more closure. If you’re a fan of thrillers with many moving parts about politics and power, you can pick up Vortex.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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