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

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 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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Reading

Walk the Wire – David Baldacci | A Book Review

Walk the Wire - David Baldacci

Title: Walk the Wire

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Mystery Thriller

About the book: It’s the sixth book in the Amos Decker series that follows two FBI agents in London, North Dakota. Amos and Alex investigate the murder of Irene Cramer, a teacher for a religious sect that’s operating on land owned by a government facility. As more people die, they have to figure out the identity of the killer before things get worse.

First impressions: I was excited for this novel because I’ve read many of Baldacci’s previous books. The premise piqued my curiosity because it seemed different than other plots. I also like how the title and cover go together.

Characters: I’m a fan of Amos and Alex. I love the crossover with other characters from another series in this story. There’s a lot of individuals involved, but I found it easy enough to follow along.

Quote:

“Sometimes time doesn’t make a difference in how you feel about someone.”

Writing: It’s almost 500 pages long with short chapters. I enjoyed the twists and turns as I couldn’t predict some of them. The plot is quite complicated with multi-layered storylines.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t too sure how everything would tie together, but the ending felt satisfying in my opinion. Although this isn’t my favourite novel by the author, it’s still a fun read. If you want to read a complex mystery thriller about people with secrets in a fracking town, check out Walk the Wire.


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Reading

The Third to Die – Allison Brennan | A Book Review

The Third to Die - Allison Brennan

Title: The Third to Die

Author: Allison Brennan

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s the first in a new series that follows a police detective in Kara Quinn and an FBI agent in Matt Costa. They investigate a case involving a serial killer who kills every three years, murdering three victims, each three days apart. As Kara and Matt learn more about the murderer, they realize one member of their own team may be the next target.

First impressions: I love a good thriller, so I was curious to see how the story would play out. The book is longer than I expected at over 550 pages, but I enjoyed the beginning.

Characters: Both Kara and Matt are complex individuals with different personalities. I liked learning more about their backstory. There are a lot of different characters, so it took me some time to keep track of everyone. That being said, the unique relationships add an interesting layer to the novel.

Quote:

“She hoped that he kept that spark of optimism and joy because so few people had it.”

Writing: Brennan does a good job weaving multiple storylines together. The book explores many issues with some mature and graphic scenes. It is written in third person, and the short chapters help to build suspense.

Final thoughts: The ending ties up loose ends while setting the stage for the next novel in the series. I would recommend The Third to Die if you’re looking to read a crime thriller that feels like watching an episode of Criminal Minds.


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