Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Publication Date: June 19, 2018

5-STARS:  Bring Me Back, which hits stores on June 19th, is the third novel written by B.A. Paris – who has very rapidly become one of my favorite authors. Her first novel, Behind Closed Doors was published in 2016 and her second, The Breakdown was published last year. I have read all three of these and given them all solid 5-star reviews! I cannot tell you the last time I have had that kind of experience with an author.

This story, like the rest of her stories, starts off with a bang and NEVER lets up. To me, this is one of the most consistent and memorable parts of her stories – how quickly they get going. There is no time wasted, no numerous pages of filler to get through waiting for the excitement to start – you are in it, right away. For example, with this one, I made the following comment on Goodreads at page 6: “Just quickly, 6 paragraphs in…6! And just like that = intense! By paragraph 8, I am already yelling at our protagonist, you did what!? What!? B.A. Paris is queen!”

The story follows two main POVs through both present time and flashbacks. The narrative is expertly woven to keep you at the edge of your seat the whole way through. I had so many theories. ‘This is the answer. No, wait, that can’t be. Okay, okay, I have it, this is it. No?? What is happening???’

This story is not just psychologically intense but as with her other novels, I feel the character development is really strong. I find myself developing strong attachments to her characters, even the most unreliable narrators. I wouldn’t say they are always 100% ‘likable’ but they are definitely always believable! With her MCs especially, I feel like they are my friends – they are doing stupid things and making stupid, yet very human, mistakes and I just want to shake them (and frequently do scold them…yes, out loud, while I am reading…).

I feel it is best to go into her stories blind. The only thing you need to know about this is that it is a taut psychological thriller that will keep you frantically turning pages until the very END! And what an end it is – shook! So, yeah, in summation – I love this book so much. I CANNOT wait to see what she comes up with next – I am really hoping for a 2019 release to keep this beautiful rhythm we have going!

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review. It has seriously been the highlight of my year so far. To B.A. Paris, thank you so much for writing – you are my idol – the Queen of Manipulation!! xo

 

Book Review: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

I really enjoyed this and would give it between a 4 and 4.5 ☆s. I was introduced to this book through Book of the Month Club (which, if you aren’t a member of, you should be) – although I didn’t select it in the month it was first offered, I ultimately got it in a later box after seeing it everywhere!

This is the debut novel for Krysten Ritter, most well known as Jessica Jones in the Netflix original series of the same name. I was skeptical going in, I will admit – that whole singers becoming actors, actors becoming writers thing…but was so pleasantly surprised with how engaging this book was. The story follows our MC, Abigail Williams, who is an environmental attorney in Chicago. Having ‘escaped’, quite literally it seems, her small hometown in a very rural area, she gets the chance to return in order to investigate Optimal Plastics, the largest employer in town. Once there, Abby is thrown back into her old life and memories arrive that lead her to start questioning events that occurred when she was still in high school. Through memories of the past and current events a vicious tale of corruption and betrayal is told. The pace of this book is excellent and I just flew through it. Due to the short length of the chapters it is definitely a book that has that, ‘just one more chapter…just one more chapter…’ way about it!

The format of the book itself is pretty standard mystery/thriller which reminded me a bit of John Grisham’s, The Rainmaker. There is nothing really groundbreaking or out of the ordinary about this book but it is very fun and overall, very strong storytelling IMO. I think this would be a great book to bring on vacation or to the beach. I hope Ms. Ritter keeps writing because I have a feeling her writing will mature and her books will continue to get stronger and stronger.

My only issue with the book, and it is a slight one, was that the ending felt a bit rushed. Personally, I think this could have been 20 to 40 pages longer in order to better explore the outcome of events that Abby reveals – both past and present. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys legal thrillers, particularly with an evil corporation twist!  What was the last book you read that pleasantly surprised you with how good it ended up being? Leave a comment below!

Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Publication Date: May 8, 2018

5-stars!! 

I finished ‘Our Kind of Cruelty’ last night right before bed so figured I would take the night to consider what I had read before formulating my review. Here I am, the next morning, still trying to wrap my head around this book. Firstly, what a unique way of telling this story. Unique and impactful. Mike Hayes, our MC, and narrator of this story is unhinged and you get a front row seat to obsession. Verity, the object of focus, is a young lady you struggle throughout the book to understand; at least I did. Mike and V were involved in a long-term relationship which began while they were in college and eventually ended. This story follows that break-up and relives pieces of it through the mind of Mike.

How much of his thoughts are reality and how much are fantasy. The author did a phenomenal job of keeping you guessing. Is Mike as crazy as he seems? Is he creating a fantasy or she is feeding into his behaviors somehow. I absolutely loved the format of this book and how the author never let Mike slip from character. You are full force in this ‘love story’ from start to finish gaining insight into his infatuation with this young lady.

The culmination of the tale takes place in a courtroom where we see side characters, as well as both Verity and Mike, be questioned by attorneys regarding the exact nature and events of their relationship. I will admit even I was questioning Verity and her honesty at that point – which to me is humorous – an extension of how women can be blamed or treated with suspicion when it comes to a man’s behaviors in regards to her. Questioning the victim, blaming the victim, shaming the victim – these are all prevalent occurrences in our society – and I myself was guilty of it. I didn’t trust V, the whole way, even though I was witness to Mike’s mental fixation with her. I questioned what she was doing to fuel that fire. I continually questioned her choices: why didn’t she tell someone, her husband, the police? Why did she continue to correspond with him?

This was an incredibly intricate, mind-shaking story that gave me chills on the regular. I applaud the author for this effort – it is a truly distinct book for the thriller genre. I would highly recommend it. I hope my thoughts on this make some sort of sense – I am still boggled by this one. Thank you so much to Farrar, Straus & Giroux for providing me with the opportunity to read this book early and to provide my opinion. I cannot wait to see what other readers take from this one! What was the last book you read that really got under your skin? I want to know!  Leave a comment below!

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Publication Date: July 14, 2016

3-Stars:  I will get this out of the way up front – I listened to the Audio version of this book. The narrator…let’s just say, her style wasn’t my favorite as far as narration goes. This being said, I’m not sure how much that ended up affecting my ultimate rating for the book but I wanted to be sure to point it out.

I went into this book completely blind, I had heard a little buzz about it through social media, but really had no idea what it was about. I was completely surprised by the fact that the action kicked off so quickly. There were quite a few twists and turns, places where I thought I had it figured out, moments of revelation, etc., but overall it was pretty bland for me. It was a good book but I really had no feelings for it after it was over. It was a thing that happened, it kept me occupied, told me a little tale and then…that’s it. I did not enjoy any of the characters at all – I actually believe one of my mid-book status update comments was, ‘every character in this book is an asshole’ – so yeah. Bottom line, it was good, it didn’t blow me away but it was good. Average.

In other, much more exciting news, I pre-ordered my copy of Stephen King’s newest novel, The Outsider, which will be released on May 22nd!!!  Raise the flag, I am so excited to add a new, gorgeous King hardback to my bookshelves.  Check out the cover below – very creepy and cool!

Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Publication Date: July 11, 2017

4-stars out of 5
SURVIVOR
Wow, okay, this was a really fun read. A Book of the Month Club pick for July 2017, I am actually sad I waited this long to get to it (damn you, never-ending tbr list!). I am giving this four stars instead of five because I usually only give five stars to books that I would read again and I don’t think I would reread this one. The story for this is definitely one where it is most impactful the first time through.
The structure and storyline reminded me of a B-rate Horror flick and I do not mean that as an insult. I am a person who has sought out the best B-rate horror films my whole life- I love them. I feel this book would translate well into a movie actually. It starts much like many of those movies start, a group of super attractive college kids head off campus for a weekend celebration in the woods at a creepy little cabin…well, you can imagine the rest. Picture Cabin Fever, directed by the insanely talented Eli Roth, but witnessed through flashbacks. So fun, right?!
The beginning of the book was a little slow for me but about half way through the chapters started to get shorter and the flashbacks more frequent as you begin to piece together what the hell is actually going on. You think you know what is happening, you think it is predictable, but then that all gets flipped on its head and the ending was absolutely fabulous. Overall, I think this was very well done and I definitely want to read the book Riley Sager is set to release later this year, Last Time I Lied – if it is anything as good as this, I know it will be a wild ride!

Review: The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

Expected Publication: March 13, 2018

“It’s like my mother’s death made this huge noise a long time ago. And this murder is the echo of it”

(3.5-stars rounded up to 4) The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty is an adult thriller following female protagonist, Harper McClain, who is a crime reporter in the city of Savannah. As female leads go, I really liked Harper; I found her to be smart and believable. Although haunted by a past trauma where she stumbled across the crime scene of her murdered mother, we learn how Harper’s whole life was shaped by that one event; how she used it to fuel her passions for writing and reporting. For me, the book didn’t really pick up until about 30% into the story. The introductory phase of the characters, the city and Harper’s early life seemed just a little too drawn out for my taste before ever getting into the main point of our story – the murder and subsequent investigation of a woman by the name of Marie Whitney. Once Harper started looking into Ms. Whitney’s death, and coming to the conclusion that there was more to the story than her police friends were letting on, the action really started to pick up. Overall, I enjoyed this story and would definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur for providing me with an early copy of this book – I am excited for the release date to see what other readers think of it!

 

Mr. Mercedes – Where it all begins….

No doubt if you follow me on Instagram you are aware that The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King holds a very special place in my heart.  As I have never reviewed the books here on my blog, I figured I would start at the beginning with a quick review for Mr. Mercedes.

The first book of the Bill Hodges Trilogy, Mr. Mercedes, is a fast-paced crime thriller with the most dangerous villain I have read in a while. Brady Hartsfield is smart, deranged and so easy to hate. Along with his truly vile mother, Deborah, these two will leave your stomach churning. Brady is so creative in his wickedness it isn’t surprising it takes three books to tell his tale.

This book sets up the rest of the trilogy well and does a splendid job introducing us to our humble hero, Retired Detective Kermit William ‘Bill’ Hodges, who along with his neighborhood friend, teenager Jerome Robinson, work diligently to nab the ‘Mr. Mercedes’ killer. Closer to the end, we are introduced to Holly Gibney, the emotionally damaged cousin of Bill’s short-term girlfriend, Janey. Holly, throughout the course of the series, turns into one of my favorite characters – loyal, intelligent and snarky, Holly often provides a bit of humor and insight into the stressful, violence filled storylines. Jerome, as well, is quite humorous and him and Holly’s personalities play off each other quite well. Although different from the vast majority of King’s works, I am so in love with this trilogy that I rave about it often. The books are tied together in such an odd, yet seamless way, that it is nothing short of brilliant. King definitely knocked this one out of the park – the series gets better and better and is one-hell of a thrilling ride!

Review: Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

Happy Tuesday book world!  Short post from me today, as my most recent read can best be summed up with, “meh”.

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman, first published in May of 2016, had some moments of suspense but overall, I would give this book 3.5-stars. It was entertaining but fell a little short of being truly captivating. I listened to it on audiobook which was fine. They used two narrators to differentiate between present time versus flashbacks. The text mixed long-held family secrets together with a modern murder investigation. A lot was revealed over the course of the book that brings to mind the concept that no matter how perfect a family appears on the outside, for the most part, we all have secrets and skeletons in the ole’ family closets. I’m not sure I would really seek out other books by this author – as far as modern thrillers go, for me, this one fell a little short of the ‘thrilling’ part.

In other news, I had to leave for work today with 10 pages left in Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – now that one is a page turner!!!  I hope everyone has a wonderful day and gets lots of pages read!

Cheers~

Behind Closed Doors – Progress Report

Good morning book lovelies!  This morning prior to work, while drinking my first coffee of the day, I sat down to continue, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.  This is my first Paris book and it is definitely an edge of your seat thriller.  Truth be told, I am finding it really, really frustrating!  I like it.  I can’t put it down but I am getting so aggravated it is actually a wee bit stressful.

Aptly named, the book is about that couple we all know that seems just so damned perfect.  However, it’s what goes on behind closed doors that gets interesting – or horrifying as the case is here. I am 60% through this book and am loving the past/present alternation of the chapters; I frequently enjoy books that are formatted this way. My main aggravation with the book comes with the behavior of one of the main characters.  It is definitely a book that makes you think of what you would do if you were put in a certain situation and I can’t help but feel like our protagonist makes some very weak decisions – but really who am I to judge unless I am in the situation?

Have you read this book?  Did you find yourself feeling stressed and angry while reading it? I know it is going to come to the conclusion I am hoping for….I mean, it has to, right??  Ugh, I have to get home and read more!!!