Thriller

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Not That I Could TellNot That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not That I Could Tell was one of my Book of the Month picks for March, and once again they did not disappoint! Jessica Strawser’s new novel is definitely a “must read” for thriller lovers.

One evening, six neighborhood friends get together for a girl’s night around the bonfire, but they wake up the next morning to find Kristin and her two children missing. Then the questions begin. Where did she go? Did she run away from her life in Yellow Springs? Did her estranged, soon-to-be ex-husband do something horrible? Or is he simply a grieving man desperately searching for his family?

The story primarily follows the lives of two of the neighbors, Clara and Izzy, as they navigate the aftermath of Kristin’s disappearance. They were totally relatable, and developed perfectly by Jessica Strawser. But the thing that truly stood out to me was how well written the ancillary characters were. I really enjoyed the additional perspectives and elements they added to the storyline.

As the book progressed, I found myself constantly trying to guess what happened to Kristin, and changing my mind with every chapter. I wouldn’t say I was exactly surprised at the end because I figured what happened to her was one of the two options I was bouncing around in my head, but the last 10 – 15 pages really caught me off guard. Let’s just say the ending was super clever on Strawser’s part.

For all my Gone Girl lovers out there, this one is for you!

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Audiobook Review, Thriller

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

The Girl BeforeThe Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So admittedly, when I checked out this audiobook from the library I honestly had no clue what it was about. Let’s just say I was judging books by their covers when I was scrolling through the list of available titles (gasp!). So what a pleasant surprise that the book I just kind of stumbled upon turned out to be so good!

I started listening to the audiobook on my Nashville-typical, traffic-ridden drive to work, and the narrators (Emilia Fox, Finty Williams, and Lise Aagaard Knudsen) grabbed my attention right away! So much so that I didn’t want to get out of my car when I finally pulled into the parking garage an hour later. They really captured the essence of each of the three main characters throughout the entirety of the story. And J.P. Delaney’s writing made the book come alive.

The story centers around Jane and Emma, and their parallel lives living within the confines of 1 Folgate Street, an architectural marvel designed by Edward Monkford. The low cost of rent for living in the sleek, technologically-enhanced house seems too good to be true, until they learn of Monkford’s unusual rules that one must follow in exchange for taking up residence. In the beginning, the women’s lives took an almost identical path, but as the story continues, their lives start to diverge in very different directions, and they may find that things are not always as they appear.

So the most shocking part of this book… It kind of took a Fifty Shades of Grey turn (minus the whole bondage thing) about a third of the way through that I was totally not expecting. Monkford’s demeanor and domineering attitude gave me a little bit of a Christian Grey vibe which was an interesting aspect of his character. Totally was not expecting it, but I dug it.

Film Title: Fifty Shades Freed

As far as the ending is concerned, I can’t say that I was blown away by the first big “surprise” at the end, but the final few minutes of the book caught me totally off guard. And the ending was done brilliantly, with a touch of mystery to consider even after the audio stopped rolling.

If you’re looking for something “just a little bit different,” this is your book.

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Mystery, Thriller

Find You in the Dark: A Novel by Nathan Ripley

Find You in the Dark: A NovelFind You in the Dark: A Novel by Nathan Ripley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two words: Messed. Up.

But in a good way.

This was one of the more bizarre stories I have read. It was like a story you would see on Investigation Discovery, feeling like a dark, inconceivable, fictitious version of 48 hours or Dateline.

Martin Reese has a hobby. Rather, an obsession. He studies serial killers, searches for their victims’ dead bodies, and digs them up. Seeing his work as a public service, he then calls the police and reports the missing girls as found, all while remaining anonymous. But little does Martin know somebody is on to his secret, somebody who would kill to stop him.

Nathan Ripley did such a great job developing this story from the beginning. I was along for the ride through and through. With layers upon layers, my interest was piqued and attention held for all 368 pages. Each of the many characters that were introduced along the way had a distinct purpose, and added depth to the novel. And, all of the loose ends were tied up thoughtfully and purposefully at the conclusion of the story.

I also found myself feeling empathetic toward Martin, despite some of the more sinister actions he takes throughout the novel. I felt conflicted, struggling between my moral compass and the feeling of wanting to relate to the protagonist regardless of his poor choices. It was an interesting situation that the reader was put in by Nathan Ripley.

Overall, would highly recommend this book to anybody who is looking to get a little scared in the dark.

-This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Nathan Ripley, and Atria Books for the opportunity to review.-

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General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Girls' Night OutGirls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out July 24th!

So, I had been hearing about this book everywhere. Tons of people on my various book-related social media groups were raving about Girls’ Night Out. So of course I had to read it too! I must say I’m not in Camp Knocked-It-Out-Of-The-Park. But I am in Camp That-Was-Pretty-Good.

Premise of the book: Natalie, Ashley, and their friend Lauren came to Mexico on a girls vacation, in an attempt to rekindle their dwindling friendships. But, will they be able to overcome their pasts? When a charming local inserts himself in their getaway, all bets are off.

The beginning of the story reminded me of a non-comedy version of The Hangover (minus Bradley Cooper… unfortunate), with Natalie waking up on the beach having no recollection of what happened the night before, only to find that her best friend Ashley is missing.

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The book jumps back and forth in time between the days leading up to Ashley’s disappearance and the events after, eventually revealing the happenings of “that night.” Unfortunately, I can’t say any of the events in the book were truly shocking or unexpected. The elements that seemed like they were supposed to be unpredictable seemed extremely obvious, and overall the ending was a bit underwhelming.

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But don’t get me wrong. This makes it seem like I didn’t like the book at all, but I did. The story kept me interested despite my lack of surprise, and I felt the panic in the girls as they searched for their friend. The three main characters were relatable (almost gave me a Sex and the City vibe), although they bickered almost the entire length of the story (kind of like that time Miranda told Big he was crazy to get married and Carrie found out… Eek!).

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I wish the book hadn’t been so hyped up for me, because I ended up expecting much more in my head than what was delivered. If I had just picked it up off the shelf and read it with no expectations, I probably would have enjoyed it more. But overall, bravo to Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke for putting forth an entertaining read!

-This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke, and Lake Union Publishing for giving me the opportunity to review.-

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Thriller

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between UsThe Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, let me just say something. I read a lot of thrillers. Dark and twisty is my thing. The darker and twistier the better, please. So let me make a bold statement. The Wife Between Us was the twistiest book I’ve read in a really long time. There. I said it.

I honestly don’t even think I can do the book justice with my own summary, plus any discussion of the plot will give away key pieces of information for any future readers. So, instead, I will do something I don’t do often, and give you the summary from the book jacket (because it’s just that spot on):

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Props to Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen for publishing a truly shocking series of events. “Assume nothing” is the key here. I must admit I made a lot of assumptions along the way, only to have those assumptions shattered. But, that’s not the thing that made this book great. Most books have one or two moments where you’re “surprised.” This book had moments that changed the entire course of the story. You thought you were heading down one path with the characters (let’s say in a car), only to find out that you were really on an airplane flying in the opposite direction.

(Insert: “What just happened?”)

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I found this book through my Book of the Month subscription, so let me just take a minute to hail the Book-of-the-Month Gods for offering this exceptional title. If you have not read this book, do it. Right now. You won’t regret it.

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