Categories
Suspense Thrillers

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris (ARC Review)

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for the eARC of The Prisoner! I will always covet the chance to read an upcoming B.A. Paris book, especially when it follows something strong like last year’s release, The Therapist.

Unfortunately, The Prisoner mostly missed the mark for me and I don’t find it to be one of her stronger books.


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Prisoner
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: B.A. Paris
  • Publisher & Release: St Martin’s Press, 11/01/22
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐ (Sorry – yes to fans of the author & genre though)

Here’s the synopsis:

With Behind Closed Doors, New York Times bestselling author B. A. Paris took the psychological thriller to shocking new heights. Now she’ll hold you captive with THE PRISONER―a stunning new thriller about one woman wed into a family with deadly intentions.

Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a life for herself, she is swept up into a glamorous lifestyle where she married the handsome billionaire Ned Hawthorne.

But then, Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?


My thoughts:

The plot itself sounds interesting enough, a husband and wife are kidnapped and we have to learn why, then how it unfurls, and then what happens afterward.  I’m always down for a psychological or domestic thriller with these plots.

The issue is that in order for these kinds of books to be interesting or terrifying, they have to be if not real, at least believable. Even the believable parts in this one weren’t believable. Those older women wouldn’t just invite 18 year old Amelie into their lives so quickly, and Ned doing the things that Ned does, even the twists at the end involving Amelie’s money, none of it really worked for me.  It just all felt very cartoon like and more eye rolls happened than they should have.

And the end didn’t work – yeah yeah yeah Amelie wants to straightaway get involved with another very dangerous accessory to murder No. It was just too easy to wrap everything up with that super long conversation at the end.

Also the entire book was repetitive.  It had short chapters that are good for flipping pages quickly, but for something so short it seems like it should have moved forward more than sideways sometimes. The other issue is that unless we were told, it was hard to keep track of how much time was passing overall.  Four years from start to finish, how did that even happen? I think dates would have helped this one a lot for the segments taking place in the past.

 I finished the book rather quickly despite everything, so that’s something. For the four Paris novels I’ve read now: I loved Behind Closed Doors, liked The Therapist, kind of sort of tolerated Bring Me Back, but The Prisoner to me is the worst of the bunch. Sorry, I just know BA Paris can do better!

Thanks for checking out my book review of The Prisoner! As always, I endlessly thank St. Martin’s Press for being a wonderful partner and providing me with so many amazing free books to review! All honest opinions are my own

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson (Book Thoughts)

I won a copy of Mother May I  in a Bookstagram giveaway when it was first published and finally got around to reading it! Coincidentally the paperback just released and there is a book tour going on so definitely check that out if you’re interested!

This is a terrifying domestic suspense novel in which a baby is abducted, and then a battle of which female character is the craziest ensues.  That’s my one sentence summary anyway 😂

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Mother May I
  • Author: Joshilyn Jackson
  • Publisher & Release: William Morris, April 2021
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of that domestic suspense / thriller genre!

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

The New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Never Have I Ever returns with an even more addictive novel of domestic suspense in which a mother must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her child and the life she loves—an unforgettable tale of power, privilege, lies, revenge, and the choices we make, ones that transform our lives in unforeseen ways.

Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected that fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of.

Until the day she awakens and sees someone peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daugh­ters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price.

Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?

The trophy wife of a rich lawyer, Bree decides to follow the kidnapper’s demands instead of going to the police. When she discovers that the kidnapper is also a mother, things get both weird and more interesting as we learn why the old woman would want to harm a innocent child.  Who is she really targeting?

Through stories and flashbacks we learn about Bree, her husband, their history and family.  There are a few sultry parts with mild adult content.

Seeing as the backstory related to the plot and didn’t slow things down too much, I didn’t hate it.

The book also raises an interesting debate about sexual assault and power in the context of race and class, and the influence of money and privilege in general. A poor girl with no resources might be derailed, while the rich male students involved aren’t so much as chastised. So, does one event (in which the girl initiated it and brought the drugs) make the men criminals? Do they deserve to be persecuted in the future?  I have mixed thoughts on these situations, like wtf is the girl thinking vs wtf are any of them thinking. Jackson definitely succeeded in provoking thought around these different characters from different backgrounds and I found it quite interesting

I also think Jackson provided a rare accurate description of a resuscitation effort and the violence of the encounter, right down to pretty much how the person’s body looks. This is something that most authors gloss over but I loved how it added a measure of finality to the sequence of events.

Character wise … I definitely liked pretty much all of the side characters (Marshal, Gabriela,0 the kids, Marshal again), more than Bree and Trey.  There were a lot of complicated feelings going around in the book and to emphasize how I feel about Trey, I was pretty satisfied by the ending of the book.

I guessed parts of the outcome but not all!

Definitely one to check out if you like thrillers, suspense, morality, family drama, moms in momma bear mode

Categories
audiobooks Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

Before I Go To Sleep (Book Thoughts) by S.J. Watson

Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson is a slightly older (2011) psychological thriller & suspense novel.  It is probably the book that kicked off the more recent popularity of the ‘amnesia trope’ as I have seen many books peg themselves as ‘for fans of…’ this one.

Between that and the fact that I wanted to watch the movie, I bumped this one up on my backlist!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Before I Go To Sleep
  • Author: SJ Watson
  • Publisher & Release: HarperCollins, June 2011
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ by nature slightly repetitive, but still a good domestic psychological suspense

Here is the synopsis via GoodReads:.

Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.

Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.

Christine wakes up every day and has no idea about … Anything. Where is she? Who is this stranger in het bed? Why is she 47 now?

Every day, her husband reorients her and then heads odd to work.  She is contacted by, and then begins to work with a new doctor, in secret, and starts writing down daily events and what her husband tells her.  Things get even weirder when she realizes the strange man – her husband apparently – lies to her.

The game for the reader becomes trying to decide if Ben is lying because he is sick of living day in day out with an amnesiac?  Are the memories of losing a son too painful for him? Is Christine just paranoid? Or… Is it something more sinister.  Also, where does this new Dr – Dr. Nash – fit into everything?

While the book is by nature very repetitive at first, it got definitively creepy and more thrilling towards the end. I guessed the ‘who’ but not the ‘why’ at all, and the WHY is definitely the grabbing point.  The last 25% was very exciting and for me that made up for the slower start.

The psychology was pretty cool too, I enjoyed reading about different types of amnesia and the therapy, and then seeing the figurative walls coming down.

That ending though, that ending 😂

I would recommend this one for fans of domestic thrillers and a man writing hilarious descriptions of a weiner. Oh yes – after the third time a penis was described as “comical”, I had to butt out and see if the author was a man or woman.  Not to say that as a woman, I don’t tend to find penises comical – but this was definitely a man writing the sexy scenes 😂

A note on the audio: If anyone is an audio fan, I think Orlagh Cassidy was a properly confused and then horrified sounding narrator.  Christine spent most of her time either confused, scared, hopeful or hopeless, and Cassidy conveyed that all very well.  I loved her accent and also think that the audio would make this book more enjoyable for those who (like me) tend to lose focus with repetitive text.  It runs 11hours 32 minutes from HarperAudio and I obtained my copy through Libby!

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

The Favor (ARC Review) by Nora Murphy

Thank you so much to Minotaur Books for the free digital advanced copy of The Favor by Nora Murphy! All opinions are my own

I have mixed but overwhelmingly positive feelings about this book. It is a gripping domestic thriller that I read in two sittings. The author is a lawyer who has worked with survivors of intimate partner violence and it’s obvious she knows what she is writing about. My only issue was with one of the points of view that just didn’t ring true.  I would definitely recommend The Favor to anyone who enjoys a fast paced stressful domestic thriller.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Favor
  • Series: N/a
  • Author: Nora Murphy
  • Publisher & Release: Minotaur Books, 05/31/22
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ yes for fans of domestic thrillers

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

A gripping debut domestic suspense novel, The Favor explores with compassion and depth what can happen when women pushed to the limit take matters into their own hands.

Staying is dangerous. Leaving could be worse.

Leah and McKenna have never met, though they have parallel lives.

They don’t—ever—find themselves in the same train carriage or meet accidentally at the gym or the coffee shop. They don’t—ever—discuss their problems and find common ground. They don’t—ever—acknowledge to each other that although their lives have all the trappings of success, wealth and happiness, they are, in fact, trapped.

Because Leah understands that what’s inside a home can be more dangerous than what’s outside. Driving past McKenna’s house one night, she sees what she knows only too well herself from her own marriage: McKenna’s “perfect” husband is not what he seems. She decides to keep an eye out for McKenna, until one night, she intervenes.

Leah and McKenna have never met. But they will

This is a shorter and very fast paced read that will be perfect for summer reading.  Like I said I read it in two sittings and have no regrets.

Both of the women have a present tense point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed their narratives and was just downright scared for them the whole time in the current storyline. As the author writes in the afterword,  IPV occurs among white collar professionals and it is just terrible how these things can happen even to well educated women like Leah and McKenna. They are respectively a lawyer and doctor. There was a second timeline that started when Leah got married and worked towards present day events, showing how things devolved once the husband got control

Once a crime occured and the third voice is introduced, I unfortunately thought the detective’s POV detracted from the book. The whole side storyline involving his partner showed that some people don’t escape the violence and may have helped to toggle his understanding of events. It generally felt distracting though. The detective felt like a very cookie cutter character and even just with some of the generic investigator lines that he said it was difficult to feel anything for him. I also think that due to the nature of the crime in the novel there would be no way that he could start to close the case so early. The social pressure would be unbelievable, heck maybe I’ve read too many procedurals but it seems like some special crime crew would get involved if he wanted to close the case. What happened definitely works for the book but it just didn’t feel real at all

The only other silly thing was that one of the women mentioned the importance of financial independence, well before the control and coercion started, but then didn’t hesitate to transfer all of her funds into a joint account when she got married. All of your funds – hello that’s not maintaining your independence! Good advice there for women to absolutely not do that and maintain a portion of their own finances. It was also shown that some banking related things can be subverted with forged signatures, but I thought banks required most of those forms to be signed in person?

Don’t mind me please I am just splitting hairs now. These things absolutely worked in the scope of the novel. The Favor is a thrilling, suspenseful, quick read and contains a list of resources for suspected abuse at the end as well as a thoughtful afterword which I think added a lot to the novel.  One good thing that the detective character accomplished was identifying signs that IPV may be happening to somebody, as in, what does it look like to people in their social circle?

Breakneck pace, suspense, danger, women you’ll care about, and I think the tough topics were handled well and without judgement.

Definitely do pick this one up if it sounds up your alley, these characters have a heck of a story. Out in May!

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

Greenwich Park (ARC Review) by Katherine Faulkner

Thank you so much to Gallery Books for the ARC and merch for Greenwich Park! I just love the tote and the book is a decent, suspenseful read too

This is a domestic thriller, featuring a group of three siblings and their spouses or significant others. There is a wildcard character from the past that comes back and everything just gets bizarre and suspenseful real quick.

This is a great effort for a debut and I like Faulkner’s style. Read on to see my full thoughts!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Greenwich Park
  • Author: Katherine Faulkner
  • Publisher & Release: Gallery Books, 01/25/22
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ for fans of domestic thrillers and suspense

Here’s the synopsis:

A twisty, whip-smart debut thriller, as electrifying as the #1 New York Times bestseller The Girl on the Train, about impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets.

Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and cherished baby on the way (after years of trying)—begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears.

But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. And Helen’s not the only one who’s noticed. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history in unexpected ways. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath the broad-leaved trees and warm lamplight of Greenwich Park.

Faulkner is a great writer, and has some investigative journalism experience to help flesh out the story. I would have liked to somehow see a little more of the police procedural, but some of that action was told through Katie’s point of view.

Pacing wise, the book certainly was never boring and moved at a steady pace. It wasn’t always exciting but there was plenty of mood setting and just enough history before things started dicey. I was able to guess some of the outcomes but missed the big reveals.

Helen, the main point of view, was just the most naïve, kind of dumb character ever. She was was practically gaslit at times by another character, but she also had the worst memory ever and let a harmful situation (Rachel) into her house and then just forgot how bad everything was? Frequently? One minute she was finding stolen items, the next she missed Rachel? I didn’t get that at all, but Helen just didn’t seem that bright. I did feel badly for her being taken advantage of

Rachel, the wildcard character, was terrible from start to finish. She was just insufferably terrible, stupid and selfish, not paying rent, being a pain in the ass, etc. Regardless of what happened to her in the past, she has a history of making stupid and destructive life decisions and honestly at no point did I ever feel sympathy for her. Not that I advocate for anyone being brutalized but I mean, we see how she conducts herself!

Katie, the journalist, was the second point of view, and I liked her the most. Serena, the final point of view, felt super fake and it was hard to tell where she would fit into everything at the end. It was fun to try to determine whether Helen or Serena or both were unreliable narrators.

There was a mystery, Greenwich Park, point of view, and yep I took the obvious choice and was wrong about who it was.

It was a good suspense novel though, I felt pretty concerned for one or more characters throughout. I also really liked the setting of Greenwich Park and Faulkner’s descriptions of sights, smells, scenery, even tastes, she is great at providing those visual aspects. I googled Greenwich Park and that also helped me form a visual of the big mansions. It’s a timeless setting and explained why there were so many people there during the day too.

My only issue with the style was that some of the chapters, towards the end, chopped off in odd spots. I knew it was to keep the reader engaged but felt super abrupt sometimes. At least though she did always explain what happened after the action cut off.

I would say this is a good read though, for fans of domestic type thrillers and suspense involving groups of friends, unreliable narrators, criminal cases.

….

Now this is spoiler free but if you haven’t read the book, I might suggest stopping here, even though I give no names or specific events away, I COULD NOT BUY ONE HALF OF THE PREMISE OF THE BOOK AT THE END!!

I just couldn’t! It’s a tiny spoiler to say why, even though I don’t use names or genders, so read it if you want.

.

.

.

.

.

Ok yeah So you are telling me that a passed out, stone cold drunk teenager under duress was able to identify some people hiding in a corner of a shadowy nighttime building…. Then recognize the people 10 years later on?? It just made no sense. Then everyone involved was batshit crazy to some degree. I was so annoyed with these characters that I understand why the eventual murder occured 😂

Heck what did the victim want, what did they think would happen?? The money seems like it should have been enough as far as the blackmail goes! It just seems insane that the Victim involved would go to those lengths to blackmail people she shouldn’t have even been able to recognize, when her original attackers were found not guilty in the first place. Tough crap, move on already?

I know I’m supposed to feel the opposite,that justice was terribly and unjustly not administered… but maybe don’t go crash a college party and drink to the blackout point?

I literally empathize more with the murderers. They should have given the victim nothing and could have easily high tailed away from the situation.

Anyway – shoot me for that but I stand by my feelings 😅😅 I hate manipulative people like what was happening to Helen!

I would say this is a good read though, for fans of domestic type thrillers and suspense involving groups of friends, unreliable narrators, criminal cases

Categories
Fantasy Thrillers

Comfort Me With Apples (ARC Review) by Catherynne M. Valente

Thank you so much to Tordotcom for the ARC of Comfort Me With Apples!  I received the book for free in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own! 

The editorial letter states that the book is extremely hard to describe because of spoilers, and that we just have to read it. I completely agree with this! I definitely really enjoyed it and recommend for a short, fast paced fall read with tons of atmosphere

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Comfort Me With Apples
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Catherynne M. Valente
  • Publisher & Release: TorDotCom – 10/26/21
  • Length: 112 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 for pretty much anyone, it crosses genres!

Here is the book blurb:

A terrifying new thriller from bestseller Catherynne M. Valente …

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze…

But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?

Other than the book blurb, I don’t want to say too much about the plot itself because the whole thing leads up to the twist! The book lives for the twist.

Sophia is happy, living a perfect life in a perfect community called Arcadia Gardens. The book almost immediately starts introducing some fairy tale elements, but the reader has no idea what direction the story is going in. Is it a fairytale retelling? A fantasy? A new legend? Something out of folklore or mythology? A combination? Why is Sophia finding bones in the house and cracks in the facade of her existence?

With beautiful imagery, a mystery to solve, a general sense of unease, and a deeply atmospheric fairytale tone of voice, definitely you just have to read this one to find out exactly what is going on in Arcadia Gardens.  

It lists as a domestic thriller, fantasy, mythology.  I think there’s something in it for most readers, and it’s so short that it can be read in one sitting on a breezy October afternoon.

Thanks for reading!

Categories
Fiction Science Fiction Suspense Thrillers

ARC Review: The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

I was so incredibly shocked and thrilled to receive an ARC box from Tor Books for The Echo Wife!! After a great giveaway on Instagram, I dug into the book and finally collected my thoughts on it!

One part science/medical fiction, one part domestic thriller, with some psychological and ethical thriller aspects too, I can safely recommend The Echo Wife for just about anyone!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Echo Wife
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Sarah Gailey
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books, 2/16/21
  • Length: 253 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟⚡ for pretty much anyone!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

The Echo Wife is a non-stop thrill ride, perfect for readers of Big Little Lies and enthusiasts of “Killing Eve” and “Westworld­”

Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be. And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.

Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty…

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This book truly has so many interesting aspects, including clones, ethics, life falling apart, and obviously murder. It had me in a Black Mirror style mind kerfuffle, especially at the end, and it was great.

The Echo Wife is what you get when a cheating husband steals research and clones his wife, then makes a life with the clone.  How far outside of regular scientific ethics did he go?  Do ethics even apply to clones?

Martine, the “new wife,” eventually snaps and murders the husband in self defense, at which point Evelyn has to get involved to protect her research and her own skin.

This is so much more than a sci-fi murder fest though. Evelyn’s research is mostly about making cloned body doubles for politicians and then she exterminating the specimens. While the clone conditioning process comes across as brutal, in theory it make sense to create realistic doubles. Martine forces Evelyn to take a deep look at cloning ethics and whether or not they might be people.

There is also a look back at Evelyn’s childhood where abuse or at least fear of it is implied, and a sobering look at how marriages fall apart.  Why were they so silent in her childhood home? How does love turn to hate? These parts read a bit slowly but it felt very real, eerie at times, and it was interesting to see how Evelyn’s behavior is influenced by her upbringing, and maybe why she can see “murder” from such a detached standpoint.

Is Evelyn turning into her mother or her father, or parts of both?  Which would even be worse? This is a shorter book and while slower moving at times, gave me many scientific “what ifs” to ponder. The end is just 😳 omg, straight out of Black Mirror.

The Echo Wife is definitely a book that I can recommend for a wide range of genre fans!  Actual science fiction, medical fiction, domestic thriller fans, even some general fiction and literary readers might enjoy the perusal of human nature found here.

Thank you so much again to Tor Books for my early copy!!! The book is out 2/16 so preorder now if it sounds up your alley!!