Categories
Science Fiction Thrillers

Recursion by Blake Crouch (Book Thoughts)

Oh, oh, this is a hard one to write. Crouch is one of my favorite sci-fi authors and I fully enjoyed flying through this book.  Recursion is another total mind fuck and while I loved it, it also got lost in it’s convolution and created way too many inconsistencies and discordant notes for my poor little brain to handle.

That said, I love the ideas and themes and still fully recommend this one to anyone that enjoys sci-fi thrillers.  I’m pretty sure it’s at least partially a me-not-you issue. Let’s take a look at the book then I’ll pick it apart a little more!


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Recursion
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Blake Crouch
  • Publisher & Release: Ballantine Books, 2019
  • Length: 339 pages
  • Rate & Recommend:⭐⭐⭐ ✨ yes for sci-fi & thriller fans. This isn’t actually a bad review!

Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:

From the bestselling author of Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines trilogy comes a relentless thriller about time, identity, and memory—his most mind-boggling, irresistible work to date, and the inspiration for Shondaland’s upcoming Netflix film.

Reality is broken.

At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery—and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.

In New York City, Detective Barry Sutton is closing in on the truth—and in a remote laboratory, neuroscientist Helena Smith is unaware that she alone holds the key to this mystery . . .and the tools for fighting back.

Together, Barry and Helena will have to confront their enemy—before they, and the world, are trapped in a loop of ever-growing chaos


My thoughts:

So yeah, this was actually a really cool book and it tackled all the bigtime sci-fi dilemmas about humanity, memory, power, life and love, and the meaning of everything.  He even quoted Vonnegut in the epilogue and then gave us a typical Crouch ending, which I loved because it boiled the entire book down to inevitability 😅

Similar to Dark Matter, this is a huge mindbender that I don’t think the reader is supposed to think too hard about.  Just read the thriller and let it race over you, right? I am all for that method except there were so many layers that my brain kept saying “wait I’m pretty sure this event isn’t possible, or XYZ would have happened earlier…” Or “wait wait wait, he already disproved that…”  I COULD BE TOTALLY WRONG SO DON’T LISTEN TO ME, JUST GO READ THE BOOK 😅

I do always feel pretty disgruntled after finishing a Crouch though so … I’m probably wrong.

If nothing else, it was easy to root for the characters.  I liked how they discussed the ideas and drilled home the points Crouch was trying to make about second chances and inevitability.  How terribly things can go when power is placed in the wrong hands, but then things can also get equally fucked when handled with the best of intentions.  Helena started out with the absolute best of intentions, trying to help her mom, and look where they all ended up…

He summarized the book (and honestly his entire bibliography) with this one rough quote from the main character: We are fucking with shit that’s not supposed to be fucked with!

Overall: if you like thrillers, sci-fi, big ideas, and books that will make your pulse race while also taking your brain for a ride, I fully recommend anything by Blake Crouch.


Thanks for checking out my book review of Recursion by Blake Crouch! I bought this one on my own when it was published and as always, all opinions are my own ♥️

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 Mysteries

The Lost by Jeffrey B. Burton (Book Review)

Thank you endlessly to Minotaur Books for sending over another great read this spring!  I feel terrible because it came out back at the end of June. The book was received in exchange for an honest review and as always, all opinions are my own!

When I finally got into my lovely finished copy of The Lost, I found it to be a quick, engaging K9 mystery with some thrilling aspects as well. This is #3 in the series but totally reads as a standalone. 

The K9 mystery genre is one that I’ve really been getting into with the Search and Rescue books, Rookie K9 unit, and anything by David Rosenfelt, so if you like lighter, funnier mysteries and K9 detectives definitely check this one out!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Lost
  • Series: Mace Reid K9 Mystery, #3
  • Author: Jeffrey B Burton
  • Publisher & Release: Minotaur Books, June 2922
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for a quick and fun mystery read

Synopsis:

The Lost is the next mystery from author Jeffrey B. Burton starring an extraordinary cadaver dog and her handler.

Glencoe, Illinois: A home invasion turned kidnapping at the mansion of billionaire financier Kenneth J. Druckman brings Mason “Mace” Reid and his cadaver dog, Vira, to this wealthy northern suburb of Chicago. Druckman was assaulted, left behind while his wife and young daughter were taken for ransom.

Brought to the scene by the FBI, Reid specializes in human remains detection, and Vira is the star of his pack of cadaver dogs he’s dubbed The Finders. After Vira finds the dead body of the mother, former supermodel Calley Kurtz, everyone is on high alert to find Druckman’s missing daughter before the five-year-old disappears forever. But the trail Vira finds on the property’s dense woodlands leads right back to Druckman himself.

With the help of Detective Kippy Gimm, Reid and Vira must race against the clock. Nothing is as it appears to be . . . and the red herrings could be lethal.

First off, I definitely liked this one as a standalone.  I had no trouble meeting the characters and understanding what was happening, although I am definitely 100% adding the first two books to my TBR to meet the dogs more in depth.

This is a relatively short mystery with shorter chapters too so it’s a very quick read, perfect for the summer!

The characters are funny and kind but also talented as heck.  I liked seeing a lot of Vira the golden retriever’s tricks and abilities, especially her capacity to recognize feelings and stand in as a therapy dog.  Then she can turn around, find a body, nail a bad guy – Vira is an all around pro.  I would have liked to see more of the actual dog training though I imagine it featured in prior books.

There’s plenty of action too. The plot is decent, it’s a little heavier than the average mystery and while it is labelled as a “cozy animal mystery” on Amazon, I didn’t recognize the cozy element as much.  Mace is an amateur sleuth but his dogs know their business, and he was extremely observant.  His cop girlfriend/partner did good work too and seems kind & intelligent as well as bad ass.

Where the book lost a star with me was the format of the reveal – like the book started with an unknown bad guy, then the plot and mystery developed – right in the middle, the answer was revealed – then the last half dropped the mystery and turned into a thriller, featuring the characters trying to locate a kidnapping victim and dodge various curve balls including the Russian Mafia and a crazy rich person.

My only gripe is that giving the answer away in the middle took a bit out of the second half for me since I was expecting red herrings and mystery and had to adjust my expectations. I also wish the events at the start of the book tied into the rest a little more, finding some resolution for that crime. Maybe the next book?

Overall – I liked this one. It was thrilling, interesting, funny at times, and the dogs were great. Everything that a K9 detective mystery should be!

 

Categories
audiobooks Suspense Thrillers

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker (audio/book review)

I officially no longer have rhyme or reason when picking my next audiobook 😂 

I found The Priest’s Graveyard through a Search for books narrated by Rebecca Soler, who is probably my favorite female narrator.  I have a few books by Dekker but not this one.  I do usually love vigilante thrillers too and Dekker has an absolutely fascinating upbringing and tendency to write on the spiritual side, so, let’s see how this one worked out for me

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Priest’s Graveyard
  • Series: Danny Hansen #1
  • Author: Ted Dekker
  • Publisher & Release: Center Street, 2011
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐ if you like psychological and vigilante thrillers that stay fairly clean

On the audio: about 10.5 hours from Hachette audio, narrated by Rebecca Soler and Henry Leyva 

Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:

Two abandoned souls are on the hunt for one powerful man. Soon, their paths will cross and lead to one twisted fate.

Danny Hansen is a Bosnian immigrant who came to America with hopes of escaping haunted memories of a tragic war that took his mother’s life. Now he’s a priest incensed by the powerful among us who manipulate the law for their own gain, uncaring of the shattered lives they leave behind. It is his duty to show them the error of their ways, even if he must put them in the grave.

Renee Gilmore is the frail and helpless victim of one such powerful man. Having escaped his clutches, she now lives only to satisfy justice by destroying him, regardless of whom she must become in that pursuit.

But when Danny and Renee’s paths become inexorably entangled things go very, very badly and neither of them may make it out of this hunt alive.

So this is a pretty character based thriller, let’s start there. I liked Danny and what he was doing, I liked the brutal backstory of how he got from Bosnia to California and became the man he is today, both priest and calculated killer.  I also liked how Henry Leyva narrated him with the thick but understandable accent 

I even liked Renee at first. She seemed like someone who had made some bad choices and was able to rebound from them. The two characters seemed like a decent team, and of course Rebecca Soler can do no wrong and she was Renee’s voice.

Pause the thought on the characters –

Action wise, this is definitely a suspense novel at times and thriller at others.  Although the book was not exceptionally exciting, it had its moments of action and reckoning that kept me interested through out.

My favorite part was all moral debating that Danny did on how he justifies being a monster.  It was interesting too to see the symbols in names and other small spiritual elements that Dekker out into the story.  He doesn’t preach at all but there’s a small undercurrent of spirituality that would be concurrent with Danny as a priest.

So… How did this go from five stars to three stars? It got predictable. If I can predict something, it’s super predictable.  That isn’t the main issue though.

Towards the end, Dekker completely lost me on the “romantic” element. I’m just absolutely not believing that Danny would fall for an addlepated and traumatized drug addict (in recovery) who is frankly batshit crazy, unless Danny is batshit crazy too. Renee became annoying as hell, jeopardized their missions, put them both in danger, and was just bluntly an idiot.  Danny’s flawed judgement is about as bad as hers is if he wants to “love” her, and Renee literally just falls in with whatever man is in front of her. As soon as Dekker started portraying that idiot (with a long history of bad life decisions) as some kind of precious flower, he lost me.

The Priest’s Graveyard has a good premise, good action, good vigilante debates, and good audio, but it felt short overall for me mostly because of the improbable relationship that formed, even if the premise was an interesting psychological element.

A lot of people really liked this book and I would definitely recommend trying it if you like vigilante books.

Categories
audiobooks Fantasy Paranormal

The Gunslinger by Stephen King (My Experience)

Go then, there are other worlds than these

Now that I’ve read a few Stephen King books I am aware of a couple of things. He has gone through some significant and very different life stages, and depending on which stage he was in when he wrote a book, it’s going to be a very different reading experience.  His thoughts on this book began in college …..

The Dark Tower series gets a vast amount of praise from readers across all genres and I figured it was about time I check it out.  Number one, The Gunslinger, is short and felt rocky at times, which can be explained by the fact that it was originally 5 short stories!

There are ideas, there are flashbacks, there’s action in the present day, and there’s certainly a lot of room for King to move forward. My main impression is that I don’t think he knew it was going to turn into a giant epic series when he first wrote The Gunslinger. After doing some research I found that after the other books were written King went back and did some serious revising to the first to make it more consistent with the other books, and this is the version I have.  It’s interesting though because you can see where the five stories are and while each has its own individual flavor, they mostly fit well when pieced together to create Roland’s adventures.

And there you have it from Wikipedia. So what are my impressions of the book? I had no idea if I was reading fantasy or dystopia or what.  They should have left the Whelan cover to make it clear at first! You’ve got lowkey demons, a sharpshooter, a talking raven, throwbacks to something like Arthurian times in a castle court, with guns, and an overarching Old West feel.

It’s bizarre and brilliant and I’m keenly interested. I have so many questions about how the world’s fit together, how Jake ended up in this wasteland, how 10 years can pass in a moment, and so many other things! 

If nothing else King has me hooked lined and sunk as far as continuing to read on because I want all the answers. 

I don’t know where this thought fits into the rest of my thoughts but there’s this whole over current of weird hormones and sexy situations haha I think King had some issues to work through at some point, as also indicated by the Bill Hodges trilogy and “honeyboy”🤣

It’s also no secret that Roland is considered a hugely iconic character, so let me look at him quickly.  He’s obviously a badass sharp shooter on one level, but when he talks about his past he seems ancient. How did he get from a beautiful green world of castles and courts to a dystopian desert chasing the Man in Black?  His interactions with Jake Chambers shows that he has never heard of our Earth, even though his world mirrors Earth in many ways.  Roland isn’t fearless, he has deep feelings where the boy is concerned, but he’s also quite singleminded in purpose at this point in the series. 

And if that spiel on time and size at the end doesn’t blow your mind, nothing will 😂

One penultimate note is that Michael Whelan did the original cover! That makes it a legitimate fantasy as far as I’m concerned

Screenshot_20220621-100659

And the last note – it was recommended to me to try the audiobooks because the narrator adds a lot of fantastic personality to the text and I couldn’t agree more.  Most of my King reading has been on audio because of Will Patton narrating quite a few books, but George Guidall   is absolutely phenomenal as well.  Would highly recommend to fans of thrillers and fantasy.

Here’s the Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Gunslinger
  • Series: The Dark Tower, #1
  • Author: Stephen King, narrated by George Guidall
  • Release: Originally 1982, there are so many versions this is confusing to me now
  • Length: approx 7 hours audio, around 280 on page
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ heck yeah to thriller and fantasy, weird western fans

Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:

The Gunslinger introduces readers to one of Stephen King’s most powerful creations, Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake.

Categories
Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

Locust Lane by Stephen Amidon (ARC Review)

Thank you so much to Celadon Books for my super early copy of Locust Lane by Stephen Amidon!  This is the first time I’ve been sent a first round survey ARC so that’s super exciting.  Book received for free in exchange for an honest review and early feedback.

I’m not sure about the etiquette for extremely early reviews but I think it’s better to just post it now while I’m still thinking about the book and help to put it on people’s winter radar.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Locust Lane
  • Author: Stephen Amidon
  • Publisher & Release: Celadon Books, 01/17/23
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Rate & Recommend:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of domestic suspense, mystery

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

For fans of Mystic River by Dennis Lehane and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Stephen Amidon’s Locust Lane is a taut and utterly propulsive story about the search for justice and the fault lines of power and influence in a seemingly idyllic town. Can anyone be trusted?

On the surface, Emerson, Massachusetts, is just like any other affluent New England suburb. But when a young woman is found dead in the nicest part of town, the powerful neighbors close ranks to keep their families safe. In this searing novel, Eden Perry’s death kicks off an investigation into the three teenagers who were partying with her that night, each a suspect. Hannah, a sweet girl with an unstable history. Jack, the popular kid with a mean streak. Christopher, an outsider desperate to fit in. Their parents, each with motivations of their own, only complicate the picture: they will do anything to protect their children, even at the others’ expense.

With a brilliantly woven, intricately crafted plot that gathers momentum on every page, this is superb storytelling told in terse prose—a dynamic read that is both intensely gripping and deeply affecting.

I am constantly impressed with the books coming out of Celadon.  Regardless of the genre they tend to be on the literary side and very well around. It’s a bit difficult to classify this novel but it’s a mystery and it’s suspenseful and there’s a lot of small community he-said-she-said in the process of finding justice for the murder victim.

Locust Lane is told from the alternating viewpoints of I believe five different people in the community. It was a bit difficult to keep the storyline and voices straight at first which is the main reason why I docked a star.  The characters are explored more deeply than I usually find in thrillers, which serves to show how the people from different backgrounds fit into the wealthy and privileged area.

When the girl is found murdered, the detectives immediately zero in on the teen who is a foreigner. We watch the wealthy and powerful members of the community band together to cover up the indiscretions of the other teens while the mother of the victim and a less than credible witness go about trying to expose the actual murderer.

It was interesting to watch the details come out.  Woven throughout the murder mystery are themes of disturbed youth, alcoholism, grief, coping with various upbringings, tough parenting challenges, wealth and power. A big part of it is seeing how different characters handle similar challenges such as the loss of a child or being reliant on someone else’s money.

And of course the mystery itself – this is a compulsive read and I was definitely never bored reading it. I picked the wrong suspect for the crime but that’s nothing new. I would definitely recommend this one for people who like mystery and suspense and exploring different character backgrounds.

Locust Lane is out in January, keep it on your radar!

Categories
audiobooks Thrillers

The Gatekeeper by James Byrne (ALC/ARC review)

My last read of May was The Gatekeeper by James Byrne! Thanks so much to Minotaur Books for the ARC, and I also received an advanced listening copy so I will be reviewing both here! All opinions are my own!

This is what I like in a summer read – nonstop action, banter, entertaining main characters, over the top fight scenes, a few laughs thrown in, and a plot that is easy enough to follow without burning all the brain cells trying to keep up. Plausible, nah, but entertaining as heck – 100%.

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Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Gatekeeper
  • Series: ?
  • Author: James Byrne
  • Publisher & Release: Minotaur Books, June-07-2022
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨ for anyone who likes thrillers like Evanovich or Orphan X

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

James Byrne’s The Gatekeeper introduces Dez Limerick in the most anticipated new thriller in years.

A highly trained team of mercenaries launches a well-planned, coordinated attack on a well-guarded military contractor – but they didn’t count on one thing, the right man being in the wrong place at the right time.

Desmond Aloysius Limerick (“Dez” to all) is a retired mercenary, and enthusiastic amateur musician, currently in Southern California, enjoying the sun and sitting in on the occasional gig, when the hotel he’s at falls under attack. A skilled team attempts to kidnap the Chief legal counsel of Triton Expeditors, a major military contractor – in fact, Petra Alexandris is the daughter of the CEO – but their meticulously-planned, seamlessly executed scheme runs into the figurative ‘spanner-in-the-works,’ Dez himself.

After foiling the attack, and with nothing better to do, Dez agrees to help Alexandris with another problem she’s having – someone has embezzled more than a billion dollars from her company and left very few tracks behind. But Dez is a gatekeeper – one who opens doors and keeps them open – and this is just a door of another kind. And the door he opens leads to a dangerous conspiracy involving media manipulation, militias, an armed coup, and an attempt to fracture the United States themselves. There’s only one obstacle between the conspirators and success – and that is Dez, The Gatekeeper.

The book introduces Dez in a mercenary operation that is apparently his last.  Retiring to California, he coincidentally ends up in a hotel where he foils a kidnapping plot that is only the tip of the iceberg of issues he is about discover.

The plot is definitely not plausible and at no point did I think that the bad guys were going to win, but it was certainly entertaining to get there. America at this time can definitely relate to white supremacy and big money companies with big egos so I don’t think it’s too far off from reality.  I got immense satisfaction out of Dez making quite a few of these people look like complete idiots.

Dez is never fleshed out but he’s by far the highlight of the book. A tactically well rounded character, he can hack and set traps and fight. He is built like a truck, funny, and absolutely kick ass. I loved his Brit/Scottish accent and all his quirks.

Petra is the female lead, a force of nature as well. I loved seeing her dress down her father and the other power players. There are a few other female characters that are brave and badass too, in unconventional ways. Another favorite side character was a personal assistant named Alonzo!

I think the place where I docked half a star was that some of the descriptions of both Dez and Petra became repetitive without telling us anything new.  I don’t come to thrillers for character development but it would have been good to have some indication of where Dez came from, although I appreciate the mystery as well.

I also had a chance to hear John Keating narrate the audio! I read and listened about 50/50 to review both fairly and I think he did a phenomenal job, especially with Dez and his cutaway “sorry!”. Sometimes accents are hard or make it difficult to understand the narrator but I found key thing to be clear and consistent in all voices. I did have to raise the speed to 1.5 in order to make it sound like a human but I am totally okay with a narrator speaking slowly in order to enunciate.

The end left it open for more Gatekeeper books too so – hopefully! I definitely recommend this one for people who enjoy fast-paced action-packed thrillers that don’t take themselves too seriously!

Categories
Fiction General Fiction Thrillers

Two (2-Star) ARCs and Authors Know We Can’t Unsee Things, Right?

I feel like I should talk about these books a little bit since they were sent as ARCs but honestly I just want to scrub them out of my mind and not talk about them anymore, so here is a brief summary of my rationales.

I was trying to (see the post’s main image) use a pretty tree to downplay how much I really did not like either of these arcs, my apologies to the publishers

How do you handle your rating system? I don’t have many 2 star reads, 1 is my DNF and 3 is my so-so/average/neutral rating… and that gray zone in the middle that is my 2 star rating, is hard.

The Outside is by an Icelandic author, Ragnar Jonasson, that I have enjoyed before. Sent from Minotaur Books via NetGalley. The translation is releasing in America in June 2022. I love Nordic noir. That said, Outside was repetitive, I guessed most of the twists right away, it wasn’t really thrilling, and the end left the characters in a weird predicament with more questions left than answered. I also think some of the phrasing was lost in translation. Maybe the movie will be better? This was a quick read with short chapters and alternating points of view, but at no point was I truly interested or invested.

The GoodReads rating is exceptionally low as well so I am not alone, it stands somewhere around a 3.2 right now

Screenshot_20220516-162657

Elsewhere was sent as an early physical copy from Celadon Books. While I loved Alex Schaitkin’s first book, Saint X, this one left me constantly either bored or grossed out. The mysticism worked in her first book but here, as a fantasy reader, I wanted that big question answered: what was the affliction? It was just too perverse as well, which was her intention but I’m 100% not here for that content. I cant unsee some of the things Vera and Peter did and I’m trying not to barf, like, wtf is this adding to the story?  The book had some good parts though and I felt like it was winding up to really reveal the mystery of the affliction, then it fell terribly flat by not giving us the big reveal but making things even weirder.

Screenshot_20220516-162623

Both of these books earn 2🌟 as I finished them, but can’t in good faith recommend them

Thanks again to the publishers for the advanced copies ❤

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!