Tag: Thriller (page 1 of 16)

BOOK REVIEW: The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

BOOK REVIEW: The Best Lies by Sarah LyuThe Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
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Synopsis:

Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

Told in alternating timelines, Thelma and Louise meets Gone Girl in this twisted psychological thriller about the dark side of obsessive friendship.

We were a forest fire, wild and full of rage. We were a galaxy unto ourselves, a million stars blazing and bright. Everything was possible then.

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu is another YA thriller that is full of potential but fails to execute on its premise. What could have been a twisty and dark story about toxic female friendships and how that can boil over into terrible consequences is more bark than bite. I almost DNF’d at 50%, when the pace of the book was still moving at an almost glacial speed, but wanted to see it to the end. The end picked up a little bit, but it couldn’t make up for the slow pace and repetitive scenes and conversations that plague this book.

I know she’s here somewhere. I can feel that invisible push and pull whenever she’s near, like she is a star and I am a captured object.

The Best Lies follows Remy Tsai’s life over a couple of months. The book jumps back in forth between the night her boyfriend, Jack, is killed and the beginning of her friendship with Elise. Elise meets Remy outside of a school dance right after Remy is dumped by her now-college boyfriend. They quickly bond over their screwed up family lives: both girls are dealing with a lot of heavy and serious issues at home and learn to lean on each other to deal with it.

At the heart of every good lie is the truth, that’s what Elise told me once. The best lies are at least half-true she said.

Elise is nothing like Remy. She is obsessed with justice for those who can’t fight for themselves, she is extremely loyal to those she deems is worthy of her loyalty and she impulsive and rash. Once she becomes fixated on something, she can’t let it go. Remy is more quiet and reserved, living in the shadow of her much more popular and accomplished older brother. She is kind of drifting through life, with a small social circle that she’s not really attached to. Elise and Remy are opposites attracting and a strong bond is quickly formed.

“What we have is real,” she repeated. “No one else has what we have. No one will ever love you like I do.”

However, the bond between Remy and Elise begins to fray. Remy is not comfortable with some of Elise’s decisions, especially related to her vigilantism. In a chance meeting after Elise abandons her at party, Elise meets Jack. Jack is her light in a dark world. He’s funny and caring and sees her for who she really is. Before long, Remy is spending more time with Jack and less with Elise. This is the main catalyst for many of the problems and crescendos up until the night he is killed.

I told myself I was running toward him and not away from her, but maybe that was just a convenient lie.

As I said before, this story had a lot of potential. The mini recap I wrote above shows how dark and twisted this story is and I liked the ideas presented by Lyu. However, I felt it fell very flat in execution. First off, it’s so repetitive. So many scenes and conversations are almost identical that I often wondered if my Kindle glitched and I was reading something I already had. Remy and Elise seem to have the same arguments over and over. They also are ALWAYS crying. I’m pretty sure one of them does not go more than five pages without being described as crying or sobbing or tearing up. I get there are a lot emotions happening, but it was too much. If there had been variety to the story, as well as better pacing with these scenes, I could have been more forgiving.

Overall, I’m in the middle about this book. I liked aspects of it. The subject of a toxic and dependent female relationship was new and different from a lot of other YA thrillers. I liked how Remy’s family life issues were handled and resolved. I really liked Jack and Remy and Jack’s relationship. Elise was an interesting character, who while flawed, kept my attention. However, I still can’t get over the pacing, the repetitiveness and the minimal twists in a thriller. 3/5 stars.

We believed our wounds made us special. We believed what didn’t kill you made you stronger. We believed our tragedies were romantic.

CW: Death/murder, physical abuse, verbal abuse, manipulation, cheating, lying

BOOK REVIEW: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

BOOK REVIEW: Dead to Her by Sarah PinboroughDead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

For fans of Liane Moriarty, Liv Constantine and Lisa Jewell, a twisty psychological thriller about a savvy second wife who will do almost anything to come out on top from the New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes.

Being the second wife can be murder . . .

“Once a cheat, always a cheat,” they say. Marcie Maddox has worked hard to get where she is after the illicit affair that started her new life a few years ago. But her world of country clubs, yachts and sumptuous houses in Savannah, Georgia, isn’t easy to maintain, no matter how hard she tries. Nor is keeping her husband, Jason, truly interested.

So, when Jason’s boss brings home a hot new wife from his trip to London, the young Mrs William Radford IV isn’t quite the souvenir everyone expected. Sexy, drop-dead gorgeous and black—Keisha quickly usurps Marcie’s place as the beautiful second wife. But when Marcie sees the extra spark in the room when Keisha and Jason are together and their obvious, magnetic attraction, the gloves come off.

Revenge is best served cold, but in the steamy Savannah heat, blood runs so hot that this summer it might just boil over into murder.

Thank you to Edelweiss, William Morrow and the author for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

“But in this town, dear,” she continued. “murder is considered classier than embezzlement.”

This was a really unique and refreshing mystery/thriller book. I feel like I’ve read a lot of thrillers and I truly haven’t read anything like it. Between the setting and mystical realism components, it certainly has some unique features that aren’t found in most mystery/thriller book.

Here’s the main characters:
•Marcie Maddox: Second wife to Jason, working her way into the upper echelon of the Savannah elite
•Jason Maddox: Marcie’s husband and business partner to William Radford
•Keisha Radford: The much younger wife to the newly widowed William; Fish out of water in Savannah, as she is from London
•William Radford: Much older and richer husband to Keisha; Upper crust of Savannah circles

There’s a lot of side characters, but those four really serve as the main characters, with chapters told in alternating viewpoints of Marcie and Keisha.

Let’s start with the setting: Savannah, Georgia. I’ve read very few thrillers set in the south, let alone a large city in the south. So right off the bat I was happy for the change. The oppressing summer heat and humidity is almost a character itself. There’s a lot of discussion about what it means to be in southern high society and the expectations that are pressed on those trying to get in and stay in.

They were all poison one way or another, and maybe she was the only one honest enough to see it.

I found all of the characters to be incredibly engaging, even if I didn’t personally connect or particularly like any of them. If you’re looking for likeable character(s), this may not be the book for you. All of them are doing what they feel they need to, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. However, especially for Keisha and Marcie, I had a lot of sympathy for them at various times. They are both different from a lot of the other Savannah elite and are doing their best to fit in. It’s also incredibly clear that their marriages are not everything they thought they would be and there’s a very serious power imbalance between them and their husbands.

“Often what you worry other people might be thinking of you is most likely to be what you think of yourself. Be kinder to yourself, Marcie. Nobody’s perfect.”

Another thing that sets this apart is just how risqué it is. Sex is often part of thriller books, but not as explicit as this. There’s several different relationships that have fairly graphic sex scenes between partners. I would imagine they wouldn’t be too hard to skip if that isn’t your thing, but there are numerous ones. If you’re also totally not OK with cheating, this definitely won’t be the book for you. It’s a very big point for several of the characters.

Overall, Dead To Me was very well written and fairly different from a lot of other thrillers. I was left guessing until the very end and was even surprised (but happy with) the route the author took. If you are looking for a steamy mystery, look no further.

Dead to Her is available February 11, 2020.

Their marriage foundations had been secrets, an affair and lies. It had been exciting then. It wasn’t so much fun now. But still-if he had his secrets, what was so wrong with her having hers? Why shouldn’t she have something for herself?

Content Warnings: Cheating spouse/partner, explicit sex scenes (m/f and f/f), death, attempted murder, talk of death of animal, abusive relationship, sexual assault.

BOOK REVIEW: Watch Over Me by Mila Gray

BOOK REVIEW: Watch Over Me by Mila GrayWatch Over Me by Mila Gray
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

From the author of Come Back to Me comes a striking new novel about a young woman— desperately trying to protect her family from their violent father—who finds safety, and a passionate romance, with an ex-Marine.

Ever since Zoey was a kid she’s been caring for her mom and her little sister, defending them from her violent father. She’s been the strong one, the responsible one as she sacrificed her wants and dreams to keep her family together.

Now the life they’ve built for themselves in California is about to be upended. Her father, just released from prison, has discovered where they’re hiding and has come looking for them.

Enter Tristan. A former Marine and now member of the Coast Guard, Tristian promises his best friend, and Zoey’s Marine brother, that he will take care of Zoey and her family. Protect them, watch over them, and be the rock they need in their lives.

And as Tristan starts to help Zoey deal with the emotional fall out of her childhood, their relationship turns from protector to something more. The two grow closer as a romance blooms into a heart-pounding and powerful relationship that Zoey hopes will be strong enough to fight off the damage her father has done to her and her family.

But not everyone can be kept safe forever, and when Zoey’s father does show up, a confrontation ensues that will change Zoey’s world forever.

Review:

Watch Over Me was beautifully emotional and gripped me from that first page.  There was a thriller element to this story that kept me terrified with what was to come next.  And even though I’m not a thriller girl, it fit perfectly into this story and I loved every minute of it.  Especially since the characters leaped off of the pages, the relationships burrowed deep into my heart and the story made me turn the pages faster.  I absolutely loved Watch Over Me and I can’t recommend this book enough!

I grab the phone.
“Yes?” I say.
Silence greets me.
“Who is this?” I whisper, heart hammering furiously.
There’s another second’s silence, and then I hear the click as whoever is on the other end hangs up.  As I stare at the phone, there’s an enormous BOOM.  The window shatters, and glass flies across the room.  A wall of heat rushes toward me as a crackle and a deafening roar fill my ears.

One of the many things I love about a Mila Gray book is that the prologue gives us a brief glimpse of the future.  I’m riveted every single time.  But once the story starts, I get so caught up in what is happening that I forget we’re going to run into that moment.  And the moment in this prologue?  It was horrific.

He’s so different now, so grown-up in a way that makes me feel weirdly uncomfortable and also makes me want to keep staring.

Zoey was almost 19 years old and had the weight of the world on her shoulders.  She always sacrificed what she wanted so she could take care of her mom, eight year old brother and younger teenage sister.  They were trying to make a life on their own, since Zoey put her father in jail for almost killing her mother.  But her father got out of jail early.  And it looked like he was terrorizing them again.  The tension ran so thick at times that I had chills racing down my spine.

“I’m sorry,” Tristan says, and it riles me because the last thing I want or need is his pity. “You shouldn’t have had to deal with that all by yourself. It must have been hard.”
That’s an understatement.  But something catches in my chest.  I think he might be the first person who’s ever recognized how hard it was.

Tristan promised to watch over them.  He was Zoey’s older brother’s best friend.  And her brother was being deployed overseas.  Tristan knew them from when they were kids and was someone the family could trust.  I loved Tristan.  He was an Officer in the Coast Guard and was such a good man.  Tristan had a kind heart, was protective and tried his best to do good by others.  He was also open, honest and had the worst jokes ever.  Tristan always made Zoey and I smile and laugh.

I know I should probably pull away because I’m no longer crying, but I don’t want to. I feel safe in his arms.

I loved Zoey.  She worked so hard to take care of those she loved.  But she could be bitter and cynical, because of her past.  Zoey also had problems accepting help from others.  So I loved watching her and Tristan butt heads.  Because every single time they did, it seemed to intensify whatever was between them.  And since we got to hear both of their thoughts, I just wanted to push them together.  For them both to find their happiness with one another.  But darkness was looming, and you could feel the unsaid threats from her father lingering in the air.

I stare into her eyes . She looks at me , her face so open , like she’s standing, holding her heart in her hands and offering it to me. The vulnerability gives me pause. But then she does something unexpected: she pushes up on tiptoe and presses her lips to mine.

This is easily one of my favorite brother’s best friends romance story!  And while it was amazing seeing all of the characters we loved from Come Back to Me and Stay With Me, you don’t have to read those books to follow along with this story.  But I highly recommend you do because you’ll feel so many more emotions.  And those characters played pivotal moments throughout this story.

Tristan wraps his arms around my waist from behind.
“I won’t ever let him hurt you,” he tells me, whispering the words into my ear before kissing me on the jaw.
I
shiver against his body and lean into him, closing my eyes, wishing I could believe him.

Mila Gray’s books always make me cry more than any other book does.  I looked back and realized I cried six different times while reading this story.  From heart to hearts, to being terrified, to happy tears, she made me feel it all.  So if you love romance stories about family, friendships, finding your way in life and true love, then you’ll want to pickup Watch Over Me.  I’ve fallen for another Mila Gray book.  Watch Over Me is definitely going on my favorites list!

PS The emotional development between Zoey and her mom and sister was absolutely beautiful.

PPS The table crush scene had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, best thing ever. Kit, Walker, Didi, Jessa oh my gosh it was perfection! I love those characters and have missed them so much!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

BOOK REVIEW: The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareThe Turn of the Key Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Dear Mr. Wrexham,
Please help me. I didn’t kill anyone.


I was cautiously optimistic when I saw a new Ruth Ware book was coming out. In a Dark, Dark Wood is one of my favorite thrillers, but her two most recent releases were disappointing. However, I thought the premise of The Turn of the Key sounded promising, so like I said, I was cautiously optimistic heading in to it. I was happily blown away.

The book is essentially one giant letter being written from Rowan Caine, who is sitting in jail on murder charges, to a solicitor she wants to help her in her defense. She wants to explain everything surrounding the incident and how everything came to be. Other than knowing that Rowan ends up being accused of a crime, the rest of it is in fairly chronological order.

When we first meet Rowan, she is working at a daycare facility and has recently been passed over for a promotion. So when an opportunity arises that would allow her to be a nanny for a wealthy family in the secluded Heatherbrae House, she jumps at the opportunity. It’s here she meets Jack Grant, a handyman, and more importantly, the three children she is to look after while their parents are away for a work trip.

“Don’t come here,” she whispered, still refusing to look at me. “it’s not safe.”
“It’s not safe?” I gave a little laugh. “Maddie, what do you mean?”
“It’s not safe,” she repeated, with a little angry sob, shaking her head harder so that her words were almost lost. “They wouldn’t like it.”


Left alone in a smart house, Rowan struggles to adapt to her new life. The two eldest children do not make things easy on her and weird things are happening around the house. Rowan can’t sleep due to the footsteps above her room at night and she feels like she’s going mad. But she’s determined to figure out exactly what’s going on, while holding on to explosive secrets.

It was like there were two forces in the house, one fighting to drive me away, another to protect me. But who—who was doing this?

I love nothing more than a secluded setting. Private homes/islands, secluded boarding schools, etc. There’s just something so unnerving about being so isolated from the rest of society that lends itself to a creepy atmosphere. I will say I was on the edge of my seat for most of this book. It didn’t help I was reading late into the night, which made going to sleep a bit difficult.

It was well-paced, the characters were incredibly engaging and the atmosphere was perfectly creepy. The ending was fairly shocking, but also a bit frustrating. We never get a true resolution to Rowan’s letter to Mr. Wexham. If you like everything tied up in a pretty bow, please be aware that while you will know many things, there’s a big thing that is left unstated. While I do wish I knew exactly what happened in the aftermath, I overall loved the book and would easily call it my second favorite Ruth Ware, just after IADDW.

A child is dead, and the police, and the public, and the press, they all want someone to pay. And that someone must be me. But I didn’t kill that little girl, Mr. Wexham. I loved her. And I don’t want to rot in jail for something I didn’t do. Please, please believe me.

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline Kepnes

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline KepnesHidden Bodies (You #2)
by Caroline Kepnes
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

THE RIVETING SEQUEL TO THE HIT BOOK YOU, NOW A NETFLIX SERIES

“Kepnes hits the mark, cuts deep, and twists the knife.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Delicious and insane...The plot may be twisty and scintillating, but its Kepnes’s wit and style that keep you coming back.” —Lena Dunham

“Hypnotic and scary.” —Stephen King

“Obsessed.” —Jessica Knoll, New York Times bestselling author of Luckiest Girl Alive

In the compulsively readable sequel to her widely acclaimed debut novel, You, Caroline Kepnes weaves a tale that Booklist calls “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.”

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice…



Honestly? I’m a bit shocked and disappointed. No, I DID NOT FINISH…but, hear me out, I just think-with a book/subject matter like this-less is more. The first book floored me. So many requotable quotes. Hilarious inner monologue. I LOVED Joe (as much as you can love a psycho who kills women who don’t adhere to what he believes a girlfriend should be ). I loved his take on life. On America-‘Fucking America, Beck.’. On pop culture and the idiots radiating through the streets of New York. The way he addressed Beck as ‘You’. Brilliant. And he slayed me with his humor.

But here…it hurts to say it…it just. It does not work. Not again, anyway. It was jarring, to say the least-to read about the untimely demise of Guinevere Beck. I was shocked that it happened, that he went through with it, that he killed someone he thought he loved. It was painful and cringy to read, honestly. But…it fit. It worked. It wasn’t shocking as much as it was heartbreaking.

Here? It’s tired. Overused. And I tire of him judging every woman he loves. I get wanting an epic, amazing love. Don’t many of us crave that? But disposing of all the women? My God it’s such an exaggerated overreaction and an overused formula. Okay. He’s a total freaking lunatic now. I think he really, truly didn’t intend to become a legit serial killer in the first (just a raving crazy stalker, of course :P), and he always *seemed* to find remorse for ‘having to do what needed to be done’. In Hidden Bodies, he kills like…without blinking. His rage blinds him. His lust for revenge drives him. And it’s just….annoying. Repetitive. And I don’t have that horribly wrong and misguided urge to sympathize with him. I found myself thinking [when something went wrong] ‘Well, bet he’ll kill [her/him] now.’ Shocker.



Where’s the fun of the mystery? The wondering if he really will go through with murdering the girl he wanted so much that he rearranged his whole life for her. I really and truly enjoyed the tone of the first book. It was almost like a fucked up version of a romance and I just loved it so much. I loved almost secretly rooting for them to make it, for Joe to get the girl he *thought* he loved. The sweet moments to flourish and become more. Sick as that is. This? This was a bloody witch hunt and I couldn’t emotionally connect with nor find the parallel of the Joe who made me feel as though he had a heart.



Robotic. Monotonous. Heart-breaking. I loved the effed up first book-but perhaps that’s what it should have stayed. A one book series that left a punch, readers enthralled, and the story wide open for our interpretation. This is definitely a case of knowing too much and there not being enough new (or interesting) material to justify the continuance of his story.
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