Sunday, June 20, 2021

Book Reviews- A Quartet of Thrills

These books come from a time when I was just wanting a really good thriller. Some of these gave more than others, and some twists and turns were also better than others. So here's where I found those thrills (or didn't). 

Where I Left Her by Amber Garza centers on a mom who drops her daughter off a friend's house for a sleepover. She goes back the next day to pick her daughter up. The only thing is that when she goes to the door, an elderly couple answers. Where has Whitney's daughter gone, and how can she explain how her daughter has just vanished? The story then tells the story of where Whitney's daughter might be with multiple narrators/threads of the story. There are some twists (some really good ones) that are involved within these as Whitney focuses on figuring out what happened and realizing this may have some ties to her own story. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this August 2021 release.

Pop Goes the Weasel by MJ Arlidge was a book I think I might have connected with better if I read the book this was a sequel to. I think knowing more about who the detectives were would have connected me to the story more as I would be able to understand how she was investigating and how the cases were impacting her. What the story focuses on is a serial killer and trying to connect with the men who are dying. There appears to be a common thread, but could there be more to each of their stories. This one gave me some shocks and thrills along the way, but also just wasn't totally connected.

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones was a thriller in what appears to be a new subgenre of "stuff that happens at destination weddings" that's emerging. The story focuses on six friends that make up three couples. Rachel and Noah are college friends who are now married to other people - Jack and Paige - and also insist there has never been anything between them. The two couples are at the wedding of Jack's brother Will and Ali. When the wedding weekend begins, all the secrets start to come out. Well, they start to be revealed different characters. Everyone seems to know something about someone else, and the characters have to weigh who else they should tell as there is some big stuff that is unearthed. Given this is in a subgenre I've identified, I do have to say there are others in this vein I have liked better, but this was an intriguing thriller. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this August 2021 release.

How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward focuses on the aftermath of a childhood disappearance. Fifteen years ago, Ellie vanished. Her family obviously continues to miss her, feel guilty and/or just wonder what happened. Fifteen years later, one of Ellie's sisters sees a picture, and she is convinced it is Ellie. She decides she is going to take on finding her sister. This is one where I figured out the twist early. For me, I prefer the element of surprise with thrillers, so just reading and seeing my suspicious affirmed just wasn't the same ride I was hoping to find in the thriller.

Onto the next ones!

Book Reviews - A Little of This, A Little of That

Y'all, remember that time I was so close to being caught up on reviews. Well, that was shortly before I was more behind than I've maybe ever been. I won't lament the why and the how, rather I'm just going to start typing. Honestly, the biggest challenge is going to be trying to remember all these books, so we'll just see what happens.

Let's Talk: Make Effective Feedback Your Superpower by Therese Huston is a book a coworker and I took on as the inaugural read of a work book club we started. What I liked about this one was that it defined different types of feedback. I'd never thought about feedback in that way, so I found the "buckets" especially helpful. It allowed me to consider the type of feedback I give, and more importantly, the type of feedback I offer. There were some good questions and reflections throughout to also prepare to give and get feedback. I am also a big fan of books like this that gives high level overviews/summaries of chapters to capture the main points which this also offered. I guess, you could say that my feedback is this is a worthwhile read. #seewhatididthere

Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant was. . something. The book's premise is that a teen is in a coma, and the mystery is in figuring out why and how this happened. Part of this is connected to the part-time gig she and some others have found being simulated patients for the local medical school. The story then flashes between the past and the present as people try to figure out what happened. The twist at the end honestly requires a content warning because it was heavy and a lot to process. Overall, this was one where I never quite connected with the story/drama, and the pace was a little slow, and then the reveal just kind of shook me.

Black Widows by Cate Quinn is a thriller focused on a husband who has been murdered. Suspicion, of course, turns to his wife - the thing is there are multiple wives to consider. The story is about discovering who killed Blake, but more than that, it's about the stories of his three wives. Each has a backstory that includes secrets and experiences that influence their present day and may connect to a motive. Thrillers are always my jam, and this is one that I couldn't read fast enough, while also being super bummer when it was over. The twists and turns are so good, and it just built intrigue and suspense in all of the stories that were being told about the characters.

Learning to Pray by James Martin was a book I heard about on A Late Show with Stephen Colbert of all places. And goodness, I am so glad I now know this human and his work exists. This was such a fascinating read in that it is part reflection and part education. It focuses on the purpose of prayer, reflections on prayer, and then, it also includes education on how to to pray. With this, there is a deep diver into different types of prayer. I've been praying my whole life, and this was my first exposure to some of these types of prayer. I also found some types of prayer I'd ever like to try. The author writes about faith in such an accessible way, and he does such a good job of explaining the why and how to help you understand the concepts and techniques he's talking about. This was just a beautiful read all around.

Onto the next ones!