Review: The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

Summary: Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in the desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other. But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.

Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind — and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight.

Genre: thriller, horror
Rating: ★★★

I went into The Wolf Road expecting a cat-and-mouse chase through the wilderness, and in some ways that’s what I got, but I also feel like there was so much more to this story than I ever could have anticipated. Elka discovers Trapper’s true identify extremely early on in the story, so the bulk of the book is about her on the run. However, along the way she meets riveting, charming, and sometimes vicious people, often getting into dangerous situations. She learns so much about herself along the way — not only about her background, but also about the type of person she is versus is not.

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Review: Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Summary: Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe. Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.

Travelling the journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story. As she plans her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking. Meaning she could very well end up as his next victim.

Genre: thriller
Rating: ★★

I started to slightly dislike Riley Sager once I found out he was using a unisex pseudonym to potentially lure in a different demographic of readers. I know people do this all the time, but I remember feeling let down when I learned the stories I had enjoyed were written by (insert dramatic sigh) another white man. However, I still found myself devouring his books, because even if they weren’t downright terrifying, they were still strong contenders in the overwhelmingly average thriller genre.

Until I read Survive the Night. This is not only his worst book, but also one of the weakest thrillers to come from 2021. And it almost exclusively boils down to the main character being the dumbest person alive.

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Books I’ve Given Up on Almost Immediately

I’ve talked about being a mood reader before and why sometimes it makes picking out books and reading them to be a chore. I noticed that in the last few months I’d been really struggling to

1) pick out a book that sounded interesting
2) enjoy the book that I picked
3) made strong progress or even finish the book

That’s not to say I haven’t read great books in the last few months; I’ve given plenty of them four or five star ratings. But in the midst of the highly-rated reviews, I find myself frustrated with my options for new books (despite having 40+ in my physical library and 400+ in ebooks). I oftentimes will pick out a book that’s been on my tbr for literal years, and after reading the first 20 pages, I realize I’m just not interested in it anymore. That doesn’t mean I won’t go back to the book at some point; it just means not right now.

When I was cleaning my house over the weekend, I found barely-started books strewn all over the house. They were ones I’d attempted, gotten only a few pages into (here is an angle from the top of the books to see how far I truly didn’t get), and put down with the promise of coming back to them, which I obviously never did. I was talking to my husband about them, and how frustrating being a mood reader can be sometimes. He suggested maybe picking a different genre to read, and that’s when I pointed out that every single book I’d abandoned in the last few months was a different genre. And that’s when I realized I have a slight problem.

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Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Summary: One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop a t nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

Genre: mystery, thriller

The Good Girl is maybe one of the worst books I’ve ever read, and there’s a lot to unpack here. Other readers have given this four stars, and while it seems like such a dramatic difference compared to how I feel about it, I will say I understand why some people liked this book. It wasn’t completely terrible at times. However, a majority of the problems lie in the very last chapter of the book.

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Review: The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Summary: Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death, only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task -find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons – and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.

Genre: fantasy, young adult
Rating: ★★★★★

The Keeper of Night is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’ve been in a slight reading slump, chugging through books but feeling content if I abandon them for a few days; nothing has been stealing or keeping my attention, and then this book came along and changed everything. I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. I put headphones in and let the real world dissolve entirely as I got sucked into this one. I’m already excitedly anticipating the sequel.

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