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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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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ARC Review: Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll

Summary: It’s their daughter’s graduation and Rachel and Ed Hartley are expecting it to be one of their family’s happiest days. But when she stumbles and falls on stage during the ceremony, a beautiful moment turns to chaos: Gemma has been shot, and just like that, she’s fighting for her life. PI Matthew Hill is one of the first on the scene. A cryptic message Gemma received earlier in the day suggests someone close to her was about to be exposed. But who? As Matthew starts to investigate, he finds more and more layers obscuring the truth. He even begins to suspect the Hartleys are hiding something big—from him and from each other. While Gemma lies in hospital in a coma, her would-be killer is still out there. Can Matthew unravel the family’s secrets before the attacker strikes again?

Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: ★★★

Her Perfect Family fits cozily on the domestic thriller shelf right between authors like Tarryn Fisher and Shari Lapena. It checks all the boxes here: it’s told in alternating perspectives between the PI, each member of the Hartley family, and, seemingly most importantly, a mysterious person who is our alleged killer; the story focuses heavily on the personal lives of the characters instead of the actual crime procedural.

So is Her Perfect Family good? It checks all the boxes, which will easily draw in readers who already enjoy the genre. I just don’t know that it stands out from others on the shelf.

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September Wrap Up + Mini Reviews

September was a surprisingly busy month for me. My job became all-consuming for a little while in order for me to get a promotion I’d been after which drastically changed my daily life; I went on a week-long family vacation to Tennessee; and my witchy aesthetic girl gang started spending more time together. It was a complete whirlwind of a month, to say the least. I’ve had hardly any time to dedicate to my hobbies with how crazy things have been.

Unfortunately, that meant reading often got put on the backburner. I did read the Splintered Series by A.G. Howard, and honestly managing to read seven books this month in spite of everything else I had going on is still impressive for me. I actually read both of my Book of the Month picks in the month I got them! I only read one of my three books for my monthly book club, but four of the seven books I read were ones I own that I can check off the towering list that is my tbr pile, so overall, it was a good reading month!

I decided to do mini reviews with all the books I read this month, because while some were terrible, some blew me away, and some were tucked cozily right in between, I didn’t feel I had enough to say about each of them to warrant their own separate reviews.

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Review: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Summary: From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was properly friendly but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law. That was five years ago.

Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer. But the autopsy finds no cancer. The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation. Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?

Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: ★★★

A few months ago, I went through my tbr pile and removed any thrillers that had words like “mother,” “wife,” “daughter,” “husband” in them. I’d noticed a common trend among domestic thrillers with those keywords, and felt they were all too easy. The writing tended to lack any real substance, the plots were all the same, and they were extremely predictable. The Mother-in-Law was promptly taken off my list, and I didn’t think anything of it for a few months. When I came across it at a book sale, I grabbed it despite my internal monologue telling me not to, because it was only a dollar, and really, how bad could it be?

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