Today, I'll be discussing September BOTM pick, Cross Her Heart.
Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.
But when Ava rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are plastered all over the news, Lisa's world explodes.
As she finds everything she’s built threatened, it's up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what little she has left.
Someone has been pulling the strings, and that person is determined to make Lisa suffer for breaking a promise she made long ago.
Who picked Cross Her Heart as their September BOTM? I sure did!
I read this new release as a buddy read with @thrilltalkbookblog and quite enjoyed it.
Cross Her Heart, Pinborough's latest novel, is a quick and fun thriller. Her writing style can be described as concise and comprehensible. Despite the fact that her word choice is descriptive and vivid, it's not excessively detailed and flowery.
The characters in Cross Her Heart are also quite engaging. Although they're all fairly different from one another, each serves a purpose. Lisa's observant demeanor, Ava's innocence, and Marilyn's strong intuition work together to make an intriguing story. The secondary characters also have a significant role. Simon, Richard, Julia and the rest of the cast serve to pique the audience's interest even further.
Despite Pinborough's fantastic writing and character development, the best element of Cross Her Heart is the fast-paced, suspense-filled plot. However, although the narrative is filled with twists and turns, some of them are far-fetched and unconvincing—for many, this is the fault of CHH.
Nonetheless, Pinborough's latest book is a good choice for those looking for a quick and easy-to-read thriller.
Already read this BOTM pick? Reach out to me and share your thoughts!
Today, I'll be discussing my thoughts on the most popular novel of 2003, The Da Vinci Code.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
While in Paris, Harvard professor Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call. The curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body found covered in ancient symbols.
Even more startling, the victim was involved in the Priory of Sion: a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton and Da Vinci. It seems the curator was guarding a long-held secret.
As Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through strange riddles, they are shocked to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet cleverly disguised by the painter. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the puzzle, this explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.
Guess who finally joined the Dan Brown fan club...
After years of debating whether to read The Da Vinci Code, my mom surprised me with a copy she found at a local, second-hand bookstore... I picked it up a couple of weeks later.
In all honesty, I went into The Da Vinci Code with a bit of doubt. Although I'd heard dozens of great reviews, I wondered whether the story would capture my interest.
After only a couple of pages, I knew I had nothing to worry about. The Da Vinci Code is one of the most fascinating and captivating novels I've read so far.
While Brown's writing style is quite wonderful, his storyline and character development are what make The Da Vinci Code a 5-star read.
The characters featured in this novel, such as Robert Langford; Sophie Neveu; and even Jacques Saunière; are complex and fascinating. Despite being a part of a superb narrative, these characters bring the story to life, their authenticity makes the story feel real and genuine.
However, the best element of The Da Vinci Code is the storyline itself. Brown manages to develop a multi-dimensional plot based on factual events and people. That, in itself, is what makes this novel astounding.
This book has everything a reader could want. If you enjoy mysteries, treasure hunts, puzzles, art, history, and are open to alternative theories & concepts regarding the Catholic religion/church, pick up a copy of The Da Vinci Code.
Have you read this novel? Share what you thought in the comments.
Hello again readers!
Starting off Booktober with a review of Sager's second thriller, The Last Time I Lied.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Two Truths and a Lie—Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, played the game every night at summer camp. But the games ended the night Emma watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the late hours of the night. The last she—or anyone—saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, pressing a finger to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma channels the feelings and thoughts about her past into her work. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, Camp Nightingale's owner, she urges Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor.
In no time, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats... The closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and and what happened to her friends, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.
After being blown away by Final Girls, I decided to pick up The Last Time I Lied for some #backtobacksager. It's no surprise that I loved TLTIL just as much as the author's first thriller.
Despite both novels being quite different, each was just as fascinating and suspense-filled. Like Final Girls, TLTIL features concise yet detailed writing and immensely intriguing characters. In Sager's second thriller, each and every character, whether primary or secondary, is suspicious; it's almost as if everyone has something to hide...
In spite of this, the most favored element of this book is its storyline. Although the first couple of chapters lack action and intensity, the narrative picks up when the setting shifts. In that moment, the dynamic of the plot completely changes.
From that point onward, readers can feel a profound sense of eeriness, and as the story progresses, the audience also becomes aware of a great menace. It's quite evident that something horrible is going to happen, it's just unclear when that something will occur.
Because the feeling of imminent danger isn't enough in a Sager thriller, the author introduces a shocking twist that leaves readers completely shocked—their hearts pounding in their chest. Like in Final Girls, the twists in The Last Time I Lied are mind blowing and brilliant.
I'd recommend both Sager novels in a heartbeat; they just might be my favorite reads of 2018.
Did you read this creepy thriller? Let's chat!
Welcome back readers!
Today, I'll be discussing Riley Sager first thriller, Final Girls.
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on a cabin vacation with friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of the infamous club—a group of survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a dropout's knife; Sam, who fought the Sack Man at a motel in the late hours of the night; and now Quincy, who ran through the forest to escape the man she only refers to as Him.
Now, Quincy is doing well—thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring partner, a popular baking blog, a beautiful apartment, and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the officer who saved her life all those years ago.
Despite this, her memory won’t allow her to recall the events of that dreaded night; the past is sealed shut... That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep.
Okay readers... Riley Sager is officially one of my favorite thriller authors.
For weeks, my bookstagram peers advised me to pick up one of his novels, and after finally doing so, I am absolutely blown away.
Sager's writing hooks readers from the very first chapter. His word choice is concise yet colorful, and his characters, such as Quincy, Coop, and Samantha, are complex and extremely intriguing.
Despite this, what makes most readers fully engrossed in Final Girls is the plot itself. Sager creates and develops four gruesome scenes, including the sorority massacre and the Pine Cottage murders, which make Final Girls absolutely unputdownable.
Sager's first thriller is also brilliant in that the pace of the novel makes it a true "thriller." From the first chapter, the protagonist recounts narratives that serve to keep readers both on edge and tremendously interested. As the plot progresses, clues and secrets are revealed throughout the chapters that increase the momentum of the story. By the time the climax comes around, there is an intense sense of danger, as if something horrible is about to happen at any moment.
Nonetheless, Final Girls' mind blowing and sincerely heartbreaking ending is what makes the novel a standout, 5-star pick.
Sager's first thriller is superb from the first word to the very last; I can't recommend it enough.
If you enjoy gory, fast-paced thrillers, pick up a copy of Final Girls! Already read it? Let's chat!
Today, I'll be discussing BOTM's August mystery pick, Sweet Littles Lies.
Sweet Littles Lies by Caz Frear
Twenty-six-year-old Detective Cat Kinsella is called to the scene of a crime in Islington, not far from the pub her estranged father still runs, where she discovers that a young housewife has been brutally murdered.
Cat and her team immediately suspect the woman’s husband, until she receives a mysterious phone call that links the victim to Maryanne Doyle, a teenage girl who went missing in Ireland eighteen years earlier. The call raises uneasy memories for Cat—her family met Maryanne while on holiday, right before she vanished. Though she was only a child, Cat knew that her father wasn’t telling the truth when he denied knowing anything about Maryanne or her disappearance.
Did her father do something to the teenage girl all those years ago? Could he have taken part in a murder now?
Did you pick up a copy of Caz Frear's debut novel?
Get ready for my honest review of this police procedural!
Sweet Littles Lies is an interesting piece. While there's no doubt that the plot of the story is intriguing and enticing, it's not particularly standout.
Caz Frear's writing style is a mix of concise and eloquent word choice. Although her diction and syntax may not be quite direct and brief, it isn't detailed to the point of distraction either. Instead, Frear's writing can be described as a combination of A.J. Finn's and Tana French's writing styles!
Along with her fine word choice, the author also manages to accurately demonstrate the steps taken by detectives to solve a crime. By doing this, Frear develops a realistic and unique narrative.
Sweet Little Lies features a genuine depiction of the police force, a detailed and gruesome murder, shocking crimes, and dozens of secrets. The amazing storyline is what will keep audiences interested until the very end!
Despite this, the pace of the novel is a downfall. Although the second half is captivating and fast-paced, Sweet Little Lies is, unquestionably, a slow burner.
Along with the slow pace, the cast of characters isn't too impressive either. Whilst the strong personalities of Maryanne Doyle, Cat Kinsella, and Gina Hicks are magnificent, there are many characters that prove quite irrelevant to the story.
Nonetheless, Sweet Littles Lies is a good read that features an alluring storyline and strong, female characters. Although the mystery is quite predictable, many will find it enjoyable to uncover all the hidden clues.
I wouldn't recommend this novel to readers looking for a quick, twisted thriller. Instead, I would suggest Sweet Little Lies to readers who enjoy police procedurals and descriptive, detective crime novels.
Have you read Frear's debut novel? Share your thoughts below!
Welcome back to AZE!
Today, I'll be discussing my thoughts on Patrick Canning's latest novel, The Colonel and the Bee.
Thank you Evolved Publishing, LLC and Patrick Canning for the free reader copy in exchange for my honest review!
The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning
Beatrix, a spirited but abused acrobat in a traveling circus, seeks more than what her prison-like employment offers. More than anything, she wants to know her place in the world.
One night, the mysterious Colonel James Bacchus attends Beatrix's show. This fascinating English gentleman is most notable for traveling the world in a four-story hot air balloon, The Ox.
That night, Beatrix flees to join the Colonel, the two of them making a narrow escape. Feeling the Colonel may have the answers to her problems, Beatrix vows to help him catch the murderous criminal he seeks in exchange for passage on his balloon.
Will this peculiar match find what they desire?
The Colonel and the Bee is not my kind of read, but it's a good read nonetheless.
Patrick Canning's latest novel features an eloquent writing style, similar to that of traditional, contemporary novels. His word choice perfectly conveys the magical world he's created—a surprising combination that can be described as Wizard of Oz meets Around the World in 80 Days. Canning's latest novel was written for readers who are ready to travel to another world and let their imaginations roam. It combines adventure and mystery, but most importantly, it features magnificent characters.
The best element of The Colonel and the Bee is, unquestionably, the various personalities found throughout the novel. James Bacchus is charming and determined, while Beatrix is bold and strong-willed. Even though Beatrix faces mistreatment, she is unapologetically herself. Canning's decision to create such a strong, female protagonist is admired and refreshing.
Despite the fact that The Colonel and the Bee is a good novel, it's not the kind of book I consider gripping. The storyline is unique and the characters are marvelous, but Canning's traditional writing style drove away my attention and interest at times.
However, as I've mentioned in other pieces, my fondness of concise, modern diction is simply a preference. There is no doubt that Canning is a tremendous author.
The Colonel and the Bee is an exceptional pick for readers who enjoy a traditional writing style, such as that of Arthur Conan Doyle.
If this review has intrigued you, check out Canning's latest novel on Goodreads or on https://www.patrickcanningbooks.com/
Already read The Colonel and the Bee? Share your thoughts below!
Time to chat, thriller readers!
Today, I'll be discussing my thoughts on the latest B.A. Paris.
Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car and goes inside. But when he returns, Layla is gone―never to be seen again.
Ten years later, Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them together years ago. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him, but a sixth sense tells him something's wrong...
After what felt like forever, I finally got my hands on the new B.A. Paris (and check out the breathtaking cover).
I was quite hesitant to pick this novel up because of its mixed reviews. Many found the plot repetitive while others disagreed with the ending. However, there were plenty of readers, like me, who loved Bring Me Back and were not at all disappointed.
Those of you who have kept up with AZE since the beginning know that B.A. Paris is one of my go-to authors. There are very few writers who can create graphic, lifelike characters and stories while making you feel as if you're living the narrative from the inside. Paris' past novels took readers on thrilling and suspenseful journeys; Bring Me Back is no different.
This novel features an enticing and captivating story, one that will have you turning pages so quickly that you'll have finished before you know it.
The characters, however, are what make Bring Me Back an unputdownable novel. Throughout the book you will find yourself suspecting each and every single character. You'll try to come up with theories of what exactly happened to Layla, but you'll be wrong. The only thing that is certain is that everyone in this story has something to hide.
Bring Me Back is a great pick for fans of thrillers, mysteries, and whodunnits. Paris' latest novel will have you on the edge of your seat, craving the truth.
If you've read mixed reviews and are unsure of picking up a copy, I hope this discussion has convinced you. Take the chance and check it out for yourself!
Welcome to AZE readers,
Today, I'll be discussing my thoughts on a July 2018 release: Green Zone Jack.
A BIG thanks to East Third Street Press, LLC, I. James Bertolina, and Ryder for sending me a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
Let's get to rating!
Green Zone Jack by I. James Bertolini
Just back from an assignment and looking forward to his vacation, special agent Payton Ladd receives an urgent request to lead a manhunt in Baghdad. Ben Ater, nephew of a powerful senator, has disappeared, and the RSO, Ladd's ex girlfriend, needs Payton to find him.
Once in Baghdad, Payton retraces Ben’s steps and speaks to those who claim to know why the young auditor mysteriously left the Green Zone. But the explanation that Ben was dealing drugs doesn’t explain why he went missing in the Red Zone, a place he had no business being.
As Payton continues to dig, he uncovers pieces of the puzzle that don’t fit, and suddenly, he's convinced that Ben wasn’t kidnapped over anything as simple as a drug deal.
With the help a perfectly organized task force, Payton uncovers a conspiracy that could topple nations.
After reading the synopsis of Green Zone Jack, I found myself intrigued by this military mystery. As most of you know, I usually read thrillers, mysteries, crime, or detective novels. Despite the fact that Bertolina's latest novel is classified as a mystery, GZJ proved to be outside my comfort zone.
Although I found myself overwhelmed by the military jargon, I was able to focus on the overall story... who doesn't enjoy a conspiracy?
The most unique element of this novel is the author's diction and writing style. While Bertolina's word choice isn't concise, it's not immensely detailed either. Green Zone Jack also features a variety of military jargon which makes it very different from other novels in the mystery genre. Because of this, GZJ is an interesting and refreshing read for individuals who are familiar with or interested in the armed forces.
Aside from the unique writing style and engaging storyline, the wide variety of characters featured in the novel were a bit of a distraction. Nonetheless, the development of the primary characters, such as Payton Ladd and Catherine McGabe, was superb.
Green Zone Jack is a great read for readers interested in the armed forces and even individuals who have served! Despite this, I wouldn't recommend this book to readers simply looking for a mystery or crime book. If you are familiar with military argot and want to dive into the world of crime, order a copy of Green Zone Jack!
Hello book lovers!
Today, I'll be discussing my thoughts on beloved thriller pick, The Wife Between Us.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
“When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement—a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Here's the deal readers... I did not enjoy The Wife Between Us as much as I thought I would.
I had been dying to get my hands on a copy of this novel for ages, and when I finally picked it up, my peers assured me I would absolutely love it.
Unfortunately, The Wife Between Us fell flat.
While the writing was concise and vibrant and the characters were exceptionally lifelike, the story itself was uneventful and predictable. I blame this predictability on the book's blurb, not the narrative itself.
If the synopsis would not warn readers about "making assumptions" the twists would be genuinely shocking and enjoyable, resulting in a much better reading experience. Unfortunately, the "warnings" made it easy to figure out the pivotal moments that were meant to make The Wife Between Us an enthralling tale.
Despite the novel missing the element of surprise, I also felt that it lacked suspense and thrill. Although this novel is categorized as a psychological thriller and mystery, I felt that it lacked both of these elements. There was no moment in which I felt shock, tension, or even a sense of eeriness.
There's no doubt that The Wife Between Us is a good novel and a great choice for readers looking for a quick read. However, I would not recommend this novel to anyone looking for a thriller or mystery.
Here's some tips that might help enrich your reading experience with The Wife Between Us:
1. Ignore the synopsis
2. Don't think try to figure out the ending, just read.
3. Don't pick this up thinking it's a mystery or thriller; instead, think of it as contemporary fiction.
Have you read The Wife Between Us? Share what you thought below!
Welcome back book friends!
Today, I'll be discussing my FAVORITE Gillian Flynn novel, Dark Places.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” Despite being in the house during the attack, Libby survived and testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer.
Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby in hopes of uncovering details of the crime that may help to free Ben.
Libby, who hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history, agrees to reconnect with faces from her past and report her findings to the club—for a hefty fee.
Unfortunately, Libby wouldn’t have imagined that she’d find herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
WHOA. This is what I call an unputdownable novel.
Dark Places is packed with shocking twists, dirty secrets, and striking characters.
From the moment the story begins, Flynn takes readers on a twisted tale of murder, betrayal, and deception. Dark Places is violent, gory, and sinister—everything that a thriller fanatic could possibly want in a novel.
Not only is Flynn's piece driven by its captivating plot, Dark Places is surprisingly character-based. The combination of its fascinating storyline along with its featured authentic, lively characters, such as Diondra Wertzner and Krissy Cates, makes this book one to remember.
Although there's no doubt that Dark Places is a brilliant, I was quite disappointed with the outcome of the novel.
The narrative was thrilling and enticing... until the last 40 pages. There's no better way to explain the ending other than that it was simply anticlimactic. While it wasn't as dreadful and upsetting as Gone Girl, the ending of Dark Places can be described as unrealistic and seemingly irrelevant to the plot. Despite this, I absolutely loved the book and would recommend it to all thriller and mystery fanatics.
Which Gillian Flynn is your favorite? Let's chat down below!
Hello again booksters!
Today, I'll be discussing one of the most popular true crime novels of the year- I'll Be Gone in the Dark.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed 50 sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he committed ten horrific murders. Then he disappeared, escaping capture from some of the best detectives in the area.
Three decades later, true crime journalist Michelle McNamara is determined to find the Golden State Killer.
As many of you know, I absolutely love the crime, mystery, and thriller genres.
Despite that, I had been very skeptical about picking up I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Although the topic was fascinating, I feared that the story itself, specifically the reportive/journalistic aspect, would be monotonous. Unfortunately those fears came true.
I decided to read I'll Be Gone in the Dark because of the novel's wonderful reviews. Sadly, I didn't feel the way most of my peers felt about this book.
I'd like to start off by saying that although I did not enjoy reading this novel, I admire McNamara's endless dedication to the case.
With that said, let's discuss the book itself.
One of my biggest complaints about IBGITD is its lack of structure. I am appalled by the fact that the novel has no method of organization- it's simply dozens of short stories compiled together in no particular order. The book jumps from the story of a rape, to the story of a murder, to the narration of McNamara discussing the case with various detectives.
This lack of organization makes the book sloppy which causes many readers, myself included, to feel disengaged and bored the majority of the time.
If the novel had been organized chronologically, IBGITD would've been much more enthralling.
Another element that I struggled with was the fact that IBGITD was just 328 pages of speculation. Although there were dozens of facts regarding the crime scenes, there was no concrete evidence pointing to the identity of the killer. Despite detectives having a possible profile, the novel was just hundreds of pages of "what ifs."
While there's no doubt that Michelle McNamara and her book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark, brought back attention to one of the most heinous and coldest cases in history, that's basically all this book accomplished.
Her dedication to this case was remarkable and admirable, but new technology is what put Joseph James DeAngelo behind bars.
Did you read I'll Be Gone in the Dark? What did you think? Leave your comments down below.
Welcome back to AZE!
Today, I'll be discussing The Canary's Song, Natalie Banks' latest work.
I want to give a huge thanks to the author and publisher for sending me a free review copy in exchange for my honest review. Now, let's get to rating!
The Canary's Song by Natalie Banks
Juliette Bennett’s life was in shambles. Losing her son to a shocking accident had broken her heart, and now, she was on the verge of losing her husband too.
In a last effort to save her marriage, Juliette books a cabin retreat in the mountains of North Carolina.
She thought she had overcome the worst time of her life. Little does she know, the wilderness has something dreadful in store.
Natalie Banks is back with remarkable character development in her latest work, The Canary's Song. This latest book features incredible, authentic representations of motherhood and relationships while also addressing the issues of overcoming hardships, struggling with faith, and healing and forgiveness.
For readers who have struggled with partnerships or parenthood, The Canary's Song will hit very close to home.
While the story felt slow at times, the genuineness of the featured characters made for an unputdownable novel.
The Canary's Song is a quick and short read packed with immense and intense emotion. And while the thriller addict side of me would prefer The Dark Room, there's no doubt that Banks' latest work is a good pick for lovers of contemporary fiction.
If you enjoy emotion packed novels and character-based reads, pick up a copy of The Canary's Song!
Today, I'll be discussing one the most anticipated thrillers of the year, Tear Me Apart. J.T. Ellison's latest novel will be released on August 28, 2018!
A BIG thanks to Mira Books (Harlequin and Harper Collins) for sending me a free ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Let's get to rating!
Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison
Competitive Skier Mindy Wright is a star in the making until a horrific accident threatens her life. During surgery, doctors discover she's suffering from a severe illness, and a stem cell transplant is her only chance at recovery. But when her parents are tested, a shocking truth is uncovered- Mindy is not their daughter.
Who has the answers? And why would someone go to such extremes to keep the past hidden?
Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get better than Lie to Me... IT DOES.
Readers, I literally devoured this book. Tear Me Apart is 485 pages and I managed to read the entire novel in a little over a day. I was taking this book with me to doctor appointments, to family gatherings, even to lunch. I just could not put it down.
J.T. Ellison's writing is just as gripping and mesmerizing in Tear Me Apart as it was in Lie to Me. It's concise and straightforward yet colorful and detailed.
The characters, both primary and secondary, are also quite intriguing. From Juliet's independent and intelligent persona to Jasper's cool and composed demeanor, each character is not only extraordinary but highly significant to the story.
Despite the fact that Ellison's writing style and character development are remarkable, what hooked me instantly was the plot of the story. From the moment I finished the prologue, I knew Tear Me Apart would be dark, sinister, and filled with betrayal.
Although the villain in the novel was quite apparent to me, each and every word was riveting nonetheless.
This book is so much more than the tale of a family. Tear Me Apart is a daunting reminder that no one is as harmless and innocent as they appear to be.
Eager to uncover the Wrights' darkest secrets? Pick up a copy of Tear Me Apart on August 28th!
Welcome back to AZE!
This week, I'll be discussing Sunday Times bestseller Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She says exactly what she’s thinking and sees no problem with it. Nothing is missing in her carefully planned routine. Days include frozen pizza, vodka, watching the telly, and phone chats with Mummy.
Then one day, Eleanor meets Raymond. And with time, her daily customs come to halt. Through this unlikely friendship, Eleanor will come to find that routine and social isolation aren't the only way to live life after all.
"I remember thinking, as I put the phone down, that I really, really hoped that Janey wouldn't bring in one of her homemade cakes to mark my return, as she often did when people had been off. Dry doesn't even come close to describing the arid desert texture of her coffee-and-walnut sponge."
Time to fess' up... Apart from Hermione Granger, no other character has made me laugh as much as Eleanor Oliphant has.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is amusing and delightful but it's also compelling and powerful. While the novel had me completely captivated through humor and its enchanting featured characters, what made me fall in love with the story was its advocacy of the power of kindness and friendship.
Although Gail Honeyman's writing style was splendid, the story and characters she created were quite remarkable. I found myself laughing-out-loud at Eleanor's outrageously blatant responses while also smiling at Raymond's compassionate deeds.
Despite Honeyman creating a magnificent story of friendship and acceptance, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is more than a heartwarming tale.
This novel addresses significant topics such as mental health, trauma, emotional abuse, suicide, and so many other issues that people around the world struggle with everyday.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine serves to remind every individual that no matter how hopeless you feel, you're never alone and unloved.
Have YOU picked up a copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine?
Welcome back readers!
Today, I'll be discussing my thoughts on a beloved New York Times bestseller!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Meet Ove. He has strict principles, inflexible routines, and a very short temper.
One November morning, a family of four move into the neighborhood and accidentally wreck Ove's mailbox. This accident leads to a funny and heartwarming story of unanticipated pets, surprising friendships, and eventful afternoons- all of which change the ill-tempered old man and his daily routine.
Okay booksters... I haven't loved a book this much in quite some time. The moment I read the very last word I knew I wouldn't read anything like this for a while- that realization prompted an enormous amount of tears.
A Man Called Ove is much more than a story filled with comical anecdotes. This piece is made up of genuine and candid characters- all of which moved me (and other readers) in ways nonreaders couldn't understand.
Each character was not only outspoken and unique, they were lovable. Without "the foreign pregnant woman," "the lanky one," the cat, or any of the others, this story wouldn't be beautiful and unforgettable- it wouldn't be A Man Called Ove.
Every single personality featured in this novel contributes to Ove's story immensely. As I got further into the story, I came to find that each character is a sort of puzzle piece, and each piece fits perfectly to create a breathtaking tale. Despite this, it wasn't until I read the very last word that I realized how much each character had affected me personally. I thought of Ove, Parvaneh, Sonja, and all the other characters and wished that I could go back to the very beginning and read the book all over again.
A Man Called Ove is a brilliant novel filled with sensational characters and truly great writing. Whoever picks this novel up can expect to smile, laugh, and cry their eyes out. Nonetheless, it's totally worth it.
If you have yet to read A Man Called Ove, I hope I've convinced you.
Read this book already? Share your thoughts down below!
Hello book lovers!
This week, I'll be discussing my second Miss Marple read, A Caribbean Mystery!
A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple #9) by Agatha Christie
The sunny island of Saint Honore is just what Miss Marple needed to relax.
But evil doesn't rest. And when Major Palgrave dies suddenly, Miss Marple knows her vacation is over. The detective was sure that the major's death was murder, and if she didn't act quickly, it would not be the last...
Many of you who have been keeping up with AZE for the last couple of months know that my first experience with Miss Marple did not go well. I read Murder at the Vicarage, the first book in the Marple series, a couple of months ago and was quite disappointed. Although the storyline was intriguing, the characters in the novel were mundane and uninteresting- making the novel boring and drawn out.
(For my full review of Murder at the Vicarage visit:
Luckily, this time around, it was a completely different experience. A Caribbean Mystery was a gripping novel filled with riveting plot twists. Unlike Murder at the Vicarage, the characters featured in this book were vibrant, bold, and memorable.
I also found that this Marple read was similar to Evil Under the Sun (Hercule Poirot #24). Both books, although in different series, took place on an island and featured fascinating characters. Despite this, I loved A Caribbean Mystery because it was captivating and fast-paced. Almost every character in the book appeared suspicious which made guessing who the killer was that much more exciting!
I can say with certainty that I'm delighted to have given Miss Marple a second chance.
I'm quite excited to read the rest of the Marple books. Which picks in the series are your favorite? Leave your recommendations down below!
Welcome back to AZE readers!
Today, I'll be discussing a Hercule Poirot pick, Mrs. McGinty's Dead!
Mrs. McGinty's Dead (Hercule Poirot #28) by Agatha Christie
One night in the small town of Broadhinny, an old woman is barbarically murdered in her cottage... Days later, police confirm she suffered a brutal blow to the head.
Evidence points suspicion to the lodger, James Bentley, whose clothes contained Mrs. McGinty's blood and hair. However, something was just not right.
When Superintendent Spence asks Hercule Poirot to help, the great detective is sure he can save the innocent man- what he doesn't realize is that his life is now in great danger...
"For, you see, mon cher Spence, if Mrs McGinty is just an ordinary charwoman- it is the murderer who must be extraordinary. Yes- that follows clearly. It is the murderer and not the murdered that the interest of this case lies," said Poirot.
Mrs. McGinty's Dead just might be on my list of Poirot favorites! This unputdownable pick had me hooked from the very beginning.
As always, the writing was superb and the characters were unforgettable. However, this time around, it was the plot that captured my attention.
There's nothing as fascinating as a clear-cut case that turns out to be just the opposite.
From the first page of this novel the audience is faced with a remarkable question: did James Bentley kill Mrs. McGinty?
The countless clues assured officers that he was guilty, but how can a case be so effortlessly solved? It's as if the evidence was meant to be found...
If Bentley wasn't a killer that meant he was being framed, and THAT meant that Poirot and his readers were dealing with a brilliant mind.
This case was not only filled with excitement, it was filled with intrigue. Christie poses dozens of questions and twists that have readers on edge until the very last page.
However, the best element of this novel is that no one is who they appear to be. Although someone may not be guilty of murder, they're surely guilty of something...
Mrs. McGinty's Dead is a great book for readers who love both thrillers and detective mysteries!
Ready to guess who killed Mrs. McGinty? Pick up a copy of Hercule Poirot's 30th case!
Welcome back readers!
This week, I'll be sharing my first Tana French reading experience... Let's get started!
Broken Harbor (DMS #4) by Tana French
One night in a half-abandoned “luxury” development in Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are mercilessly murdered. His wife, Jenny, fights for her life in intensive care.
At first, detectives think it’s going to be an easy case to solve. But as time goes by, too many details become unexplainable- the half-dozen baby monitors pointed at holes that plague the walls, the files erased from their home computer, and the story Jenny told her sister about an intruder...
Will the Dublin Murder Squad solve the case?
Now I know what you're thinking.
"Erika... Did you read the fourth book of the Dublin Murder Squad series before reading the first three?"
Yes, I absolutely did.
After doing a lot (and I mean a lot) of research on Tana French and the Dublin Murder Squad Series, I discovered that the series didn't need to be read in the exact order it was published. While there are some that do need to be read before others, dozens of DMS fans recommend not reading In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) first because many find it off-putting. So, after reading many forums, the order that was most recommended was:
This novel can be read as a standalone.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's chat about Broken Harbor.
As you know, this novel was my first experience with Tana French.
I have to be honest... I wasn't crazy about it... AT FIRST.
In the past, I've explained that I prefer concise and vivid writing- French's writing, while very vivid, is also very wordy. HOWEVER, after a couple of pages I was absolutely captivated by the characters and the plot of the story. Although I didn't love French's detailed and lengthy word choice, I was able to look past it and soon became completely enthralled by the storyline.
After reading 100 pages or so, I found myself devouring Broken Harbor. I read the first 200 pages in the span of two days and finished the last 250 pages in one sitting!
Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the protagonist and prime detective on the Spain case, was one of the highlights of this novel. Scorcher was witty, comical, and sarcastic- my favorite kind of character. Despite this, what hooked me was the plot itself. An atrocious murder had been committed in a desolate town, and the more I read, the more eager I was to find out the truth. The moment I began reading this story, this case was all I could think about. Who would commit such a heinous crime and why? After hours and hours of reading, I even asked my family and friends who they thought was the culprit...
I can say with full certainty that I'm a Tana French fan- not for her writing style particularly but her ability to create intriguing characters and storylines.
I recommend Broken Harbor to readers who enjoy detailed and flowery language, character-based novels, and classic detective mysteries!
This novel is NOT a good pick if you're in the mood for a quick, thrilling read.
However, if you think you can look past the fact that French's diction is quite lengthy, I really suggest picking up a copy of Broken Harbor!
I have already purchased a copy of Faithful Place and will be starting it soon!
Have you read Broken Harbor or any of Tana French's works? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
After tallying the Instagram polls, it's finally settled! New blog posts will go live every Sunday. Despite this, I am trying my hardest to work out a way to bring back two posts a week!
In the meantime, book reviews related to adult fiction will be available on AZE while bookish pieces related to children's literature will be accessible on Spanish Classroom. The link will be down below!
Now that I've mentioned the latest scheduling info, let's chat about this week's book!
Today, I'll be discussing one of Gillian Flynn's most popular works, Sharp Objects. HBO's newly adapted miniseries, based on this very novel, premieres TONIGHT at 9 PM EST.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Soon after her release from a psych hospital, reporter Camilla Breaker faces a troubling assignment- to return to her hometown and cover the gruesome murders of two young girls.
For years, Camilla has barely spoken to her hypochondriac mother and manipulative half sister. Now, back in her childhood bedroom, she finds herself identifying with the girls too strongly. Taunted by her demons, she must revisit the story of her past if she wants to uncover the true story.
I am SO happy I decided to give Gillian Flynn a second chance.
Those of you who follow AZE on Instagram (@theazereads) know of my last experience with Gillian Flynn.
I picked up a copy of Gone Girl towards the beginning of this year and was absolutely captivated by the author's writing, the story, and especially the characters. However, after the ending, I was furious to say the least.
I spent months avoiding my peers' suggestions to try her other works. "You won't be disappointed," they assured me, but I did not want to be let down again.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, one of my trusted book friends, @thrilltalkbookblog (Miranda), recommended I pick up Sharp Objects. Because I've done buddy reads with Miranda in the past and know that our taste in books is very similar, I decided (with my guard up) to purchase a copy of Sharp Objects and start it right away.
It's absolutely no surprise that I was hooked from the very first chapter. Flynn has an astounding way of capturing her audience through exquisite word choice. However, while it felt amazing to feel so familiar with the characters and setting, it also felt frightening at times. Even though Flynn's novel is gripping, there's no doubt that it's dark. Because of this, there were times I wished her writing wasn't so illustrative.
As twisted as Sharp Objects may be, it truly is a brilliant piece. Although Flynn's diction and writing style are remarkable, her ability to create authentically wicked characters is even more extraordinary. While the plot is gripping, this book is unquestionably character-based. Each personality plays a significant role, and it isn't until the end of the story that the audience truly sees how each character serves to piece this sinister puzzle together.
I wouldn't recommend this novel to all mystery fanatics because it may be too intense for some readers. Luckily, Sharp Objects is a great pick for fans of the mystery and thriller genres who are up for a dark, wicked read.
Have you read this piece or other Gillian Flynn works? Share your thoughts with us below!
To visit Spanish Classroom go to: https://www.santillanausa.com/spanish-classroom
Welcome back to AZE bibliophiles!
Today, I'm back with a new post, but it's not a book review...
I recently began an internship at Santillana Publishing as a reader/blogger. I'll be writing book reviews and other bookish posts for Santillana USA's blog- Spanish Classroom. The blog specializes in providing teachers and parents with resources and other fun, bookish information regarding the publisher's education books as well as their immense selection of children's literature.
What does this mean for AZE?
Because I'll be reading material for Santillana while I also read for pleasure, I'll be posting bookish pieces on here only once a week. In the past, I've uploaded new material both Wednesdays and Sundays. But now, YOU'LL decide whether you'd like to see AZE's bookish posts on either Wednesday or Sunday!
In the next couple of days, I'll be taking a poll on Instagram, @theazereads , so you can pick which of the two days you'd prefer!
Fortunately, this doesn't mean I'll be writing less! Although I will only upload ONE piece a week on AZE, you can expect to read dozens of upcoming reviews on Spanish Classroom under the "BOOKS AND AUTHORS" or "FEATURED READINGS" tab. These pieces will be based off Santillana's wide selection of comical and heartwarming children's stories.
To check out my FIRST piece for Santillana, a review of Guillermo Fesser's Get to Know Bernardo de Galvez, check out:
Thanks so much for your support, and tune in to Instagram, @theazereads , to decide whether you'd like to see more of AZE on either Wednesdays or Sundays!
Welcome back readers!
Today, I'll be discussing one of the most anticipated mysteries of the summer, Girls' Night Out. Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke's latest novel will be released to the public on July 24, 2018!
A BIG thanks to Lake Union (Amazon Publishing) for sending me a free ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Let's get to rating!
Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it's time to heal the old wounds between them. What better way to do that than take a girls' trip to Mexico?
However, even after being reunited, no one is telling the whole truth. And suddenly, Ashley disappears.
In the hours following their friend's disappearance, Natalie and Lauren work to piece together their hazy memories of the trip.
Did Ashley pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or could Natalie or Lauren snapped under the weight of their lies?
It's no coincidence that Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke's upcoming novel is being released in the heart of summertime. Girls' Night Out is a perfect summer pick!
Although many described this novel as a "thriller," the authors' latest work isn't a thrilling suspense novel. Instead, Girls' Night Out is filled with a sheer sense of eeriness that makes this a light mystery- perfect for lounging on the edge of the water or snuggling in bed on a Sunday.
With every turn of a page, I became more eager to find out the truth.
WHAT happened to Ashley, and WHO is guilty of her disappearance?
Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke's ability to coauthor this novel is nothing short of admirable. Their ability to create one, cohesive voice is astounding. While the writing in this book is excellent, it's the characters, both primary and secondary, that make Girls' Night Out a great summer pick!
Each and every character, although lively and authentic, is immensely different than the others. The grand personalities and shocking secrets featured in this piece make Fenton and Steinke's latest book a great choice for fans of character-based novels.
Ready to follow your gut and discover the truth of Ashley's whereabouts?
Pick up a copy of Girls' Night Out on July 24th!
Welcome back book lovers!
Today, I'll be reviewing one of 2017 most renown thrillers!
Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison
Sutton and Ethan Montclair's lives are not what they appear. Although they seem absolutely in love, that couldn't be further away from the truth. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals, the two love and despise each other.
Suddenly, Sutton disappears. And as the police investigate, the truth unravels. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Or has something much more sinister occurred?
Lie to Me is my favorite read of 2018 (so far) and it's looking very hard to beat.
This book features outstanding writing. Ellison's diction is rich and eloquent, but also clear and comprehensible. With the turn of every page, a thrilling story comes to life. The author's vibrant syntax makes the novel easy to devour, making Lie to Me an ideal pick for lovers of literature.
Through vivid language, Ellison manages to create and develop a storyline that keeps the audience on the edge of their chair. Each chapter stimulates a deep sense of suspense and danger within its readers, leaving many members of the audience feeling uneasy- just like a thriller should.
While Lie to Me captivates with its exhilarating hook and climax, the characters in this book are what make it a standout, 5-star read. Although the protagonists are striking, its the secondary characters that are most memorable.
Because my favorite moments throughout the book are significant events, I can't say much else without spoiling the story. Despite being a perfect pick for fans of thrillers and mysteries, I'm certain that admirers of other genres will enjoy Lie to Me!
Have you read J.T. Ellison's Lie to Me? Leave your thoughts down below!
Welcome back to AZE!
Today, I'll be discussing one of Agatha Christie's most renown pieces...
The Big Four by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #5)
Standing in the doorway of Hercule Poirot's bedroom was an uninvited guest, covered in dust from head to toe. The man's haggard face stared blankly for a moment, and then he crumbled to the floor.
Who is this man? Is he suffering from shock or exhaustion? Most importantly, what is the significance of the figure 4 scribbled all across a white sheet of paper?
The Big Four, one of Agatha Christie's most popular novels, is famous due to the nature and structure of the story. While most of Christie's works analyze one specific case, this book features multiple stories that are all wound together to create a much larger narrative. Many readers have suggested that The Big Four reads similar to a short story collection as opposed to a classic literary work. While that may appear true to some, the book's structure is what's made this novel memorable for so many readers.
I can say with all certainty that while The Big Four isn't my favorite in the Poirot series, it was quite enjoyable. Although I prefer the classic detective mystery- one specific case followed by a set of clues- this change in narrative was fresh and pleasurable. It was interesting to see how versatile Christie's writing can be.
However, this "short story essence" resulted in the piece lacking character depth, something that I didn't particularly enjoy. Despite most readers being familiar with Poirot and Hastings, the accounts and thoughts of other characters involved was short and vague. Because of this, The Big Four leaves readers feeling like there should've been more.
Despite this, it's interesting to see how Poirot shifts from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot #4) to The Big Four. While both novels include the brilliant detective, the plot structure varies so greatly that other elements in the story, such as character and scene development, are greatly impacted.
If you're interested in short story collections, The Big Four is truly a great pick! However, if you're looking for a detective mystery, I suggest trying a different book in the Poirot series (perhaps The Murder of Roger Ackroyd)!
Hello book lovers!
This week I wanted to share my review of PageHabit, an up and coming book subscription box. There are two distinct elements that made PageHabit stand out. First, each monthly box comes with a hardcover novel from the genre of your choice. There are 8 genres to choose from: historical fiction, mystery, horror, fantasy, science fiction, romance, young adult fiction, or literary fiction- making this subscription box a great choice for book lovers who want to be surprised with what they receive but also want to play it safe. For example, I'm very open to reading most books under the mystery, thriller, or horror genres but am skeptical when reading a book in the romance or science fiction genres. Because of this, I ordered the mystery box. Another element that lured me to PageHabit was the price! Each box is $29.99 plus shipping, which makes it affordable when compared to most book subscription boxes in the market. Now that we've addressed what sets PageHabit apart from other bookish boxes, let's review the March Mystery Box!
PageHabit March Mystery Box: 4 stars
The box came with:
Hello again bibliophiles!
Today, I'll be discussing The Dark Room, written by best-selling novelist Natalie Banks.
I want to give a huge thanks to the author and publisher for sending me a free review copy in exchange for my honest review. Now, let's get to rating!
The Dark Room by Natalie Banks
Anna Walker finds herself in a steamy extramarital affair with sexy film photographer Alec Prentice. But soon, his bad boy ways and her guilty conscience driver her to end the relationship abruptly.
Not long after ending the affair, she frighteningly realizes she's being stalked. As she desperately tries to conceal the affair, the stalking escalates.
Although her safety is jeopardized, she refuses to get help from fear that her secret will be exposed. Forced to take matters into her own hands, she finds herself face to face with her stalker. And suddenly, she's clutching a gun in her hand...
The Dark Room was my first Natalie Banks novel, but it certainly will not be the last...
WOW. Let's talk about character development- one of this book's most notable strengths. The author makes this piece memorable by developing and portraying vivid, realistic, and very relatable characters. Each character, especially Anna Walker, is absolutely engaging. It's impossible for readers to turn each page without feeling a connection to the protagonist or the emotions being conveyed. The Dark Room features a handful of themes, but one of the most significant is making mistakes. In order to address this concept and other themes, Banks takes her audience through Anna's very familiar journey, making each reader reflect on their own actions and the consequences that have come from them.
There is also no doubt that this piece features brilliant writing. Banks' writing style is colorful but comprehensive, making this a fast-paced page-turner. Through her writing, the author is able to create an uncanny environment. While there isn't an essence of immense thrill or suspense, there is a steady sense of eeriness, making danger seem apparent yet unpreventable. As a reader, I felt completely captivated and intrigued by this uncertainty. At any moment, something tragic would occur and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
The last sixty pages of this novel were absolutely thrilling. However, I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have because I solved the mystery beforehand. Nonetheless, The Dark Room was such an enjoyable read!
If you're in the mood for a character-based mystery or a light thriller, this is the book for you!
Have you read The Dark Room? Share your thoughts down below!