Thriller Reviews

Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

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Book: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton [ goodreads | amazon ]
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: eBook, ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis
They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon. 

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship.

Cover
The cover is perfection. It was what made me click on this book. I had yet to hear anything, the author was new to me. The cover was everything. Then that synopsis. Oh that synopsis! This book immediately buried itself into my mind before I was ever given the chance to look at the first page. The cover is perfect. Note: The UK cover is also fabulous; I’ll include it down below!

Review
I have been putting off writing this review. Not because this book was bad, no — because this book is that good.

This is a debut piece from Burton and it has cemented her name into my list of Must Buys when new releases come out. Incredibly well written, thought-provoking, spooky, creepy, captivating. I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to think of the right descriptions for this book. I need to do this book justice.

Our main characters, Louise and Lavinia, are both millennials but from opposite ends: Lavinia is in her early 20s, a rich socialite who parties like there is no tomorrow, keeps up with the “right” crowd, and is off from school to write her book; Louise is pushing 30, working three part-time jobs just to kind of make it; she has no real friends, no real life — until her chance meeting with Lavinia, who takes Louise into her life.

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This is a story that will give the reader anxiety in parts (and I mean that as a huge compliment to the writing). This is a story that will stay with you. If you are anything like me, you’ll start to believe Lavinia is living in your closet and be worried to open the door.

This book won’t be for everyone, though I think everyone should give it a chance. The writing is beautiful. The characters are fascinating. The plot is twisty, turny goodness. You’ll be so caught up you won’t know what day it is in your world; you’re too busy in their world to remember what is actually going on in reality.

I’m wanting to tell more and wanting to not share. I want to keep this to myself, while also making sure everyone picks up a copy and dives right in. I have only bought the physical copy of one book so far that I received for free as an ARC; I will be buying this one when it comes out June 5, 2018.

Burton shows an amazing commentary on the lives we live in this modern world – the ones we choose to share and the parts we keep to ourselves. This book hands over the ability to have amazing discussions on the toxicity found in certain relationships, social media. A cool, modern take on the psychological thriller genre that I cannot wait to read again.

 

Huge thanks to Penguin via the First to Read program and the fabulous author for an advanced copy of this beautiful, creepy novel.

This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge on June 03, 2018.

Review: Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

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Book: Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Format: eBook, provided by NetGalley free for review
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 3 stars

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

Cover Review
I love the colors for this book. The pink on top of the cool tone blue is really popping to me and the color combo is something that I really respond to in various formats (especially yarn). I’m not sure how I feel about the blocky letters taking up the majority of the cover. While the rose stands out to me, it took a few viewings to really notice the woman, which I found very interesting. Overall, I really enjoy this cover and it was definitely one of the reasons why I chose to ask for an ARC of this book.

Review
One of my favorite things about being a member of NetGalley is that I am getting introduced to new/new-to-me authors on a regular basis. Sometimes, I ask for ARCs, sometimes I just write it down to check out later. This was definitely one I knew I did not need to wait until later to read.

Her Name Was Rose offers a joy ride down familiar thriller lane, with Claire Allan putting her own marks on the territory to really make it her own. With interesting characters, beautiful writing, and a fun story, Allan will definitely be an author I check out in the future.

In this story, we follow Emily. Emily has witnessed the death of a complete stranger — the death that she feels (for a few reasons), she is the blame for. Thanks to the Internet age, Emily is able to find out all she needs about this woman. Rose, it would appear (based on the brief encounter Emily had with her and her son plus the social media presence Rose made sure to keep), had the life that Emily dreamt of. Loved and adored by a husband and coworkers; missed by many; beautiful; happy. It doesn’t take long before Emily is just completely enraptured in the life that Rose had. So…Emily decides to put herself into that life.

It seems innocent enough…I suppose. Emily gets a job at Rose’s old workplace. She befriends her old coworkers. And, eventually, befriends Rose’s widower. The deeper she gets into this picture perfect life, the more she realizes that nothing is what she had imagined.

One thing I enjoyed about this book was how well Allan used the multiple perspective writing style, giving us the current story through Emily’s eyes while giving us a deeper look into Rose’s past. And while I did really enjoy this one, it took a bit to get into. (I made note that Chapter 6 was incredibly well done and that I was really into the book about 41% through, as well as a “Emily GIRL whatchudoin???” note 70% through, hah.) Once I was in, though, I found myself completely enthralled with these characters. And even now, a month or so since I’ve finished the book, I still wonder about Rose and Emily.

There is an epilogue. I have weird feelings, usually, about epilogues, but this one was fine. It gave the closure I needed and I felt like the endings for everyone worked out fine.

I very much recommend this book to fans of psychological thrillers and mysteries. I think if you’ve been wanting to try these genres out, I think this could be for dipping your toes into the genre.

 

This eBook was given to me for free for review purposes. All thoughts are my own. Thank you to NetGalley, Avon Books and Claire Allan for the chance to read and review this book. 

This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge on July 23, 2018.

Review: Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

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Book: Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Format: eBook, provided by NetGalley free for review
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

Cover Review
That! Cover!! I cannot deny that, even though I of course have heard of Liz Nugent, that what really got my interest piqued in this novel was that cover. The macabre sense it completely conveyed, the grungy yet completely saturated colors just really spoke to me. This is a book that would definitely stop my browsing while looking on the shelves and make me pick it up.
Review
Can I confess something to start off with? I have not read any Liz Nugent before this. Before you click the X up in the corner, do know that I bought Unraveling Oliver on Kindle when it first came out. I just never got around to reading it, even after reading tons (and tons and tons) of amazing reviews for it. Believe me now, though; after reading this one, I cannot wait to actually check her debut novel out.This book completely brought me in.

Those first lines.... Nugent does not waste any time making sure the reader is completely enthralled with this story. The writing is superb, the plot line moves smoothly, and there are enough twists and turns to make any psychological thriller contented.

This story is told from three perspectives. First, we have Lydia, the matriarch. We follow her as she deals with the death of Annie Doyle and can of worms that opens. She is a fascinatingly horrid woman with a dark past that she has made sure to keep secret.

Second, we have Laurence, Lydia's son. We watch him grow from a chubby teen to an adult. He's trying to figure out the secrets to Annie Doyle's death and how his family is somehow involved. Watching him figure things out (whether correct or not) was incredibly interesting. Though I loved Lydia (horrible of a person as she may be), I think Laurence's parts were my favorites to read.

Third, we have Karen, the sister to Annie Doyle. Karen's story takes brings in a whole new perspective. While Lydia and her family are rich, Annie's family is poor. Karen shows us what happens to their family after the disappearance of her sister. Karen was a very strong character, though it took me a few chapters of her story to really get into her part.

Nugent does an amazing job about blending in these characters together. The way she has the different story lines cross over and meld into one is an amazing art. It may be premature to say this, having only read one book from her, but if her others are anything similar to this, I know that Nugent is a mastermind of the thriller genre. The mixture of loveable to love-to-hate characters, the multiple plot lines, the pacing -- everything about this mixes together form a solid story.

Go buy this. Right now. You will not regret it.

This eBook was given to me for free for review purposes. All thoughts are my own. Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery/Scout Press, and Liz Nugent for the chance to read and review this book. 
This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge on July 24, 2018

Review: The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

Nothing makes me happier than a new book — except when that new book is by an author you just adore.

Robyn Harding came into my life a couple of years back, soon after her release of The Party. I kept seeing it on book blogs and I was fascinated by it. It was high on my list to buy. You won’t be able to guess my excitement, then, when I showed up at McKays (a used bookstore in Nashville) and found The Party on the shelf, less than a month after its release.

I devoured that book in two days. I knew that Harding was an author I would have to look out for.

Last year, I was given the chance to read her next book, Her Pretty Face, thanks to Netgalley. Another great triumph of a thriller read!

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This year, I got my little hands on The Arrangement. I was more excited for this one than my previous two Harding reads. This premise of this book was just so…interesting. I feel like Harding has the ability to take the thriller genre and add a breath of fresh air to it, and I feel like she did just that with The Arrangement.

In this book, we follow Natalie, a twenty-something art student who is having a hard time getting by. She lives with roommates she doesn’t get along with, she has a job she despises, and she’s just feeling lost. While visiting a fellow art student, whose apartment and clothes show that she is definitely living the opposite life of Nat, she learns of this alternative lifestyle choice: Getting a sugar daddy.

After some consideration, Natalie decides to jump in. She meets Gabe, a handsome 50-something attorney and they hit it off. But Natalie isn’t convinced just yet she’s ready for this lifestyle. She tries a date with another fellow — and it doesn’t go so well. Soon, Natalie is talking with Gabe and together they reach an arrangement.

Natalie falls for Gabe, or at least the person show thinks Gabe is. Gabe isn’t as open with his life as she is with hers. And this isn’t his first arrangement. While things go well between the two of them for a while, eventually Gabe does decide to end things, leaving Natalie hurt, confused…and obsessed.

This is a 5 star read for me. This characters are interesting (though aside from some very minor characters, none are that likable — I love unlikeable characters; it makes them seem more real in some regards), the plot is good, the writing is amazing. It has a great flow and sucks you in very quickly. Harding gets better and better with every book I read from her and I cannot wait to see what her next thriller will be!

Big, big thanks Simon and Schuster for the e-ARC via Netgalley and for sending me a final copy of the book. I am so honored.