Happy September, readers!! I am so excited that fall is just around the corner. But first: it’s time to recap my August reads! August was, overall, a fantastic reading month for me. I found an addictive psychological thriller that I loved, I enjoyed a re-read of my favorite Agatha Christie book, and a whole lot more! I’m also going to include something new at the end of this post: I’ll be listing my favorite August releases so you know which new crime titles from the month I would recommend!
Before I dive into recaps of my August reads, a few fun bookish stats from the month:
Books Read: 6
Pages Read: 1,903
Favorite Read of the Month: WHITE BODIES by Jane Robins
Least Favorite Read of the Month: BEST DAY EVER by Kaira Rouda
And now, on to my monthly wrap-up!
WHITE BODIES is exactly the psychological thriller my reading list needed. A breath of fresh (and chilling) air in the genre, WHITE BODIES is a slightly quirky, totally twisted story of twin sisters with an unbreakable bond. Readers follow Callie, the unassuming twin sister of Tilda, an aspiring actress. Callie has always looked out for Tilda, and when it begins to appear that Tilda's new boyfriend is abusive, Callie sets out to save Tilda from this abusive relationship. Genuinely shocking, completely addictive, and brimming with an offbeat personality, WHITE BODIES is a must-read for psychological thriller fans.
BEST DAY EVER by Kaira Rouda
Graydon House; 9/19/17
CBTB Rating: 2/5
The Verdict: overdone, forced suspense
Read CBTB’s Review
I had high hopes for BEST DAY EVER, but unfortunately it delivered one of my least favorite reading experiences of the year so far. As much as I hate to write negative reviews (and trust me, I really, really hate it), I value honesty above all else. BEST DAY EVER is overdone and forced, with a main character who is so in-your-face “bad” that it’s difficult to take him seriously. Going hand in hand with the overdone “badness” of this character are a set of lackluster “plot twists” - after all, if a character is always bad, readers won’t be surprised when he continues to act in bad ways. Unfortunately, this was a huge miss for me.
ENDLESS NIGHT by Agatha Christie
William Morrow; Paperback Reprint, 2011
CBTB Rating: 5/5
The Verdict: dark, menacing suspense from the Queen of Crime
Read CBTB’s Recommendation Post
While on vacation in August, I decided I was long overdue for a re-read of my favorite Agatha Christie novel, ENDLESS NIGHT. ENDLESS NIGHT is a bit of a divergence from the books we most typically associate with the Queen of Crime: this is a story of dark psychological suspense which, in many ways, feels like a predecessor to modern domestic thrillers. While re-reading this book, I was completely blown away by the masterful and timeless story Christie has crafted—I think I appreciated it even more on this re-read than I have in the past! Absolutely masterful suspense from the Queen of Crime.
THE GRIP OF IT by Jac Jemc
FSG Originals; 8/1/17
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: subtle literary horror
Read CBTB’s Review
I’m not typically a horror reader, but when I heard of Jac Jemc’s take on the classic haunted house story, I knew I had to check it out. I was not disappointed! THE GRIP OF IT is definitely not your standard horror fare: readers looking for blood and gore will be sorely disappointed by this book. But that’s not a negative—THE GRIP OF IT is a well-constructed story in its own right, a read that will suit those who prefer their horror subtle and abstract rather than in-your-face. Read this book if you’re looking for something beautifully written, just a bit surreal, and with a literary flair.
FEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: an intelligent, thought-provoking psychological study
I first noticed German crime author Dirk Kurbjuweit’s FEAR thanks to its praise quote from one of my favorite authors, Herman Koch. I love Koch’s books for their razor sharp insight into human nature, and that’s exactly what I also loved about FEAR. This story follows an ordinary family who moves into a new apartment, and begins to be harassed by their downstairs neighbor. Unable to rely on the help of the police, the family turns inward for defense—and somehow, their downstairs neighbor ends up dead. This is a masterful story of psychological insight - an unsettling examination of just how thin the line is between civility and barbarism. Intelligent, unflinching, and immersive.
HIDE AND SEEK by MJ Arlidge
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: fast-paced, addictive crime fiction
DI Helen Grace is back in Arlidge’s newest series installment! HIDE AND SEEK is already out in the UK, but I’m absolutely thrilled it’s finally coming to the US this fall. Arlidge’s Helen Grace series is one of my go-to crime fiction recommendations. Imagine reading an episode of Criminal Minds, and you’ll have a sense of what this series is like! In HIDE AND SEEK, DI Helen Grace finds herself imprisoned, trying to clear her name after being framed for brutal murders in the previous series installment. At the same time, a serial killer seems to be hunting within the prison, targeting the inmates. I do recommend starting this series from the beginning - Book 1 is EENY MEENY.
Favorite August Releases:
This month, I thought I'd try something a bit different! Below (in no particular order) are my top favorite August crime fiction releases. If you haven't read these yet, I'd recommend checking these out!
- UNRAVELING OLIVER by Liz Nugent. A character study delving into the life of a sociopath. This book is unnerving, intelligently plotted, and insightful. CBTB Review Here
- THE GOOD DAUGHTER by Karin Slaughter. A story of a small town and a family with dark, twisted secrets. This book is gritty, shocking, and emotionally complex. CBTB Review Here
- ORDEAL by Jorn Lier Horst. Detail-oriented Nordic Noir from a former police officer in Norway. This book is procedural-heavy, slow-burning, and filled with endearing characters. CBTB Review Here
- ARE YOU SLEEPING by Kathleen Barber. An on-trend psychological suspense story inspired by true crime podcasts. This book is entertaining, inventive (social media “screenshots” & more!), and delivers lighter suspense. CBTB Review Here
Additional August Blog Posts:
- THREE DAYS AND A LIFE by Pierre Lemaitre; 3/5 stars
- THE DEVIL'S WEDDING RING by Vidar Sundstol; 5/5 stars
- Kathleen Barber, author of ARE YOU SLEEPING (genre: psychological thriller)
- Vidar Sundstol, author of THE DEVIL'S WEDDING RING (genre: Nordic Noir)
- J.T. Ellison, author of LIE TO ME (genre: psychological thriller)