CBTB’S MARCH 2018 WRAP-UP
At the end of every month, I absolutely love looking back on my reading list and reliving what I loved about the books I devoured in the weeks prior. I’ve been on a really good reading streak recently, and March was no exception! My month was dominated by psychological thrillers in March, even more so than usual—though I did have one totally engrossing police procedural in the mix, too. There’s nothing like the feeling when you’re in a great groove with the books you’re reading - and I’m excited to keep that going into the new month!
Before we dive into my wrap-up, a few stats from my month in books:
Books Read: 5
Pages Read: 1,762
Favorite Read of the Month: LYING IN WAIT by Liz Nugent
Least Favorite Read of the Month: PAPER GHOSTS by Julia Heaberlin
And now, on to my March Wrap-Up!
March 2018 Wrap-Up
IN THE VINES by Shannon Kirk
Thomas & Mercer; 7/17/18
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: twisted psychological suspense
Read CBTB’s Review
As a crime fiction reader, what could be better than finding a psychological thriller that is so effective and immersive in its portrayal of an unhinged mindset that it actually makes you start to feel just a bit unhinged yourself? Finding a book that does this effectively is never easy, but today’s featured title does it in spades. IN THE VINES by Shannon Kirk will make for twisted, page-turning summer reading - a shocking and purely entertaining psychological suspense novel for the reader who doesn’t want to just see the deterioration of the story’s main characters, but wants to feel it, too. Kirk has written an immersive, addictive story of toxic family secrets and the fallout of their surfacing. From its atmospheric backdrop (a seaside New England estate, now falling into disrepair) to its vivid, impactful writing and (let’s not forget) genuinely twisted central mystery, IN THE VINES delivers the total package - and makes for the perfect addition to your summer reading list.
THE GIRL IN THE ICE by Robert Bryndza
Erika Foster Series - Book 1
Grand Central Publishing; 4/24/18
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: a familiar-yet-addictive police procedural
Read CBTB’s Review
One of my favorite elements of crime fiction has always been its ability to deliver “comfort reads”... which sounds a bit strange, considering the subject matter these books explore, but it’s always been true for me. There’s nothing like the familiarity and comfort that can come with reading a really great crime novel—no matter how dark the subject matter, crime fiction just always feels like exactly what I need when I’m looking to escape reality for a while. THE GIRL IN THE ICE by Robert Bryndza (Grand Central; 4/24/18) was exactly this kind of comfort read for me - and I mean that in the best possible way. From its compelling female lead to its breezy pacing and addictive tension, Bryndza’s police procedural struck exactly the right chord for this reader. Fans of M.J. Arlidge will find Bryndza’s work right up their alley - THE GIRL IN THE ICE has a similar tone to Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace books, which, if you know me, you’ll know I mean as a high compliment. Pick this one up for a weekend binge-read - you'll find Bryndza's world instantly-accessible, his characters compelling and endearing, and his story's central mystery wholly engrossing.
PAPER GHOSTS by Julia Heaberlin
Ballantine Books; 5/15/18
CBTB Rating: 3.5/5
The Verdict: a compelling travelogue-meets-serial killer novel
Read CBTB’s Review
What do you get when you cross the sweeping terrain of Texas with a road trip to recover a serial killer’s lost memories? Julia Heaberlin’s PAPER GHOSTS. In an inventive and immersive story of suspense, Heaberlin takes readers along for the ride as a young woman seeks answers to her sister’s disappearance... and does so in the form of a cross-state adventure with the man she suspects of killing her. Vivid descriptions of Texas, unexpected character development, and a creative plot complete with “journal entries” and other assets are a boon to Heaberlin’s latest effort; occasional meandering pacing and a questionable conclusion detract from the reading experience ever so slightly. Perhaps best appreciated by those familiar with the Lone Star state, PAPER GHOSTS is at its best when describing all the everyday glory of Texas, from Sixth Street in Austin to the urban sprawl of Houston, and all the hill country and farmland in between. Though not quite the tense, dark suspense novel I had expected it to be, PAPER GHOSTS nonetheless delivers intrigue and raises compelling questions surrounding memory, guilt, and the intersection of the two. A strong addition to the spring reading list of those looking for an atypical take on the serial killer novel.
LYING IN WAIT by Liz Nugent
Gallery Books; 6/12/18
CBTB Rating: 5/5
The Verdict: a masterful exploration of the fallout of a long-buried crime
Liz Nugent’s debut novel UNRAVELING OLIVER was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I was (not so patiently) waiting to get my hands on her sophomore effort for what felt like forever. LYING IN WAIT releases in the US in June, and (great news!) the wait is totally worth it. LYING IN WAIT combines the deft character development and character studies of UNRAVELING OLIVER with a more forward-moving plot sure to please readers of psychological suspense. Where UNRAVELING OLIVER was aimed at providing a 360-degree view of the story’s central character, LYING IN WAIT includes both the benefits of extensive character development and the benefits of a truly driving, page-turning central story—a combination Nugent executes to perfection. Nugent’s knack for writing truly unlikeable yet compelling characters is on full display here, too—a quality that just makes me love her work even more. In LYING IN WAIT, readers are drawn into the middle of a family in crisis. When the father of the family murders a down-on-her-luck young woman, the reverberations of the crime are felt in both the family of murderer and victim for years to come. As the lives of the two families intersect over the years, readers witness the internal and external fallout of a terrible crime on the lives of all those implicated in it. I couldn't put this book down - highly recommended! Full review to come.
YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS by Michelle Sacks
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: a polarizing page-turner
Oh boy, is this book going to be polarizing. Michelle Sacks’ razor-sharp novel centers around a young American couple who move from New York to an isolated home in rural Sweden. Against this idyllic backdrop, the cracks and tensions in their marriage begin to show… and the arrival of a visitor from their past soon throws everything into a tailspin. This book is, frankly, one of those reads where I couldn’t quite figure out how much I was enjoying it, yet I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Sacks’ novel features characters who are consistently nasty, vindictive, and self-involved; there really isn’t anyone you’ll want to root for here, and there isn’t intended to be. That being said, I was utterly absorbed in their misadventures and tragedies. YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS examines the pressures of motherhood and the mental strain of isolation—in many ways, this will be an excellent choice for fans of BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris. At the same time, though, this book is also sure to spark some divided opinions. Stay tuned for my full review of this one - I’m already looking forward to writing it!
Are any of these books on your TBR? Have you read any of them yet? I’d love to hear from you - comment below! Xx A