June 2018 Wrap-Up
How can we possibly be halfway through 2018 already?! It’s been a fantastic year for crime fiction so far, and the second half of the year promises to be just as exciting. June was arguably my personal favorite month in reading so far this year—I read a number of highly-anticipated summer releases and also made time for an older novel I’ve been hoping to read for quite a while now! Not only did I find myself reading at a good pace this month, but (even more importantly) I loved the majority of the books I read. To me, that really is the best mark of a great reading month: not how many books you read, but how much you enjoyed the books you did read. All in all, June was a distinct success—and I’m looking forward to seeing what July has in store for me next! Before we dive into my wrap-up, let’s take a look at a few quick stats from my month in books:
Books Read: 7
Pages Read: 2,866
Favorite Read of the Month: It’s a tie! Between I REMEMBER YOU by Yrsa Sigurdardottir and THE NIGHT VISITOR by Lucy Atkins
Least Favorite Read of the Month: CAGED by Ellison Cooper
Without further ado, let’s dive into my June Wrap-Up!
June 2018 Wrap-Up
OUR HOUSE by Louise Candlish
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: Page-turning, addictive suspense with a fresh angle
Read CBTB’s Review
The way I see it, the ever-growing list of new domestic suspense novels is a two-sided coin for us readers. On the one hand, who doesn’t love a great domestic thriller? It’s such fun to see what new suspense novels we can add to our “anticipated reads” lists. But on the other hand… how on earth are you going to separate the great from the so-so? It can feel like picking up a new domestic suspense novel is a bit of a gamble—but not in the case of Louise Candlish’s OUR HOUSE. Fresh, fun, and engrossing, OUR HOUSE is a new take on domestic suspense: a binge-worthy story of secrets in a marriage that will take readers down a totally unexpected path. Come to OUR HOUSE for its gorgeous packaging; stay for its inventive storytelling structure and page-turning reading experience. OUR HOUSE is a little bit twisty, a touch dramatic, and a whole lot of suspense reading fun. It’s hard to describe this book as anything but propulsive—from its first page to its very shocking last, I was hooked on Candlish’s inventive story of betrayal, guilt, and relationships gone very wrong.
CAGED by Ellison Cooper
Minotaur Books; 7/10/18
CBTB Rating: 3/5
The Verdict: a dark-yet-predictable serial killer thriller, best for genre newcomers
Read CBTB’s Review
There are few subgenres of crime fiction as consistently entertaining as a really good serial killer thriller. In fact, no matter your preferred format of crime storytelling, serial killers seem a constant across the board; movies, TV shows, podcasts, fiction, true crime—you name it, there’s a serial killer story that falls under that category. I’m always on the lookout for new, buzzworthy serial killer thrillers to add to my reading list, and that’s how I came to find CAGED by Ellison Cooper, a chilling crime novel releasing from Minotaur Books this July. With a dark premise, complex female lead, and eye-catching cover, CAGED initially ticked all my boxes for serial killer thriller “must-haves.” While I certainly enjoyed CAGED, I would recommend it most of all for readers who are new to the genre; experienced readers of serial killer thrillers are likely to find that the book relies a bit too heavily on genre stereotypes and cliches. There’s nothing hugely, offensively wrong here—CAGED just never quite kicks into the gear I had hoped it would. I’m confident many readers will enjoy CAGED this summer, but I would hypothesize that those who will enjoy it most of all will be the readers dipping their toes into the genre for the first time - not a negative by any means, but a qualification to be aware of. To me, the story of CAGED is most of all a story of unfilled potential: a crime novel with an eye-catching cover and a chilling plot that delivers page-turning entertainment value, but doesn't quite reach the levels of darkness or psychological insight I had hoped it would.
PIECES OF HER by Karin Slaughter
William Morrow; 8/21/18
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: astute and unusual suspense
A new Karin Slaughter book is always cause for celebration, and PIECES OF HER is bound to be one of the most buzzed-about crime novels of the summer. It’s also bound to be one of the most surprising. PIECES OF HER is not your ordinary psychological thriller—readers will need to go into this book with the right expectations to enjoy it to its fullest potential. That being said, it will also be no surprise to readers to learn that Slaughter’s newest effort is stunning and deeply insightful. In PIECES OF HER, readers meet a young woman (Andrea) who discovers that her mother (Laura) has been keeping lifelong secrets from her daughter. When violence breaks out at a shopping mall, the mother-daughter pair find themselves thrown into a veritable whirlwind: secrets from the family’s past come to light, and protagonist Andrea finds herself searching for the truth behind her mother’s shadowy past. Told in dual timelines, PIECES OF HER explores the legacy of a group of activists whose protests take on a life of their own—and result in generations of violence. This really is a supremely unusual read, and one with subject matter that won’t work for everyone. I didn’t expect the social justice angle of this story to be as strong as it was; while it might not have been my first choice to knowingly dive into a book so heavily focused on this subject, I ended up thoroughly enjoying PIECES OF HER. Fair warning: this book takes quite a while to kick into gear, but once it does, readers will be hooked.
THE OTHER WOMAN by Sandie Jones
Minotaur Books; 8/21/18
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: lighter, binge-worthy summer reading
Looking for a domestic thriller to bring to the beach this summer? Sandie Jones’ THE OTHER WOMAN may just be your perfect choice. Jones’ story of psychological suspense starts much like any other: a woman meets a picture-perfect man, and embarks on a whirlwind romance—only to discover that this dream man of hers has a whole lot of secrets. The twist here? The “other woman” in Jones’ addictive summer suspense novel isn’t a mistress - she’s that dream man’s mother. Readers who love books like BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris and LIE TO ME by J.T. Ellison - books that delve into the secrets in relationships - will love THE OTHER WOMAN. This might not be the most groundbreaking thriller, but it sure is a fun one; bring THE OTHER WOMAN along on your next summer vacation and you won’t be disappointed. Bonus: this book truly has one heck of a killer ending.
Every summer that CBTB has been in existence, there’s been one out-of-left-field psychological thriller that has snuck up on me and totally blown me away. In 2016, this was BLOOD WEDDING by Pierre Lemaitre; in 2017, it was a book I was lucky enough to work on publicity for - FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager. This year, I’ve found my “out-of-left-field” favorite: THE NIGHT VISITOR by Lucy Atkins. Atkins is an award-winning author and journalist, and THE NIGHT VISITOR is her third novel - but it’s the first of her work that has ever found its way onto my reading list, and boy, am I so glad that it did. After devouring this exceptional psychological thriller, Atkins has secured herself a spot on my list of must-read suspense writers. So impressed was I with Atkins’ writing that I did a little reading about her background, and discovered that she has extensive experience both as a book critic and a teacher of creative writing. Frankly, given the quality of her newest release, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Take it from me: her professional experience shows. Wholly original and utterly unputdownable, THE NIGHT VISITOR delivers a superb story of suspense with a personality all its own. If you love gripping psychological thrillers, quirky and compelling characters, and a story with a totally unique backdrop (an old estate + the world of academia!), THE NIGHT VISITOR belongs on your reading list. In short: every book should be as fun to read as this one.
I REMEMBER YOU by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Minotaur Books; 3/25/14
CBTB Rating: 5/5
The Verdict: goosebump-inducing horror from Iceland’s Queen of Crime
Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a just-plain-incredible talent. Sigurdardottir is known as Iceland’s Queen of Crime, and every single book of hers that I read reinforces just how well-deserved this title is. A hallmark of Yrsa’s crime writing is her ability to blend strong mystery writing with truly dark, almost horror-inspired plotlines—and in I REMEMBER YOU, she puts her dark imagination on full display. I REMEMBER YOU is better described as a ghost story than a crime novel, though at its heart it certainly has a compelling mystery for readers to unravel. In this hair-raising story of suspense, a group of friends set out to a remote Icelandic village in order to renovate a house they have recently purchased. But as they settle in and begin their work, it becomes clear that something on the island doesn’t want them to stay. I REMEMBER YOU is slow-burning, immersive, utterly chilling suspense—I was glued to this book from the first page to the last. You know that feeling when you’re loving a book so much, you just want to savor every single page? That was me with I REMEMBER YOU. Highly recommended!
THE LAST TIME I LIED by Riley Sager
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: lighter suspense perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars
Riley Sager made a splash with his stellar horror movie-inspired FINAL GIRLS, and this summer, he’s back! In THE LAST TIME I LIED, Sager takes readers into Camp Nightingale for a summer vacation they’re not soon to forget. Fifteen years ago, Emma went off to summer camp and made friends with her cabin mates. One night, Emma awoke to see her new friends sneaking out of the cabin—and in the morning, the girls were gone, vanished into the night. Now a star in the New York art scene, Emma explores the trauma she experienced in her teenage years through her painting. But when the opportunity for Emma to revisit Camp Nightingale falls into her lap, she takes it, hoping to achieve closure on the tragedy of years prior - and perhaps figure out what happened to the girls once and for all. Readers of FINAL GIRLS will find THE LAST TIME I LIED a lighter brand of suspense; though it certainly has horror movie themes (a creepy summer camp + cabin in the woods!), this book will be better suited for fans of Pretty Little Liars—those who want interpersonal suspense, a touch of drama, and plenty of secrets.
Plus: June Recommended Releases
Catch my list of June Recommended Releases here!
As always, thank you so much for reading! xx A