Book Reviews

Summary of My 2019 Reads (Part Two)

LED8. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (4 Stars)

CW: Death, Violence 

Another great mystery from Riley Sager! Just like The Last Time I Lied, setting is an important part of this novel. The passages describing the Bartholomew were so well written that I felt like I was actually there in the building. I could picture the lobby, the apartment Jules was staying in, even the gargoyles on the outside of the building.

As with his other books, the mystery starts from the very beginning and keeps you guessing until the very end. The ending of this one had a little less shock value than The Last Time I Lied, but I was still on the edge of my seat wondering how Jules was going to get herself out of the apartment building. I also loved the back and forth timeline and at one point I found myself audibly saying (in a public space) “wait, WHAT?!”

If you liked Sager’s other books or just want a fun thriller you can read through in one sitting, definitely check this out. It doesn’t disappoint.

AP9. American Predator by Maureen Callahan (5 Stars)

CW: Rape, Murder, Graphic Violence

It was easy to give this book five stars. One of the best true crime books I’ve read in some time. If you haven’t heard of Israel Keyes before, I encourage you to read this book before looking at other information on him. I’ll try not to spoil anything in this short review.

One of the many things I loved about this book was that it told Keyes’ story as it was experienced by the many LE agencies involved (ie. it started with his arrest not his first crime). This puts readers on an even playing field with LEOs and prevents the “how’d they not notice this!!” feeling as much as possible.

Along that same line, the book illustrates that unique challenge of working with serial killers. You must walk a tight line to get the information you desire. You also must walk that line while holding the weight of victims and the weight of bureaucracy.

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re looking for a true crime book that’ll give you chills, read this one. I don’t want to spoil anything but I don’t think Callahan could have written a more perfect epilogue. I was spooked. This is a story unlike anything you’ve read before.

PH10. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell (5 Stars)

A beautiful and fun autumn story of two friends enjoying their last fall together. I adored this graphic novel so much. The pumpkin patch is every fall-lovers dream and the relationship between the two main characters will warm your heart. This one is going to become a yearly read for me, it’s that sweet. Everyone needs a friend like Deja.



Heroine11. Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (4 Stars)

CW: Drug Use, Overdose, Death

There is a lot of stigma associated with drug use. I’ll admit, I’ve never been the most understanding person, especially when it comes to addiction. One of my biggest flaws is being a bit of an elitist. Drug overdoses are happening (and increasing) all over the country. It’s time that I check my arrogance and try to better understand addiction. I started by reading Heroine by Mindy McGinnis.

This quick read really illustrated how easy it is to fall into opioid addiction. What starts as a crutch to get you through the day without pain, or meet a deadline, turns into a full fledged addition. It’s startling, scary, and shows that nobody is immune.

Note: I’m aware that this novel presents a very specific and narrow portrait of opioid abuse (young, middle class, white girl). I will be, and encourage others to, pick up other books that present different perspectives on drug addiction.

SSDGM12. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (5 Stars)

CW: Drug Use, Eating Disorders, Death, Anxiety, Depression, Alcoholism

f you enjoy the My Favorite Murder podcast, but haven’t read SSDGM, get on it now. It’s the perfect book for all the kind-hearted muderinos who want to stand up for themselves. Biggest takeaway: fuck politeness isn’t about being rude. It’s about not letting fear of judgement keep you quiet when someone has invaded your space somehow. SSDGM.

TFU13. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (4 Stars)

CW: Death, Brainwashing, Child Abuse

This book was fantastic! I’ve read other books by Lisa Jewell and they’ve fallen a little flat for me. But The Family Upstairs pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. I enjoyed all three of the main characters, especially Henry who toed that line of heroic but sinister the entire novel. However, the best character in this book is the setting, the house. I can still picture the kitchen, the staircase, the haunting backyard. I enjoy books where setting is a key part of the story and this one fits the bill.

I’d definitely recommend this book to those who like slow burn thrillers.

ITSL14. In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaajte (3 Stars)

CW: Alcoholism

This is not a book I would have normally picked up. Luckily, I thought it was a beautiful read. ITSOAL tells the story of Patrick Lewis as he lives and loves in 1930s Toronto. While the main story focuses on Patrick, the underlying story focuses on the migrant workers who built many of Toronto’s landmarks. It’s actually the prequel to Ondaajte’s most famous novel, The English Patient.

In true Ondaajte fashion, the novel is incredibly descriptive. You can see, smell, taste, hear, and almost touch every moment in the book. Some may find the novel too wordy, but I felt the long descriptions helped add to the introspection I felt throughout the book. Overall, I found Patrick to be a bit of an idealist, the type of guy who falls in love with any woman who pays him the least amount of attention. However, the story was beautiful and well worth the read.

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