I’m still toying around with how exactly to approach book reviews here. This month I’m going with what I read in October and therefore they’re my book recommendations for November 2020.
I’ve been reading like double the amount of books I typically do, so it’s been hard to keep up with actually reviewing all the books. I’m playing around with doing faves in certain categories. We’ll see. This blog is obviously a work in progress. These are the ten thriller/suspense books I read in October this year. I did participate in a thriller readathon, but these books I probably would have read regardless. I read thriller and suspense all year, so I feel comfortable touting them as book recommendations in November 2020. They’re in no certain order other than kind of the order in which I read them.
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The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
By Grady Hendrix
I didn’t quite know what to expect going in to this book. This sucked me (wait, maybe I should use a different term for a vampire book review) right into the inner circle of Patricia and her thriller-loving book club.
This is not a read for the faint of heart or squeamish. There are some very graphic and vivid scenes with gore, guts, and more. You will likely puke a little in your mouth or at least dry heave reading some of the parts.
This is not only one of my top book recommendations for November 2020, but for all of 2020.
When No One is Watching
By Alyssa Cole
You will be absolutely squirming with suspenseful anticipation in every chapter. What creeped me out the most about this book is that as insane as the premise is, it’s not at all that far-fetched. That. Is. Horrifying. I live in West Virginia, the heart of the opioid epidemic, and I’ve seen how utterly ruthless the pharmaceutical companies can be. It’s hard with this book to say too much, because I feel like I’m giving away major spoilers. So I’ll try to point out a few of my favorite things about it.
A huge twist on the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood. Sydney Green was born and raised in the neighborhood, but the pace of the changes has Sydney paranoid and looking for answers.
The synopsis says–When does coincidence become conspiracy?
The brownstones in Brooklyn are so historical. I love that Cole mixes bits of real history in with the story. She digs DEEP into the research and weaves bits and pieces into this story. We know how this neighborhood and community started and how it has changed.
You will love Sydney’s little community. Cole brings so much life into the pages here with her neighbors’ routines and conversations. I can see Mr. Perkins strolling by stoops with his dog, and Ms. Candice hobbling along with her cane. You will get a very vivid picture of the neighborhood.
Cole uses alternating perspectives–Sydney and Theo. There are two narrators here, which truly give the characters two distinct voices (literally). I think one narrator books can be done from alternating perspectives, but it really adds so much to the story to have these unique voices.
Home Before Dark
By Riley Sager
I accidentally finished this book the day before I should have started reading it. It was addictive 😐. I’m was on a major thriller binge and I couldn’t stop!⠀
It’s the third book I’ve read during the #thrilleroctoberv2 readathon this month. I just devour these types of books. They are so fast-paced that you can’t help but race to keep up. By the time your pounding pulse settles into a more moderate rate, you’re left craving more. I’m a true thrill-reading addict. 😅⠀
I love Riley Sager books. Some reviews I’ve seen didn’t love this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has all the elements of a good thriller I love. Intriguing backstory (complete with a potentially haunted house), plenty of twists you don’t see coming from a mile away, and a resolution that’s satisfying without being predictable or too obscure. ⠀
P.S. There are dual narrators, and they are both spectacular! Love the audiobook.
The Half Sister
By Sandie Jones
This domestic suspense book starts out with a woman turning up at a family dinner claiming to be a… hmm… can you guess? A half sister to two other women. Over the next several days Jess immerses herself into seemingly every aspect of the women’s lives–but why?
At one point, the book started going in one direction that I thought was the perfect twist, but then pivoted and I don’t think it quite recovered. It’s “pretty good” but wont’ top my favorites this year.
One by One
By Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware-probably more than any other author- is an auto-read for me. I love the pacing of her stories. I love the settings, the characters, the plots. They just embody everything I truly love in a suspenseful, twisty thriller.
She sets the bar high, and I feel like that can lead to disappointment sometimes, but One by One did not disappoint.
It’s set in a ski chalet set in a remote area of France. The employees of a popular music app have come there for a kind of team-building weekend to talk about the future of the company.
One by One, the employees go down. By down I mean die, obvi. I had this one pretty much figured out before the reveal, but it honestly didn’t make it any less satisfying of a read.
I also love the audiobook narrator Ware uses–Imogen Church. She NAILS the audio and her breathy delivery always keeps me intrigued.
By Courtney Summers
A new-to-me book that was this month’s buddy read pick for #readwithmarti.
Sadie is the story of a missing girl on a mission to find her younger sister’s killer. The story is told through several voices–partly in a podcast-style format which works SO well.
The sisters grew up in a (understatement) “rough” environment in a small town. Sadie spent the brunt of her youth acting like a mom for her younger sister Mattie. When Mattie is found dead as a young teen, Sadie is determined to find answers, justice, and closure. She leaves town with few clues and few possessions but plenty of grit and determination.
Her story is raw, real, and familiar to me. Having worked in t.v. news for more than a decade, I’ve read and covered HUNDREDS of police reports and cases centered on addiction, neglect, abuse, and murder. The stories would and should gut you and haunt you. While Sadie’s story is fictional, it represents so much more and feels very real.
The audiobook is phenomenal. Sadie’s narrator portrays her stuttering perfectly. The full cast audio really is spectacular.
Know before you read there are several content warnings and some violent and graphic depictions. This will break your heart on so many levels, but is absolutely worth your time to read.
While this wasn’t published in 2020, definitely makes the cut for book recommendations November 2020, especially for audiobook and podcast fans.
The Perfect Nanny
I don’t have a lot to say about this one. It was a quick, fairly suspenseful read. At double speed, it took a bit more than three hours for the audiobook. However, it wasn’t one that felt like it had a lot of resolution for me. I like psychological thrillers. I like peeping into the mind of super troubled psychopaths. It was hard to follow this story for me. The points of view were off. I couldn’t really tell you what was off about it, but I felt a sense of disconnect when I read it. It was like the author was not letting us in quite enough to really “get” the story.
This was a “meh” for me.
Pretty Things 💎 💍
This was a bit of a marathon read, at just shy of 500 pages. The audio is 16 hours 😟.
The story is about a long-haul con—an antiques “dealer” with a vindictive plan to get back at a woman from her past. I really love the writing. There are some seriously great lines. The story itself didn’t necessarily draw and keep my attention until more than halfway through, but it was worth it to stick it out.
I LOVE the direction it took and was a big fan of the ending.
We Were Killers Once
By Becky Masterman
This is a book that’s been sitting in my Kindle for nearly two years. I got it as a Netgalley eARC but never really got into it. I’ve had my Netgalley account for two years, but really this summer launched my review site and account to actually get more serious about writing reviews. I have several to go back and review to get my numbers on Netgalley up.
This is the fourth in a series about retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn, though I didn’t read the first three. I picked up easily enough.
The premise centers on Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”.
Amazon: In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote’s masterpiece, IN COLD BLOOD. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?
This was a bit slow-moving, but by the end really picked up the pace and was pretty solid.
Amazon: Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo’s days as a prison chaplain–a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo’s old things–has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he’d like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he’ll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.
The Bright Lands
I started the audio for this book earlier in the month, but the inauthentic southern accent was too much and I had to stop and just totally start the book over on my Kindle. This is saying a lot for someone who has likely listened to a hundred audiobooks this year with no complaints.
The book starts out with a conversation between brothers Joel and Dylan. Joel is a hot shot analyst in NYC who skipped his bigoted small Texas town as soon as possible. Dylan is a heavily recruited high school quarterback who is a living legend around town, complete with the head cheerleader girlfriend. A cryptic text exchange leads Joel to book a flight and head back to Texas. Just hours after he lands, Dylan is missing and Joel is questioning everyone and everything.
There is an absolutely epic twist that you can almost see coming, but is nonetheless crazy and will likely leave you speechless until your brain catches up a bit.
By the end I started hating characters I thought I had liked and loving characters that I thought I hated. There was also a horror element involved. It’s pretty well done. I think I would have liked that element a bit more if it were more well defined, but then again, it also makes it a bit more horrifying, huh?
It’s kind of hard to give content warnings without major spoilers, but I’ll say that there are themes of sexual abuse and abuse of power involved.
I ended up reading 10 out of the 12 thriller/suspense books on my October TBR so I was pretty happy. I got mostly finished with another but didn’t make it in time. So I hope that gives you a sense of what I liked and what was eh in these book recommendations November 2020.
Here are the remaining books I read the same month:
The Tourist Attraction
Mistletoe and Mr. Right
House on Firefly Beach
The Last Charm
You can catch my thoughts on those here.
I’m also working on my favorite thrillers of 2020. Several of this month’s reads will make the final cut there!
Have you read any of these? Did you love them or would you leave them on the shelf?