Thursday, July 18, 2019

Review: Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon


Title: Her Secret Son
Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Published: May 2019, MIRA Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
How far would you go to protect the ones you love…when they may not be yours to protect?

When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…

Tightly paced and brimming with tension, Her Secret Son is a heartbreakingly honest portrait of a family on the edge of disaster and a father desperate to hold on to the boy who changed his life.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Hannah Mary McKinnon and it definitely will not be the last. I love finding new authors to read, especially ones that have backlists where I can read their older books while waiting for their next one to come out!

I love a good family drama and this one delivers in spades! This was such a compelling story that had my heart racing a mile a minute as right away things start unraveling for Josh as soon as his partner, Grace dies unexpectedly. It's like opening Pandora's Box once Josh begins the process of obtaining legal guardianship of Grace's son, Logan, and once he starts digging into things, he uncovers more than he ever bargained for.

This book is incredibly addictive and once you start reading it, you will be hard-pressed to put it down. I become invested in this story and totally loved that it was told from Josh's point of view. It was easy to feel his pain, grief and struggles with each road block he faced.

I'm always a sucker for family dramas, especially ones riddled with secrets and this one delivered that and more. The tension slowly builds as Josh gets closer to the truth. I do think that the very last part was a bit over the top, but all in all, this was a great read. I very much enjoyed it and will definitely be picking up Hannah's other books soon. Have you read this one yet?


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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Review: The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke


Title: The Two Lila Bennetts
Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Published: July 2019, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Authors

Summary: 
“One fateful decision. Two unexpected endings. A perfect summer read!” —Wendy Walker, bestselling author of The Night Before

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.



My thoughts: I am absolutely loving this new direction that writers Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have taken...they have definitely shown they have staying power in the world of thriller-writing, especially if this latest book is anything to go by. They have such a unique writing style and their spin on one of my favorite movies definitely ups the ante with this book!

Sliding Doors is hands down a favorite movie, so when I heard that Liz and Lisa's newest book was inspired by this movie, I was ecstatic. But...of course, there has to be a darker tone to it - it is a thriller after all! Let me just tell you, this book rocks! These authors have managed to craft a unique story that pulls you in right from the start, with a character that gets under your skin. This is one of those situations where not only do you become totally invested in what is going on with Lila Bennett, but it will also have you questioning some the choices you have made in your life...I love books like that!

Lila Bennett is one of those characters that you both love and hate. She's got that angel and devil sitting on her shoulder and she's made a lot of bad choices in her life. So, it should come as no surprise that eventually things are going to catch up with her. And this is were the Sliding Doors part comes in as we see two different paths play out.

This book kept me glued to the pages. Once the split occurred, I felt the suspense grow, and I was desperate to know more. I love the concept of the book - seeing how the consequences of her actions are played out. I had so many theories as to who was behind everything and each time something would happen, I would change my theory, but let me tell you, I never once guessed it. And that ending...what a fantastic twist it was, one that I did not see coming at all!

I loved this book. I loved the uniqueness of it, I loved the character development that we get, I loved that I both loved and disliked the main character, and I loved that she was relatable and deeply flawed. I'm a big fan of dual narratives, yet I've never seen one done this way and I thought it was brilliant! I will be telling everyone to pick this book up - it's the perfect beach read - one that once you start reading it, you won't want to stop!



***Be sure to check out my Instagram feed later - I'll be giving away a signed copy of this book!!!



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Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: The Last Guest House by Megan Miranda (audio)


Title: The Last Guest House
Author: Megan Miranda
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross
Published: June 2019, Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 10 hours 2 minutes
Source: Publisher

Summary:
Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of - but that's just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable - until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can't help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie's brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they're saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.


 
My thoughts: I finally read Megan Miranda's debut adult novel, All the Missing Girls last year and knew she was going to be an author I would continue to read. I absolutely loved that book - the shear brilliance and craft she brought to that book was just amazing and so I jumped at the opportunity to read/listen to her latest one and I definitely was not disappointed.

This latest book, The Last Guest House, is another book that kept me totally engaged from start to finish. I loved that it was told from just one point of view, that of Avery. It's the use of the dual timeline, moving from the summer of 2017 to the summer of 2018 that really helps to build the suspense. We still get to know all the players involved, but it's from Avery's perspective. Avery doesn't believe that Sadie committed suicide and as the one year anniversary approaches, she's even more convinced, but as new evidence comes to light, it puts her at the top of the suspect list.

I loved that this book slowly builds the tension and suspense as we learn what really happened that fateful right, right alongside Avery. It seems the deeper Avery digs into Sadie's death, the more questions she unearths. That can't be a good thing, right? 

This book is filled with secrets and lies, family drama and manipulation. It's atmospheric and completely addicting once you start reading it, and with a final twist I did not see coming, I definitely recommend adding this thriller to your summer reading list!



Audio thoughts: I listened to this book and thought Rebekkah Ross did a great job with the narration. Rebekkah did a great job with all the voices and I thought she really was able to get inside Avery's head and personify her character. Her pacing and intonation was spot on, and she was able to add just the right amount of tension to her voice as needed.
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Friday, July 12, 2019

Review: The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr


Title: The Unbreakables
Author: Lisa Barr
Published: June 2019, Harper Paperbacks
Format: Paperbacks, 352 pages
Source: Publisher via GetRed PR

Summary: 
A delicious, sharp novel about a woman who jets off to France after her perfect marriage collapses, putting the broken pieces of herself back together while rediscovering her own joie de vivre—a lust for life, art, and steamy sex. 

The worst birthday ever might just be the gift of a lifetime…

It’s Sophie Bloom’s forty-second birthday, and she’s ready for a night of celebration with Gabe, her longtime, devoted husband, and her two besties and their spouses. Dinner is served with a side of delicious gossip, including which North Grove residents were caught with their pants down on Ashley Madison after the secret on-line dating site for married and committed couples was hacked. Thirty-two million cheaters worldwide have been exposed…including Sophie’s “perfect” husband. To add insult to injury, she learns Gabe is the top cheater in their town.

Humiliated and directionless, Sophie jumps into the unknown and flees to France to meet up with her teenage daughter who is studying abroad and nursing her own heartbreak. After a brief visit to Paris, Sophie heads out to the artist enclave of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. There, for the first time in a long time, Sophie acknowledges her own desires—not her husband’s, not her daughter’s—and rediscovers her essence with painful honesty and humor, reawakening both her sensuality and ambitions as a sculptor.

As she sheds her past and travels the obstacle-filled off beaten path, Sophie Bloom is determined to blossom. Allowing her true self to emerge in the postcard beauty of Provence, Sophie must decide what is broken forever...and what it means to be truly unbreakable.




My thoughts: Every once in a while a book comes across your path that hits all the right marks and this book absolutely does that and more. There has been a ton of hype around this book and while that sometimes can work against a book for me, luckily this time it was well deserved.

The one thing I would advise when it comes to this book is to just dive straight in. Don't spend too much time reading about it, especially any in-depth book synopses because I personally think they give too much away. Just go into the book as blind as you can and enjoy it for what it's worth.

I loved this book. I connected with Sophie right from the start, not that I have experienced what she has in any way, but I just felt her character was very relatable and down-to-earth. I felt like she could have been someone I knew. And I totally appreciated having a character in her 40's. Let's face it - there aren't too many books that feature characters around my age, and so when I find one that does, and I like the character, it's a home run. 

If you think this book is going to be a light-hearted, chick-flick type of book, you would be mistaken. It is so much deeper than that. This is about the journey Sophie finds herself taking after the unthinkable happens. It will have you thinking what you would do if god-forbid you were ever to find yourself in this position. Yes, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but there are just as many poignant, heartbreaking moments and some real life affirming moments, too. 

I loved taking this journey with Sophie. I loved seeing how she handled everything and I loved that it made me think. A quote by A.A. Milne kept coming to mind as I read this, "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." This quote seems fitting for our beloved Sophie.

This book is one that will definitely stay with me for a long time. I strongly recommend adding this to your summer reading list...it's a quick read for sure, but one that will having a lasting impact.

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. A. A. Milne
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/a_a_milne_402613
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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Book Spotlight: Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale -- With link to #BookGiveaway!!!

Today, Kerry Lonsdale's latest book, Last Summer, was released. I was lucky enough to be sent 2 copies and so I am going to give away the finished copy to one lucky reader!!! I will be reading this book very soon and am so excited - this one sounds so good! But just take note...the Giveaway is happening on my Instagram page!!!

Read on to see what others have to say and then you can find out where to enter the giveaway below!!!
  



Title: Last Summer
Author: Kerry Lonsdale
Published: July 2019, Lake Union Publishing
Format: Paperback,

Summary: 
From the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Everything series comes a new novel of love, lies, and deceit.

Lifestyle journalist Ella Skye remembers every celebrity she interviewed, every politician she charmed between the sheets, and every socialite who eyed her with envy. The chance meeting with her husband, Damien; their rapid free fall into love; and their low-key, intimate wedding are all locked in her memory. But what she can’t remember is the tragic car accident that ripped her unborn child from her. Ella can’t even recall being pregnant.

Hoping to find the memories of a lost pregnancy that’s left her husband devastated and their home empty, Ella begins delving into her past when she’s assigned an exclusive story about Nathan Donovan, a retired celebrity adventurer who seems to know more about her than she does him. To unravel the mystery of her selective memory loss, Ella follows Nathan from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada to the frozen slopes of southeast Alaska. There she discovers the people she trusts most aren’t the only ones keeping secrets from her—she’s hiding them from herself. Ella quickly learns that some truths are best left forgotten.

What readers are saying: 

“Last Summer is utterly captivating and impossible to put down, so strap yourself in for a ride. In addition to being a superb writer, Kerry Lonsdale has a talent for creating complex characters who wrestle with very real situations. Last Summer is her best yet, a sly suspense coupled with sizzling romance and unending twists. Lonsdale should be on every reader’s radar.” —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me and Tear Me Apart

“Last Summer is a compelling and chilling suspense that kept me turning the pages until the very end. This was my first Kerry Lonsdale novel, but it definitely won’t be my last.” —T.R. Ragan, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Evil Never Dies

“Move over, Gone Girl, and make way for Last Summer, a taut, intricately plotted novel of secrets and lies, love and betrayal. I thought I knew where the story was going, but the final, shocking twist gave me a serious case of whiplash. Just wow.” —A. J. Banner, USA Today and #1 Amazon Kindle bestselling author

“Last Summer is a deliciously dark and twisty tale that leaves you wondering who you should root for until the very end.” —Victoria Helen Stone, Amazon Charts bestselling author of Jane Doe


*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Giveaway Details -- (US/Canada Only)
Thanks to the publisher, one reader will win a copy of Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale. To enter the giveaway, please head over to my Instagram page to this post. The giveaway ends Saturday, July 13th and is not affiliated with or by Instagram.




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Review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty


Title: The Chain
Author: Adrian McKinty
Published: July 2019, Mulholland Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim's parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don't kidnap a child, or if the next parents don't kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.


My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Adrian McKinty but it certainly will not be the last. I was completely intrigued by the premise of this book and once I started reading it, I was totally hooked. Remember chain letters in elementary school? Remember having to keep them going or risk having to face unknown consequences? This book takes that concept and goes to a whole new extreme!

This book is intense. It starts off with a bang and is filled with anxiety-filled, tense moments pretty much all the way through. This book taps into a parent's primal fear, asking the question of how far you would go to protect your child. While I am not a parent myself, I was still on edge, wondering what would happen and just how far things would go with each kidnapping that happened.

This book kept me flipping the pages and I devoured it in two sittings! It's addicting and completely binge-worthy. I will say that I did guess at some parts, but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book. I needed to know the why and understand how it all came together. 

If you want a twisty, dark thriller that you can easily binge-read, you need to add this to your summer reading list. It's sure to entertain, and maybe even leave you a little breathless!





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Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Blog Tour & Review: Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin


Title: Never Look Back
Author: Alison Gaylin
Published: July 2019, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Summary: 
Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben—with a Serial-esque podcast twist—an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense from the author of the highly acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated What Remains of Me and the USA Today bestselling and Shamus Award-winning Brenna Spector series.
 
When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it's a business matter. It's not. Quentin's podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin's own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absolutely absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. She knows her mother better than anyone—or so she believes. But all that changes when, in an apparent home invasion, Robin's father is killed and her mother's life hangs in the balance.

Told through the eyes of Robin, podcaster Quentin, and a series of letters written by fifteen-year-old April Cooper at the time of the killings, Never Look Back asks the question:

How well do we really know our parents, our partners—and ourselves?



My thoughts:  This is the second book I've read of Alison Gaylin and I have to say I am now a fan! Last year I read If I Die Tonight, which I really enjoyed, and this latest one is just as engrossing.

I love the way this story was told - using dual timelines, but with a bit of a twist. The past was told through letters that April wrote to her future daughter in a journal. I thought this was such a unique way to tell this part of the story and really kept it interesting. The present was told from multiple perspectives and again, this allowed us to get inside all the characters, each who had pertinent roles in this story.

I devoured this book. There are so many twists to it and I loved that I was completely sucked in right from the start. I kept thinking I had everything figured out, that I knew where this book was heading, but then a twist would be thrown at us, and I would be thrown off kilter.

I enjoyed the idea that this book had a podcast premise to it, even though the podcast never quite comes to fruition. I'm just getting into podcasts myself, so anything remotely delving into this topic is of interest to me, especially when it comes to true crime! 

This is definitely a binge-worthy type of read and I can't recommend it enough. I definitely will be adding Alison Gaylin's backlist  to my tbr as I wait for her next book to come out. Do you find yourself doing that when you discover a new author you absolutely love? And if you love true crime, can you recommend any podcasts? 




About the Author: Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook    |   Instagram
 
Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #neverlookback).


 
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Monday, July 01, 2019

Review: False Step by Victoria Helen Stone



Title: False Step
Author: Victoria Helen Stone
Published: July 2019, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 280 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.

For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home.

In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden.

But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared.



My thoughts:  Last year, I read my first book by Victoria Helen Stone - Jane Doe (which I loved!!!) - and I knew right then and there I would be reading more books by her. And as I wait patiently for the sequel to Jane Doe, I was quite ecstatic to get my hands on Victoria Helen Stone's latest book, False Step!

Now, for those of you that have read Jane Doe - a word of caution...this latest book is quite different, so just be advised. It's still entertaining and wildly addicting, but that is where the similarities end. And if you have not read Jane Doe yet, you need to get on that!

This book is kind of like when you pass a car-wreck and you just can't turn away...you want to, but at the same time, you need to see what happened. That's how I felt with this book, especially in the beginning. I was immediately pulled in, but I didn't necessarily love the characters. But yet...I needed to know what had happened - I was sucked in and I needed that closure. What is going on in Veronica and Johnny's marriage? What are all the secrets they have between them? I needed to find out these answers!

The characters are all complex and flawed, so even though I didn't particularly love them, I did care about what was going on with them. And as the book progressed, I did start to have mixed feelings about some of them...that's the sign of good writing - that I can start out not liking a character and end up liking them by the end of the book.

This book is all about how nothing is as it seems. There are more questions than answers as we progress further into the book and with the slightest hint that we might have an unreliable narrator, the suspense and tension build from the get-go. This is definitely a binge-worthy type of read that is dark, twisty and full of surprises!



*** I'll be posting a giveaway for this book on my Instagram page a little bit later today - be sure to check it out!
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Month in Review: June 2019




How is it that this year is already half over? I had a great reading month and I am hoping, now that summer is here, that this trend continues!!! I did manage to get my recap posts up from my time at BookExpo, so I will include the links here. And if you follow me on Instagram, I've been spotlighting each individual book I picked up...I'm having a great time doing so and getting excited all over about all the books as I discuss them. I can be found at @k2reader if you are on Instagram - you can see the latest posts over on the sidebar. I've been doing them 3 times a week - Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and I only started on June 12th, so I've done 9 BookExpo book spotlight posts so far!


Links to my BookExpo recaps:

 
Reading Stats: 
  • Read this month: 18
  • Year to date: 100

Books Read:
 
  1. The Guest Book -- Sarah Blake
  2. Queen Bee -- Dorothea Benton Frank
  3. Chase -- James Patterson
  4. I'll Never Tell -- Catherine McKenzie (audio book)
  5. The First Mistake -- Sandie Jones
  6. The Dead Girl in 2A -- Carter Wilson (e-book)
  7. This Is Home -- Lisa Duffy (audio book)
  8. Your Life Is Mine -- Nathan Ripley
  9. Lock Every Door -- Riley Sager
  10. The Summer Country -- Lauren Willig
  11. Princess: A Private Novel -- James Patterson
  12. Summer of '69 -- Elin Hilderbrand (audio book)
  13. False Step -- Victoria Helen Stone
  14. The Body Lies -- Jo Baker
  15. Rebecca -- Dapne Du Maurier
  16. A Nearly Normal Family -- M.T. Edvardsson
  17. Her Secret Son -- Hannah Mary McKinnon (e-book)
  18. The Good Sister -- Gillian McAllister
  
Favorite Books of June: 
 
  • The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
  • A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

Challenges:
I am participating in 2 challenges/projects this year and I will be keeping be giving updates in these posts.


#UnReadShelfProject2019:

*These numbers only refer to books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while or that I have recently purchased. It does not include any review books.

  • Total # unread books on shelf at beginning of June: 192
  • Books read in June (that count): 3
  • Books bought/received as gift in June: 4
  • Books cleaned off shelf/donated: 7
  • Total unread books on shelf at end of June: 186
 
 YTD Stats:
 
  • Total # unread books on shelf at beginning of January: 186
  • Total Books read from shelves (that count): 16
  • Total Books bought/received as gift: 23
  • Total Books cleaned off shelf/donated: 7
  • Total unread books on shelf at end of June: 186
  •  

#ThrillerThursdayChallenge:



  • January's challenge: a thriller from a debut author
    •  Book read: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  • February's challenge: a thriller with a one word title
    • Book read: Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson
  • March's challenge: a thriller with the word "Woman" in the title
    • Book read: The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage
  • April's challenge: a thriller written in a language other than English
    • Book read: The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson (Icelandic)
  • May's challenge: a historical thriller
    • Book read: The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry 
  • June's challenge: a thriller that's been made into a movie
    • Book read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • July's challenge: a new-release thriller/released in 2019
    •  
  • August's challenge: a thriller with the word "Girl" in the title
    •  
  • September's challenge: a thriller published before the year you were born
    •  
  • October's challenge: a thriller from a series that's new to you
    •  
  • November's challenge: a thriller with more than 10k reviews on Goodreads
    •  
  • December's challenge: a thriller with "Murder" "Kill" "Killing" or "Death" in the title 
    •  
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