Top 5 Favorite Books of 2020

Earlier this week, I talked about my Top 5 Biggest Book Disappointments of 2020. I specifically decided to call out BOOK disappointments, because otherwise the entire year would’ve been featured on that list!

Just me trying to make it through 2020 in one piece…

I really shouldn’t complain. While this was a total dumpster fire of a year, I did get a chance to read a ton of great books! When the pandemic first began, I really struggled to settle into a new routine and adjust to this “new normal.” My reading definitely took a nose-dive because I just couldn’t focus on my books with everything happening in the world. Thankfully, by the Summer months I got myself back on track! Deciding which books to feature here really was a challenge! I’m going to keep the summaries short but I’ve included a blurb about what my this book so great (in my opinion). After that long intro, it’s time to talk great books!! (My list will be in my reading chronological order through the year, starting January to December).

Kicking off this list is Oona Out Of Order by Margarita Montimore! What an absolute joy and refreshing deviation from my standard genres! This was a story about a woman who, starting on her 19th birthday, begins living her life out of order. Each birthday she time hops to a different age, 19 – 54 – 37 – 78. What really made this a memorable reading experience were the life lessons and fantastic quotes sprinkled throughout this novel. Each year Oona lives teaches her something which I found to be interesting and applicable to my life. Montimore also had some truly noteworthy quotes, my favorite being: All good things end, always. The trick is to enjoy them while they last. As I look into 2021, this is something that’s going to stick with me. Savor these enjoyable moments because you never know how long that are going to last.

Next up we have House In The Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune. A good friend of mine recommended this book to me and I am so glad she did! Cerulean Sea is the story of a social work name Linus, who handles orphanages for “special children.” One day Linus gets a high-priority assignment and is asked to travel to a very… unique… orphanage. There he meets an eclectic group of people that turn his entire life upside down. Each of the children has a very distinct personality that adds so much charm and dimension to the story. To put it simply, this book is perfection. While this was a work of fiction, Klune does an incredible job weaving in relevant parallels to what’s happening in today’s world (like prejudice and discrimination). If you’re looking for a feel-good story, look no further than The House In The Cerulean Sea!

Starting last year, I decided I wanted to read all of the Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. I started off strong, reading The Mortal Instruments trilogy (Part 1, Books 1 – 3), The Infernal Devices trilogy and started The Mortal Instruments Part 2 (Book #4, City of Fallen Angels). This year, I finished off the last 2 books in part 2 of The Mortal Instruments, the supplemental short story bind ups and moved onto The Dark Artifices. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare was my favorite entry in this world to date. The writing was engaging and the plot centered around a mystery. It was a wild ride from the first page to the very last! What really cemented this book’s spot on my Top 5 list was the fact that it was nearly 700 and it didn’t feel nearly that long. The story was meaningful and there wasn’t fluff or filler. I’m currently reading Lord of Shadows and I’m anxious to see where the story goes from here!

My next book, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab, was a bit of a toss up. I was conflicted including this because it has already received SO much praise this year already. If you haven’t heard of this book (first of all, where have you been?), it’s the story of Adeline LaRue who makes a deal with a Dark God to change her fate and have the life she always dreamed of. The catch? As soon as Addie leaves your vision, you forget her… until she finally meets someone who remembers. Similar to Oona Out Of Order, Addie LaRue is not my typical genre of book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. This was an epic story, that needed to be told, and Schwab crafted it would masterful precision. I was nervous about how this was all going to wrap up but the ending was utter perfection. It was a great culmination to a fantastic tale

Finally, rounding out this list is, Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman. This was one of the last books I read this year and I ENJOYED IT. I’ve read several of Bachman’s other works (A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry). Both of these novels were wonderful and definitely tugged a bit at the heartstrings. I went into Anxious People expecting a lighthearted and funny story about a bank robbery gone wrong. This wasn’t quite what I got. The novel had a much more serious and somber tone since suicide plays a large role in the plot. There was a large cast of characters but Bachman did a great job giving each one a distinct voice so you never mixed them up. While suicide is at the center of the book, the story manages to be uplifting and center on healing. Give this one a whirl if you need a little optimism in your life.

I would like to cheat and add one final “Honorable Mention” which is Atomic Habits by Jame Clear. It’s really hard to put this book up against some of the incredible fiction I’ve previously mentioned but I had to still mention this book. I absolutely loved it and thought the advice was so applicable. Clear does a great job making the advice relatable and useful (as opposed to most of the other self-help / development books I’ve read). He’s easy to connect to and doesn’t come across as condescending. A MUST read if you’re looking to build new, or break existing, habits!

And there you have it! My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2020. While this year wasn’t quite exactly what I was hoping it would be, I learned a little and ended up reading a lot. I’m hopeful that 2021 will be the year we’ve all earned and deserve!

Have you read any of my favorites? What did you think? Any recommendations on “Must Read” books for 2021? Leave your favorites in the comments – let’s face it, my TBR is never going to shrink!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Top 5 Biggest Book Disappointments of 2020

As we’re winding down 2020, which has been THE most disappointing year of my life, I thought what best post to kick off with than the reads I was really looking forward to but did not deliver! All of the books featured in this post were ones that I thought I was going to absolutely love but ended up feeling less than satisfied. On that note, let’s jump into some disappointment!

My biggest disappointment of the year has to go to YOU by Caroline Kepnes. When YOU was released on Netflix, I quickly binged Season 1. When I realized the show was based on a book, I knew I had to read it! In the show, the main character (Joe) was a creepy but likable anti-hero. Even though he had some sick, twisted ideas you still wanted to root for him. In the book, we got more of Joe’s internal dialogue which was vulgar and over-the-top. I won’t be reading Hidden Bodies or the other 2 books that have been announced. I will, however, be continuing to watch the Netflix series!

Next up on my list is another thriller-is book, Everyone Knows How Much I Love You by Kyle McCarthy. I received an ARC of this book and was excited when I got my approval email. This sounded like it was going to be a quick, fun and toxic book that was going to whip through in a single sitting. The main character was demented and the story was outrageous. Initially, I didn’t understand why this book was getting such bad reviews on GoodReads and Netgalley. Then I hit the middle. The whole tone of the book changes and the main character engaged in an affair with her best friend / roommates boyfriend. The fling was disturbingly graphic and really did nothing to advance the story. Eventually, this part of the novel ends and the story gets back on track. The ending, however, was so random and strange that I didn’t understand how we even got there. McCarthy definitely tried to be edgy, shocking and unique but these efforts completely fell flat.

I’ve always loved the idea of self-help books but they tend to never deliver the content I’m expecting. A prime example of this is How To Lead When You Aren’t In Charge by Clay Scroggins. There was an overabundance of religious references, “God’s Plan” and it generally lacked any actual leadership advice. I opted to listen to the audiobook and Scroggins voice sounded like a used car salesman. At one point he even spoke some rap lyrics and I cringed so hard it physically hurt. This was a HUGE pass for me!

We’re over halfway through and winding down. The next book, for me, was a personal disappointment: Eldest by Christopher Paolini. I read Eragon years ago and loved it. I loved the sense of adventure, dragons and epic story. I was looking forward to continuing the journey and decided to pick this up for a round of Tome Topple. To start, this book was unnecessarily long (200 pages could’ve easily been cut). Multiple POVs is usually something that I enjoy but the storylines were BORING. Initially, I was really invested in one of the stories. Eventually that interest fizzled out and I had to slough through the rest of the book to finish it.

The final book rounding out this list is Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I remember when this book was released earlier this year. It was sold out on Amazon and I saw a ton of Bloggers, Bookstagrams and YouTubers RAVING about this horror novel. Eventually I snagged a copy for my Kindle and decided to read it during October when I read only horror books. This wasn’t an overly long book but after the first 50 pages things really slowed down and nothing really happened. The story continued to crawl for the next 150 pages. Once I was about 100 pages from the ending, the plot found it’s groove and moved like wildfire until I turned the last page. After all the praise, I was expecting something a little more addicting and had to put down.

So there you have it, my top 5 biggest book disappointments of the year! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Were you also disappointed or did you love them? What are some of your biggest book disappointments of the year? Leave me a note in the comments if you agree/disagree and any books I should avoid!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

October ’20 Recap

It feels like just yesterday that I was writing my October TBR post and here we are, at the end of the month! October was a complete blur but it also gave me the much needed taste of normalcy that I’ve been wanting! I was able to finally reconnect with some friends and managed to take a couple little day trips. One of my other highlights this month was co-hosting Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon (but I’ll touch on that more later). I read some great books this month and some not-so-great books. Let’s dive in!

I kicked off October reading Pet Sematary by Stephen King. Everyone raves about this being one of King’s best books. While I thoroughly enjoyed it, I felt like I might’ve gone into this with a little too much hype. I found the story to be engrossing and atmospheric but the “horror” elements just didn’t really do it for me. The ending was a little too open for my tastes. I tend to a like a little more closure (unless there’s going to be a sequel). I also watched the original Pet Sematary movie from the 1980’s and the 2019 remake. Surprisingly, I like the 2019 remake more than the original. I felt that the small changes they made to the plot resulted in a better flow overall. After Pet Sematary, I grabbed Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell. This was a fall-themed, graphic novel that I scooped up for $3 on Kindle. I’m not really a graphic novel person, so this was really outside of my comfort zone but I really enjoyed it! The story follows the 2 main characters, Deja and Josiah, High School Seniors who have spent the last several years working together at a Pumpkin Patch. The story takes place during their last night working together before the patch closes for the year (and they head off to college the following Fall). This was a light hearted story and a nice break from my more scary reads.

My month started off strong and then I hit a rough patch which came in the form of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Garcia-Moreno and The Shadows by Alex North. I really enjoyed the first 50 pages (or so) of Mexican Gothic. I was intrigued by the story and was captivated initially but the story sort of bottomed out after that. It turned into an epic slough-fest until the last ~100 pages. At that point, everything started to come together but it was too little, too late for me. While I was reading Mexican Gothic, I also decided to listen to The Shadows by Alex North. Last year, I read his debut, The Whisper Man, which I enjoyed. There were some paranormal elements at the end that were a little cringey and I didn’t love. I almost had the opposite problem with The Shadows, the pacing seemed way too fast and I didn’t really get how everything came together. The overall plot felt a little rushed and, not being an extremely long book, I think it could’ve used another 50 pages to flesh out the plot and really pull everything together. I did enjoy the twist towards the end. It was unexpected and meshed nicely with the overall theme of the book.

As I slid into the latter half of the month, news broke that Showtime was going to be revising the Dexter TV series, bringing it back in the Fall of 2021 for one more additional season. I was a HUGE Dexter fan but the series finale in 2013 really left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I started the books but never pursued them further than the first book. Once I heard they were bringing Dexter back, I thought what better way to continue my reading theme than with a re-read of Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. I opted for the audiobook, since I originally read this… probably 10 years ago. It was a nice refresher and I’m definitely going to continue the book series now to help prepare for the TV premiere next year!

This past week, I read City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab. It. Was. Fantastic! I love Victoria Schwab’s writing so much and have no idea why I put this off as long as I did. The story was entertaining, engaging and eerie. The story revolves around a teenager, Cassidy Blake, who has a near-death experience that results in her being able to see ghosts. I tore through this book and couldn’t put it down (literally finished it minutes before starting to write this post). It’s Halloween, so I thought what better way to end the month than by reading The Witches by Roald Dahl. This book is extremely short and I’m hoping to knock it out today (I’ll be starting that shortly after finishing this post). HBO Max recently released a movie version of The Witches and I thought it would be worth giving it a quick re-read before watching the movie (I probably read this 25 years ago… queue feeling old).

Overall, I had a VERY successful reading month. I’m still on track to hit 52 books by the end of the year. I needed to read at least 6 this month and I’ve read 7 (if I include The Witches). I also have an audiobook currently in progress that I’ll probably finish in the next couple of days and another book that I started back in April and just can’t motivate myself to finish (The Shadowhunter’s Codex, it’s a supplement book to Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles – it reads like a textbook and isn’t required to understand any of her other books). I’ve already been thinking about what books I want to read for November and have a nice TBR already set! Stop back tomorrow to check out that post!

How was your October? Read any good books or have thoughts / questions about my reads? Do any fun, non-book related activities? Leave me a comment – you know how much I love to chat!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

October ’20 TBR

It’s finally October and that means “Spooky SZN” is upon us! The weather is FINALLY starting to cool off in the northeast and all of the Autumn flavors are in full swing (I’m looking at you Pumpkin Spice and Apple). I typically don’t set a book “theme” for the month but I decided to give that a try for October. Since Halloween will be coming up, I thought this would be the perfect time to break out all of my horror / spooky books to binge all month long! I’m still on track to hit my stretch goal of 52 books by the end of the year. If I want to hit this goal, I need to read at least 6 books each month in October, November and December. I’ve set an aggressive TBR for October so, without further ado, let’s jump into the books!

I’m going to kick the month off with a classic horror story, Pet Semetary by Stephen King. I haven’t read many books by King but this seems to be a favorite! I actually don’t know a ton about this story other than there is some sort of cursed land that has the power to bring whatever is buried there back to life… but not quite the same. I actually have a paperback of this and will be listen to some of the audiobook. The audiobook is narrated by Michael C. Hall and it has received rave reviews. After Pet Semetary, I’m going to move on to Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Mexican Gothic has been described as a horror-thriller that seems to be right up my alley. When Noemi received a mysterious letter from her cousin, beginning someone to come save her from impending doom, she sets off to the High Place to investigate. Noemi is better suited for dresses and dinner parties than as a rescue but that won’t stop her. As Noemi dig deeper and deeper, she soon discovers a history of violence and madness that might be impossible to escape.

I’ve always been a big fan of Victoria Schwab and now seems like the perfect time to read City of Ghosts. Meet Cassidy Blake, an In-Between who can communicate with ghosts. When Cass meets Lara, a fellow In-Between, she explains that it’s Cass’ responsibility to send ghosts permanently across The Veil. When the Red Raven begins terrorizing her city, she quickly realizes it isn’t meant for this world. She’s soon pulled into an epic fight that stretches across the worlds of the living and the dead. I am purposely saving Home Before Dark by Riley Sager for closer to Halloween. This “haunted house” book seems like the perfect read as Halloween approaches! When Maggie Holt, a restorer of old homes, inherits her family home, she returns to restore it so it can be properly sold. Maggie is too young to remember the horror’s mentioned in her father’s book. Soon she begins experience strange occurrences, that seem to be right out of her father’s book. It’s up to Maggie to find out what secrets are within these walls before it’s too late!

In addition to these physical books, I’m also going to try to knock out 2 audiobooks. My first audiobook will be The Shadows by Alex North. The Shadows is the follow-up to North’s debut, The Whisper Man (which I read last year). The premise of this one sounds great and has a lot of promise. Paul Adams remembers the dark, imaginative and gruesome murder committed by Charlie Crabtree when he was a teenager. After the murder was committed, Crabtree disappeared and was never found. Fast-Forward 25 years later and a copycat killer has struck. As tensions rise around town, Paul can feel the past slowly starting to seep into the present. I haven’t decided on which audiobook I’ll read next. I have a couple Stephen King books queued up (Misery and If It Bleeds) and a couple by one of my favorite more niche authors, J.A. Konrath (Origin and The List). This last pick will definitely be based on my mood and whatever I’m feeling in the moment.

Hopefully I’m able to conquer this TBR and then some! What do you have planned for this month? Are you going to read anything creepy to celebrate Halloween? Leave me a comment, tweet me or add me on GoodReads (@ItsMrGeekToYou on both sites).

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

Book Review: Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker

I have always been a fan of the thriller / suspense genre. I love starting a new mystery novel and immediately becoming immersed in the plot! Last year, while browsing around Amazon, I came across a recently released book (The Night Before) by an author I had never heard of (Wendy Walker). As soon as I read the synopsis I knew I had to add it to my TBR! Here’s my quick take for those who haven’t read or heard of this book: Lauren Lochner has never had much success in the romance department. After her latest failed relationship, she decides to give up her Wall Street job, and New York City lifestyle, to move in with her sister, Rosie, back in Connecticut where they grew up. Lauren struggles to find her new normal and decides to give dating another try. This seems like the perfect reset for Lauren…. until she doesn’t return home from her date the next morning. As panic begins to build, and Rosie desperately tries to locate her sister, she realizes she’s not worried that something happen to Lauren, but what Lauren might have done to her date. This book was fantastic, inventive and I could not put it down! If you’re interested in picking up a copy or learning more, view The Night Before on Amazon.

Shortly after I read The Night Before, St Martin’s Press reached out to me offering an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Walker’s newest book, Don’t Look For Me. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew this book would be right up my alley and jumped on the offer! Don’t Look For Me was a brilliant, nerve-wracking, thrill-ride from the first page to the last.

Here’s my quick, spoiler-free summary: Have you ever wanted to just pick-up, leave your life behind and start over somewhere new? Well that’s exactly what Molly Clarke wanted. After the death of one of her children, Molly’s life is shattered and her family is broken. She’s desperate to disappear and never be found, it’s the only way she can deal with her grief and hopefully help her family heal. So it doesn’t come as a surprise when Molly goes missing one night during a terrible storm. Days later a note is found at a local casino, along with some of her clothing, saying that she is moving over and “don’t look for me.” Is this Molly’s chance to start over or is there more to this story than meets the eye?

Review: I freaking loved this book. To start, I love when a book is written with multiple POVs or alternating timelines. “Don’t Look For Me” alternates between present day and the night Molly disappears. Walker did such a great job here. Each timeline was interesting, compelling and I was never bored with the story. I looked forward to each “switch” because I knew I was getting more details to help my unravel what happened the night Molly went missing. I found the characters to be fascinating and I liked the subtle theme of redemption that was threaded throughout the novel. The further you get into this book, the deeper and more intriguing the mystery becomes. As I hit the last ~100 pages, I felt like I was on a runaway train and sat glued to the couch until I read the final page. Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable and well-written thriller. If you haven’t read a Wendy Walker book, do yourself a favor and pick up either: The Night Before or Don’t Look For Me (Release Date: September 15, 2020). If you do purchase a copy, please consider using the affiliate links in this blog post – I’ll receive a small commission and there’s no charge to you!

A HUGE thank you to St Martin’s Press for providing this advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Are you a fan of thrillers? What are some of your favorites? Have you also read one of Wendy’s books? What did you think? Leave me a comment or tweet me (@ItsMrGeekToYou)!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

PS – Are we friends on GoodReads? Add me: ItsMrGeekToYou

September 2020 TBR

September is finally upon us and you know what that means! Fall is right around the corner along with chilly evenings, pumpkin-or-apple-flavored-everything and more time to spend indoors reading! This has been such a weird year for me, as I’m sure it has been for everyone, and I’m really hoping to get myself back on track. I’ve struggled to read as much as I normally do (lack of focus during this pandemic) and I just haven’t been able to accomplish as much as I hoped. As we enter the last few months of 2020, I’ve set a few short term goals for myself and one of those is to hit my original stretch reading goal of 52 books. That will require me to read ~6 books per month which I actually think is doable. I’m aiming to read 1 book/week and 2 audiobooks/month. To help my achieve this goal, I’m going to be setting TBRs for myself at the beginning of each month.

I already have a few books in progress that I am hoping to finish over the long weekend / next week. I received an ARC of Wendy Walker’s new book, Don’t Look For Me. I started this last weekend and am LOVING it. I took a small break from the thriller genre but this is really hitting the spot. After Molly Clarke’s life is turned upside down by tragedy and a broken family, she decides to abandon her life and start over… or does she? I’ll be absolutely reviewing this book once I finish. I read The Night Before last year and really, really enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of the thriller genre, I’d recommend picking that up as well! It’s about a first date gone wrong – I’m sure we can all relate to that but mayyyyyyyyyyyyyybe not to this extent! I am also struggling through The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare. For how much I love the Shadowhunter books and that universe, this has been a challenge to get through. It reads very much like a textbook. While the information is interesting and helps build a more complete world, it’s definitely on the dry/boring side. The last book I have in progress is an audiobook, Bossypants by Tina Fey. I read Bossypants back when it first came out in 2011. I am a HUGE Tina Fey fan but thought her book was mediocre at best. Recently, I was chatting with a coworker and Bossypants came up. When she found out I wasn’t really a fan, she recommended the audiobook. I was able to scoop it up, on sale, from the Apple Books store. Tina narrates the book and it makes it so much more enjoyable!

Now that we’ve covered what I have in-flight, moving on to what’s next! Since I’ve been enjoying Don’t Look For Me so much, I thought I’d pick up another thriller: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. I read Goldin’s debut The Escape Room earlier this year and absolutely loved it. If you’re looking for a sophisticated literary experience, move along. If you want a twisty, bizarre and thoroughly entertaining thriller, definitely pick this up. I am a HUGE fan of cheesy horror / thriller movies and this was definitely right up my alley. I am also thinking about picking up The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson. I read Truly, Devious earlier this year. I liked it but didn’t love it. Personally, I felt like I was reading 1/3 of a book. There wasn’t much resolution and it seemed like I had more questions than answers by the end of the book. I’ve heard that the as you progress through the series, everything gets woven together nicely. The last couple books on my list are The Last Flight by Julie Clark and Camino Winds by John Grisham. To be honest, I don’t really know much about either of these books. I’ve seen The Last Flight on several “Books That I Couldn’t Put Down” lists – so it seems like something I’ll enjoy. I read Camino Island a couple years ago and enjoyed it. I think, in the moment, I would’ve enjoyed it more knowing that the story was going to continue. It was left very open ended and I just didn’t love that (again, knowing a sequel was coming would’ve changed that opinion a bit).

So that’s my proposed TBR for September. I might sub in a couple depending on my mood. I’ve already started working on what I want to read in October and have some great spooky / horror reads queued up! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think? What are you planning to read in September? Let me know in the comments or Tweet me @ItsMrGeekToYou!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon

Last night I was browsing around Twitter and stumbled upon a new read-a-thon that’s taking place soon (aka tomorrow), Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon! Like all read-a-thons, the purpose here is to read as much as possible within a 24 hour period. In a spur of the moment decision, I’ve decided to participate (plus this overlaps with the start of Tome Topple, so I’ll be double dipping on my reading goals). Dewey’s read-a-thon also uses a bingo card format (which I’ll post below). I love how diverse this list of prompts are – should add a fun twist! The other thing that I really appreciate about this read-a-thon is the start time. It begins at 8 pm (EST) which is ideal for me. Our office closes early (3 pm) over the summer so I’ll have some time to get myself organized before diving into my reading.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Bingo Card

I’m planning to read Lady Midnight and The Shadowhunter’s Codex both by Cassandra Clare. I might also pick up a magazine to help break up my reading. I doubt I’ll finish Lady Midnight (that book is nearly 700 pages) I’ll be sure to do a recap post this weekend, after the read-a-thon ends, summarizing my progress and how much I was able to read.

Are you planning to participate in Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon? What’s only our TBR? Do you have any other read-a-thons that you like? Feel free to share in the comments – I’m always looking for reading challenges and prompts!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

Top 5 Friday: Thrillers

Let me start off by saying this, I absolutely love the suspense / thriller / mystery genre! There is just something about a heart-pounding mystery that I can’t resist. I’m not sure when I got into these types of books, but I have very distinct memories of reading thrillers in bed and actually sitting up straighter because the book was so engrossing! Whether you’re a fan of the genre, looking for a new read, or someone who’s always wanted to give this genre, but didn’t know where to start, this list is for you!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Summary: Meet Alicia Berenson, a famous artist, married to a popular, in-demand, fashion photographer. Alicia has the perfect life until one night she returns home, shoots her husband five times in the face and never speaks another word. Since Alicia won’t speak, she’s it own deepens the mystery around her. She’s soon transferred to a secured forensic unit (The Grove) where she can be hidden away from the public eye and monitored. Enter Theo Faber. Theo is a criminal psychotherapist who has been itching for a chance to work with Alicia and get her to speak. As Theo’s work with Alicia continues, we’re set off down a winding path of twists and turns, where nothing is as it appears!

Why This Book Made the List: Quite frankly, it’s un-put-down-able. I had seen this book on my “Must Read” lists for 2019. The premise did sound interesting but I thought this book would struggle to live up to the hype. Boy was I wrong. Michaelides does such a fantastic job weaving this story together. The pacing was perfect and he provides just enough details to keep you reading. I think what is most noteworthy is the ending. It was twisty, surprising and definitely steered clear of more standard / cookie cutter ideas!

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Summary: What the secret to a happy marriage? It’s easy, murder. The premise is simple, a married couple abducts and murders women. The husband handles the identification and luring while the wife handles the disposal. This is purposefully done so neither spouse know where the girl came from or where her remains are located. If this plot sounds at all interesting, don’t investigate this book anymore and just go buy a copy.

Why This Book Made the List: This book was so surprising! I saw this book featured on Netgalley but by the time I requested it, all of the ARCs were taken. As soon as it was released, I scooped it up. The synopsis is sort of vague but it just adds to the overall vibe. Downing does such a great job weaving together all of these details and expertly crafted one hell of a story. The last quarter of the book was incredible and left me speechless. Usually I’m pretty good at figuring out the ending before I get there but that was not the case here!

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Summary: Ted Severson is sitting at an airport bar, waiting to catch his flight back to Boston. He is attempting to drink his sorrows away because he’s sure his wife, Miranda, is cheating on him. He then meets the beautiful and mysterious Lily Kintner (who is also on his flight back to Boston). Ted, being slightly intoxicated, launches into how woes and how he could kill Miranda for what she’s done to him. Lily immediately jumps on board, saying she’d love to help. The two plan to meet up in a few weeks to map out of the final details of their murder plot.

Why This Book Made the List: The way Swanson wrote this book, every chapter ended on a cliffhanger and each section of the book ended with a bomb drop. I absolutely tore through this book at a ridiculous pace because I had to know what was going to happen. This book moved at breakneck speeds and was impossible to put down because you just had to know what was going to happen next. The twists were genius and very unexpected! I have to admit, I wasn’t crazy about how it ended – it wasn’t horrible but definitely not my favorite. Overall, a fantastic read that I cannot recommend enough!

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Flynn

Summary: Anna Fox has agoraphobia and spends her days inside her New York City home, too scared to venture outside. She passes the time watching old movies, drinking wine (there’s nothing wrong with that) and spying on her neighbors. When the Russells move in across the street, Anna has a new subject to watch. Mrs Russell stops over to introduce herself and they spend an afternoon socializing and getting to know each other. As Anna is gazing out her window, she thinks she see Mrs Russell being murder – but that couldn’t be! She calls the police and soon they stop over with Mr and Mrs Russell… but this isn’t the Mrs Russell that stopped by earlier! What did Anna see… or not see?

Why This Book Made the List: From the very beginning, The Woman in the Window sunk its hooks into me and never let go. I was curious to learn more about Anna, what caused her agoraphobia and how did she get to this current state she was in? The story flips between multiple present and past which help fill in her overall timeline. Like all of the other books on this list, the twists were fresh and really caught me off guard. They were a rather unique take on a somewhat overplayed storyline. I’ve recommended this book to several people and everyone has loved it! I’m anxious to see the film adaptation (staring Amy Adams) but who knows when that will happen – the film has been delayed several times (once to rewrite the ending since a test audience found it confusing and again due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Summary: Journalist, Camille Preaker, has done everything in her power to separate herself from the small town where she grew up (Wind Gap, Missouri). Unfortunately for Camille, she is assigned to investigate a series of gruesome murders that happened / are happening in Wind Gap. Camille returns to her hometown and remembers all of the reasons why she left in the first place: Small town drama, her overly-needy mother, half-sister Amma and psychological demons that’s she’s trying to leave in the past. As Camille digs deeper and deeper into these murders, she quickly realizes that she might not survive this homecoming.

Why This Book Made the List: I picked up Sharp Objects after I read Gone Girl. While I enjoyed Gone Girl (the ending was meh), I loved Sharp Objects. I found the setting to be interesting and the bizarre family drama dynamics were definitely entertaining. As Camille dug deeper and deeper into the mystery, I had no idea how this book was going to end. It kept me engaged and interested until he very last page – and that ending was perfection! This is an extremely dark book that deals with some pretty heavy subject matter – definitely check out the trigger warnings on this before taking the plunge! Also, if you do enjoy the book – I highly recommend the HBO series. This also starred Amy Adams (as Camille) and she did a fantastic job bringing this character to life. While I enjoyed the TV show, it did take about half of the episodes for the plot to really come together and get interesting.

There you have it, folks! These are some of my all time favorite thrillers. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do they deserve to be in my Top 5 list? Sound off in the comments or tweet me / add me on GoodReads (@ItsMrGeekToYou)!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

PS – This post includes affiliate links, if you’re looking to pick up one of these books, please consider using the links in my post. I’ll receive a small commission and it doesn’t cost you a thing!

Book Review: Everyone Knows How Much I Love You by Kyle McCarthy

“Everyone Knows How Much I Love You” by Kyle McCarthy is a tricky book for me to review. I am a huge fan of the suspense / thriller genre and never get board with reading something that gets my heart pounding. Unfortunately, “Everyone Knows How Much I Love You” went a little off the rails in the middle and wasn’t really able to recover.

The premise of this book had me hooked as soon as I read the synopsis. When Rose, a struggling author, moves to New York City, the last person she expects to run into is her former best friend from High School, Lacie. After a chain of events, these two women find their lives beginning to intersect and they soon settle back into their old friendship. As Rose is trying to find a place to live, on a minimal budget, Lacie offers up the spare bedroom in her apartment. We learn that Rose is on the cusp of finishing her book which, unbeknownst to Lacie, is about her. Soon Rose has infiltrated Lacie’s life – she begins wearing her clothings, meeting her friends and even connects with her boyfriend (a former friend from Art Camp). As the plot unfolds, we learn more about what happened in High School that drove the two friends apart. It was at this point that the book began to lose me. Without giving away too many spoiled, Rose begins an affair and the plot really went off the rails. The narrative became so disgustingly raunchy and graphic that I almost stopped reading. I think this would’ve been slightly easier to understand if I felt like it advanced the plot in some capacity – but it did not. I’m far from a prude but this writing was disgusting and completely unnecessary. As the book began to wind down, I was curious how this was all going to end (Spoiler: Not well for anyone involved). The ending felt rushed and, while it was surprising, wasn’t particularly good. I definitely was scratching my head for a few minutes after I finished the last page.

Overall, not a horrible read but definitely not a favorite for the year. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House – I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in pick up a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link (it doesn’t cost you anything and I’ll get a small commission to help keep my blog going)!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

Mid-Year Freak Out Booktag

I recently saw the Mid-Year Freak Out booktag on YouTube and thought I’d do a little research to see if this was something that I could translate to my blog. The Mid-Year Freak Out is basically just your year in books, so far, highlighting your favorite and not-so-favorite books. I thought this would be a fun way to recap my reading year and revisit some of my favorite books! 2020 seems to be moving incredibly fast and incredibly slow simultaneously! So, without further ado, onto my list!


Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.

The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

So I am cheating a little with this one and I haven’t finished this book at the time of authoring this post (but hopefully by the time it goes live next week). My good friend Mollie recommend that I read “The House on the Cerulean Sea.” This is such a wonderful, surprising and wholesome book – it really caught me off guard! We follow the main character, Linus, who is a casework for the Department In Charge Of Magical Youth (DICOMY). The book opens with Linus visiting an orphanage and reporting on how they are treating the children left in their care. Soon Linus receives a highly classified assignment where he must visit an orphanage on the island of Marsyas. This particular orphanage has an assortment of very “unique” and magical children. The story continues to roll from there! It’s best to go into this one with limited knowledge of the plot and to just be swept away! Cannot recommend this one enough (I officially finished this on Sunday and read the last ~200 pages)!



Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020.

Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman

Scythe was the very first book I read this year and it was excellent! I had no idea how Thunderhead could top that but it did! To keep this summary spoiler-free, Thunderhead begins shortly after the events of Scythe and the action just doesn’t stop. The plot moves a breakneck speeds and the ending really caught me by surprise. I’m excited to read The Toll but I’m also not ready to finish this series!


New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

One of my favorite BookTubers, Reagan from PeruseProject, is a HUGE fan of N. K. Jemisin. Reagan has featured several of Jemisin’s books on her channel. I’ve never read anything by this author but I recently picked up an omnibus of her Inheritance trilogy and a copy of The City We Became. The City We Became has a fascinating premise, each city has a soul and is birthed. New York City is finally entering the world when an evil villain shows up to stop it. All of the summaries I’ve read about this are rather vague but I’m really looking forward to diving into this one soon!


Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I read her “Shades of Magic” trilogy back in 2018 and have been an avid fan since then. This new stand alone adult novel has the potential to be one of my favorite books by Schwab yet! We follow the main character, Addie, who made a deal with the Devil for immortality. What did it cost her? She’s destined to be forgotten by everyone that she meets. Until one day, she meets a man in a hidden bookstore who remembers her name. October can’t come soon enough for this one!


Biggest disappointment.

You by Caroline Kepnes

When I found out that one of my favorite shows from Netflix, YOU, was actually based on a book, I was thrilled! I quickly binged both Season 1 and 2 shortly after their releases. Since I so thoroughly enjoyed the show, I thought I was all but guaranteed to love the book… wrong. We follow the main character, Joe, who works in a book store in New York City. One day, Guinevere Beck comes into the shop and Joe’s life is changed forever. Joe becomes obsessed with Beck and begin stalking her. Soon their lives begin to intersect and you can tell their relationship is a ticking time bomb that won’t end well. For me, something was lost in translation between the TV show and the novel. Even though Joe is a stalker, TV Joe had this likability that Book Joe was completely missing. I also found the aggressive and raunchy language to really put me off as a reader. I usually struggle with this type of content because imagining it in a book is so much worse than seeing it on a screen. Not a fan and I would definitely say pass on this one if you were interested!


Biggest surprise.

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely adore cheesy horror movies. The lower the budget, the better! After reading the plot of “The Escape Room,” I knew this would be right up my alley. A group of coworkers end up trapped in the elevator of a new building that’s under construction. They’re lured to this particular location under the muse of an escape room team bonding challenge. This book has multiple timelines (I love this writing style) and flips between present day and the past. I found the plot extremely engaging and easy to follow. I compulsively read this one because I just had to know how this was going to end! A very good thriller and a very quick read! If you’re into the thriller / suspense genre, this book can’t be missed!


Favorite new author, debut or new to you.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

I originally saw “Oona Out of Order” on the Jordy’s Book Club Instagram account. The cover really caught my attention and once I read the summary, I knew I had to read this book as soon as possible! The premise was fascinating – starting on Oona’s 18th birthday, she begins to live her life out of order. Each birthday she “leaps” to a past or future year (i.e. she’s 56 then she’s 67 then she’s 22). I don’t really want to discuss the plot because the journey is really what makes it so enjoyable. What I enjoyed the most was the “lesson” each year taught her. I love when I book can teach you a lesson or give you something to think about. Montimore gave us these philosophical nuggets wrapped up in an intriguing story that pulled you in and never let you go.


Book that made you happy.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

I’ve been seeing reviews, hype and praise for Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter books for YEARS. Beginning last year, I decided I was going to commit to reading these books, in order, over the next year or two. I began with the first Mortal Instruments trilogy, read the Infernal Devices trilogy and then the second Mortal Instruments trilogy. I made it through the first 7 books last year. I read the penultimate, City of Lost Souls, and the finale, City of Heavenly Fire, this year. City of Heavenly Fire was honestly a perfect final entry in the Mortal Instruments series. There was plenty of action, heartbreak and loose ends were nicely tied up. This was quite the chunky book, coming in at nearly 750 pages, but it never felt long. I was sad to end the Mortal Instruments, because it was like saying goodbye to a group of friends (who I spent over 3,000 pages with). I am eagerly anticipating wrapping up the short story binds ups so I can move onto the Dark Artifices trilogy! I’ve heard this is one of Clare’s best series and is quite addicting!


Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Gryffindor House Edition by J. K. Rowling

Instead of writing about this one, I’m just going to share a picture! I ordered this book from Waterstones (United Kingdom) with a couple other books that I had been eyeing the UK editions.


What 6 books do you want to read by the end of the year?

  • The Toll by Neal Schusterman
  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  • Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read this post! So far, 2020 has been a tumultuous year. I’ve been struggling to find my reading groove with everything happening in the world but, thankfully, I’ve been fortunate to read a lot of really great books! I hope over these next 6 months things continue to settle down and my TBR continues to shrink (who am I kidding, it’s only going to grow)! What’s your favorite book you’ve read this year? What was your biggest dud? What’s a title you’re counting down until the release? Leave me your recommendations in the comments!

Until Next Time,
Mr. Geek