The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 10/13/21-10/15/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book includes instances of rape, criminal trials, and police corruption. If these are triggers for you, read at your own discretion.

Rachel has a podcast called Guilty or Not Guilty that focuses on a true crime where she breaks down the evidence to figure out whether the suspect is guilty or not guilty. She travels to Neapolis, North Carolina for her subject of season 3, a rape trial between a future Olympian and the granddaughter of the former chief of police. She continues to post podcast episodes throughout the trial, giving her audience the chance to be in the jury box.

On her way to Neapolis, Rachel discovers a letter from a fan, Hannah, who asks for Rachel to look into her sister’s, Jenny’s, death. While the official report is that Jenny died from an accidental drowning, Hannah is sure that is a lie. Telling her story over a series of letters, Hannah slowly lets Rachel in on Jenny’s death and why she thinks that Jenny died under suspicious instances.

Following a present rape trial while we follow the death of another rape victim, we slowly begin to investigate who is guilty, and how history repeats itself.

As I was looking through my TBR pile, this was the book that I gravitated to the most. There is something so modern and cool about following a podcast in a book. While I am aware that she chose to follow a rape case because she wanted as much attention as she could get, there is something that feels uncomfortable about the whole guilty or not guilty thing. Considering how difficult it is for women to be believed in sexual assault trials anyway, I don’t like the idea of basically saying “do you believe her or not?”. It just doesn’t sit well with me.

I do like the idea of Hannah’s storyline, but I don’t like that we don’t meet her until the end of the novel. It just feels like a really weird resolution that totally could have happened earlier in the novel. They also totally could have met before the final scene. It almost seemed like overkill.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this novel. I think I had slightly higher expectations, but it was a solid novel nonetheless. Overall, I would give this a 4 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 10/12/21-10/13/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book has instances of murder of a child, a murderer who is a child, manipulation, death (including decay), gore, and suicide. If any of these are triggers for you, please read at your discretion.

Ciara meets Oliver at a grocery store and go for coffee. They connect over their love of space travel, and quickly their connection leads to dates. Both of them feel like secrets are hovering over their relationship, but neither is willing to give in to what they know. When the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down Ireland, they decided to move in together for the 2-week lockdown, hoping that their secrets would stay out of the apartment. But as things go on, their secrets become stifling, and they have to make the hard decisions in order to keep each other.

56 days later, a body is found in the apartment. In an advanced stage of decay, the police can’t decipher who the victim is and whether it was a result of murder or an accident. They discover that the resident of the apartment is Oliver St. Ledger, a former child murderer. As they investigate, Lead Investigator Lee has a gut feeling that something more happened here, but she has no evidence to prove it.

As we switch between the past and the present, we slowly begin to unravel what happened in that apartment and relationship. But will justice be served?

This is the first book that I have read where the story is actually set during the pandemic. There are some authors who have claimed that they will never write a book in the pandemic times, but I think that the pandemic really opens up the mystery/thriller genre. Since so much of the pandemic feels like a horror movie, I hope that more thriller writers will write about this time in the future. I also am surprised that we haven’t had more adventure novels out since we have been stuck inside with only the opportunity to do nature activities instead of traveling. I feel like there are so many possibilities with the pandemic, and since there are so few books that are set in this time, each one will be so unique.

Anyway, this book is so brilliantly written. From the get-go, Howard sprinkles a little bit of doubt, then slowly regains control of the situation so that she can blow it up at the perfect time. It was so fun to read, and I cannot encourage you enough to pick it up and read it for yourself! I am going to go with 4.5 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 10/11/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book includes instances of murder, gore, manipulation, police investigation, poisoning, stalking, financial crime, and miscellaneous other crime. If any of these are triggers for you, please read at your own discretion.

The 3 children and their partners attend Easter dinner. When there, they learn that their parents are selling the house, which Catherine dreamed of inheriting. Their father also went on a tirade, belittling both Dan and Jenna as well. They storm out of the house, but each of them have a gnawing feeling over the day’s events. Days later, the parents are found brutally murdered, and none of the children have an alibi for Sunday night. As we follow the investigation, we have to ask what we would do for our family, would we ever cover up a crime for the people we love?

I like that we get bits and pieces of the motives and what could have been used for the murder bit by bit. It does really add to the mystery to have little hints that something important was kept from everyone, not just us. I personally found the Audrey storyline really annoying, but I think it would have been less annoying if she was actually the detective. I think following the detective in this story would have been really cool since they knew about as much as we did anyway.

I do like the psychological torture element for the partners. It does add a lot of ambiance to the mystery aspect of the story. I kinda wish that Jenna had a more established partner, since Jake always was a peripheral character.

Spoiler Alert: I will say that the murderer is pretty obvious in hindsight. It’s almost like we were so pushed towards the other two siblings that we almost ignored the murderer throughout the book. I almost wish the book led us to Rose as the killer since she was such a surprise. But I also see how she was used as a red herring, which was also a really cool idea. I think Ellen would also be a really cool killer in this case, too.

I think that this is a really cool story that definitely had me invested from the beginning. There are things that I wish happened that didn’t, but overall, I would give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 10/15/21-10/16/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

When Maggie was a child, she lived in a house called Banberry Hall for 20 days. Her father (with support from her mother) wrote a true story memoir called House of Horrors, claiming that the reason the family left was because the house was haunted by the former residents. When her father dies, she gains full ownership of the house. Since she works as an interior designer, she wanted to go and refurbish the house in order to hopefully gain a bigger profit, but more importantly gain closure over this time she doesn’t remember.

Upon coming back to Banberry Hall, Maggie immediately learned that everyone in the town hates the book. She begins to investigate the clues that were left from her family’s time in the house. As she finds more and more evidence that confirms the events of the book, she begins to believe that maybe her father didn’t make it all up. Flipping between the House of Horrors book and Maggie’s adult experience in the house, we follow a journey towards discovering what is really haunting the house once and for all.

I was listening to this book while working and let me tell you, that was a mistake. I have talked about it previously, but I am not a paranormal person. Due to a childhood trauma, paranormal/ haunted tropes get to me more than I think any other. Give me gore and I’m fine; give me a ghost and I’m running screaming. As my coworkers slowly trickled out of the building, I became one of the last people at work. One of my coworkers, who is the sweetest grandmotherly-type person, often brings me chocolate at the end of the day, thinking that I would need the little bit of sugar to get through the rest of my shift. With no warning to her presence, I turned around and she was right there. I swear I almost pooped my pants. Lessons learned, not a good idea. But it created a memory that I am always going to associate with this book, which is always one of my favorite parts of reading. There is something so magical about that.

Anyway, I totally didn’t see the ending coming. I think that it is very humanizing, but I think that the book would almost been better if it didn’t come together with a perfect bow. I think that would have made it completely unique. In the same vain, I also see why we needed closure for who the ghosts are. It’s a really hard line to cross, and I also am very introspective today about books, so ignore me, I’m being weird.

OOOOOOOhhhhhhh, I almost forgot. I hate the title of this book. Where did it even come from? It 1) was not said at all during the book and 2) was not even implied in the book. Let’s be honest, I don’t know what I would have called this book, but I also hate when titles do not match the content of the book. Again, that’s a personal feeling, but it is something that bugged me when I finished it.

I think this book is good, but I personally would give it a 3 out of 5 stars. Trying to think in a non-biased viewpoint, I would probably bump it up to a 3.5 or 3.75. I would say that it is good, but I also don’t think it is as good as Sager’s other books.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!