Recent Reads and Mini Reviews #4

Hi!!! Welcome to another recent reads and mini reviews. It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on what I’ve been reading. And I also decided to skip my June Wrap Up because I didn’t get tons done due to my trip to PR and some personal shit I’ve been dealing with. However, I will be doing a June and July wrap-up together instead.

For today’s post, I will be discussing 4 books and just an FYI: all my thoughts are spoiler free.


40265670Title: When We Left Cuba
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Genre: Historical Fiction and Romance
Publisher: Berkley Books
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life–and heart–to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez–her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future–but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything–not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart…

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When We Left Cuba is about one of the Perez sisters and I really loved this one as well. During Next Year In Havana, Beatriz is being quiet and secretive. But When We Left Cuba shows us the why and what she was up to the whole time. The author, Chanel Cleeton, truly knows how to write amazing flushed out characters and really good plots. I was on the edge of my seat half the time I was reading this novel.

The writing, the storyline, the family dynamic, and the rich culture of Cuba stand out in When We Left Cuba. This book did not once fall short. Beatriz is an admirable woman who is fiercely independent and does not care about society and their thoughts.

I would highly recommend reading this book because you learn a lot. Also, I liked that the author was inspired by true events in order to write this book. There’s a learning experience to this book that is definitely worthwhile.


Female cyclist riding without lights on a dark, foggy road.

Title: A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Edvardsson
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Celadon Books
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and one another.

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

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I was very close to DNFing this book. I couldn’t get into it at all. The writing was choppy (I’m aware it’s a translated book), there was too much back and forth between what was going on and past events. I also felt like the genre was misleading. There was nothing thrilling about this book. It’s a literal family drama in which the family crosses lines to save one another.

This book is divided into three sections: father, mother, daughter. I didn’t find any of them pleasing. I’m okay with unlikable characters but I found them all annoying. Also the little plot twists weren’t even surprising at all. Once I knew the mom’s job title, it was too easy to guess what the end or at least how it was going to turn out.

In the end, I wouldn’t suggest this book. The only thing I liked was how short the chapters were.


34313931Title: A Woman Is No Man
Author: Etaf Rum
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
This debut novel by an Arab-American voice,takes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.

In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.

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CHECK THIS BOOK VIA AUDIOBOOK INSTEAD!!! I had to get that out before I forgot the importance of such detail lol. I read this along while listening to the audio and wow what a book. A Woman Is No Man is POWERFUL and changing. It makes you want to do more. It’s one of those books that get you all tangled in emotions. There are trigger warnings for domestic abuse, death, and violence. The author definitely did not shy away from the details of these triggers.

Because I listened to the audiobook version, there were 3 narrators for the three women that have a part in this book. Each part was distinct and beautiful. It’s set in Palestine and Brooklyn. I was never confused with which part I was in. I also loved the writing style and message of this book. This is a gut wrenching book that leaves you with your heart stuck in your throat. I definitely want to read more of this authors work and would highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something with lots of meaning.


35959740Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

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This was my first Madeline Miller book and wow!!! I need her to write a retelling of Hades and Persephone, including Medusa as well. I was scared of getting into this book. I thought I wasn’t going to really like it to be completely honest. Just because of the fact that I’ve had a hard time getting into Fantasy settings. However, this book blew it out the water. The message and women empowerment, the growth of Circe was such a sight. Madeline Miller wrote her character beautifully and I fell absolutely in love with Circe.

I would definitely say that Circe is a slow burn book. It’s not of those books where things are constantly happening but I did get the sense of growing with the character through her life. And that type of writing where you feel like you’re growing with a character through time is beautiful.

If you’re into Greek Mythology or at least know of it, then this book is highly recommended. We get to see and meet other Gods/Goddesses and that was fun. Circe is a feel good book.


Have you read any of these books or want to? Let me know in the comments!

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Twitter: @chicnerdreads

Recent Reads and Mini Reviews #3

Hey there!! I hope you are all doing well today! Welcome to another recent reads and mini reviews. It feels like such a long time ago that I read these three books that I’ll be talking about today. For today, I’ll be talking about Love and Other Words, Next Year In Havana, and The Bride Test.

All my thoughts are spoiler free


img_0011Title: Love and Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

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I really wanted to love this book. I thought it had a lot of potential. This book was so different from other Christina Lauren books I’ve read. However, Love and Other Words just wasn’t for me. The reason behind them not talking/seeing each other for many years was not shocking to me. I felt like there was a lot of build up for a mediocre plot. Also, the teenage sex scenes made me super uncomfortable. I skimmed over those parts because I do not want to read about teenagers humping. The writing was well done and the chapters from past to present were also well done. I found it odd how one particular character acted towards the situation that the MC was going through. I expected more turmoil. Overall, it was a cute book. It just didn’t impact me as much as I thought it would. The writing in this book is definitely a lot better than Christina Lauren’s previous books.

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34374628Title: Next year In Havana
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Penguin/Berkley
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

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CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK FOR A MOMENT?!?!?!? ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS. I DID NOT SEE THIS ONE COMING!! I seriously thought it was just going to be another read but this book right here?!?!? This one is everything. I will talk about it forever. The writing, the politics, the romance, the family relationships, the plot, EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT! The Cuban representation was perfectly executed and I honestly feel like that has to do with the fact that the author is Cuban herself. This shows how important own voices really is. This book was a masterpiece. We got rich detail of Cuba, Cubans, their culture, their food, their history. I found myself crying, happy, sad, and transported to this world. It’s politically heavy, however that’s what I loved even more about it. The two perspectives from both Grandmother in 1958 and Granddaughter present day was well done. I enjoyed both parts equally. Even if I had to stop mid chapter, once I opened the book, I knew which chapter I was in. I would like to add that this book is very quotable. I highly recommend Next Year in Havana with all my heart.

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39338454Title: The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2)
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley Books
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis:
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

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The Bride Test was my May Book of The Month pick. I heard that you do not have to read The Kiss Quotient in order to read this one which is exactly what I did. I was excited to read this book after hearing so much praise for The Kiss Quotient. I was excited to read a cute contemporary romance with Asian Representation. However, I disliked this book a whole lot. I had a lot of problems with it. The Asian and Autistic representation was spot on, my problems lied with the plot/storyline. I felt uncomfortable with all the forced interactions, all the awkward mentions of his dick, and lastly my biggest problem; the secret that Esme was hiding from him. The secret she was hiding from him was something that really made my time reading this book unenjoyable because of personal reasons. It was hard to read this book objectively when my anxiety was yelling in frustration lol. In the end, I felt this book was very rushed. The Bride Test is only 296 pages. However, it could’ve lasted a little longer when throughout the book problem after problem was reoccurring and all of a sudden we get a ta-da moment. Overall, writing was good and so were the characters, the plot/storyline were my biggest problems.

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Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them? Let’s chat in the comments!

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Twitter: @chicnerdreads

Recent Reads and Mini Reviews #2

Welcome to another recent reads and mini reviews! This is my second one and I certainly enjoyed writing the first one. If you missed it, you can check it out here. For today’s post, I will be talking about two books: No Exit and Sadie.

All my thoughts are spoiler free


39938177Title: No Exit
Author: Taylor Adams
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

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Whew. Okay where to start? This book is fast paced and definitely a page turner which I enjoyed. It didn’t take long to get to the plot. We meet Darby Thorne who’s driving in the worst conditions ever to see her dying mother, however because it is dangerous to drive, she stops at a rest stop. She meets a few people there and everything seems normal till she’s looking for cell signal and while passing one of the cars, she sees a little girl trapped in a dog crate. Darby is low-key freaking out and at one point even thinks she’s hallucinating till she checks again later on and sees that she isn’t.

My problem with this book were the characterizations and the plot twists. At some points I found Darby to be bland and at others I was routing for her. I’m done with the book and still don’t know how to feel about her. The other characters were also “meh.” I love books that have unreliable or unlikable characters. However, this just felt like neither of the two. I didn’t care about what was going to happen to them. The reason for the girl being kidnapped and all that was behind the plot line was disappointing and I felt like it was incomplete. I asked myself “umm that’s it?” It was just okay to me. I was expecting so much more and I thought there was room for it to be better. It’s as if the author knew what he wanted the book to be about but didn’t execute it all that great.

The writing was well done and good. I liked the narration and how quick this book was. Overall, the book was a solid 3 stars.

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img_0007Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA Mystery
Publisher: Macmillan
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

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This book contains trigger warnings for: sexual abuse, pedophilia, murder, blood, violence, and drug abuse.

This was my first audiobook ever!!! Well the first one to really grab my attention. I’ve tried other audiobooks years ago and couldn’t get into them at all. I found myself constantly bored. However, this one was perfection. It has a full cast. And because this book has chapters of a podcasts, it has all those elements to it which made it even better to listen too.

This book is hard-hitting and sad. We meet Sadie who’s life has never been easy but she’s always been second person to her little sister, Mattie, who is now dead. Sadie goes missing after Mattie’s death to try and avenge her death. She wants justice. When Sadie goes missing, a radio personality hears about the story and decides to go on a mission to find her and get to the bottom of the what happens. This book is told in alternating chapters of Sadie’s POV and “The Girls” Podcast.

From beginning to end this book had me at the edge of my seat. I loved all the characters involved and the way the author portrayed them each. Summers really showed how each of them experienced their own grief and how they handled it. Sadie being unstoppable and getting to the bottom of it, going through lengths.

I liked the plot, the style of the this book, all the emotions it left me with, and the themes of it as well. The realistic theme that people tend to forget about the missing girls, the dead girls, the forgotten girls. Summers didn’t shy from the theme of sexual abuse. I didn’t have to guess it, it was raw and to the point. This story although fiction, rings true. I highly recommend this 5 star read.

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That is all I have for today! Have you read these books? What are you currently reading? Have a great day xo

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Recent Reads and Mini Reviews

I have come to the conclusion that I loathe writing full length reviews and since blogging is a hobby/something I do for fun, I wanted to change it up a bit. I still want to give my thoughts so what a perfect way to let you know my recent reads with a mini review added to it? Okay I hope this works out lol. Also, all my thoughts are spoiler free!

Recently I finished three books: The Simple Wild, The Broken Girls, and The Silent Patient. All amazing reads!


img_0005Title: The Simple Wild
Author: K.A. Tucker
Genre: Adult Romance
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis:
Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

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I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from The Simple Wild. I hadn’t read a K.A. Tucker book in years. I heard so much high praise for this book and it deserves the hype it’s gotten. It has one of my favorite book tropes ever which is “hate to love” and that slow burn romance. The Simple Wild isn’t so much about the romance but it’s more so about a young woman, Calla Fletcher, finding herself while trying to reconnect/salvage a relationship with her father whom she hasn’t spoken to in years. And the only reason she’s even talking to him is because of a terminal illness that has overtaken his body.

This book has so much depth which is what made me thoroughly enjoy it. I cried and laughed a lot. Jonah is such a sarcastic asshole and he was mean to Calla but she did not let him win at all, she always came back with a punch. This book was definitely a page turner and it had it’s moments. The only slight tiny little problem I had with it was that I did find Calla to be a little annoying, a little too self-absorbed, and that made me roll eyes at times. Other than that I would highly recommend if you’re looking for something cute with meaning and a little laughter.

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35305625Title: The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Berkley Books
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

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ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME. OMG THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE READ BY EVERYONE RIGHT NOW!!! Okay now that I’m done screaming, let me tell you that this book had me gushing every which way. It is such a page turner and I was sucked in from the prolouge. It’s my first ever time reading a book by this author and I need to check out all of Simone St. James’s books!! I was not expecting to love this book as much as I thought I would to be completely honest. However it gave me all the feels/vibes. Dark, atmospheric, hollow, scary, mystery, ALL OF IT. Plus add Vermont and boarding schools which are my faves and we got a win here.

The characters were so well done too. And the timeline from 1950 to 2014 was on point. I was never bored with either or. Both timelines kept me interested. I didn’t find myself wishing it was more than the other. In the 1950 timeline we follow the boarding school and a group of girls, then in the 2014 timeline we follow a journalist who is still on the hunt of getting answers from her sisters death. I loved every single one of these characters and their stories. There were a few subplots/side stories but they were perfectly crafted into one another. There was also a paranormal element of it.

I had gotten a copy from the library but then I ended up buying the book because I needed this on my shelf. I cried so much while reading this book and lost sleep. The writing, the storyline, the plots were everything. Each plot/storyline had an ending. I was very satisfied that there weren’t any loose ties. Highly recommend!

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40097951Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Celadon Books
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

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I am shocked with how great this book was for 323 pages. I finished this book in two days and the chapters were also very short! From page 1 I was intrigued. I would consider The Silent Patient a psychological thriller as well because it definitely gets your mind thinking and I even found myself rereading the last page because that plot twist WAS WILD!! I wondered if Alicia really did kill her husband and had suspected others, then I kept guessing other twists. I was doubting myself over and over again. However, I was not expecting that ending at all. I was surprised and couldn’t believe it. The characters are unlikeable and not reliable at all which added a great detail to the story. The writing of this book was amazing too. I can’t get into it because of spoilers but oof how the author wrote The Silent Patient was a great touch to the conclusion of this story. I look forward to seeing what else the author releases in the future.

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And that is all! Have you read any of these books or would recommend books in these genres?

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