CategoryHyped Authors Favorites
The Girl on the Train
I truly adore the book "The Girl on the Train" as it encompasses an untrustworthy storyteller, a homicide case, and various viewpoints, all neatly packaged in an engaging read. While I consumed it as an audiobook during a trip, I cannot precisely evaluate how that affected my perception, but overall, I found it tremendously enjoyable. It is, without a doubt, my favorite Paula's work.
The book that revolves around a reporter who revisits her hometown to probe a series of homicides, while also confronting past family issues, is one that frequently crosses my mind.
The Turn of the Key
I've had a somewhat turbulent history with Ruth Ware's work, but I'm now up to date on her entire catalog, and I must say that "The Turn of the Key" is my preferred book by far. It follows the story of a nanny employed in a smart home, where she encounters strange occurrences, making it difficult to discern if the house is malfunctioning, someone is pranking her, or if there are actual ghosts present. I particularly appreciate the ambiance of this novel, and it is my top choice among Ruth Ware's works. I believe it is a rare instance where she doesn't go overboard with the plot, and it's the perfect length for me. Although the ending did not quite captivate me, I still regard it as a four-star read.
The Family Upstairs
Out of all Lisa Jewell's books, "The Family Upstairs" is my personal favorite, although this opinion may not be very popular. I found the unexpected house inheritance theme to be very intriguing, and the incorporation of a cult plot made it even more fascinating. If you have previously tried Lisa Jewell's writing and found it not to your taste, I suggest giving "The Family Upstairs" a chance, as it may surprise you.
Lock Every Door
My top pick among Riley Sager's books frequently changes, as much as I adored "The Last Time I Lied," "Lock Every Door" is slightly more favored. However, "Lock Every Door" holds the crown as my number one choice currently. I was captivated by the book as it felt very distinct from other books I've read. While some people believe that the plot twists are predictable, I was surprised by every twist and turn. The story revolves around a girl who is struggling financially, but then lands a dream job as an apartment sitter in a luxurious building. However, things quickly take a dark turn when her friend and colleague goes missing.
An Unwanted Guest
"An Unwanted Guest" is my favorite book by Shari Lapena, primarily due to its isolated setting thriller. Additionally, the locked door mystery element drew me in, as we try to identify the murderer among a group of people. Lapina's concepts are compelling, but her writing style doesn't always work for me, as her plots typically involve neighborhood, couple, or family drama. However, "An Unwanted Guest" stood out as a unique experience, with a group of strangers snowed-in at a hotel-like cottage. Overall, it felt like a refreshing change from her other works.
The Girl From Widow Hills
Last year, I read "The Girl from Widow Hills" which turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It tells the story of a woman who sleepwalks and wakes up one night to find herself next to a dead body with blood on her hands, and she's not sure if she's responsible for the murder or if someone set her up.
Big Little Lies
Moving on to Liane Moriarty's "Big Little Lies", it's a popular pick that I had put off for a while because of its reputation, but it turned out to be a great read. Despite its length, I finished it quickly and would recommend it to anyone who hasn't read or watched it yet. It's one of my all-time favorite books and a definite five-star read.
The Whisper Man
I preferred "The Whisper Man" over "The Shadows" from that highly popular author, although I don't want to discuss the book again as it didn't leave a lasting impression on me.
This is the only young adult book on the list, and it's called "Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl. It's about a group of teenagers who are trapped in a time loop as they try to uncover the truth behind their friend's death. It's one of my top young adult thrillers, and it has a sci-fi element to it that makes it even more enjoyable.
I've been talking about them a lot this year, but I can't recommend Penancee and Confessions by Kenai Minato enough. Both of these books follow mothers on quests for revenge, and even though they're not related or part of a series, they're both golden reads to me. Give them a try!
The Night The Lights Went Out
Karen White's "The Night the Lights Went Out" is a beloved book by my mom and me. The story follows a woman who has recently divorced and moved to a farm where she forms a friendship with an elderly landlady who is tough yet sweet. Along the way, the protagonist, Mary Lee, befriends a wealthy woman who gets her involved in a lot of trouble. It's a great mix of juicy drama and compelling storytelling, with interesting historical chapters interspersed throughout. While I considered putting it in the slow burn category, it remains one of my favorites.
Despite having less than 5,000 ratings on Goodreads, I believe this book is severely underrated. It surprised me with its horror and gore, featuring some truly disturbing scenes. The story centers around a serial killer named the Butcher, who had been terrorizing the area. The police had previously caught him, but in present day, it seems like he has returned. Overall, I found the book to be quite good.
This next book is intriguing because it's unclear whether it's underrated due to a lack of ongoing attention or simply because it's a recent release. The book is "Bath House" by PJ Vernon, which I also read for a vlog after Lenny chose it for my weekend reading. I found it to be a thrilling and captivating LGBTQ+ thriller, which is a genre I haven't explored much. It's also an own-voices book, which made it even more interesting. The story centers around a gay couple and the dangerous secrets they keep from each other, which could potentially tear them apart. Overall, I would highly recommend this book, and I think it would make a great Netflix original movie to enjoy while snacking on popcorn from the couch.
I would like to discuss "The Retreat" next. I listened to it as an audiobook while driving to the beach and found that it was everything I was looking for in a thriller. The book features an isolated setting and revolves around writers attending a retreat, specifically following a horror author who becomes interested in the woman running the retreat. We learn that she experienced a terrible tragedy a few years prior when her husband drowned while searching for their missing daughter, who was presumed dead. The author becomes obsessed with either proving the daughter is dead or finding her in his amateur investigation. Overall, I believe this book is underrated.
CategorySlow Burn Thrillers
"Mystic River" is an intense book that I think fans of Stephen King's "It" would enjoy. Although it's a police detective drama, it focuses on a group of childhood friends who are still entangled in a past event in the present day. Additionally, one of their daughters has been murdered, leading to a complex exploration of their past and present friendships, and an attempt to solve the mystery of the murder. The book delves into how the events of the past led to the present, while also investigating the murder of Katie, one of the friends' daughters.
Since We Fell
Dennis Lehane's "Since We Fell" is a book that I rarely talk about or recommend, as it is a very slow burn that takes about 400 pages to get to the exciting part, which lasts only about 10 pages. The story follows a journalist who suffers a public mental breakdown and becomes reclusive, obsessed with conspiracy theories and paranoia. As a reader, you're left wondering if her fears are justified or not. The last 15% of the book is where the action finally picks up. Although it's a favorite of mine, I find it hard to recommend due to its slow pace.
The Other Black Girl
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris is the most recent slow burn I've finished and found enjoyable. Although it may not be widely accepted as a slow burn, I found it challenging to get through due to the storytelling. The action is set in a publishing company where a black woman, Nella, is the only black employee until another black woman is hired. Initially, Nella thinks they will be good friends, but she soon realizes that the newcomer has different plans. Nella starts receiving threatening notes telling her to leave the company. The tension builds up slowly, which is intriguing. However, the story's flow is interrupted by occasional chapters following different women's perspectives throughout history, creating confusion and unease. Eventually, everything comes together in a surprising way, making it worth the slow build-up.
The Good Daughter
I should have included Karen Slaughter in my list of hyped authors, as The Good Daughter is my favorite book by her. Although I haven't read many of her works, I would choose this one over Pretty Girls. However, it is a slow burn and a substantial book, with a lot of legal jargon. The story follows two sisters who were forced into the woods at gunpoint, with one managing to escape and the other left behind. In the present day, the sisters' father, a lawyer, and the "good daughter" become involved in a traumatic incident in the town where one of the sisters still lives. The witness sister needs to convince her estranged sister to help resolve the situation. Overall, The Good Daughter is a fantastic read.
I Let You Go
This book probably contains the most remarkable plot twist I have ever encountered in a book. The story commences with a hit-and-run incident that kills a young boy, and from there we follow the aftermath of this tragedy. I hesitate to say anything more to avoid spoiling the plot. Nonetheless, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book despite it being a slow burn police drama, and the plot twist was so mind-boggling that it still sends shivers down my spine when I think about it.
Nine Perfect Strangers
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty is another novel that I enjoyed, although it is a slow burn like some of the other books I mentioned earlier. This story follows nine strangers at a resort, and as they settle in, they soon realize that their safety might be in question. There are a lot of moments where not much happens, but it all adds to the tension and suspense. The book is being adapted into a Hulu series, so if you're planning to read it before watching the show, now would be a good time to get started, as it may take a while to get through.
The Circle by Dave Eggers is a lengthy tech-based sci-fi thriller that is deceptively long at 500 pages. Despite the slow burn, I love exploring ethical dilemmas and moral questions in dystopian novels, especially when technology is involved. The story follows May, a young woman who starts working for The Circle, a tech company with plans to create a single online presence or profile that links everyone's accounts. This online presence is uniquely individual, which is challenging to describe, but it's worth reading despite the low Goodreads ratings.
CategoryFast Paced Thrillers
When No One is Watching
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole is a thrilling read that tackles larger themes such as gentrification in black neighborhoods and nuanced paranoia. Despite this, the book felt fast-paced to me. The story is set in a neighborhood where people are mysteriously disappearing, and the protagonist is not convinced that the given explanations are correct. Overall, it's an enjoyable read.
"The One" by John Mars, is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorites. It was an immensely enjoyable read for me, owing to its fast-paced plot. The book comprises brief, snappy chapters that are no more than four to five pages long, which undoubtedly contributes to its gripping nature. The narrative follows the viewpoints of five different characters, and it is a tech thriller centered on a dating system that has gone awry. In this system, you can be matched with your soul mate through a genetic match via DNA swabbing. However, as expected, things take a turn for the worse, and the book chronicles the fallout. Overall, it was a thrilling read that I highly recommend.
Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite writers, and his book, Fight Club, is a thought-provoking novel that can be challenging to explain. It is centered around a group of men who are tired of their mundane lives and form a fight club to reclaim control. The book offers commentary on societal norms and asks the question of who the real villains are. The chapters are short and the writing style immerses the reader in the narrator's mind, making it a quick and engaging read. Additionally, Fight Club features one of the most shocking twists in literature.
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel is almost like a novella or a short story, spanning only 100 pages. The story follows a man who is attempting to take the British citizenship test, which turns out to be more of an ethics test than he initially anticipated. He is seeking citizenship for himself and his family, but once he begins the test, he realizes that it is not what he thought it would be. Despite its brevity, the story is fast-paced and thought-provoking, and the ethical and moral questions that the man faces and must reconcile with continue to linger in the reader's mind long after the book is finished.
My Sister, The Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwaite's "My Sister, the Serial Killer" is a book that I first read when I began my YouTube channel, and it did not disappoint. While the book is not for everyone, as it is only 200 pages with large print and wide margins, I found it to be refreshingly fast-paced. The story centers on two sisters, one of whom has a habit of killing her boyfriends, while the other tries to help her cover it up. Although some readers have criticized the book for not delving deeper into the characters and their relationship, I found the storyline to be gripping and highly recommend it.
If you're looking for a creepy audiobook, I highly recommend "You" by Caroline Kepnes. The audiobook version is particularly effective because it feels like the main character, Joe Goldberg, is whispering in your ear. Although Joe is a despicable character with no redeeming qualities, I find him to be a fascinating literary creation. The book follows Joe as he becomes obsessed with people and murders those in their lives. Some may consider Joe an anti-hero, but others may argue that he is simply a horrible human being. I personally enjoyed this book even after watching the Netflix adaptation, which was also excellent. However, I recognize that "You" may not be for everyone.
In "No Exit" by Taylor Adams, a girl driving in the snow tries to get home but her windshield wiper breaks. She pulls over at a rest area and meets a group of strangers. To her horror, she finds a kidnapped girl in a car in the parking lot and is unable to leave due to the dangerous person who may be among them. Despite mentioning it multiple times before, this will be my last recommendation for a while. Please consider reading it if you haven't already, it's an excellent book.
They Never Learn
"They Never Learn" by Lane Fargo tells the story of a female college professor who becomes a vigilante murderer, targeting men on the campus who have wronged women. Alternating with her perspective is that of a freshman student trying to adjust to college life with her roommate. As the two perspectives intersect, the story becomes more complex and captivating. This book is a must-read and quite brilliant.
The Kind Worth Killing
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson is another favorite of mine. I can't decide if it's because it's super fast-paced or because I read it in a day. The story follows two people who meet at an airport. The man reveals that he wants to kill his wife, and the woman offers to help him. It's unclear if she's serious, and the book takes several wild turns from there. The author tells the story in different parts, and each part changes narrators. The way it's done is creative, and the ending is mind-blowing. The last page, last sentence flipped everything on its head. This book is excellent!
"Night Film" by Marisha Pessl is a remarkable book. The story follows a journalist who is determined to uncover the secrets of the enigmatic filmmaker Cordova and the mysterious rumors surrounding his family and films. The book is quite lengthy, but it incorporates mixed media elements that make it an engrossing read. The novel's psychological depth and immersive world-building make it an enjoyable experience from start to finish.
I won't delve too deep into Shutter Island, but it's a psychological thriller that takes place on an island hosting a hospital for the criminally insane. The story follows two U.S Marshals who are summoned to investigate when one of the patients escapes.
The Silent Patient
The next book I want to talk about is "The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides, which I absolutely adore. It has an incredible plot twist that caught me completely off guard. The story revolves around a man who is a criminal psychologist or psychoanalyst, and he is working with a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband. As he tries to make progress with her, we also learn about his personal life outside of work, as well as her life leading up to the alleged murder. While this book is divisive, I highly recommend it over Michaelides' other work, "The Maidens."
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
"I'm Thinking of Ending Things" is a deeply psychological book that follows two newly dating individuals on their way to meet the boy's parents. As they journey through the snow, their surroundings begin to unravel, leaving the reader unsure of what's real until the very end. While the book was exceptional, the recent Netflix adaptation left something to be desired, with certain scenes not serving the larger theme of the story. It's recommended to read the book before watching the movie.
Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a captivating novel that can be considered a psychological thriller due to its intense atmosphere and intriguing mystery. It is centered around a group of friends who attend a boarding school and are bound by a deep-seated fear of the outside world. As graduation approaches, they begin to confront the reality of their predetermined futures and the uncertain fate that awaits them. Though the story may not fit the traditional mold of a thriller, the tension and sadness that permeate the pages make for a compelling and thought-provoking read that will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page.
The Stranger Diaries
Ellie Griffiths' "The Stranger Diaries" is a mystery book that I highly recommend. Set in a college, it falls under the category of dark academia with a teacher trying to solve a murder case. The story is wholesome and features a daughter and a dog. Although I constantly recommend this book, I feel like not many people are taking me up on it. I suggest reading it in October, as it creates a perfect fall reading experience. I love this book and wish I could read it again for the first time.
Finlay Donovan Is Killing It
I've been talking about "Finley Donovan Is Killing It" a lot lately, so let me touch on it briefly. It follows the story of a woman who is mistaken for a hitman. She's an author, but someone hires her to murder their spouse, not hers. I heard Gabby from Gabby Reads describe it as having a similar vibe to "Dead to Me," a show on Netflix that I've been enjoying with my mom. This book also has a female friendship that reminds me of the one in the show. It's a fun read, and I look forward to reading more from the series.
Who Is Maud Dixon?
"Who is Maud Dixon" is a book that I absolutely love and consider it as an all-time favorite with a five-star rating. However, it may not be the most thrilling book all the time, even though it falls under the mystery genre. The story revolves around the enigmatic Maud Dixon, an author whose identity remains a mystery despite having written a highly acclaimed book. The plot follows an extremely unappealing character who becomes Maud Dixon's assistant and the events that unfold thereafter. Overall, the book is excellent and worth reading.
Where The Crawdads Sings
I must acknowledge "Where the Crawdads Sing" as a mystery book. Though it primarily centers on Kaya Clark, the "marsh girl," who grew up alone and was isolated by the town, there is also a murder mystery happening in the present timeline. Despite its popularity, I believe this book deserves recognition in the mystery/thriller genre, and it remains one of the best books I have ever read.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
I have a favorite book that I rarely discuss - Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. While it's not a thriller, it's an excellent mystery that delves into the relationship between a mother and daughter. The story centers around a mother who has disappeared, and her daughter's relentless pursuit to find her.
The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a heartbreakingly beautiful story that I don't often mention. While not exactly a thriller, it does have a mystery element as it begins with the murder of a young girl. We follow her ghost, who watches over her family as they try to cope with their loss. The story becomes a mystery as we wonder how it will all end and if the family will ever find closure.
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk is a book that appears to be an action-packed thriller, but it's more of a mystery at its core. Palahniuk has a distinct and unusual writing style, which is especially apparent in this book. The story follows a beauty queen who suffers a terrible disfigurement in an accident and joins forces with a peculiar group of people to seek revenge. Their journey takes many twists and turns, and while these diversions are entertaining, they eventually tie back into the main narrative in a satisfying way.
CategoryReally Good Thrillers
Stillhouse Lake Series
The Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine is a captivating read. The first book, Stillhouse Lake, follows a family whose patriarch is discovered to be a serial killer. Despite the wife's ignorance, she and her children face vicious online harassment and must constantly relocate to evade danger. While the second book, Killman Creek, is my personal favorite, Wolfhunter River is also a solid addition to the series. Overall, the series is a must-read for mystery lovers.
In A Dark, Dark Wood
Ruth Ware's "In a Dark, Dark Wood" is the only other book of hers, besides "The Turn of the Key", that I would confidently recommend based on my personal reading preferences. Out of all the books I've read by her, this one stands out as the most enjoyable. The story revolves around a party gone awry in a cabin situated in a remote, snow-covered woods with a group of women and a man
The Woman in the Window
It's difficult for me to recommend "The Woman in the Window" by AJ Finn due to allegations that he is a con artist and has resorted to publishing under a new name. While the topic of separating art from artists is open for discussion, this remains one of my all-time favorite thrillers. It was my preferred book of 2019, although I don't mention it often as I am hesitant to support AJ. Nonetheless, if you already possess a copy or find it at your library and are seeking an enjoyable thriller, I highly recommend it. The plot follows an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a murder across the street. However, her mental health condition, medication, and alcohol consumption make her an unreliable witness. The police and detectives are unsure if they can believe her. In my opinion, the book far surpasses the movie, which I did not enjoy.
Local Woman Missing
Although I couldn't find a suitable category for it, I still wanted to feature it as it is not the fastest-paced book I've read, but it is far from a slow burn. It doesn't precisely fit into the psychological thriller genre either; instead, it falls under the category of "really good" books. The story centers around a series of disappearances of women in a small town, and it takes an unexpected turn when a young girl who was kidnapped returns home, inspiring the community to investigate the disappearances further. It's an action-packed and straightforward book that culminates in a fantastic twist at the end.
I don't own a physical copy of "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris as I read it on my Kindle. However, I do own "Silence of the Lambs," which is technically the second book in the series, but it can be read as a standalone. The only two books that need to be read in order, in my opinion, are "Silence of the Lambs" and "Hannibal." "Red Dragon" is the first book in the series and follows detective Will Graham, who put away the cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lecter. In this book, Graham is trying to catch the "Tooth Fairy," another serial killer, and recruits Lecter's help in solving the case. "Silence of the Lambs" features FBI cadet Clarice Starling, and Graham may make an appearance, although I cannot recall. I enjoyed "Red Dragon" more than "Silence of the Lambs" as it is action-packed and told from the detective's point of view. Although I loved the book, I think the movie adaptation of "Silence of the Lambs" was better. I don't usually talk about book series I read in high school, but "Red Dragon" is a great book that I recommend.