Book Haul: March Mystery/Thriller Book Buying Madness

Something I hadn’t realised until recently is that this is the first time I’ve ever actually done a book haul post. Pretty crazy, especially considering I’ve been blogging since 2017. It’s probably because I tend to list my hauls as part of my monthly wrap ups. But there’s a first time for everything after all, and now seemed like the time. With my newbie status in mind, I made sure to check out some other blogs for hints on how to format this. From what I could see, most people tend to copy the book covers off Goodreads, list the synopsis and some brief thoughts, and go on their merry way. Smart, efficient, practical. But me, oh no. Past Ashley was like, I should take proper photos of everything!

Never. Again. Let it be said here: past Ashley is stupid.

Moving along, as the title suggests, recently I’ve been really in the mood for mystery/thriller type reads and, as you do when you get fixated on something, I’ve bought a few of them over the last couple of weeks. Okay, more than a few. Here are the new additions to my shelves in all their (annoying printed sticker) glory.

Final Girls – Riley Sager

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Surprisingly, I’ve already finished this one! I was really in the mood for a quick, satisfying thriller one day and after enjoying Sager’s The Last Time I Lied earlier this year, I thought this might be just what I was after. As it turned out, it wasn’t quick or satisfying. The main story took so long to finally get going and I wasn’t very keen on most of the characters. The big reveal was disappointing, too. Another one of those cases of a good premise and poor execution, I’m afraid.


Stillhouse Lake – Rachel Caine

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop. 

This book was on my 2020 TBR and I never got around to buying or reading it. So, when I found it on sale on the kindle store last month for less than $2, I couldn’t resist hitting that ‘buy now’ button. I think it’s the cheapest book I’ve ever bought! I’ve seen quite a lot of positive reviews for Stillhouse Lake and the premise is intriguing, however I know it’s the first installment in a series and there’s a cliffhanger ending, which I’m sure will drive me crazy.


The Nowhere Child – Christian White

Kimberly Leamy is a photography teacher in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-six years earlier, Sammy Went, a two-year old girl vanished from her home in Manson, Kentucky. An American accountant who contacts Kim is convinced she was that child, kidnapped just after her birthday. She cannot believe the woman who raised her, a loving social worker who died of cancer four years ago, crossed international lines to steal a toddler.

On April 3rd, 1990, Jack and Molly Went’s daughter Sammy disappeared from the inside their Kentucky home. Already estranged since the girl’s birth, the couple drifted further apart as time passed. Jack did his best to raise and protect his other daughter and son while Molly found solace in her faith. The Church of the Light Within, a Pentecostal fundamentalist group who handle poisonous snakes as part of their worship, provided that faith. Without Sammy, the Wents eventually fell apart.

Now, with proof that she and Sammy are in fact the same person, Kim travels to America to reunite with a family she never knew she had. And to solve the mystery of her abduction—a mystery that will take her deep into the dark heart of religious fanaticism where she must fight for her life against those determined to save her soul…

I realised looking at my 2020 reading stats that although I live in Australia, I read barely any books by Australian authors or ones set there. It’s kind of sad, so consider this my first step in trying to improve that somewhat. From the blurb this seems like an interesting approach to the kidnapping type story so I’m looking forward to getting around to reading it. The Nowhere Child was shortlisted for quite a few Australian literature awards (what gave it away I wonder, could it be ALL THE PRINTED STICKERS??!!) so fingers crossed it’s a good read.


A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

I’ve been meaning to buy A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder for a while now so the fact that I finally did isn’t much of a surprise. Unlike the other books on this list, it’s a YA Mystery read. I’ve been burnt by other YA books in this genre before so I’m a little wary but I’ve seen so many great reviews that I’m really hoping for a home run with this one, particularly since there’s another two books in the series after it.


In the Woods – Tana French

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox (his partner and closest friend) find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

In one of my recent posts I mentioned wanting to give some of Tana French’s books a try and In the Woods is the first in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. You can read them out of order but I’m a bit of nut when it comes to that sort of thing so the first book it is. She’s a popular author in the genre so I hope I enjoy this because it’ll mean I have plenty of other books from her back catalogue to work my way through.


The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind.

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father—Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney—devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, Charlotte has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself—the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again, and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized, Charlotte is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress–because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever.

Like Tana French, Karin Slaughter is another big crime author with a healthy backlog that I’ve wanted to give a go for some time. Picking where to start with her books was a tough decision but The Good Daughter is one of her highest rated on GR and the blurb for it definitely grabbed me more than for some of her other books. I know that my grandma enjoys her books occasionally so, at the very least, I’ll have someone to chat to about it.


Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…

Let me first say, Agatha Christie is a literary queen and amazing. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t buy this because of how pretty the hardback special edition is. I’m not sure how I missed this but over the last few years Harper Collins has released a couple of Christie’s books with brand new, special foiled covers. They have a chosen quote on the back and nice, patterned end pages. As you might have guessed, I’m now determined to collect them all. I decided to go with Death on the Nile first as I know the new adaptation is releasing soon. While I’ve seen other adaptations before, I’ve never read the book and there’s no time like the present, right?


And that’s that! While I have bought a few other reads recently, they’re from other genres and I’ll probably save those to include as part of my end of month wrap up, as per usual. What books have you recently purchased and are looking forward to reading? Have you read any of these books and if so, what did you think? Or even better, do you have any other good mystery/thriller recommendations for me?

Bookish Fun: Books Which Give Me Summer Vibes

To my immense relief, at the end of this week summer will finally be over in Oz for yet another year. What’s that sound, you ask? Oh, just me screaming with joy. I don’t do well with hot weather, guys. Not at all. I melt and it’s super gross. However, books can always make something sucky more positive and lately I’ve been thinking about what books I most easily associated with summer as a season. So, here are the books that give off definite summer vibes for me:

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

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Romantic contemporaries have strong summer vibes in general but The Unhoneymooners feels especially summery for me. Most of the book takes place in Hawaii as the story involves a best man and maid of honour using their siblings’ honeymoon after everyone at the wedding but them gets food poisoning. There are mai tais, sexy massages, snorkeling, and some steamy moments. The perfect summer holiday read. I mean, just look at that cover! How could you think otherwise?


Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman

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The fact that this book is set over the course of one summer is probably a good indication as to why I’ve listed it here, but it may also be the fact that it’s about love and set at a villa in the gorgeous Italian riviera. People spend lazy afternoons by the pool, at the beach or cycling through the countryside, fresh produce and seafood abound, and the characters sit and drink wine well into the evening discussing things like music, language and poetry. In the midst of all this, the book explores a consuming, obsessive, intimate and bright burning love affair between a teen and a grad student in beautiful and raw prose. Summer vibes all around.


We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

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I’m not a big fan of this novel while others absolutely love it. Yet, that doesn’t seem to prevent it from very clearly coming to mind when I think of summer. The book is set on an island which the wealthy characters of the story return to every year for part of the summer. The story has a mystery element due to the main character, Cady’s, memory gaps from last year’s trip (and we all know that aside from romance, mystery is summer’s favourite genre). There’s also some family drama, heartbreak, much time spent at the beach, and a twist ending. It makes you think about youth, the loss of innocence and forgiveness.


Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson

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Morgan Matson has a lot of books that scream summer, but I’m going with Since You’ve Been Gone. I believe the exact words in my review of this book were, ‘This book is summer in literary form’, and it is. SYBG is about a girl named Emily who is left a list of 13 tasks to complete over the summer by her friend Sloane who has mysteriously disappeared. Over the course of the book, Emily makes new friends, falls for a boy, gets a job at an ice-cream parlour, camps in her backyard, goes skinny dipping, crashes a party, and just generally learns to come out of her shell. The book is fun, light, sweet and a lovely story about female friendship.


Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

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When summer rolls around, we break out the romance and the mystery novels. This is obviously one of the latter. If you’re after a good crime book, you can never go wrong with the queen of crime, Agatha Christie. Death on the Nile gives me those summer feels because, as you can tell from the title, it’s set on a river cruise in Egypt. After a newlywed socialite and heiress is found shot to death, famous detective, Hercule Poirot, hits pause on his holiday to determine who caused her untimely demise. Ruins, relentless sun, plenty of linen suits, jealously, and a lot of death. Sounds like summer to me. Okay, maybe minus the death part.


Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan

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Summer in Singapore. This is another fun and light, but slightly trashy, read. It’s full of drama, crazy socialites, judgmental families, extravagant parties and ridiculously expensive things. If you’re the kind of person who binges soap operas or reality TV during summer (like me) for some mind-numbing entertainment, this is on par with that. Some of the storylines are somewhat ridiculous but as a bit of a satire, it’s what you’d expect. It also has a romance based story, so there’s that.


IT – Stephen King

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This is a weird one, I know. Go with it. My favourite parts of IT are the ones involving The Losers Club as kids and the bulk of this timeline takes place over the course of a summer. Sure, the characters spend most of it terrified and fighting to protect themselves from a creepy, child eating, clown shaped entity from another dimension. However, in between they also have some nice moments in support of the book’s friendship and coming of age themes. As the group solidifies, they spend a lot of their days hanging out with one another – riding around town on bikes, going to the movies, or seeking refuge in an area they call The Barrens. Here they play in the stream, build a dam, and even construct a hidden clubhouse. Feels like a childhood summer to me.


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares

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As far as YA contemporaries go, this one falls into the forgettable 3-star mush of ones I’ve read but it definitely rises to the surface of my brain when I think about summer vibe books. I mean, each book in the series deals with a summer in the life of a group of friends as they go to different places and have varying experiences. In the first book, one travels to Greece, another to Soccer camp, another takes a summer job at home, and the fourth goes to visit her dad. They make new friends, tackle emotional challenges, fall in love, and get out of their comfort zones. At the heart of the book is strong bonds of female friendship and being there for someone when they most need it.


Circe – Madeline Miller

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Circe is a book that gives me strong summer vibes but I guess that’s just Greek mythology. A lot of the story takes place on a mythical island called Aeaea. Beautiful, but also a prison for poor Circe. Over the years, she occupies her time tending her garden, raising animals (both real & illusions), weaving, and developing her witchcraft. People come and go from Aeaea, the decent of which get to experience Circe’s hospitality by enjoying large feasts and sharing stories. Despite the loneliness of Circe’s life at times, this book makes me think of the parts of summer that I actually like – 1) the quiet, picturesque moments of natural beauty, 2) the social gatherings where people chat, eat, drink and enjoy each others’ company as the sun goes down, and 3) that sense of adventure in experiencing something new.


Which books most remind you of summer or give you serious summer vibes?