Pick Your Poison 2020 List
1) The Angel Maker by Alex North
Prompt: A book with the word maker in the title
What Is It About?: A young woman named Katie has been living with the guilt surrounding a violent attack that happened to her brother Chris years ago. Now an adult with a child of her own, Katie is shocked by a phone call saying her brother has gone missing. At the same time, Detective Laurence Page is investigating the murder of a professor, and all leads point back to the attack on Chris years ago and the crimes of a serial killer rumoured to be able to see the future.
Why I Chose It: This book was already very high on my priority list, and I knew I was going to fit it in somewhere no matter what. When I saw this prompt on the list, it seemed like the perfect opportunity, since the word “maker” really does not come up often in book titles!
Why 5 Stars?: I absolutely loved both of this author’s previous thrillers! The Whisper Man made it to my favourites of the year list in 2021, and The Shadows very narrowly missed the list (and that was mostly to avoid having two by the same author, not through any fault of the book). I love this author’s writing style, and he strikes the perfect balance of creepiness for me. I’ve been looking forward to reading more by him, and I’m hoping to love this one just as much as the other two! Given that both were easily 5 stars already, I’d be surprised if this one wasn’t.
2) None of This is True by Lisa Jewell
Prompt: A book by an author you always read
What Is It About?: Two women who share a birthday cross paths for the first time when celebrating at the same restaurant, and soon realize that they were also born at the same hospital. Alix is a journalist and podcaster, and decides to record her next story about herself and Josie, and how different their lives are, but she soon realizes that Josie is hiding some dark secrets. When Josie disappears, Alix realizes that letting the other woman into her life may have put herself and her family in danger.
Why I Chose It: Unfortunately, at the time that I’m posting this there is no cover art yet, and the synopsis has only very recently been revealed! I will do my best to come back and update the cover when it is available. In any case, I chose this book because Lisa Jewell has quickly become one of my favourite thriller authors, and her newest books are always high on my list!
Why 5 Stars?: I have read 4 books by this author so far, and every single one of them has been 5 stars. I would probably be a little more hesitant about making this prediction for some of her older titles, especially since she had some from different genres. However, I have a great track record with her most recent thrillers so far! I love her writing and the way she develops her characters, and I’m especially interested in this one because of the journalism/podcast angle. I’m hoping this one will keep my streak of 5 star reads by this author going.
3) Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
Prompt: A book by or about a person you admire
What Is It About?: A woman named Olivia has moved to a new town for a fresh start with her son Asher, and they soon cross paths when a girl named Lily who has also recently moved there. Asher and Lily quickly fall for each other, but when she is found dead, he becomes a suspect. Olivia insists her son is innocent, but as the case unfolds, she starts to realize he may have been hiding more than she realized.
Why I Chose It: I struggled a bit with this prompt because “admire” is not really a word that I use. I decided to go for Jodi Picoult because she is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I guess I could say I admire the way she generally handles very complex topics sensitively. I also admire her writing ability in general, especially how she creates such realistic characters.
Why 5 Stars?: I usually expect Jodi Picoult’s books to be 5 star reads for me, although a few have ended up being 4 stars. I’m especially confident that this one could be 5 stars because it’s her first courtroom drama in quite a while, and those are always my favourites of her books. I think the premise of this one sounds amazing, and even though I’m pretty sure I already know what one of the twists will be, I’m expecting this to be a compelling story with interesting characters, like all of her books have been!
Pick Your Poison 2022 List
1) The Only One Left by Riley Sager
Prompt: A book set within 10 years of your birth
What Is It About?: A home-health aide named Kit arrives at the home of Lenora, a woman who had been accused of murdering her own family when she was only 17. Now in her seventies and mute after a series of strokes, Lenora can only communicate by typing on a typewriter and she offers to tell Kit her story, but Kit soon suspects that she may not be telling the truth.
Why I Chose It: I was absolutely dreading this prompt until I saw that this book would fit! I don’t like prompts that have to do with myself (ie. birthday, hometown, etc.) because I always find them so annoying to tackle. I chose this book as soon as I saw that it was set in the early 1980s!
Why 5 Stars?: I have loved every Riley Sager book that I’ve read so far, although some more than others. I am especially excited for this one because it involves one of my favourite premises. It is along the same lines as The Thirteenth Tale or even The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because of the whole idea of a younger character getting an older person’s life story and in the process uncovering the truth behind a mystery. I’ve really enjoyed Riley Sager’s writing style and how he puts a twist on common thriller/horror tropes, so I’m very interested to see what he does with this one.
2) The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas
Prompt: A book about memory loss
What Is It About?: A pregnant young woman named Saffron moves into a new home with her boyfriend Tom, but in the process of doing renovations, they uncover the remains of two bodies that had been buried 30 years ago. As the police begin to investigate what happened, they ask to speak to the former resident, who happens to be Saffron’s grandmother Rose, a woman now in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s but she seems to remember something about the case.
Why I Chose It: I have been meaning to try Claire Douglas’s books for many years now! I’ve had her book The Sisters on my TBR since 2016, and finally decided it was time to prioritize her. I chose this book for this prompt because of the focus on the grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, which affects her ability to remember what happened so many years ago.
Why 5 Stars?: I’m choosing this one mostly because of the premise, since it is something I have never really seen before aside from in Elizabeth is Missing. I think it’s a very interesting twist on the concept of having to solve an older murder case, and I’m very curious to see how the author manages it. I love the idea that the only person who may know what happened might not be reliable enough to help the investigation, and if this is done well, I can easily see it becoming a favourite.
3) With My Little Eye by Joshilyn Jackson
Prompt: A book about letters
What Is It About?: Actress and single mom Meribel Mills has recently moved across the country with her daughter to get a fresh start. When she starts to receive creepy letters written in fruit-scented markers, she assumes it’s just more of the usual disturbing fanmail she sometimes receives. However, she soon begins to suspect that the writer of these letters has been in her house, and as the letters escalate and police are unwilling to get involved, Meribel is left on her own to figure out who might be after her.
Why I Chose It: This was a relatively last-minute addition to my 5-Star Prediction list because I didn’t necessarily want to be so thriller-heavy, but I just kept coming back to this book because of the creepy premise. I’d actually had a completely different book in mind for this prompt original, but switched once I reread the synopsis and realized this one focused pretty heavily on letters too.
Why 5 Stars?: This one may be a bit of a stretch, but I am really hoping it will be 5 stars! I’ve read and loved one other book by this author so far, and have another one also on my TBR for the year. I think this one could be 5 stars because it sounds so scary! It sounds like it could be the kind of thriller that genuinely creeps me out and those are ones that tend to stick with me after I finish them, which is often the sign of a great book for me. I’m a little on the fence because these kinds of thrillers can be a little hit-or-miss sometimes, but when they work, they work so well!
Pick Your Poison 2023 List
1) The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell
Prompt: A book with a word in the title that rhymes with moon or moony
What Is It About?: Six contestants arrive to the gothic estate of celebrity chef Betsy Martin to film the latest season of Bake Week, a TV baking competition. As soon as the competition begins, things start to go wrong, starting with small sabotages and escalating the the discovery of a body.
Why I Chose It: I came across this book very randomly on Goodreads, and it immediately jumped straight to the top of my list to read this year. It sounds like such a fun premise and I’ve been watching quite a few baking/cooking competition shows lately (Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, etc.) so it caught my attention right away. It took me a surprisingly long time to realize it would fit this prompt even though “spoon” clearly rhymes with “moon”
Why 5 Stars?: I love these kinds of locked door/closed circle mysteries, and I think this one has a bit of a unique spin on it because of the reality TV angle. The only thing that gives me slight pause with this one is that the book is quite short, at only 288 pages, which is a little shorter than I usually prefer my mysteries. However, I am expecting this to be fast-paced and fun to read (even if it does involve murder), and I like that it is offering a fresh backdrop for this kind of storyline.
2) Idol by Louise O’Neill
Prompt: A book you want to dive into
What Is It About?: Social media influencer Samantha Miller writes an essay about her sexual awakening as a teenager with her female best friend, Lisa. When the essay goes viral online, Lisa reaches out for the first time in years to say that she remembers that night very differently.
Why I Chose It: I was absolutely obsessed with this book from the first time I saw the premise because it sounded amazing! I chose it for this prompt because I want to “dive” into it in the sense that it’s a book I badly want to read, but also because I thought it was a fun pun since the cover shows the main character by a pool of water that someone could also dive into.
Why 5 Stars?: I’m really hoping I can find a copy of this book since it is currently unavailable in Canada, as far as I can tell. This book was an immediate 5-Star Prediction because the premise just sounds incredible. It is a new spin on a #MeToo story where both people involved are women, and also involves elements of social media, fame, and cancel culture. I love that this book approaches the topic from an angle that I’ve never seen before, and if it is done well, I can easily see this being amazing.
3) In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
Prompt: A book with a robot, cyborg or AI Character
What Is It About?: A group of robots and the human that they live with set out to rescue their inventor android Giovanni after he is captured by robots from his past life hunting down humans
Why I Chose It: I originally had this book down for the “knock your socks off” prompt in another challenge because of how much I loved this author’s previous two books that I read last year. I ended up switching it to this prompt instead because nearly all of the characters are some kind of robot or cyborg, so it seemed like a logical fit.
Why 5 Stars?: Mostly because of the author alone! The House in the Cerulean Sea was my favourite book that I read in all of 2022, and I loved Under the Whispering Door almost as much. Even though this book is a bit more outside of my comfort zone, I can easily see the author writing it in a way that makes it really work for me, especially if it features his typical focus on found families. I love this author’s writing style and characters in general, and I’m curious to see what he does with such a different setting.
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