A Few Books on My Recommended Reading List: July 2023

by | A Writer Reads, Behind the Scenes, Book Reviews

Hello, Book Lovers!


So, I have a confession to make.


Since September 2022, I’ve been putting off writing reviews of books that I’ve loved. But thankfully, I take notes as I read, which makes the retrospective review writing much easier. Because I’m an author, writing reviews can be a little difficult. In light of this difficulty, I only allow myself to review a book that I loved and/or would read again.


As you’ve guessed, below is a list of my recommended reads, along with a short review of my thoughts.


Without further ado, let’s get on with the reviews.


How I Rate Books

Most of the books in this list I have rated four or five stars. On rare occasions, I will rate a book three stars. Usually, this means the book is okay but I probably won’t read any others in the series. And, on one occasion I did three-star a book because the story had so much potential and fell short, but I still went on to read other books in the series. As an author, I don’t feel comfortable panning another author’s book because I realise that if I feel a certain way doesn’t mean other people will have the same experience.


A Quick Disclaimer

All of the books in this haul were purchased with my own money and not gifted to me by publishers, publicists, or agents. And all opinions are my own. The book descriptions read in this haul were sourced from Amazon by my virtual assistant.

Book #1 – 1st to Die by James Patterson


In 1st to Die*, four female friends—homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer, medical examiner Claire Washburn, assistant D.A. Jill Bernhardt, and crime reporter Cindy Thomas come together to form the Women’s Murder Club and discuss theories and ideas in an attempt to solve the murders of a series of newlywed couples. This page-turning thriller was easy to read and was filled with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end, in true Patterson fashion.


If you love murder mysteries featuring a team of sleuths, then I highly recommend this first-in-series novel.


Book #2 – Defending Jacob by William Landay


Firstly, I loathe the Apple TV Plus exclusive cover. Why do they do this?! Hopping off my soapbox now.


For the sake of clarity, I’ve been sitting on this review for quite some time, and in light of recent events, I considered removing the book verses adaption portion of the review. But I believe it’s worth briefly discussing the streaming adaptation in comparison to the book. It would be weird of me to not mention it. As a writer, I do support the recent WGA and SAG strikes. 👍🏻


Naturally, the book was so much better than the streaming series adaptation, and I preferred the book version of Andy Barber, who was a far more believable and flawed character than the Hollywood-ified version in the series; I almost wish they cast Christian Bale, who is known to go the extra mile and transform into the character instead of Evans’s half-hearted attempt. Sorry if you’re an Evans fan, but that tear scene in Carbo at the end was just sad, but not for the reasons the scene required. Sure, Evans looked sexy in those suits, I’ll admit it, but the character required so much more than a pretty face.


But back to the book.


Defending Jacob* was written in the first person from Andy’s point of view, and I believe this was the best choice for a story like this. The novel was filled with flashbacks to childhood, which helped paint an interesting picture of how Jacob developed throughout his childhood and early adolescence. Then there’s the ending; this is what made the book so much better, along with a host of other tiny details, which I won’t spoil for you.


If, for whatever reason, you’re still on the fence about reading this novel, then I highly recommend you give Defending Jacob a try.


Book #3 – Kill Game by Dean Wesley Smith


For some reason, I’ve been enjoying reading murder mysteries featuring older or retired protagonists, and Kill Game* by Dean Wesley Smith was no exception. Kill Game features a group of retired Las Vegas Police Detectives that play a game of poker once a week, where they select a cold case and solve it. While the story is a murder mystery, it has no excessive gore or violence, so it can be enjoyed by all mystery lovers, but please note it is not a cozy mystery. The short novel was fast-paced with a sprinkle of light romance, packed with twists and turns and an ending that I didn’t see coming.


If you love murder mysteries free of gore and excessive violence, then I highly recommend this first-in-series novel.



Book #4 – The Firm by John Grisham


Why did I not read this sooner?! And, yes, I am the only person in the world who has not watched the film adaptation starring Tom Cruise.


The Firm* was pure perfection. It had me turning the pages frantically, trying to figure out what would happen next, even though I had my suspicions about “the firm.”


From the get-go, the small, well-respected law firm Bendini, Lambert and Locke sounded too good to be true—almost cult-like. But that was the point. I loved the simplicity of the world void of gadgets. What I loved even more, was what was left behind in the absence of the tech—mind games. And this long novel was full of them.


So, now to address the elephant in the room. Why the four stars? It was something that happened at the end that I hated. Due to my grand old age, I can no longer remember what it was that evoked such a passionate response, so I’m unable to spoil it for you.


If, like me, you’re a John Grisham version, then I highly recommend you start with this one.



Concluding Thoughts

Have you read any of these books? Or do you have a book that you’d like to recommend? Let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below or under the post over in The Book Nerd Reader Club Facebook Group.


Thank you for listening, and happy reading, everybody.


Amelia xx


* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for your support. 🙂

Want to Read Suspicion?


Click the image below to find the short novel in your favourite online ebook retailer. 

Amelia D. Hay

Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. I write amateur sleuth mystery novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of The Candidate, The Locked Room, The Lawn, Suspicion and Duplicity. I’m also the host of the Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast™️. Right now, I’m writing the first novella in a cozy mystery series, and writing the third book in the James Lalonde Mystery Series. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband, drink tea, and eat pizza.

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