Friday Reads Recap: Speed Reads

I didn’t expect to get much reading done after the baby was born. But it turns out that my kindle and late night feedings go together hand in hand. I’m whizzing through books at light speed.

I’ve been lucky enough to go through a bunch of highly entertaining fast reads that are perfect to keep me interested even when I’m bleary-eyed. So if you’re enduring your own late nights or if you’re just looking for an exciting book to cruise through on a plane or over the weekend I’ve got a couple of good choices for you.

Image from Goodreads

The Expats by Chris Pavone is a spy novel, which isn’t exactly my thing but the book came highly recommended so I had to take a look. Kate Moore has a husband, Dexter, and two little boys who don’t know that she works for the CIA. When Kate’s husband gets a lucrative job in Luxembourg, Kate decides it’s time to leave the Agency and put her secrets behind her.

Once they arrive in Europe, Kate finds that her new life is going to take a lot of adjusting. Not only is she now an American among foreigners, she’s a stay-at-home mom taking her kids to school and doing laundry. It’s probably not surprising that Kate starts to see intrigue everywhere she looks.

Her husband’s new job, which he tells her is in IT security for banks, has him working long hours and leaving town frequently and suddenly. He seems withdrawn and secretive. Then there are their new friends, Julia and Bill, who are just a little too good to be true.

Kate uses her skills to start her own investigation into her husband and friends, while she also ponders her past as a field agent and her future as a mother.

With plenty of action and intrigue, The Expats is a book you’ll stay awake longer at night to read just a few more chapters. Still, that’s usually not enough for me to go hook, line and sinker for a book. Plot is great and important, but character makes a story. In that sense, The Expats is above the pack. Kate’s conundrum on her past as a spy and her present as a mother is full of the kind of questions moms ask themselves every day. There’s a lot to consider here on family and balance and ambition along with the spy shenanigans.

I coasted right through this one in a couple of days and loved every second of it. Even if you’re not a big spy novel person, I bet you’d like this one.

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Image from Goodreads

When you’re up much of the night with a baby who won’t sleep you can get through a book in one day without much trouble. And that’s what happened with me and Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson. In terms of pacing and speed I read this book faster than I’ve read anything since I devoured Room in one afternoon last year.

The concept is similar to the movie Memento. Christine wakes up every morning with no memory of the last 20 years of her life. Every day her husband must remind her who she is and of their life together. It’s a static and unchanging existence until Christine begins meeting with a doctor who encourages her to keep a journal.

Through her journal, Christine begins to build her own past day by day. And as she keeps track of her experiences she starts to find that there are inconsistencies in what her husband tells her about herself and her life. Her husband, Ben, is kind and devoted. There seems to be no reason that he would lie to her after staying with her for so long despite her amnesia.

Each day she tries to dig deeper into her own identity, able to trust only herself and the record she keeps of each day.

The book moves at a quick clip and it uses the journal concept very well. When it was time for me to take my turn napping while Eric took the baby I was a little sad to put down my book for a while. Sometimes you really want a book you can breeze through and enjoy, and this one fit the bill for me. A good, satisfying thriller.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Random House for giving me access to an advanced e-copy of The Expats. It will be released on March 6. Before I Go to Sleep is published by Harper and  available in bookstores everywhere.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The ExPats  was a 2013 book I really enjoyed and have recommended to a bunch of people. It had a tight plot and a great mix of the mundane of motherhood with the intrigue of the intelligence world. Author Chris Pavone is back this year with The Accident, and this time the intrigue takes place mostly in the world of book publishing. Now publishing is a weird mix of oddly old school and sleepy with some serious wheeling and dealing, and it’s not the first place I would’ve thought to set a fast-paced outrun-the-assassin book, but it works really well. A great thriller with a strong and unique woman at its center, it gets a thumbs up from me. […]

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