Category Archives: Mystery/Thriller

Broken Things – Lauren Oliver

Broken Things – Lauren OliverTitle: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
Publishing Info: October 2, 2018 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 6, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Annabel (Delirium #0.5), Requiem (Delirium #3), Before I Fall, Vanishing Girls, Panic

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.

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BROKEN THINGS was a very interesting read! I always appreciate Lauren Oliver’s storytelling style and this book certainly followed suit. There were a number of pieces that fit into Summer’s murder and as the book unfolded, things fell out of suspicion and others fell into place. I actually had no idea who Summer’s actual murder was until it was revealed but looking back, there were still small clues that I could have picked up on but didn’t. It was woven in well throughout the book and I was surprised, even though it didn’t quite feel right somehow.

One thing I really loved what the depth of each character. The main characters and narrators, Mia and Brynn (the girls who were blamed for Summer’s death), have both had life-changing experiences from their best friend’s murder, of course, and not just because they were blamed for it. They had other things going on with their families and friends and I really liked how Lauren Oliver really included all of those burdens & secrets that a person carries with them on a daily basis, not just the events after this tragedy and subsequent shunning. There was so much more that each character, including the supporting characters, was going through. They were mentioned as broken people and misfits, but really, I think everyone has a little bit of something that they’re carrying with them and I didn’t really love that label. I think a lot of people may feel like they’re “broken” but what I did love was that all of these characters found solace in each other, which is really what friendship is all about. When you’re a kid, everything feels so personal and I think as these characters grew up, much like I’ve experienced growing up, you find out that everyone has something they’ve gone through and you start listening to other people’s experiences. Each person got to understand things outside of their own world in different ways and that was a neat thing to witness in this book.

The other really interesting concept here was the addition of Lovelorn, a fantastical place in the girls’ favorite book that they used to imagine was real. There was a blurry line whether the place was real or not due to the experiences that they had, and even though the world is fictional, in a way it became real with the girls’ fan-fiction novel and how they tried to bring it to life through their actions. I liked how the line was constantly blurred throughout the book to get readers to feel like it could be real but there are still facts and truth that show what the real story is.

BROKEN THINGS definitely held my attention and I read over 200 pages in just a few hours. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down and the characters were well-rounded, and I really enjoyed it from start to finish.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Muddy boundaries. I did enjoy how there was a blurred line between real and imaginary/fantasy! I liked how this was still a mystery but there were moments when you weren’t quite sure what was real.
Left Me Wanting More: Clues. I think I wanted just a few more clues to point to the killer. I liked that I had no idea who it was but it also made it less believable once it was revealed.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This is very typical of Lauren Oliver’s writing style and it was really enjoyable! I think if you like her books, this one will be a hit.

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BOOKS LIKE BROKEN THINGS

              

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 18, 2017 by Hachette, Little Brown, Jimmy Patterson
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: June 4 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

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I’ve enjoyed all of the Stalking Jack the Ripper novels and ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was no exception! It didn’t quite bowl me over the way the previous novels have but I always love a good murder mystery and the chemistry between Audrey Rose and Thomas is stellar, as always!

Let’s start with the awesome things. Audrey Rose always feels like such a real character. She’s strong, quick-witted, and she’s still human and makes typical mistakes that we’ve all mad. Sometimes it’s frustrating (and some things in the book did frustrate me more than I would have liked), but that’s all very true character-building. Thomas really comes more and more alive in each novel and I really felt like this was his best book yet. Where I’m normally drawn to Audrey Rose, Thomas really stole the show here and I was itching for more scenes with him front and center while Audrey Rose was off having carnival adventures! There was something that caused their chemistry to be shaken up here, which honestly, I didn’t love, but I did love how much more it connected me to Thomas and his emotions.

I noticed here were moments where I was having a hard time getting into the setting and putting myself in that place and I’m not sure why. It’s happened before (mostly in HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA) and I’m wondering if it’s maybe the historical element throwing me off since I don’t read or enjoy a lot of historical fiction. Usually it’s not an issue when a mystery or some sort of supernatural element but for some reason I just haven’t been as attached to settings like Bran Castle and here, the cruise ship. I had moments where I’d be into it and then moments where I just didn’t feel like things were clicking but I still can’t quite pinpoint why, even looking back. I think the settings are just so different from book to book that maybe I’m just missing the London/Whitechapel/original setting.

I do basically live for Audrey Rose and Thomas though. I have so much love for the chemistry between those two and I was saddened to see how a few things were handled here because you know I hate shaking up couples, depending on how it’s handled. I don’t want to say a lot more so I don’t spoil anything but I just really wanted more time with them together and the murder investigation be the only thing that really shook things up. I’m so curious to see how the final copy differs from the ARC! The ending was changed and now I need to know so I’ll have to decide whether I want to go reread the whole thing or peek at the last section! addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Historical murder mysteries. The historical aspect of a murder mystery really makes things interesting! I love the lack of technology and how much the characters have to rely on investigative skills. Left Me Wanting More: Couple time. I was really saddened to witness a few of Audrey Rose’s choices. I guess I can understand how a mysterious stranger is alluring but she also doesn’t seem like she should be manipulated so easily, especially at the expense of Thomas.

Addiction Rating Read it!

I do enjoy this series so much and I’m a big fan! This wasn’t my favorite book of the series but was still very enjoyable. I’m hoping with this obstacle out of the way, we get back to some major swoons again!

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BOOKS LIKE ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI

              

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer – Katie Alender

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer – Katie AlenderTitle: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
Publishing Info: September 24, 2013 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 26, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

bookreview1** This review will contain spoilers **

This book was actually more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The concept was a bit silly (murderous ghost of Marie Antionette) so I thought the book was going to be a lot more juvenile, but it actually read okay for me, which is a good sign considering I’ve been having issues with a lot of YA lately and feeling like it’s been reading really young. The story was easy to follow and surprisingly didn’t go too over the top. The ending as far as romance goes, I enjoyed. The ending as far as the mystery went, a little cheesy and predictable but also wrapped up well.

Throughout most of the book, despite the fact that people were legit seeing ghosts, I was still expecting the Marie Antionette character to be a real person and not a spirit. Turns out, she was just a ghost, so that was a tad cheesy but hey, the book did fully advertise that. I was just thinking we’d have a Scooby Doo moment where the fantastical bad guy turned out to be a normal human with malicious intentions but alas, it was really a ghost.

There wasn’t anything that really turned me off to knock down ratings and I’m actually surprised with my level of enjoyment but it’s still not super outstanding for me so my feelings lie somewhere in the middle of the rating spectrum. There were still a lot of typical YA things with family and relationships but it also broke out of the mold enough that it was enjoyable enough.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books I wouldn’t think I would enjoy. I picked this one up to go through the older books on my TBR and older ARCs and I really wasn’t expecting it enjoy it at all. I’m glad it went well enough!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. I did find the ghost concept cheesy and kept hoping it would sweep over to the serious side.

Addiction Rating
Think about it

It was an okay read for me but I still wouldn’t really recommend it. It was fine but I think there are plenty of other things on your TBR that might be more worthwhile.

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BOOKS LIKE MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER

              

Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl

Neverworld Wake – Marisha PesslTitle: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Publishing Info: June 5, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Magical Realism
Date Completed: May 14, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her six best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim—their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend—changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world—hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers... and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

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I was not quite sure what to expect from NEVERWORLD WAKE and from the cover and synopsis, I was picturing a much more atmospheric read with a spooky, twisty vibe. There were definitely twists in this book but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if it had been a straight mystery/thriller or straight magical realism with no mystery. I think magical realism is probably the most accurate way to describe what the Neverworld Wake is in this book… it’s a tricky sort of in between life and death but the way that it plays out, it had that feel for me.

I think it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting or hoping for. It was an interesting story with a complex ending but it didn’t stir up any feelings. I was hoping to feel suspense, thrills, and shock but it ended up being an evenly paced story that was solid but didn’t really stand out in many ways. It was really lacking that atmosphere that I was expecting, in part from the spooky vibes from the cover. Instead the tone was much younger than I expected and had more of a quirky feel to it but not in the way that I had hoped.

The actual concept of the Neverworld Wake and its set-up seemed a tiiiiny bit cheesy for me and I would have loved for the characters to discover some things themselves versus an all-knowing authority figure who knows the rules. It didn’t quite fit for me and ended up feeling sort of like a Hot Tub Time Machine scenario where someone sends everyone back to discover their wrong-doings. I think it would have been much better to have everyone sort of take their own journey rather that have some inexplicable man show up to guide them along and be generally ominous.

I did enjoy the mystery for the most part and I found it interesting. There were a few things I wasn’t expecting but it didn’t really surprise me, just that it turned out differently than I would have pictured. I was really hoping for quite a different direction here but the book was still enjoyable in its own way.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism, I think? I think we’d call this magical realism. There was a sort of real, magical feel to it but I’m not sure if that would be more magical realism or paranormal. I think the magical element fits better.
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This book really was interesting and twisty! If a few things had been set up or edited different, I think this would have had much better flow and felt a little more grounded.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERWORLD WAKE

              

Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson

Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer DonaldsonTitle: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson
Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 11, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

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LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME was definitely an interesting book but my first impression was actually that I think it could have benefitted from more editing. I’m no expert in the editing/publishing process, is something I feel a lot nowadays. I think some of the structure and even a whole plot point could have been improved upon a little bit and I really think that’s more editing.

Let’s think of non-spoilery things to talk about first… I did find the direction of this book really interesting! There was a nice twist and that light bulb moment when I finally realized exactly where this book was heading and what these two stories had in common was a very fun moment and I had flails and a freak out! That was really nicely planned and it was fun not to pick up on it right away. (Ah, the perks of multi-tasking — my brain doesn’t try to guess twists and plots when it’s distracted by other things!)

What I did find irksome was the sort of red herring of the book. There are two major things that happen to change the lives of Elyse and Gabe and the second thing seemed like it was more there as a distraction than something that was actually a part of the story. It just didn’t quite seem like it fit in, or thinking about it a different way, it felt like a separate story that didn’t quite merge with the main point. (Confusing? It’s hard not to spoil!)

I also wish that things had started picking up juuuust a little sooner. I knew it would be a dark, twisty book and I didn’t lose interest but I did find myself looking for those jaw-dropping moments, waiting for them to happen. Sure, they don’t need to be in every chapter but it just felt like it took a touch too long for a couple things to unravel.

This was a really interesting book and it looks like my other Goodreads friends have really enjoyed it so far! That red herring feeling did stick with me a lot so that’s why I didn’t enjoy it AS much but I am absolutely interested in other books from Jennifer Donaldson and I’d be so interested to see what else she comes up with!!

If you really want to know, here are the spoilers, so look away if you don’t want to get spoiled on some main plot points and twists! My light bulb moment was figuring out how Gabe’s story and how Elyse’s story are actually connected. I actually won’t even full on spoil this one if you’re looking out of curiosity and not because you’ve already read it. That single point in time when I figured it out was REALLY FUN (and actually terrifying).

I really didn’t like Sasha as the red herring of the book. I didn’t feel like Sasha’s crazy and possessive nature really fit the book. We already had Elyse’s story about her running off with her teacher (side note: ICK) and his possessive craziness and Sasha just felt off and like her form of crazy was in there as a red herring. All of these strange things happen to Gabe and the reader questions if it actually is Sasha like he predicts or if it’s Catherine (sorry, I listened to the audiobook so I don’t know how that’s spelled) or her over protective father. Looking for the twist, I tried to move away from Sasha because that was too obvious and aside from jealousy, there’s no reason for her to go full on nutso, but nope, that’s it. She’s just insanely jealous. I felt like the book didn’t do her story enough justice to really include it in the plot except to throw readers off the other things that were going on and put off making the CONNECTION. These crazy things keep popping up so you follow those. If that whoooole thing was taken out, I think the book could have been even better, focusing more on Gabe and Catherine and Elyse and her teacher. Many things could have been done on Gabe’s side with Sasha totally removed from the scene and the book could have been even better for it, hence the editing comment. It felt underdeveloped and I don’t think it was necessary.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Thrillers with twists that connect. I love when books can come full circle and connect two seemingly separate stories. (This isn’t a spoiler — obviously these two stories have to connect somehow otherwise it wouldn’t be the same book).
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This book really was interesting and twisty! If a few things had been set up or edited different, I think this would have had much better flow and felt a little more grounded.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME

              

In Her Skin – Kim Savage

In Her Skin – Kim SavageTitle: In Her Skin by Kim Savage
Publishing Info: March 27, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 25, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

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This book was so binge-worthy and I didn’t want to put it down! The writing was interesting and kept the story moving with a few nice twists along the way! Once the book started getting into the meat of the plot, my mind started to turn towards some theories (which DUDE turned out to be correct and then some) and things got quite dark.

I really liked the fluidity of a lot of things, from relationships to plot to demeanor. There was room for so many things to develop and grow and change. I loved the interesting turns and it was so interesting to see what the book turned out to be underneath it all. Kim Savage gave readers a lot to play with and think about along the way and I love it when I’m provided with some clues to allow theories to develop.

I always have a hard time with the ending of darker concepts because I can never tell what I actually want to happen. Sometimes I feel satisfied with a happy conclusion and other times I feel happy with a shocking twist where everything falls apart. I obviously won’t say what happens in the end so as not to spoil, except that I found it to be satisfying and yet I still was looking for something more.

Overall, this was a really interesting and quick read for me! I didn’t want to put it down and I was totally sucked in. I had actually pictured the book going a bit differently with the way that the synopsis was arranged but I wasn’t disappointed with how it turned out! Even that little difference was a point of a twist for me so that was kind of neat!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark concepts. Sometimes I Just need something a little dark and this book was really interesting with that ultimate darkness I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Surprises in the end. I loved the twists in this book and yet I was still looking for something juuuust a bit more in the end.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book was so easy to fly through because I didn’t want to put it down! It was interesting and engaging all the way through!

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BOOKS LIKE IN HER SKIN

          

These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerTitle: These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publishing Info: December 10, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: February 28, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

bookreview1

This one didn’t really do it for me. I wonder if it’s in part because of the audiobook narrators? Lilac’s narrator was not very good — over dramatic and she couldn’t just SAY anything. It was always a whine or an exclamation or drawn out. But I also know that my favorite narrators can voice things that I don’t like and I still wouldn’t be hooked.

I sort of worked my way backwards here, obviously being a huge fan of the Illuminae Files and then reading UNEARTHED this year so I was like well, I better go back and read THESE BROKEN STARS to read more of Amie’s works. I knew it had received a lot of five star reviews and I can’t remember who I had talked to who was frustrated with it but I remember our conversation and didn’t think I was going to read it anyway. I’m not upset that I read it but it also wasn’t really something of interest for me.

Obviously this came first but it did feel like ILLUMINAE meets UNEARTHED (which makes sense since Amie is the author of all of those) but this book just didn’t have that hook that really grabbed me. I really wanted to love it but I didn’t really feel connected to it at any point in time. I liked Tarver. I did not like Lilac, but she was okay. The romance was a little too overdone and I just don’t feel like a whole lot happened throughout the book. I wanted so much more exploring and less just traveling. There was so much to explore in a BRAND NEW WORLD/PLANET and yet there wasn’t that much revealed about it except for the fact that Lilac and Tarver appeared to be alone there.

It sort of had a Lost vibe at the end which…. was kind of eyeroll-inducing. I guess I do want to see what else happens here and I know that this series is sort of a collection of companions, so I’m excited to see what the next group of characters have in store for readers and how it connects to the Lilac and Tarver story.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Foreign planets. It was very cool to see more of space, planets we don’t even know, and all of that cool sci-fi stuff that I love exploring, even if it is fictional!
Left Me Wanting More: Of a little of everything. I didn’t love the romance or the plot or the pacing BUT I think this will get better as the series goes on. I hope?

Addiction Rating
Try it

I didn’t LOVE it but it was definitely interesting! I’m actually more interested to see where the rest of the series goes and how everything connects!

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BOOKS LIKE THESE BROKEN STARS

          

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) – Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) – Maureen JohnsonTitle: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson
Publishing Info: January 16, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult
Date Completed: February 19, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

bookreview1

In my defense, I didn’t realize this was a series halfway through, so it did affect my reading experience BUT knowing that and getting to the ending was still preeeeetty disappointing. I love mysteries and read a lot of them and there are essentially two ways to end a book in a mystery series (to break it down to the bare bones): extend the mystery over the whole series OR have each book be one mystery that’s resolved in each novel. Obviously there are finer points than that, but those are essentially the two strategies here. TRULY DEVIOUS does not resolve in the first book, which is fine, but I was pretty disappointed at the lack of any closure whatsoever. We get some clues and Stevie comes to some conclusions but there’s really not even one answer to what happened in the present day or in the past. I was hoping for just one hint one way or another to bring some kind of closure to the book but still leading into the rest of the series and I really didn’t feel that at all.

I felt like the characters were more cohesive and realistic towards the end of the book — the beginning was kind of garbled with some of the students blending together but the personalities really started to shine towards the end. They were also all a little too quirky for my tastes, but you know how I get when a whole cast is quirky and not just a few select characters. I feel like it ruins the reality of that specialness and ends up just making everyone seem silly and unrealistic, though I guess this really was the school for the unique.

I also felt like there could have been a bit more history given in the flashbacks to the 1930s, just maybe some more for us to see how these two mysteries are connected, because we’re coming to that point even if we haven’t gotten there yet. I think it would have really tied the book together more for me and made me feel like we were going somewhere with the flashbacks. They’re definitely connected and that’s very obvious but I just wanted more to really tie them together.

I think the lack of any resolution just really let me down and left me feeling disappointed so I can’t say that I had fond feelings for the book, but I really do look forward to continuing the series knowing what I learned and what I’m in for!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique mysteries. It was interesting to see something from the past connected to something in the present like this!
Left Me Wanting More: Answers. I didn’t realize this was a series going into it but I still would have liked something to at least wrap up this book in some way.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I didn’t LOVE it but it was definitely interesting! I’m curious about the next book but I think this might be a more binge series since the first book didn’t really close anything.

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BOOKS LIKE TRULY DEVIOUS

          

Review in a Tweet | The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is more Janet Evanovich! I was in the mood for quick, fun reads and having caught up on all of my Evanovich books, I started on the Fox & O’Hare series starting with THE HEIST!

I actually really loved it, with a sort of Ocean’s 11 feel, filling that wonderful heist/con feeling that I enjoy so much in books and movies!

 

I just really, really enjoyed the feel of this book so much. It had five-star feels for me but the plot and characters didn’t reeeeally make it a five-star book. I enjoyed it from start to finish, loved the crew, loved the banter, and have so much fun reading this series! I actually did write a full review on Goodreads too, so if you want to read that, head on over!

Mini-Review: Don’t You Cry – Mary Kubica

Mini-Review: Don’t You Cry – Mary KubicaTitle: Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: May 17, 2016 by Harlequin
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 31, 2017
Related Posts: The Good Girl, Pretty Baby

In downtown Chicago, Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her roommate Quinn Collins to question how well she really knew her friend. Meanwhile, in a small town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more sinister.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us.

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I’ve recently started in on Mary Kubica’s books in the last year or two and they’ve all been interesting thrillers. DON’T YOU CRY was the next book of hers on my list and I started it around Halloween to keep up with my spooky reading vibes!

DON’T YOU CRY was probably my least favorite Kubica book so far. The ending ended up being interesting but there was far less suspense, action, and intrigue than her previous books, in my opinion. I was kind of bored with the story line for a while and without knowing where it was going, I lost a little interest. Once it finally all came full circle, I did enjoy the ending and felt like most everything was resolved. I wasn’t fully satisfied with some of the rationale and I did miss some of the more psychological aspects involved in Kubica’s previous books. This still has some mind-messing but it was in a different way.

Multiple POVs are typical for Mary Kubica books but Alex’s POV felt a little more removed than usual, like he was too much of a secondary character, not being an actual player in the story itself until the end of the book. I felt like I wasn’t as involved as I usually was and this one just didn’t seem as cohesive as her previous books, and those pieces that come together at the end seemed a little too spread apart in this one.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Psychological thrillers. I’m a sucker for a good psychological thriller and I’ll always pick them up! I enjoy Mary Kubica’s books and even though this wasn’t my favorite, it was still enjoyable.
Left Me Wanting More: Movement. This one just didn’t seemed like it moved as much as I had hoped. There were some suspenseful moments but I hit some lulls.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you enjoy Mary Kubica’s books, or books like GONE GIRL or THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, I think these books will be a hit!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE DON’T YOU CRY