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The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas

The Cheerleaders – Kara ThomasTitle: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Publishing Info: July 31, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: July 23, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Corners, Little Monsters

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

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I think this was Kara Thomas’ best book yet! I really, really loved the writing style and the whole set-up of this novel. It reminded me much more of my adult thriller reads rather than the YA, while still maintaining a YA atmosphere, characters, and setting. Things are set up right from the beginning to come full circle at the end but I couldn’t tell how they were going to come together and I kept trying to piece the puzzle together. What I loved about this book was that I was able to follow along and start putting little clues together but it took until the end to really realize what exactly had happened and how they really impacted Monica and why she was involved in this story from start to finish and every piece in between.

I actually thought that this was going to be… a little sillier. The deaths of the five cheerleaders years ago was thought to be a sort of curse and I actually had that Fear Street mentality in the back of my head (there was a Fear Street Cheerleaders series after all), but this read much more maturely than I had anticipated. I think I would have enjoyed it either way but I’m really glad that it read the way that it did and I really enjoyed this type of structure.

I actually think I already want to re-read it because there’s so much that I’ve forgotten writing my review (way, way later… my review schedule has been all over the place with new reviews and old reviews!) and I think I’d enjoy reading it all over again to experience those discoveries like new. Even if I don’t remember all of the details, I do remember how much I enjoyed listening to this audiobook and it’s one I knew I wanted to recommend!!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mature YA mystery/thrillers. Young adult novels can contain any array of tones and topics but sometimes young adult is still just too young for me. Obviously that’s not a bad thing (and let’s not get into it because that’s a whole different topic) but I loved how this one just had a more mature tone that teens can still appreciate but I felt like it reached out more to the adult audience too.
Left Me Wanting More: Cover representation. Between the title and the cover, I felt like this was going to be a campy horror story and while I would have appreciated that too, I’m so glad it was the story that it was! The cover definitely did throw me and I think it might throw off other readers as well. I’d love to see a cover redesign somewhere down the road.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I thought this was such a solid novel! Writing my review has only made me want to re-read it again soon.

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BOOKS LIKE THE CHEERLEADERS

             

Little Monsters – Kara Thomas

Little Monsters – Kara ThomasTitle: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
Publishing Info: July 25, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: ALAAC17, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 13, 2017
Related Posts: The Darkest Corners

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

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LITTLE MONSTERS caught my eye because of the author and concept. I had first read Kara Thomas’ work with THE DARKEST CORNERS and enjoyed her writing and I’m always looking for more YA mystery/thrillers! I’m very glad to have read LITTLE MONSTERS and I continue to be pleasantly surprised at the conclusions of Kara Thomas’ books, not always able to guess the ending!

I enjoyed LITTLE MONSTERS from start to finish and it was hard to stop listening to the audiobook. (Thanks to Listening Library for the review copy!) The concept reminded me of what I imagine Pretty Little Liars is like (I haven’t read the books or watched the show) combined with A GOOD IDEA and THIS IS OUR STORY — a little bit frenemies, a little bit mental health, and a little bit small-town mystery. I always find thrillers involving fatal friendships fascinating, especially when it comes to young adult thrillers. Teenagers are quickly trusting and throw themselves into their friendships and relationships, so it’s easy to completely trust someone that you feel is your best friend. When a friend’s character gets questioned, it’s so interesting to watch the other side of the story unfold and see what secrets were lying beneath the surface the whole time.

I certainly didn’t figure out the ending of this book, that’s for sure! Being a mystery lover, I tend to read a lot and I can therefore guess a lot of endings but LITTLE MONSTERS was very well-crafted and I had no idea which way it would go! There were lots of pieces to throw the reader off and lead me in a different direction and it was really interesting to see the ending unfold!

I wasn’t AS hooked as I had hoped to be but it was a very solid read and very enjoyable. I’m always looking for solid young adult thrillers and/or mysteries and LITTLE MONSTERS is definitely a solid, well-crafted read. I love being able to see how an author started with a concept and worked their way backwards to keep the big reveal moment at the ending, and it’s always so neat to see a mystery unfold. I’m definitely up for anything Kara Thomas writes and I’ll continue to look forward to more books from her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Frenemies. MAN, frenemies in thrillers just get me. I kind of really don’t like it in contemporary fiction because I don’t like when things get catty but in thrillers? BRING IT. It’s so sinister and usually ends up being horrifying which I… kind of like. Ha.
Left Me Wanting More: Magic. Not literal magic, but there’s just that little something that didn’t WOW me. It was still such a solid read but it didn’t quite blow me away.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you enjoy mysteries or thrillers, this is an interesting read and I’m confident recommending it! Add this one to your TBR.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE LITTLE MONSTERS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

The Darkest Corners – Kara Thomas

The Darkest Corners – Kara ThomasTitle: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Publishing Info: April 20, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 20, 2016
Related Posts: Little Monsters

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.
There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.
Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.
But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

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I’m pretty big on mysteries and thrillers so when I saw all of the buzz on THE DARKEST CORNERS, I knew I had to read it! I ended up making it my next read when I received an audio copy to review from The Listening Library! There was so much buzz on this being the next big thriller that I was both excited and hesitant as I dove in! It’s always hard when there’s a lot of hype for a book but whatever the outcome, I was definitely curious.

I liked Tessa right off the bat. Not in a conventional way but I appreciated what she was going through and I thought that although I wasn’t really ever in her shoes, she had an interesting story and I could appreciate the decisions that she was making, however hard. I liked that her character remained in a sort of gray area. She was always a character I was rooting for to succeed in solving a mystery and find peace but I was always unsure whether she really was somehow involved in the happenings in Fayette and then later in the story, exactly how she affected the turn of events. She wasn’t quite an unreliable narrator but there were definitely pieces of her story and reactions towards other people that had me questioning whether she was totally innocent or what really was lying further underneath the surface.

There is a lot more to THE DARKEST CORNERS than meets the eye. I won’t give anything away, of course, but like any good mystery/thriller, there are some interesting reveals at the end that really bring the book into a different light and I had that moment where I go back and re-look at everything with the new-found information. It wasn’t something that totally shocked me but it was an interesting twist! A small issue I had with the book was that there were pieces of it that added to the mystery but didn’t quite seem totally relevant to the overall picture. The mystery was one piece and the thrill was another piece and they did overlap but it wasn’t quite that click where they both fit together so satisfyingly! It was still quite enjoyable but I would have loved for everything to really come full circle and totally connect in every way… But I do realize that things don’t always work out like that! That’s more of a personal preference that a critique.

THE DARKEST CORNERS was entertaining and yet not quite as thrilling as I had hoped it would be. It’s so hard to live up to a large amount of hype (which there was for this book) but I’d love to read more from Kara Thomas and I’d be excited to see if she has any other thrillers in store for readers!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Review copy obtained from Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Performance: Good. Not a favorite narrator but one I’d listen to on multiple occasions. I don’t think I’d seek her out but I’d still be drawn to books she narrates.

I like Jorjeana Marie! I’m actually listening to another book she narrates right now and I love how differently she’s portraying the two characters (this being a mystery and new book being a contemporary). Her narration didn’t bowl me over but it was entertaining from start to finish. I feel like I could have used a little more personality from her but I like her voice and it’s quite pleasant to listen to. I think it’s realistic as a teen voice and still maintains a maturity as well.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Small town thrillers. I don’t know why but I love the feel of small town thrillers. I guess it’s more twisty and interesting when people you actually know could be involved versus just strangers!
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. I’m greedy. I love twisty twists. It’s so hard to read thrillers sometimes because I’ve read some damn good twists and I never know if I want something that’s straight-forward or if I want to be totally surprised. There’s not a ton that you can do to really surprise a reader, especially if they’ve read so many books in the same genre!

Addiction Rating
Read it

I really enjoyed THE DARKEST CORNERS! It wasn’t a total shock at the end but there were some definitely interesting twists and it was an enjoyable read from start to finish!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DARKEST CORNERS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW    VANISHING GIRLS