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All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban

All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana UrbanTitle: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Publishing Info: March 17, 2020 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: April 16, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

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This was…. kind of stupid. I’ll explain later in spoiler tags but I’m really disappointed with this one for a few different reasons. Non-spoilery things first BUT THERE ARE SPOILERS LATER ON in this review, so beware! They are well-marked so feel free to read the rest until you hit them!

The characters are incredibly flat and one-dimensional. There was little to no character development for any of the characters except to push them toward their dedications or their stereotypical “brands”. There’s an athlete and all he cares about is baseball. There’s a musician and all she cares about is music. The guy who’s branded as a stoner and who’s thought to be dealing drugs comes from a bad home. There’s humanity in any of these characters and they’re so incredibly flat that it made the kind of annoying when there was really nothing to get to know about them along the way. The reactions were not deep, the goals were surface-level. It just wasn’t anything to write home about.

The book felt kind of campy instead of thrilling. I actually have no problem with campy… when things are meant to be campy. KILL THE BOY BAND? Highly amusing and excellent. I don’t think this was meant to feel so slasher film (without the slashing). It actually really did feel like ONE OF US IS LYING, as mentioned in the synopsis but too bad I didn’t like the feel of that book either so that didn’t work in my favor. A few things were just too over the top and the whole plan for this book was just… ridiculous. Kids trapped in a room and someone has to die or a bomb will go off??? Eye-roll city. I didn’t *quite* know that was the plot before I read it — I just knew they were trapped together and that it was a thriller — but I probably still would have read it anyway.

I wish we had a time-ticking, nail-biting, fast-paced thriller instead of constant flashbacks to the events leading up to the entrapment. I was just hoping we would get a thriller side of things and focus on what was happening in the room instead of flashing back. The rest of the book really wasn’t twisty or mysterious except for a couple truth nuggets that were stored away so they could be revealed later, but it really wasn’t that twisty for me, being a big thriller fan. I just don’t think everything we learned was a big enough factor for this threat of “someone has to die” to happen and I kept waiting to be shocked and I really wasn’t.

Some of the high school stuff was incredibly unrealistic. I played sports and did the plays/musicals in high school. There comes a point where you have to pick one or the other. I doubted that Sasha could have been a varsity cheerleader to the point where she’s helping pick people for the squad and organizing things AND been so involved in the play AND have been so into her studies. There’s just not enough time in the world (which I guess was the point) but no, literally. It’s not possible. The practices for sports and the plays are likely at the same time, at least at some point in time, because this is high school and kids still have to practice after school. And of course everyone in this book was SO GOOD at what they do. The brightest brains, a musical composer, an all-star athlete… it was all just a bit too perfect that it felt far-fetched.

And here’s the spoiler… Turn away now if you don’t want to read it! So we find out at the end that narrator and lead gal pal Amber orchestrated this whole thing, trapping everyone in the room together to force Sasha to confess how terrible she was so she could open her eyes to this and she would be a better person after it. She was going to do it all secretly so no one would ever know it was her. Firstly, this is a BIG thing to orchestrate and you’d be in incredible trouble on so many levels. Likely, you couldn’t pull it off (and ha, she uhhh didn’t in many ways) and there’s the risk of anyone finding out meaning trespassing, breaking and entering, some kind of death threats or something, and not to mention all of your friends and potential love interest hating you for it. But here’s the kicker… Sasha DIES, stabbed by Amber’s former best friend Priya (who stops being her friend because Amber is too concerned with Sasha) and NO ONE’S MAD AT AMBER FOR MAKING THIS WHOLE THING HAPPEN. Amber TELLS Priya, the girl who stabbed someone, and potential love interest that she was the one who set it up and they’re like, no, don’t tell the cops, you’ll get in so much trouble! Priya isn’t pissed as hell that the only reason SHE stabbed someone and will have to live with that forever is because of what her former best friend orchestrated? Of COURSE everything went wrong! You’re 17 years old! You don’t understand human nature and what people do when they’re forced to confront their most horrible secrets, especially in front of other people. What an idiot. I’m even angrier typing it all out and thinking about it all over again.

The reason for this book is so stupid and having talked about it, I just can’t deal with that being the whole plot of this book. I can’t believe anyone would think that would work. And that they get away with it and no one suffers any consequences. I guess I have something to rant about now though *shrug*

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Kept Me Hooked On: Time-sensitive thrillers. I wish we spent the WHOLE time with the thrilling part of things, but I did like how there was a finite space in which this all took place.
Left Me Wanting More: Of a reality check? I just don’t see this EVER happening and it was far too unrealistic for me.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I personally would not recommend this one. There are a bunch of people who enjoyed it but as a thriller fan, this really wasn’t enjoyable for me and the ending made me so mad. I just can’t recommend it because of that.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL YOUR TWISTED SECRETS

             

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) – Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) – Karen M. McManusTitle: One of Us is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) by Karen M. McManus
Publishing Info: May 30, 2017 by Delacourte Press
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: December 27, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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I feel like there was a TON of hype surrounding this book was it was first coming out in 2017. I’ve been sitting on this review for a while (really just because of time, not for any special reason) and the more I look back on, the less I feel about it. I don’t really get the hype and excitement over it and it makes me sad that another young adult mystery book that felt over simplified when it came to the characters and disconnected in order to preserve the mystery of “whodunnit”. The book was still an enjoyable read in a lot of ways, but didn’t quite grab or thrill me. It was complicated because the whole time, I felt like it couldn’t be the four main narrators and yet the book made you feel like it was one of them. The conclusion was surprising and yet made sense all at the same time.

I did like the character relationships and how they came together in this time of accusation. They really started to find themselves when they were put in the spotlight, the worst of everything and everyone exposed. Not everything was pretty but I also felt like the author did a great job at portraying the relationships of high school students (including familial relationships) without it feeling overly dramatic or hyperbolic. Every relationship really did feel real and accurate for the drama of the teenage years.

I wished I had felt a little more connected somehow because looking back, I just really don’t feel connected to this book at all. My initial reactions were that it was entertaining and enjoyable albeit a bit lacking in some ways, but now I just feel like I was disappointed by it. While initial reactions are definitely important, I also think it’s critical to see how you feel about a book after time has gone by. I don’t have the desire to pick up the next book in this series after sitting on this for a while. addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Close-quarters thrillers. I liked that this was a “Breakfast Club” type feel with a lot of the kids spending time together at school or together to make things interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. When I first read it, I remembered it being pretty enjoyable. Looking back, I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot there and I wish there was a lot more depth there. The ending was surprising still but I can’t help but feel like I’m a little let down now.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you’re not a mystery/thriller reader, maybe you’ll enjoy this one more. I feel like I’ve already read so many thrillers, most of which are adult thrillers, and they just have a different feel.

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BOOKS LIKE ONE OF US IS LYING

             

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) – Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 10, 2019 by Hachette, Little Brown, Jimmy Patterson
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: December 25, 2019
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), Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they've heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him---and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device---is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end---together and in love---or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

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It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Kerri Maniscalco and her Stalking Jack the Ripper series! Audrey Rose and Thomas were such a beautiful couple and the books were so much fun, getting me into a historical fiction perspective while having a fun mystery and a dash of romance. I actually started CAPTURING THE DEVIL around when it released back in September and just due to a busy schedule, I wasn’t able to finish until my holiday break in December. I’m really glad I was able to give it time so I could spent a good chunk reading!

I was incredibly curious about the inclusion of H.H. Holmes AND the finale of the whole series, really bringing everything full circle! I really enjoyed how there were pieces of this book that were hidden throughout the series. I did find that portion to be a little rushed, though, and I really wished we had gotten to see more of Audrey Rose’s and Thomas’ interactions with Holmes and not just a quick rough & tumble portion where things concluded in a frenzy. We barely even got to see Holmes or the “murder castle” and I just thought the characters would be spending much more time there and not just a quick, fast-paced conclusion. I feel like the other books spent a lot more time setting up and developing the mystery where this book spend a large amount of time with the romance.

While I do love Audrey Rose & Thomas, I just felt like there was way too much time spent on their romance and I wanted it to flow more naturally within the story and not take up a third of the book on its own. I feel like when it came down to it, this book was more about Audrey Rose & Thomas and their romantic drama than it was about the mystery, so that was really a bummer for me. I know that tons of people love their romance and I can imagine a lot of people being happy with it, but for me, I liked it more when it was a part of the character development that came along with the story and felt natural as the mystery investigation was going on. The beginning of the book and the wedding drama felt really forced and totally unnecessary and I really wish there had been no drama revolving around the wedding and that it would have been a shining moment to close the series. Instead it was kind of a negative thing for a long time. I guess I did like that it wasn’t an ideal situation and that Audrey Rose & Thomas were once again able to work through something that was a “scandal” or wasn’t a society norm.

Sadly, this was probably my least favorite book of the series. Series finales are always hard for me but I just really wanted so much more murder mystery and time focused on H.H. Holmes. It seemed like he and the murders were more of a thing in passing instead of being the most important thing of the book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Murder Mysteries. It was really neat to see things taking place in Chicago and to get a glimpse of H.H. Holmes to uncover what was happening there.
Left Me Wanting More: Murder Mystery. I just wanted so much more mystery and far less romance. I just don’t like when the romance takes over a book when it’s not “supposed” to be the main plot. It was very important in this book but it just felt like a little too much of the focus.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’ve been following the series and you’ve been enjoying it up to this point, I would say definitely finish the series. I’m glad that I did! If you haven’t enjoyed the series much then I’d say maybe this book wouldn’t be for you either.

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BOOKS LIKE CAPTURING THE DEVIL

             

The Disappearances – Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances – Emily Bain MurphyTitle: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Publishing Info: July 4, 2017 by Hachette
Source: Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 16, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

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THE DISAPPEARANCES sounded quite interesting with touches of magical realism and intrigue, but I just never quite clicked with it. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was quite boring so I’m sure that didn’t help, but I just didn’t really connect with this book on many different levels.

I did like Aila’s personality but there was something about her that just didn’t quite fit in the story. The historical aspect of the book just seemed unnecessary to a certain extent, and that’s not to say that an author needs a reason to set a book in a specific time period but I wished there had been something more to establish exactly why this time period was special besides the kids’ father being shipped off to war.

This was the type of magical realism that stretched just a bit too far beyond reality and was in that weird in-between state that asked me to suspend reality a bit too much, for my personal tastes. It was interesting to think about the different disappearances and why they were happening, but I didn’t find the answer satisfactory and it felt a little too cheesy. Plus, the addition of the Variants sort of took away from the atmosphere of the book when it could have been darker and grittier. (I mean, that’s just what I was hoping for.) Despite this being more magical realism, I felt like the Variants delved a little too into fantasy and things got a little muddy as the book went on. I wasn’t sure how much was supposed to be magical and how much was supposed to be scientific. There’s no right or wrong answer to that but I just personally didn’t love how everything was handled.

All of the little world-building additions just didn’t click for me either. There were neat things like games, sports, and traditions that were woven in that were unique and captivating but they really took me out of the story more than they pulled me in. They were things I enjoyed experiencing but it didn’t feel like it kept with the tone of the novel, or maybe I was just looking for a tone that wasn’t quite there (as I often spoil things for myself in that regard).

THE DISAPPEARANCES wasn’t a bad book but it just wasn’t the style I was hoping for and it really didn’t pull me. About halfway through I actually considered not finishing because I wasn’t really interested but then things started to evolve and questions were getting answered so I stuck with it. I’m glad I finished it but it didn’t shine for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical, I guess? This wasn’t in a contemporary time period so it was interesting to have it set in another time… I wouldn’t say I loved that aspect but it did change the way I looked at things!
Left Me Wanting More: Intrigue. I wish some of the more interesting concepts had been introduced earlier on to spark some more interest. There was some time spent with things I didn’t care about and I wanted to get into more of what was happening and why.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Some people really enjoyed this one, but writing this review so long after reading the book, I just remember being bored and not loving how the book was structured. I would personally say skip it but hey, it’s always worth looking into!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DISAPPEARANCES

             

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten White

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten WhiteTitle: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Publishing Info: September 25, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: ALAAC18, Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Retelling, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 13, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Mind Games (Mind Games #1)

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

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My history with Kiersten White books is quite rocky, finishing some with intermediate feelings and deciding to abandon others. I feel like I just don’t click with her writing style but I couldn’t resist this Frankenstein adaptation, especially when I saw it pop up as an available audiobook.

I still didn’t quite click with this one for some of the same reasons, but I also didn’t struggle as much either. The beginning intrigued me but I also still felt like so much was narration. With the adage of “show, don’t tell,” I feel like so much was still told to the readers from Elizabeth’s point of view and there wasn’t as much happening through the plot and dialogue. There were a lot of flashbacks to supplement the story line but I’m also not sure how I felt about them. As an audiobook, some of them seemed to come on abruptly and it took me a couple sentences to realize we were flashing back based on the characters ages and which characters were present.

I also felt like there wasn’t quite a clear direction for the characters and there wasn’t a commitment to their demeanor. I guess you can see it as the fact that people aren’t black and white, so I did like the shades of grey where you weren’t sure who had dark motives and if we were still rooting for said motives… but the way that some things in book ended was a little too light for me given other darker things and it just didn’t feel like it fit with the tone of the rest of the book. I ended up being bored and disappointed with Elizabeth’s actions towards the end and things really lost steam instead of having a big, thrilling conclusion.

I’m glad I read the book given its context and I like being able to continuously try authors that I haven’t quite connected with in the past. It’s still not something I’m thrilled with and it wasn’t a superb match for me but it did offer something different as far as a literary style, even if it wasn’t the best match for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Frankenstein retellings. For some reason, I think Frankenstein retellings and adaptations are really cool and I liked this take on the story!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. This book had a cool, creepy vibe to it and it ended a little dully for me. I thought it was leading up to something insane and the ending just felt a little tame.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It looks like Kiersten White’s writing just isn’t for me. This was an okay read for me but for a cool retelling, I still didn’t love it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN

             

The Tenth Girl – Sara Faring

The Tenth Girl – Sara FaringTitle: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
Publishing Info: September 24, 2019 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Ghosts, Science Fiction
Date Completed: June 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi's existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

bookreview1

I think readers will either love this book or lose steam with it like I did. It was interesting and had a lot going for it but there was so much happening with it that I felt like it was hard to keep up with, and I usually don’t have too many issues like there. There were a lot of new things, clues to pick up on, a bunch of characters (which wasn’t an issue for me but there were a number), and without a rapid pace to keep things moving, I quickly started losing interest without any reveals towards the middle. I had some Goodreads friends who loved it and from the other early reviews that felt similarly to me, it seems like we had the same issue: pacing.

While the book is suspenseful and atmospheric, I just felt like plot points took forever to come around. There’s a lot to keep readers really hyped up by providing new questions, throwing in suspicions, and having Mavi running around this creepy house, but I just felt like not a whole lot was happening for most of the book. It felt like she was getting more questions and we never got any answers until the end, which makes things a little frustrating at times.

THE TENTH GIRL goes back and forth between a couple time periods but it’s a little confusing. Mavi is at this creepy house in the 1970s but her present seems to be in the future or present day. The flashbacks are to the present but the past and yet somehow Mavi is in the past in the present. It’s enough to make your head spin for sure! It was definitely interesting to try to wrap my head around it but I feel like these kinds of plot devices really stole time away from actually getting to know all of the characters. I just really wanted to experience their personalities more and I felt like I never got to know anyone when I was spending so much time on the mystery and different time periods.

Then there was the twist at the end. I… did not like the twist in the book. There is a twist, as other readers have stated, and I found that it really took away from the whole tone and concept of the book for me. It’s one of those things where it makes you rethink the whole book, which can be really interesting, but in this case it made me feel like I was reading something totally different the whole time and not in the best way. I’m really a person who likes a cohesive feel throughout a whole book so to have a twist at the end basically change the genre, it really is irritating for me and takes me out of the whole experience.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique settings. I loved the Patagonian setting, bringing in a new culture with new myths and a new location. It was different from a lot of other books out there and it was really enjoyable to explore.
Left Me Wanting More: Pacing. I just had a hard time with the structure of the book, I think. I would have liked to know the twist basically at the beginning so I knew what kind of feel this book was going to have. I would have liked to have more answers along the way. I would have maybe skipped so many flashbacks. I just didn’t love the structure and pacing overall.

Addiction Rating
Try it, or get another opinion

I’m torn. It’s an interesting read and I liked a lot about the setting and atmosphere, but is that enough to recommend the book? I’m not sure I’d actively pass it along to a friend but it’s also not a bad read. For its length and how I felt about it, I don’t know if I’d tell someone else to read it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE TENTH GIRL

             

Sadie – Courtney Summers

Sadie – Courtney SummersTitle: Sadie by Courtney Summers
Publishing Info: September 4, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: September 1, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

bookreview1

SADIE was such a difficult and yet compelling book to read. I started it on a Saturday morning and finished it within a few hours because I just couldn’t put it down. It deals with a lot of difficult subjects that are incredibly hard to read because of the reality of the situation, but there’s something about Sadie and her story that just entangled me and I didn’t want to let go.

The narration of this book was just perfect in so many ways. The chapters alternate between Sadie’s POV as she’s on her quest to find her sister’s murderer and the reporter who started a podcast series based on his investigations of Sadie and her disappearance. The story perfectly unfolds with each chapter and POV giving a different perspective of the mystery and revealing just the right amount of information for the readers to keep this book unraveling but not too quickly. This is my first Courtney Summers book and I’m incredibly impressed with the writing style. These narrators really pull you into the book and Courtney Summers really made each one a real person and not just a character in a book, which is true on a whole other level. This is someone’s story in many ways, even though it’s a work of fiction.

I actually really loved the ending. In a story like this, there’s no way to have a happy ending and it’s not really a spoiler to say that because whether or not Sadie enacts her revenge, what sort of happiness would come out of it? Even if justice is served, everything has still already unraveled so I appreciated that Courtney Summers didn’t put a pretty bow on the end of everything to wrap it all up.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Podcast formatting. This was really neat with the podcast incorporated into this book! I wish I had listened to the audio because I heard it was fantastic, but I really thought that was a great way to get a different perspective into the book and make it feel so unique.
Left Me Wanting More: Words to describe it. This is such a difficult book and yet it was so great. It’s quite a compelling read with a chilling story because it is so close to real life and we know these things do happen.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was one of my favorite reads of 2018 and I highly recommend it to everyone! Even if this isn’t your style, I think it’s such a compelling read that it’s worth trying, for sure.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE SADIE

             

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

             

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen Simmons

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen SimmonsTitle: The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Heists/Spies/Espionage, Retelling
Date Completed: June 3, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over head.

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I really wish that the synopsis of this book had made note of the Norse mythology inspiration because I honestly didn’t pick up on that at all but once I knew about it, it seemed really obvious and I think that would have been a fun thing to pick up as I was reading. That’s no fault of the author but I guess that’s what happens when I don’t do a lot of looking into things before I read a book (and I guess whoever’s in charge of making the synopsis/making sure that info is on Goodreads). I didn’t know about it until I started reading reviews after I was finished. Since I never read reviews before I start a book (in case of spoilers and I don’t want anyone to influence my opinion), there’s really no other way I would have known about that and I bet a lot of other people may not be aware either.

That may have helped how much I enjoyed the book but I still think I would have come out relatively the same. I was irritated that it was labeled as “Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11”. I don’t know PLL but Ocean’s 11 is one of my favorite movies and if we’re talking about the 2001 version…. that movie is WAY too sassy and not even close in tone. I was expecting some super clever sass, cheeky cons, and an overall heist feeling. This really wasn’t a heist book. I guess it was more of a “long con” but it wasn’t really a plan we were in on from the beginning and we learn a lot as the book progresses. This was just not the tone I was expecting and would compare it more to Deadly Class (the SyFy TV show), THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, TRUST ME, I’M LYING by Mary Elizabeth Summer, or new Adriana Mather book KILLING NOVEMBER. It wasn’t ALL serious but it certainly wasn’t quite as light or funny as I had expected.

Mostly, the book was just kind of slow. We picked up some interesting facts along the way, sure. But it unraveled a bit more like a mystery than a heist/con concept (which is more of what I was expecting with the Ocean’s 11 comparison) since we got some reveals about characters in the end and unraveled a little mystery that tied all of the characters together. It’s just a different way of putting that story together and it makes a difference of how I read/approach/experience a book.

I was also really disappointed that there wasn’t much happening to show us the school itself. It’s a con school which is AWESOME and really all we see are little snippets of Brynn’s intro to her classes with glimpses of what she might learn there but the book doesn’t really spend much time there at all. Aside from convening in each other’s rooms and using it as a base to get all of the students together, there wasn’t much about the school at all and it really felt like a missed opportunity. I felt like the book took entirely too long to set up Brynn’s family life and introduce the compromising situation that she’s in and I felt like things just dwelled there for an unnecessary amount of time. I get it. We’re supposed to be uncomfortable with Pete. She needs an escape. The school is it. But there was just too much time wasted in the beginning when the book could have set up that school world more to really pull readers in some more.

It seems like this book gets some mixed reviews. Its core was still solid and it had a clear story to tell. Some of my friends absolutely loved it and others, like me, felt a little underwhelmed. At least it seems like no one really hated it, which I agree with! There were a lot of good elements there and some appreciated the structure and tone more than I did, but if you don’t have the expectations that I carried into my read, maybe you’ll enjoy it more!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mythology retellings. I didn’t even realize this for what it was while I was reading but looking back, it was a fun way to adapt some Norse mythology as a modern retelling!
Left Me Wanting More: Time in this awesome school! I felt like it was a real missed opportunity to make this series about Vale Hall and then not even really spend time in this unique and interesting school! I really wanted to see more of the classes, especially in the first book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I have a few friends who really loved this book. Maybe they knew more about it than I did before starting, maybe not, but it seems like I might be the minority with my reservations!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DECEIVERS

             

Mini-Review: Trouble is a Friend of Mine (Trouble #1) – Stephanie Tromly

Mini-Review: Trouble is a Friend of Mine (Trouble #1) – Stephanie TromlyTitle: Trouble is a Friend of Mine (Trouble #1) by Stephanie Tromly
Publishing Info: August 4, 2015 by Penguin
Source: ALAMW15, Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: July 16, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Of course I didn’t like Digby when I first met him. No one does.

The first time Philip Digby shows up on Zoe Webster’s doorstep, he’s rude and he treats her like a book he’s already read and knows the ending to.

But before she knows it, Zoe’s allowed Digby—annoying, brilliant, and somehow…attractive? Digby—to drag her into a series of hilarious, dangerous, and only vaguely legal schemes all related to the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that might be connected to the tragic disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no.

But is Digby a hero? Or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exorcize his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies? And does she really care anyway?

This is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and a dynamic duo you won’t soon forget.

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I had seen a lot of really good reviews for this book for some trusted reviewers so I was pretty bummed that this wasn’t what I expected. It had its laugh-out-loud moments but it was just a little too silly at times for me. Sometimes it felt like it was trying too hard and other times it really was as clever people praised it to be.

Overall though, I just really didn’t connect with the characters. They seemed too much like caricatures and not actual people. There was just too much going on and too much that didn’t seem believable. I doubt I’ll continue on. It was okay but I don’t feel the pull to keep going. I am glad that I read it though. I always want to read any clever, smart book and it did have its moments.

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Kept Me Hooked On: More YA mystery/thrillers with a side of comedy. I really love the comic relief in hijinks books. It’s such a fun way to keep things light in a dark situation.
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I just really didn’t connect to them and they often felt too surface-level.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I didn’t quite love this one but so many other people really praised it! Check out your favorite reviewers to see whose opinions you might fit with!

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BOOKS LIKE TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE