Tag Archives: Mystery/Thriller

Darling Rose Gold – Stephanie Wrobel

Darling Rose Gold – Stephanie WrobelTitle: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Publishing Info: March 17, 2020 by Penguin, Berkley
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 6, 2020

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she's forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling...

And she's waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

bookreview1

This was just a middle-of-the-road book for me. It’s being branded as a thriller but it’s kind of not that thrilling? There are some psychological aspects to it but it was more just a story about generations of abuse passing down the abuse but in different ways. I can see how it’s more “thriller” being that it could fit under the umbrella of psychological thrillers but it’s much more slow-moving than that.

The book alternates between the POV of Rose Gold and her mother, Patty. Rose Gold’s perspective takes place almost entirely in the past throughout the past five years while Patty has been in prison for child abuse, convicted of poisoning her daughter to keep her sick until she reached the age of 18 and caught on to what her mother was doing to her. Some of the Patty side was more interesting, displaying a different sort of delusion than we normally see in psychological thrillers, showing how her need to control Rose Gold and her need to feel needed as a mother led her to keep her daughter sick, so she could constantly be dependent on her mother. I wish that the author had pushed just a little further into this since we do get Patty’s POV. We see it later on when Patty is taking care of Rose Gold’s baby but I feel like we didn’t get a real reason why she was actually resulting to poisoning. I guess it’s more of an implied thing where Patty is too delusional herself to even admitting to using something to intentionally make her daughter sick…. except she does admit it to herself later. It’s a bit fuzzy and confusing so I’m not quite sure if that was intentional or if we just didn’t quite get one piece of the puzzle to really complete that picture.

The beginning and middle of the book were sort of just blah for me. Most of the book details Rose Gold’s life with her mother, what she went through, and how people treat Patty once she’s released from prison. It just felt like a lot of setting the scene before we got to the breaking points of these characters and I guess the truly horrific stuff started happening (on-page anyway, since we already know what happened to Rose Gold as a child) but to me, it didn’t really read as a thriller all the way through and it just sort of felt like regular fiction, telling a disturbing story but not really bringing the fast-paced thrills that I enjoy and prefer when I’m reading books of this genre. I guess my criticism of the book is more to do with how it’s marketed/presented/reviewed since it wasn’t really what I was expecting.

There were also a few things in the book that didn’t really get explored enough for me so it felt like they were there for shock value or as an “excuse” for behavior. Patty was physically abused (beaten) by her father when she was young and her brother committed suicide in their childhood home so Rose Gold buys Patty’s childhood home, knowing that when Patty gets out of jail, she’ll have to stay with her in the childhood home which held so many bad memories. Like… okay? Yes, that’s a big step to go out of your way to mentally abuse your mother who abused you but the whole point was that it made Patty uncomfortable and she pushed past it. It just seemed like a very big gesture not to be used in some other way in the book. It did add to the list of long thought-out plans to harm her mother but it just seemed kind of weird.

The ending was interesting but we spent so long watching it coming that it didn’t really pack a punch for me and I just felt like I read a book about some kind of unlikable characters. The abuse that they experienced led them to perpetuate the abuse cycle on and on and at a certain point, I was just uncomfortable with and annoyed at both of them.

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Kept Me Hooked On: A different kind of thriller? It didn’t really feel like the thrillers I’m used to but I guess it’s just a bit of a different pace! It was interesting to read something outside of my usual pattern.
Left Me Wanting More: Development on some of the things mentioned along the way. There were a few things that were dropped and they just kind of felt like they were there for shock value since they didn’t really get brought up again or developed more in the moment. I wanted a few of the things that happened to mean just a bit more.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

This wasn’t my normal kind of thriller so I just really was expecting something different and yes, something more. Other reviewers seemed to really like it so it seems like it might depend on what your preferences are!

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BOOKS LIKE DARLING ROSE GOLD

             

Mini-Review: Time of Death (A Stillwater General Mystery #1) – Lucy Kerr

Mini-Review: Time of Death (A Stillwater General Mystery #1) – Lucy KerrTitle: Time of Death (A Stillwater General Mystery #1) by Lucy Kerr, Erica O'Rourke
Publishing Info: December 13, 2016 by Penguin Random House, Crooked Lane Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 28, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Dissonance (Dissonance #1), Harmonic (Dissonance #1.5), Resonance (Dissonance #2)

It’s been twelve years since ER nurse Frankie Stapleton fled the quiet banks of Stillwater, but with her sister’s pregnancy taking a dangerous turn and a string of failed relationships in Chicago hanging over her, Frankie is back–and hoping to put the past behind her. Within minutes of arriving at Stillwater General Hospital however, she ends up saving a man’s life, only to have him turn up dead hours later – and the hospital blames Frankie.

Her instincts say Clem Jensen didn’t die of natural causes, but the more she digs, the more she discovers too many suspects, a few surprising allies, and some hard truths about the first man she ever loved–and left. Now the boy she once knew is a skeptical sheriff’s deputy, her family's hardware store is in jeopardy, and the rift between Frankie and her loved ones is deeper than ever.

With her career–and future–on life support, Frankie must catch a killer, clear her name, and heal the wounds of the past in Lucy Kerr’s enthralling mystery debut, Time of Death

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I’m so glad I finally read this book! It was a fun mystery that had more of a contemporary focus than a lot of mystery/thrillers do. The main character is back in town to help her family and runs into her old first-love/ex-fiance so there’s a lot of family stuff going on as well as a little hint of a potential romance. I love how the romance wasn’t rushed and there’s still plenty of time to explore that option in the rest of the series!

The mystery was also really well-put together. There were clues laid about so things were still constantly coming to light but the ending was a bit of a mystery until the reveal. I’m usually reading some darker thrillers or mysteries so this was a fun change of pace! It was somewhere in between a silly/fluffy cozy mystery and that dark thriller. A very happy middle!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mysteries. I read a lot of thrillers and I had fun reading something that was more into the mystery realm without that element of constant suspense.
Left Me Wanting More: Books! I was pretty satisfied with this one so I’d say I’d just like to read more of this series and see where the character storylines go too!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a really good read for me and I loved reading an adult mystery that wasn’t a thriller (as much as I love thrillers). I think it’s easily readable by those who like contemporary romances too!

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BOOKS LIKE TIME OF DEATH

             

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) – Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) – Holly JacksonTitle: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1) by Holly Jackson
Publishing Info: February 4, 2020 by Random House Publishing Group, Delacourte Press
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: January 30, 2020

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

For readers of Kara Thomas and Karen McManus, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn't add up, and a girl who's determined to find the real killer--but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can't shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn't want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you'll never expect.

bookreview1

This was such an interesting read and great fun with added interview portions! The audiobook had a full cast that jumped in to be characters that were being interviewed, so that was a neat addition for the audiobook versus reading the print copy. I’m always big into audiobooks but that was also something that really set the reading experience apart and made the audiobook a unique experience!

I’m always nervous when I read YA mystery/thrillers because there has to be a valid reason why the teens wouldn’t work with adults or cops. In this book, it’s Pip’s capstone project to solve a murder. Well, really it’s supposed to be social media’s influence on investigations, but she uses that as a reason to investigate the murder of a teenager five years ago, wanting to prove that the accused murderer was actually innocent. Things went really smoothly (well, they went horribly wrong but the plotting was smooth) as far as this being a conceivable story. There were only a couple moments where I got annoyed with Pip for one of those dumb reasons that she felt like she couldn’t talk to someone else, but that was about it!

I was also really impressed that this book constantly kept me guessing. Pip gets a great deal of answers throughout the book so the reader still feels like they’re constantly solving the mystery. One question leads to another, but then we get an answer and a different question. Holly Jackson did a great job at keeping the pacing consistent and moving forward. Lots of doors are opened to the things that were hidden years ago and Pip slowly uncovers mystery after mystery. We finally get the answer in the end and THEN we get even more answers. I just felt like the book was really well-written and very carefully executed!

In checking out more details on the book, it looks like it got picked up to be a pretty big series (Goodreads it showing four books so far) and I am totally here for it! I wonder if they’re going to be related, companions, or totally unrelated. No matter what it is, I’m looking forward to more mystery investigations from Holly Jackson!

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA mystery/thrillers. I love when I get a good thriller and it’s even better when I’m pleasantly surprised! I always hope to enjoy what I read and I really just loved the pacing of this.
Left Me Wanting More: Laughs? I don’t know why but I thought this was going to be campy, probably from the title. I’m almost glad that it turned out not to be what I was expecting because I’m glad that it wasn’t silly but I am always craving some dark comedy like that.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really, really enjoyed this one. Sometimes I have a hard time with YA mystery/thrillers and everyone having valid reasons why they need to take investigations in their own hands. Holly Jackson made me throw those questions out the window and just enjoy reading without thinking about any of that stuff!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER

             

An Unwanted Guest – Shari Lapena

An Unwanted Guest – Shari LapenaTitle: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
Publishing Info: August 7, 2018 by Penguin Random House
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: December 30, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up.It's winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell's Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul. The power's down but they've got candles, blankets, and wood--a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up--surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. They can't leave, and with no cell service, there's no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it's their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there's nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.

bookreview1

This was such an interesting read! I always love reading mysteries or thrillers where I’m not quite sure what’s going on. Shari Lapena did a great job at not revealing too much suspicion too early, and then once it started to arise, to cast it around really evenly to put a lot of doubt on the pages, never being too sure who to trust. At one point, I had no idea who was the murderer so I started to form all kinds of hair-brained ideas extending to psychological “everyone is the murderer” tropes that get played out so often. The ending was surprising and satisfying!

I also really loved this wintery setting. A snow storm was the perfect way to lock the guests of this hotel in, adding in the loss of power, unable to leave or maintain footprints because of the ice, and the antique nature of the hotel lending even less technology or modern conveniences, preventing the suspects from getting answers too easily. I also waited to read this book in the winter so it made it even more atmospheric (even though there wasn’t a lot of snow on the ground when I read it).

I feel like the narration could have been a bit smoother and it took me out of the novel just a little bit. Some of it felt forced and choppy (I sometimes have trouble when authors don’t use contractions in order to keep the narration formal when it just doesn’t seem natural) so that was really the only thing I didn’t connect with throughout the book.

It was quite a solid read with a good mystery and I really enjoyed it! I’m definitely interested in picking up more from Shari Lapena in the future and already have a few other titles from her earmarked!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Single location thrillers. I loved that this all took place in a little off-the-grid hotel. It’s fun to see the ways that authors have to eliminate technology like this in order to keep everyone in the same place and unable to phone for help. I love everyone stuck together to hash out the mystery!
Left Me Wanting More: Smoothness. There were a couple spots that felt a little forced and choppy. With a couple more smooth transitions, this would have been even better, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot!

Addiction Rating
Read it

I really liked this one! I love when I read a thriller and I’m already looking forward to more from the author.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE AN UNWANTED GUEST

             

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.

bookreview1

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?

bookreview1

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

             

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet Evanovich

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 12, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: November 18, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Stephanie Plum's career has taken more wrong turns than a student driver on the Jersey Turnpike, and her love life is a hopeless tangle. In order to save someone dear to her, she'll have to straighten things out in Twisted Twenty-Six the latest, novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Grandma Mazur is a widow...again. This time her marriage lasted a whole 45 minutes. The unlucky groom was one Jimmy Rosolli, local gangster, lothario (senior division) and heart attack waiting to happen...well, the waiting's over.

It's a sad day, but if she can't have Jimmy at least Grandma can have all the attention she wants as the dutiful widow. But some kinds of attention are not welcomed, particularly when Jimmy's former "business partners" are convinced that his widow is keeping the keys to their financial success for herself.

As someone who has spent an entire career finding bad guys, a set of missing keys should be no challenge for Stephanie Plum. Problem is, the facts are as twisted as a boardwalk pretzel with mustard.

bookreview1

Wow, it’s kind of crazy that I’ve read twenty-six Stephanie Plum books! There have been the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I’m really happy that we’re finally circling back around to “the good” again. For a long while there, the books were just getting too silly and over-the-top and they became really not enjoyable. TWISTED TWENTY-SIX went back to some Stephanie Plum roots, focusing more on the family with grandma hijinks and good old-fashioned Jersey mobster threats. (What weird thing to say but if you know the series, it all makes sense.)

One thing I really enjoyed about TWISTED TWENTY-SIX is that we got back to a little character development, which was great! For comedic/cozy mysteries, that’s not always a focus, especially is comedy is more of the goal, but after spending 26 books with Stephanie, it was really nice to see her trying to decide what she wants to do with her life. We’ve watched as she met Ranger, starting seeing Joe, and started working for Vinnie with the bail bonds office, all of which were pretty much supposed to be temporary. I liked that Stephanie questioned what she really wanted to do as a career because it’s been mentioned throughout the series that she doesn’t want to do bail bonds enforcement forever but she never really seriously put that question out there.

I also liked the question of what she wanted out of a romantic aspect in her life as well. We finally address the Morelli/Ranger situation a little bit more, acknowledging that Stephanie doesn’t want to get married (which is cool) but that she does kind of want to settle down and be monogamous and have a nice, happy life. I thought it was great to see a little bit more of Stephanie’s inner monologue when it comes to being an adult and making the big decisions because that really helps push the character side of the books forward, which was been stagnant and kind of boring for so long.

Plot-wise, I think I could have used a little bit more suspense or mystery. These audiobooks go quickly so the story kind of sweeps by but I wanted to be just a bit more engaged and maybe have had the mystery go a little deeper. There were a couple nice reveals at the end which I enjoyed.

These books are easy and fun and I’m so happy they’re starting to get back to their roots. I know I’d keep reading them but this one made me more excited to keep on trucking with the series as it continues!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character development. This book really got me back into the characters! I’m so glad that we got to see a bit more personality from Stephanie again in this book and it makes me want to keep up my interest in these characters’ journeys.
Left Me Wanting More: Mystery. I could have done with just a tad more mystery to really keep me interested and engaged in this one.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you haven’t read the series and are looking for something fun and easy, they’re really light and fun! The middle of the series gets kind of wacky so bonus if you enjoy that kind of stuff and if you’re not into silly, then avoid it all together.

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BOOKS LIKE TWISTED TWENTY-SIX

             

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.

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BOOKS LIKE THE TENTH GIRL