Tag Archives: Mystery/Thriller

Foe – Iain Reid

Foe – Iain ReidTitle: Foe by Iain Reid
Publishing Info: September 4, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction
Date Completed: June 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: I'm Thinking of Ending Things

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won't have a chance to miss him, because she won't be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.

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After being totally wowed by Iain Reid’s first fictional novel, I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, I was very excited to find out that he had FOE coming out, which I was lucky enough to find at ALA this year. I knew it was something I wanted to pick up immediately, trying to find the same exciting spark but this one just didn’t have the same effect on me, mostly due to the ending, which was the selling point of I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS.

One thing that really did stay consistent was that ever-moving pace. Reid’s writing style just makes you want to race through to the end, constantly clueing readers in on subtle nuances that play a bigger part in the overall story. There are little things to pick up along the way, clues planted, and key points that constantly kept me guessing. I had so many wild theories as to what was going on (all of which were WAY off) and it wasn’t that they were red herrings but there were so many things to pay attention to that I should have guessed what was happening here and I didn’t. This was really similar to my experience read his first book as well, which made for a really enjoyable experience and I pretty much sat in the same place, ignoring everything until I finished.

I also love that this book is another 200+ page novel. It makes it easy to want to just sit there until I’m finished with the book. The pacing adds to the need to binge read and I really didn’t put it down until I was done! I read it within a span of a few hours, not wanting to stop until I found out what Reid had in store for his readers.

I will say, though, that I didn’t love the ending. I do want to talk about it so THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Look away from he rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to read the spoiler part! So throughout the whole novel, there are little hints that this book is set in the future at some point in time. Junior and Hen live on a farm so their lifestyle hasn’t changed so much as far as technology goes, so I wasn’t sure if that was something to lead me off the path, but it really was a part of the story. “Screens” instead of a cell phone, the fact that Junior is even chosen for this space program, cars that drive themselves. All legitimate parts of the book. We find out down the road that this mysterious Terrance is there to create a duplicate of Junior for his wife while he’s gone for two years so then the suspicion is why and is that the real purpose? When it all comes to an end, we find out that the narrator WAS the duplicate almost the whole time and then the real Junior comes home. Definitely twisty but I was really hoping for another psychological twist where Junior was in a psych ward and this was a schizophrenic break, or that some things were real but others weren’t. I know the psychological twist was already done but I didn’t really like the sci-fi aspect of it. I guess I just wasn’t expecting it and was waiting for something huge. I did like the reveal and it was a great concept but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.

I did enjoy the book and it was impossible to put down, but didn’t love the ending. More so, I just love Reid’s writing style and even if I didn’t love this book, I will for sure be picking up anything else after this because the story is so enthralling and I can’t put these books down!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fast-paced novels. Both of the novels I’ve read from Iain Reid had me racing through, not wanting to put the book down! It was so easy to want to keep going to with a short number of pages, easy to inhale without getting up off of the couch!
Left Me Wanting More: Psychological thrills. I liked the psychological element of the first book and while I did like that this book had a different twist, I found myself wanting that same sort of twist.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

It’s an easy, quick, and addictive read. I didn’t quite love the ending but I think I’d still recommend it and find it worth the read!

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BOOKS LIKE FOE

              

The Naturals (The Naturals #1) – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals (The Naturals #1) – Jennifer Lynn BarnesTitle: The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publishing Info: November 5, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: June 29, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Fixer (The Fixer #1)

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

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For some reason I thought this book was about kids with extra special abilities as in, supernatural of some sort, but it’s actually just special as in heightened and highly perceptive. In case you had some misconceptions as well, it’s actually about a group of gifted teens who are gathered together to form a sort of natural superbrain team brought together to solve murder cases! I actually liked that a lot though! It was really interesting and I kind of liked that it didn’t have a paranormal twist, as I had expected.

THE NATURALS was a really enjoyable book! I had fun with the mystery/thriller aspect and I really enjoyed it from start to finish. I really liked getting to know Cassie and I felt like I got to know each character pretty well. They interacted really well and the audiobook narrator did a great job of giving them different voices and creating different personalities through those voices. The secondary characters really brought more life to the pages and added a great depth to this book as well. I can’t wait to see how they come into play in future books too!

It, like most books nowadays, was pretty solid and still enjoyable but missing that oomph that has me falling in love with a book. The way the mystery part of the book played out was really interesting and had plenty of surprises! I wasn’t expecting it take the turns that it did and really appreciated that the book kept me on my toes.

I’ll definitely continue the series and with the way this book wrapped up, it makes me very interested to see how the other books will continue! This one wrapped up fairly well and I’m curious to see how the other books go from here.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-magical squads. This was an interesting team of characters! I liked all of their natural abilities without them being magical abilities.
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. I did like the thrills presented in the book and the mystery had a nice twist, but I also still felt like it was missing a little something to give it that extra wow-factor!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was really enjoyable! I’m not dying to rush ahead to continue the series but it’s in the solid want column.

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BOOKS LIKE THE NATURALS

              

The Lying Woods – Ashley Elston

The Lying Woods – Ashley ElstonTitle: The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 13, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: September 9, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2), This is Our Story

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

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I’ve been a fan of Ashley Elston’s since her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING and I’ve enjoyed every book of hers since then! I jumped at the chance to read and review THE LYING WOODS when Disney-Hyperion presented me with the opportunity and I really enjoyed it!

THE LYING WOODS was an interesting read! At first it read a little more realistic fiction than mystery/thriller, taking its time to get into the story. There was always and underlying mystery, slowly being put together, but I did feel like this one took a little bit longer to get more into the mystery and investigation side of things. It was an interesting change of pace and really allowed readers to spend more time getting to know the main characters and their backgrounds. The history is a big part of this book and was important to keep it developing.

The end was really packed with punches! There were some clues and the mystery along the way but it wasn’t really about investigating and discovering like a lot of mystery/thrillers are, so when reveals and twists started popping up, it was a huge surprise! I loved how fast-paced it got towards the end and it was really exciting! The ending was really interesting and I loved how it all came together. I love those moments where facts are presented and you realize you should have known them the whole time. It’s so much fun to look back and see all the things that were there the whole time!

I’m definitely interested in everything that Ashley Elston writes and THE LYING WOOD was another enjoyable novel! It was an interesting and unique mystery/thriller that had some elements that I didn’t expect!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Various thriller styles. I feel like every Ashley Elston book has been a different style of mystery or thriller! Each book has a unique concept and pacing and THE LYING WOODS felt so unique!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. The end of the book was very exciting but I had wished there were a few more thrills in the beginning so it felt a little less realistic fiction and more mystery/thriller!

Addiction Rating
Read it

THE LYING WOODS was enjoyable, a quick read, and a great concept! I had a really great time reading it!

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BOOKS LIKE THE LYING WOODS

              

Broken Things – Lauren Oliver

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

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

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

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

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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BOOKS LIKE BROKEN THINGS

              

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating Read it!

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

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Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer – Katie Alender

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

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

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

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

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

bookreview1** This review will contain spoilers **

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Think about it

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

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BOOKS LIKE MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER

              

Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl

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

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

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

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

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERWORLD WAKE

              

Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME

              

Girls on Fire – Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire – Robin WassermanTitle: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Publishing Info: May 17, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 4, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.

In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshiping bad influence in lip gloss and Doc Martens. The charismatic, seductive Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image and unleashing a fierce defiance that neither girl expected. But as Lacey gradually lures Dex away from her safe life into a feverish spiral of obsession, rebellion, and ever greater risk, an unwelcome figure appears on the horizon—and Lacey’s secret history collides with Dex’s worst nightmare.

By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, Girls on Fire is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.

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Anything that’s about toxic friendships is an immediate draw for me. When I first read about GIRLS ON FIRE, I knew I wanted to read it so I had some high expectations upon starting it! Things started off well and interesting and then the book started to lose me.

This book was what I expected and also took a couple turns. I found myself kind of losing interest a little towards the middle and I felt like things kind of plateaued a little early, even though there still was more to come. It was gripping and also a little horrifying witnessing such toxic friendships but it’s also a really interesting from a psychological aspect. While it felt genuine and plausible, it also was just lacking some element that really allowed me to connect with it and get sucked in like I had hoped.

The pacing really just threw me off and once the middle hit, I was starting to really lose focus. I thought it was an interesting concept and story but the book just didn’t flow and I thought it could have been set up a little bit better.

If you’re looking for a book about toxic friendships, this one definitely fits the bill. There’s also a mystery and other coming-of-age topics (relationships, friendships, family), but it just didn’t quite fit for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Toxic Friendships. It’s so interesting and slightly horrifying to read of friendships like these, mostly because they really do exist in such extremes.
Left Me Wanting More: Flow. The pacing was off and the book really just didn’t flow for me. I found myself losing focus about halfway through.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It wasn’t a bad book or anything but I just had a hard time staying interested. I just didn’t quite love it and it didn’t help that I had some expectations and it didn’t quite get there.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GIRLS ON FIRE

              

In Her Skin – Kim Savage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

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BOOKS LIKE IN HER SKIN