Tag Archives: Thriller

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.

bookreview1

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.

book_recommendations1

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!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE IN HER SKIN

          

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) – Maureen Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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BOOKS LIKE TRULY DEVIOUS

          

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

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE DON’T YOU CRY

          

Last Seen Leaving – Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving – Caleb RoehrigTitle: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Publishing Info: October 4, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, BEA 2016, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 14, 2017

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

bookreview1

This was another solid young adult mystery/thriller for me! As with most YA mysteries, I did have a little bit of disbelief that the police didn’t get as involved as they should have but that’s been one of my hang-ups in YA mysteries. The police are often shutting kids down (which, fair, they don’t need to nor can they divulge information about cases to teenagers, no matter how involved they might have been) but too often things are left at a shut-down and then there’s no showing that the police were even investigating at all. Anyway, like usual, we’ll suspend that disbelief for the sake of it being a YA mystery.

Let’s also suspend the disbelief of Flynn’s language because like many John Green books, I don’t know anyone who speaks like that, teenager or adult. I’m not saying you have to be a word nerd in order to use “big words” but some of those words aren’t even in my vocabulary much less in a teen’s, so it was noticeable to me.
January also kind of reminded me of Alaska in LOOKING FOR ALASKA in the sense that I think I was supposed to like her but … I really didn’t. Was I supposed to like January? I can’t tell. She was kind of all over the place and obviously Flynn cares for her but there was also a lot of “January is so special” and some clear manipulation here that I ended up being suspicious of her instead of hoping this was all a big misunderstanding. I think it was also the narration and the was her tone was portrayed because it was a very haughty voice and I wasn’t a fan of her character because of it.

LAST SEEN LEAVING has been compared to GONE GIRL, which is always a huge comparison in my opinion because those are some big shoes to fill, but I also definitely see where that’s coming from. I hate when comparisons are made because then it MAKES me draw conclusions similar to the plot of the book it was compared to which can be spoilers, so boo on that affecting my reading experience, but that’s also part of what drew me in so beggars can’t be choosers! Anyway — I totally see the GONE GIRL comparison except that feel left me thinking it was going to be more sinister than it was. Don’t get me wrong, some very Not Okay things happen in this book and it gets troubling and complicated, but that thought misled me juuuust a bit.

Okay, enough with the complaining. I actually did enjoy this book so let’s talk about the nice things! I really liked Flynn’s character. It wasn’t to the point of gushing but I felt like he was pretty realistic, heroics aside, and I appreciated how he handled all of life’s complications, including a life-changing admission of his own. I really liked how he handled everything, from personal relationships to self-revelations to friendships to murder investigations — it may not have always been in the BEST way, but he always seemed realistic and I thought he did a pretty good job of staying true to himself. The secondary characters outside of Flynn didn’t have as much depth as I would have liked but I also felt them to be pretty realistic as well. I loved his parents and how involved they were in the book. It wasn’t a TON of page time but they were always there to support him no matter what was going on and it’s just always so nice to see that. I wished we had gotten to know Flynn’s friends a bit more and I know some people were upset with how Micah ended up treating him but again, I also don’t think it’s unrealistic. It may have not been the best way to support your friend but what teenager handles everything perfectly?

The mystery was definitely interesting and I was left guessing until the very end! I’m glad I was still surprised at how everything went down but there were a few twists and for some reason the way that they were all laid out, I was still expecting one more (as if that wasn’t all enough for me lol). I was aaaalmost satisfied with the ending but there was just something there that I was missing. Maybe I’ve been reading too many adult thrillers where EVERYONE is so messed up that I’m expecting characters to be even worse than they are. I was very surprised and it was something I never would have guessed, at least how the reveal happened, so that was really cool.

This book has a lot happening and a lot going for it and I was definitely interested from start to finish! There were many complex friendships and relationships, an interesting mystery, and a diverse cast of characters. I think it was a very solid read, even though I had a few hang-ups as mentioned above, but I know they’re more minor things that didn’t really take away from my overall feeling about the book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA mysteries. I enjoyed the way this book was put together! Mysteries can be tricky in YA, especially murder mysteries, but I thought this was done well!
Left Me Wanting More: Shock factor? Being compared to GONE GIRL kind of set me up for a huge shock. The ending was something I wasn’t anticipating but I wasn’t bowled over.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a nice, solid read that I enjoyed and would recommend!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LAST SEEN LEAVING

          

This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnisTitle: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: October 10, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 18, 2017
Related Posts: A Madness So Discreet, The Female of the Species

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

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I can’t even… what??? This book was not at all what I expected and without heading into spoiler-town (yet), I will say that I went through an array of feelings while reading it. Well hell, the book isn’t what I expected while reading it either. It was just… well-done, Mindy McGinnis. You have slayed me.

Okay, so avoiding spoilers for now, here’s what I can tell you about this book: it’s about a girl named Sasha who is the good girl, won’t even swear, is extremely dedicated to her music (clarinet) and works hard to the point of obsessing over being perfect with music, grades, and being good. Things start to take a turn when she discovers that she is (used to be) a twin, but her sister was never actually born and was absorbed in the womb. This is an actual thing that happens sometimes so okay. Sasha seems shaken by this information and tries to gather more information about her sister-that-could-have-been and things start to go haywire as she becomes entangled with a boy named Isaac, the stereotypical bad-boy with whom Sasha would never interact… except she has, and Isaac has proof. Sasha tries to figure out how and why and then we head into the twisty part of this book…

So up until this point, I was like eeeeeeehhhhahhhahhh I don’t know about this. I wasn’t super keen on the twin-thing being a big part of the story because I didn’t see that coming (yes, I KNOW it’s in the synopsis — reminder 184300495 that I go into books blind so I can be so very surprised by things like this and usually it creates for an even more amazing story because it was definitely a reveal that I was surprised by instead of knowing it was coming. See?) and like the obsessive person that Sasha is, she starts to take the investigation of her sister a little too far and takes on a little too much.

There are a LOT of spoilers I could talk about but won’t include them in here for those who haven’t read the book but be sure to check out my Goodreads review if you want to see what’s behind the spoiler tags there!

The book truly shook me with its ending but there were also parts that were just plain weird. It ended up totally coming together but I must admit that I was kind of like oooooookay for a few good sections of the book where I wasn’t sure how I felt. This book is one to mess with your head and your emotions and even if you’re not crazy about the beginning, it’s so worth finishing because you won’t want to miss that ending.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Twisted stories. This was a sort of psychological thriller that I was not expecting and I kiiiind of loved it. I love being surprised by something new and this was definitely different!
Left Me Wanting More: Realism? I mean, things got straight up WEIRD for a while. I guess the book sooort of lost me just for a bit but really, it all worked itself out.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This gets kind of weird but WHOA the ending was totally worth it! Stick with it and you’ll be shocked.

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BOOKS LIKE THIS DARKNESS MINE

          

The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) – Maggie Hall

The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) – Maggie HallTitle: The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) by Maggie Hall
Publishing Info: July 18, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 20, 2017
Related Posts: The Conspiracy of Us (The Conspiracy of Us #1), Map of Fates (The Conspiracy of Us #2)

The Circle is hers. But Avery West has lost everything else: her mother, the family she’d just found, and the one boy she trusted. In their place are unfathomable power, a staged relationship that makes her question every real feeling she’s ever had, and a mission to find the cure to the virus that’s made her own blood a weapon.

Then disaster strikes, turning Avery, Stellan, Jack, and Elodie into the most wanted people in the world. To clear their names and the growing rift between the families of the Circle before the world dissolves into World War Three, they’ll have to make a desperate, dangerous final race for Alexander the Great’s tomb. What they will find inside will mean the world’s salvation—or destruction.

Avery will have to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice—for the world, for family, and for love—in this conclusion to the Conspiracy of Us series.

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That was such a solid ending of this series, and done just right, I think! I often times worry with series-enders because it’s so hard to wrap things up. I think THE ENDS OF THE WORLD was just the right amount of action, romance, resolution, devastation, and consequences all rolled into a solid conclusion.

I listened to the first two books back-to-back on audio and I almost wish I had waited until this book was out so I could have binged all three because I always forget a little bit from the previous books, so I did have a tiny bit of a gap in remembering exactly what happened! Fortunately it wasn’t a lot since I read them not TOO long ago, but it still did affect my reading experience just a tiny bit. What I really did love is that Maggie Hall kept all of her characters true to themselves. They really grew throughout the series and their decisions were normal and logical for everything that they had been through. Avery is a very different person from the beginning of the series and I loved how she said it herself — she’s definitely not the same but her experiences changed her and she grew from them. I really loved how the characters evolved but really stayed true to their personalities and beliefs. It happens all too often that things start to really stray from the first book by the time you hit the last book so I’m so happy that Maggie Hall kept a very cohesive feel to this series all around!

Being the last in the series, obviously things had to take some dire turns before they could wrap up! I really liked the amount of danger present in this book and the sacrifices that were made. It wasn’t always easy to read but everything resolved really well, I think, and it was a satisfying ending without being too cheesy. I loved the extra few sentences that stated that even though it was a positive final result, everyone had still gone through so much and it would take a long time for everyone to be okay, if ever. It really put that into perspective that these characters went through some STUFF and it’s not all fluff and cotton candy after it was all over. They have a long road ahead of working to put things back into place, sorting out a lot of political stuff, and working on relationships as well. It was great to see some reality brought into a happy ending while still feeling a little gooey about it.

Without talking about any spoilers, the plot did take a turn that I wasn’t so crazy about? Not bad in any way but I guess you could say it that was one step further that took things into more of a jump outside of reality that I just didn’t know if I could wrap my brain around it. It wasn’t paranormal or fantastical or anything like that but it was an added element to the story that really affected the plot and I was just like of like HMMM. How do I feel about this? I think it took one step past the international espionage and added almost a mild sci-fi element? Ugh, it’s hard to explain without giving things away but anyway, that was my one very small hang-up, and totally a personal opinion.

Overall, I LOVED this series and I love international thrillers like this! There aren’t a lot of really good YA espionage/modern political novels like this (I guess for lack of a better term, a sort of Da Vinci Code concept) and I would love to see more of this in the YA world! I’d absolutely pick it up. No matter what Maggie Hall is writing next, I am totally on board! I loved the details that went into this series, the feel and atmosphere were fantastic, the characters were strong, and the whole series stayed true to itself. Highly recommend and can’t wait to read more from Maggie Hall, whatever that may be!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I hate having to compare every international thriller like this to THE DAVINCI CODE so I’m gonna make a reference to this series from now on! We need more books like this!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality? It was fun but I also felt like the plot went a little too outside of my comfort zone to wrap things up. I understand where it was heading but I also wasn’t the biggest fan. I think I want more thriller less… mythology I guess.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This series is so well done. I love these characters, the locations, and the action!

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     THE FIXER     HEIST SOCIETY

The Wicker King – K. Ancrum

The Wicker King – K. AncrumTitle: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
Publishing Info: October 31, 2017 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 30, 2017

The Wicker King is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

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This is another book that’s so unique that it’s hard to rate! I didn’t fall tooootally head over heels with it but at the same time, I absolutely could not tear myself away for so many reasons. The book was so creative, obsessive, and incredibly unique and I loved every bit of it!

The book gets DARKER as it goes on. No, literally. The pages start out normal and then doodles get added along the edges, gathering until the middle is a shade of gray when the book is closed, and as things get darker in the book, the actual pages turn to black. It’s a VERY cool effect that’s immediately eye-catching and makes you want to tear through to the end and see why it’s so dark. Gimmick to get you to pick it up? Maybe. Did it work? Abso-freakin-lutely. This book release date is in October and and I threw my TBR aside to read it to read it in June!

The pacing is intense! Each page is only a page or two long, maybe three at the most, so you finish one and say “just one more” and before you know it, you’ve inhaled the whole book. If I hadn’t been reading this on my lunch hour at work, I probably would have read it in a single day. The action always keeps moving forward and with such quick snippets, you just feel like you can keep reading and reading and won’t want to stop!

The obsessive nature of the characters will make you obsessed as well. August and Jack are very obsessive and co-dependent (not like, judging them here, that’s truly a point that’s made in the book). This nature only intensifies throughout the book resulting in destructive actions on many levels. The obsessiveness throughout the book really pushes that constant urgency and makes it so you can’t put the book down.

I loved the writing of this story in so many ways and K. Ancrum brilliantly structured this book to keep the reader hooked. I ended up not quite loving the end of the book but I’m not totally sure why. I think it was just all of these things leading up to something B I G and there was a big thing that happened in the end but I guess it wasn’t quite what I was hoping or expecting and I also wanted something a little bit … more. I couldn’t tell you what it is but something felt like it was missing!

This book will definitely be one that readers just tear through and I’m interested to hear everyone’s else’s reviews! I think it’s going to be a big buzz book this fall and I can’t wait to hear what readers think of it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Visual writing styles. That makes no sense but I don’t know how to say it. I loved how the darkness of the book really affected the tone of the novel (or followed it). Like the physical, dark, black pages, not just the feel. It’s so need to see a physical manifestation of the words on the pages!
Left Me Wanting More: Horror? I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I keep expecting YA mystery/thrillers to end more… horrifically. I mean I don’t want that to happen to people in real life but I guess I’m just looking for more of something I wouldn’t even think of and I guess being a mystery reader all my life, there’s not a lot that surprises me anymore. I keep feeling like the endings are just missing something and I don’t quite feel satisfied.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book is a wild ride with a unique relationship, action-packed pages, and some cool visual effects.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE WICKER KING

(Click the cover to see my review!)