Tag Archives: Thriller

Mini-Review: Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica

Mini-Review: Pretty Baby – Mary KubicaTitle: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: July 28, 2015 by Harlequin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 5, 2017
Related Posts: The Good Girl

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

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PRETTY BABY definitely wasn’t as strong as THE GOOD GIRL for me. The story line wasn’t as intriguing and I’m glad that it had a different feel but I also wasn’t as fond of the plot involved in this book. Call me silly, but any time a baby is a main part of a plot, I just find it unappealing. I don’t have anything against the baby, but babies are so vulnerable that it really holds a character back and I find it frustrating. While it’s a part of real life, it’s just not something that I usually choose to read about.

PRETTY BABY seemed to be a little less intriguing as well, not only compared to THE GOOD GIRL, but just in general compared to other mysteries or thrillers. I really felt like there was a lot of time spent in places where the plot could have moved forward and more info through the backstories could have been provided to keep the reader intrigued. It seemed like there were a few missed opportunities to really keep things moving and some big things were delayed a bit too long.

Things did end up unraveling for a fast and furious finale so that did bump up my rating just a bit. I did enjoy the ending and it was expected, yet not. I could see something coming but to actually watch the events unravel was kind of mind-boggling.

I actually liked the twist of characters throughout the book and I enjoyed how I started out with one impression of each one of the narrating voices and changed my opinions slowly the more pieces of the puzzle I gained. Some of the more unlikable (or simply less warm) characters became more likable towards the end once I gained a little more perspective on what exactly they were dealing with.

I’m definitely still interested in more from Mary Kubica (and I love that her books are set in Chicago! Hello, St. Charles/Kane County mention!) but this one wasn’t as strong as her first for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult thrillers. I’ve always been a big mystery/thriller fan and I’m enjoying getting into Mary Kubica’s books! It’s really fun to take a break from YA and get into an adult mindset.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot Development. I wanted things to keep moving forward just a little bit. I didn’t mind a bit twist/reveal/thing at the end but I was hoping for just a little bit more forward motion throughout.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I did enjoy this one but it wasn’t as strong as other thrillers for me. I think it’s a good read though and I enjoy Mary Kubica’s writing!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE PRETTY BABY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

A Good Idea – Cristina Moracho

A Good Idea – Cristina MorachoTitle: A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho
Publishing Info: February 28, 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 14, 2017
Related Posts: Althea and Oliver

Can the right kind of boy get away with killing the wrong kind of girl?
Fin and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates.
Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk.
But Williston is a town full of secrets, where a delicate framework holds everything together, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda. How much is she willing to damage to get her revenge and learn the truth about Betty’s disappearance, which is more complicated than she ever imagined—and infinitely more devastating?

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A GOOD IDEA was interesting from start to finish but my passion for it sort of went in waves. The beginning was interesting but I wasn’t sure where it was going yet. The middle was thrilling and I tore through the book (well, I would have it I wasn’t listening to an audiobook and was forced to read at a level pace). The ending culminated well but got a little out there in regards to how things tied up. I liked the way that the book ended and yet the circumstances as to how the characters resolved the “case” was a little bizarre.

I was excited to pick up A GOOD IDEA because I had loved Cristina Moracho’s debut, ALTHEA & OLIVER. This book was quite different — a mystery/thriller versus realistic fiction — but I do love that both books took place in the 90s. It wasn’t really a “period piece” but I’m guessing that was Moracho’s time as a teen since it’s been revisited twice and I do like that “write what you know” concept in this case. I also enjoy things NOT set in present day because the slight throwback allows for less technology to get in the way. The concept of no cell phones (or at least no smart phones) really breaks that form of constant communication and allows plot to wander instead of technology making things unrealistic. Everyone is not a quick phone call or text away and people don’t have cameras attached to their hips. I appreciate the break from technology and allowing the book to run away with an idea!

This is another book that may aim towards a more mature young adult audience with consistent drug usage, language, and sexual activity. I read a few reviews that felt like these things were overboard but for small town Maine (or small town anywhere) and a lack of technology (not like I know what the 90s were like as a teen), I didn’t think anything was really out of bounds. It wasn’t my personal experience as a teenager but that doesn’t mean it’s unrealistic.

It was interesting to see Finley dig into the past by stirring up questions about her best friend Betty’s murder. Betty “disappeared” and everyone knew she had probably died but without actual evidence, no one really wanted to actually admit it. With a confession in the air (not a spoiler — we know this from the beginning) that didn’t stick, Finley needs to prove that the confessor is actually guilty and that they’re punished for taking her best friend’s life but loyalty gets in the way and made things even more dangerous for Finley. It was really interesting to have an answer from the start and have the characters race through a series of theories and scenarios. Was this confession really what happened? How much more is there to the story? Is it a lie? Is it a cover up for something else? Is Betty even really dead? These are all questions that the characters ask themselves and as the reader, I really started to question everything as well. The obvious answer is presented to the reader at the very beginning, but is it the CORRECT answer?

The ending got a little strange and maybe a bit too dramatic for my tastes. The beginning was pretty realistic, focusing more on the internal struggles of each character that added to the drama and confusion of the overall mystery. The ending got a little too villain-y for me (also not a spoiler because that’s not even in relation to the final answer of the mystery) and it just really sadly turned me off for just a bit. BUT I did like how the very, very end wrapped up and the solid conclusion left me satisfied with the book overall.

Oh, and we also really did find a bathtub in the woods on a hike.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books set in the 90s. This book wasn’t really about the 90s but I love the concept of being slightly removed from present day. I wouldn’t call the 1990s historical fiction but I enjoy that there’s a little bit of nostalgia and lack of technology. I’d love to see more books set in the 80s and 90s!
Left Me Wanting More: Realistic endings. Things were so gritty and real and then then ending got a little bizarre for me. I mean, it’s a book so I’m not saying it never could have happened but it just didn’t seem like it would happen.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This was a really interesting book and I really enjoyed the way it was put together! I liked that it was a mystery and yet the answers were there the whole time, and I thought the character development was really great too.

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BOOKS LIKE A GOOD IDEA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THIS IS OUR STORY

You (You #1) – Caroline Kepnes

You (You #1) – Caroline KepnesTitle: You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes
Publishing Info: September 30, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 1, 2016

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

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Well, for all of the hype for this book, it didn’t really leave me feeling shocked or awed or super impressed, but I did find that it left a lasting impression and that I wanted to read the next book right away! I did like the things that were different about it. I really enjoyed the different narration in the second person, hence the title “You”. Main character (and super psychopath) Joe narrates the book to and about his newest obsession, Guinevere Beck. It was an interesting choice of narration and it really gets you in the head of the narrator. I did have a hard time with the book — not in a bad way, but in a way that confused me because this guy is totally nuts. He’s actually crazy and creepy and scary and does some very, very bad things… And yet I felt sympathetic at times! The form of narration really had me feeling for him even though I knew he was totally wrong and deranged. I also really enjoyed Joe’s voice in the sense that it felt more personal. It wasn’t just recounting. He often interrupted himself or interjected with more things that brought one more level to the account.

For all of the hype, I felt like there was supposed to be a twist coming and while that really wasn’t this kind of book. I think I got myself all hyped because of other people’s reactions and it didn’t really shock me like I thought it would, but instead, it was shocking in a very different way. I was so appalled at Joe’s actions and yet it was also a train wreck that I couldn’t stop watching. I really did get myself all psyched for a big twist moment, so I was a bit sad that that didn’t happen, but I also am coming to appreciate those thrillers that can wrap up without a twist because if every book had a twist, they’d all be predictable!

The book was very sexual, and I don’t have issues with sexuality in books, but it did feel overdone at times. I guess that is kind of the point of the book in a way, since Joe’s obsession is romantic on all levels. He’s obsessed with Beck emotionally, physically, and mentally. Clearly he has several psychoses so the obsession is overboard on so many levels. I am used to reading YA which really doesn’t get explicit of course, but there were points that felt like a little much for me.

YOU was interesting and engaging from start to finish and I did enjoy reading it but I think I was just let down by the hype. I kept waiting for a huge moment that didn’t really happen and I thought that’s how the book would end but was also kind of hoping it wouldn’t. Looking back on it as I’m reviewing, I really was totally engaged so that really did leave a good lasting impression! Somehow Joe came off as charismatic in a way and I wanted to pick up HIDDEN BODIES shortly thereafter!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Crazy, messed-up thrillers. I don’t know why but every once in a while, I like a good, messed up book.
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. I guess I did appreciate the lack of a big twist but I was also really expecting it so it was kind of a bummer!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you like some crazy thrillers that put you into the mind of a literal psychopath, definitely check out YOU!

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BOOKS LIKE YOU

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE GOOD GIRL

This is Our Story – Ashley Elston

This is Our Story – Ashley ElstonTitle: This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 15, 2016
Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2)

Five went in. Four came out.
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

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I was so excited for a new book by Ashley Elston because I loved her debut duology THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING and THE RULES FOR BREAKING! I’m always looking for more YA mysteries and thrillers because there weren’t a lot for a very long time and the insurgence of them now is so exciting! When I heard about THIS IS OUR STORY, it immediately went on my list of books I added to get my hands on!

One thing I really loved about this book is how well it was set from a teenager’s perspective. I think the hardest thing about YA mysteries is making a believable reason for why a teen is involved in the case and why they wouldn’t go to an adult or the police. In the case of THIS IS OUR STORY, main character Kate works for the district attorney’s office (as does her mother) and she assists her boss by dictating and spotting details for him, as he has failing eyesight and isn’t ready to step down from his job yet. Kate acts as an extra pair of eyes for him throughout his investigation of the River Point Boys, a group of kids involved in the murder of one of their best friends. I really loved how well this concept worked because it allowed Kate to have access to the case and obtain more details than a normal kid or outsider.

The book was interesting from start to finish but I didn’t get quite as into the story as I had hoped. I’ve gotten sucked in to quite a few mystery/thrillers and I did enjoy the whole book but it wasn’t as gripping as some other books I’ve read. The story was still very well put-together and carefully crafted. Ashley Elston did a great job with the character relationships, keeping identities secret, and weaving in doubt and suspicion.

I would say her first books/series were my favorite so far but THIS IS OUR STORY was also a very solid read! I wished I had been able to get into it a bit more, but I’ve had such limited reading time lately and a lot going on that it could always be situational and not the book. It was a very good mystery still and I really did enjoy it! It didn’t stand out as much as I had hoped but a wonderfully solid book and one I’d recommend!

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA detectives. I always love mystery/thrillers but it’s hard to get teens on the scene in a realistic way. This was done really well and I loved how Kate got involved in the case!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. The book was great but I think I was missing just a few more thrills to really suck me in.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re looking for more YA mysteries, THIS IS OUR STORY is a great one to pick up! It was pretty realistic and incorporated the story line well for the age and setting.

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BOOKS LIKE THIS IS OUR STORY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW    DANGEROUS BOYS

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train – Paula HawkinsTitle: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publishing Info: January 13, 2015 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 29, 2016

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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After much anticipation, I finally picked up THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN! I totally see the GONE GIRL comparison but I also liked that the book did go in a very different direction. There are so many thrillers nowadays that compare to big titles and they’re big shoes to fill! I wasn’t as blown away by GONE GIRL as some but I did enjoy the many twists and not knowing what to expect. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN had that same sort of feel but the ending actually felt a bit more predictable.

It was really interesting to see the many unreliable narrators in this book (always a fan) and I was always kept on my toes because I was never quite sure who or what to believe! That does create a problem sometimes because I love these sorts of thrillers so I always start to form some wild accusation in my head, and sometimes I like my theories better than the actual book. Not all books can have endings so wild, though, because otherwise it’d be really played out and we’d all expect twists all the time and be able to guess them all! THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN still had a nice twist at the end, mostly putting all the pieces together, but it wasn’t as twisty as I anticipated. I enjoyed that it wasn’t what I expected but I felt after that whole book that it lost a little excitement towards the reveal and I really wasn’t a fan of the villain speech to reveal it all.

I wasn’t super duper in love with the book and yet I really couldn’t put this book down. I was so interested and hooked and I loved the mystery and suspense of it all. The unreliable narrators were great and I actually really enjoyed the writing style, with different POV switches as well as those POVs taking place at different points in time. It was really interesting to see it all come together in the end and I actually appreciate that the narrators were unreliable but in a very realistic and somewhat relatable way.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a very solid mystery and thriller and I can see why it captivated so many people! It really is a great GONE GIRL comparison and it allows readers to step into a relatable role and still distance themselves from these specific experiences. I’m really glad I finally read it!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Rachel // Character obsessions: Her ex-husband, the couple she can see from the train, solving the mystery.
I felt bad for Rachel and not all at the same time. She put herself into so many horrible positions and being an alcoholic made things so, so much worse… And yet she was also incredibly relatable at times. I’m sure a lot of us can relate to those missing pieces of fuzziness after a night of drinking and it just makes you think how much it can truly affect your life after continuing on like that on a consistent basis, and Rachel’s drinking messed up her life on so many levels. It was an interesting tool to use for an unreliable narrator though because it’s something where you’re able to see that a character has missing pieces or false information and it’s not cheesy or a psychological factor after a big reveal. Readers are able to see that Rachel is pretty unreliable and yet she was one to root for to pull her life together.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult mystery/thrillers. Adult mysteries were my bread and butter when I first started blogging and it’s always fun to jump back into that world!
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. I know I said I was happy the twist wasn’t overdone but it’s also hard when you’re expecting something huge and it’s not as huge as you thought it was. The ending was definitely still enjoyable but didn’t have that “omg” factor that shot it up to five stars for me.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you liked GONE GIRL, this is a serious and legit recommendation for you! If not, the book certainly stands on its own two feet and also has plenty of differences.

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BOOKS LIKE THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GONE GIRL    THE good girl

Thieving Weasels – Billy Taylor

Thieving Weasels – Billy TaylorTitle: Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor
Publishing Info: August 23, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Heists/Spies/Espionage
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 29, 2016

Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O’Rourke, and Skip O’Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago…along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip’s given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron.
“One last con” is easier said than done when Skip’s family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they’ve always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there’s one lesson he hasn’t forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don’t know who your mark is . . . it’s probably you.
Witty and irresistibly readable, this standout debut will always keep you guessing.

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THIEVING WEASELS was a bit different than I anticipated but really in a good way. From the cover, I thought it was going to be a lot goofier and really slapstick but it was actually a lot more serious and realistic than I thought! The book was pretty entertaining, even though it wasn’t what I expected and I really appreciated that it was a bit more on the serious side.

It really became quite the complicated thing with the book being more realistic than I thought because I ended up not being able to write off some things for the sake of comedy. For example, I was left wanting just a bit more character development for the tone of the book. Some of the family members kind of blended together (could also have been the narration too since they all had the same accent) but even from main character Skip, I wanted just a bit more emotion or connection. I think if it had been more of a slapstick style, I wouldn’t have minded as much because it would have been a “fluffier” read but just from the overall tone of how everything went, I think I needed just a bit more backstory or a few more anecdotes or digging a little deeper into the main characters.

I really liked the that the story had some twists! It kept me on my feet and it was really interesting to see where the story went. I wasn’t even sure how it would end when it was so close to being over so that was fun! I always really appreciate when I’m not able to guess the ending of a book because as an avid reader, you tend to be able to guess certain things just from reading all the time, so I really appreciated the direction the book took towards the end.

Overall though, it just really didn’t knock me off my feet. I love the surprises and overall feel of a con/heist story. The book was really fun but it just really wasn’t a stick-with-you kind of book. It did keep my attention and was a very quick read (or listen, if you do the audio like I did) but it was kind of middle of the road for me.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Digital review copy from Listening Library
Narrator: Robbie Daymond
Performance: Decent

The audio for this book was decent but not stellar. This was the first I had heard from Robbie Daymond and while I did like his voice in general, I didn’t feel like he did a very good job with differentiating of the different characters. There were a lot of other male characters and they all had the same type of accent and same tone of voice so that got kind of confusing at times. I probably won’t search out more from him but if he happens to narrate another book I’m interested in, I also wouldn’t say no.

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Skip // Character obsessions: Honesty, school, his girlfriend.
Skip is the honest one in a family of cons and this was a really fun concept! I wish I did get to know him a little bit more and have him feel like a more rounded character but I did enjoy what I got to know of him. The poor kid gets put in some really tight spots, especially by family members, and I really appreciated how he handled them.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Con stories. Skip’s family is entirely con artists and I just love stories about cons/heists, etc. I felt so bad for him since they put him in a lot of tight places but it was also really fun to see different cons and how that shaped the story!
Left Me Wanting More: Personality. I thought the characters could have really had more personality.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

If you’re a fan of cons, this is an easy and quick read! It was fun and kept me on my toes but it also wasn’t a book that stuck with me. Depends on what kind of read you’re in the mood for!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THIEVING WEASELS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HEIST SOCIETY    ALSO KNOWN AS

Blog Tour: This is Our Story | Book Scents

Blog Tour: This is Our Story | Book Scents

Welcome to the blog tour for
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog your stop for THIS IS OUR STORY by Ashley Elston! I loved her debut duet and THIS IS OUR STORY was no exceptoin. I’ll post a review sometime later but for today’s blog tour stop, I’m talking about BOOK SCENTS! Thanks to Hannah from Irish Banana Blog Tours and Disney Hyperson for making this blog tour happen!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: This is Our Story | Book ScentsTitle: This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 7, 2016
Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2), This is Our Story

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.


LINKS: Amazon | B&N

ABOUT ASHLEY ELSTON

ae

Ashley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a certified landscape horticulturist and loves digging in the dirt. Her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, was published by Disney Hyperion in 2013 and the sequel, THE RULES FOR BREAKING, in 2014. Her latest novel, THIS IS OUR STORY, will be published on November 15, 2016.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

BOOK SCENTS: THIS IS OUR STORY

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from THIS IS OUR STORY! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

The door to Rhino Coffee chimes when I push it open, and several people turn toward the entrance. The delicious aroma of coffee floats through the air; and indie rock station plays in the background.

I’m in my happy place.

Inspiration: Coffee shop
Fragrances: Freshly brewed coffee, hazelnut

When I’m done, I wander off, checking out the scene. There are families spread out on blankets and kids running around everywhere. The air is rich with sweet and tangy aromas and the smoke pouring out of the grills hovers just below the tree canopies. 

Inspiration: Barbecue feast
Fragrances: Crackling firewood, spices, outdoors, brown sugar

It’s absolutely beautiful here. Giant trees dot the landscape, but with the limbs bare, sun filters in through the space. The ground is covered with leaves that crunch with every step we take. Most are dead, but some still cling to their bright orange and yellow colors.

Inspiration: Fall forest
Fragrances: Fallen leaves, fresh air, outdoors, cedar wood

… by the time we get to the party at Max Oliver’s house, I’m exhausted. 

Thankfully, there’s a fire pit in the backyard, so Reagan and I make a dash to get a seat up close.

Inspiration: Bonfire
Fragrances: Campfire, crackling firewood, outdoors, cedar, driftwood

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THIS IS OUR STORY!

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Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Hachette
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 4, 2016
Related Posts: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

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STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was such a fun read for me! I was in the mood for something delightfully dark and yet not too scary (since I’m a total chicken) and this was the perfect blend of history, mystery, and gore. Kerri Maniscalco brings the story of Jack the Ripper to life in this book with some real-life facts (including photos of actual items/evidence from the original Ripper cases) and blends them with some historical fiction to create an overall wonderful read.

The characters in this book are just excellent. I love main character Audrey Rose for so many reasons. She’s intelligent, independent, and generally doesn’t care what society thinks. She tries to do right by her family, especially after the death of her mother several years ago, but her father highly disapproves of her favorite hobby — apprenticing with her uncle in his laboratory and studying forensics. I personally love it! I loved the darkness and gruesomeness of Audrey Rose’s passion but I also loved how well it ties into the Jack the Ripper case. Audrey Rose becomes so invested in the case that she ends up often taking things into her own hands which is where another favorite character of mine, Thomas Cresswell, comes in.

Ah, Thomas Cresswell. He’s also an intellectual type but where Audrey Rose follows up with passion, Cresswell comes in with reasoning and cold logic. He’s a tough shell to crack and I loved trying to figure him out throughout the book! There were times when I loved him, times when I feared him, times when I was suspicious of him, and times when I couldn’t get enough of him! I really enjoyed the partnership he had going on with Audrey Rose and I cannot wait to see more of them working together in the second book!

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I’ve had some really good luck with historical aspects and true facts being adapted to fiction novels lately, and this falls into that category! I really enjoyed reading the afterword from Kerri Maniscalco about the actual facts of Jack the Ripper and pieces of the case and how she adapted them to the book. It’s neat to see real pieces of a mystery incorporated into this exciting adaptation!

I also loved how the identity of Jack the Ripper really kept me guessing throughout the book! I had several suspicions which waxed and waned throughout my read and the ending was so exciting!!! I was so hooked waiting to see how this all wrapped up and it beautifully set up the next book (for which I cannot wait)! The reveals were just great and perfectly timed and there were some really exciting and stunning moments!! I just really enjoyed STALKING JACK THE RIPPER from start to finish and I can’t wait for the next book.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction – and reading extra notes! I don’t read a ton of historical fiction but when I do, I’ve been enjoying reading the extra notes from the authors — what was true, what was bent to fit the story, and what could have possibly happened. I’m really loving the true history belnded with fiction!
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. Okay, I actually really appreciated that swoons that I had weren’t rushed and were delightfully gradual (which also killed me a little) because it has me even more excited for future books! I’m just being greedy!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I really, really enjoyed this book and Kerri Maniscalco is just a lovely person. I’ve had so much fun flailing and reading and speculating and I can’t wait to continue this series when the next book comes out!

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BOOKS LIKE STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    this dark endeavor

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally CarterTitle: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: January 20, 2015 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2)

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

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I’m actually really disappointed that this is a new series opener from Ally Carter. I guess I’ve only read two of her books (Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals) but her early books were SO GOOD and this book just fell so flat. I heard it had a bit of a rough start but truly, the whole book felt rough for me.

ALL FALL DOWN felt super repetitive. The story repeating the same five concepts over and over again with no action to follow them up (until the very end of the book) and literally nothing happened for the first half of the book, in my opinion. I felt like the first 75% could have been crammed into a few action-packed chapters but instead, everything was drawn out. I wouldn’t have minded spending time with these characters in place of action, but the time I did spend with them didn’t feel to developed. They weren’t personalities that jumped off the page and everyone fell a little flat.

There were hints at the snark and sass that I love so much but Grace was too busy falling apart all the time for that to really take shape. I get what the book was going for and I followed it, but it all felt a bit too dramatic for me. The visions and hallucinations were just way too much and they really bothered me — as they do in pretty much any other book unless it’s really important and necessary. I’m all for showcasing a character who is suffering from PTSD and other consequences of going through some serious stuff but for some reason this just didn’t work for me in this book. It all felt forced and cheesy instead of informative and genuine.

After all that, I was waiting for the twist (I heard there was one) and… flat again. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable — I got there and understood what was going on but Grace still didn’t and it irritated me how long it reasonably took for her to catch on. There was something I actually wasn’t expecting because it was so cliche but the cliche happened anyway.

ALL FALL DOWN was an easy read and I do think I’ll continue the series but I might sneak a peek at reviews before I do so. I do love the Heist Society series and from the way this book ended, I am hoping for maybe a little more levity and a lot more intrigue in the second book.view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I’ve been really into international thrillers lately and I loved the mix of worlds in this book! The vibe was also really great.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt so let down by the overall plot here. There wasn’t much development at all and it was a total snooze-fest throughout the beginning. I was just so bummed because I came to hope for a lot from Ally Carter!

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It’s hard for me to say. I think I’ll continue the series but I can’t outright recommend this one. I think if the series gets better, I’ll have a better feeling about it!

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BOOKS LIKE ALL FALL DOWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnisTitle: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 20, 2016
Related Posts: A Madness So Discreet

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

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THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is a hard book to talk about. It’s incredibly important in so many ways and has some great not only feminist but also important universal notions that really bring to light how we excuse certain male actions and condemn female ones for the exact same thing (sex, drugs, violence). I really did love how Mindy McGinnis said so many of these things right to readers’ faces and makes people truly confront all of these issues. That’s part of the beauty of Alex’s character as well. She’s described as both closed off and yet feeling too much. She isn’t afraid to say what she thinks or do what she thinks is right because she’s really never been the person to cater to a society’s “norms”. She confronts people, makes people pay for their actions, and somehow becomes this great antihero for us to gather around.

The book has a sort of Dexter-like feel and yet stands on its own. Alex has a darkness within her. It drives her every day life, takes over in moments of extreme emotion, and she once she actually finds people to care about and who care about her, she tries to be as “normal” as possible to not scare away her new friends. She uses this darkness to right wrongs and to seek vengeance on people who have committed horrible acts of violence, sexual abuse, or general heinous injustices. THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES isn’t focused on Alex as a serial killer (because she’s not) and I was both confused and satisfied with the ambiguity of “what she was”. Alex couldn’t even put a label on herself, seeking to fit in the category of sociopath or psychopath and didn’t quite seem to fit anywhere. I liked the uniqueness and originality, not fitting into a specific box, but I was also anticipating more of something… which I guess Alex would probably reprimand me for trying to put a label on her! I think the anticipation of the something affected the read a little bit for me because I felt like I was missing something and the book never quite crossed that line into supremely satisfying for me.

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES doesn’t shy away from really anything. Whereas some young adult books clean things up a bit for the sake of readers or publishing, Mindy McGinnis chooses to include all of the realistic speech (including swearing, descriptions of sex, and lewd behavior) that other books play down in order to reach a younger audience. I would definitely recommend this for a more mature young adult audience (although we always have that taboo of censoring younger teen audiences — I’m not a librarian, educator, or parent so that’s not for me to say but it a moderately explicit read even as an adult). There are also several instances or mentions of rape, date rape, sexual abuse, and scenes with near instances of all of these occurring so if that’s a trigger for you, do be aware that it pops up many times throughout the book.

One thing that actually bothered me about the book was the confusing involvement of animals. If you have an animal abuse trigger, it will likely bother you for this one (more than one person has brought up that it was an issue for them), and it’s not a trigger for me but I thought the violence towards animals was quite unnecessary. It wasn’t out right on the pages with a character abusing an animal but there are some really hard-to-read scenes about what happens to a few animals that I just didn’t get. It wasn’t directly tied to a character and didn’t push a plot point forward. The characters actually do take care of and help quite a few animals too but I didn’t know why the harsh scenes with injuries and death needed to be included. It didn’t serve a purpose for the book or assist a character’s story line. There was also a very gruesome scene at a meat factory that wasn’t abuse but a part of the job, but still seemed unnecessary to include (especially when I was trying to read this book as I was eating lunch — that was just unfortunate timing on my part).

My middle of the road feelings aren’t due to any of those factors though. As much as I thought the message was extremely important and valid, I just didn’t really connect to the characters in the book. I know Alex is sort of emotionally closed off and yet over-feeling and I kind of felt stuck between those two emotions. I just didn’t connect with her as much as I wanted to. I understand that she’s not someone you really connect to emotionally but I wanted to understand her just a little bit more or be able to stand behind her a little bit more and I just didn’t quite get there. It’s a weird spot because in a way, that’s the whole point of her character — she’s complex, she’s cold, she’s overly angered by injustices, she’s not your average person in terms of emotional ranges — but somehow it just didn’t click for me. It’s not that there was a lack of character development in any of the other characters either but none of the relationships really slid into place for me. It was just the little things with characters or perhaps the writing that just didn’t click and although the content was there, I just didn’t get bowled over like I thought I would.

Long story short, I’m just sort of a jumbled up from this book. I can’t quite sort out what I feel but I know that I don’t feel as wowed as I had hoped. When I end up rating books, it’s based on an overall feeling and THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES had a whole lot going on. The overall message of the book is so important but I feel like I can’t rate a book for its message alone. There are several factors involved in my feelings toward a book and this one had so many things for me to consider.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Alex // Character obsessions: Justice, darkness, friendship.
Alex is a very simple and yet very complicated character all at the same time. She’s a very black-and-white sort of character, knowing exactly she feels is right and what she feels is wrong, and she’s not afraid to right the wrongs she sees in any way she deems correct. She carries a certain darkness with her that tends to lead to violent situations, which really brings out the anti-hero in her character as readers root for the violence to “correct” injustices within Alex’s town. I think I actually struggled a little bit when Alex started figure out some friendships and tried to be “normal”, as she called it. It was also complicated because Alex didn’t fit into an easily identifiable category for what she “was”. She stated that she felt TOO much, not that she was unfeeling, as so many psychopathic or sociopathic characters are and that really complicated things for me as a reader and former student of psychology. (Not like I’m any expect but I’ve always been incredibly interested and took many classes in high school and college.) I think it was hard for me that she didn’t quite fit into a common classification — and it was actually hard for her as well! It was a very interesting addition to her character but it also kind of confused me because I couldn’t figure her out!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Antiheroes. I love a good antihero. It’s so interesting to have the main character of a book have some normally abhorrent behavior but when it’s combating someone else’s worse actions, things get interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness. This is actually a pretty dark and serious book… But I think I just wanted more darkness, more shock from Alex. Maybe it was the way I went into the book. The way that the synopsis read and the way that the book was pitched, I think I was assuming that Alex would be more of a Dexter-type: a more easily-classifiable pathology, violent but with a purpose, and still loveable. I found some of those things but there seemed to be more gray area with Alex than I expected so I think I was expecting some more BIG “omg” moments, which I think a lot of content came from other characters that I didn’t expect. I actually didn’t know that it was narrated by three voices so that also threw me as well.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This is kind of a hard recommendation for me. I was personally left with some off feelings — not bad, but off — and I just didn’t click with it somehow, which leads me to feeling hesitant about truly pushing this book to someone. BUT I think there is a lot of important content and some really important messages to not only today’s teens but really to a large audience of adults on the treatment and expectations of women, and even just our society in general.

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BOOKS LIKE THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT