Category Archives: Mystery/Thriller

Every Last Lie – Mary Kubica

Every Last Lie – Mary KubicaTitle: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: June 27, 2017 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, Don't You Cry

Clara Solberg's world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick's death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara's investigation and Nick's last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

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Okay, so firstly, this book gets an extra bump from me just for being in my neighborhood, essentially. I was trying to pick up on all of the landmarks mentioned because the street where the accident happened (Harvey Rd and its 90 degree turn) sounded reeeeally familiar to me. Turns out that I finally narrowed it down thanks to a park mention and an intersection and this book takes place in the Plainfield/Oswego/Naperville area which happens to be right in my neck of the woods! It was really fun to actually be able to identify with the setting because usually the closest I get is Chicago proper or if a book is in the suburbs, usually it’s a fake suburb or has fake landmarks, so that was really fun!

I was actually more engaged with EVERY LAST LIE than I was with a lot of Mary Kubica’s books. Sometimes the main characters get a little too hard to follow but I really liked that EVERY LAST LIE wasn’t too dramatic (well, until the end) and it was a simple case of following up on some loose ends and curious happenings of the husband’s death. I liked following a character who was sane but grieving instead of someone who was on the breaking point, like some of the other Mary Kubica characters. Clara obviously had her moments of hardship and she sort of started to unravel at the end, but I liked that this was more thriller and solving a mystery than dipping into the psychological thriller and having a more unreliable narrator.

I didn’t really love the ending but I also didn’t hate it. I liked that things didn’t get TOO crazy but there was also something that wasn’t quite satisfying about it. Thriller endings are so hard sometimes because I can never tell how I “want” it to end. When they’re not crazy enough, it doesn’t feel like enough and sometimes they’re too crazy and I wanted more of the normal. I did like where this story went and it didn’t go too far off the rails but there was still just something I was missing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Familiar places! I’ll admit — it’s easy to get hooked on a book when I’m familiar with the setting. This was a real-life place where I’ve been before and it was that much more interesting picturing this book taking place there!
Left Me Wanting More: Book connection. I guess aside from the location connection, I didn’t feel as much as I wanted to with the main characters or the plot. It’s been a while since I read this (took me a while to write a formal review) and I can’t even really remember what happened.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I kept reading Mary Kubica books but really I haven’t quite loved any of them. I do like the local location so that’s definitely fun but if you like thrillers, she’s still a pretty popular author so I’d say they’re worth the try, in any publication order, really.

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BOOKS LIKE EVERY LAST LIE

             

Dreamology – Lucy Keating

Dreamology – Lucy KeatingTitle: Dreamology by Lucy Keating
Publishing Info: April 12, 2016 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 6, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have travelled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

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DREAMOLOGY has been on my list for a very long time and I’ve been excited to read it the whole time but just never got around to obtaining a copy. When I saw the audiobook pop up on Scribd, I knew it was going to be my next read and I’m so glad I finally read this one!

Others seemed to fall head-over-heels for DREAMOLOGY, and while it was very enjoyable in so many ways, it still felt like it could have gone a couple steps further and I really would have loved it. I really enjoyed the concept of dreaming here, specifically that the two main characters dream about each other… and they both remember the dream. It was a really neat concept that I wasn’t sure how to define. Does it fit neatly in a box of sci-fi, magical realism? No matter how you classify it, it was such a fun idea that was also neatly backed by science (some real, some fake novel science) that really brought the concept to life. Felt like this book could have gone just a teensy bit further in any direction — the dreaming, the science, why the characters were connected — to really make it that much more special and wow me, but it was still a fun read the way it played out.

I enjoyed the romance but could have done without the love triangle. I liked Oliver a lot but I kind of wished he didn’t have to be a potential love interest, even though it was clear that he and Alice were really never going to get together. I would have loved to see him more platonic and leave the drama for the other half of the love triangle romance between Max and Celeste, which was much more relevant to the book. I actually kind of liked that triangle because there was meaning behind Max’s relationship with Celeste and it wasn’t just a throw away thing, and there was also the fact that Alice ended up actually liking Celeste and it wasn’t this sort of mean girl thing. It made for a nice, complicated plot point but it wasn’t overly dramatic by making any of the characters catty.

I really thought Max’s character could have been a little bit … better. He was a bit flat and it seemed like Alice kind of carried a lot of the emotion. I actually really envisioned a POV chapter from Max right off the bat and I really wished we could have seen things from his perspective too.

I kind of didn’t love how everything resolved regarding the dreams. It all seemed a little too easy and was like “Let’s fix it. Okay it’s fixed.” It was interesting but also kind of didn’t make sense… Maybe I missed something but to me it only described why they dreamed about each other but not why they both had the same dream and remembered it.

Anyway, this was a fun, easy read with a unique concept and I’m glad I finally got to it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: A different kind of sci-fi concept. I really liked the concept of dreaming! I haven’t really read many books that dabbled with things like that and it was a fun kind of read.
Left Me Wanting More: Closed plot holes. There were just a couple things that I felt like were left open and didn’t quite get answered. I think the book could have been amped up a notch with a few more cool answers and reasonings.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I didn’t full-out love this one but it was a quick and easy read with some fun dreaming concepts!

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BOOKS LIKE DREAMOLOGY

             

All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Skip it

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

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BOOKS LIKE ALL YOUR TWISTED SECRETS

             

Mini-Review: Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M. McManus

Mini-Review: Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M. McManusTitle: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group, Delacourte Press
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: February 8, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: One of Us is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1)

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone's declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous--and most people aren't good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it's safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

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There are LOTS of 4 and 5 star ratings for this book so I was hoping I’d be more attached and involved than I was with ONE OF US IS LYING, but I still didn’t connect like I wanted to. I just can’t seem to really care about any of the characters, or the plot, or both.

The story was interesting but there was just something off about the characters and the pacing that never really hooked me into the plot. I guess I was interested in the mystery and yet, I didn’t really find it that engaging for some reason. I wanted to know what happened but it really also didn’t keep me racing through the pages to get there. I just didn’t make a personal connection with the book somehow and I just found myself not really caring too much about what happened.

I didn’t really like the reveal and things got intensely dramatic. The twist at the end was interesting but also left a lot of questions and it ended up flopping a little bit for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA thrillers. I always need more YA thrillers and I keep hoping for more good ones!
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. The characters didn’t really work for me and neither did the pacing. I just couldn’t really connect with it much.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I didn’t disike this book but I also just didn’t love it. I think there are a lot of big fans but this kind of killed my interest for Karen M. McManus and I don’t really feel the urge to read anymore from her, sadly.

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BOOKS LIKE TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET

             

The Better Liar – Tanen Jones

The Better Liar – Tanen JonesTitle: The Better Liar by Tanen Jones
Publishing Info: January 14, 2020 by Penguin Random House, Ballantine Books
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: February 19, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When a woman conceals her sister’s death to claim their joint inheritance, her deception exposes a web of dangerous secrets in this addictive new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins.

“Like most of the dead, I want to be remembered.”

Robin Voigt is dead. If Leslie had arrived at her sister’s cramped Las Vegas apartment just hours earlier, this would have been their first reunion in a decade. In the years since Robin ran away from home as a teenager, Leslie has stayed in New Mexico, taking care of their dying father even as she began building a family of her own. But when their father passed away, Leslie received a rude awakening: She and Robin would receive the inheritance he left them together—or not at all. Now her half of the money may be beyond her grasp. And unbeknownst to anyone, even her husband, Leslie needs it desperately.

When she meets a charismatic young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Robin—and has every reason to leave her past behind—the two make a reckless bargain: Mary will impersonate Robin for a week in exchange for Robin’s half of the cash. But neither realizes how high the stakes will become when Mary takes a dead woman’s name. Even as Mary begins to suspect Leslie is hiding something, and Leslie realizes the stranger living in her house, babysitting her newborn son, and charming her husband has secrets of her own, Robin’s wild, troubled legacy threatens to eclipse them both.

An electric, twisted portrait of sisterhood and the ties that bind, The Better Liar is a stunning debut with a heart-stopping, twist-after-twist finale that will beg the question: How far would you go to get what’s yours?

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This was a really interesting read! THE BETTER LIAR had so many layers and I love a good unreliable narrator. The switching of POVs made the story work and captured some thriller tricks at their finest!

The characters really sucked me into this book and especially with psychological thrillers like this, I feel like that’s so important. There was something about Leslie that you knew just wasn’t quite right but it and it was a thought-provoking ride trying to figure out what secrets she was keeping and why. We get a voice from Robin, who has been missing for years and we’re quite unsure what happened to her for all those years, so that added another layer of intrigue, and then there’s the stranger Mary who agrees to impersonate Robin so Leslie can retrieve an inheritance . It really was so twisty the way all of these characters worked together (or against each other) and how this story unfolded the more you learned about each one.

There’s a big twist in here (as there usually are with psychological thrillers) that I somehow didn’t see coming and I love with a book surprises me! That’s one thing I love about listening to thrillers on audio while working — my brain doesn’t try as hard to dissect the mystery since it’s being occupied by something else, so I was definitely shocked by this book and I loved the slow but steady journey to all of the reveals.

The book was interesting, twisty, and for its craziness, really not so far-fetched. I was worried the ending was just going to fizzle out and it actually had a few more twists coming to really bring the story full-circle and it was nice that the book didn’t drag on after the big reveal. Sometimes with thrillers once that big moment is presented to the audience, I tend to feel like things wilt if carried on too long, so I liked that this book was filled with things to keep the readers interested until literally the past page and also had a sense of originality to it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unreliable narrators. You’ve got to love a good unreliable narrator, especially when there are three of them and you really can’t trust any one of them. This book definitely kept me guessing!
Left Me Wanting More: Pacing. I really didn’t have any complaints about this book, looking back. I liked the pacing of the book but I suppose there were just a couple points where my focus drifted. Really such a minor thing though because I really liked it from start to finish!

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you like psychological thrillers, I really recommend this one! I enjoyed every bit of it, really.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BETTER LIAR

             

Darling Rose Gold – Stephanie Wrobel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE DARLING ROSE GOLD

             

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

Mini-Review: Time of Death (A Stillwater General Mystery #1) – Lucy KerrTitle: Time of Death (A Stillwater General Mystery #1) by Lucy Kerr, Erica O'Rourke
Publishing Info: December 13, 2016 by Penguin Random House, Crooked Lane Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 28, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Dissonance (Dissonance #1), Harmonic (Dissonance #1.5), Resonance (Dissonance #2)

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE TIME OF DEATH

             

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

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

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

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

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

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER

             

An Unwanted Guest – Shari Lapena

An Unwanted Guest – Shari LapenaTitle: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
Publishing Info: August 7, 2018 by Penguin Random House
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: December 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE AN UNWANTED GUEST

             

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

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

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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BOOKS LIKE ONE OF US IS LYING