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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.

bookreview1

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

             

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.

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

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

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

             

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.

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BOOKS LIKE AN UNWANTED GUEST

             

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

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 12, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: November 18, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

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

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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BOOKS LIKE TWISTED TWENTY-SIX

             

The Swallows – Lisa Lutz

The Swallows – Lisa LutzTitle: The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
Publishing Info: August 13, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: August 16, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Passenger

A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war--with deadly consequences--in a provocative novel from the bestselling author of The Passenger and the Spellman Files series.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?

It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy's new creative writing teacher. When the students' answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there's more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten--the students at the top of the school's social hierarchy--as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.

Ms. Witt can't remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who've started to question the school's "boys will be boys" attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her--including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.

Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can't find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there's Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.

As the school's secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal--and potentially fatal--consequences for everyone involved. Lisa Lutz's blistering, timely tale shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long--and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.

bookreview1

I first found Lisa Lutz with her Spellman Files series and absolutely loved the tone, funny family, and easy mysteries. I know she’s written a few different works and not all of them share the same tone, but I think I excepted something much different from THE SWALLOWS. That being said, that’s not the cause for my rating because I’m happy to read different styles from the same authors, but I just didn’t like the way this book was put together and I don’t think that the structure did the topic as much justice as it could have.

The book is presented as a mystery/thriller, but it doesn’t really get too thrilling until the very end of the book (like the last couple chapters) so those few chapters are the reason I’m throwing a half star in there instead of just rating it two stars. The book deals largely with a secret contest and website held by the boys at the school, rating the girls on their sexual performance and having them unwittingly play a part in this school-wide “contest”. It is off-putting and gross, and yes it’s supposed to be, but I hated how the first half of this book just basically kept going over the details and adding more to the concept, leaving the justice and revenge until the end of the book. I sat their feeling incredibly disgusted and bad for all of these girls while they uncovered the secret of the contest and how terrible all of these boys were. It seemed like overkill to keep developing the concept of the contest and describing the message board when we could have spent more time developing the female characters and getting them ready for their moment of empowerment, and it really felt like a lot of time wasted by giving this contest way more attention than it deserved. It wasn’t just a big reveal or anything, the reader knows about it almost the whole time, so I wanted to see more empowerment on the female side much earlier.

There were also a lot of erroneous things in the book that didn’t really make much of a difference. The weird cottage Alex Witt stayed in didn’t really play a big role. There wasn’t really a reason why this was set in 2009 other than to look back on the occasion but there was no flash forward to 2019 or anything, so that was kind of pointless as well. Alex’s romantic involvements with various characters were irrelevant. A side character’s relationship with her mother I guess tied in at the very end and was supposed to “explain” some of her actions, but I think it was entirely unnecessary and threw in random bits of “mystery” to keep the readers wondering. Lisa Lutz is primarily a mystery/thriller writer in various tones and forms, but the beginning wasn’t much of a mystery or a thriller and read more like general fiction. The tone very much switched in the action towards the end to a chilling thriller-type feel with escalating events and some remorseless acts so it was just kind of a jumble of too many things overall.

I mostly just didn’t enjoy reading this book while I was reading it. It came together at the very end but I wished the rest of the book was like the ending. It really didn’t feel cohesive in so many ways and I just really disliked the structure.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Empowerment. I liked seeing the female characters take matters into their own hands and fighting back against the injustices throughout the book.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. For a book that’s supposed to be empowering, I felt like way too much time was spent dwelling on the oppressive and bad parts, giving them too much power and attention. I wanted to see the plot move forward much sooner to get us into the more empowering moments and actually seeing these girls and women making their stand.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I’m sure some people will enjoy it but I just was far too annoyed, frustrated, and even disgusted to think about recommending it. This one was not for me and I don’t think I’d recommend it to my friends.

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BOOKS LIKE THE SWALLOWS

             

Mini-Review: Providence – Caroline Kepnes

Mini-Review: Providence – Caroline KepnesTitle: Providence by Caroline Kepnes
Publishing Info: June 19, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 10, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: You (You #1), Hidden Bodies (You #2)

A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he's suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and "fit in" with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity—but he's soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters' lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

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I knew this was part sci-fi going into it but I still didn’t quite click with PROVIDENCE like I had hoped… and it wasn’t even because of the presence of that element itself. It was more how it was incorporated for sure. YOU was so creepy because the madness was 100% Joe and this was sort of something that was inflicted upon Jon so it took away some of the creep factor.

With all of Kepnes’ books, it didn’t quite feel cohesive but there was an addictive sort of quality and I wasn’t as into PROVIDENCE. I had a little pause in the middle where I didn’t feel the jump to get back in, but it was easy to continue with the audio and good audiobook narrators.

It was definitely an interesting story and Caroline Kepnes always does a great job at pushing that character emotion (or sometimes lack thereof) forward and there were some really nice suspenseful moments in PROVIDENCE that I appreciated. I’ll always be looking forward to more of her books but I think I like the more psychological aspect of YOU more than I did the sci-fi element of PROVIDENCE.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Caroline Kepnes. I’m definitely interested in picking up whatever Kepnes writes! It was exciting to read something outside of the “YOU world”.
Left Me Wanting More: Twists? Things were revealed but I also didn’t feel that shocked or surprised like I was hoping.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a curious little story and it definitely has an addicting quality to it but I also didn’t totally love it.

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BOOKS LIKE PROVIDENCE

             

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter EvanovichTitle: The Big Kahuna (Fox & O'Hare #6) by Janet Evanovich, Peter Evanovich
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

A stoner, an Instagram model, a Czech oligarch, and a missing unicorn. Nick Fox and Kate O'Hare have their work cut out for them in their weirdest, wildest adventure yet in this latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series by Janet and Peter Evanovich.

Straight arrow FBI Agent Kate O'Hare always plays by the rules. Charming Con Man Nicholas Fox makes them up as he goes along. She thinks he's nothing but a scoundrel. He thinks she just needs to lighten up. They're working together to tackle the out-of-bounds cases ordinary FBI agents can't touch. And, their relationship? Well, there hasn't been so much explosive chemistry since Nitro was introduced to Glycerin.
Next on the docket: The mysterious disappearance of the Silicon Valley billionaire, known as the Big Kahuna. Kate's been assigned to find him but no one seems particularly keen on helping. His twenty-six year old adult actress wife-turned Instagram model wife and his shady Czech business partner are more interested in gaining control of his company. For that they need a dead body not a living Kahuna.
The only lead they have is the Kahuna's drop-out son, who's living the dream in Hawaii - if your dream is starting your day with the perfect wave and ending it with a big bowl of weed. To get close to the Kahuna's son, Kate and Nick go undercover as a married couple in the big wave, bohemian, surfer community of Paia, Maui. Living a laid back, hippy-dippy lifestyle isn't exactly in Kate's wheelhouse, but the only thing more horrifying is setting up house with Nick Fox, even if he does look pretty gnarly on a longboard. If they don't catch a break soon, waves aren't the only thing she's going to be shredding (or bedding).

bookreview1

This was a really disappointing installment in this series. I felt like it totally reverted to Stephanie Plum-type humor and lost of of the clever heist elements. While I enjoy Stephanie Plum for what it is, I enjoyed the Fox & O’Hare books so much more.

This was the first book without Lee Goldberg (instead substituting Peter Evanovich) and while I haven’t read any Lee Goldberg books, it really did seem to affect the whole tone of this book. I don’t know if that’s the actual factor of the change but it really does seem like it. Everything turned so incredibly goofy with the new characters and adventure. It was not clever and it was not intriguing.

I also didn’t realize what else it was missing until I read other reviews but I realized that we were missing the fun crew that we’ve seen in the other books! Willie and Boyd were nowhere to be seen and the lack of crew really takes away from the concept of a heist/con book. Also, what in the heck happened to the cliffhanger at the end of book five!? At first I thought maybe I just missed something but that was confirmed by reading other reviews as well. It seemed to just move on and also somehow take a step back with Kate and Nick’s relationship. It was all just very messy.

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Kept Me Hooked On: This series, I guess. I loved the first five books. I’m hoping this was just a fluke and there will be something better on the horizon.
Left Me Wanting More: Heists! Crew! Everything! This was so disappointing. I still enjoyed the book enough but it just felt like a totally different author writing this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it, I guess

This was such a blah installment but if it leads us to the next book where it gets better, then it’s worth it.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BIG KAHUNA