Book Review

Book Review: A Good Girls Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) by Holly Jackson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Mystery/Thriller
Length: 400 pages
Author: Holly Jackson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 4th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

I LIKED THIS Y’ALL.

I’m not a thriller person. Never have been. It takes some amazing reviews and friends saying how good one is for me to pick it up. This was the case for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. After so many saying how it blew their minds, I knew I had to read it. And I loved it! I also highly recommend the audio book. It was wonderfully put together.

Oh wow, this definitely kept me guessing. I spent most of my time trying to figure out who was the actual murder, if there was an actual murder, who was good, bad, all the things! I love how difficult it was to make heads or tails of any of the suspects. The number one thing I look for in a thriller is how easy it is for me to pick out the murderer. This was NOT the case here.

The only part I found kind of laughable was Pippa. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she was a fantastic main character. It was the fact that she at 17 (maybe 18?) was acting like a well-seasoned detective agent and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes sometimes. She was clearly way in over her head and doing more than I could reasonably believe. When I could look past that, the book was solid. Well written and put together in such a a way that you never want to stop reading.

I liked the small romance plot-line (we know I’m a sucker for these). It moved well alongside the original story. My heart ached for many of these characters and the awful situations they were put through. I liked the way the side characters played into this and the genuine work I could see from the author to craft a such a intricate web of lies and deceit, with plenty of WHAT moments.

If you’re even slightly interested in thrillers (aka me) definitely check this one out!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: murder; see trigger warnings
  • Trigger warnings: suicide (method explained), self-harm, murder, underage drug/alcohol use, drunk driving, hit and run, animal/pet death, rape (using rohypnols)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Mystery/Horror
Length: 427 pages
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Release Date: September 12th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Five months after the events in THE CREEPING SHADOW, we join Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly, and their associate Quill Kipps on a perilous night mission: they have broken into the booby-trapped Fittes Mausoleum, where the body of the legendary psychic heroine Marissa Fittes lies. Or does it? This is just one of the many questions to be answered in Book 5 of the Lockwood & Co. series. Will Lockwood ever reveal more about his family’s past to Lucy? Will their trip to the Other Side leave Lucy and Lockwood forever changed? Will Penelope Fittes succeed in shutting down their agency forever? The young agents must survive attacks from foes both spectral and human before they can take on their greatest enemy in a climactic and chaotic battle. And to prevail they will have to rely on help from some surprising–and shadowy–allies. Jonathan Stroud once again delivers a rousing adventure full of danger, laughs, twists, and frights. The revelations will send readers back to Book 1 to start the series all over again. 

SOLID ENDING AS A WHOLE.

At last. I have finished the Lockwood & Co. series. And it was a fun ride! I love how light-hearted, yet totally sinister these books are.

I’m going to miss Lockwood, Lucy, George, and Holly (even Kipps). They were a tight-knit bunch that truly had each other backs. I love that there was no back-stabbing or run around with their friendship. They fought ghosts together and hung out at 35 Portland Row. Exactly how it should be.

Very happy that the whole initial problem was resolved. Things weren’t left open-ended (well maybe one part was, but I’ll address that in a second). I was finally able to know where all the ghosts were coming from, who the villains were and how they saved London from more ghost-related issues.

The only open-ended story line was clearly Lockwood and Lucy. While these books never contained any romance, there was clearly a vibe between them and I love the run off into the sunset vibe that this gave off in the end. It seemed perfectly appropriate without over-shadowing all that Lucy and Lockwood have already been through together. They are the true dynamite duo.

I definitely would recommend this to younger audiences that are okay with creepy ghosts, and plot lines. These tended to feel like a younger (maybe even more true) young adult series. It was a nice bit of escapism every time I picked one of these books up.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/horror
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: swords, explosions, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: One of Us Is Next (One of Us Is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Mystery/Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press for Young Readers
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling thriller everyone is talking about, One of Us Is Lying! There’s a new mystery to solve at Bayview High, and there’s a whole new set of rules.

Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe’s the first target. If you choose not to play, it’s a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it’s that they can’t count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon’s gone, but someone’s determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there’s a whole new set of rules.

ANOTHER GREAT READ BY THIS AUTHOR.

Oh guys. We all know I’m not a big thriller fan, but McManus continually sways me to that side with her compelling YA centered novels. I loved this second book and thought it wove the characters from One of Us is Lying seamlessly together to bring another book that kept me on edge.

I can’t be the only one that doesn’t love NOT knowing who’s the bad guy in mystery books? This one did a great job of keeping me in the dark until almost the reveal. I was super excited when I started whispering to myself, OH IT’S —- [redacted, of course]. One of Us Is Next always had a heightened sense of drama to it. It wasn’t a basic tale of why they were doing such things, but a deeper tale of grief and anger that can consume someone.

As a romance lover, I adored the tiny tidbits throughout for our characters. It never overshadowed the plot, but gave the characters another layer. Phoebe, Maeve and Knox each had a nuanced level of complexity and personal issues that made me love each one on their own and as a group of friends.

The story was twisted and had a good flair for theatrics. I was surprised by some of the details and secrets that came out. Plenty of tense moments and quick flipping pages to get to the bottom of the mystery!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/thriller
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: some kisses/make-outs, general discussion of sex life
  • Violence: murder, physical
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault (unwanted kissing/grabbing – Ch. 8), slut shaming, bullying

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Book Review

Book Review: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction mystery + romance
Length: 453 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

BEST OF THE BUNCH.

Okay. I can officially say I’m glad I read this after being very frustrated with how book three went down. This was a solid ending that wrapped everything up liked it needed to be.

BUT FIRST. Let me just say, I do not appreciate why the marriage was postponed. I haaaaaaate stuff like that y’all. Hate. And that’s pretty much why it’s a four star. I think they should have gotten married and solved the murder together, married. There wasn’t angst adding the drama in.

Now, THOMAS CRESSWELL. Seriously one of my top bookish boyfriends. I can’t get over him. The sweet and precious moments between Thomas and Audrey Rose were written so beautifully. I swooned over and over at the writing. Lyrical and utterly romantic. Thomas is amazing. We won’t discuss Audrey Rose, though I will say this was the best version of her I’ve seen in the series. The least annoying.

I’ve seen some lower reviews for this because they wanted more of the mystery aspect. These books are romance books at their base. They really are. If you’re interested in them, definitely know that going in. My expectations went much better when I knew I was going to be getting a lot of romance (which we know I prefer anyways).

The plot line of this book kind of went: romance, romance, mystery, mystery, romance. It felt a little disjointed. There was a big focus on the romance, then it dove off into just about solving the murders, then the epilogue finished off the romance. It worked out okay, but I think they could have been combined better.

I’m satisfied and happy with this series and would still recommend it to those interested. I liked the historical fiction aspects and of course, THOMAS CRESSWELL. The writing is well done and even the frustrating moments don’t ruin the enchanting story it is.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction romance + mystery
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a little detailed love scene, another fade to black scene
  • Violence: very detailed descriptions of multiple murders, physical attacks

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