Book Review

ARC Book Review: Five Survive by Holly Jackson

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 400 pages
Author: Holly Jackson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 29th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Eight hours. Six friends. Five survive. A road trip turns deadly in this addictive YA thriller from the bestselling author of the worldwide phenomenon A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER.

Red Kenny is on a road trip for spring break with five friends: Her best friend – the older brother – his perfect girlfriend – a secret crush – a classmate – and a killer.

When their RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere with no cell service, they soon realize this is no accident. They have been trapped by someone out there in the dark, someone who clearly wants one of them dead.

With eight hours until dawn, the six friends must escape, or figure out which of them is the target. But is there a liar among them? Buried secrets will be forced to light and tensions inside the RV will reach deadly levels. Not all of them will survive the night. 

Thank you to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for an eARC.

WHOA.

Well this a riiiiide. One that I binge read in two sittings because I easily get wrapped up in thrillers. I am also easily spooked by anything remotely creepy or frightening so yes, I was reading with a light on.

For a book only covering 8 hours it was an adventure. A very interesting group of friends together just trying to get to spring break when BAM. All the things start happening. This book needed a fast paced and that pace was served. I spanned the spectrum on emotions towards all of the characters. Which to me was the kind of thing I like seeing in thrillers. I want to hug some characters and shake others. I even impressed myself with figuring out who were the five to survive.

The plot is definitely intense at times and high stakes were achieved. There were big twists that took me by surprise and I loved turning the pages on this one. I’m not really a thriller reader, but Holly Jackson is one thriller author I will keep coming back to.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a parent (recounted multiple times), executions (recounted), gun violence, attempted murder, murder, physical altercations, alcohol consumption, mob violence

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Book Review

Book Review: You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 336 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 30th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.

Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.

So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say…

Until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.

It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.

Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?

From the author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand-new pulse-pounding thriller. It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder when three old friends relive an epic ditch day, and it goes horribly–and fatally–wrong. 

GOOD, NOT GREAT.

I feel like I don’t have a lot to say about this one, which is why it’s more in my “meh” rating section. This was a good mystery. I really appreciated the fast paced nature and how quickly I flew through it at least.

What I struggled with were the characters. I don’t think I enjoyed any of them? Everyone was…fine. And that’s how I felt throughout. I do love a good multi-POV book and the changing nature and narrative of the story. Things got twisted and while I saw a lot of it coming I was surprised by a few aspects.

It kind of ruined it for me at the end with how many people said, why didn’t you just tell us/the police? Because yeah, that would have ended this entire book (which takes place over one day) before it really began. A mixed bag of thoughts, I still enjoy the author’s writing style and look forward to her next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: drug overdose, selling of drugs, murder and attempted murder, an inappropriate teacher/student relationship

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Book Review

ARC Review: Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ★★★
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 368 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: August 30th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Be sure to keep your friends close . . . and your secrets closer.

Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher—a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened.

The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder. They’ve never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.

Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and as Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she begins to uncover secrets that might change everything—about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. The most terrifying part is that they never left.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

IT WAS FINE.

I think I’m kind of out growing YA thrillers, or maybe thrillers in general? I picked this up on NetGalley at a weak moment so knew i had to get through it. I was never upset reading it though, I just think it’s no longer my vibe (unless I’m super in the mood).

ANYWHO. I liked these main characters!! Tripp and Brynn were a bit flawed of course, but I really enjoyed the progression of both of them. There was a sweet romance between them too that I liked. It was a cute, softer side to the murder mystery.

I do feel a bit unsatisfied by the ending? It made it seem like there might be a book two so I think that’s my issue. I struggle when any ending is too open and I don’t get the closure needed to round out the plot. And there were some characters that I didn’t love.

The murderer kept me in the dark for a long time. I thought I had pinned the right person from the get-go and was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong! It was good read in the end.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, kidnapping, gun violence, manipulation, extortion, underage drinking, media slander

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Book Review

Book Review: They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman

Rating: ☆
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 330 pages
Author: Jessica Goodman
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: July 27th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From rising star Jessica Goodman, author of They Wish They Were Us, comes a new fast-paced thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team–the only way out of their stifling small town. But their dreams are suddenly thrown into peril when a new girl threatens to take away everything they’ve worked for… until she disappears.

Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and she keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life and she won’t let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course.

The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers’ lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can’t help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie’s been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong–she’s someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she’d never be: distracted.

With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won’t let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.

I DID NOT LIKE THIS.

Whatsoever.

The further this went one the more I cringed. And I don’t like suuuper long rants so I’ll run over the lowlights.

This felt like a girl vs. girl hate fest. Nobody was likeable. And everyone was just terrible to each other. I hate that. I get that, obviously, girls won’t like each other sometimes, but when it takes over the entire book I’m really missing the support of ANYONE to redeem the plot. Not to mention all of the other side characters who weren’t likable either. Everything felt forced to create this culture of hate and it didn’t make this thriller book…thrilling.

Part of the plot is the fact 3 previous girls have been murdered by someone. And guess what? YOU NEVER ACTUALLY FIND OUT WHO. It’s brought up often enough that I expected to get an answer about it. I couldn’t believe there was never closure for those girls too.

And random crap like saying a 3k (5.1 miles) was 6 laps around a track??? No. That’s not right either. For a sports [cross country] based book, I don’t like some clear gaps in reserach.

There’s just a tidbit of my issues with this read. It was not good. And not worth the time.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses to brief open
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, alcoholism (of a parent, who went to rehab, had one relapse and is okay during the book), cheating, abortion, substance abuse (another parent who abuses drugs)

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