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

Instagram || Goodreads || The StoryGraph

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)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 432 pages
Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

With heart-pounding suspense and relevant social commentary comes a high-octane thriller from debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.

THE BLACK, QUEER THRILLER YOU NEED.

I am shook and completely freaked out by this book. I’ve never seen Gossip Girl or Get Out, but close friends have said it’s a great combination of both. I loved the academic setting, the twisted story, and how intense the ending was.

The two main characters, Chiamaka and Devon were amazing. I loved both of their POV’s. Both perspectives gave different sides to ultimately the same story. I was endeared by both of them and as the a creeping sense of dread swarmed my mind as the pages went on I couldn’t put this down.

Full of the nuanced, obvious and threatening realities of racism and supremacy. It was incredibly well written and I am in awe of what this author will write next. The relevant exploration of haunting themes will leave you speechless.

I loved the epilogue and the ending in general. I was invested in both story lines and love how Chiamaka’s and Devon’s story never overshadowed one another. Even with a bit of a slow start for me, it ramped up in the second half. For not a huge thriller fan, this is one where I’ll be shouting READ IT to anyone who’ll listen.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: racism, homophobia, public outing, loss of a parent, murder, car accident, stalking

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Mystery
Length: 496 pages
Author: Angeline Boulley
Publisher: Henry, Holt, and Co.
Release Date: March 16th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.

The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.

Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.

FIERCE DEBUT.

This was absolutely worth the hype and awards. I had no idea this was a mystery book until the first few chapters and the unwinding of the plot was intricate, twisted, and kept me on my toes.

I loved the main character, Daunis. She was strong and brave. I loved the way she loved her community, friends and family. It was a coming-of-age tale interspersed in a tense landscape.

Highly recommend this one on audio!! The narrator did a wonderful job. The book slowed down a bit in the middle for me. But the last half definitely picked up. I couldn’t stop listening. I had to know what was going to happen next. Who was going to survive and how everyone learned to move on from difficult situations.

The romance disappointed me a bit. I loved the small role it played throughout the book. A bit of a forbidden, first-love kind of devotion. Yet, I realized with the ending I didn’t get that closure I was hoping for with them.

All in all, I’d say this is a must read. I loved learning about the traditions, the multiple layers to drug abuse and it’s resounding effects it has on those around to pick up the pieces. How traditions and complex family dynamics hold a place in your soul. A haunting tale, a beautiful landscape, fantastic writing, and I hope this author has more books out in the future!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Mystery
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: ableism, racism/racial slurs, sexual harassment (on page), rape (on page), cheating, child abuse/neglect, substance abuse, murder-suicide (on page), overdose mentioned, grief/loss depiction, loss of loved ones, car accident (resulting in hospitalization, near death moments, bullying

Instagram || Goodreads || The StoryGraph