Genre: Suspense


Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

August 10, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★★

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewTill Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by William Morrow on February 28, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

I really, really love romantic suspense and was looking for a great one to read on my cruise a few months ago. Problem is, I’m pretty picky. I don’t like romantic suspense that’s super gory, erotic, or paranormal. I don’t feel like I’m asking for too much here, but apparently romantic suspense isn’t romantic enough if the love interest isn’t a werewolf trying not to eat the beautiful lady. Anyway… I LOVED Till Death. It’s my new favorite romantic suspense, and I’ve been scouring the Internet to try and find other titles like it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. It’s super scary and creepy and ominous without being over the top and unrealistic. I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries this summer, and they’ve been pretty disappointing as a whole just because they totally would not happen in real life. This would!

2. The characters are so well developed, and I loved them all. Sasha is so strong and well adjusted after suffering at the hands of the Groom. She was the only one of his victims to escape, so obviously she’s resourceful, thinks well under pressure, and is driven to do what needs to be done. I really loved reading about her past and how she recovered and moved on from it. I also liked her best friend Miranda and her mom a lot. And Cole… the sexy FBI agent… I love this man.

3. The story has so many layers and characters that are intertwined. And it’s such a complex plot! I could not read fast enough.

4. I loved the setting. The inn is super cute on the surface, but it just feels unsafe and creepy underneath. The perfect setting for a mystery.

5. I had no idea who the Groom was until we were told. I was completely taken aback by who the culprit was. And that’s all I will say because I don’t want to spoil it.

All in all, this is the book that I will use to judge all other romantic suspense. And honestly, I haven’t found anything that has even come close yet. All those 1-star reviews I’ve been posting recently? Yeah, those were my attempts. I hope Jennifer Armentrout writes more books like this one! She’s got a knack for the genre!


Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book Review

July 14, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ½

Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book ReviewShark Island by Chris Jameson
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on June 27, 2017
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0.5 Stars
A shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare. She's dead wrong. . .

Naomi Cardiff is not one to give up without a fight and now, after learning about a series of shark attacks in Cape Cod, she s joined a team of scientists to put a stop to the terror. The plan: to lure the sharks to a remote island far from the populated coastline. Meanwhile, a fierce Nor Easter is underway. . .

In the midst of the storm, an alarming number of Great Whites have come to slaughter the seals in a vicious feeding frenzy. When sharks ram and breach the hull, Naomi and her team must jump ship and swim desperately through a sea of circling fins and gaping jaws to the tiny island. But as the swells from the storm begin to swallow their rocky refuge, how will they manage to make it out alive?

I don’t know what it is about shark stories, but I gobble them up. I love the movies Jaws and The Shallows, and I love Shark Week… Sharks are just my thing. Unfortunately, it takes a lot to not make a shark story come off as outlandish and stupid. And this is how Shark Island turned out for me. I allow a LOT with books like these, but I just could not with this one.

The entire store was very unbelievable. The entire premise was to lure the sharks away from Cape Cod by broadcasting a signal that turned the seals into robots who could no longer think and act on their own, regardless of the danger they were in. This signal also turned the sharks into vicious killing machines with a revenge complex. It just seems far too outlandish. I was bored for the first half until the characters actually become stranded, and then I spent the second half rolling my eyes. I didn’t like any of the characters, and found their backstories very boring and drawn out. There was an INSANE amount of profanity and gory, bloody shark attacks. Sharks were flying out of the water and snapping bodies in half with one bite, sending all kinds of carnage and refuse into the water. There was so much blood that people were feeling the water temperature rise. It was just too much gore, too much profanity, too unbelievable, and too over the top dramatic and theatrical for me. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, but this was gratuitously silly and I’m irritated I made myself finish it. lol


Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book Thoughts

May 23, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 DNF

Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book ThoughtsBeautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes #1
Published by Hyde Street Press on October 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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DNF Stars
When her father's plane mysteriously disappeared in the middle of an electrical storm, Alicia Monroe became obsessed with lightning. Now a news photographer in Miami, Alicia covers local stories by day and chases storms at night. In a flash of lightning, she sees what appears to be a murder, but when she gets to the scene, there is no body, only a military tag belonging to Liliana Valdez, a woman who has been missing for over a year. While the police use the tag to jumpstart their stalled investigation, Alicia sets off on her own to find the missing woman. Her search takes her into the heart of Miami's Cuban-American community where she meets the attractive but brooding Michael Cordero, who has his own demons to vanquish. Soon Alicia and Michael are not just trying to save Liliana's life but also their own, as someone will do anything to protect a dark secret…

So… There are TONS of Barbara Freethy books out there and I’ve always been intrigued. Many of the story lines sound good, and I’ve collected her titles as I’ve seen them show up for free on Amazon. I had a hankering for a little romantic suspense and was eager to finally see if Freethy is an author for me. And… nope. She’s not.

The mysticism of the lightning was just a bit too over the top for me. The lightning calls Alicia to it because it wants to show her something? No… And I did not like the relationship between the two main characters. Plus, how dumb is Alicia? Michael is a person of interest in this case. He’s a suspect with a troubled past and a reputation. She has known him for a few hours and all of a sudden wants to shove herself into his life and his family to try and find his missing friend. She FLIES with him to Texas and stays in an ADJOINING ROOM after knowing him for like 12 hours. WHAT. She also has no problems at all voicing her opinions to his family and his friend’s family about things she has no right knowing about, much less has the ability to know about. She’s been a part of this case for a few HOURS and does not know anyone involved. They have been grieving and searching for MONTHS and have known the missing person and the people involved for lifetimes. So all because Alicia found a military ID in a park, she knows everything about the case? There was also some major instalove/lust going on that I was not on board with.

The dialogue was cringeworthy. Almost everything anyone said to anyone included their name. It kind of went like this:

“Alicia, aren’t you happy we know each other?”
“Yes, Michael, I am.”
“Mother, are you happy that Michael and I know each other?”
“Yes, Alicia, I am.”
“Oh, Alicia, I am so glad that your mother is happy we know each other.”
“I am too, Michael.”

Like… I went through and started counting the number of names used in the dialogue on each page and it was just awful! That’s not how people talk to one another, and I felt like the author legitimately thought that we were too dumb to follow the dialogue on our own so she used all the names to try and make sure we knew who was talking to whom.

The mystery itself was very boring and slow and I started skimming because I was mildly curious about what happened. But by about 60% my curiosity has been killed and I threw in the towel.

So basically, this was a complete and total flop. It was horrible. Maybe now I know why Freethy books are in abundance and I can almost always find one for free or very cheap… At least now I know.


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier | Book Review

November 24, 2014 Adult Fiction, Book Review, Book Thoughts, Classy Considerations 1 ★★★

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier | Book ReviewRebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Published by Avon on 1938
Genres: Classic, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 448
Format: eBook
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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3 Stars
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers...

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

This classic romantic suspense tale is one I have heard of since I was a little girl. It’s one of the first books my mom bought me when I showed an interest in reading romances. It has been described to me as being “amazing” or “haunting” or “creepy” or “exciting”. Needless to say, my expectations were extremely high. I wanted to feel utterly captivated and submerged in this tale just like my mom was in high school. Of course, a classic novel is hard to review. Everything has been said over and over again. So I’m just going to take a few moments to write down my thoughts and experiences with this book, probably the most anticipated novel of my life.

My mom and I decided to buddy read this together during the month of October because we felt it would be fun to discuss it and then watch the Alfred Hitchcock movie on Halloween.

I have owned a paperback copy of Rebecca for a very long time, but the print is super tiny and close together, so I would start it and then my eyes would hurt and I’d quit it. When it came out on Kindle I was so excited because I could finally read comfortably. But WOW is this book long! It took me an hour to get through 5%, which means this book is LONG. The first chapter, which is about 4% of the book is full of descriptions of trees and flowers. It moves very slowly.

The writing is very pretty and feels super historic (obviously), and I really enjoyed the ominous feeling throughout the story. I had to continually remind myself that this is a classic, though. It’s old. It was not written this year or last year or ten years ago. I kept getting super annoyed with the second Mrs. de Winters because she was so frail and fragile and a complete pushover. And I kept getting annoyed with how petty some of the other characters were (Maxim’s relatives, for instance). But this is how life was. Men were domineering, women were submissive, and gossip and pettiness filled shallow conversations. Re-compartmentalizing Rebecca helped me make allowances, though, and I did enjoy seeing Mrs. de Winters find herself. She did eventually settle in to the role she was pretending to fill. And she owned it.

When I think romantic suspense, I think nail-biting, edge of your seat, can’t sleep at night suspense. I kept hoping for the story to get scary or tense. There were creepy moments, but I feel like a lot of good has been done with the genre since Rebecca was written. I can’t think of instances where I was more pleased with the suspense. And really, the same goes for the romance. I could hardly call it romance. It was more of a young girl infatuated with an older man who wanted to be infatuated with her too, but was too preoccupied to do it right. He acted more like a father than a lover, patting her on the head and patronizing her. But again, I think this was common back then. Life has changed, and I would never fault du Maurier for portraying contemporary times. And in all honesty, I did grow accustomed to their weird little relationship when I realized that this entire book was groundbreaking when it was written.

The ending left me very underwhelmed. I wanted more details, more explanations, more of a climax. I closed the book feeling unsettled and disappointed. My mom did not love Rebecca this time, like she did in high school. I think my main problem here is that the hype made this book seem like so much more than it ever could have been. We all know what hype can do to a book if your opinion of it is anything less than “I LOVED IT MORE THAN I LOVE YOU”. You’re left feeling more disappointed than you would have been otherwise. It’s even worse when the hype has been consistent for over 75 years. There was no way Rebecca was going to live up to my expectations. And when I think realistically and separate myself from my expectations, I find that I did enjoy the book. It’s the first adult classic I’ve ever read, and I have been wanting to read it for a very long time. I now know the story, and I know what everyone is talking about. I think literature has changed so much that new ideals have been formed. But what’s a world without change?


Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

September 9, 2014 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3 ★★★★★

Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewEvery Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published by Self on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 360
Format: eARC
Source: From the author
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5 Stars
Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. I will read anything Tracey writes, and I was extremely excited when I heard she was writing a romantic suspense novel! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think I’ve mentioned this point in every review I’ve written for Tracey’s books, but I just love her characters. She is so good at writing about people you can find common ground with. I’ve never been in Daisy’s position. I’m not a single mom, I did not go through a nasty divorce, nobody in my family has been murdered, and I have never been as alone as she has. But I could still identify with her feelings of inadequacy, her worry that she had failed, her concerns for the future, and her desire to tear down the walls she has built around herself.

Likewise, I have never been in Brook’s situation. I’ve never had to give up a career to move home and take care of my parents, I do not have an immediate family member battling a tragic disease, and I never tried my hardest to get out of the town I grew up in. But I identified with his deep love for his family, his worries that he was not strong enough to go through things that were thrown his way, and his fears for the future as well. Tracey writes characters you become invested in and care about. You can tell these people are real to her, and she cares for them too. We learn so much about both Daisy’s and Brooks’s pasts, and I think that is just one of the many reasons readers will care about them.

2. I really enjoyed the realistic timeline of Daisy and Brooks’s relationship. It began as a simple reporter/victim relationship, but turned into Brooks worrying about her safety, into Brooks caring about her happiness, into Daisy recognizing how nice it is to have him around, into friendship, until it finally blossomed into something that seemed sweet and meaningful. Everything developed out of a mutual, supportive friendship and genuine need of one another. You feel like they have a chance.

3. I also enjoyed how Daisy and Brooks handled their feelings. Regardless of how they felt about each other, their families came first. Daisy was constantly putting the needs of Elliot ahead of her own, and Brooks did everything in his power to help his dad and comfort his mom through her illness. It was so refreshing to read about a mature, adult relationship that was both give and take on both ends. They both have so much at stake, so they proceed with caution rather than lustful feelings. And they both have to make a lot of difficult decisions.

4. I learned a lot about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and I appreciated that Tracey used her book to raise awareness for a disease that does not get a lot of recognition, especially in books where cancer is usually the culprit. She treats the disease with sensitivity, and the emotions she conveys really send a message about what this disease does to a person and their family. For me, it was much more effective the reading medical jargon.

5. The mystery aspect of the story was very intriguing, and I was constantly trying to figure out the reasoning behind Daisy’s grandmother’s murder. Again, it was real. This could happen to me! And that made things even creepier. The suspense was a little less than I was hoping for, but definitely enough to keep me flipping pages as fast as I could. The climax is a doozy.

6. The romance, while slow-burning, is so romantic and wonderful. I’m going to say flat-out that Brooks is a guy who will make you swoon. He’s the perfectly flawed hero that leaves you hopeful that there’s someone like him out there for you.

7. Tracey’s writing is flawless. She has me hanging on her every word every time. She never forgets to write you, the reader, right in to her stories, leaving a part of you there when it’s all over.

Basically, Tracey has done it again! I always worry that someday she will write something I won’t love, but it has not happened yet and I’m pretty sure it never will. I wholeheartedly recommend that you go and get yourself a copy of Every Time I Think of You. It has a little something for everyone, and it will leave you even more excited for what she has in store for us next!


Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson | Book Review

September 5, 2014 Adult Fiction, Book Review 9 ★★★

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson | Book ReviewBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Published by Harper on June 14, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 359
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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3 Stars
'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me...'

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love — all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.

Every once in a while I have a hankering for a really great mystery or psychological thriller. I had seen Before I Go to Sleep popping up around the Internet, and was very intrigued by the concept of a woman who wakes up every morning with no idea who she is, where she is, what year it is, and who is sleeping next to her in bed. How scary would that be? I dove right in, and turned the pages as quickly as I could! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book is CREEPY. Christine is at the complete mercy of others. She has to decide whether or not to believe Ben, the man who tells her every morning that he is her husband. He has this routine he goes through, where he tells her the basics of her life so that she understands what she is going through. She is also secretly seeing a doctor on the side who is trying to help her regain her memories and her ability to remember memories. Every morning he calls her on a cell phone she had no idea she had so that he can remind her of things Ben is not telling her.

This doctor has Christine write a journal of her every move and experience so that she can read it the next day and remember more things more quickly. As she continues to write and he continues to call her and tell her where she hid it and that she needs to read it, Christine begins to find this new power that enables her to make her own decisions. She also begins to have flashes of memory. As she remembers she starts to realize how many questions have been left unanswered.

2. I was a little turned off by the bluntness of some situations. Christine discovers the flaws of her older-than-expected body, and I was left uncomfortable by her bodily explorations. I felt very icky when I read about her longings for intimacy, and later the descriptions of her intimate encounters with Ben. Things were just very detailed with nothing left to the imagination and, since I was already creeped out by the story itself, I guess I was just extra sensitive. I mean, she is taking the word of a stranger and sleeping with him because she feels she has to. *shudder*

3. I never felt like I trusted anyone. I was just always on edge, wondering if anyone was telling her the truth. This book really lives up to its description of psychological thriller. My mind was going every which way.

4. There were several slow moments, where I just wanted to get done with the details and learn who the bad person here is! The problem with Christine forgetting everything every night is that every morning she gets up, we have to read about her and her journal-reading and her epiphanies over and over again. I just wanted to move on.

5. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you’re given something that makes you question your thinking. The plot is twisted and complicated, and you will really probably just want to jump ahead to the end to put yourself out of your misery. Luckily I was reading on a Kindle, so I could not just jump to the end. Stick with it, though. No peeking! You’ll be happier. The ending is pretty exciting. :)

All in all, Before I Go to Sleep is creepy and intriguing, if not a little slow in places. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone in the mood for a thrill!

 


The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book Review

August 18, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 213
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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3 Stars
“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

I have been on a real YA mystery kick lately, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was the next one on my list. The premise sounded pretty exciting, and I had a feeling I would fly through it pretty quickly. I gobbled up the entire book in about two hours, which is pretty rare for me. April Henry laid the book out in such a way that you could not help but continue to read way past your bedtime. The chapters are short, the story never stops, and she wrote it in short, choppy sentences that made me read a lot faster than I usually do.

While I did read it super fast, and the book really kept me interested and intrigued, it was not the most memorable of mysteries. I feel like the kidnapped heroine frequently has amnesia in stories like these, and that plot element is getting pretty worn out. I know that in some cases it adds more mystery and excitement, but I feel like it’s a bit of an easy way out. There are many other ways to create a suspenseful mystery, and I would have liked to see something new. Amnesia also prevents readers from really getting to know and caring about the character, which is not always necessary in a mystery, but would have been nice in this case.

The main guy of the story, Ty, is a very likeable character, but I had a hard time believing that he would put himself in so much danger, skip school, and spend all of his money on a girl he doesn’t know at all. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a charitable enough person, but I was really surprised at how quick he was to believe everything she said and make himself a target for the men after her. There was a little interest, but no romance at all, so I’m just surprised at how conveniently he fell into her life and pretty much saved her.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit until the huge info dump regarding biochemical and biological weapons. Things became even more outlandish and unbelievable as I began to learn who Cady was, why she was wanted, and what she had to do in order to fix everything. Things wrapped up so easily and seamlessly, even though these events in real life would have been a lot messier. I began to think of the book as science fiction, which helped me.

All in all, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is enjoyable and entertaining as long as you are willing to turn a blind eye to certain details and suspend quite a bit of disbelief. The characters and storyline are not memorable and the resolution comes faster and neater than I was expecting. I have read stronger mysteries, but April kept me reading late into the night and I’ll give her credit for that!


Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book Review

August 11, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 5 ★★★★

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book ReviewDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
Paradise in Aruba quickly gets gruesome in this "ripped-from-the-headlines thriller (Kirkus Reviews)" with a twist that defies the imagination.

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge's decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone could ever imagine...

Ok, so I could not hold off on reading Dangerous Girls any longer after continually reading how insane it made my friends! Dangerous Girls came with a lot of dangerous hype, and I hoped so much that it would live up to the masterpiece I had assumed it would be in my own mind. it DID. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think it goes without saying that my mind was completely shredded. I was flipping pages and staying up until all hours of the night, holding my eyelids open to try and figure out what was going on! My first thoughts upon finishing were (according to my Goodreads status after finishing the book at o’dark thirty):

What the HECK? What planet did this book come from? If I weren’t such a lady, I’d be swearing right now. What just happened?

2. Some people say Dangerous Girls is predictable, by I had NO IDEA who did it. None. I thought I had an idea, though, but my thoughts kept jumping around to everyone. And my lack of coherent thinking had nothing to do with the author’s writing style or her choices in the details she revealed. We were given so many clues, but I could not put them together until the book was over and I went, “WHAT THAT MAKES SENSE WHY DIDN’T I KNOW!!!??”. It was just so twisted and crazy! And the ending just iofhaergstgdrjtkgnsrgiaefiajefraorejfaerg.

3. I was so fascinated by Anna and Elise’s super weird relationship. These girls were TOXIC when mixed together. Were they friends? Enemies? Lovers? All three? None of the above? They brought out the worst in each other, and their intense obsession with being best friends forEVER was just creepy. These girls are not your typical best friends, allowing drugs, alcohol, parties, and shifty men to dull their senses and fuel their obsessions. So many lines were crossed that I honestly had no idea whether I should be ok with it or not.

4. I found myself not really liking anyone in the book, which I find very rare in books I actually liked. It’s hard to read books where you don’t like anyone. I felt extremely bad for Anna, and I wanted her to get out of prison SO BAD. But I didn’t like her. I’m not really sure why. And her “friends” became enemies very quickly after Anna was arrested, so I didn’t like any of them. I think I was so engrossed in the whodunit and the little details that the characters slipped through the cracks. I had absolutely no problems with this, though. I was actually happy it worked out this way.

5. EVERYONE is shady. The prosecutor, Anna, the boyfriend Tate, every friend, the men Elise meets before her death, the judge. Reporters kept digging up all kinds of information about everyone, which gave me more layers to think through. Everyone seemed to be hiding something. I just loved that I kept questioning everyone and everything.

6. The reader is witness to Anna’s interrogations, preliminary hearings, prison time, trial, TV interviews, etc. We also get to jump into her head and feel her thoughts and see her memories of happier times. She feels so much anger and frustration, betrayal, grief, and fear. She has flashbacks of her healthy relationships with Elise and Tate. We get to know Anna so well, even though people reveal details that make you question whether or not you know her at all. I loved being with her throughout the entire process.

7. The ending. WHAT. THE. CRAP. I still have so many questions and so many thoughts. Abigail Haas is brilliant.

Basically, you need to get yourself a copy of one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. It has every creepy element you could think of, plus everything else you didn’t realize you wanted. I can’t get over how I just didn’t see it. I’m thinking a re-read is in my future because I’ve just got to see what I missed! And I can’t wait to read more from Abigail Haas. She has a crazy imagination/mind, and I want LOTS more from her.


What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore | Book Review

May 20, 2014 Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult 5

What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore | Book Review

What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore | Book ReviewWhat is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Published by Cedar Fort on May 13, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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A Cinderella tale of deception and mystery.

In a land of masquerades and mystery, Evie is a mask maker in Venesia, where masks represent rank and identity. When a cryptic bandit strips away Evie's mask and destroys her home, she goes into hiding at the palace to find both a new identity and revenge.

 

I was very excited to be given the opportunity to read and review What is Hidden for the book’s blog tour. Due to a family emergency, I am a few days late posting my review. I appreciate the patience and understanding of Cedar Fort and Lauren Skidmore. I really enjoyed this book, and am excited to finally have some time to sit down and write out my thoughts! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. In the land of Venisia, nobody is allowed to be seen without a mask covering most of their face. Evie’s job is that of a mask maker, and she and her father make masks together in their home studio. Right at the beginning of the story, it is announced that there is a serial murderer, the Chameleon, going around killing people, stealing their masks, and assuming their identities. Nobody knows who this person is, whether they are male or female, or how to stop them. All they know is that this person has a unique brand on their face, hidden under their mask. One night the Chameleon attacks Evie’s home, burns it down, kills her father, and steals his mask and all other masks in the studio. The Chameleon also brands Evie with the same unique symbol, marking her as the Chameleon. If anyone sees her mark, she will be punished and maybe even killed for the real Chameleon’s crimes. She must go into hiding and abandon her friends, in the hopes of finding the Chameleon herself and clearing her own name. She flees to the palace and poses as a serving girl. It’s a very exciting and unique premise!

2. Evie has one link to her former life, her best friend Aiden. He has always been a master at finding people, and shows up at her bedroom door one night overjoyed that she did not die with her father. He is a noble, and has the ability to pull some strings and make her life a little less unbearable. Of course, she is delighted to have him in her life again and looks forward to their nightly visits and self defense lessons. She confides in him about everything, except for the Chameleon’s brand hiding under her mask. I LOVED Aiden. He’s so suave and cocky and snarky and caring.

3. All things considered, Evie is a pretty strong heroine. Her father has been murdered, she has been branded a criminal by the Chameleon, so can’t trust anyone, she has lost her former life, and she is dealing with the daily verbal abuse from other palace workers. Yet, she keeps her head on straight. I really liked that, instead of rolling over and accepting what has been done to her, she is making it her life’s mission to bringing the correct person to justice.

4. There is a bit of romance, which develops from a very sweet friendship. I loved it.

5. While What is Hidden is marketed as being a Cinderella tale, I also saw some of The Scarlet Pimpernel in it! I can’t tell you why because it’s a bit spoilery, but I really liked the added mystery and intrigue. Nobody is who they say they are, and their masks make things even more mysterious.

6. In case you had not guessed, Venisia is TOTALLY Venice, Italy. I’m not sure whether it’s an old Venice, a new Venice, or a Venice removed from time completely. The language is very modern, though, so it would be hard to convince me that it’s historic Venice. There are canals and water taxis, though, and any book that takes me to Venice or a Venice-like place is welcome on my shelves.

7. The writing style is very descriptive and lovely. I loved reading about the scenery and the intricate masks and costumes.

8. I’m just a little unsatisfied with the ending… There’s some loose ends and no announcement of a sequel. And seriously, these ends could have been tied up with a paragraph or a short epilogue, so a second book is extremely unnecessary. I would have liked a little more closure.

All in all, What is Hidden was a fun, slightly suspenseful story that I highly enjoyed. I loved the friendship turned love story, the Venice-like setting, and the sweet characters. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Lauren Skidmore’s future books.

This book is a 2014 debut

 


Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

April 29, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★★

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewDon't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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5 Stars
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Holy. Moly. I’ve been in a major reading slump for about the past month, so I went to Twitter and asked people what I should read. One of my friends recommended I read this one because she was hooked so quickly! I love mysteries, so I was all about it. Guys, this was amazing! I absolutely loved everything about Don’t Look Back, and am so happy to say that it pulled me out of my slump! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. There are not a lot of good mysteries out there for YAs these days. And the ones that ARE out there usually ends in some annoying way, like the main character dreamed/hallucinated the whole thing, or there’s not really a mystery after all because the main character is mentally ill. Don’t Look Back is a good, nail-biting, spine-tingling, gripping mystery with all the elements one looks for when they are in the mood for such a book.

2. Usually mysteries don’t do well with a romantic element because there ends up being way too many things and emotions to keep track of. The romance actually enhanced the story in this case, though. Of course, I’m happy about this because we all know I drink love stories like some people drink diet soft drinks.

3. I could not GUESS who did it! I thought for sure at two different times in the book that I had figured out who it was. I was feeling so smart and smug that I had figured everything out. NOPE. I was no Nancy Drew here, which was a very pleasant surprise.

4. Ok, I’m sorry… but I LOVE the whole “I’m caught in a post-traumatic stress induced bout of amnesia, so everything is even scarier because I don’t know anything or anyone” kind of storyline. I know it’s been done before, but I honestly do not care. There’s just something about a person with no memory of the evil that happened to them just makes my spine tingle and my skin crawl.

5. Our main girl, Samantha, does not have the Rapunzel Syndrome as a result of her memory loss. She is not this scared, timid, little naive thing with no reason or common sense. She knew to question things and she knew to keep things to herself when she needed to.

6. Speaking of Samantha, she was a HORRIBLE person before she lost her memory. I mean, she had every single mean girl stereotype going on. I LOVE that this memory loss gave her a second chance, and I loved how mortified she was every time she received new evidence of her evil past life. It just goes to show that people can change, and that you don’t HAVE to be a mean person.

7. There is such a strong sense of family and companionship in this book, and I loved that. Samantha’s brother almost immediately steps into the role of “you touch my sister, you die” even though she has been an absolute jerk to him for years. This loyalty he has for her makes him one of the strongest secondary males I’ve read about in a long time. I love that he was able to set aside the hurt she caused him to help her. And Carson, ahhhhh. She was even worse to him, yet he is able to forgive her and help her as well! I was just amazed that so many people from her younger kid days of being sweet and loving possess the ability to gather around Sam in her time of need.

8. I gotta say this: I LOVE it when a former mean girl gets to tell off her mean girl clique and leave them speechless.

9. The suspense just killed me! I read this book mostly at night, and I was too scared to run across the dark hall to go to the bathroom! There were some moments just dripping with danger and mystery, and I could not handle it! I loved it.

Thank you, Jennifer Armentrout, for pulling me out of my reading slump! Thank you to my Twitter friend (I can’t remember which one of you recommended this!) for pushing Don’t Look Back on me. I had no idea I was in the mood for a mystery, but apparently I was! Definitely get your hands on this book, friends.