ARC Review: Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

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Book Review: The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) by Dot Hutchison

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Halloween Non-Horror Recommendations!

Top Ten Tuesday(93)

So as I promised I’ve done up a post for those of you who want to read some spooky books for Halloween but don’t necessarily like horror or want your pants scared off! These are mostly all thrillers or have a paranormal factor present.

If you want to see my Halloween Horror Recommendations you can check that out here.

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

(Review Here)

A great diverse read featuring a Latino family of brujas (witches) and when Alex tries to rid herself of her powers her entire family vanishes. This is a very magical adventure full of family love and who doesn’t love a good witch book?


The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

(Review Here)

This is a thriller about a girl who lied about who murdered their babysitter when they were younger and must now hunt for the true killer. This doesn’t have much for Halloween vibes but it is a very dark and twisted story full of surprises. It definitely gets gritty and you’ll get chills reading through it!


Coraline by Neil Gaiman

(Review Here)

Who doesn’t think “Coraline” is a Halloween classic now? Because I sure do! It’s subtly creepy and just absolutely perfect for reading this time of year.


The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

(Review Here)

Another thriller but this one has some psychics involved making it all the more perfect for some Halloween reading. A girl who fakes being psychic must now help the police find a missing girl but she may just have some insider information….


Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

(Review Here)

Harbingers of Death? That screams Halloween in my opinion! A mysterious boy shows up in town accompanied by flocks of strange crows and when he saves Angie from something supernatural she realizes he may not be human either. Paranormal elements and a slightly creepy atmosphere makes this another great read for non-horror fans!


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Another book that shouldn’t surprise many of you but “The Graveyard Book” is about a boy who is raised by the supernatural residents of a graveyard. It’s full of adventure and just straight up adorableness.


I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

A mystery thriller revolving around Jasper Dent the son of the most infamous serial killers in the world. Jasper was being groomed to take over the “family business” and therefore can see crime scenes from a criminal’s POV so when a new serial killer shows up in his small town he’s determined to prove it’s not him.

So, so, sooooo many twists and turns with this one it’s especially great if you have a morbid curiosity about serial killers, like me.


The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

(Review Here)

I could honestly recommend any of Flynn’s books but this short story fits the best in my opinon. It’s about a woman who fakes psychic readings and help from the beyond for money. When a woman wants her help ridding her house of something evil our main character may just start believing in ghosts….

Super quick read and open ended so if open endings aren’t your thing I’d skip it.


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

(Review Here)

Psychics, ancient sleeping kings, ley lines, and magic trees I think it’s safe to say this isn’t your run of the mill paranormal romance or urban fantasy. It’s full of magic and sets a very fast pace not to mention you will definitely fall in love with the characters!


The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

This is more Middle Grade than YA but it’s still super interesting and full of supernatural spirits and creatures and there’s more than a few creepy moments too as Thomas learns about how to be a Spook.


The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

(Review Here)

This one is filled with monsters, demons, undead, and spirits and while it has a few dark moments it mostly follows a girl named Tea learning to control her powers of necromancy.


This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

(Review Here)

This book fits into a kind of neat genre but it’s about a girl who wants to hunt monsters and boy who is one of those monsters in a city torn into two sects. The monsters are very unique and fun to read about and the characters are a bit morally grey, definitely a fun read though and the monsters aren’t TOO creepy either!


Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta

(Review Here)

Another witch book makes the list! This one is about a girl who visits Scotland and learns a bit more about her family’s past as she continues having visions of two women and a bit more about witchcraft and blood magic. Honestly the background of Scotland makes this book worth the read as well!

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Have you read any of this books? What did you think?

Will you give any of these books a try?

What are some of your favorite non-horror Halloween reads?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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description

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

review

As excited as I was for this book I was hoping to enjoy it more than I did, this was a pretty big disappointment. It wasn’t a terrible book but it was just very unimpressive to me, I expected a lot more from it.

PLOT

First of all this is supposed to be a mystery/thriller where you were suspicious of every character, I mean they’re potential murder suspects! However, I didn’t feel really at all throughout my reading that these characters were murderers, nobody seemed sneaky enough or vengeful enough to have actually done it. In a murder mystery/whodunnit you need to sell me on all of these suspects and I just wasn’t sold. I wasn’t second-guessing anyone, I wasn’t thrilled, and I wasn’t stumped about the mystery.

This was pretty fast-paced and did keep me interested enough in the story as it was told in four different POVs, however, I felt that the POVs really blended together. I would be deep into a chapter told from Cooper’s perspective and still think I was reading Bronwyn’s. That shouldn’t be happening, kind of hard to get into everyone’s inner monologues when I forget whose I’m reading.

I thought many of the twists were predictable or when they weren’t they didn’t pack much of a punch. Which is probably why this book was so disappointing for me, because mystery/thriller’s should be a lot more…..thrilling.

I really liked that this set up was a nod to The Breakfast Club but really the only similarity was that there was detention for a few pages and each character fits into a stereotype. That’s as far as the similarities go though which was a little disappointing. But I still really enjoyed the reference overall.

Also that ending and the reveal at the end was a little ridiculous and actually made the entire book sort of pointless. I was just….”Really? That was it? Why?” It did make sense but it was all really odd and not at all what I thought I was signing up for when I started the book.

Overall, it was a great and very interesting IDEA but just really failed on execution.

characters

The characters were the only point in the story that kept me reading. They each developed a lot throughout the story and had a decent amount of complexity. However, as I already mentioned it was a little hard to tell at times whose POV I was reading. Yes, it does start each POV switch with the name and date but I STILL got lost and had a hard time trying to remember whose POV I was reading. The characters were all a little too similar at times.

Each character fits directly into a stereotype or cliche which in any other case would have been annoying but with this book it worked. This is supposed to be a nod towards The Breakfast Club since each character is a Brain, Beauty, Criminal, Athlete, and an Outcast. I loved how each character owned up to their labels and “rebelled” against them in their own ways by the end of the story.

There is a tiny bit of diversity with a Latino character and a LGBT character, although it is kind of skated over which was disappointing.

However, I didn’t really click with any of the characters and none of them were all that memorable for me.

romance

There’s a couple of different romances scattered throughout the book but the main romance is between Bronwyn and Nate. It was just sort of okay and I was kind of bored with it. The only nice thing about their romance is that it was slow-burn, no insta-love or other YA romance tropes here!

in conclusion

Overall this was an okay read and it seems to be a case of “It’s not you, it’s me” for me with this book. It could definitely be a good read for others especially for those of you who may not necessarily read a ton of YA mystery/thrillers, it will make this one less predictable for you!

What I Loved:

  • It was pretty fast-paced
  • The characters were alright
  • The romance wasn’t filled with tropes
  • A bit of diversity
  • The Breakfast Club reference (because it’s awesome)

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Fairly predictable
  • The ending/reveal was a bit ridiculous
  • I didn’t FEEL anything during the story or for the characters
  • POVs blended together

RECOMMEND

Meh. I can’t say I personally would go around recommending this to anyone because I found it to be really boring and predictable for the most part, However, like I said this could still be enjoyable for you if you haven’t read a ton of  otherYA mystery/thrillers.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

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description

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

review

I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about Megan Abbott’s books, it seems people either love them or hate them……I loved it! I will definitely be looking forward to reading more of her books now!

This will be a shorter review than normal because I’m not really sure what to expand on in a book like this without revealing too much!

PLOT

I’d like to call this book a thriller but it really isn’t it’s more of a family drama that has some murder mystery/thriller vibes. It’s just so suspenseful and addictive I could not put this book down once I got into it, it was almost hard to remember this was the story of one family at times. There definitely isn’t a lack of drama here!

The writing in this book, as I said, is just so addictive it was amazing how Abbott could take something potentially tedious such as a family’s every day routine and make it so suspenseful! Everything from Katie’s marriage concerns to the viciousness of gymnastics and the rumors that accompany both was made to feel way more terrifying. The pacing almost goes at break-neck speed, there was rarely a dull moment in this book.

There was also a fair share of plot twists that I honestly did not see coming, sure I saw some of them coming but definitely not all of them. So many secrets and lies, there are characters manipulating at every turn! However, there was so much more to it than a simple murder. Abbott really delves into the characterizations and into how the messy minds of teenage girls work and that’s honestly what drives the story the most. I would say this book is really about people politics.

Also just on a side note I really enjoyed the gymnastics aspect of the story and loved how big of a role it played throughout.

characters

While I did think the characters were pretty good in this book I also didn’t really LIKE any of them which I feel like Abbott was actually going for. They fight dirty, keep secrets, manipulate, and even refuse to see what’s right in front of them, this book really showed that there’s bad in everyone.

I think the characters with the most personality would have to be Katie and her son Drew, they were more interesting to read about since they usually had other things going on. Whereas, Eric and Devon were almost fully focused on gymnastics. I have to say though that Drew was the smartest person in the entire story, he knew EXACTLY what was going on but without full knowing what it was. The child knew and all of the adults didn’t. Just saying.

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • The strong plot with plenty of drama, twists, and turns
  • The writing was downright addictive
  • Fast pacing and never a dull moment

What I Didn’t Love

  • Some of the plot twists were predictable
  • I didn’t really care a whole lot for the characters

RECOMMEND

I definitely recommend checking this book out especially if you’re into mystery/thrillers or family dramas because it’s a bit of both.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

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description

It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

review

Two pretty girls, an exotic foreign location, mystery as to why I did it, and the potential for revenge and jealousy to be the cause. It didn’t matter what the truth was — what mattered was that it was fun to talk about.

Tell me that quote didn’t snag you right there.

This book is fun, a lot of fun and I devoured it in one sitting so that says a lot right there since I usually don’t read books so fast. However, while “With Malice” is a very fun, quick read it’s not anything game-changing, not something super unique it’s actually quite similar to a lot of other YA thrillers but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. And if “With Malice” is one thing it is definitely enjoyable.

PLOT

I know how hard it is for us bookworms to not read a description before reading a book but honestly with this one I think it’s better to go in 100% blind. There are a few great twists in the first couple of chapters that are completely spoiled in the book’s summary. So I frown upon that but it can’t really be helped and I’m sorry this warning may have come a little too late already!

“With Malice” is very fast-paced and keeps the pages turning, your thirst for answers will have you finishing it in no time! I loved how deceptive Jill’s narrative was, we can’t quite trust what she’s telling us or the memories she slowly starts to recover. Who doesn’t love a questionable narrator? Jill’s amnesia and the overall mystery are really what drive the whole story and make it interesting, everyone is pointing fingers at her and she can’t remember a damn thing. It’s just intense, we’re left wondering what the hell is going on the entire time!

This isn’t a dark thriller or even a very twisted one but that doesn’t take away from it at all, of course you have the final big twist but honestly it wasn’t very predictable at all and I loved it. I had to cover up the next pages so I wouldn’t skip ahead and read! Eileen Cook does an excellent job of deceiving us throughout the story and more than likely you won’t see the ending coming either. Speaking of the ending it is great but also a little unsatisfying, I wanted something a bit more conclusive but I think that just adds a bit more to the story so I’m not too mad.

I also really enjoyed how the media and the public were portrayed throughout the story, using every little thing Jill has ever said or done to brand her a murderer. They were cold, they were vicious, and it really added to the tension. It really just made me root for Jill the entire time though.

There’s also no real romance in this one, so if that’s a plus for you, hooray!

characters

 Really the only character I thought or cared about was Jill, everyone else was pretty flimsy and disposable. “With Malice” is definitely not a character driven story and it shows.

I actually really enjoyed Jill right away, I found her sense of humor to be amusing and I just wanted to root for her the entire time because of the amnesia and the way the media treated her. Jill is a bit of a bookworm and cares more about her academics than boys and she’s also loyal to a fault, especially when it comes to her best friend Simone. I found Jill to be a quite relateable character and her narrative really stuck out to me, I mean come on what book lover can’t relate to a fellow bookworm?

As far as some of the other characters go such as Simone or Anna (Jill’s rehab buddy), it’ll be hard to trust your first impressions since we’re seeing the world through Jill’s POV and she doesn’t remember the last 6 weeks. I really liked how easily my opinion of a character could shift based on certain information, you can’t quite trust anyone.

in conclusion

Really the best way for me to describe “With Malice” is to repeat myself, it’s just a fun and fast book. That’s just all there is to it, it’s not dark or very twisted but just an enjoyable little mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing and turning pages.

RECOMMEND

Definitely. If you’re looking for a quick read this summer then “With Malice” is worth a look!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy

Book Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

 

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description

A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

review

I’ve said it a million times and I will say it again, Gillian Flynn is an evil mastermind. She’s brilliant and she has yet to disappoint me with any of her writings and “The Grownup” is definitely no exception.

So the beginning of the book introduces us to our nameless MC who narrates the entire book, she’s exactly the type of heroine you come to love and expect in any of Flynn’s stories. She’s flawed, manipulative, and clever. She’s not afraid to do anything it takes to get what she wants including screwing you over completely. I said she’s manipulative and that’s really the best word to describe her.

From there we escalate towards our MC being invited over to Carterhook Manor to do a cleansing of the house. Susan, the client, believes the house is harming her stepson by turning him into an evil, harmful, and maybe even murderous monster. His name is Miles and let me tell you he’s the scariest part of the whole book, he makes Damien Thorn from “The Omen” seem like a saint.

Granted Miles is 15 and not 5 but you get the point, the kid is scary as hell.

Anyways though our MC tells Susan she can cleanse the house and cure her stepson, which is basically her way of extorting money. She knows she can’t really help them but she’ll pretend to in order to get paid. Though once some creepy stuff starts happening our MC realizes she  needs to get the hell out of Dodge, she then tells Susan she needs to seek out real help because she can’t help her.

This is where you’ll start trying to figure out if the story is just another thriller or if there’s actually something paranormal happening in the house.

The homestretch of the book is where we get slapped with not ONE but at least two or three plot twists that you will not see coming at all. This is a book by Gillian Flynn after all so of course you won’t see it coming. They’ll leave you wondering what the hell you just read.

My one complaint is the open ending, we’re left to determine what happened ourselves. I’m all for it if it’s done right but this was just a little too unexplained for my tastes.

in conclusion

I’m still really happy with the book it’s true to Flynn’s writing style and I’m a big fan of hers so obviously I loved this one as well as all of her others. I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on whatever else she’ll be writing in the future.

RECOMMEND

Yes, I recommend this to anyone looking for a short story that will absolutely blow your mind and if you enjoyed any of Flynn’s other books I definitely recommend reading this one as well.

However if you’ve never read Flynn I would recommend waiting with this one until you’ve read at least one of her other books. I just feel like for your first Flynn book it should be something else that isn’t so open ended. I would recommend starting with “Sharp Objects” (click here for review).

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy