Author: Cassie (Page 3 of 12)

BOOK REVIEW: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

BOOK REVIEW: Dead to Her by Sarah PinboroughDead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

For fans of Liane Moriarty, Liv Constantine and Lisa Jewell, a twisty psychological thriller about a savvy second wife who will do almost anything to come out on top from the New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes.

Being the second wife can be murder . . .

“Once a cheat, always a cheat,” they say. Marcie Maddox has worked hard to get where she is after the illicit affair that started her new life a few years ago. But her world of country clubs, yachts and sumptuous houses in Savannah, Georgia, isn’t easy to maintain, no matter how hard she tries. Nor is keeping her husband, Jason, truly interested.

So, when Jason’s boss brings home a hot new wife from his trip to London, the young Mrs William Radford IV isn’t quite the souvenir everyone expected. Sexy, drop-dead gorgeous and black—Keisha quickly usurps Marcie’s place as the beautiful second wife. But when Marcie sees the extra spark in the room when Keisha and Jason are together and their obvious, magnetic attraction, the gloves come off.

Revenge is best served cold, but in the steamy Savannah heat, blood runs so hot that this summer it might just boil over into murder.

Thank you to Edelweiss, William Morrow and the author for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

“But in this town, dear,” she continued. “murder is considered classier than embezzlement.”

This was a really unique and refreshing mystery/thriller book. I feel like I’ve read a lot of thrillers and I truly haven’t read anything like it. Between the setting and mystical realism components, it certainly has some unique features that aren’t found in most mystery/thriller book.

Here’s the main characters:
•Marcie Maddox: Second wife to Jason, working her way into the upper echelon of the Savannah elite
•Jason Maddox: Marcie’s husband and business partner to William Radford
•Keisha Radford: The much younger wife to the newly widowed William; Fish out of water in Savannah, as she is from London
•William Radford: Much older and richer husband to Keisha; Upper crust of Savannah circles

There’s a lot of side characters, but those four really serve as the main characters, with chapters told in alternating viewpoints of Marcie and Keisha.

Let’s start with the setting: Savannah, Georgia. I’ve read very few thrillers set in the south, let alone a large city in the south. So right off the bat I was happy for the change. The oppressing summer heat and humidity is almost a character itself. There’s a lot of discussion about what it means to be in southern high society and the expectations that are pressed on those trying to get in and stay in.

They were all poison one way or another, and maybe she was the only one honest enough to see it.

I found all of the characters to be incredibly engaging, even if I didn’t personally connect or particularly like any of them. If you’re looking for likeable character(s), this may not be the book for you. All of them are doing what they feel they need to, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. However, especially for Keisha and Marcie, I had a lot of sympathy for them at various times. They are both different from a lot of the other Savannah elite and are doing their best to fit in. It’s also incredibly clear that their marriages are not everything they thought they would be and there’s a very serious power imbalance between them and their husbands.

“Often what you worry other people might be thinking of you is most likely to be what you think of yourself. Be kinder to yourself, Marcie. Nobody’s perfect.”

Another thing that sets this apart is just how risqué it is. Sex is often part of thriller books, but not as explicit as this. There’s several different relationships that have fairly graphic sex scenes between partners. I would imagine they wouldn’t be too hard to skip if that isn’t your thing, but there are numerous ones. If you’re also totally not OK with cheating, this definitely won’t be the book for you. It’s a very big point for several of the characters.

Overall, Dead To Me was very well written and fairly different from a lot of other thrillers. I was left guessing until the very end and was even surprised (but happy with) the route the author took. If you are looking for a steamy mystery, look no further.

Dead to Her is available February 11, 2020.

Their marriage foundations had been secrets, an affair and lies. It had been exciting then. It wasn’t so much fun now. But still-if he had his secrets, what was so wrong with her having hers? Why shouldn’t she have something for herself?

Content Warnings: Cheating spouse/partner, explicit sex scenes (m/f and f/f), death, attempted murder, talk of death of animal, abusive relationship, sexual assault.

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Queen's Assassin (Queen's Secret #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret #1) by Melissa de la CruzThe Queen's Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Red Queen, this is the first novel in a sweeping YA fantasy-romance duet about a deadly assassin, his mysterious apprentice, and the countrythey are sworn to protect from #1 NYT bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia's deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he's the Guild's most dangerous member and the Queen's one and only assassin. He's also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow--to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts--to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she'll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they're forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they'll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they'll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen's Secret series.

Review:

Guys, I really, really, really liked this book. Like I finished it in three sittings over two days and I can’t get it out of my head. Shadow and Cal have made themselves at home and now I’m desperate to find out what’s next, which is TOO FAR away.

Quick note before I start gushing – this book probably won’t be for everyone. I’m already seeing some mixed reviews and I’m sure there will be more. There’s a lot of historical backstory and there’s a some tropes happening in this book. But let me be clear – I didn’t care. Tropes are tropes and we all have ones we love. I adored the main characters and was invested in their struggles.  I also think there’s enough differentiating factors to make this feel unique in its own right. So there, now moving on. Mild spoilers ahead.

Do you like…

  • Adventure, action and traveling for a secret mission?
  • One person keeping a secret from the other in order to protect them?
  • Characters constantly denying their feelings but get jealous (a lot)?
  • Royalty, balls and spying?
  • Witchcraft and knights?
  • Oh no, there’s only one bed at the inn, guess we’ll have to share?
  • One person making a huge sacrifice for other and then both have to deal with the aftermath?
  • A bit of a cliffhanger ending?

If you said yes to any (all) of these, it’s time to start reading The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz. Outside of read the Au Pairs a long, long time ago, I haven’t read any other of her books, so I can’t compare to any of her other series.

TQA is told from the alternating perspectives of Shadow, who has spent her whole life trying to prove she should follow in the footsteps of her family and join the Guild, and Caledon “Cal” Holt, the queen’s personal assassin. Cal is bound by a blood oath, passed on from his father, to find the Deian Scrolls as a means to not allow warring countries old and serious magical powers. Shadow has been learning some of this forbidden magic that has been passed down through the generations and hopes to be as helpful to the crown as Cal.

Their paths cross after Cal saves her life and after a daring escape, Cal and Shadow team up to find the scrolls and identify a new threat to their country. Of course, there’s plenty of complications along the way.

This series is described as a romantic fantasy and I think that’s an incredibly fair description. There’s a lot of historical information given to help the readers truly understand the history of the different nations and bloodlines, as well an understanding of the magic in the world. There’s royalty and court intrigue and spying and balls (of course!). And there’s a blossoming romance between Cal and Shadow that’s pretty much apparent from the moment Shadow goes out of her way to help Cal. He’s reluctant to team up, as he’s always worked solo. And he’s even more determined to never fall in love, as his blood oath could be passed down to the next generation if he fails to find the scrolls. Obviously Shadow’s addition to his life complicates all his best laid plans.

Shadow is determined to prove that she is more than capable of training and joining the Guild. The opportunity to rescue and join Cal in a secret mission is more than she can hope for to prove her worthiness, but she’s also keeping a secret from Cal that could change everything.

I don’t recall specific ages being mentioned, but I imagined our two were somewhere between 17-20 (sorry if I missed this detail). Even as they go from reluctant partners to friends to more, they both are constantly fighting against their feelings, as both are determined to focus on the task at hand. However, their immaturity shows at various times, as jealousy becomes a huge point of frustration between them. They can’t stand the idea of the other flirting or kissing others, even when it means they may get important information for their mission. I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed these moments, but I can see others struggling with the drama of it all. But to each their own.

While I liked the historical information that provided throughout the book, sometimes it did slow the pacing down. It was important and informative, but so much else of the book was moving at lightning pace. A LOT happens in the 384 pages, and yet, I am in desperate need of more. As much as I enjoyed all the fantasy aspects, it was Cal and Shadow’s relationship that truly drew me in. In some ways, it really reminded of Serpent & Dove (which I also LOVED), with shades of Red Queen and Everless.

Hard spoilers for the ending: View Spoiler »

Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book and I’m full of anticipation for the future books. While I have ideas where it could go, I can see a lot of things getting in the way of the happy ending I’m wishing for. The ending of this book ripped my heart, but I still have hope for the next book.

If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU. This was a long one, but I just had a lot of thoughts and feelings lol. I hope if you decide to pick this up, you enjoy it as much as I do!

Favorite Quotes:

I want to train. If I go to the palace, it will be as an assassin. Not as a doll. Or a pawn.

*

“Not saying I don’t believe you,” he says, noting just how quickly she grows defensive. “Good thing I was here then,” he says with a grin. “To help you out when your magic couldn’t.”

Instantly, he know he should’ve kept his mouth shut.

*

Here I am, about to embark on an adventure under the tutelage of the Caledon Holt. It’s all I’ve ever wanted-and yet all I feel is frustration and fury.

*

Today he hasn’t been half as irritating, which I find rather irritating.

*

He would spend every night at the flea-bitten inn if it meant he would lie next to her again. But of course he doesn’t tell her that, as much as he wants to, and as much as he wants to know how she feels about all of this.

*

“All I did was kiss a girl I didn’t particularly want to kiss, but I did it, for us.”

“For me? You kissed her for me?” Shadow whips from the window. “Should I be grateful? Should I kiss the king too? For you?”

*

“Keep in mind, you’re my brother,” Shadow whispers to him. “Thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot,” he says, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “That would certainly give them something to gossip about, wouldn’t it?

*

Unbeknownst to Shadow, her lies were made of truth. “After all, there is no place safer for the princess than with the Queen’s Assassin.”

*

“I am not free, not without my love,” he says and this time, when he looks at me, I don’t look away. “Shadow. Be with me. Always. I am yours. Be mine.”

Giveaway:

Win one copy of The Queen’s Assasin (US only)! Contest runs Feb. 4 – Feb. 18, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

Keep up with Melissa: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn GraceAll the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1)
by Adalyn Grace
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice, Adalyn Grace’s All the Stars and Teeth is a thrilling fantasy for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

Review:

All the Stars and Teeth was the first book I read in 2020 and it very easily could be in my top ten by the time the year ends. That’s how much I adored this book.

There’s everything I love, wrapped into nearly 400 pages: Magic! Pirates! Mermaids! Enemies(ish)-to-lovers! Peril! Teamwork! Romance! A heartbreaking ending! Promise of more exciting things to come!

ATSAT is wild ride, from the very beginning chapters. Amora Montara, princess of Visidia, has been training in magic her whole life to take over her father’s throne. The magic is dangerous and there are very few who can do what she can. All she has to do is one demonstration of her ability to use this magic and she will ascend to the throne. But something goes terribly wrong and then next things she knows, she’s running away from a pirate to save her kingdom and prove she can one day rule.

It’s on this journey we meet the team: Bastian, the man who saved Amora from execution and has secrets of his own; Ferrick, Amora’s fiancé by way of an arranged relationship; Vatea, a mermaid who helps them navigate cursed waters after they rescue her. To say I loved the group dynamics would be an understatement. All of them bring particular skills and have such unique, but lovable, personalities.

The four of them sail around of the realm, trying to find the items they need to travel to Zudoh and face those who are practicing a dangerous magic face-to-face. As the group goes further on their travels, secrets are exposed and devastating information becomes exposed. Each character is battling their own personal demons, but all have a singular focus: to defeat the evil growing in the kingdom.

This is the first part of a duology, and while I would love to see it go even further than that, I’m happy to know there’s more to come. Because that ending was both satisfying and devastating. Certain storylines are wrapped up, but the sacrifices asked of some of our favs are almost too great and it broke my heart.

ATSAT is fast-paced and beautifully written. The characters are highly engaging and likeable. There’s monsters and magic and sea creatures. There’s also romance and deep friendships. All the characters grow and learn as they face precarious situation after precarious situation. There’s brutality but also sweet love. I truly don’t want to spoil a lot of aspects of this book, so I’ll just say I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. If you love YA fantasy as much as I do, All the Stars and Teeth makes a wonderful addition to this genre.

Favorite Quotes:

My hands hesitate over the fire as the confidence I built like armor around me shatters. Everything I’ve done has been for them. And yet…my own people fear me.

*

Bastian rolls his eyes and leans closer into the cell, dropping his voice so no one can eavesdrop. “Listen to me, I don’t want to abandon Visidia.” He pulls back his coat to reveal my dagger and satchel tucked into his belt. “I want you to save it.”

*

Hand on my cabin door, I shoot the boy a dirty glare. “Fine, keep your secrets. But remember that if you try anything, I’ll stab you without a second thought.”

“Are you flirting with me?” he teases. “It’s a bit hard to tell, considering how terrifying you are.”

*

“I’ve a collection of me who I intend to repay for generous they were to me.” Vatea’s smile gleams wicked. “Dismemberment for anyone who ever tried to touch me. The tongue flayed from those with wicked mouths. And the hearts eaten from any man who’s ever told me to smile.”

*

“As it turns out,” I say softly, “it’s impossible to break anyone out of the trance unless they have feelings for you.”

“Feelings?” he echoes, shifting his right hand so his fingers weave between mine. “You mean like this?”

*

It’s not too late for us; we are not the mistakes of our family. We have the opportunity to change Visidia for the better.

*

Bastian once asked me why I didn’t just find a crew and save myself. But what he didn’t realize was that I’d already found them—this is my crew, and I hold them tight. “We’ll do this together. All of us.”

*

Carefully, he reaches out to take my hand. Giving it to him is the only thing that makes me feel whole again, and I hate it.  

Giveaway:

Win one copy of All the Stars and Teeth (US/CAN only). Contest runs Feb. 4 – Feb. 20, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Adalyn Grace graduated Summa Cum Laude when she was 19-years-old. She spent four years working in live theater, and acted as the managing editor of a nonprofit newspaper. During and after college, she studied storytelling as an intern on Nickelodeon Animation’s popular animated show, The Legend of Korra (sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender). She was a participant in Pitch Wars 2016, and is a former literary agent intern for an established agency.Adalyn splits time between San Diego and Arizona with her bossy cat and two dorky dogs, and spends her days writing full time while trying to find the city’s best burrito.She has several projects in the works, and hopes to continually push the boundaries and explore the limits of upper young adult fiction.You can follow her on Twitter, at @AdalynGrace

Keep up with Adalyn: Goodreads | Website | Instagram | Twitter

BOOK REVIEW: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

BOOK REVIEW: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana UrbanAll Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

"Talk about frightening page-turners! I kept reading chapter after chapter. I had to know what happens next! And trust me―the scares just keep on coming!" ―R.L. Stine, bestselling author of Goosebumps and Fear Street

Thank you to Edelweiss, the publisher and the author for an ARC in exchange for a honest review.

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting. Within the hour, you must choose someone in this room to die. If you don’t, everyone dies.

As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I knew I HAD to have it. It has so many elements I love in thrillers: an isolated location (in this case, a locked room), a group of people who have secrets and a running clock until disaster strikes. SIGN ME UP.

Here are the major players of the book:
Amber – Main POV. Loves to compose music and is still dealing with the death of her older sister.
Sasha – Popular cheerleader and lead in the school play. Regina George, if you will.
Priya – Amber’s longtime best friend.
Robbie – Amber’s boyfriend and college-bound baseball player. Also popular.
Diego – Smart and a former friend of Amber’s. Won a Shark Tank-style show, which was the eventual cause of the rift.
Scott – The outlier of the group. Friendly with Amber but not friends with anyone else with the group and falls under your classic “bad boy” trope.

The book is told in a series of short bursts of present day and extended flashback to the events leading up to the fateful night. It is also mostly told through the viewpoint of Amber Prescott, a girl who loves to compose music. So much so that she has convinced to the drama club to perform a Romeo & Juliet set entirely to her original compositions.

It wouldn’t be high school without friend or relationship drama, and while Amber previously found herself on the fringe of high school society, she is thrust into the popular group when she becomes friends with Sasha and begins dating Robbie. Soon she is juggling so many priorities, things start to fall apart. But above all, her driving force is to be accepted into USC’s music program.

“Killing him won’t bury your secret…because I know it too.”

I really don’t want to give away anything more than what I’ve mentioned above, because you just need to read it for yourself. But by the end, everything is threaded together. We know exactly how and why everyone is in that room. I was OK with the ending. I think my biggest frustration was with how little of the book actually takes place in the present. I understand with a ticking clock and everything happening in one room, there’s only so much that can happen. But it really seemed like 80-85% of the book takes place in flashbacks, when the most interesting stuff (to me at least) was what was happening in the locked room. Thus, the four instead of five stars.

If you ever wished the Breakfast Club had been a little more intense (aka those Riverdale episodes), then I wholeheartedly recommend picking up this book and devouring it like I did.

The thing about being trapped in a room with five other people, a bomb, and a syringe of lethal poison is that at some point, shit’s going down. No matter how frantically you claw at rationality, how desperately you cling to common decency, you eventually give in to your basic instinct to survive.

All Your Twisted Secrets will be available March 17, 2020.

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen JohnsonThe Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3)
by Maureen Johnson
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

Review:

IT’S HERE. The conclusion to the Truly Devious trilogy. And if you’ve been on the edge of your seat, barely hanging on through all the twists and turns and crazy reveals of this series, then buckle up. Maureen Johnson has one last book to shock us and finally reveal exactly what’s been happening at Ellingham Academy – then and now.

All of our favorites are back, including Stevie, David, Janelle, Nate and Pix. We also add in Hunter, who made some brief appearances back in The Vanishing Stair. The gang is all back together and working to figure out why terrible things keep happening and how they are connected to the original Ellingham mystery.

I’ll just say this upfront, I was very happy with the ending. Everything is revealed (in its own time) and all the threads Maureen Johnson has been weaving are tied together and it thankfully all makes sense. These kids have been through so much trauma and craziness, and to see their stories conclude with resolution, made me very appreciative.

The Hand on the Wall picks up shortly after the events of the Vanishing Stair. School is in session, but after another accident happens, Ellingham Academy decided to close its doors and send the students back home. However, Stevie and co. have other ideas. They need to figure out why and how everything has been going on. But to complicate the matters, a massive snow storm is headed their way, essentially trapping them on campus. What better to way hunker down and solve a decades old mystery?

For anyone who’s read this series, you’ve spent at least two books trying to pick out the correct puzzle pieces and figure out this mystery. I really didn’t guess anything correctly, but once everything was revealed, I was truly satisfied. It’s been a pleasure following along with these characters and trying to figure everything out with them. It’s truly a mystery series, with a additional emphasis on friendships and relationships.

Besides the overarching mysteries of the series, I loved these characters, especially when they are all together. They’ve all been through so much together, but it’s very clear how much they care for each other and are in tune to what each other are feeling. This is especially evident when Stevie struggles with her anxiety, when David self-deprecates or when Nate self-sabotages. These are smart and capable teens, but who all have their own unique battles.

If it’s not clear already, overall I really enjoyed this book and this series. It’s a great upper-YA mystery series and I wish there were more like it. The story is unique and all of the characters are memorable in their own way. I’m not sure what Maureen Johnson has planned after this, but I hope it’s another series similar to this. I’m ready to dive back in to a multi-book mystery.

Favorite Quotes:

She’d let him down because she could not handle it all. Guilt crept around the edges of everything—the taste of the coffee and the smell of the room and the cold coming from the window. Guilt and paranoia. She felt the thrumming in her chest, the engine of anxiety rumbling, making itself known.

*

She had a clue now, a point of focus. There were things in the walls. She wasn’t sure what that meant, or what she might be looking for. But so much of this had been about walls.

*

But sometimes, quite by accident, you find yourself vibrating on someone else’s frequency. You can follow the sense of the thing, if not the literal meaning. Sometimes, this is more important and more informative.

*

“So,” Hunter said, breaking the silence. “Weird night, huh?”

“Not really,” Nate replied, picking through the bottom of a large bowl of popcorn, looking for any fully popped pieces that weren’t hard kernels in disguise. “This is pretty much how it goes. Something terrible happens and we all come back here and talk about how terrible it is. We don’t learn.”

*

He had seen people give up hope before, seen the light leave their eyes. Albert Ellingham could buy almost anything he wanted, but not hope. Hope is not for sale. Hope is a gift.

*

Stevie had just failed some test she had no idea she had to take, on a subject she was not aware of. She had been sitting here in her hole in the ground, minding her own business, and then this. There was no winning. But he was here.

Giveaway:

Win one copy of The Hand on the Wall (US Only). Open Jan. 21 – Feb. 4, 2020.

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About the Author:

Maureen Johnson HQMaureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

Keep up with Maureen: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook

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