Tag: Mystery (page 1 of 19)

BOOK REVIEW: Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery #1) by Mia P. Manansala

BOOK REVIEW: Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery #1) by Mia P. ManansalaArsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery #1)
by Mia P. Manansala
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer....

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she's the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila's left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

Review:

Arsenic and Adobo was a fun cozy mystery that I adored. With heartwarming characters and a mystery that kept me on my toes, this book was definitely entertaining. If you enjoy stories about family, friendship and putting clues together, then you will want to add this one to your tbr!

I grinned as he seemed to squirm with delight. “Good, huh?”
He let out a long, drawn-out sigh but didn’t answer.
I put my hands on my hips. “Oh, come on. Would it kill you to say something nice for a change?”
He responded by convulsing violently, then face-planting right into the dish.

Lila Macapagal moved back home to help her family’s restaurant, since they were struggling.  Right off the bat we got to meet her ex, Derek. He was a local food blogger and critic who never had anything positive to say, yet he still dined at their restaurant.  This day he brought his stepfather with him, who was also their landlord. But during Derek’s meal, he died face first into his food.  With their landlord pointing the finger at them, Lila found herself being accused of poisoning her ex by the police!  What’s a girl to do?

We’ll be fine, I told myself. We didn’t do anything, so they couldn’t possibly find anything on us. Right? Right.
I sure hate it when I’m wrong.

Two of my favorite things about this story were the characters and the food!  One of my besties is Filipino, so while I’ve had a few of the meals mentioned (lumpia being my favorite that she cooks!), there were sooo many more that I desperately need to try!  The food sounded absolutely delicious, so be prepared for this book to make you hungry.  And much to my surprise and happiness, there were some of the recipes in the back of the book.  Loved it!

He squeezed my hand and leaned forward, eyes burning with conviction. “I swear to you, I will fix this. Just trust me, OK? Everything will be fine.”

Not only did I enjoy our main character, Lila, but everyone she surrounded herself with too.  There was her eccentric Grandmother and her Tita Rosie who I just wanted to hug and hang out in the kitchen with!  I wanted to go have a cup of coffee with her bestie Adeena and steal away Adeea’s very sexy brother, Amir.  I was kinda obsessed with him.  Amir’s a lawyer who helped Lila and her family out time and again.  There were definitely sparks there, but there was another guy in the picture too.  So while there were little hints of romance here and there, it never overshadowed the story.  And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll find out who Lila chooses in the next book.

I needed to figure out who killed Derek Winter.

As the story progressed, it seemed as though Lila was framed and setup time and again.   It didn’t help that Lila kept stumbling upon dead bodies.  She held it together for the most part, which was impressive because I would have lost it lol.  I truly didn’t know how it would all be fixed. So when Lila started investigating on her own, I was cheering for her every step of the way!  Arsenic and Adobo was an entertaining tale that was a delightful read!  I don’t reach for cozy mysteries near enough, but I definitely need to in the future!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

BOOK REVIEW: The Best Lies by Sarah LyuThe Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

Told in alternating timelines, Thelma and Louise meets Gone Girl in this twisted psychological thriller about the dark side of obsessive friendship.

We were a forest fire, wild and full of rage. We were a galaxy unto ourselves, a million stars blazing and bright. Everything was possible then.

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu is another YA thriller that is full of potential but fails to execute on its premise. What could have been a twisty and dark story about toxic female friendships and how that can boil over into terrible consequences is more bark than bite. I almost DNF’d at 50%, when the pace of the book was still moving at an almost glacial speed, but wanted to see it to the end. The end picked up a little bit, but it couldn’t make up for the slow pace and repetitive scenes and conversations that plague this book.

I know she’s here somewhere. I can feel that invisible push and pull whenever she’s near, like she is a star and I am a captured object.

The Best Lies follows Remy Tsai’s life over a couple of months. The book jumps back in forth between the night her boyfriend, Jack, is killed and the beginning of her friendship with Elise. Elise meets Remy outside of a school dance right after Remy is dumped by her now-college boyfriend. They quickly bond over their screwed up family lives: both girls are dealing with a lot of heavy and serious issues at home and learn to lean on each other to deal with it.

At the heart of every good lie is the truth, that’s what Elise told me once. The best lies are at least half-true she said.

Elise is nothing like Remy. She is obsessed with justice for those who can’t fight for themselves, she is extremely loyal to those she deems is worthy of her loyalty and she impulsive and rash. Once she becomes fixated on something, she can’t let it go. Remy is more quiet and reserved, living in the shadow of her much more popular and accomplished older brother. She is kind of drifting through life, with a small social circle that she’s not really attached to. Elise and Remy are opposites attracting and a strong bond is quickly formed.

“What we have is real,” she repeated. “No one else has what we have. No one will ever love you like I do.”

However, the bond between Remy and Elise begins to fray. Remy is not comfortable with some of Elise’s decisions, especially related to her vigilantism. In a chance meeting after Elise abandons her at party, Elise meets Jack. Jack is her light in a dark world. He’s funny and caring and sees her for who she really is. Before long, Remy is spending more time with Jack and less with Elise. This is the main catalyst for many of the problems and crescendos up until the night he is killed.

I told myself I was running toward him and not away from her, but maybe that was just a convenient lie.

As I said before, this story had a lot of potential. The mini recap I wrote above shows how dark and twisted this story is and I liked the ideas presented by Lyu. However, I felt it fell very flat in execution. First off, it’s so repetitive. So many scenes and conversations are almost identical that I often wondered if my Kindle glitched and I was reading something I already had. Remy and Elise seem to have the same arguments over and over. They also are ALWAYS crying. I’m pretty sure one of them does not go more than five pages without being described as crying or sobbing or tearing up. I get there are a lot emotions happening, but it was too much. If there had been variety to the story, as well as better pacing with these scenes, I could have been more forgiving.

Overall, I’m in the middle about this book. I liked aspects of it. The subject of a toxic and dependent female relationship was new and different from a lot of other YA thrillers. I liked how Remy’s family life issues were handled and resolved. I really liked Jack and Remy and Jack’s relationship. Elise was an interesting character, who while flawed, kept my attention. However, I still can’t get over the pacing, the repetitiveness and the minimal twists in a thriller. 3/5 stars.

We believed our wounds made us special. We believed what didn’t kill you made you stronger. We believed our tragedies were romantic.

CW: Death/murder, physical abuse, verbal abuse, manipulation, cheating, lying

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

BOOK REVIEW: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

BOOK REVIEW: The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareThe Turn of the Key Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Dear Mr. Wrexham,
Please help me. I didn’t kill anyone.


I was cautiously optimistic when I saw a new Ruth Ware book was coming out. In a Dark, Dark Wood is one of my favorite thrillers, but her two most recent releases were disappointing. However, I thought the premise of The Turn of the Key sounded promising, so like I said, I was cautiously optimistic heading in to it. I was happily blown away.

The book is essentially one giant letter being written from Rowan Caine, who is sitting in jail on murder charges, to a solicitor she wants to help her in her defense. She wants to explain everything surrounding the incident and how everything came to be. Other than knowing that Rowan ends up being accused of a crime, the rest of it is in fairly chronological order.

When we first meet Rowan, she is working at a daycare facility and has recently been passed over for a promotion. So when an opportunity arises that would allow her to be a nanny for a wealthy family in the secluded Heatherbrae House, she jumps at the opportunity. It’s here she meets Jack Grant, a handyman, and more importantly, the three children she is to look after while their parents are away for a work trip.

“Don’t come here,” she whispered, still refusing to look at me. “it’s not safe.”
“It’s not safe?” I gave a little laugh. “Maddie, what do you mean?”
“It’s not safe,” she repeated, with a little angry sob, shaking her head harder so that her words were almost lost. “They wouldn’t like it.”


Left alone in a smart house, Rowan struggles to adapt to her new life. The two eldest children do not make things easy on her and weird things are happening around the house. Rowan can’t sleep due to the footsteps above her room at night and she feels like she’s going mad. But she’s determined to figure out exactly what’s going on, while holding on to explosive secrets.

It was like there were two forces in the house, one fighting to drive me away, another to protect me. But who—who was doing this?

I love nothing more than a secluded setting. Private homes/islands, secluded boarding schools, etc. There’s just something so unnerving about being so isolated from the rest of society that lends itself to a creepy atmosphere. I will say I was on the edge of my seat for most of this book. It didn’t help I was reading late into the night, which made going to sleep a bit difficult.

It was well-paced, the characters were incredibly engaging and the atmosphere was perfectly creepy. The ending was fairly shocking, but also a bit frustrating. We never get a true resolution to Rowan’s letter to Mr. Wexham. If you like everything tied up in a pretty bow, please be aware that while you will know many things, there’s a big thing that is left unstated. While I do wish I knew exactly what happened in the aftermath, I overall loved the book and would easily call it my second favorite Ruth Ware, just after IADDW.

A child is dead, and the police, and the public, and the press, they all want someone to pay. And that someone must be me. But I didn’t kill that little girl, Mr. Wexham. I loved her. And I don’t want to rot in jail for something I didn’t do. Please, please believe me.

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline Kepnes

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline KepnesHidden Bodies (You #2)
by Caroline Kepnes
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

THE RIVETING SEQUEL TO THE HIT BOOK YOU, NOW A NETFLIX SERIES

“Kepnes hits the mark, cuts deep, and twists the knife.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Delicious and insane...The plot may be twisty and scintillating, but its Kepnes’s wit and style that keep you coming back.” —Lena Dunham

“Hypnotic and scary.” —Stephen King

“Obsessed.” —Jessica Knoll, New York Times bestselling author of Luckiest Girl Alive

In the compulsively readable sequel to her widely acclaimed debut novel, You, Caroline Kepnes weaves a tale that Booklist calls “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.”

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice…



Honestly? I’m a bit shocked and disappointed. No, I DID NOT FINISH…but, hear me out, I just think-with a book/subject matter like this-less is more. The first book floored me. So many requotable quotes. Hilarious inner monologue. I LOVED Joe (as much as you can love a psycho who kills women who don’t adhere to what he believes a girlfriend should be ). I loved his take on life. On America-‘Fucking America, Beck.’. On pop culture and the idiots radiating through the streets of New York. The way he addressed Beck as ‘You’. Brilliant. And he slayed me with his humor.

But here…it hurts to say it…it just. It does not work. Not again, anyway. It was jarring, to say the least-to read about the untimely demise of Guinevere Beck. I was shocked that it happened, that he went through with it, that he killed someone he thought he loved. It was painful and cringy to read, honestly. But…it fit. It worked. It wasn’t shocking as much as it was heartbreaking.

Here? It’s tired. Overused. And I tire of him judging every woman he loves. I get wanting an epic, amazing love. Don’t many of us crave that? But disposing of all the women? My God it’s such an exaggerated overreaction and an overused formula. Okay. He’s a total freaking lunatic now. I think he really, truly didn’t intend to become a legit serial killer in the first (just a raving crazy stalker, of course :P), and he always *seemed* to find remorse for ‘having to do what needed to be done’. In Hidden Bodies, he kills like…without blinking. His rage blinds him. His lust for revenge drives him. And it’s just….annoying. Repetitive. And I don’t have that horribly wrong and misguided urge to sympathize with him. I found myself thinking [when something went wrong] ‘Well, bet he’ll kill [her/him] now.’ Shocker.



Where’s the fun of the mystery? The wondering if he really will go through with murdering the girl he wanted so much that he rearranged his whole life for her. I really and truly enjoyed the tone of the first book. It was almost like a fucked up version of a romance and I just loved it so much. I loved almost secretly rooting for them to make it, for Joe to get the girl he *thought* he loved. The sweet moments to flourish and become more. Sick as that is. This? This was a bloody witch hunt and I couldn’t emotionally connect with nor find the parallel of the Joe who made me feel as though he had a heart.



Robotic. Monotonous. Heart-breaking. I loved the effed up first book-but perhaps that’s what it should have stayed. A one book series that left a punch, readers enthralled, and the story wide open for our interpretation. This is definitely a case of knowing too much and there not being enough new (or interesting) material to justify the continuance of his story.
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