Tag: Mystery (page 1 of 18)

BOOK REVIEW: Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist

BOOK REVIEW: Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma BerquistMissing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

With a touch, Lexi can sense how and when someone will die. Some say it’s a gift. But to Lexi it’s a curse—one that keeps her friendless and alone. All that changes when Lexi foresees the violent death of a young woman, Jane, outside a club. But Jane doesn’t go to the afterlife quietly. Her ghost remains behind, determined to hunt down her murderer, and she needs Lexi’s help. In life, Jane was everything Lexi is not—outgoing, happy, popular. But in death, all Jane wants is revenge. Lexi will do anything to help Jane, to make up for the fact that she didn’t—couldn’t—save Jane’s life, and to keep this beautiful ghost of a girl by her side for as long as possible.

Thank you Edelweiss, Greenwillow books and Emma Berquist for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Shoulders bump mine, and I grit my teeth as deaths wash over me in a sticky gray wave. I only get flashes, but it’s enough; all these plump, dimpled cheeks, thick hair, and painted nails, I glimpse the way it ends. Throat cancer, aneurysm, pneumonia. They beam even white teeth, and all I can see are the skulls smiling beneath.

What drew me to this book was this unique setting: Lexi can see anyone’s death with a simple touch. And if that was not hard enough, she can also talk with, touch and expel ghosts to the “other side.”

Lexi is a tough girl, who has a soft spot for her grandfather, who has the same powers as herself and Trevor, a teenage ghost who hangs around Lexi. She works at a bar with others who have a wide array of powers, but which are only featured sparingly in the book. However, the bar plays a large significance overall. Lexi also has an on and off relationship with Phillip, who also works at the bar, but struggles to be with him due to her ability to see his death every time they touch, which is an understandable downer.

Because being with you makes me lonelier than being alone. Because I can’t stop picturing your body on a cold metal table.

One night, Lexi accidentally bumps into a girl outside the club named Jane. She sees that Jane will be murdered that night, but doesn’t do anything about it, because as she has learned, there are serious repercussions for interfering with fate.

Jane then reappears as a ghost, and convinces Lexi and Trevor to help her figure out who killed her and if it is related to other killings in the area. Lexi does her best, but her powers weigh on her mental health heavily. Several times over the course of the novel, she is forced to check herself into a psych ward just to tune out the world and get some much-needed sleep. I really appreciated that this was included, as it rings incredibly true. Someone with this kind of power, who could not shut it off, would probably be overwhelmed. These scenes also lead to a small but cute relationship she develops with a doctor at the hospital.

Even without turning around, I can sense Jane behind me, feel the gravitational pull of her. I can’t escape it; she’s like my compass, like a lodestone. I always know where Jane is.

As Lexi and Jane work to solve Jane’s murder, they also become far closer to each other and begin to develop feelings for each other. While I certainly enjoyed their relationship, I was also struggled with the world-building that allowed for physical interactions for Lexi and Jane. You always see ghosts as corporeal, which Jane and Trevor are 99% of the time, except with Lexi. I wish I could put into better words why this slightly missed the mark for me, as I did like Lexi and Jane together, but ultimately I didn’t love them together or the fact that romance was such a major factor in this book. I guess I could have been OK if it would have stayed as mostly a creepy thriller book with just a small emphasis on a love story.

I loved the premise of this book so much. It was such a cool idea and unfortunately I think it was squandered away a little bit, focusing too much on romantic relationships and tying up the ending with a big shiny bow. This easily could have been a really cool and creepy series – there’s so many directions this could have gone and areas to be explored, especially all the side characters with different powers – but it just ended up being a very narrow story. I just wanted more from this and ultimately left feeling OK, but not great.

This book will be released on May 21, 2019.

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Guest House by Megan Miranda

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Guest House by Megan MirandaThe Last Guest House by Megan Miranda
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of - but that's just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable - until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can't help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie's brother Parker, who blame her. Someone known more than they're saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.

Thank you NetGalley, Megan Miranda and Corvus for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Megan Miranda is back with her newest adult mystery/thriller and as much as I’ve enjoyed her previous works, this is easily my favorite from her yet.

I’m sorry. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.

One year ago, Avery Greer’s best friend, the affluent Sadie Loman, is found dead on the night of the infamous end of summer party. The police determine it was suicide and close the case. Avery, after having a rough start at life – losing her parents to a car accident and her grandmother to illness – stays in Littleport to oversee the Loman rental properties.

Around the one year anniversary of Sadie’s death, strange things begin to happen around Littleport and the Loman rentals. Homes are rummaged through, candles lit but not by the renters, etc. Avery is sure these are connected to Sadie’s death and begins to raise questions with those who were at the party the night of her death.

The biggest danger of all in Littleport was assuming that you were invisible. That no one else saw you.

The books jumps back and forth between present day and the night of the party, but all through Avery’s point of view. We learn a lot about Avery and what brought her and Sadie together, as on paper, they had very little in common and not a lot of reasons to become as close as they did, even closer than Sadie was with her older brother, the handsome and charming Grant Loman. This even leads fellow a Littleport resident to say this to Avery: “She created you. A mini-Sadie. A monster in her likeness. And now she’s gone, but here you are.”

As with all Megan Miranda novels, all the layers of the story are peeled back until there’s a clear picture of exactly what happened. The ending was a doozy and I loved it. I definitely did not see everything that coming but was elated when it was put in front of me. I was very satisfied with the whole story and was sad when I got to the last page.

As I said up top, this was my favorite Miranda novel to-date. I loved Avery, the main character, and really liked a lot of the supporting cast. It was well-paced and kept me enthralled the entire time. This story would make a perfect summertime adaptation for HBO, a la “Big Little Lies.” The setting – an almost private and exclusive sea-side town in the summer, with a colorful cast of characters and slow-burning mystery and a touch of romance – would really lend itself well to the small screen.

When this comes out in May, be sure to pick it up and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I stared once more down at the article in my hand. The truth, always inches away, just waiting for me to look again. The unfinished sentence, our paths crossing over and over, unseen, unknown.

The Last Guest House will be released on May 2, 2019.

BOOK REVIEW: The Au Pair by Emma Rous

BOOK REVIEW: The Au Pair by Emma RousThe Au Pair by Emma Rous
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

Something strange happened here on the day they were born.

The Au Pair is good mystery novel, centering around the Mayes family. Years before, Seraphine and her twin brother Danny were born, and in a matter of hours after their birth, their mother dies from what is considered suicide. Following the death of their father when they are adults, Seraphine finds a family photograph that raises a lot of questions about the fateful day. With her grandmother unable to clarify the events of her mother’s death, Seraphine begins to look for the au pair that was with the family at that time.

Why did they pose for a family photo with only one of their new babies?” I ask. “Why do they looks so–so normal, Mum and Dad, and yet a few hours after this was taken, Mum was dead? I don’t understand how it happened.

Naturally, Seraphine’s attempt to dig into past is met with resistance by many around her, including her brothers and her grandmother. She speaks with many people in the small, sea-side town, including the next door neighbor/childhood friend and his father, who spent a lot of time around the estate.

As with many mystery/thrillers, this book utilizes a split narrative and timeline. In present day, we follow Seraphine as she peels back the layers of her family; in the past, we follow the Laura, the Mayes’ au pair, and slowly learn about what happened and how it came to be.

I want to go back to the way things were before I found the photo. I want to be left to mourn my father without questioning whether he was my father.

Overall, I was fairly happy with the story. To many avid thriller readers, there probably isn’t a lot new here. I didn’t find the twists to be fairly obvious, but I wasn’t overall shocked by it either. I also had just come off reading, (spoilers for those who may have read this book first) View Spoiler » However, that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment. I really liked Seraphine, and especially enjoyed her relationship with her brothers.

I thought the story line wrapped up nicely and I wasn’t left with a lot of lingering questions, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. I will definitely check out what Emma Rous writes next.

“Why did you go looking for her?” His voice is quieter now but deeper, scratchy. “Why did you do this to us?”

BOOK REVIEW: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

BOOK REVIEW: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. CraigHouse of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Thank you to Netgalley, Delacorte and Erin A. Craig for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly can’t believe this book doesn’t come out until August, because all I want to do is shove it in people’s hands and make them feel all the same magical feelings I felt when reading this phenomenal novel.

It honestly had everything I love in a book: Castles. Royalty. Strong family ties. Unique but not overly complicated world. Strong female lead. Swoon-worthy romance. Creepy atmosphere. Supernatural entities. Heart stopping peril. A book cover to die for.

Once there were twelve of us: the Thaumas Dozen. Now we stood in a small line, my seven sisters and I, and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a ring of truth to the grim speculations.

From the very opening scene, which was a funeral for one of the Thaumas Dozen sisters, I was immediately taken into this world, where (originally) twelve sisters, their father and their stepmother live in Highmoor, a grand castle near the ocean and rule over the land, but always in touch with the sea.

Unfortunately for Annaleigh, after her mother passes some years ago, her older sisters keep dying in mysterious and unfortunate ways until she is suddenly the second in line to take over the throne after her father’s passing. While several of the deaths could be attributed to accidents or suicide, Annaleigh is certain her most recent sister’s passing has something more sinister beneath it and is determined to figure out what is happening to her family. It is on one of her sleuthing missions does she meet the wonderful Cassius, who Annaleigh comes to befriend and trust.

I couldn’t help but smile, remembering their confrontation at the ball. “You sound jealous!”
“Hardly. And do you know why?” I shook my head. “Because I’m the one whispering in the corner with the prettiest girl in the room.”

Even with a blossoming romance to contend with, Annaleigh is determined to figure out what is causing members of her family to die. And here is where it starts to get creepy: one Annaleigh’s younger sisters starts drawing incredibly disturbing images she shouldn’t know anything about, Annaleigh experiences vivid dreams/moments that she can’t figure out if they are real or not, and all manner of spooky things are occurring around the house. Plus, more death.

I shook my head, as if warding off a buzzing mosquito.
None of this is real, it persisted. No one else sees it because it’s not really here to see. You’ve gone mad, my girl.
No. that wasn’t it. That wasn’t possible.
I wasn’t mad.
There had to be another explanation.
Does there?

The story continues to climb and build until everything comes crashing together at the end. And let me tell you, what an ending it was. Some things I had kind of guessed relatively close, while others I didn’t see coming at all. So many different plot points were so expertly tied up that I felt exhausted when I finally finished the last page. So much happens at the end and I just want to talk about it. I have so many feelings! I need to reread it, honestly, because I’m sure I missed things as I raced to see who made it out alive.

I loved Annaleigh’s dedication to her family, even when it meant putting others’ feelings ahead of hers, but at the end of the day, she had the ultimate say in what what would make her happy. Her relationship with her sisters was complicated, but full of love, and the same can be said of her relationship with her father. I adored Cassius and the wonderful aspects of Annaleigh he highlighted. His arc was super interesting and only added to the awesome world building of the story.

I’m honestly surprised this is the author’s first published novel, as it was so well done. I truly do not have enough good words to say about it and am already looking forward to reading it again, probably closer to the fall when the atmosphere will perfectly lend itself.

In case it wasn’t clear, I adored this book and almost all that it entailed. I will say, there are two scenes that involve an animal (a turtle). They aren’t the worst I’ve ever read, but they are disturbing, albeit short. As this is a major trigger for me, I feel it’s only fair to give others notice as well. So just be warned, but it’s easy to skip. I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did!

“All my years of imagining you,” he murmured, leaving a trail of kisses across my face, “and you are so much more than I ever could have dreamed of…”

This book will be released on August 6, 2019.

BOOK REVIEW: We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott

BOOK REVIEW: We Told Six Lies by Victoria ScottWe Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Remember how many lies we told, Molly? It’s enough to make my head spin. You were wild when I met you, and I was mad for you. But then something happened. And now you’re gone.

But don’t worry. I’ll find you. I just need to sift through the story of us to get to where you might be. I’ve got places to look, and a list of names.

The police have a list of names, too. See now? There’s another lie. There is only one person they’re really looking at, Molly.

And that’s yours truly.

Thank you to NetGalley, Victoria Scott and Entangled Publishing for my free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

3.5/5

Did you know it, then, that I already belonged to you? Because I did, you beautiful, wicked girl.

“We Told Six Lies” is a captivating and well written YA thriller from Victoria Scott. However, there were a few things that held the story back from being great.

As with many thrillers, this book is told from varying perspectives and time jumps. The main players in this book are Cobain and Molly. Yes, you read that right, Cobain is a character’s first name. This book has a number of questionable first name choices, but I digress.

Molly is new to the high school and area, but quickly finds friends and becomes interested in shy and socially awkward Cobain. Cobain’s chapters often reminded me of Joe from Caroline Kepner’s YOU books, as he was truly smitten with Molly, even to his own detriment. Thus, when Molly goes missing, it’s not a surprise the police are most interested in Cobain, who also has a well-known anger management problem.

“Follow me,” you said, and I recognized that you were about to do something you shouldn’t. It was your favorite pastime, and you knew I’d do it beside you without question.

Cobain was an OK main character. He has a lot of issues, both with himself and with his family. I truly did feel badly for him many times, but I never quite loved him. On the other hand, I really liked Molly, even as flawed as she is. We unfortunately only get Molly’s perspective in present day and not in the flashbacks, as opposed to how we get Cobain’s. Molly has a lot of layers and is smart and determined. She also uses people to get what she wants, just like her father taught her.

Molly wanted freedom. But he wanted Molly. And love always triumphed in the end.

Without giving away much more of the plot, I was slightly surprised at the “twist.” I think part of it becomes fairly clear as the story goes on, but not all of it is easy to guess. The last couple chapters are wild and thrilling, but then it fairly abruptly ends. I would have liked to see more of the aftermath and a hint at the future, as opposed to ending it where it did. Also, it was never clear what exactly those specific six lies were referenced in the title. It’s not a big deal, but it was just weird to have the book titled something that wasn’t explicitly explained within the book.

So many lies. More than any of us can count. And with every lie, we had a chance to make things right. How could we have been so stupid?

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