Book Review : All These Bodies By Kendare Blake

A serial killer’s rampage keeps the nation breathless as they follow the news in 1958 America. For an aspiring young journalist, he expects the papers to be as close as he’ll get to the case from his tiny Midwest nowhere town. Right? Wrong.

I had such high hopes for this one that I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. On the one hand, the plot was compelling, the characters were well developed, the writing kept me drawn in and hooked. On the other, this is the author of “Anna Dressed In Blood.” I expected my emotions to run the full gamut of the spectrum while my toes curled and I debated whether or not I was ready to turn the page. Sigh. It would be unfair not to say this was a good read, because it was, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be, which is unfair to everyone (book, author, and reader). I enjoyed it. But it’s no Anna.

From Goodreads: Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. In this edge-of-your-seat mystery from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake, the truth is as hard to believe as it is to find.

Summer 1958. A gruesome killer plagues the Midwest, leaving behind a trail of bodies completely drained of blood.

Michael Jensen, an aspiring journalist whose father happens to be the town sheriff, never imagined that the Bloodless Murders would come to his backyard. Not until the night the Carlson family was found murdered in their home. Marie Catherine Hale, a diminutive fifteen-year-old, was discovered at the scene—covered in blood. She is the sole suspect in custody.
Michael didn’t think that he would be part of the investigation, but he is pulled in when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

Book Review : The Cabin By Natasha Preston

A group of teenagers goes away for the weekend to party at a cabin. When they wake up after a drunken bender, well, not everyone wakes up.

This is the kind of book that is usually a perfect fit for me, but this one felt like a bad fit from the start. Still, I wanted to see where the author went with it, so I kept reading. Did it keep me reading? Yes. Was I wowed? No.

Teenagers getting killed? Check. Everybody’s a suspect? Check. The MC can’t trust anybody? Check. This has all the parts, and I can’t really put my finger on why, for me, it remained in pieces, so maybe chalk it up to wrong book, wrong time?

From Goodreads:

They think they can do and say whatever they want. They think there are no consequences. They’ve left me no choice. It’s time for them to pay for their sins.

A weekend partying at a remote cabin is just what Mackenzie needs. She can’t wait to let loose with her friends. But a crazy night of fun leaves two of them dead—murdered.

With no signs of a forced entry or struggle, suspicion turns to the five survivors. Someone isn’t telling the truth. And Mackenzie’s first mistake? Assuming the killing is over…

Book Review: Teen Killers Club By Lily Sparks

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of me rubbing my hands together after finishing a satisfying, if unbelievable, tall tale about a Teen Killers Club! Best of all, I smell a sequel (please let there be a sequel)!

In this one, the MC is in jail for her best friend’s murder. She doesn’t remember killing her friend, but her friend wasn’t always so nice to her and she blacked out, so . . . when she gets an offer from a shady government agency to free her from prison if she agrees to go to their camp, she takes it. Even if it lands her in the middle of a pot of hot teenage killers who DO remember committing their crimes. Not just that, but they’ve all tested psychologically as the worst of the worst! EEK! Now be a good camper, turn out the lights and go to sleep. Fast paced and a lot of fun!

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From Goodreads:

Framed for the murder of her best friend, a young girl joins a super-secret society of teenage assassins to avoid a lifetime behind bars–and discovers her own true self–in this mesmerizing debut novel.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere has raised eyebrows for years as an unhappy Goth misfit from the trailer park. When she’s convicted of her best friend Rose’s brutal murder, she’s designated a Class A–the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile. To avoid prison, Signal signs on for a secret program for 18-and-under Class As and is whisked off to an abandoned sleep-away camp, where she and seven bunkmates will train as assassins. Yet even in the Teen Killers Club, Signal doesn’t fit in. She’s squeamish around blood. She’s kind and empathetic. And her optimistic attitude is threatening to turn a group of ragtag maniacs into a team of close-knit friends. Maybe that’s because Signal’s not really a killer. She was framed for Rose’s murder and only joined the program to escape, track down Rose’s real killer, and clear her name. But Signal never planned on the sinister technologies that keep the campers confined. She never planned on the mysterious man in the woods determined to pick them off one by one. And she certainly never planned on falling in love. Signal’s strategy is coming apart at the seams as the true killer prepares to strike again in Teen Killers Club.

Book Review: The Escape Room By Megan Goldin

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Who doesn’t like seeing (or reading) about some overentitled baddies getting what they deserve?

A group of financiers for an elite company are forced to participate in a mandatory ‘team building’ experience. Only, the game really sucks. And when it’s over, they’re still trapped – which is when the real fun begins!

Revenge is best served cold – unless it’s a sizzling summer beach read!

This was a fun, fast paced foray into the corporate world of backstabbing and bad ideas.

From Goodreads:

In Megan Goldin’s unforgettable debut, The Escape Room, four young Wall Street rising stars discover the price of ambition when an escape room challenge turns into a lethal game of revenge.

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.

Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.

Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

Book Review – The Girls Save The World In This One by Ash Parsons

I totally chose this one for it’s title! 🙂 It’s not the kind of book you read if you’re looking for beautiful prose. You shouldn’t choose this one if you’re looking for deep literary insight. And if you want a very factual, true to life tale, this isn’t for you.

But if you’re looking for a fast paced, funny good time, this book is it!

Three friends attend ZombieCon only to have – you may have guessed it – the Zombie Apocalypse break out at the conference. While fighting for their lives (and the lives of others) these BFFs discover the strength, ingenuity and self-confidence they need to survive. Big on girl power, friendship, and self discovery, with a bit of romance on the side, this book is a perfect, lighthearted summer read!

From Goodreads: June’s whole life has been leading up to this: ZombieCon, the fan convention celebrating all things zombies. She and her two best friends plan on hitting all the panels, photo ops, and meeting the heartthrob lead of their favorite zombie apocalypse show Human Wasteland.

And when they arrive everything seems perfect, though June has to shrug off some weirdness from other fans–people shambling a little too much, and someone actually biting a cast member. Then all hell breaks loose and June and her friends discover the truth: real zombies are taking over the con. Now June must do whatever it takes to survive a horde of actual brain-eating zombies–and save the world. This is a hilarious and heartfelt horror comedy, an ode to zombies, friendship, and girl power that readers are going to love. 

Book Review – The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is the third book I’ve read by Acevedo, though it’s the first she wrote. There’s no denying she’s a powerful writer, invoking a strong sense of place, culture, and emotions with her beautiful prose.

In this book a teenage girl finds her voice, learns to accept herself and her body, comes to terms with the differences between her and her family – it’s a complete coming of age tale told in free verse that flows as easily as water from the tap. A quick read that shouldn’t be missed (With The Fire On High is by far my favorite by this author).

From Goodreads: A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Book Review: That Weekend by Kara Thomas

Three teens go up a mountain, but only one comes back down . . . and she can’t remember what happened. Is she a victim? Or a killer? An unreliable narrator? Or is her convenient case of amnesia true?

Mystery abounds in this book, and although my original hypothesis for what happened “That Weekend” turned out to be true, making this YA mystery thriller somewhat predictable, the why behind what happened?!?! I never in a million years would have seen that coming! I was totally blindsided by the twist at the end. I’ve read several books by this author before and have discovered she can be counted on for a fun, entertaining tale.

From Goodreads:

It was supposed to be the perfect prom weekend getaway. But it’s clear something terrible happened when Claire wakes up alone and bloodied on a hiking trail with no memory of the past forty-eight hours.

Three went up the mountain, but only one came back.

Now everyone wants answers – most of all, Claire. She remembers Friday night, but after that… nothing. And now Kat and Jesse – her best friends – are missing.

That weekend changes everything.

What happened on the mountain? And where are Kat and Jesse? Claire knows the answers are buried somewhere in her memory, but as she’s learning, everyone has secrets – even her best friends. And she’s pretty sure she’s not going to like what she remembers.

Review: The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

I’ve read books by this author before and really enjoyed them, so I decided to give this one a shot,
but after the first few pages, I found myself questioning my decision. There was an instant disconnect. I wasn’t really feeling the characters. Then, all hell broke loose.

What I feared was going to be a humdrum book centering on a boring girl turned into a super fast paced page turner featuring a kick ass heroine (or two). The characters came alive and the stakes rose higher and higher as I raced through the pages. My only complaint would be that there were certain events referenced in the book that made me wonder if there was a prequel, and that were never explained to my satisfaction. So . . . maybe a sequel?!?!

Overall, engaging and enthralling!

From Goodreads: A deliciously commercial YA page-turner about the daughter of a con artist who is taken hostage in a bank heist.

Nora O’Malley is a lot of things. A sister. An ex. A secret girlfriend. Kind of crooked, but reformed… somewhat.

Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up her mother’s protege. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.

For five years she’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:

#1: her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’ve all been inseparable for months, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.

#2: The morning after, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised together. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly.

Because #3: right after they get in the bank, two guys start robbing it.

But they have no idea who they’re really holding hostage.

The robbers are trouble. Nora’s something else entirely. 

Review: The Box In The Woods by Maureen Johnson

I absolutely LOVED the Truly Devious series, so I was thrilled when I learned that Maureen Johnson was writing another mystery featuring the same characters! I rarely preorder a book, preferring instead to wait until it appears in one of the half dozen Kindle daily deal emails I receive, but I knew had to get my hands on this one as soon as possible, so I purchased this one months before its release date. After what seemed like eons of waiting, finally the day came when I got to see beyond the cover to the actual pages of the book!

While I really enjoyed this story, it was definitely different from the previous novels in the series. For one, it felt darker, which I didn’t mind at all, but there were other differences that were an uncomfortable fit, like a too tight sock. The supporting characters (Stevie’s friends) felt a little off to me, maybe because they didn’t have as much of a chance to show their personalities in this one. They almost felt like window dressing to me – only there to serve a specific purpose instead of adding to the dynamics of the plot.

But I think the biggest difference for me was the mystery itself. There aren’t many suspects in this one, so the big payoff of the reveal is more focused on the how and why of the crime. The author does leave a trail of breadcrumbs for readers to follow, and while I don’t mind when I can’t put all the clues together early, when the motivation of the killer comes to light it this one, it almost felt like it wasn’t fair play.

Ultimately, I did like this book, but suspect I would have enjoyed it more had it used characters I was unfamiliar with. After waiting so long to reconnect with Stevie and the gang, the reunion felt a little underwhelming, but Maureen Johnson puts on a good show! 4.5 stars!

From Goodreads:

The Truly Devious series continues as Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery.

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls–the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.

Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

Gifted teens in Vegas? What’s the worst that could happen? The 3rd installment of The Naturals series presents a tightly plotted, super smart mystery that deepens the arc that connects all the books. We get to know the characters, their backgrounds, and their motivations better as the author teases the reader with answers they so desperately want, all while deftly laying clues for them to solve the case at hand.

This final installment wraps the series up nicely. I’m sad that it’s over, but now maybe I can finally get some sleep! 🙂 Barnes is a master of creating tension and suspense even as the events teased throughout the series finally come to fruition. The stakes are high – not just because they’re life or death, but because it feels like you’ve come to know the characters and are invested in their fates. There you are, holding your breath, hoping for the best, and then whammy! What an emotional rollercoaster!

This novella picks up 6 years after the novels leave off. I was eager to read more about the characters I had come to know over the course of the series, and to discover how they had evolved as they aged. The case presented in this one was interesting and had a nice twist, but there was something missing. It felt a bit rushed, not just because there was a clock ticking down, creating a sense of urgency and suspense, but because the time usually spent with the characters and their development was missing. This was like a 2 hour movie paring down to a 1/2 hour show with half the cast. Good but not great.

I just started:

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