Review// Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Author: Courtney Summers
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Length: 308
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review: 4/5

My Review:

‘How do you forgive the people who are supposed to protect you? Sometimes I don’t know what I miss more; everything I’ve lost or everything I never had.’

Best audiobook I’ve ever read, and I think it would be best read in audio format because it is told like a podcast with a full cast of characters, as well as through Sadie’s perspective and it switches between the two. These characters tell the story of a missing girl, Sadie, set on a mission to bring justice for her little sister’s death by their mother’s ex-boyfriend. I also really love the cover a lot; I think it’s so beautiful.

It was such an emotional read with so many grief-stricken characters; it’s hard not to feel for them. I liked how it went back and forth between the podcast about finding out what happened to missing Sadie, and Sadie’s first hand account of events as they happened – I really liked the contrast and it was so suspenseful when the podcast host, West, found more leads that got him warmer and warmer to the truth.

However, with that said, the one thing I was a bit iffy about was West. He felt a little bit one dimensional, like there was something off about him but I can’t even pinpoint what exactly it was. In addition, the open-ended conclusion felt a bit frustrating! Then again, a lot of real stories like this unfortunately don’t have clear, solved endings, so maybe the author was trying to pack a bigger punch by leaving it up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m not sure, but I still wish it had ended differently.

Overall, I’m really glad I finally got to read this, and I will be thinking about the story for a long time.

– Catherine

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Review// The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

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Author: B.A. Paris
Series: Standalone
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: February 9, 2017
Book Length: 328 pages 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Review: 3/5

My Review:

As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours, and for Cass Anderson, that statement could not be more fitting.

One night, on her way home from a friend’s house, Cass takes a turn onto a desolate road in the middle of the woods during a rainstorm. She spots the car of an unidentifiable woman on the side of the road, and after turning it over in her mind, decides against stopping to make sure she is okay, for fear that something might happen to her if she does. The next morning, she learns that the woman, Jane, whom Cass later realizes she knew, had been murdered, and the decision to drive off sparks a sequence of events that that lunges Cass into a downward spiral.

This book truly frightened me at times. Cass was losing her mind for the entirety of the book, and at first, when it was little things, I chalked it up to bad memory, but later, when it was bigger, more important details, I was starting to think I was going insane – perhaps not having paid attention enough myself. One of the strangest things I found about the narrative was how often Matthew, Cass’ husband, and Rachel, Cass’ childhood best friend, brought up the murder in the woods. Yes, that’s what the book was primarily about, but it was almost a little bit too much and far fetched that these people would be bringing up the subject for that long, especially not having known Cass had been at the scene that night. Although, in the author’s defense, I kiiind of understand how it helped build up the story for the later parts of the book.

Despite that, I did enjoy this read – it was eerie, and I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Jane and why. With that said though, the ending was kind of predictable and it was a little bit silly how Cass ‘guessed’ who had done it and why (uh, same!).

B.A. Paris is a safe bet if you are looking for a quick and easy thriller though, and despite having a hunch about the ending, I still think it’s one worth reading.

If anyone has any other good thriller recommendations, please let me know! 🙂

-Catherine

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Review// White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux

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Author: Trish Harnetiaux
Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Book Length: 228 pages 
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Review: 2.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

There are only a few rules in a White Elephant gift exchange: 1) Everyone brings a wrapped, unmarked gift. 2) Numbers are drawn to decide who picks first. 3) Gifts don’t need to be pricey—and often they’re downright tacky.

But things are a little different in Aspen, Colorado, at the office holiday party for the real estate firm owned by Henry Calhoun and his wife Claudine. Each Christmas sparks a contest among the already competitive staff to see who can buy the most coveted gift: the one that will get stolen the most times, the one that will prove just how many more commissions they earned that year than their colleagues. Designer sunglasses, deluxe spa treatments, front row concert tickets—nothing is off the table. And the staff is even more competitive this year as Zara, the hottest young pop star out of Hollywood, is in town and Claudine is determined to sell her the getaway home of her dreams.

Everyone is puzzled when a strange gift shows up in the mix: an antique cowboy statue. At least the sales agents are guessing it’s an antique—otherwise it’d be a terrible present. It’s certainly not very pretty or expensive-looking. In fact, the gift makes sense only to Henry and Claudine. The statue is the weapon Henry used to commit a murder years ago, a murder that helped start his company and a murder that Claudine helped cover up. She swore that no one would ever be able to find the statue or trace it to their crime. So which of their employees did? And why did they place it in the White Elephant? What could possibly be their endgame?

Over the course of the evening, Henry and Claudine race to figure out who could have planted the weapon, and just what the night means for the secrets they’ve been harboring. Further adding to the drama is a snowstorm that closes nearby roads—preventing anyone from leaving, as well as keeping law enforcement from the scene. And by the end of this crazy night, the police will most definitely be required…

My Review:

Yay, I’m happy I finished this just in time for Christmas! I was looking forward to reading at least one festive novel.

I thought the premise of this book was extremely interesting. I love mystery/thrillers and I thought it was a great idea to combine that with a Christmas-theme (although I know this is not an original idea by any means).

I will admit that some parts were suspenseful, but I did guess a few of the main plot twists which took away the other half of the excitement. It just seemed like the plot points in this book were wrapped up all too perfectly with a little red bow, just like the one on the cover. A lot of things “conveniently” happened and after a while it seemed just too good to be true that the pieces were fitting together so seamlessly.

I also wish that the characters had a bit more personality. They seemed to be very cookie-cutter (no pun intended) and I could always predict the main characters’ next moves. In general, I think this is a little bit of an issue for me personally, but it is especially the case when I intend to read a mystery/thriller. I love being on my toes, and unfortunately with this, there were very few times that I was.

Despite all of that, the writing was enjoyable and I finished this in a few days – reading most of it in one. Not the worst book ever, but I did expect more from it. I would still recommend it if you are looking for an easy holiday read, but don’t expect to be sitting at the edge of your seat.

-Catherine

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Review// Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

 

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Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Release Date: October 17, 2011
Book Length: 316 pages 
Publisher: Tor Teen
Review: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

My Review:

I thought this was a pretty good book. It was a light thriller/horror that started off strong, but in the end it kind of wavered which set my rating to a 3/5.

The protagonist, Cas, was a teenage ghost hunter and I thought the concept was interesting and unique – it kind of reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At the beginning, I thought the plot was pretty predictable as there were all the typical tropes in a YA high school that you could think of. However, even though the book did surprise me by swaying from the stereotypical, predictable ending, I thought some of it was a little cheesy. ***SPOILER AHEAD: especially the fact that Cas falls in love with Anna!  It wasn’t executed in a believable way to me, so when it happened, I honestly didn’t care and I think that is one of the main reasons this book ended up flopping for me in the end.***

What I especially liked though was that this book is set in Canada! I was shocked to find that out, because it’s not every day that I read a book set here. They mentioned the setting of Thunder Bay a bunch of times, but what I wish the author did more of was bring some Canadian culture into the plot to make it more believable. Although they kept mentioning ‘Thunder Bay’, the descriptions of the setting and life in Canada were few and far between so really, it could have been set anywhere else and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Even though this wasn’t my favourite book ever, I still think it was good. I wouldn’t go out of my way to read the sequel, but I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea either.

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Review// You by Caroline Kepnes

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Author: Caroline Kepnes
Series: Standalone
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Book Length: 424 pages 
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

My Review:

This was just as terrifying the second time around. Everything that happened to Beck and the people around her after meeting Joe was a nightmare, but no matter how psychotic Joe was, I remained addicted to the thrill of being inside his mind. The creepiest thing was that he was so twisted, scary, and manipulative, yet all the while appearing completely normal to everyone around him. I think that this story works because the reader almost wants to root for Joe. He stole things from Beck’s house and created a hidden shrine of her belongings, attacked people she loved, stalked her every move, and the list goes on, but despite all of that, you get so caught up in his mind games that you almost start to believe the victims of his deserved what they had coming.

I had been meaning to re-read this for a while now, and I’m so happy I finally got around to it. If there is any lesson to be taken away from this book, it’s to be very careful who you trust and the amount of things you expose about yourself online, because you never know who is watching you.

There’s nothing to worry about anymore. I’ve never felt so at peace with where I am, right now, on a train, tunneling toward my home, toward you. I take my time walking up the stairs and onto the street. I want life to move slowly because I want to anticipate you with all my heart, greet you with all my heart, fuck you with all my heart and miss you with all my heart. I have to laugh because I sound like a greeting card but I deserve this, you, joy.

If you’ve watched the Netlfix adaptation, I would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂 

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