The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

★★★★★

(spoiler-free)

Sara Shepard; the queen of teen fiction. I have a theory that she single-handedly encouraged the world’s population of teens to read again. It’s pretty understandable, I think. I mean, ever since the Internet was born, teenagers claim they’ve never opened a book or smelled the musty pages of a novel. It’s completely true actually. Students at my school never read for pleasure. Ever. I hear it all the time. If they do read, the only books they read are Sara Shepard’s. So yeah. She must have some pretty good books to make brain-dead teenagers actually want to trudge on over to the library rather than surf through Instagram mindlessly.

When I saw that Sara Shepard had a new book, I put it on hold in a heartbeat. For some reason, those stories about teenagers and their “struggles” never fail to entertain me. To get some insight into the book if you haven’t already read it, here’s a little summary taken directly from Goodreads:

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

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Mystery in a teen-y book was all I needed. I had been reading some pretty heavy books and needed a little break from that because I’m fragile. Maybe this is just me, but I thought that this would be a lousy mystery book. I mean, a group of teenagers solving a crime together just sounds boring. Well…I can’t even begin to explain how wrong I was. This book was GREAT.

The mystery keeps you intrigued throughout the book. It’s constantly being developed, even in the light-hearted situations. The characters were super dynamic. The personalities of everyone in their clique meshed together so well. The mystery was never quite solved until the very end. You think it’s over but then: IT’S NOT! Who doesn’t love that in a book? It’s no wonder there’s a second book coming out in November, titled “Follow Me”. Ominous. And I’m HYPED.

I’m NOT going to give this book away because I reaaally think you should read it. Even if you’re an old hag. I loved it! It’s not overly long or short. Thanks for reading!

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

★★★★☆

Here’s a little review on my opinion of Janelle Fletcher’s “Watch Me Disappear”.

This book took me about 3-4 days of steady reading a few times a day to complete. That’s actually quite good for my speed! I’m trying to get it back up to where it was when I was younger. I’m getting there!

Before I get started, I think you should have an idea of what the book is about. Here’s a summary taken directly from Goodreads:

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

Image result for watch me disappear janelle brownI’ll start with the characters. Jonathan, the husband and father, is rather bland. He manages to develop throughout the book but not change at the same time, strangely enough. He’s just a boring old dad who is obsessed with his work and realizes this obsession too late. Olive has more depth. She’s the teenage daughter with an attitude that’s labelled “aggressive”, although I beg to differ. I can relate to Olive and her teenage struggles myself. She’s been through a lot more trauma than I have, however. Still, she is comparable to myself. Billie is more intriguing than Jonathan, and her POV is only shown in the prologue and monologue. Of course, she’s described in the book but, as I’m sure you can tell, I was quite disappointed in Jonathan’s character. He’s such a crucial character in this story and I feel as though an opportunity was wasted, just because his character rubs off as so pedestrian.

That being said, the plot was great. I’m not going to lie, when I read the blurb on the back and I saw that ghosts would be involved, I was ready to put the book right back on the shelf. I wasn’t looking for an unrealistic book. However, I was feeling generous and so I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did! The “ghosts” part was nothing like a fantasy novel. It didn’t feel childish or anything. It integrated into the book very well, actually.

If I say anymore, I think I’ll be giving too much away. I highly (!!) suggest you read this book. It’s got a very special, interesting theme that I don’t often see in books.

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City of Bones by Michael Connelly

★★★★☆

             I’ve been trying to find the genres of books that most interest me recently. Growing up, I understandably wasn’t into crime novels and thrillers, rather I was into those typical children and teen novels; Harry Potter (still love with all my heart), Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Divergent, Inkheart, etc. I was never into the classics or the comics (still not into comics, just not my thing) either. These past few years, I fooled around with different types of books. I started reading crime novels and quickly found myself enjoying them. This book just so happens to be the centre of my scrutiny today.
Before I get into the contents itself, can I just say that I bought this perfectly intact second-hand paperback book for a dollar?! A STEAL.

As a brief, brief summary for you to get an idea of the book, it starts off when a dog fetches a bone, a human bone, while out with his owner. Detective Harry Bosch must get to the bottom of the case. One thing puts a wrench in his gut; it’s a bone from a child. He uncovers a case almost twenty years old and struggles to find the evidence he needs to put the monster who did it behind bars.

Harry Bosch is part of a series of books Connelly has written. Harry Bosch’s endeavours are a TV show, which I just recently found out can be found on Amazon Prime. I will have to check that out.

This would be the first book I’ve read from Connelly and I liked it. It’s a very different writing style in comparison to previous books I’ve read. The writing and storytelling is very succinct, no fluff. I love that. Unnecessary writing is one of my pet peeves, and I’m sure I’m not alone on that. Since the writing was so easy to read and comprehend, I devoured this book faster than most. I’m not entirely familiar with Connelly’s work and style, but I think he puts more care into the plot and characters themselves than the manner in which the plot and characters are presented in. If that makes sense. I think that’s probably why there’s no unnecessary writing.

The plot itself is typical of a crime novel. It leads you to believe one person did it but then something else pops up that changes everything. There are many suspects that come up in the story and Bosch tries to figure out who the true suspect is. He’s led to believe one suspect did it, and the case seems to have come to a close, but then he realizes that something isn’t right. Bosch’s detective skills are spot-on, and he covers his mistakes.

Overall, this book was an enjoyable read. The story line is intriguing and I never found myself wanting to put the book down. I’m sure to read more books from Bosch. I bought “The Brass Verdict” and I plan on reading that sometime soon also.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

It’s about time I got my hands on this book. I’m really late, I know.

Though the library’s hardcover copy was gnarled and stained, I still had patience and flew through this book. My reaction: WOW!

I’m sure you’ve already read “Gone Girl” but here is a little summary: Nick and Amy Dunne seem to have the perfect life. They’re (seemingly) happily married, but when Amy goes missing, their small town turns to Nick for answers, who seems to be in the same boat as everyone else. Lies and deceit make this harrowing story by Gillian Flynn hair-raising.

The story seemed to be typical at first; spouse goes missing, blame other spouse, turns out he/she killed the other spouse they’re arrested. But as the story progresses, the lies told by both Amy and Nick complicate the plot.

Image result for gone girl bookIt is written from the alternating perspectives of Amy and Nick. Amy’s perspective is shown through her personal diary, which later becomes a part of the plot. Through these first-person perspectives, you can see the similarities and differences in their thoughts. Since this story is about a relationship gone haywire, you can see through their thoughts why they thought they were good for each other at first but not later. It’s a very personal telling of their inner feelings. Especially for Amy, as she writes down everything she is feeling. Nick’s perspective is told on the present. He is in the time when Amy first goes missing and it carries from there. Sometimes the things Amy and Nick think are downright psycho. And that’s what makes this book so intriguing.

Amy and Nick’s characters are extremely well-developed, due to this first-person perspective. It is truly unbelievable how the thoughts of psychopaths can seem so real, almost relatable (not saying I’m a psycho, OK). Flynn creates characters that actually contribute to the story and plot in their own way. It’s remarkable how each and every character is so important to the story.

This book was just the right length. I wasn’t left missing information nor was the book stretched out. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

★★★★☆

I actually had to read this novel for school. And surprisingly, for once, it was pretty good. This international bestseller by Markus Zusak won many awards for its complicated story and wonderful characters.

Liesel Meminger is the main character in the book, and her story is told through the perspective of “Death” in Germany during the 30’s and the Second World War. She is a young German girl who is fostered by two poor parents and as the story goes on, Liesel grows into a teenage girl. Along the way, she develops family relationships, makes friends, learns valuable lessons, and creates her own values, all while the horrors of Hitler’s rise and the war occur. It’s a coming-of-age novel that will strike a chord with readers.

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Let me start by saying that this book is bursting with literary devices. The entire book is quite literally one giant metaphor, as “Death” tells the story. Every page has a metaphor somewhere, used in some way. You could be talking about socks and there would still be some deep metaphor made by the author. This is really great for analyzing and interpreting the multiple meanings. When I was discussing this book in a seminar, we all interpreted the book differently, and our answers were all reasonable. The descriptions are so detailed and the language used is not complicated and not too easy, which I like in a book.

The fact that Death tells the story, I found, was very interesting. It created a lot of literary devices and all, but it was also interesting to see how Zusak used Death to illustrate its role in the war. He talks about how “busy” Death becomes in the war and how demanding Hitler is of Death. I think it’s quite clever, and it was enjoyable to read these parts.

The thing I didn’t like about the book is that it is so unnecessarily long. There are countless parts in the book where I could not find a single explanation as to what it adds to the book. Trust me when I say I genuinely tried to find its relevance to the book; I was being graded on my analysis. Not only were these parts useless, but they were just plain boring! Some characters have no real purpose in the book. In fact, they just take away from the story. This book would be so much better if it was less than 584 pages.

Overall, this book was pretty enjoyable. I would recommend this to freshmen, not sophomores (as I was when I read this book). Thanks for reading!

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Cannot Wait Wednesday!!! (2)

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Wishful Endings! This is where bloggers discuss the books that they’re excited to read, as well as those that are not yet published. This meme is a great way to inform others of books that are yet to be released, and to hype the books up!

I’m totally looking forward to the publication of The Fifth to Die by J. D. Barker in July 2018. Although there’s still quite a bit of time until its’ publication, I’m still ready to hype it up!

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The following is a quick summary from Goodreads.

In this thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, Detective Porter and his team are off the 4MK case and on the hunt for a new serial killer. But Porter just can’t stay away from the Fourth Monkey case, and delves deeper into the killer’s childhood as an attempt to find the truth behind the mysterious murderer.

Even though the summary is short, it still intrigues me. If you read The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you have yet to read it, check out my review here. It was a book that left me speechless, and I felt as though there was something missing at the end. I know this novel will fulfill that void left by The Fourth Monkey, as I truly wanted to know more about the killer’s young years and to find out what turned him into the monster that he is. I know this one will be a serious page-turning thriller and will provide some insight into the questions that I was left with after reading the first book.

How excited are you for this book? What books are you looking forward to reading?

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Stacking the Shelves

 Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews where bloggers discuss the books that they have borrowed from the library or bought to add to their shelves. I personally think it’s a fabulous idea, so shoutout to them!

I have recently added two mystery / thriller novels to my shelf. The first one is One of Us is Lying, which I am reading at the moment. Next on my list is Watch Me Disappear. What  drew me to these books was the various reviews I’ve read on them on other people’s blog, as well as the cover of the novels. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but when the cover looks nice, it really does intrigue you!

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I’m not really enjoying One of Us is Lying so far! I’ve already lost interest in it….. I will most likely stop reading it, and move on to the other fabulous books that are waiting on my shelf!

Have you read either of these novels? If so, what did you think of them?

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