Tag «Thriller»

Series Review: Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (from Goodreads):

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Mystery Read 2017
Series: Veronica Mars
Author: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
# of Books: 2 (The Thousand Dollar Tan Line; Mr. Kiss and Tell)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While I didn’t watch Veronica Mars during its initial airing (long story but I missed the premiere and this was before the days of easy internet streaming) but I marathoned the entire series just before the movie came out and LOVED IT!

The wit, the intelligent writing and the amazing characters: there’s a lot to love about this series! So I was really excited to see that the creator of the show was writing series novels because who better to write a spin-off series than the visionary himself?

When I started my new job, I wanted to start listening to audiobooks during my commute and I thought what better than a novel set in a world I am already familiar with? It also didn’t hurt that mystery/thrillers were my current obsession at the time and so I decided to give The Thousand Dollar Tan Line a shot.

The Concept / Time Line:

These books take place a couple months after the movie (and the movie takes place 10 years after the TV series ends).  Which is great because it ties up some of those lingering questions you likely had at the end of the movie. I felt like I got a lot more closure reading these two novels than I did by just watching the movie.

And these books read like you are watching the TV show. Maybe that was just because I was listening to the audiobooks (one is narrated by Kristen Bell herself) but I felt like I was watching the TV show.

The Plot:

In true Veronica Mars fashion, the mystery introduced is rarely cut and dry. There are twists on twists and it’s fabulous. You don’t want to know how many times I freaked out in my car when some plot twists (curious? more than 10 for sure).

The plot is always moving! I thought there was a great balance between the mystery, the character drama and Veronica’s character growth. There’s always something to pique your interest and everything just blends so well together.

The Characters:

Ok, I had so many great fangirl moments reading this series. There are so many returning characters that I freaked out many times. I adore all of these characters, but Veronica especially. She’s such a strong and independent female lead. I love her wit but I also love how she doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Image result for veronica mars gifs

The Romance:

I don’t want to spoil this but this was one of the many reasons for my fangirling 😉

Audiobook Experience:

OK, this series made me fall in love with fiction audiobooks!

I love that Kristen Bell (Veronica) narrates the first novel. It made me feel like I was watching the TV show and immediately got me comfortable with the story. She also does an AMAZING job when she narrates the other characters. She manages to capture their personalities in her delivery and it’s perfect!

Unfortunately, the second book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell (I think she was pregnant at the time) so I missed the true Veronica sass but the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line 5/5 | Mr Kiss and Tell 4/5

overall

I will say, I think it helps if you are familiar with the series in some complicity but the mystery is great regardless and I think if you aren’t a fan before you start this, you will be when you finish!

Read if You Like: Veronica Mars, thrillers, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike modern mysteries, crime
similarreads

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Bookstr Amazon.ca Reviews Amazon.com Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Single Sundays: Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Follow Me Down (from Goodreads):

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.

breakdown

Author: Sherri Smith
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adult mystery/thrillers are my latest obsession. I’ve tried to get my hands on as many as I can so I was really excited when this one crossed my radar. Lead returns home to her small town to solve a murder involving her brother? Thrillers were made for this.

The Plot:

Despite the intrigue, the first 30% of this novel was dreadfully slow. The focus shifts towards Mia as a character and shies away from the murder investigation–not what I wanted to read about truthfully. I felt like it stayed there a little too long and made the story dry. But once it got over that hump, it was a thrilling read.

The mystery itself was great. Not everything is what it seems and I really had no idea what the solution to it all was. It made the slower first half worth it in the end.

The Characters:

Mia reminded me a lot of Rachel from The Girl on the Train. She’s that unreliable narrator that is just on the edge of sobriety so it leads to some questionable events and circumstances. Her heart is in the right place but her actions aren’t always the wisest. It does make for an “on-the-edge” of your seat ride though.

The Romance:

Not really the focus here but it did bring an interesting layer to the story. But I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a “romance” either.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

While this story suffers from a long exposition, the mystery itself will have you guessing to the very end!

Read if You Like: mystery/thrillers, slower stories
Avoid if You: want more romantic suspense
similarreads

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Bookstr Amazon.ca Reviews Amazon.com Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Series Review: Casey Duncan by Kelley Armstrong

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for City of the Lost (from Goodreads):

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey’s best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana’s husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it’s time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you’re accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. As a murderer, Casey isn’t a good candidate, but she has something they want: She’s a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn’t the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Canadian Author
Series: Casey Duncan or Rockton
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 4 (City of the Lost, Darkness Absolute, This Fallen Prey, Book 4)

City of the Lost was initially released as a serial novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, This Fallen Prey will be published February 2018
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (City of the Lost); Publisher–ARC (Darkness Absolute)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I am a Kelley Armstrong fan. It’s not just because she is a fellow Canuck; she’s one talent writer in every genre she tries. I’ve enjoyed both her YA and Adult paranormal series over the years but I was really excited to see what she could do with a contemporary mystery/thriller.

I knew it was going to be suspenseful–full of great twists and strong characters–so I couldn’t wait to get started!

The Concept / The World:

First, I love the fact that this book is set in Canada! I don’t get to read many books set in my home country so that was a big bonus for me.

Then the idea that there is this isolated town filled with people trying to escape their previous lives? Fascinating. And the perfect place for trouble to brew! You’ve got this small town vibe where anyone can be a suspect and it’s just great to read about. I loved the setting for this series!

The Plot:

I loved, loved, loved the many layers to this series. Everything just builds from start to finish, book to book.

It’s hard to say much without giving anything away–especially for mystery novels–but I’ll just say that this book was far from predictable. There were so many great twists and the big reveals always had me going “say what!?” in surprise.

I will say, that City of the Lost did drag for me in the middle of the novel when the plot shifted more to character development than the actual mystery. Which was fine, because it really helped established the setting for the remainder of the book and the series, but it did feel slower than the first and latter half of the novel. I never had that problem with A Darkness Absolute however. It is a non-stop roller coaster ride from start to finish.

The Characters:

Like I said above, the small town vibe works extremely well for this series. The anticipation of figuring out whodunit when you’ve met everyone is just fabulous for a reader.

All the characters are just so well developed–even the side ones. I loved learning more about each person.

Casey in particular is a winner in my mind. She’s a strong heroine who definitely has her flaws. She’s complex but as the stories progress, you learn more about her and she learns more about herself. Her character development is a highlight for sure. She reminds me of a more subdued version of Lisbeth from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo–a scarred girl who learns to adapt as her world expands.

The Romance:

A very minor role here but one I really enjoyed. I don’t want to give to much away…so I’m just going to leave it at that.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope there are more books to this series! It’s a great world, a fantastic set of characters and the mysteries are just so good.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

City of the Lost 4/5 | A Darkness Absolute  5/5 | Book 3 ?

overall

Honestly, I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this series! (Maybe I hang out in the wrong crowds). It delivers in every way that you want a mystery/thriller to.

Read if You Like: mysteries/thrillers, small town stories
Avoid if You: dislike mysteries
similarreads

  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Underworld Series #1)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson (Millennium Series #1)

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Bookstr Amazon.ca Reviews Amazon.com Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Movie Mondays: The Girl on the Train

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:

Book: The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins (2015) | Movie: The Girl on The Train (2016)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Adult, Thriller, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

I read this book right in the middle of its hype and I did thoroughly enjoy it despite knowing how it would end early on.

I liked how this story moved. I’m a fan of multiple POVs in my stories because I find it keeps the story’s pace up. It also provides me the opportunity to latch onto another character if I’m not really a fan of someone else. But here, the multiple POVs did a great job of building the narrative and the mystery. This book was really steady and that made it easy to read.

As for the mystery: I did know whodunit pretty early on. But, I was second guessing my initial hypothesis as I was reading which is always a great thing.

overall

For the most part, this lived up to the hype. It was a solid and entertaining novel that I truly enjoyed.

Rating: 3.5/5
Full Review: Full series review here!
similarreads

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Ok, can I just say that I am fascinated by the fact that the movie rights were sold for this book before it was even on the shelves. It’s like they knew it would be a bestseller and that people would want it as a movie…marketing at its finest.

Were My Expectations Met?

It’s hard to watch a thriller when you know how everything happens. I can remember watching Gone Girl for the first time when the big twists were revealed and gasping in shock. I knew watching The Girl on the Train as a movie wouldn’t have me gasping aloud but I was curious to see how they were going to bring this book to life.

I did find myself getting a little bored as the movie progressed. I’m sure part of the issue was that I knew what happened so I just wanted to get to the good stuff. But I do think some parts were longer than they needed to be. The movie kinda just went through the motions and a lot of the twists really weren’t until the end so you don’t really have those twists spurring you on as the movie progressed.

So like the book, it could have lost a couple of minutes of film time to keep me totally intrigued.

How Close is it to the Book?

It’s been so long so I don’t really remember everything. But it seemed pretty close. As I was watching it was jogging my memory (my mom and I both read the book but couldn’t remember how everything goes down besides whodunit) so that leads me to believe it was very similar, if not the same.

Did I Like the Cast?

I thought Emily Blunt was fantastic as Rachel. I really don’t know who else could have played that role. She just made it seem so natural. And the rest of the girls did a great job as well. It was a really well cast movie when all is said and done.

thewinneris winbook

I found myself a little bored with the movie. Maybe it was because I already knew how it was going to end so it lacked the suspense but it felt a little too long for me. But it is a well done movie and the cast is great so it is worth a watch if you want to see how they handle it!

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Girl on the Train (from Goodreads):
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.

Trailer:

Connect: Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Fresh Fridays: The Good Fight (#1) by Justin Robinson

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Good Fight (from Goodreads):
Toronto is a crowded place. Plenty of eyes and ears all around. Plenty of chances to be overheard. Be careful what you say…

In this spooky Canadian page turner, 16-year-old Terry Conner finds herself the target of an unspeakable evil, bent on enslaving all of humanity. Her crime? Nothing less than speaking her mind. Faced with the choice between silencing herself or fighting back, Terry chooses to fight.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Good Fight
Author: Justin Robinson
# of Books: 1+ (The Good Fight, book 2, book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, more books to come!
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love supporting Canadian authors whenever I get the chance. So when Justin asked me if I would review his debut novel, I of course said yes! It wasn’t just because the novel was set in Toronto–a place I called home for 2 years–but because I was genuinely curious to read a novel that was part science fiction part thriller.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

You don’t have to be familiar with Toronto or even Canada to enjoy this novel. Sure, it’s nice to be familiar with the setting for once (like I’m sure it is for people who live in NYC and read books set there). But Toronto is a modern city and that’s what makes this setting so adaptable to readers anywhere.

–The Premise–

It was this line right here in Justin’s email that had me on board:

“a positive message for teen readers about the importance of individuality and integrity”

I love smart fiction; especially fiction that takes our everyday modern world and challenges it by forcing something in our everyday life to the extreme. And it doesn’t get much more extreme than the limiting of someone’s right for the freedom of speech. It’s what makes this book interesting for both teenagers, young adults and adults. The execution on this front is great and it really is something I haven’t come across in YA in recent years.

–Terry Is Kick-Ass, In an Intelligent Way–

I like heroines who cannot only kick butt physically but intellectually as well. I really liked Terry. It was refreshing not to have a lead who worried about popularity or one who was jaded from the past. She’s a smart girl who uses her brains more than anything to solve the problem at hand and I really liked that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Started a Little Slow–

This one took a while for me to get into. I’m all for establishing the setting and the characters, but I wanted a little more action or thrills earlier on in the story. Because the last half of the novel–where Terry actually starts to unveil the “evil” group–is a lot of fun to read and quite thrilling at times.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure what will happen next! I am curious to see though what will.

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Good Fight 3/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This story reminded me a bit of a mash-up between 1984 and The Walking Dead. But unlike the zombies in The Walking Dead where they want to eat your flesh, you get a group of people who want to create a horde of like-minded individuals who believe the world should be as uniform as possible (ideal utopia of 1984). While slow at the start, I enjoyed this story very much.

Read if You Like: modern science fiction, books set in Canada
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

Connect: Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Single Sundays: The Recipient by Dean Mayes

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Recipient (from the Publisher):
Casey Schillinge is a vivacious young woman on the verge of making her mark on the world. While backpacking, she is struck down by a tropical disease and suffers cardiac failure. But at the eleventh hour, Casey receives a life-saving heart transplant – and a rare second chance to begin again.

Three years later, Casey has become a withdrawn shell of her former self: she is estranged from her loved ones, afraid of open spaces and rides the line between legitimate and criminal work. The worst of her troubles come in the form of violent night terrors; so frightening that she resorts to extreme measures to keep herself from sleeping. When she can take no more, she embarks on a desperate search for the source of her dreams. In so doing, she makes a shocking discovery surrounding the tragic fate of the donor whose heart now beats inside her chest. As she delves deeper into the mystery of her donor, she realizes her dreams are not a figment of her imagination, but a real life nightmare.

breakdown

Author: Dean Mayes
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Psychological, Mystery
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 1, 2016
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC | Thanks so much Central Avenue Publishing!

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t usually read a lot of adult thrillers but when asked if I would be interested in reading this one, I jumped on the chance. As you may or may not know, I’m studying to be a part of the health care field as a Medical Laboratory Technologist. What’s that? Basically, I’m the person who does all the lab tests when you are at the hospital (it actually is much more complex than that but I’m keeping it simple!). So I think it goes without saying that I’m really intrigued by stories that focus on health-care or science–and organ donation is one of those very interesting topics.

The media package for this release claims this book is perfect for fans of The Girl on The Train–a novel I enjoyed though found very predictable. I was hoping The Recipient would be a strong suspense story with a mystery I couldn’t solve only a couple chapters in and be able to keep my attention. I also didn’t want it to be super creepy (ie I could sleep at night).

The Concept:

Dean Mayes is actually a pediatric nurse and it definitely shows in his writing that he is knowledgeable about the topics at hand (he definitely did his research). Not only was everything super accurate but it was also explained in a way that anyone–regardless of their medical knowledge–would understand. There is a great balance between the medical, the suspense and the character development so don’t think you are going to be reading endless pages about Casey’s organ transplant.

As for the concept itself–what a really cool idea! While organ transplantation is one of science and medicine’s greatest achievements, there is still a lot that is unknown (to a certain extent). In society we equate the heart with so many things, like life and love–so the idea that a donor’s heart could possible transfer a part of that person into the new recipient? Who knows? And I love how this novel plays with that idea.

The Plot:

You might think the plot revolves around Casey coping with the random memories of her donor and that is the “thrilling” part–like a scary movie. But it actually reads more like a mystery once the concept is unraveled a bit. I found the first part (less than 25%) a little dry because it’s establishing Casey as her character and her situation–but once the plot starts going, it really keeps going at an accelerated pace.

The mystery was great! I truly wasn’t able to figure it out until the big reveal and that always gets bonus points in my eyes. It’s high level suspense and danger that really kept me on my toes and engaged as a reader. It’s a well crafted story that makes a seemingly unrealistic idea (the idea a person’s memories are transferred during an organ donation) but makes it entirely plausible.

The Characters:

Casey kinda reminded me of Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They have similar personality traits and interests and so I got very comfortable with Casey’s character quickly. She was intriguing and even if I didn’t agree with all her actions, I definitely understood her motivation. She’s a smart girl who is a little misunderstood and isn’t afraid to take big risks.

I almost want a sequel with Casey just because I loved her amateur sleuth style and I want to read more books about female protagonists that give it their all when it comes to solving crimes.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Simply put: I really enjoyed reading this book. Once everything was established, it was a fast and dangerous read that had me on the edge of my seat. Dean Mayes has definitely picked up a fan after this book!

Read if You Like: thrillers, high-stakes/dangerous reads
Avoid if You: dislike thrillers, psychological reads

similarreads

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Millennium Series #1)
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Dean Mayes
Dean Mayes is a Pediatric Intensive Care nurse who is fascinated by
the paranormal, so his stories weave an element of magical realism
with deep humanism. He grew up near Melbourne, Australia, the
setting for his new novel The Recipient, but now lives in Adelaide with
his family and dog, whom he loves with great passion along with
cooking, Star Wars and a good joke.

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Add: Goodreads

Connect: Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Series Review: Embassy Row by Ally Carter

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

All Fall Down by Ally Carter | Embassy Row Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for All Fall Down (from Goodreads):

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay–in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Embassy Row Trilogy
Author: Ally Carter
# of Books: 3 (All Fall Down, See How They Run, Take the Key and Lock Her Up)

There is a FREE bonus prequel scene available for Kindle called Before the Fall: Arrival

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I am a huge Ally Carter fan–she is probably IS the sole reason why I’ve picked up some of the YA novels that I do. I’m always a sucker for the marketing line “Fans of Ally Carter will love ___” even though time and time again I end up disappointed in these new finds.

My expectations for All Fall Down were simple: I was hoping this new series would be what I wanted Heist Society to be, which is a fast-paced adventure with a strong female lead, but with a great mystery instead of a heist. The Conspiracy of Us is probably the closest novel I have read that came close to meeting these expectations however it fell a little short when all is said and done.

The Concept/Plot:

I have a mixed reaction to All Fall Down. Do I think this is the best Ally Carter book ever written? The simple answer is no. But do I think it could be her best series yet? Absolutely! The potential is definitely there and this book proved it. It is an unfortunate but necessary fact that this book needed to be a bit on the slower side in order to set up the rest of the series. This book was all about building up the world Grace finds herself in and allowing the reader to get comfortable with it. Which I can appreciate from a critical sense but not completely enjoy as a reader.

The Characters:

I think a lot of readers will struggle to like Grace’s character–I know I did. She is very jaded and it is explained early on why she is the way she is. But even knowing that I just didn’t like her as much as a I wanted to. I think reading the short story, Before the Fall: Arrival, before I started the novel would have helped me come to grips with her character much earlier. She has a lot of potential for growth though, so I look forward to seeing her character develop in the next book.

updates

–February 7, 2016– Book #2: See How They Run

This one was a tough one for me to get into. I had high expectations, hoping that the somewhat dull first book did its job of setting up the world and story for some great twists and turns in its sequel. And while the last quarter of the book was definitely intriguing, the first 50% of it was very slow and uneventful.

Grace is her own worst enemy when it comes to her story. As I said before, her jaded personality is hard to get used to and it does her no favours here. Her depressing (albeit understandable) monologue makes her seem melodramatic and overly selfish and I had a hard time not rolling my eyes at her sometimes. What’s worse it that I totally understand why she is acting the way she is–it just didn’t garner any sympathy from me.

Also, this was totally me throughout the whole novel wanting to yell at Grace!

I definitely will be reading the 3rd book. This series is going in a direction I didn’t really expect (which is good, because I found this book to be a little predictable at times), so I’m curious to see how this story continues and wraps up in the last book.

–February 24, 2017– Book #3: Take the Key and Lock Her Up

Should have called this one “Woe is Me”.

This was so boring! The plot, while interesting in concept, failed to entice me at all.

It doesn’t help that Gracie is one of the most annoying heroines I’ve ever had to endure. Everything is “me, me, me” and “me against the world”. I get it; she has had a rough go of things but I thought by book 3 we would have had some progression of her character past this point. It’s hard to read from the perspective of a character that is in such a negative headspace all the time.

A big miss for me.

My Rating: 3/5

All Fall Down 3.5/5 | See How They Run 3/5 | Take The Key and Lock Her Up 2/5

overall

This series reminds me a lot of the latter half of the Gallagher Girl Series: meaning it has a more mature and serious vibe to it. It takes a little while to build up, but once it does and the pieces fall together, it really doesn’t stop! I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Read if You Like: thrillers, political intrigue, mystery
Avoid if You: want more romance, can’t stand jaded heroines

similarreads

  • I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls Series #1)
  • Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglin (Cold Fury Trilogy #1)
  • Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Trust Me Series #1)

readingchallenges

 

recapbutton

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Bookstr Amazon.ca Reviews Amazon.com Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Single Sundays: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Girl on the Train (from Goodreads):
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.

breakdown

Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Adult, Thriller, Mystery
Heat Rating
: cold
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There was no escaping this book this past winter. It was everywhere I looked–the library, online, GoodReads–thanks to the “Gone Girl phenomenon”. You know, the trend in popular culture when one book seems to be the next best thing and so every other book remotely similar is compared and/or you get a surge in published books that follow a similar style. It happened with Twilight, it happened with Fifty Shades of Grey and now it’s Gone Girl‘s turn. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing–it’s nice that a well crafted book is getting the spotlight for once, though I have yet to read Gone Girl. Truth be told, I probably won’t after seeing the movie now that I know what happens–it loses its mystery.

Anyways…back to The Girl on the Train. One of my good friends read this before me and said she had a hard time putting it down. And the comparisons to Gone Girl made me excited to read this one because I do love TV/movie thrillers yet haven’t really touched any literary thrillers that are of the adult variety.

The Concept / The World:

Like Rachel, I take a commuter train home from school and I totally people watch when I do. Without sounding completely creepy, I find it fascinating to watch people as they go about their business. Especially when you are on a commuter train because most of these people know each other since they travel together everyday or every week.

So, my point is, I found this book to be rooted in some deep realism because I’ve totally taken that train and thought, “hmm, I wonder what their lives are like” 😛

The Plot:

This book was exciting to read and I did find myself immersed in the story despite the fact that I had a pretty good idea how it was going to end early in the book. What I did like was that the book did have me second guessing my hypothesis until the big reveal which kept my attention on the story. I do feel like the book was 30 pages too long; however it wasn’t like I was bored reading it.

The mystery is interesting and I loved how interconnected everything was. Getting the three perspectives added an interesting dynamic to the story and kept the plot moving at its faster pace.

The Characters:

These characters were very well developed and always consistent. And I think consistency is super important in thrillers. There is nothing worse than having a character make a radical change to their approach/presentation halfway through the story for no reason. So while I might not list these characters as all time favourites, they definitely served their purpose even if they were a little stereotypical at times.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train. For a book that has a lot of hype I thought it lived up to it for the most part. I wish it was a little less predictable but it did keep my attention and have me second guessing my thoughts.

Read if You Like: psychological thrillers, fast paced books
Avoid if You: want more romance to your reads
similarreads

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

readingchallenges

 

catchphrase

Fresh Fridays: The Conspiracy of Us (#1) by Maggie Hall

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | The Conspiracy of Us Trilogy

Other books in the series:

Series: The Conspiracy of Us Trilogy
Author: Maggie Hall
# of Books: 3 (The Conspiracy of Us, Maps of Fate, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Maps of Fate, will be published in March 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Adventure, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: getting warm
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

What drew me to this book was the cover, but what made me want to read it was the hook that it was “perfect for fans of Ally Carter”. It’s no secret that I fall prey to these every-time; especially when they are for Ally Carter. Let me explain why: Ally Carter is one of my favourite authors because I love her strong heroines and the suspense of her novels. While Gallagher Girls started off more light-hearted and fun, it definitely became more intricate in the plot later on; whereas Heist Society always seemed more tense and serious to me right from the start. Most of the time when books say they are perfect for Ally Carter fans they are referring more to the style of Heist Society–which I liked but didn’t really love–and how it is intricate right form the get-go. Which is fine because I’m still looking for that perfect heist novel, but I can’t wait until I find a book with the same flare as the Gallagher Girls Series.

Regardless, The Conspiracy of Us is its own novel. The premise reminded me a bit of the slightly darker novel The Book of Blood and Shadow–a book I thought had a great premise but a poor execution.

For the most part The Conspiracy of Us had a good execution. However, it was difficult for me to get past the idea that Avery literally jumps on a plane to travel across the world with two boys she barely knows without any hesitation. I understand that this event had to happen to get the story in motion; and to a certain degree I could see why she would jump at the first chance she gets to any information about her unknown family past. But, I just wanted to see a few lines about her concerns or why it could potentially be a bad idea. It just frustrated me because, for the most part, I felt like she was a rational character with everything else that happens in the book.

The book is pretty slow until you get about half-way through. That’s when the clues start to come into play and the pace of the book picks up exponentially. Which is why I am giving the book a 3.5 instead of a solid 4 because that first half of the book really didn’t do much story-wise and felt a little unnecessary.

While some of the events are cliche to a mystery novel, I thought the whole prophecy/mystery bit was a lot of fun. There were a lot of little unexpected twists that accompanied it and that made me excited to continue reading. It actually reminded me a lot of a Young Adult version of Juliet by Anne Fortier in terms of its execution (though the plots are completely different!).

I’m looking forward to the sequel but I am not dying to pick it up.

Conclusion:

I won’t lie: it’s a bit of a snoozer at the start. But once things start falling into place, the pace picks up and before you know it you get sucked into the story. A great read for those who like slower building stories and/or those who like solving ancient prophecies in a modern world.

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: Pending sequel.

Similar Reads: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman; A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird Trilogy #1) and Juliet by Anne Fortier

Synopsis for The Conspiracy of Us (from Goodreads):
A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance–perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

book

recapbutton

Series Review: The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard | The Perfectionists Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Perfectionists (from Goodreads):
In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.

breakdown

Series: The Perfectionists
Author: Sara Shepard
# of Books: 2 (The Perfectionists, The Good Girls)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: October 2014 – June 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

My only exposure to Sara Shepard’s work prior to this series was the TV shows for Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. I gave up on Pretty Little Liars a few seasons ago because (and I think we can all admit this) it is just dragging on far too long; and I refuse to read the book series because it is 14+ books long and I just don’t have the time (even though they are smaller books). The Lying Game though, I LOVED and when it got cancelled I was super disappointed. I will probably pick up that series at a later date because I really want to know what happens and how it all wraps up.

So, I decided to give this new series a shot because it was new and I’m always open to try new genres. I don’t normally read Young Adult mystery-thrillers but I loved Rosebush by Michele Jaffe and I was willing to give this series a go.

My Review:

The Perfectionists started a little slow but I think that was because the you are kind of thrown into everything when you know nothing about the characters. But once the characters started to develop, it was hard to put this book down. I love books where there are a lot of things going on and when you have 5 leads like this series does, there is never a dull moment as you read. I found all the girls were interesting in their own little ways and I was drawn to their stories. As can be expected, they all have secrets and that just added to the drama and plot of this book. But what I was really impressed with was the depth of some of these characters’ stories and their everyday struggles that were very realistic and relatable to readers.

As for the plot–it’s a good one! There were great twists and I never really knew what was going to happen next so it made for an exciting read at times. I’m looking forward to seeing how things all wrap up in the next and final installment, The Good Girls.

updates

–February 13, 2017– Book #2: The Good Girls

It was easier to pick this novel up than I thought it would be considering it has been two years since I read the first novel. But I had good summary notes and Shepard does a good job of getting you back into everything with her writing.

I wanted the first half of the novel to be a little more suspenseful. Instead, it focuses on the girls reorienting their lives following the previous book. It’s necessary but a little on the duller side for someone who wanted the suspense.

The latter half of the novel is by far more suspenseful. Unfortunately, the big twist I was able to guess pretty early on but I enjoyed the novel nonetheless.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Perfectionists 3/5 | The Good Girls 3/5

overall

While this book didn’t knock my socks off or make me gasp in shock, it was thoroughly entertaining. Fans of Shepard’s work (or at least of the TV show variety) will enjoy this one. If you want a fun (well, as much “fun” as a murder mystery novel can be), quick thriller novel to read this is a good one to grab!

Read if You Like: YA suspense, Pretty Little Liars
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries, books set in high school

similarreads

  • Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars Series #1)
  • Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
  • The Lying Game by Sara Shepard (The Lying Game #1)

recapbutton

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Bookstr Amazon.ca Reviews Amazon.com Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase