Tag «amateur sleuth»

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.


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


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.


My Rating: 3/5


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

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Single Sundays: Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

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 Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator (from Goodreads):
Guy Langman can’t be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren’t expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they’re assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified screaming, the two realize it is indeed a body. Which means they have stumbled across a real, dead murder victim.

Meanwhile, Guy has been looking into the past of his father—a larger-than-life character who recently passed away. He was much older than Guy’s mom, and had a whole past Guy never even knew about. Could his father’s past and the dead body be linked? Does Guy want to know? He’s going to need all his newfound forensics skills to find out . . .


As you may or may not know, I am taking part in Books and Iced Coffee’s Everything YA Challenge this year. This month’s (March) mini-challenge is to read a book someone ELSE has picked for you. Sad truth is I didn’t really know who to ask but then I got a great idea to “ask” my local library. First, I decided that I would see what books the library recommended for me based on my eBook check-outs but because I have been taking out more adult romances lately, it wasn’t really suggesting YA novels or ones that I haven’t already read. So I browsed their recommended reads list and came across one that was called “What’s So Funny? Hilarious Books for Teens”. I wanted to read a standalone because I was long overdue for one and I recognized this title as one I came across years ago put never picked up. And luck was on my side when I saw that the eBook version was available for check-out.

What drew me to this book was the Crime Scene Investigation portion. Back when CSI was big, I was a fan and because I am a science student (plus a huge Sherlock Holmes fan!) I love the forensic science aspect of it all.

So I felt like I was a little mislead by the synopsis because we really don’t get the mystery aspect of the “crime” until well over halfway through the novel. Instead, the focus is on Guy dealing with his father death–which is fine and dandy, just not what I was expecting. This book definitely had a more “coming of age” vibe to it than it did mystery.

When we do get to the murder (which is just a little over halfway through), I thought the book picked up in its pace. Despite the clues, I really didn’t put everything together until it was revealed so I appreciated the twists we got.

As for the humour, the primary reason why I picked up this novel, it wasn’t as great as I was expecting. I found a lot of the lines were odd or a little on the rude side; some were funny though, especially near the end–I thought his mom had some good lines 🙂 To be fair, I had just finished reading the 4th Tangled book, Tied, by Emma Chase which was freakin’ hilarious so I had higher humour standards going into this one. As I said, I though the humour got better near the end and I did laugh a few times after that.


Nevertheless, I was entertained reading this book. I wish there was more focus on the crime aspect of the synopsis and if I had known that it wasn’t going to be the main focus of the novel, I probably wouldn’t have felt as let down by it as I was. But if you are looking for a coming of age novel told by a boy with a dash of forensics, this is a great one for you!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Teen, Coming of Age, Mystery, Crime, Grief
Recommended for: 15+ (boys will like this one!)
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Similar Reads: #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler; Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Trust Me Series #1) and Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein (Cold Fury Trilogy #1)


Series Review: Trust Me by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Series Review: Trust Me by Mary Elizabeth Summer

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


Synopsis for Trust Me, I’m Lying (from Goodreads):

Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.


Series: Trust Me
Author: Mary Elizabeth Summer
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #1.5 Down to the Liar

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, a third book is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


**This post was originally published 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 Expecations for Trust Me, I’m Lying:

I’m a sucker for book synopses that say “fans of ___” because I almost always pick them up (so mission accomplished marketing peeps). With this book, it’s targeted for fans of Ally Carter’s Heist Society Series and Ocean’s Eleven. Now, I didn’t love the Heist Society novels but I still love Ally Carter’s work; and I loved Ocean’s Eleven (but not so much its sequels). Basically, I like heist/crime-thriller books/movies but haven’t had too much luck finding that perfect book series that meets all my expectations. Maybe this series was the elusive mark (see what I did there :P) I had been waiting for…

My Review of Trust Me, I’m Lying (#1):

As I was reading this book I kept thinking it was more of a Cold Fury-esque (by T.M. Goeglin) novel than it is a Heist Society-esque novel: though it does share some similarities to Heist Society (like the heroine going to a private school; trying to get into college like a normal girl her age; and being aware of the “family business”). Ally Carter’s Heist Society focuses on a group thieves actually completing a heist, much like the Italian Job or Ocean’s Eleven. Trust Me, I’m Lying doesn’t really focus on Julep completing a big heist but instead focuses on her trying to solve the mystery behind her father’s disappearance–which is why I say it is more similar plot-wise to Cold Fury where the heroine is trying to find her kidnapped family than to Heist Society or even Ocean’s Eleven. (Even at one point in the book Julep makes the comment that she is acting more like a sleuth than a con artists which is so true!) However, it does read a lot like an Ally Carter novel so fans of one will like the other.

Julep is one of those characters I could easily see people disliking; I myself struggled deciding if I actually liked her or not. I think I’ve reached the conclusion that I appreciate her independence but we would never be friends in real life. I admire that she works for what she wants but she does is it in such a brash manner that it just rubbed me the wrong way at times. She puts on a tough girl act and that gets more apparent as you read the novel; I warmed up to her as I read the novel for sure but it was a rocky relationship to start. If anyone has watched/read Veronica Mars, Julep is a similar character to Veronica in her personality I think.

Once I reached the halfway point I would say that I was getting addicted to the story. I had a hard time putting it down because I really wanted to get to the solution for her father’s disappearance. I never found that part of the book to be predictable; but I found Julep’s personal life was so predictable it was almost cliché at times–until it wasn’t.

The last few chapters of the book really surprised me because I really enjoyed them. They were faster paced, we actually get a heist-esque plot and there were a few twists I wasn’t expecting to happen. It made me excited to see where this is going to go next.


–May 2, 2019– Book #1.5: Down to the Liar

It’s been a couple of years since I read the first book in the series so this novellas was the perfect way to bring me back to Julep’s world. It truly bridges the events of the first book to the second so it’s one of those novellas that actually follows chronological order.

–May 8, 2020– Book #2: Trust Me, I’m Trouble

I had every intention of picking this up after I read the novella but time got away from me. So I made it a part of my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2020, thinking this was the finale as that was my theme for this year’s challenge (and it has been 5 years since it was published)–only to get to the last page and realize that another book is planned. Which is good, because I have more questions than answers at this point!

I probably would have enjoyed this a little more if life didn’t seem so dark around me with the Covid pandemic. Julep has a pretty sullen narrative and it gives this book a sad vibe to it. I could only read it in bits because it would become slightly depressing. But there are a lot of highlights in this book like the romance (I definitely was looking in the wrong place for that), family and the complex plot. I was really impressed with the layers to this. Things I thought I had figured out were either sorta-true or completely off and I liked that it surprised me.

Series Rating: 4/5

Trust Me, I’m Lying 4/5 | [Down to the Liar 4/5] | Trust Me, I’m Trouble 3/5


While Ally Carter fans will more than likely enjoy this book, I think fans of Veronica Mars will also enjoy this novel. It’s not really a heist novel but it does have that slow build to it that Ocean’s Eleven has (even if it isn’t all that apparent as you read). This novel surprised me with how much I actually enjoyed it because for a good while I was giving it a bare pass–but the ending was great!

Read if You Like: slower stories, mystery/thrillers
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance




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