Sponsored Review: Vanishing Girls (Detective Josie Quinn #1)

Title: Vanishing Girls (Detective Josie Quinn #1)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Source: Author, Bookstagrammers.com
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 17, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

She was close enough to see that the girl had written a word on the wall in bright, warm red blood. Not a word, actually. A name…

Everyone in the small American town of Denton is searching for Isabelle Coleman, a missing seventeen-year-old girl. All they’ve found so far is her phone and another girl they didn’t even know was missing.

Mute and completely unresponsive to the world around her, it’s clear this mysterious girl has been damaged beyond repair. All Detective Josie Quinn can get from her is a name: Ramona.

Currently suspended from the force for misconduct, Josie takes matters into her own hands as the name leads her to evidence linking the two girls. She knows the race is on to find Isabelle alive, and she fears there may be others… 

The trail leads Josie to another victim, a girl who escaped but whose case was labelled a hoax by authorities. To catch this monster, Josie must confront her own nightmares and follow her instinct to the darkest of places. But can she make it out alive?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Helen Fields and Robert Dugoni will be utterly gripped and sleeping with the lights on once they discover the first in this unputdownable new crime thriller series.

Review:

The small town of Denton gathers together to search for missing Isabelle Coleman. While they’re searching for her, Detective Josie Quinn finds another girl who she didn’t realize was missing. However, that girl is wearing a tongue piercing that matches the one Isabelle wore. She then discovers another missing person’s case which was later determined to be a hoax, but that determination doesn’t sit right with Josie. She has to investigate a string of missing girls and women, which is a lot more extensive that anyone could have imagined. 

This was a very fast paced and thrilling story! It was so well plotted. I couldn’t piece together what was happening, but it made sense by the end of the story. It was quite clever, the way everyone was connected to the plot and the mystery. Based on the many twists at the end, I’m curious to see where this story goes in the rest of the series. 

There were many scenes in this story that dealt with difficult issues. There was human trafficking, rape, sexual assault, child abuse, suicide, murder, and abduction. It was honestly difficult to read at times because the scenes were emotional and graphic. Unfortunately, there are things like this happening in the world every day. Though this book had some disturbing scenes, I am giving it five stars because it was a cleverly crafted plot. 

Vanishing Girls is a heart-pounding thriller!

Thank you Lisa Regan and Bookstagrammers.com for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

The Girl With No Name by Lisa Regan

Have you read Vanishing Girls? What did you think of it?

Review: Are You Sara?

Title: Are You Sara?
Author: S.C. Lalli
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Two women named Sara each get into a rideshare. . . but only one makes it home alive. Which Sara was the real target?

Law student Saraswati “Sara” Bhaduri holds down two jobs in order to make her way through school, but it’s still a struggle. She’s had to do things to pay the bills that most people wouldn’t expect from “a nice Indian girl.” It seems like an ordinary busy Tuesday night at the local dive bar until her boss demands Sara deal with a drunk girl in the bathroom.

The two become fast friends. Why? Because they both have the same name. And despite their different circumstances, the two connect. When they both order rideshares home, they tumble in the back of the cars and head out into the night.

But when Sara awakes in her rideshare, she finds she’s on the wrong side of town—the rich side—and she realizes: she and Sarah took the wrong cars home.

With no money, Sara walks back to her apartment on the shady side of town only to discover police lights flashing and a body crumpled on her doorstep: Sarah.

Was Sarah Ellis or Sara Bhaduri the target? And why would anyone want either of them dead?

In this smart, twisty novel about ambition, wealth, and dangerous longing, the layers are peeled back on two young women desperate to break out of the expectations placed on them, with devastating results.

Review:

Sarawati “Sara” Bhaduri works at a dive bar while attending law school. One evening, her boss asks her to help a drunk customer out of the bar. That girl is also named Sarah, and they spend time together, waiting for their rideshares to arrive. When Sara’s ride let’s her out, she realizes she’s on the wrong side of town. She had gotten into the other Sarah’s ride by accident. Sara makes her way across town to her home, where she finds the police and the body of Sarah on her doorstep. Now Sara has to wonder why Sarah was killed in front of her house, and if she was the real target. 

This was the fastest book I’ve read in a long time. I read it in a day! I couldn’t put it down. The chapters were short and many ended on a cliffhanger, that kept me reading. It alternated between a few different timelines: Sara in the present, Sara in the past, and Sarah in the past. All of these storylines were fast paced. 

The premise of this story was terrifying and realistic. It would be quite a coincidence, but it’s believable that two people with the same name could get into the wrong rideshares in real life. That part was just the beginning of the story. The rest of the story was about the events that led to them both being there at the same time, as well as Sara investigating the murder on her own. The premise drew me to the story and the exciting plot kept me reading!

I highly recommend Are You Sara? for a fast paced thriller!

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for sending me a copy of this book!

Have you read Are You Sara? What did you think of it?

Review: The It Girl

Title: The It Girl
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook, paperback arc
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

Review:

April Clarke-Cliveden was the “It Girl” on the Oxford campus, who seemed to have it all. Her roommate, Hannah Jones, was dazzled by her. They had a close group of friends (Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily) who did everything together, but by the end of their first year, April was dead. Hannah’s testimony that the creepy porter, John Neville, was the last person seen leaving their room, is what convicted him for murder. Now, ten years later, Hannah is expecting her first child with April’s ex-boyfriend, Will. When they get the news that John Neville has died in prison, it brings the case back into the spotlight. Journalists start asking questions about the case, which makes Hannah question if she was correct in her assumption that John killed April. She does her own investigation, digging up everyone’s secrets, and discovering things that should have stayed hidden. 

I was looking forward to reading this book but I found it disappointing. I was certain that I knew who the murderer was from the beginning. The twist that I predicted is one that I’ve read a few times in similar thrillers so it wasn’t original. I seemed to be right, but the story took a strange turn at the end that felt forced. There were also a couple of red herring clues that went nowhere and didn’t actually have anything to do with the story. 

I’ve rated this book three stars because I did finish it, and I’m sure some readers could enjoy it. I just found it disappointing because it was like other thrillers I’ve read in the past. 

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

Have you read The It Girl? What did you think of it?

Review: Family of Liars (We Were Liars #0)

Title: Family of Liars (We Were Liars #0)
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The prequel to We Were Liars takes readers back to the story of another summer, another generation, and the secrets that will haunt them for decades to come.

A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts. 
A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.
A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy. 
A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.

Welcome back to the Sinclair family. 
They were always liars.

Review:

In this prequel to We Were Liars, we visit the island off the coast of Massachusetts with the Sinclair family in the 80s. Carrie is the eldest daughter, with her youngest sister, Rosemary, having drowned the summer before. The family returned this year without acknowledging the missing family member. Then, a boat full of boys arrives at the island with a lot of drama for the Sinclair girls. The sisters have to navigate their new life with some betrayal and mistakes along the way. 

This prequel starts off with spoilers for We Were Liars, so it shouldn’t be read first. Carrie narrated the story as her adult self looking back on that particular summer where her life changed. It was similar to We Were Liars in the way that it was the same family on the same island but it was quite different as well. 

This story was a lot darker than We Were Liars. There were serious issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse, drowning, murder, cheating, and homophobia. Some of these scenes were really uncomfortable, but they also honestly showed the flaws in this upper class family, which led to the events of We Were Liars. 

Family of Liars was a great prequel to We Were Liars. 

Thank you Penguin Teen Canada for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Other books in the series:

Have you read Family of Liars? What did you think of it?

Review: Very Bad People

Title: Very Bad People
Author: Kit Frick
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this dark academia young adult thriller for fans of The Female of the Species and People Like Us, a teen girl’s search for answers about her mother’s mysterious death leads to a powerful secret society at her new boarding school—and a dangerous game of revenge that will leave her forever changed.

Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. The girls escaped, but their mother drowned, and the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery Calliope is determined to solve. Now sixteen, she transfers to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Tipton promises a peek into the past and a host of new opportunities—including a coveted invitation to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society that looms over campus like a legend.

Calliope accepts, stepping into the exhilarating world of the “ghosts,” a society of revolutionaries fighting for social justice. But when Haunt and Rail commits to exposing a dangerous person on campus, it becomes clear that some ghosts define justice differently than others.

As the society’s tactics escalate, Calliope uncovers a possible link between Haunt and Rail and her mother’s deadly crash. Now, she must question what lengths the society might go to in order to see a victory—and if the secret behind her mother’s death could be buried here at Tipton.

Review:

Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove their van into a lake. Only Calliope and her two younger sisters survived. Now, Calliope is still looking for answers for what made her mother drive off the road. She transfers to the elite boarding school Tipton Academy, which her mother attended. Calliope is invited to join the secret society, Haunt and Rail, which stages pranks across campus in order to achieve social justice. She discovers a possible link between the society and what happened to her mother, involving a mysterious man she sees in town who reminds her of the crash. As the society takes on a huge social justice issue, Calliope discovers the secret behind her mother’s death. 

This was such a suspenseful thriller. I couldn’t put it down. There were so many layers to the story, including the car crash where Calliope’s mother died, the Haunt and Rail society, and the new relationships Calliope made at school. All of these plots came together at the end. 

The only thing that I didn’t like was that the story ended on a cliffhanger. I realized when I had about ten pages left that there wasn’t enough space to resolve all the questions I had. I’m really hoping there will be a sequel because I need to know what happens next!

Very Bad People is a suspenseful, boarding school thriller!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Have you read Very Bad People? What did you think of it?

Review: What His Wife Knew

Title: What His Wife Knew
Author: Jo Jakeman
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Viking
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nail-biting domestic suspense that puts a contemporary twist on the classic whodunit, from the acclaimed international author of The Exes’ Revenge and Safe House.

When the body of Oscar Lomas, an experienced hiker, is found at the bottom of a remote cliff in the Peak District of England called Cloud Drop, all the signs–including the Sorry note he left behind for his wife, Beth–point to suicide.

Plans for the funeral begin, but Beth cannot accept that her husband took his own life. As she sets out to discover what really happened, Beth soon realizes that the safe, protected life she thought she had was nothing of the sort, and that Oscar had kept many secrets from her–secrets that involve even close family and old friends. It turns out that he had enemies–and perhaps she did too, even if she didn’t know it.

As the troubling revelations keep coming, Beth has to focus on solving one mystery if she is to reclaim her own life: who killed Oscar Lomas?

Review:

When Oscar Lomas’s body is found at the bottom of a cliff, all the signs point to suicide. However, his wife, Beth, doesn’t believe that’s what happened. She insists that there be an investigation into her husband’s death, and she starts asking questions around town. As she discovers more of Oscar’s secrets, she realizes she didn’t really know her husband or most of the people around her. He had a lot of enemies who could be suspects in his death. Beth keeps digging until she can finally answer who killed her husband.

It’s been a while since I’ve been blown away at a thriller, but this one kept me guessing. I was certain that I knew what had happened but I was completely wrong. There were so many twists and it was fast paced, so I couldn’t put the book down. 

There were some tough subjects in this book. They include suicide, rape, drugging, adultery, and murder. I think these tough topics were handled well, but they could be potentially triggering to some readers. 

What His Wife Knew is a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Exes’ Revenge by Jo Jakeman

The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

Have you read What His Wife Knew? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Killing Time

Title: Killing Time
Author: Brenna Ehrlich
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 8, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Summer in Ferry, Connecticut, has always meant long, lazy days at the beach and wild nights partying in the abandoned mansions on the edge of town. Until now, that is.

Natalie Temple, who’s never been one for beaches or parties in the first place, is reeling from the murder of her favorite teacher, and there’s no way this true-crime-obsessed girl is going to sit back and let the rumor mill churn out lie after lie—even if she has to hide her investigation from her disapproving mom and team up with the new boy in town…

But the more Natalie uncovers, the more she realizes some secrets were never meant to be told.

Expertly-plotted and brimming with suspense, Killing Time is more than just a mystery. It’s a thoughtful novel about true crime stories and how we tell them.

Review:

Natalie Temple is obsessed with true crime. When her favourite teacher is murdered, Natalie wants to investigate it herself to put on her podcast. Her mom disapproves of Natalie’s true crime obsession because she has a secret history with a criminal investigation. Natalie sneaks around, behind her mother’s and her best friend’s backs, to get the story, but she ends up getting more tangled up in the murder investigation. 

This was a very suspenseful story about a teenage girl investigating a murder in her small town. Natalie’s mom seemed a little extreme in the way she controlled everything Natalie did, but she had her own reasons which were told through some flashback chapters. Though her mom was overprotective, there were a few moments where Natalie was able to sneak around without getting caught. If her mom was as protective as she said she was, I don’t think Natalie would have been able to get away with so many things. She did get into some very dangerous situations so I can’t blame her mom for trying to protect her. 

There were some potentially triggering scenes. There was murder, suicide, assault, and a couple of non-consensual kisses. The non-consensual kisses were kind of brushed off. Since it was clear that Natalie didn’t want them to happen, I would have liked that to be addressed more to make it clear that she didn’t want it and that it wasn’t a good situation.

I figured out some of the twists before they happened. The murderer was in my top two suspects, but I still enjoyed this story.

Killing Time was a suspenseful thriller!

Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh

About the author:

Brenna Ehrlich is a journalist, YA author, and editor who has worked everywhere from MTV News to Rolling Stone. She resides in New Jersey with her husband Morgan and their two cats, Nimbus and Hazel. She enjoys horror movies and romcoms in equal measure.

Have you read Killing Time? What did you think of it?

Review: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

Title: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife
Author: Ashley Winstead
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Six friends. 

One college reunion.

One unsolved murder.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has been invited back to her university for a reunion and she is obsessed with dazzling everyone with her beauty and success. This time when they see her, it has to be perfect because she is perfect. Not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather Shelby’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year.

But there’s more at stake than the delicious envy of her peers—not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. In fact, someone has orchestrated the whole weekend to trap the real killer. As the weekend unfolds and they get closer to the truth, the group finds there was more than murder hidden amongst them on campus.

Told in racing dual timelines, with a dark campus setting and a darker look at friendship, love, obsession and ambition, In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is an addictive, propulsive millennial thriller you won’t be able to put down.

Review:

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller returns to Duquette University for their reunion. She wants everyone to see how confident and beautiful she is, not the ordinary girl she had been in school. However, when she’s reunited with her friends, they’re confronted by the brother of their friend Heather. Heather was murdered during their senior year. Though all evidence pointed to Heather’s boyfriend at the time, there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction. The group of six remaining friends must figure out all the secrets and lies that were told that fateful night to determine who really killed Heather.

This story was intense and emotional. Everyone had dark secrets and had betrayed someone at some point in the past. The story was told through alternating timelines. Jessica told her own narrative in the present, but she was unreliable because of her secrets and her inability to remember the night Heather was killed. The chapters alternated between the present and their time in school, to show exactly what they were doing back then.

There are some potential triggers in this story. There was murder, rape, homophobia, abuse, and affairs. I think these topics were addressed and punished appropriately, for the most part. Though this was an emotionally charged story, it was an intense and intricate plot.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is an intense thriller!

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

Have you read In My Dreams I Hold a Knife? What did you think of it?

Review: All Her Little Secrets

Title: All Her Little Secrets
Author: Wanda M. Morris
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this fast-paced thriller, Wanda M. Morris crafts a twisty mystery about a black lawyer who gets in over her head after the sudden death of her boss. A debut perfect for fans of Attica Locke, Alyssa Cole, Harlan Coben, and Celeste Ng, with shades of How to Get Away with Murder and John Grisham’s The Firm.

Everyone has something to hide… 

Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive—her white boss, Michael.

But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael… and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head.

And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight—again.

But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace Michael. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.

When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined…

Review:

Ellice Littlejohn has worked hard to become a corporate lawyer in Atlanta, but she has secrets. When she goes to her office to meet her boss, who she’s also having an affair with, she finds him dead in his office. Ellice doesn’t want to be brought into any investigation because her past would be uncovered, so she leaves and pretends she didn’t see anything. However, when Ellice gets promoted to replace her boss, the spotlight is put on her. She finds some documents that point to some shady business, and puts her in an ethical dilemma. The investigation becomes personal when parts of Ellice’s past is brought into question. Ellice has to face her history coming back to haunt her, while trying to save herself.

This was a fast paced thriller! I was hooked on it right from the first page. This was one of those books that I didn’t want to rush through because, even though I wanted to know who did it, I also didn’t want it to be over. It was a wild ride!

There was a lot of discussion of racism, white supremacy, and misogyny. Ellice was the only Black executive at the office, and she was only one of two women in the executive department. It was clear early on in the story that the other executives were treating Ellice differently because she was a Black woman. There was a deeper conspiracy at play, but that dynamic represents many offices in the world. I appreciated that racism was addressed in this novel, because I haven’t seen it in many contemporary thrillers.

All Her Little Secrets is a thrilling debut!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Have you read All Her Little Secrets? What did you think of it?

Review: Ace of Spades

Title: Ace of Spades
Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Usborne
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. 

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. 

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. 

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

Review:

Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are chosen to be school prefects at Niveus Private Academy. It isn’t a surprise for overachieving Chiamaka, but Devon is surprised at being chosen. Soon after they’re chosen, anonymous texts are sent to everyone in the school, revealing secrets about Chiamaka and Devon. These texts, from the anonymous Aces, threaten to ruin their futures. As more texts are sent, the stakes of secrets become more dangerous. Chiamaka and Devon have to work together to figure out who Aces is, before their lives are completely destroyed.

This was a disturbing story. The best comparison titles for this book would be Gossip Girl meets Get Out. It was fast paced and suspenseful. I truly couldn’t figure out what was happening, and I couldn’t put the book down for the last 200 pages.

This story addressed some serious issues. There was homophobia and racism, as well as sexual assault and violence. Many of the disturbing scenes seemed exaggerated for the story, yet it also felt like it could happen in real life. I don’t want to give away what happens, but this story had a creepy, realistic quality, which made it even more disturbing.

Ace of Spades is a disturbing look at racism and homophobia that everyone should read.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Have you read Ace of Spades? What did you think of it?