Title: Monday’s Not Coming Author: Tiffany D. Jackson Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: May 22, 2018 Rating: ★★★★★
Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.
As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?
Monday and Claudia have always been inseparable. When Monday doesn’t show up for their first day of eighth grade, Claudia knows something is wrong. Their friendship was deeper than anyone knew. Monday would defend Claudia from bullies and rumors, and helped her keep her grades up. When Claudia asks her mom, Monday’s sister, and the school staff for help, they all brush her off. No one helps Claudia on her search, so she has to take matters into her own hands.
I’ve heard a lot about this book over the past couple of years. It has recently been banned by some school boards in the United States. The story itself was entertaining and suspenseful, but it also has an important message within it. This story shows the dark side of childhood, with many children left behind by the systems that are meant to protect them.
The premise and plot of this book were intriguing but it was put together in an intricate story. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it, and I couldn’t read the story fast enough. This was one of those special stories where after learning the ending, you can flip through the book to see where all the clues and breadcrumbs (as Claudia’s mom would say) left a trail throughout the story. It truly is a masterpiece of a plot.
Monday’s Not Coming should be required reading for everyone.
What to read next:
White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Have you read Monday’s Not Coming? What did you think of it?
Title: The Sorority Murder Author: Allison Brennan Genre: Thriller Publisher: MIRA Books Release Date: December 28, 2021
A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions.
Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.
Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.
New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life, a much darker picture than Lucas imagined–and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast–before the killer silences him forever.
Three Years Ago
Friday, April 10
Candace Swain forced a smile as she walked out of her dorm room.
Smiling was the last thing she wanted to do, but Candace had an image to uphold.
She was going to be late for the Sigma Rho Spring Fling—the last big party before the end-of-year crunch. Studying for finals, capstones and senior projects, stress and more stress, and—for some of them—graduation.
The mild April weather was perfect for an outdoor gathering. Candace had led the sorority’s social-events committee with setup, and they’d included heat lamps along the perimeter. The Mountain View dorm—which housed all campus sororities, each with their own wing—was on the northeast corner of campus, adjacent to the football field. The Spring Fling was held on the large lawn that framed the north entrance, where they had the most room. It was open to all students for a five-dollar admission, and was one of the biggest moneymakers for the sorority, more than charities. Candace had fought for—and won—giving the profits to a rescue mission that helped people get back on their feet. She volunteered weekly for Sunrise Center, and it had changed how she viewed herself and her future. She now planned to be a nurse in the inner city, working for a clinic or public hospital, where people deserved quality health care, even if they were struggling. She even considered specializing in drug and alcohol issues, which were unfortunately prevalent among the homeless community.
She used to think of her volunteerism as penance for her failings. She wasn’t religious but had had enough preaching from her devout grandmother to have absorbed things like guilt, penance, sacrifice. Now, she looked forward to Tuesdays when she gave six hours of her time to those who were far worse off than she. It reminded her to be grateful for what she had, that things could be worse.
Candace exited through the north doors and stood at the top of the short flight of stairs that led to the main lawn. Though still early in the evening, the party was already hopping. Music played from all corners of the yard, the din of voices and laughter mingling with a popular song. In the dusk, the towering mountains to the north were etched in fading light. She breathed deeply. She loved everything about Flagstaff. The green mountains filled with pine and juniper. The crisp, fresh air. The sense of community and belonging felt so natural here, something she’d never had growing up in Colorado Springs. With graduation on the horizon, she had been feeling a sense of loss, knowing she was going to miss this special place.
She wasn’t close to her parents, who divorced right before she started high school and still fought as much as they did when they were married. She desperately missed her younger sister, Chrissy, a freshman at the University of South Carolina. She’d wanted Chrissy to come here for college, but Chrissy was a champion swimmer and had received a full scholarship to study practically a world away. Candace had no plans to return to Colorado Springs, but she didn’t know if she wanted to follow her sister to the East Coast or head down to Phoenix where they had some of the best job opportunities for what she wanted to do.
Vicky Ryan, a first year student who had aspirations of leadership, ran up to her.
“That weirdo is back,” Vicky said quietly. “Near the west steps. Just loitering there, freaking people out. Should I call campus police?”
Candace frowned. The man Vicky was referring to was Joseph, and he wasn’t really a weirdo. He was an alcoholic, and mostly homeless, who sometimes wandered onto campus and wouldn’t accept the help he had been repeatedly offered. He wasn’t violent, just confused, and sometimes got lost in his own head, largely from how alcohol had messed with his mind and body. But his problems understandably made her sorority sisters uncomfortable. He’d twice been caught urinating against the wall outside their dorm; both times, he’d been cited by campus police. He wasn’t supposed to be on campus at all anymore, and Candace knew they’d arrest him if he was caught.
“I’ll take care of it,” Candace said and made her way around the edge of the party.
She found Joseph on the narrow grassy knoll that separated the football field from the dorms. A small group of students approached her, but one in their group turned toward the grass, likely to confront Joseph.
Candace walked faster, caught up with the student, and smiled brightly. “I got this.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “I’ll handle him.”
“I said I will take care of this. I know him. But thank you anyway.”
Mr. Macho didn’t want to walk away, yet Candace stood firm. She didn’t want anyone to harass Joseph, and she knew he would listen to her. While he wasn’t violent, he could be belligerent, and being confronted by a jerk wanting to impress his girlfriend was a surefire way to trigger Joseph and have him dig in his heels. It would only lead to an arrest, and that wasn’t going to help him in the long run.
The group walked off, grumbling; Candace ignored them. She approached Joseph cautiously, so as not to startle him. “Joseph, it’s Candace,” she said. “Remember me? From Sunrise Center?”
He turned slowly at the sound of her voice. A tall man, nearly six foot four, he could intimidate people. But he was also skinny and hunched over from years of walking the streets and looking down, rummaging through garbage, with his hangdog face, ragged salt-and-pepper beard, and watery blue eyes. He was the kind of guy her grandmother would have called a bum—dressed in multiple layers of dirty, mismatched clothes, and smelling of dirt and stale beer. He looked about sixty, but she knew that he was only in his early forties. She’d heard he’d been living along Route 66 for the better part of ten years. The people who ran Sunrise Center didn’t know much about his personal life, only that when he was sober (which was rare), he would talk about home being east, at the “end of the line.” But no one knew if that meant Chicago or any of the stops in between.
Candace wanted to know more about his story, how he came to be in these circumstances, why he wouldn’t—or couldn’t—accept help. Many of the homeless who came to Sunrise for shelter or food would talk to her freely. But not Joseph. When she’d pried once, he disappeared for a while, so she stopped asking. She would rather him be safe than riding the rails, which was dangerous.
“Candace,” he said slowly after several moments.
“You can’t be here, Joseph. The campus police told you that. Don’t you remember?”
He didn’t say anything or acknowledge that he understood what she said.
“Would you like me to take you over to Sunrise Center? You can get a hot meal there, maybe a cot for the night.”
Again, silence. He turned away from her but didn’t leave.
She really didn’t want to call campus police, but if she didn’t do something, someone else would.
“Is there a reason you are here?” she asked.
“Leave me alone,” he said.
“I will, but you have to leave. Otherwise someone is going to call the police.” If they haven’t already.
He abruptly turned toward her, staggered on the slope of the lawn. His sudden movement startled her; she stepped back.
“No cops!” he shouted.
“You have to leave, Joseph,” she said, emphatic. Her heart pounded in her chest, not so much from fear but uncertainty. “Please go.”
Again, he turned abruptly, this time staggering down the short slope toward the stadium fence. She held her breath, watching him. He almost ran into the fence, put his arms out to stop himself, then just stood there. A minute later, he shuffled along the field perimeter, shoulders hunched, without looking back.
She breathed easier, relieved that he was heading off campus. She would talk to the director of Sunrise on Tuesday, when she went in to volunteer. Joseph couldn’t keep coming here, but she didn’t really want to call the authorities on him. He needed help, not more trouble, and definitely not incarceration.
Candace was about to return to the party when she heard someone call her name. She turned and saw one of her former tutoring students, Lucas Vega, running toward her. She didn’t want to talk to Lucas tonight. How many times did she have to tell him to leave her alone?
She stopped anyway and waited.
“Candace,” he said, catching his breath. “Thanks.”
“What do you want?” she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Sorry,” she said bluntly.
“I didn’t mean to upset you the other day. I am sorry about that.”
She blinked. He sounded so sincere. And truth be told, something he’d said to her a few days earlier made her think long and hard about herself, her life, and the time she’d spent as a student at Northern Arizona University.
A lie for a good reason is still a lie.
Lucas and his wide-eyed, good-natured innocence, his innocuous questions had her feeling guilty for no reason. He had picked up on that. And pushed.
No reason? Ha. Plenty of reasons. All these doubts and worries she’d been having this semester, the sleepless nights, all came from something she’d done as a freshman that she now had good reason to regret. But what could she do about it? What would come of the truth now?
Maybe there was no good reason to lie.
“All right,” she said. “Thank you.” It was easier to forgive Lucas than to hold on to this anger. None of what happened was Lucas’s fault.
“So will you tutor me again, for finals?”
“No. Afraid not.” She could forgive him for prying, but she really needed first to forgive herself. And she didn’t know if she could do that with Lucas around, reminding her of her failures and mistakes. He didn’t even know what she’d done, but seeing him now was like reliving the past, and her chest tightened. “I’m sorry, but I have too much studying of my own, too many tests. And I’m not working at the writing lab anymore.”
Because of you.
Was that even fair? Was it because of Lucas…or because of her own guilt?
He was disappointed, but that wasn’t her problem.
“Okay, I understand,” he said.
“Besides, you’re smart. You’ll be fine.”
He shrugged. “Thanks.”
“Uh, you want to come to the party?” She gestured over her shoulder. They could hear the music from where they stood. “I’ll get you a pass. Won’t even cost you the five bucks.”
He shook his head. “I’m fine. I’m not really one for parties. But thanks anyway.”
He turned to leave.
“Lucas,” she said. He looked at her over his shoulder. “I’m really sorry.”
Then she left him there, waiting for something she couldn’t give him.
It took Candace several minutes before she could work up the courage to return to the party. An idea she’d been thinking about for the last few months was now fully developed, as if something inside clicked after her brief conversation with Lucas. Everything shifted into place, and she knew what she needed to do; it was the only thing she could do.
No one was going to like her decision.
When she realized she no longer cared what anyone thought, a burden lifted from her heart. She was certain then that she was doing the right thing.
Everyone at the party was asking for Candace, and Vicky had become worried when her friend and mentor hadn’t returned after thirty minutes. She sought out Taylor James, the Sigma Rho president, and told her about the homeless guy. “I don’t know where Candace is,” she said. “I should have just called campus police.”
“Candace says he’s harmless,” Taylor said, frowning. “Sometimes she’s so naive. I’ll go look for her.”
“Thanks. The party is great by the way. Everyone seems to be having fun. How does it compare to previous years?” This was the first party Vicky had helped put together for the sorority, so she was eager to know how well she’d done.
“As good or better,” Taylor said with a wide smile.
Vicky tried not to gloat as she practically floated over to her friends chatting near one of the heat lamps. It wasn’t cold, but the warmth of the heat lamp and the glow from the string lights added terrific ambience to the place.
“Oh my God, Vicky, this is a blast,” her roommate, Nicole Bergamo, said. Nicole was a half-Black, half-Italian math major who could have easily been a model she was so tall and stunning. “Everyone is talking about how great it is.”
Vicky smiled, talked for a bit, then moved around, being social, doing all the things that she’d seen Sigma Rho board members do. Hundreds of people were dancing, talking, mingling, eating, drinking, playing games. Mostly, they were having fun, which was the whole purpose. When the new Sigma Rho advisor, Rachel Wagner, told her it was the best Sigma Rho party she’d been to ever, Vicky thought she’d never come down from cloud nine.
“I agree,” said the gorgeous woman who was with Rachel. “I’m Kimberly Foster, by the way,” she introduced herself. “I’m a sorority alum, and I’m so happy I came up this weekend. You’ve done a fantastic job. Rachel said you’re part of the social-events committee. Isn’t Candace leading the committee? I haven’t seen her yet.”
“Yes, she’s around,” Vicky said. “This is all her vision. We just implemented it.”
“I love Candace. Oh! I see her over there.”
Vicky looked to where Kimberly was gesturing. Candace was talking in a small group.
“I’m going to catch up with her,” Kimberly said. “Nice to meet you, Vicky.”
The two women walked away, and Vicky continued her rounds. She was having a blast as her worries that the party might flop were replaced with pride and satisfaction over its success.
Hours later it was midnight, and per city ordinance—because their dorm bordered a public street—they had to cut off the music. That put a damper on things, but it was fine with Vicky—she was exhausted after working all day prepping and all night making sure everything was running smoothly. She was a little miffed that Candace was hardly there: Vicky had only caught a glimpse of her twice. But whatever, she’d seemed preoccupied, and that would have been a party downer.
Vicky ran into the dorm to get extra trash bags—they had to clean up tonight so wild animals wouldn’t get into the garbage and create a bigger mess in the morning. She came back out and heard voices arguing near where the DJ had been set up. He’d already packed up and left. She couldn’t hear exactly what was being said. It seemed like a quiet, intense exchange between Taylor and Candace though Rachel and her guest Kimberly were there, too. Everyone, especially Taylor, seemed angry.
About sixty people were still milling around, mostly Sigma Rho sisters helping with the cleanup. Nicole came up to Vicky and said, “What are Candace and Taylor fighting about?”
“I don’t know. It’s probably nothing.”
“It’s not nothing,” Nicole said. “I heard Taylor call Candace a selfish bitch.”
“Ouch. Well, Rachel is there. She’ll mediate.”
But Rachel looked angry as well; it seemed that Candace was on one side, and the other three women were yelling at her.
“You’re wrong!” Candace screamed, and Vicky jumped. She glanced at Nicole, who looked perplexed as well. Vicky handed her a garbage bag, and they both started picking up trash. She didn’t want anyone to think she was eavesdropping.
But she was. As she inched closer to the group, she heard Kimberly say, “Let’s talk about this tomorrow, okay? When everyone has had a good night’s sleep and we can all think more clearly.”
“I am thinking clearly,” Candace said. “I’m done. Just…done.”
She left, walked right past Vicky without even seeing her. There were tears in Candace’s eyes, and Vicky didn’t know if she was angry or upset, but probably both. Vicky thought about going after her to make sure she was okay, then felt a hand on her shoulder.
She jumped, then laughed nervously when she saw Rachel. Taylor and Kim had walked away in the other direction.
“Sorry. You startled me.”
“I’m sorry you had to witness that,” Rachel said.
“I didn’t, really. Just saw that Taylor and Candace were arguing about something. I didn’t want to intrude.”
“It’s going to be fine. Just a little disagreement that Candace took personally.”
“About the party?” Vicky asked, her insecurities rising that she’d messed up something.
“Oh, no, the party was perfect. Don’t worry about that.”
Relieved, she said, “Maybe I should go talk to Candace.”
“No, let her be. I’ve known her since she was a freshman and took my Intro to Bio class. She has a big heart, and sometimes you can’t help everyone.”
Now Vicky understood, or thought she did. Taylor had been the most vocal about the creepy homeless guy hanging around the dorms, and she’d been the one who’d called campus police last time, after Candace said not to.
“Let me help,” Rachel said and took a garbage bag from Vicky’s stash.
Rachel chatted with Vicky, who felt lucky to be able to spend so much one-on-one time with her sorority advisor. Rachel was so smart, an associate professor at just thirty-two, an alum of the University of Arizona Sigma Rho chapter. Plus she had such interesting stories to share. By the time they were done with the cleanup—it didn’t take long with so many people working together—Vicky had forgotten all about the argument between Candace and Taylor.
ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets. The Sorority Murder is the first of a new mass market series.
Title: My Darling Husband Author: Kimberly Belle Genre: Thriller, Contemporary Publisher: Park Row Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: December 28, 2021 (paperback will be published March 8, 2022) Rating: ★★★★
Jade and Cam Lasky are by all accounts a happily married couple, with two adorable kids, a spacious home and a rapidly growing restaurant business. But their world is tipped upside down when Jade is confronted by a masked home invader. As Cam scrambles to gather the ransom money, Jade starts to wonder if they’re as financially secure as their lifestyle suggests, and what other secrets her husband is keeping from her.
Cam may be a good father, a celebrity chef and a darling husband, but there’s another side he’s kept hidden from Jade that has put their family in danger. Unbeknownst to Cam and Jade, the home invader has been watching them and is about to turn their family secrets into a public scandal.
With riveting twists and a breakneck pace, My Darling Husband is an utterly compelling thriller that once again showcases Kimberly Belle’s exceptional talent for domestic suspense.
Cam Lasky is a famous chef in Atlanta with a few high-priced restaurants. He arrives at his biggest restaurant to find that it’s burned down. While he’s dealing with the insurance, his wife, Jade, is confronted with a masked intruder who has trapped her and her two children in their home. The kidnapper is asking for a specific amount in ransom, which Jade thinks won’t be a problem for her successful husband to put his hands on in a few hours. However, Jade doesn’t know about the secrets her husband has been keeping from her, that could determine if anyone gets out of this situation alive.
This was a fast paced and suspenseful thriller. There were great cliffhangers at the end of chapters that made me keep reading. It was really hard to put down because I needed to know how it ended.
There were a couple of surprising twists at the end of the story. However, some of the subplots weren’t related to the main plot. I won’t mention them and give them away, but they were really good subplots, yet they didn’t really add to the main plot. I would have loved it if all of these plot threads came together at the end.
My Darling Husband is a fast paced thriller!
Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
Tell Me My Name by Erin Ruddy
Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle
About the author:
Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of seven novels, including her latest, My Darling Husband (December 2021). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.
Have you read My Darling Husband? What did you think of it?
Title: You’ll Be the Death of Me Author: Karen M. McManus Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary Publisher: Delacorte Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: November 30, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.
Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.
So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say…
Until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.
It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.
Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?
From the author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand-new pulse-pounding thriller. It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder when three old friends relive an epic ditch day, and it goes horribly–and fatally–wrong.
Ivy worked hard to be the top student and was class president for the last three years. That’s why she was shocked to lose the student council election to class clown Brian “Boney” Maloney. It upsets her so much that she decides to skip school on the day after the election results. She runs into her two former best friends: Cal and Mateo. Cal was just stood up for a date again, and Mateo is burned out from working two jobs and being lied to by his cousin. Ivy, Cal, and Mateo decide to skip school, to recreate the first time they met and skipped school years before. However, this time, they come across the body of a student who they’re all connected to. Each of them are suspects, so they spend the day investigating the death and running from everyone else.
This was another fabulous thriller from Karen M. McManus. It was fast paced and thrilling the entire time. It was so hard to put this book down. I needed to know how it ended.
I haven’t read many thrillers lately, because I’ve found them formulaic and easy to figure out. This one has so many shocking twists that kept me reading. I was truly surprised at every twist, especially the big reveals at the end. This was such a well written, suspenseful thriller.
You’ll Be the Death of Me is an amazing new thriller!
Thank you Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore
Have you read You’ll Be the Death of Me? What did you think of it?
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.
A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.
Lowen Ashleigh is struggling as a writer, when a seemingly perfect job is offered to her. Jeremy Crawford is married to bestselling author Verity Crawford, who is now unable to finish writing her book series. Jeremy hires Lowen to complete the series. She goes to their home to find Verity’s research, but she walks into a tragic family. Their daughters had died the year before and Verity was paralyzed from a car accident. While Lowen is searching for Verity’s outlines, she finds an autobiography that was never intended to be read. Lowen hides the contents of the autobiography, while also falling for Jeremy, until she realizes he should know the truth about his wife.
This book is definitely worth the hype. It has been all over bookstagram for the last three years and I’ve only seen positive reviews. It was fast paced and nearly impossible to put down!
I would absolutely love to see what happens after the ending of the story, but I also like that there’s some mystery surrounding what will happen next. I’ll definitely be recommending it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.
Title: White Smoke Author: Tiffany D. Jackson Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Contemporary Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: September 14, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!
Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.
The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.
But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?
As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.
Seventeen-year-old Marigold and her family move from their home in California to a Midwestern small town where her mom has accepted a job that includes a free house. The rest of the houses on the street are abandoned, and the neighbours in the area are suspicious of everything. As soon as they arrive, things start going wrong in the house. Doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows appear in hallways and items disappear. Mari’s ten-year-old stepsister starts talking to an imaginary friend in the house, who wants Mari to leave. As the incidents in the house increase and become more dangerous, Mari has to do whatever it takes to save her family.
This story had some heavy subjects that I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t think there would be as many realistic elements as there were. Some of these serious subjects were drug addiction, overdose, and a severe allergic reaction. Though this was a spooky horror, there were a lot of realistic implications to the story.
I really enjoyed this story. I liked that the ending made sense and was logical. The only thing that I would have liked to see was justice at the end. There were many layers of destruction happening in the community, and I would have loved to see the events after the story finished where they got what they deserved.
White Smoke is a thrilling horror story!
What to read next:
The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Horrid by Katrina Leno
Have you read White Smoke? What did you think of it?
Title: Lies My Memory Told Me Author: Sacha Wunsch Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Science Fiction Publisher: Inkyard Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: October 19, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
From the thrilling voice of Sacha Wunsch comes a heart-stopping psychological mystery in a world where memories can be shared—and one girl can’t trust any of them.
Enhanced Memory changed everything. By sharing someone else’s memory, you can experience anything and everything with no risk at all: learn any skill instantly, travel the world from home, and safeguard all your most treasured secrets forever. Nova’s parents invented this technology, and it’s slowly taking over their lives. Nova doesn’t mind—mostly. She knows Enhanced Memory is a gift.
But Kade says Nova doesn’t know the costs of this technology that’s taken the world by storm. Kade runs a secret vlog cataloging real experiences, is always on the move, and is strangely afraid of Nova—even though she feels more comfortable with him than she ever has with anyone. Suddenly there are things Nova can’t stop noticing: the way her parents don’t meet her eyes anymore, the questions no one wants her to ask, and the relentless feeling that there’s something she’s forgotten…
Nova’s parents invented Enhanced Memories, which is technology that allows you to instantly gain a memory, including learning a skill, traveling the world, or doing a dangerous activity. Now, people can live through risky activities, such as skydiving or doing drugs, without any dangerous consequences. Though Nova’s parents created Enhanced Memories, she doesn’t know the real impact of this technology on the world. Then, she meets Kade. Kade has an anonymous YouTube account where he does risky activities that are now obsolete since people don’t have to do them to have the experience. Nova and Kade have different opinions on the effects of Enhanced Memory, but she is still drawn to him. When people start treating Nova differently, she starts her own research into what Enhanced Memories, and her parents, are really hiding from her.
This story hooked me right from the start. Immediately, there were things in Nova’s life that didn’t make sense. When she was out with friends, there were people who would approach her, thinking she was someone else. Nova worked part-time in a nursing home with a memory care unit. There were some great practical uses of Enhanced Memory with those patients, since their memories could be saved before they were lost. However, as with all inventions that seem helpful at first, Enhanced Memory was used in harmful ways as well.
Nova was a senior in high school, but the storyline about her school got lost throughout the book. The story focused more on her part time job and her social life. It would have made more sense to have that school storyline continue, since she was still a teenager. I also would have loved to see a longer ending where there was more closure. I really enjoyed this story, and I would love to see what happens next.
Lies My Memory Told Me was a great new YA contemporary novel!
Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore
This Town Is Not All Right by M.K. Krys
About the author:
Sacha Wunsch grew up dividing her time between the family farm in Canada and traveling to numerous fictional worlds. She was a bookseller before discovering her love of writing mind-twisty novels – which has proved an excellent job since she gets to blame all the TV she watches on her love of storytelling. She now splits her time between the city and the lake, and still travels to made-up worlds as often as she can.
Have you read Lies My Memory Told Me? What did you think of it?
Title: A Lesson in Vengeance Author: Victoria Lee Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Thriller, LGBTQ Publisher: Delacorte Press Source: Owlcrate Format: Hardcover Release Date: August 3, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.
Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.
Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.
It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.
And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.
Felicity Morrow has returned to Dalloway School to redo her senior year, after her best friend and secret girlfriend, Alex, died the year before. Her dorm, Godwin House, is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of five former students who died in mysterious, magical circumstances. Felicity has always been drawn to dark things, but she had to give up her magic beliefs after Alex died. Now, Ellis Haley, a writing prodigy, has moved into Godwin House to complete her senior year. Ellis needs to complete her second book, and she enlists Felicity’s help in researching the ghosts of Dalloway for her project. Felicity can’t help but be drawn to Ellis, until they both take their research too far.
I knew I would love this book as soon as I heard about it! It had a dark, isolated setting in a dormitory of a girl’s school. Their house was separated from the other dorms and close to the woods. The girls didn’t even use cell phones, despite being teenagers, so they were isolated from the rest of the world that way too.
Felicity was a very unreliable narrator, but that kept the story unpredictable. When Felicity would explain certain things or tell a story from her past, it would soon be revealed that it was untrue. Sometimes this can be frustrating in a narrator, but in this case, it made for some shocking twists throughout the story.
I highly recommend A Lesson in Vengeance!
What to read next:
S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett
Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain
Have you read A Lesson in Vengeance? What did you think of it?
Title: The Woods Are Always Watching Author: Stephanie Perkins Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: August 31, 2021 Rating: ★★
A companion to There’s Someone Inside Your House.
Bears aren’t the only predators in these woods.
Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest.
Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare; and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.
Best friends Neena and Josie want to have some special time together before they go away to college. They have never backpacked or camped before, but they decide it would be a nice chance to bond before they are separated. During their three-day trip, they venture off the hiking trail and fall into a nightmare. The woods are haunted by more than just bears.
This book wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It was described as a companion to There’s Someone Inside Your House, which I loved. That book had more thriller aspects, but this one was gruesome and horrorific.
What I found strange was that the real suspense didn’t actually begin until halfway through the story. The first half described their camping challenges in detail, which have assured me that I never want to go on a trip like that. The second half of the story was filled with gruesome horror scenes. It was quite disturbing at times. I only kept reading because I wanted to know what happened with the girls. The story didn’t end the way I had expected to, so I’ll give it credit for that.
Unfortunately, The Woods Are Always Watching was a disappointing read.
Thank you Dutton Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Wildfire by Carrie Mac
Have you read The Woods Are Always Watching? What did you think of it?
Title: This Is Why We Lie Author: Gabriella Lepore Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller Publisher: Inkyard Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: September 21, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.
When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.
Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.
As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.
As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.
One morning, while Jenna was standing at the harbour taking photos, she found Adam pulling a body from the water. Her friend, Colleen, had drowned but it wasn’t an accident. Jenna’s best friend is the main suspect, but she is certain that her friend didn’t do it. Adam and his friends also had a connection to Colleen. She had threatened him and his friends the night before her body was found. Adam and Jenna bond over this tragedy. Everyone has a motive and everyone is keeping secrets, but the clock is ticking down until they find the murderer.
This was such a fast paced thriller. It had short chapters that flew by quickly. It was really hard to put this book down because there were so many twists.
It’s been a while since a thriller truly surprised me. I couldn’t figure out how this story was going to end and I was really surprised. I liked that there wasn’t any wasted space. Every chapter and scene was important to the plot and it wrapped up quickly at the end.
This is Why Why Lie is an exciting, fast paced thriller!
Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
About the author:
Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from South Wales in the United Kingdom. She lives in the countryside with her husband James and daughter Sophia. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline. She enjoys cups of tea, bookstore coffee shops, stormy beaches, and autumn days.
Have you read This Is Why We Lie? What did you think of it?