Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I Killed Zoe SpanosI Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A couple of months ago, I read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, and promptly proclaimed it my new favorite YA Mystery/Thriller.

I also initially said it would be hard to beat. The next thing I know, Kit Frick comes along with this beauty, I Killed Zoe Spanos, and shattered all my expectations.

I love this book so much, y’all. An all new favorite!!

I will admit, right out of the gate, that I know this isn’t going to be for everyone. However, for me, this was pretty damn near perfect.

Our protagonist, Anna Cicconi, has accepted a position as a summer nanny for a family in the small Hamptons village of, Herron Mills.

She has recently graduated high school and is trying to turn over a new leaf before starting college in the Fall.

This includes distancing herself from city life, particularly her best friend, Kaylee, who is a party girl through and through.

Anna has been running wild lately and doesn’t like how she feels about herself after. The blackout nights are the worst. She just needs to stay away from alcohol for the summer, put her head down, and concentrate on saving money for school.

Once she is settled in, she can hardly believe her luck. The little girl she is caring for, Paisley, is really sweet and easy, plus the house she is staying in is completely swank.

Anna does have one problem though, the nights. She has every evening off and needs to stay occupied because it is never good for her to sit to long with her thoughts. She starts to go on a lot of nighttime walks, exploring the property grounds and surrounding neighborhood.

It’s on one of these excursions when she happens to meet the cute and mysterious boy next door, Caden, for the first time. He is home from Yale for the summer, staying in his family mansion, Windmere.

Caden is surprised to meet Anna as well, as she looks shockingly like his fiance, Zoe Spanos, who has been missing since New Years Eve.

It’s not the first time Anna has experienced this. Around town people are definitely shocked upon seeing the similarity between her and the missing girl.

Paired with the fact that Anna begins to have memories of Herron Mills, even though she has never been there before, it’s not surprising when she starts to believe she may have a connection to Zoe.

Interspersed amongst the current narrative chapters, we also have entire podcast episodes by Martina Green, investigating Zoe’s disappearance.

Even though the police believe she ran away, Martina, best friend of Zoe’s younger sister, Aster, doesn’t buy it. She begins her own investigation and documents it through her podcast.

It’s so good. I love, love, love the podcast element as a way to tell the story.

The back and forth, the way details of Zoe’s life and disappearance are exposed, was absolutely intoxicating. Once I got into this story, I could not put it down.

Racing towards the conclusion, I had no idea how it was going to end. Were Zoe and Anna connected? Was something supernatural happening? Is Zoe alive? Are Zoe and Anna the same person!?

I was confused, I was intrigued, I was loving every minute of it!

This is a summer Thriller everyone will want to read. I may read it again, actually, once the audiobook is released. I would love how to see how they handle the podcast in the audio.

So, in short, if you love intense, twisty-turny Thrillers, with a possibly unreliable narrator, a podcast, amateur sleuthing and multiple red herrings, you definitely need to pick this book up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

There’s nothing like finding a new favorite!

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A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this so much! My new favorite YA Mystery/Thriller of all time. This one will be tough to beat.

For her senior year Capstone Project, Pippa Fitz-Amboi, decides to solve a murder.

The murder in question, that of Andie Bell, happened five years ago. The police, and thus the whole town, say the crime was committed by Andie’s boyfriend, Sal Singh.

Their biggest piece of evidence, a texted confession to his parents, just prior to Sal’s apparent suicide.

In spite of this, Pippa does not believe Sal is guilty. Andie’s body was never recovered and there is no actual physical evidence against him.

Pippa is such a great character. She’s an overachiever who works tirelessly towards her goal.

You can tell, once she sets her sights on something, she does not give up and that’s exactly how she tackles this project.

I think one of the things that connected me so much to this story was Pippa. I found her super relatable and loved reading from her perspective.

She ends up befriending Sal’s younger brother, Ravi, and that additional commitment to him, and clearing Sal’s name, makes her even more steadfast in her project; even in the face of danger.

Additionally, the format of this was creative and engaging. Using mixed media sources, including the transcripts from Pippa’s multiple investigatory interviews, and a present day narrative, made me feel like I was a part of the investigation.

As Pippa is evaluating what she has learned along the way, she recaps things, as you actually would if you were working on this type of project; including a running list of current suspects and a murder board.

The stakes were high and there were times Pippa was very legitimately in danger. Through it all, she stayed true to herself and really fought to find justice for Andie and Sal.

I loved this so much, as I said. I could go on for many more paragraphs of all the positive attributes of this story, but don’t just take my word for it, PICK THIS UP!!!

If you love it even half as much as I did, you’re in for a good time!

Well done by Holly Jackson. I am so excited to get more mysteries from her!!!

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People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us (People Like Us, #1)People Like Us by Dana Mele
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

A deeply twisted private school mystery.

πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

So, yeah. Basically my aesthetic.

At Bates Academy, Kay Donovan and her glitzy group of girlfriends, are the most popular girls in school.

They basically decide the social ranking of the rest of their peers and seem to get away with everything, including perpetually bad behavior.

When they stumble across the dead body of one of their classmates, however, they do seem to finally be treading in deep waters.

But they didn’t do anything. She was already dead by the time they came along. Why does it seem like they are under suspicion?

Maybe the dead girl wasn’t innocent herself. Kay ends up receiving a computer-coded scavenger hunt from her, after she was already dead, that causes Kay to look a little deeper at those around her.

Before they know it, their tight little group is beginning to implode.

I thought this book was fun. It followed a fairly typical YA Thriller format and that’s okay.

If you are looking for a quick fun read, with lots of twists, turns and unlikable characters, you should definitely check this one out!

Yeah, you’ve got nothing but time. Backlist bump!!!

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Review: The June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens

The June BoysThe June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Gemini Thief is a serial kidnapper who has been plaguing Tennessee for the past decade.

Every year, three boys are taken, kept for a year and then released.

When one of the currently kidnapped boy’s body is discovered, however, it is assumed the Thief has escalated. He has never killed before. Was it an accident?

Either way, authorities and citizens alike become desperate to get the bottom of the mystery.

Thea Delacroix has been seriously hunting the Thief ever since her cousin, Aulus, disappeared. Not everyone believes she is correct when she says he was one of the Thief’s victims, but she knows it’s true.

Unfortunately for Thea, she begins to suspect her own father may be responsible. His eccentricities definitely make it possible for him to be the culprit everyone is searching for.

What should she do?

The story follows Thea and her closest friends as they investigate her father and follow leads in an effort to find the missing boys.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are letters written from her cousin, Aulus, during his captivity. These are penned, The Elizabeth Letters.

Through the letters we get a glimpse of how dire the situation is for the boys remaining in the Thief’s grasp.

A couple of things, there were some pretty series formatting issues with the copy of the e-ARC that I read. Particularly during The Elizabeth Letters things were so jumbled, it was hard to tell what was supposed to go where.

With this being said, it made this one a little hard to rate. I am positive that these issues have been cleared up in the final copy.

Therefore, I am basing my rating on what I know this story to be: well written and intense.

I thought the writing was great. The intensity was high throughout the whole story.

There are aspects of this that are hard to read. It is dark and the author doesn’t shy away from showing how desperate the boys in captivity are.

I also wouldn’t say it was uplifting, however, there is a message of hope, higher power and meaning. In my opinion, it was a solid YA Mystery/Thriller, best enjoyed by individuals who like their stories to go dark and stay there.

While not for everyone, I personally enjoyed this. I have a feeling if I would have read a finished copy, as opposed to the ARC, I would have ended up giving this a solid 4-stars.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Regardless of the formatting issues, I did have a good time reading this!

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Review: One of Us is Next (Bayview High #2) by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Next (Bayview High, #2)One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

It’s been a year since Simon’s death and the events of One of Us is Lying.

The Bayview Four have been cleared and mostly moved on with their lives. Trying to put that traumatic period behind them.

For the kids remaining at Bayview, those times are never far from their minds. A assortment of gossip apps have popped up since then, trying to take Simon’s place, but no one has the goods. Until now…

A school wide text gets sent out inviting everyone to play a game. Truth or Dare. With players seemingly chosen at random, everyone is nervous about being the one picked next.

The truths are so harsh, turning family and friends against one another. Individuals feel pretty much forced to take the dare, rather than become a social pariah in the eyes of their peers.

But when the dares turn deadly, all bets are off.

Some of the kids decide to team up to figure out who the mastermind of the game is, before it’s too late for all of them. This includes Bronwyn’s little sister Maeve, as well as recent outcast Phoebe, and boy next door, Knox.

The intensity of this continues to build up throughout the story and again, I think McManus did an excellent job of keeping the story fun and compelling.

I was so excited to be back at Bayview High for another mystery. The amateur sleuthing was super entertaining, full of twists and red herrings.

I will continue to pick up anything McManus writes. I cannot wait to see what’s next. Her signature style of characters and pacing works so well for me!

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Review: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

The CheerleadersThe Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Sunnybrook High cheerleading squad was disbanded after five of the squad members ended up dead in rapid succession.

Two lost in a car accident, two murdered by an unhinged neighbor and the last, Jenn, wracked with survivor’s guilt, took her own life.

Five years have passed since those terrible tragedies and now people at the school are hoping to organize a memorial for the girls. Monica, Jenn’s little sister, gets asked to participate.

Monica has never believed that Jenn would commit suicide. The idea of a memorial creates great anxiety for her and she begins to sneak around her Step-Dad’s office, a local police officer, looking for answers.

When she comes across Jenn’s old cell phone in his desk, her suspicions only deepen. Why did he hold onto it?

Along with a new friend from her dance team, Monica begins to unravel a web of clues that indicate perhaps the five deaths were no coincidence, but who would go after the cheerleaders?

I listened to the audiobook for this and really enjoyed it. It’s has a classic mystery feel and was fast paced and compelling.

This was actually my first Kara Thomas, but now I am psyched to get to her other work!

Little Monsters, here I come!

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Review: All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

All the Bad ApplesAll the Bad Apples by MoΓ―ra Fowley-Doyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Break the stigma, break the curse.

An absolutely enchanting feminist tale!

I was so enthralled by this story, I could not put it down. As Deena begins to unravel the mysteries of her family tree whilst on a search to find her sister, Mandy, assumed dead, I was completely swept up in their family lore. I wanted to know everything about the Rys family.

Fowley-Doyle seamlessly blended past and present together as the narrative unfolds. The reader takes a front seat as history repeats itself again and again. Women and girls are stripped of their power and choice, made to live false lives. It was heart-wrenching and felt extremely genuine.

At the beginning of the novel, Deena, our teenage protagonist comes out to her family with a mixed reaction. She is a student at a Catholic school and has been raised within a conservative household. She is struggling with her identity and being able to live her truth.

I thought this aspect of the story was so well done, as were all aspects really, but the feelings evoked as Deena questions whether or not she is a ‘nice, normal girl’, were just so powerful. That’s how the story kicks off and as far as gut-punching, hard-hitting topic choices, never lets up.

I loved the format the author chose to slowly reveal the truth at the heart of this tale. I am going to be thinking about this one for a long time to come. I am not going to say anything else in regards to the plot because I think it would best serve the story, and your reading experience, to go into this with as little information as possible.

A story of family, identity, secrets, truth and power, I am still reeling by how much this story has impacted me. Truly stunning.

While this is a fully fictional story, the topics explored within were well researched by the author and are based on true events that happened throughout the course of Ireland’s history. As the author lives in Ireland and is Irish herself, that is where the story is focused, however the issues the girls and women faced are universal.

Please read this book. Please read this book. Please read this book and as always, this includes the Author’s Note at the end. Read that too!!

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Review: Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a SecretTwo Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

QUESTION:

Did I just read this book in June?

ANSWER:

Yes.

QUESTION:

Am I heavily considering reading this again in October?

ANSWER:

Yes.

**4.5-stars**

O.M.G.

I don’t think I have ever been that chilled by a final line.
Well played, McManus.

I seriously don’t even feel like I can review this.

Just know, she good and she has hella Autumnal vibes. A great one to pick up this September/October!

Get it on your Spooktober list, y’all.

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Review: The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Lovely and the LostThe Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cady Bennett found Kira in the forest when she was just a little girl. That’s what Cady does. As a Search and Rescue (SAR) professional she has found countless lost peoples.

When she came across Kira, it was clear she had been on her own in the woods for weeks. Dirty, scared and practically feral, Cady took her in and raised her as her own.

Now in her late teens, Kira has been in training, along with her brother Jude and closest friend, Free, to be a SAR professional herself. Although she still has a hard time trusting others and has a fuse as short as a fingernail, when it comes to tracking lost things, she’s a natural.

When a call comes in about a missing girl back in Cady’s hometown, the whole family, including their trained SAR canine companions, load up and head out to help. They end up staying at the house Cady grew up in, along with her estranged father, Bales, and his companion, Ness.

Cady has not spoken to her father for years and tensions are running high. That paired with the pressure of the search for missing girl, Bella, makes for a ticking time bomb.

The kids begin to discover some long held family secrets and what unfolds answers questions about all of their pasts, including Kira’s which has remained locked in her mind since the day she was found.

I really enjoyed this book. The mystery, the tension, the drama, the high stakes search and rescue, the DOGSSSSSSS!!!!!

The human characters were super enjoyable as well. I loved the themes of found families and loyalty woven throughout. Cady’s son, Jude, is such a precious popsicle, his witty banter made me giggle pretty much nonstop. I also enjoyed Kira so much. The way she connected with the dogs and her strong-willed spirit had me rooting for her the whole way.

In my opinion, this is a great YA mystery/thriller, that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It was completely unique, I have never read anything quite like it, and I was really impressed with Jennifer Lynn Barnes writing. She drew me in and had me needing to know what the heck was going on.

I would definitely recommend this book and plan to pick up more of her books. I would also be totally stoked if there was a continuation to this; whether a companion novel, a prequel or a direct sequel. I am so not ready to be done with these characters.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly enjoyed it and appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious #2) by Maureen Johnson

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious, #2)The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Dear Maureen Johnson,

How dare you?

Truly devious of you to slay me with yet ANOTHER cliffhanger ending!

I had many thoughts whilst reading this, the second installment of the Truly Devious trilogy. There was this:

Followed by this:

Wrapped up like this:

Okay. I still love you but you hurt me.

Kindest Regards,

Meg

Okay, y’all, let’s try an actual review.
That ending!?!?

I really wasn’t expecting that, even though Ms. Johnson has played me like that before.

I was totally invested in this. I loved being back with Stevie and the rest of the cast at Ellingham Academy. We got to meet some new folks and have a few puzzle pieces filled in as far as the Ellingham cold case went.

I really enjoyed that aspect of the story again. Alternating timelines between past and present is an aspect I always seem to enjoy in a story. I feel like it keeps me more engaged than sometimes a single, linear storyline will.

If you enjoyed the first book, I think you will continue to do so with this. Honestly though, I did not love this quite as much as the first book.

I think part of my swooning over book 1 was being new to Ellingham Academy and learning about the place, the history and all of the people. We had less of that excitement in this one, at least for me.

Does this book suffer from the dreaded ‘middle book syndrome’?
Maybe a little.

Calm down.
Not much, just a teeny-tiny bit.

I can tell you that I am completely stoked for the conclusion to this trilogy and will definitely be ordering it to add it to my bookshelves!

Side Note: Really hoping the cover is a nice, deep green.
That would make my Slytherin heart so damn happy.

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