Review: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, #1)The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Avery Grambs has had a tough go at it since her mother passed away. Since that time, she has been living with her half-sister, working as much as she can and just trying to make it through high school.

She has plans for her future, but at this rate, she’s going to need to qualify for every scholarship she can in order to be able to attend college.

Making matters worse is the fact that her sister, Libby, as sweet as she is, has terrible taste in men. When her on-again-off-again boyfriend comes around, Avery goes as far as sleeping in her car to avoid him.

On a day that Avery is just about at the end of her rope, she receives an unbelievable invitation.

She is asked to attend the reading of the last will and testament of one, Tobias Hawthorne, an eccentric billionaire.

Without explanation, the recently deceased elder Hawthorne, decided to leave almost his entire fortune to Avery. The only catch is, she needs to move into the extravagant Hawthorne House for a full year.

Sure, that sounds easy enough, but also residing in the manse are the family members Tobias basically disinherited. As you can imagine, they’re not happy.

His four grandsons and their mother are understandably puzzled by the whole turn of events. Is Avery possibly a con-woman of some sort, come to steal their vast fortune?

Particularly intriguing to Avery, who is positive she’s not a con-woman and entirely innocent of conspiring in this strange twist of fate, are Grayson and Jameson Hawthorne.

Two handsome brothers, the closest to her age, keep her fairly well occupied during her time in Hawthorne House. There’s riddles, puzzles and games of all sorts as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery behind the infamous will.

I had a lot of fun with this story. It completely sucked me in. It was easy to sympathize with Avery and root for her once she started living at Hawthorne House.

The puzzles and riddles were super engaging. I loved that aspect; trying to figure it all out along with the characters. I also enjoyed the hint of danger threaded throughout. Who was angry enough to try to take Avery out?

Inheritance stories are always fun for me; it’s just a trope I tend to really enjoy. Family drama and secrets, backstabbing, plotting, revenge, confessions; it’s a good time. What else can I say?

If you are looking for a fun and fast-paced YA-Mystery, with twist and turns galore, as well as intriguing and suspicious characters, you should definitely give this one a shot!

I am really looking forward to continuing on with this trilogy. Oh, the places it could go!

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Review: The Ivies by Alexa Donne

The IviesThe Ivies by Alexa Donne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Avery, Emma, Olivia, Margot and Sierra are collectively known as The Ivies. They’re also lowkey feared by their peers at the prestigious Claflin Academy.

This tight group of five all have the same goal: acceptance into an ivy league school.

Knowing the ins-and-outs of college admissions, the girls have agreed to all apply ED to different Ivies.

Their reasoning is, if they all apply to separate schools they won’t be competing directly against one another and therefore, will up their chances of acceptance.

Avery Montfort, the Regina George of the group, has claimed Harvard as hers.

On Early Decision day, it is revealed that Emma had secretly applied to Harvard and gotten accepted. While normally this would be cause for celebration, Avery did not get in and thus, blames Emma.

Enraged, Avery confronts Emma at a party and the two girls get into a fight. Ultimately, storming off to separate corners.

Olivia, our main character, watches the drama unfold from the sidelines. She secretly applied to Harvard as well, and got in, but there is no way she is telling Avery that!

The following morning, Emma is found dead. Olivia is shocked. Could Avery have possibly been angry enough to kill their friend over a college admission?

In the high-stakes world of cut-throat academics, it’s definitely possible. Olivia begins to doubt her place within the Ivies. It seems the other girls have been doing a lot of things behind her back.

When it becomes clear the police may flub it up, Olivia decides to team up with her cute co-editor of the school paper, Ethan, and investigate Emma’s death herself.

With a boarding school setting, loads of rich people drama and solid amateur sleuthing, The Ivies pairs some of my favorite tropes together into a red herring-filled, satirical romp through upper-class teenage lives.

It’s pure mean girl chaos at its best!

While it did start out a little slow for me, once Emma’s body is found, everything heats up quite nicely.

From there, the pace is steady and twisty until the over-the-top conclusion! I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves rich teen drama.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had a lot of fun with this one and appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #2)Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

I had been highly anticipating Good Girl, Bad Blood since I turned the final page of Holly Jackson’s 2019-release, A Good Girls Guide to Murder.

Okay, truth be told, I didn’t even know there was going to be a sequel to AGGGTM, but I knew I wanted more of Pippa Fitz-Amobi and her badass investigatory abilities!

After she solved the mystery of the disappearance of Andie Bell, along with her now boyfriend, Ravi Singh, Pippa created a True Crime podcast on the case.

It went viral. In spite of the podcasts huge popularity, Pippa has sworn off any further investigations.

But when her good friend Connor’s older brother, Jamie, goes missing, Connor enlists Pippa’s help with finding him.

Pippa’s first suggestion is that Connor go to the police with his concerns. She even goes to speak with officers herself, but they aren’t taking it seriously. Jamie has disappeared before and they think he has just skipped town for a few days.

Pippa can’t ignore the signs, however, and they seem to point to foul play.

Against her better judgement, she agrees to look into it. She can’t deny a friend in need and sit by while Jamie may be in danger, or worse.

As her investigation begins, she unearths a lot of secrets Jamie has been hiding. It’s a wicked web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

This was such a fun and captivating story. It didn’t quite capture me to the extent that A Good Girl’s Guide did, but I think that’s mostly attributable to being introduced to Pippa in the first book.

In the initial book, I loved learning about her as a character. Meeting a girl who was willing to go outside of her comfort zone and risk everything in the name of truth and justice.

Pippa definitely felt more mature in this novel, like an old friend. She still has that same fire inside her to discover the truth. She’s really a character you can get behind.

The mystery was so well-plotted and I absolutely adored the podcast elements incorporated throughout. Podcasts are definitely a popular plot device over the past couple of years and it felt very natural within this story.

Holly Jackson has such a pleasing writing style. The setting, format and fantastic characters in these stories will keep me coming back for more as long as she keeps writing them!

I cannot wait for the next book in the series!!!

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Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The CousinsThe Cousins by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The wealthy Story family is practically royalty on Gull Cove Island, a remote vacation destination off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

They own the largest resort on the island and everyone knows them. Twenty-five years ago, the family matriarch, Mildred, suddenly disowned her four children, essentially banishing them from the island.

These children are now adults and three of them have children of their own. Aubrey, Jonah and Milly, although cousins, hardly know each other, having only met a handful of times.

Seemingly out of the blue, all three Story grandchildren receive invitations from the Grandmother they have never met, to travel to the island for the summer and work at the Gull Cove Resort.

All three teens think that this sounds like a terrible way to spend the summer, but they aren’t really given an option.

Their parents see this as a chance to get back in Grandma’s good graces and possibly back into an inheritance. Money, as we know, can be a strong motivator.

The cousins meet aboard the ferry to the island and begrudgingly begin to get to know one another.

Before they know it, two hours has gone by, the ferry is docking and their summer of scandal has officially begun!

As to be expected with a novel by Karen M. McManus, this was full of twists and turns the entire way through.

The over-the-top drama was compelling and I was so into finding out all of the Story family’s deepest secrets. There was a lot to unpack.

Milly, Aubrey and Jonah were each unique, with their own insecurities and hang-ups. I liked how their relationships evolved over the course of the story, as they began to work together to get to the bottom of why their parents got disowned.

In addition to the current timeline, there was also a past perspective following Milly’s Mom, Allison, in the summer leading up to their being disinherited. Eventually, it all pieces together into a more than startling conclusion.

This is a super quick read and I had a lot of fun with it. What’s not to love about a remote seaside setting, a possible inheritance, decades old family secrets and rich people drama?

Incidentally, I live on a remote island off of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, so can attest to the setting being well done. I loved that McManus even used the actual name of the ferry company that services our island.

Details like that made me feel connected right away.

I am so glad that I finally got around to picking this one up and now can anxiously anticipate her next release, You’ll Be the Death of Me!

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Review: In the Hall With the Knife by Diana Peterfreund

In the Hall with the Knife (Clue Mystery, #1)In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

In the Hall with the Knife was so much fun and the exact vibe I was hoping for.

This story brought all of the Clue movie over-the-top drama and I was living for it.

I decided to pick up this novel over Halloween week. I had no idea how perfect that choice would end up being.

Set at a posh boarding school, Blackbrook Academy, on the coast of Maine, this story follows multiple perspectives including Peacock, Green, Mustard, Scarlet and Mrs. White.

When a winter storm hits, the academy’s access to the mainland gets cut off, stranding a hand full of students, the headmaster and a couple of other school employees.

They corral everyone into Tudor House, which seems to be a highpoint and therefore escaped major flooding and damage.

The manse generally acts as a girls boarding house, with Mrs. White at its head, but they manage to find room for everyone.

The house includes all of the stately charm you would anticipate with hardwoods, stained glass, and rooms such as the lounge, billiard room and conservatory. Oh, and secret passageways, don’t forget the secret passageways.

When on the first night, the headmaster ends up dead, our intrepid characters are left to figure out what happened.

Some suggest an accident, other suggest suicide, but very quickly it is clear that it was murder.

I had a ton of fun reading this. It was campy, it was ridiculous and I thought it was a blast.

I think if you go into it with the right mindset, you will have fun with it to. It is definitely not a story to take too seriously.

I’m actually really excited to pick up the next installment. This one left off at an interesting and sinister spot.

I want more!!!

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Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Broken ThingsBroken Things by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Five years ago, Summer Marks was brutally murdered and left in the woods of her hometown.

The belief is that she was killed by her two best friends, Mia and Brynn, in a horrific, ritualistic style.

The girls were obsessed with a fantasy book called, The Way Into Lovelorn, and apparently, something found within those pages whipped them into a murderous frenzy. The thing is though, they didn’t do it.

Broken Things begins with Brynn finally being forced to leave the rehab center she has been residing in. She’s really never lived on the outside since Summer’s death.

Mia has continued living with her Mom in her childhood home, now packed to the gills due to her Mother’s hoarding habits.

During an effort to do a major clean out, Mia finds the old copy of The Way Into Lovelorn under a mass of garbage. This discovery hacks open old wounds and reinvigorates Mia’s desire to find out the truth of what happened to Summer.

Since they were separated during their police interviews, Mia and Brynn have not spoken. As Brynn is released, they are suddenly and unexpectedly reunited.

Rejoining is cold at first. It’s hard for them to communicate, but as time passes, they begin to open up with one another and it becomes clear they both have information about Summer’s death that they’ve never revealed before.

I was so immersed in this novel. The toxic friendship, the mystery, the side characters and the exploration of sexuality were all so well done. I read it incredibly quickly. Once I started, I could not put it down.

I was getting heavy Slender Man vibes, which was great. The way the girls backstory was told, it sort of gave this is this supernatural, is it not feeling; especially in the beginning. I dig that vibe.

Additionally, I loved the book-within-a-book portions in regards to the Lovelorn content.

There were portions from the original book, as well as excerpts from the fanfic sequel the girls were writing together. It was clear Summer was the most passionate about their project and she sort of steamrolled the other girls to get her way.

It’s funny, although we never met her in the current timeline, and she was the murder victim, to me, Summer was the least likable character.

Watching Brynn and Mia struggle through years of abuse in the public because of something they were accused of doing, but were innocent of, also made me feel protective of, and attached to them in a weird way.

I thought the mystery of Summer’s murder was intriguing.

Of course, Oliver also incorporated one of my favorite tropes, amateur sleuthing, as the girls, Mia and Brynn, try to piece together what actually happened on the day Summer died.

For a backlist book I never hear anyone talking about, I was really impressed with this. I thought it was engaging the entire way through and I enjoyed the overall way the story was told.

I will definitely be picking up more from Lauren Oliver in the future!

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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.

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

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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