Review: Murder on The Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict

Murder On The Christmas ExpressMurder On The Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Murder on The Christmas Express is an engaging and dramatic Locked Room Mystery by Alexandra Benedict.

This story is set aboard a Sleeper Train, traveling from London to the Scottish Highlands, on Christmas Eve.

I have a thing for stories set on trains. It’s one of my favorite set-ups and this story did not disappointment in that regard.

I was a little nervous starting this one, since the overall rating seemed on the low-end for a newer release. I almost didn’t pick it up because of that. I’m so glad I ignored the rating and gave it a go. It sure paid off for me.

This story mainly follows Roz Parker, a former Met Detective, who is about to become a Grandmother for the first time. She’s traveling on the train to try to reach her pregnant daughter’s side before Christmas.

Unfortunately, due to a severe storm, the train schedules are a mess, with many routes cancelled. This Sleeper Train is the only way to get to the Highlands for the holiday.

Eighteen passengers. Seven stops. One killer.

That tagline sold me, and for the most part, I feel like this story delivered on that. It did give me what I was looking for. I’ll admit, initially, the writing style did feel a little wonky. It took me a minute to get myself grounded in this author’s style and to connect with the narrative voice.

I did end up enjoying Roz quite a bit. Her no-nonsense attitude drew me in. She’s tough, but she’s also at a turning point in her life and still grappling with some earlier trauma that’s had a hold on her ever since. In that regard, I found her realistic and relatable.

We did get various other perspectives as well and some of those were a little strange. I did feel most connected when I was reading from Roz’s perspective.

The other passengers are quite a mix and it was fun watching them all interact. There’s some real jerks aboard, make no mistake about that. I tend to really enjoy an unlikable cast of characters though, and that was definitely the case here.

There is a murder foreshadowed in the beginning and then it takes a wee bit to catch up with that event. I had a lot of theories as the story was building-out.

I liked how this is a true locked room mystery. That type of set-up, figuring out how the killer would have been able to achieve their goal is always so fun for me and I enjoyed Roz trying to piece it together here.

There were many red herrings and false leads. Enough to keep me engaged and guessing throughout. Some things I got right, others I didn’t, but regardless of the outcomes, I enjoyed scratching my head about it.

I think some Readers may have been turned off by the repetitive theme of sexual assault and its aftermath. I think perhaps this was marketed as a Cozy Mystery and you generally wouldn’t explore that type of thing to the depths that this story does in a Cozy.

I will say, for me, I didn’t think this was a Cozy going in, so didn’t end up having that experience with it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Cozy with a black cover, so when I picked this up, I was just expecting a straight-forward Adult Mystery, which I would argue this is.

Either way, Readers should be aware that this does discuss sexual assault, as well as abuse, in detail on page. If that could be triggering for you, proceed with caution.

For me, I was much more invested in the actual mystery than in the side details of the characters lives, so that portion of it didn’t really impact me. Further, I think just anticipating an Adult Mystery, versus a Cozy, I felt this fell right in line with my expectations.

While this isn’t perfect, I enjoyed it a lot. The ending dragged a bit, but I still felt it to be a solid Locked Room Mystery. The train setting was an absolute delight and I always love when inclement weather traps characters in an unsavory circumstance.

Thank you to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, for providing me a with a copy to read and review.

I had fun with this and would actually love to see another story with Roz Parker in the lead. Perhaps she can solve a New Years Eve murder next?

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Review: The Chateau by Jaclyn Goldis

The ChateauThe Chateau by Jaclyn Goldis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


When Darcy’s Grandmother, the elegant, yet aging, Séraphine Demargelasse, invites Darcy and her four best girlfriends to her French Chateau for a luxury Girls Getaway, they can hardly say no.

The women all studied together in France 20-years earlier and they spent many weekends at Séraphine’s. It was at that time, their life-long bonds of friendship were formed, including with Séraphine. It is a beautiful spot, with many beautiful memories.

Prior to the trip, Séraphine tells Darcy she wants to discuss her will with her. This sets a bit of an ominous tone and Darcy wonders if her Grandmother is unwell.

The trip starts off fine, with everyone getting used to being in each other’s company again, enjoying the sights and accommodations. It’s clear they’re hiding some things from one another, but what friendship group doesn’t?

After a boisterous evening celebration, Séraphine is found murdered. Everyone is in shock. Who could have done this?

There’s a limited number of guests, it had to be one of them, but why? Who would want poor Séraphine dead? What is there to gain?

From there the story follows the various characters as the investigation into the murder begins. Everyone is a suspect and in kind, they slowly begin to fall apart.

Here’s the thing, starting off, I was very intrigued by this. I love a story that follows friends, or family, traveling together, staying in remote locations on holiday. I like learning about the characters and their varied lives.

This started out strong with that set-up and while the characters weren’t particularly likable, I never mind that. I like when you get everyone’s perspective in a friendship group, because no matter how close they are, there’s always something: secrets, resentments, betrayals, etc. I love watching it all come to light. I’m here for the drama.

Unfortunately, about halfway through this just fell off a cliff for me. It felt like it was trying to do too much and with so much thrown in, it made everything feel less impactful.

There is a betrayal revealed that turned me off. It’s weird because I’ve read that same thing before, but the way it was done here, I was just over it. I can’t even really explain why.

I don’t think it was necessarily that betrayal though, like the circumstance, that killed this for me, but more like from that point on, every subsequent thing the author threw at us had me tuning out more and more. It was a turning point.

Additionally, I didn’t feel invested enough in the mystery. I didn’t really care who did it. I hadn’t felt connected in any way to Séraphine and her murder hardly felt gripping.

I realize that sounds awful, but I just wasn’t invested enough to care, I guess.

I wanted more intrigue, suspense and nail-biting moments. Instead I feel like it turned into more of a character study than a murder mystery.

Again, I feel like the downfall of this book is that it tried to do too much. It diluted the impact with so many things happening concurrently. Like the Van Gogh thing??? Completely unnecessary, IMO.

I feel like I’ve said enough at this point. You get it. I really wanted to like this one, but it ended up being a big miss for me. I tried, I did, but overall, pure mehhhhhhh.

Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Even though this wasn’t my cup of tea, I would be willing to pick up this author’s next book. I’m a firm believer in second chances!

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Review: Thin Air by Kellie M. Parker

Thin AirThin Air by Kellie M. Parker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What would you be willing to do for a cash prize that would pay your way through college?

Would you betray a friend? How about your best friend? Would you lie about skills, goals and accomplishments? Would you kill the competition? Literally.

In Thin Air we meet Emily, whose family has fallen on hard times. Emily is 17-years old and attends a prestigious private school, but with things the way they are, there’s no way she will be able to afford college.

Emily has won the chance to travel to London, along with 11-other students from various private schools, to compete for a chance of a huge cash prize/scholarship, as well as invaluable connections for her future.

She’s just a plane flight away from financial freedom. All 12-contestants board the same flight from Chicago to London, where they believe the competition will begin.

Before they’ve even fully settled into the gorgeous chartered flight however, it becomes clear that someone amongst them would do anything to win.

Two Truths and Lie. You’ve heard of it. Imagine if someone dug up dirt on you and forced you to play? What if there were no lies and all your deepest secrets were revealed?

This contest is no joke. Then the bodies start dropping.

I was really looking forward to Thin Air as it has many tropes that I tend to enjoy and actively seek out. We have private school students, a competition, dark secrets, a locked room mystery and murder.

In theory, this sounded perfect and initially, I was intrigued by the set-up. The story starts at the airport, as the teens are getting ready to board the ill-fated flight. We learn about some of the contestants and our MC, Emily, in particular.

One of the things we learn about Emily is that she’s a bit hyper-focused on her relationship status and the various boys around her. That concern tracks throughout the story, much to my chagrin.

I get crushing on boys. Especially when you are meeting new ones. It’s fun to flirt and get to know someone, imagining the possibilities, however one would think after bodies start piling up, you may be able to pump the brakes on those thoughts for a moment, but I digress.

So, yeah, within the first 15% of the novel, I was intrigued by the set-up. It actually reminded me a lot of Lying in the Deep which I gave 5-stars earlier this year, except set on a plane versus a cruise ship. I was interested in seeing what was going to play out on this flight.

Unfortunately, for me, it just never took off. There were too many characters, who seemed so much alike that it was difficult to track who was who. They all seemed interchangeable. Even towards the end, I would read a name and be like, who ‘dis?

In addition, the thoughts of the MC never tracked for me compared with the circumstances she was in. People were getting murdered. There was an imminent threat to her life. In fact, she was even one of the prime suspects, but she was still just so concerned about the damn boys.

I’m really not sure why that frustrated me so much, but as you can tell, it did. It was like once I had it in my head, it’s all I could think about and the whole thing just became an annoyance.

It ended up taking me just a few days short of a month to read. There were moments where I was invested, but as soon as I put it down, I would have to force myself to pick it up again. There was nothing drawing me back in.

I’m not sure if that can solely be blamed on my dislike for the MC, or something more. The premise was great, but I just didn’t feel the execution delivered all it could have.

I love YA Thrillers. I read a lot of them. I know some of you may be thinking, I’m old, this wasn’t written for me and I get that, but I’m not lying when I say that I love this genre.

I am constantly searching out new authors in this space to obsessed over. Sadly, this one was a disappointment for me. I couldn’t wait for it to be over and it certainly wasn’t over soon enough.

With this somewhat harsh opinion out of the way, I will say I know many Readers will enjoy it. If you’re one of them, I am genuinely happy you had a great experience with it.

There’s a Reader for every book and book for every Reader. The fact that this didn’t work for me, really means nothing in the scheme of things. If this one sounds intriguing to you, give it a go. You may end up finding a new favorite.

Thank you to the publisher, Razorbill, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it!

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Review: The Lodge by Sue Watson

The LodgeThe Lodge by Sue Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Deep, dark secrets and non-stop drama are certainly a family affair in Sue Watson’s The Lodge!!!

In this story we follow the Wilson family, who all get called to a weekend getaway at a remote lodge by the matriarch of the family, Angela. It’s a complicated dynamic, but Angela is ready to celebrate her 75th-birthday and she wants her whole family there.

Thus, she rents the Lodge and invites her son, Scott, his ex-wife, Fiona, his new wife, Danni, who once played the role of the other woman, and their baby, as well as Scott and Fiona’s two teenagers.

Thrown in just for fun is a young woman named Jenna, who claims to be a professional chef. As Danni and Scott react to Jenna’s presence though, it’s clear she may not be exactly who she’s selling herself as.

The story is told mainly through Fiona and Danni’s perspectives, but we do get some others in different sections. I found both women’s thoughts fascinating from the start and wanted to know more about their lives.

They’re both feeling self-conscious going into the weekend and they’re also bringing a lot of preconceived notions in with them. Both are mothers and also have a natural instinct to do whatever they can to protect their children.

When a terrible storm hits and the Wilson family is trapped at the Lodge, with no end in sight, tensions rise to an unbearable level. People begin to break and cracks are revealed amongst the many relationships.

Will anyone make it out of the Lodge unscathed?!

The Lodge was highly addictive and entertaining as all heck. It was actually my first Watson novel, but certainly won’t be my last. I look forward to many, many more in the future.

I listened to the audiobook and found the narration to be a perfect fit for the story. It drew me in right away and I felt like I was actually getting to know these characters; hearing their stories told their own way.

I vibed with Fiona immediately, and she continue to be my fave throughout. Although not perfect, I could see where she was coming from and definitely related to some of her feelings and motivations.

This story starts off rather quickly, throwing the Reader right into the enticing set-up, with all of the family coming together at the Lodge. You can tell right away that everyone is keeping secrets, but what are they and how big of a blowout are they going to make when they’re revealed?

In addition to the secrets, not a lot of great choices are made either and this definitely adds to the fun of the story. I just love characters making bad decisions.

The drama level just got deeper and deeper too as the story went on and more and more secrets came to light. It was freaking fascinating. I couldn’t get enough.

Towards the end, a couple details didn’t quite work for me, or felt a little too convenient, but overall, I think this was really well done. A great Winter Weather Thriller!

I definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a dramatic story, particularly with an extended family involved who have a lot of secrets from one another. Also, I recommend this to Readers who enjoy closed-circle mystery/thrillers that feature inclement weather.

Thank you to the publisher, Bookouture Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was a ton of fun!

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Review: Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz

Suddenly a MurderSuddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suddenly a Murder is a fun and engaging YA Mystery from debut author, Lauren Muñoz.

As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to pick it up. The setting is a 1920s-theme party that ends in murder…on an island! This was screaming Classic Mystery feel to me, and that’s something I have soooo been into this year.

This story follows a group of teens who have just graduated from high school. Before they go their separate ways, their queen bee, Kassidy, plans an OTT-all expenses paid, 1920s-themed week at the lavish, Ashwood Manor, set on Sparrow Island, off the coast of Maine.

Frankly, if that alone doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what else to say.

I suppose I should give you a little more though. So, basically, Kassidy is the organizer of the entire weekend.

She’s super wealthy and is footing the bill for the entire event. Not only does this include the rental of the extravagant, and completely secluded island property, but it also includes all the 1920s-themed wardrobes and accoutrements for the guests.

All is going well, I mean except for the occasional teen drama, or spat, obviously to be expected, until the very unexpected happens.

Before dinner one night, Kassidy’s boyfriend, Blaine, is discovered dead in his room. Desperate and afraid, the teens call the authorities, who make it just in time, before a ferocious storm stops ferry travel to-and-from the island.

Murder, they say. But can that possibly be true? Who of the group of friends could possibly commit murder, and why?

Y’all, this was a fantastic set-up by Muñoz. I love how she brought that classic feel we all know and love, whilst seamlessly making it modern and engaging enough for the next generation of Mystery Readers.

I was pulled in right from the very start, as our group of characters is making their way out to the island. We begin to learn a bit about each of the guests for the week, as well the relationships and history they have amongst themselves.

Isadora, Izzy, is our main character that we come to know and love, or at least I did, over the course of the story. She is a bit of an outsider with this group, even though Kassidy is her tried-and-true best friend.

Izzy’s Mom is a teacher at the prestigious academy from which the teens just graduated. Izzy was able to attend due to scholarship, unlike all of her other friends, whose parents could more than afford the pricey tuition.

Because of this, and other experiences, Izzy provides a bit of a different insight into the events than the other teens.

There are some hints dropped in this one where I was like, could this be the answer? But honestly, I didn’t figure this one out until about 80% of the way through, and even then, I didn’t figure it all out. Some aspects I still needed the characters to fill in the blanks for me.

I thought this was a ton a fun. I feel like Muñoz plotted the murder mystery aspects so well, while also including some more heavy-hitting topics for consideration.

In my opinion. the story overall was really well balanced and it definitely kept me engaged throughout.

I definitely recommend this to any Reader who enjoys a YA Mystery/Thriller with well-developed characters, lush atmosphere and rich people behaving badly. Bonus points if you enjoy reading about private school students and drama.

Thank you so much to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this and cannot wait to read more from this author!!

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Review: A Murder is Announced (Miss Marple #5) by Agatha Christie

A Murder is AnnouncedA Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

As some of you may know, one of my 2023-Reading Goals is to read all of the full-length novels in the Miss Marple series in order.

A Murder is Announced is the third novel in the series and generally considered one of the best. I had been greatly anticipating this one and had so much fun with it.

Christie’s stories are complete nostalgia for me. They’re comfort reads and this one, the classic set-up, it felt completely her.

This one is set in the village of Chipping Cleghorn and follows the events that occur after the local Gazette runs an advertisement stating, A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.

No one knows what it means, but the village is a titter about it. Many locals decide there is only one way to find out, thus arriving at the stated destination at the appointed time.

As they gather in the residence, without warning the lights are extinguished and a gun is fired. As the lights come back on, a gruesome scene awaits them.

Who is the victim? Who is the killer and why?

As with the previous novels, Miss Marple wasn’t in the house at the time of the crime, but gets consulted after due to her expertise in such affairs.

This had a big cast of quirky characters and it was fun trying to work out all the connections and varied relationships. There is also talk of an inheritance of sorts and I always love that trope.

I wasn’t necessarily trying to figure out the whodunit whilst reading this, but I will say, the reveal did surprise me. I feel like Christie succeeded in pulling the wool over my eyes; a misdirection, if you will.

Overall, I loved it. It was such a great mystery, with intriguing twists that did ultimately surprise me.

Also, I feel like we got more face time with Miss Marple in this one and she was in more danger than ever before. It was tense and intriguing. Well done!

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Review: Murder on the Safari Star (Adventures on Trains #3) by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Murder on the Safari Star (Adventures on Trains #3)Murder on the Safari Star by M.G. Leonard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Murder on the Safari Star is the 3rd-installment of my new favorite Middle Grade series. I adored the first two books and this one was more of the same.

After train journeys in his native-UK and in the USA, it’s now February holiday and this time Hal is joining his Uncle Nat in South Africa for a trip on the classic Safari Star.

Arriving in South Africa, Hal is itching for a new mystery. Having successfully solved mysteries aboard the Highland Falcon and the California Comet, Hal has earned himself a bit of a reputation; a young-Sherlock, if you will.

I love how quickly these books kick-off. The authors definitely know how to grab the Reader’s attention. Within 10%, we’re already in South Africa, boarding the train and meeting the players of our soon-to-be mystery.

As with the earlier stories, there is a character Hal’s age on the train, Winston, who he quickly befriends and works with to solve the case. Bonus, Winston’s pet mongoose, Chipo, who brings a heavy dose of cuteness to the story.

Cute animals aside though, you should be warned, this mystery is the most sinister and dangerous yet!

We have a death on the train. The person involved was in a locked room. Most people suspect it was an accident, unfortunate, but nothing to be too alarmed over.

Hal, who was outside the room at the time, doesn’t believe it was an accident, but he’ll have to prove it, if anyone is going to believe him. The investigation begins.

I was so intrigued by this one. The person involved was absolutely vile and had insulted, or angered, pretty much every other passenger on the train, including his own family. This left Hal with a lot of suspects.

I loved how it was a classic and true locked-room mystery. How could the killer have pulled it off?

It was fun watching Hal try to work through it all. There was even a scene where his Uncle Nat helped him to reconstruct the crime to try to find answers. It was adorable.

I became quite invested in certain characters and felt my heart-rate rising as they fell under suspicion. It was gripping until the very end.

Overall, this was an absolutely fantastic installment to the series. It was an incredibly fun mystery to try to solve. The quality of the locked-room set-up would make Dame Christie proud!

I would absolutely recommend this series to Readers of all ages. The books are always engaging and fast-paced, with a great group of characters and wonderful illustrations.

10-out-of-10 recommend!

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Review: Death Comes to Marlow (Marlow Murder Club #2) by Robert Thorogood

Death Comes to Marlow (Marlow Murder Club, #2)Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Death Comes to Marlow is the second book in Robert Thorogood’s Marlow Murder Club Cozy Mystery series.

I had so much fun with the first book, The Marlow Murder Club, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. I felt the cast of characters was very fun and I was anxious to embark on another case with them.

This mystery kicks off when Judith, along with her best friends Suzie and Becks, attend the pre-wedding festivities for Sir Peter Bailey at his stately-mansion on the Thames.

Sir Peter called and invited Judith himself and even though they aren’t technically friends, or even acquaintances for that matter, the way he frames his invitation…well, she just can’t say no. Gathering her troops, Judith is sure that the night will be one to remember.

As it turns out, Sir Peter is marrying his nurse, Jenny, and not everyone in the family is happy about it. There’s even a bit of a scene made by Sir Peter’s son, Tristram, voicing his opinions. Oh, the drama!

That little spat pales in comparison to the what happens next. A large crash from inside the house, draws party-goers to investigate. Shockingly, they find the groom-to-be crushed by a giant wooden cabinet in his office.

Sir Peter doesn’t survive. The police are notified, and since Sir Peter was discovered in his locked office, they do not suspect foul play. It was a horrific accident, pure and simple.

Judith disagrees. She refuses to believe their accident theory. Something doesn’t feel right and she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. Judith, along with Becks and Suzie, begin their own investigation.

It’s clear the police won’t get it right without them.

I did appreciate how quickly Thorogood kicked off this story. There’s not a lot of filler in the beginning. Before you know it the ladies are at the party and the juice is being squeezed.

I loved that we had a classic locked-room mystery on our hands; one of my favorite tropes. I also liked the drama surrounding Sir Peter’s family and the issue of a large inheritance being at stake.

For me, I did find that it dragged a bit around the halfway point. I felt like their investigation was slowing down and there was a little too much focus on side-plots involving the ladies than I necessarily cared for.

I wasn’t really engaged with those aspects and was always just wanting to get back to the mystery of Sir Peter’s death. Because of this, the pace was off for me.

With this being said, I still enjoyed the characters and the cozy feel. I also really enjoyed all the classic-feeling mystery elements, like the detective denouement at the conclusion. That was really fun!

In short, even though this wasn’t quite as fun and engrossing for me as the first book of the series, I will absolutely be picking up the next book when it releases.

Thank you to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I look forward to reuniting with these ladies soon for another case!

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Review: The Night in Question (The Agathas #2) by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

The Night in Question (The Agathas, #2)The Night in Question by Kathleen Glasgow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Night in Question is the second book in The Agathas series by author duo, Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson.

I loved the first book, which was a great start to a YA Mystery series, named because the main characters are such big fans of Dame Agatha Christie. How fun is that!?

Set in Castle Cove, our protagonists are high school girls, Alice and Iris. Initially, they seem like opposites, but become close friends after Iris becomes Alice’s tutor and they’re thrust together into the midst of a perplexing mystery.

These two make quite the detective duo. I just love their friendship. Iris brings with her a lovable group of misfits, who embrace former it-girl, Alice, into their ranks.

Even though Alice and Iris are the stars of the show, the other members of the friend group also become quite involved in their cases, helping where they can.

The mystery in this installment begins at a school dance at the infamous local mansion, Levy Castle. It’s there that a fellow classmate is violently attacked in a secluded room upstairs, far away from the school-sanctioned activity.

Another girl in their class is accused of the crime, but Iris and Alice believe she’s innocent. Determined not to let the real criminal get away, the girls haul out the ole’ murder-board and get to work.

I had a lot of fun with this story. First, I will say, I was a little worried about it going in, that I wouldn’t remember the characters and everything that went on in the first book.

I guess this would be a good place to note that there is a mystery from the past that sort of acts like a subplot to the main mysteries of these stories.

The historical mystery involves a local film star from the 1940s, who actually lived in Levy Castle. It is discussed a bit in the first book and is explored much more in depth here.

I read the first book so long ago, I felt like I may not remember important details. I’m happy to report though, that I had no cause to worry. These authors did a great job providing subtle recaps in relation to that first book.

I really enjoyed how quickly this kicked off as well. Within the first 10-15%, we were already setting up a solid locked-room mystery.

It was funny, the girl who ends up getting accused of the crime, she’s a really rich girl and her Dad is like an important businessman. Alice and Iris go to their house, to offer their help in clearing the girl’s name, and the Dad is all like, who are you? What qualifies you to help my daughter?

He totally underestimated the girl power of our dynamic duo and I was just waiting for him to eat his words. The greatest thing about Alice and Iris is their determination. They go above and beyond to get to the truth; even if it puts them at personal risk.

This mystery got fairly complicated, but it was plotted so well. The used of mixed media added to my engagement level with the story. I always love that.

I also really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know this cast of characters better. It’s clear from the end of this that there is going to be another book in the series; so exciting!

Agatha Christie fans unite!!!

I’m not sure if the Spice Girls are Christie fans, but I feel like they most likely are. Girl power and all that. That’s the exact vibes of this series.

If you love a solid YA Mystery, or Mysteries in general, I would absolutely recommend this series. It’s fast-paced, well-plotted and a ton of fun.

Thank you to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I’m really looking forward to continuing on with this series and as silly as it may sound, cannot wait to see what the cover looks like!!

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Review: Lying in the Deep by Diana Urban

Lying in the DeepLying in the Deep by Diana Urban
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

After being betrayed by her best friend, Lainey, and her boyfriend, Silas, who are now a couple, Jade cannot wait to start her COB-adventure. She needs a way to escape from her regular life and what better way than aboard a shop?

‘COB’ is short for Campus on Board and is essentially a Semester at Sea program that Jade has been anticipating for years. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

Set on a luxury cruise ship, Jade is ready to meet new people and escape from the dark hole she’s been in.

In the line to board though, she’s shocked to see Lainey and Silas. They’re kissing and laughing, clearly happy. Lainey attracting attention, as always. Jade’s stomach drops. What are they even doing here!? This is her thing.

As annoyed as she is by the new couple, Jade is also confused as heck as to how it even happened. She wants answers and become set on getting them.

Luckily, on the ship, Jade’s mostly distracted from her heartache. She’s making new friends, her roommates are supportive, they’re going on excursions at various ports, but Lainey and Silas are never too far from her mind.

With time at sea, the players involved begin to get to know each other fairly well, their various dramas and secrets on full display. Therefore, they all know Jade holds a bit of a grudge against Lainey and Silas.

When there’s a murder, some people suspect Jade. She didn’t do anything, but now needs to prove it, because if she didn’t do it, that means there’s a killer on board.

Along with her new crush, Felix, Jade sets out to get to the bottom of the mystery before more people die.

Lying in the Deep is easily my favorite Diana Urban yet. This was close to a perfect YA Mystery/Thriller for me.

It features a fantastic setting, a varied cast of characters, wildly over-the-top drama, a classic-feeling locked room mystery, a shady corporation housing deadly secrets, blackmail, murder and more…

I had an absolute blast reading it. Lainey and Silas were so unlikable and I loved being on Jade’s side and rooting for her as she tried to survive this dangerous cruise.

There were moments I wanted to shake her, she didn’t always make the greatest choices, but I was invested in her character and her life. The side characters were equally messy and fun. I loved watching their relationships grow and change over the course of the story.

I am an atmosphere-girlie and I loved the setting of the luxury cruise ship. A bunch of students, strangers to one another before boarding, being trapped on a ship together. You just know juicy things are going to go down.

I also liked the idea of the excursions they went on in the various ports. There was always some action happening during those events.

Additionally, I thought the mystery was really well done. I loved how it progressed and the amateur sleuthing aspects involving Jade and Felix were so fun.

I had many theories, some panned out, but a lot didn’t. I didn’t fully catch on to the whodunit until very close to the final reveal. I had a lot of fun getting to that point.

The ending was completely insane, almost too much, but not. I liked it and was fully satisfied with the very final moments. Overall, I think Urban nailed this one.

I definitely recommend for Readers who enjoy a fun and fast-paced YA Mystery-Thriller. The cruise setting makes this the perfect Summer read. Grab your copy now!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Razorbill, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m excited to pick up more from Urban in the future.

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