Review: The Other Lola by Ripley Jones

The Other LolaThe Other Lola by Ripley Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Other Lola is a follow-up to the 2023-release, Missing Clarissa. These are YA-Mystery stories following two main characters: Blair and Cam.

In Missing Clarissa, Cam and Blair investigate the disappearance of popular cheerleader, Clarissa Campbell, who went missing from their small town of Oreville, Washington, 20-years before.

It starts as a project for their high school Journalism class and ends up being a viral podcast, as well as a life-endangering pursuit of amateur sleuthing.

At the end of the Clarissa case, Cam and Blair had sudden fame, but with it, a lot of unwanted attention. They vowed to never do it again; to stick their noses in where they don’t belong, to make a podcast, none of it.

Then they meet Mattie, a Freshman at their high school. Mattie shows up on the literal doorstep, begging for the girls’ help with an unsettling family situation.

Mattie’s sister, Lola, disappeared mysteriously five years ago. The thing is, Lola has returned. She’s not talking about where she has been all these years, and Mattie is convinced she’s an imposter, but no one else believes Mattie; not her mother, not her brother, Luke, no one.

Blair and Cam, Blair in particular, are moved by Mattie’s story. They seem so passionate about it. It couldn’t hurt to help them out, could it? Look into it a little…

Before they know it, the two are neck deep in another dangerous investigation, but with secrets between them, how will they ever be able to get to the bottom of someone else’s twisted family drama?

I was intrigued by this initially, and did enjoy following Cam and Blair during the investigation. For me, it wasn’t quite as compelling as the first book, but yeah, still a solid story.

The audiobook has great narration and I would recommend that format. I was able to fly through this story and I did find that the narrator helped to keep me engaged, even when I was rolling my eyes a little bit.

I felt like, and I could be misremembering, but for me, personal issues for Blair and Cam took much more of a front seat in this one than the first book. In a way, this almost felt like a straight YA Contemporary story, with a slight mystery happening in the background.

By this I mean, the mystery almost took a back seat to Cam and Blair’s interpersonal dramas. With this being said though, I do really enjoy both Cam and Blair as characters and I love their friendship.

So, it’s not like I was disappointed with those aspects of the story, it just seemed more difficult to get as invested in the mystery surrounding Lola because of it.

Additionally, there were things at the end that I found unsatisfying; that just didn’t make sense. I am mainly referring to the events following the big reveal, so sadly, I can’t comment more without giving the ending away.

Overall though, I still enjoyed Cam and Blair, their friendship and the idea of two smart high school girls taking on the world and solving mysteries. That’s a fun concept, which is fairly well executed within these stories.

There are hints that there could be more with these characters in the future. I would be interested in picking up future books, if that turns out to be the case.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. The Other Lola is available now!!!

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Review: Dark Corners (Rachel Krall #2) by Megan Goldin

Dark Corners (Rachel Krall, #2)Dark Corners by Megan Goldin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark Corners is the second novel Megan Goldin has written featuring True Crime Podcaster, Rachel Krall. Even though this is the second book with Rachel as a main character, in my opinion, this can be enjoyed as a standalone.

I would recommend the first novel though, The Night Swim, because it is such a great story. Additionally, I would recommend the audiobooks for both of these titles, as the podcasting elements translate so well to that format.

This story begins shortly after Rachel finishes up her investigation that was covered in the first book. She has just returned home and is ready for a little R&R. It’s at that time, of course, that she receives an intriguing call from an FBI Agent located in Florida.

He’s working an active missing person case. It’s a bit of an odd case and he is seeking Rachel’s help. Unable to resist temptation to learn more about the case, Rachel agrees to meet with him. She packs her bag and heads out.

The missing person in question is Maddison Logan, a young influencer with a huge social media following. She had recently been to visit a man, Terence Bailey, imprisoned on a B&E charge, but long suspected of actually having been responsible for the deaths of six women.

Shortly after leaving the prison, Maddison disappears. The FBI have hit a dead end. Maddison’s life is a complete mystery. She doesn’t even use her real name. How are they ever going to find out more about her?

Thus, Rachel gets shoved into the world of high-profile influencers. Creating a fake Instagram account, Rachel is able to infiltrate BuzzCon, a popular influence conference, which happens to be underway in the local area.

There Rachel learns more about the influencer culture, Maddison and the people she associates with online. Per usual, Rachel is like a dog with a bone when it comes to investigating crimes. She won’t give up until she gets answers. The FBI definitely called on the right girl.

I really enjoyed this one. I was a bit nervous going in, because I had read some less than stellar early reviews, but luckily, for me, this was a hit rather than a miss.

I became invested in the mystery early and felt the audiobook was an incredible way to experience it. I liked the examination of influencer culture and the convention was a great way for Rachel to immerse herself in that community.

I also found the mystery involving Terence Bailey and Maddison’s disappearance so interesting. There were a lot of moving pieces and it wasn’t always as easy to make out who was who, but I feel like it had a way of working itself out.

There were moments where I would start to get confused amongst the characters, but overall, I feel like Goldin pulled it together as the reveals were starting to happen.

There was a romance subplot, which I’m on the fence about. I could have taken it, or left it far behind. I ended up really liking the love interest, so I’m ultimately okay with it and actually hope they are in future books.

With this being said, at no time during The Night Swim did I ever think, you know what would make this better? If Rachel had a man? Never once.

Of course, if that is my biggest meh-moment with this story, I would say that’s pretty good. I’m not sure what the plans are for Rachel Krall. If there are going to be more books in this series, or not. I certainly hope so.

I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys taut and compelling mysteries, with a True Crime podcast element. I think these mysteries are well plotted and there are exciting twists and turns along the way.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I look forward to more from Megan Goldin!

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Review: Night Will Find You by Julia Heaberlin

Night Will Find YouNight Will Find You by Julia Heaberlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Night Will Find You introduces the Reader to Vivvy Bouchet, an astrophysicist with special gifts. Since she was 10-years old, and made a predication that saved a boy’s life, Vivvy has been navigating the voices in her head.

Her visions are completely at odds with the science she is trained in, but Vivvy can’t deny the validity of either.

The boy she saved all those years ago, Mike, is now a Fort Worth cop. He’s never forgotten Vivvy’s abilities. Therefore, as he struggles to solve a high-profile cold case of a missing young girl, he reaches out to Vivvy for help.

It’s a bit of a last resort, but Mike really believes Vivvy could be able to lead them to the truth behind this girl’s disappearance. While Vivvy isn’t crazy about the idea, or the potential spotlight it could bring, she reluctantly agrees.

After Vivvy’s involvement in the case becomes known to a popular Texas podcaster, Bubba Guns ((read Alex Jones)), known for spewing inflammatory conspiracy theories, he begins talking about her on his show.

He holds nothing back, questioning Vivvy’s abilities, her career, her past, and the sanity of the police department for seeking her help in the first place. Bubba’s focus on Vivvy unfortunately brings her a lot of unwanted attention.

Unable to stomach the lies being spread about her, Vivvy decides to fight back. Of course this does nothing but get the snowball moving faster down the hill.

Vivvy needs to solve this case and quickly. Will she ever be able to get her normal life back?

This was a bit of mixed bag for me, but overall I did enjoy it. The audiobook is narrated by one of my favorites, Karissa Vacker, and I recommend that format. I think Vacker’s narration definitely contributed to my enjoyment and how quickly I was able to finish it.

The MC, Vivvy, in particular, was very interesting. I enjoyed learning about her past and her odd relationships with her family members. If there were more books with her as the main character, I would pick them up. It would be interesting to see where she goes from here.

I wasn’t necessarily into the podcaster, or conspiracy theory elements, in this context. I’ll admit, my eyes sometimes glazed over in those sections. I wish this could’ve just focused on the missing person case.

I recognize that is a personal taste issue, however, and many Readers may find that interesting. It just didn’t end up working for me.

With this being said, I did think the mystery was well plotted. That’s why I am thinking if this were a series, the next book could work even better for me, if it didn’t have the podcasting angle.

Overall, I would recommend this to Readers who enjoy stories where people with psychic abilities aid law enforcement with missing persons cases. The mystery itself was its strongest point, IMO.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Karissa Vacker’s narration, unsurprisingly, receives two thumbs up!

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Review: None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

None of This Is TrueNone of This Is True by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lisa Jewell’s latest Psychological Thriller grabbed my attention from the start and held it all the way through. This was absolutely addictive!!

When I first heard about this, I could hardly believe it. A story that follows two women turning forty-five, and I am turning forty-five this year. It can’t be coincidence…

I just knew I was going to love it and per usual, I was right. Not only did I love it, I freaking loved it. This will definitely be on my Favorites of the Year list.

An added treat was Buddy Reading it with my beautiful niece, Lyss. I definitely recommend it for Buddy Reads or Book Clubs. There’s a lot to discuss.

This story follows two women, Alix Summers, a popular podcaster, and Josie Fair, an unassuming woman, whose profession is so inconsequential, I can’t recall it.

Alix and Josie bump into each other for the first time in the bathroom of a local pub, coincidentally on the day they were both turning 45. They were birthday twins!

Shortly after, they bump into each other again outside of the school that Alix’s children currently attend, and Josie’s attended years ago.

As they are chatting, Josie, who has listened to Alix’s podcast, pitches an idea to her. Alix should do a podcast focusing on Josie’s life.

Josie tells Alix that she is on the brink of making some very drastic changes and she’d like Alix to document the process.

Even though Alix finds Josie’s vibe unsettling, she admits there’s something fascinating about her. She is intrigued.

Unable to resist temptation to dig into Josie’s life, Alix accepts her offer and begins to record the podcast, inviting Josie to her home studio for interview sessions.

From that point on, the women’s lives become entangled. It doesn’t take long for Alix to suspect that Josie is so much more than she initially appeared. Josie is a smart woman, who happens to be hiding some very dark secrets.

Josie infiltrates Alix’s life so deeply, she eventually ends up living at her house. Alix hardly knows how any of this happened and then suddenly, Josie’s gone. That’s when Alix’s real nightmare begins.

I was completely swept up in the lives of these two women. I loved the back and forth, learning about their past and present circumstances. Their dynamic, as well, was fascinating.

Right off the bat, I was intrigued and I felt like I was being misdirected in some way. The path the story took, I was never quite sure who I could trust.

As the story progresses, it’s like a veil being pulled from your eyes, but I still couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was so twisted!

I absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys fast-paced and tense Psychological Thrillers. Bonus points if you have enjoyed Jewell’s work in the past, or love stories that incorporate a podcast, or true crime, element.

For the record, I thought Jewell nailed the podcast turned True Crime documentary angle. Additionally, her use of mixed media, with the sections from the Netflix series, was amazingly well done; round of applause.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was an absolute blast to read. I cannot wait to pick up more from this author!

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