Review: Bad Like Us by Gabriella Lepore

Bad Like UsBad Like Us by Gabriella Lepore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Bad Like Us is the most recently released YA Mystery from Gabriella Lepore. This fast-paced novel hit shelves in early March and I couldn’t wait to get to it.

After enjoying this author’s last two novels, I was expecting a certain vibe and it delivered exactly what I wanted.

In this story, we’re following a group of teens setting out together to spend Spring Break at a rustic lodge on the Oregon coast. The lodge is owned by one of the teen’s Uncles, making it free and all theirs for the week.

Unencumbered by adult supervision, the kids are looking to party, spend time together and just relax, shaking off recent stressors, of which there are many.

The group, in and of itself, has some complications. At the heart of most of the drama seems to be Piper. Her constant live streams and pot-stirring attitude have everyone on edge. Can’t she give it a break?

It’s not solely Piper though, there are definitely other tensions brimming just under the surface that make the environment, shall we say, touchy.

Our main perspectives are Eva and Colton. I enjoyed both of these characters and the audiobook did have dual narrators which was great for making their voices distinct.

After a night featuring a campfire on the beach, some adult bevys, and high levels of interpersonal drama, one of the teens is found dead the next morning. The police swoop in and a tense investigation into them all begins.

I enjoy the way Gabriella Lepore builds out teen friendship groups. This is a feature of all of the books that I have read from her and I always get pulled into their lives easily. I also feel like the mysteries are always solid and engaging.

I loved the setting of this one and the set-up of the teens being on Spring Break. A lot of secrets are being kept amongst the group and it ended up going much deeper than I initially anticipated, which I appreciated.

Overall, this was another fun one from Lepore. I’ll continue to pick up all of her releases. If you enjoy YA Mysteries, and haven’t read her work yet, you should give her a shot!

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

Lepore never fails to entertain me and I’m looking forward to picking up whatever she puts out next.

Bad Like Us is available now!!

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Review: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Where Sleeping Girls LieWhere Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where Sleeping Girls Lie is a 2024-YA Mystery from Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, author of the successful 2021 YA Mystery, Ace of Spades, which I’ve heard incredible things about.

Even though it’s been sitting on my shelves since 2021, I haven’t yet picked it up, so when I received a surprise Audio ARC of this new book, I was beyond excited to finally be checking out Àbíké-Íyímídé’s work.

In this story, we follow Sade Hussein, who has recently been enrolled in Alfred Nobel Academy. ANA is a prestigious boarding school. Sade is in her third year of high school and ends up starting the school year a little late, following the death of her father.

The action kicks off on Sade’s very first day at the school, as she sees it for the first time and meets Administrators, some students and also her roommate, Elizabeth.

I have to say, I was drawn into this extremely quickly. I love a ‘new girl’ trope and this author nailed it. My favorite aspect of that is just learning about the setting and other characters right along with the new girl.

Previously, Sade has been home-schooled, so this type of environment is completely new to her. She’s a little anxious, still grief-ridden from her father’s passing, but all things considered, the transition seems to be going fairly smoothly.

That is until Elizabeth disappears. The school claims Elizabeth left, that she needed a break, but Elizabeth’s long-time best friend, Baz, isn’t buying it. Sade and Baz begin to bond and Sade agrees that Elizabeth’s sudden departure is suspicious, but why the lies?

Rumors are swirling, drama is occurring and Sade finds herself in the center of a lot of it. When another student is found dead, events are really kicked into high gear.

I thought it would take me a long time to read this book, because it’s a pretty good-sized Mystery, coming in at 416-pages. That wasn’t the case at all though. I flew through it.

It’s such a gripping story, with complex characters, intriguing mysteries, as well as great tone and atmosphere throughout. It’s an incredibly well-written story.

I loved and appreciated how Àbíké-Íyímídé took her time creating the setting and putting Sade’s arrival there in good context. Sade is a character you can really sink your teeth into; there are so many layers to her story.

I also found the mysteries both very intriguing. First, Elizabeth’s disappearance, from what you learned about her in the short time that she and Sade got to know one another, it seemed shady as heck. She wouldn’t just leave.

And the death of the other student, in the context of everything else going on, was shocking. There were definite jaw-drop moments throughout this one for me.

This story gave me everything I wanted. There was a sense of foreboding oozing from every page. I was scared, but in a way where I didn’t even know what I was scared of. I never knew what was going to be revealed next.

The entire story was so compelling. If you enjoy stories set at Private Schools, full of Drama, and wealthy character behaving badly, you have to pick this up.

Additionally, if you enjoy nuanced mysteries with dark shadows lurking around ever corner, you have to pick this up. Or if you just want to see if the hype is real, you have to pick this up. In short, pick it up!

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

This was a delightful surprise and I can’t wait to read more from this author!!

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Review: Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne

Pretty Dead QueensPretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I freaking loved this. A 5-star YA Mystery that’s highly underrated, IMO. Pretty Dead Queens is perfect for fans of Kara Thomas or Karen M. McManus!!

In this story, which is set in a small coastal town called Seaview, in California, we follow 17-year old, Cecelia Ellis, who goes to live with her estranged Grandmother following her Mom’s untimely death.

Cecelia’s Grandmother isn’t an ordinary Grandmother though. She happens to be a world-renowned Mystery author. She’s wealthy, feisty, lives in a gorgeous Victorian mansion, and pretty much has the entire town of Seaview wrapped around her little finger.

As the granddaughter to such a powerful figure, it’s no surprise that once she starts school, Cecelia gets enveloped by the popular crowd.

Her transition to her new environment is going way better than she ever could have expected. She has friends, a comfortable new home and even a couple of love interests. Even though she misses her Mom with every breath, it’s hard to complain about her current circumstances.

The town of Seaview is preparing for Homecoming, which is also a time when they think back on a tragedy that shocked the town decades before, when the Homecoming Queen was slain on the night of her coronation.

50-years earlier, Caroline Quinn’s body was found in the school pool, drowned on what should have been the most fun night of her life. A local man was convicted of the crime and is still serving time in prison.

Cecelia’s grandmother based her first novel on this crime and to this day, it remains one of her most popular stories.

On the Friday of Homecoming weekend, Cecelia finds herself in desperate need of a bathroom. She’s been watching the football game and at halftime all the bathrooms closer to the field are full. She can’t wait.

Cecelia knows there are locker rooms by the pool, so maybe she can find a free stall there. Unfortunately, what she finds instead is a dead body floating in the pool, practically a mirror-image of Caroline, all those years ago.

It seems the town has a copycat killer on their hands. Cecelia becomes obsessed with finding out the truth behind the crime. The dead girl was her friend, she needs to find justice for her, but what if one of her other friends is to blame?

I had so, so, so much fun with this story. The set-up and cast of small town characters were straight out of a classic mystery book. I loved the seaside setting and a new girl trope is something I always enjoy.

I liked how easily Cecelia slipped into her new life. It made sense in the context of who her Grandmother was that everyone would want to be close to Cecelia, and count her as one of their friends. She was an auto-It Girl.

I think Donne did an excellent job of tying in the history of the town, in particular, the case of the murder of Caroline all those years before, with the current mystery. I absolutely love stories that are set in small towns full of secrets, which describes this book to a tee.

I also appreciated how quickly this one kicks off. The setting itself provides a bit of an ominous tone, and you know something is going to happen, but it was fun getting there.

Cecelia also took to her role of amateur sleuth so well. She really wanted answers and was willing to put herself at risk in order to get those answers. I like that. It was dogging her and she wasn’t going to back down.

I feel like in a way, the mystery took her mind off the loss of her Mom, so I’m sure in that respect, it was helpful to her.

The side characters were all great too. I found myself really getting swept up in the town drama. It was interesting to watch Cecelia, as the outsider, navigate it all.

I feel like this is so underrated at this point and I feel like I am going to be championing it from here on out.

If you love YA Mysteries, you should absolutely check this one out. It’s so much fun. It’s got a classic, campy feel that I will always show up for.

Thank you to the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m so sorry it took me such a long time to get to it.

Silver lining: it was well worth the wait!!!

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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: We’ll Never Tell by Wendy Heard

We'll Never TellWe’ll Never Tell by Wendy Heard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though Wendy Heard and I have had a bit of a tumultuous relationship, after reading the synopsis for We’ll Never Tell, I knew I would have to read this one.

With a plot that sounded right up my alley, I decided on a whim to pick it up via audio from my local library. I’m so happy that I did. Not only is it fitting for this Spooky Season, it was also fast-paced and highly engaging.

This YA-story, set in Hollywood, California, follows a group of teens whose viral YouTube channel, We’ll Never Tell, features them trespassing into some of Hollywood’s most notorious locales.

The group of four, Casey, Zoe, Jacob and Eddie, run their channel anonymously and they each bring their own special skills to the table. Their videos are a bit dangerous, but they’re all passionate about it and their channel’s popularity is skyrocketing.

With their Senior year coming to a close, and everyone heading in different directions, they decide to end their journey together with one final banger of a video.

Their last video will feature their exploration of the infamous Valentini Murder House, home to a tragic murder/suicide in 1972.

As the teens are exploring, they’re getting some great footage, when suddenly the alarm is tripped. Knowing the police will be on their way, the teens flee as fast as they can, but unfortunately only three make it out.

Jacob is found in the home, having been stabbed numerous times. Jacob is in rough shape, barely clinging to life and he is rushed to the hospital.

The other three, concerned with getting into trouble if the police know they were there, decide to lie to everyone and tell them that Jacob must have gone there by himself.

The story follows the three remaining teens as they investigate what happened that night, as well as if it could be connected to the crimes of the past. There’s a lot of scrambling, lies and cover-ups, but feeling they have no choice, they plod on as best as they can.

I thought this was quite entertaining. I was hooked by the initial set-up and loved the Hollywood setting. That’s not generally something I would gravitate towards, but I feel like Heard did it so well and brought some of the mystery of old Hollywood glamour to the page.

The characters are highly dramatic and they make terrible decisions, but actually, it was pretty believable. I know I made some dumbass choices as a high school Senior. Don’t tell my parents…

Anyway, yeah. I got invested in this quickly. The mystery was fun. I wasn’t sure who I could trust, including our main girl, Casey. I also really loved the overall is it supernatural, is it not supernatural vibe Heard brought to the page.

I also enjoyed the use of mixed media. It’s not too heavy, but there were some newspaper articles, interviews, etc., that helped build up the intrigue and sense of reality.

The audiobook was fantastically narrated as well, and I would definitely recommend that format for anyone who has easy access to audiobooks. This story plays out quite well in that medium, helping to bring the characters to life.

I definitely would recommend this one to fans of YA Thrillers focusing on a tight-knit friend group and featuring local lore/mysteries. If you love those things, I don’t think this one will let you down!

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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: The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games #3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games, #3)The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

This was solid, but definitely my least favorite so far. I sort of feel like Barnes jumped the shark with this one…

If you get that reference and have read this book, you might be nodding your head right now.

I may also be being a bit hyperbolic with that leading statement, but since The Final Gambit is the third book in the series, I was really hoping to be blown away by it. It’s been such a solid build up to this point. Sadly, I just wasn’t.

Granted, in the whole scheme of things, this is still a good book and the series will always hold a special place in my heart. With this one though, for the first time, I feel like I am reading it more for the brothers than for Avery.

In fact, the ironic part is, I’m really, really looking forward to reading The Brothers Hawthorne, even though this one let me down a little.

I do think Barnes has created a compelling overall story arc with this series and those boys in particular have caused a lot of drama, mixed feelings and general swooning.

I did enjoy how this story covers the final days of the time stipulated in the will, where Avery has to remain living at the Hawthorne mansion before she officially inherits the estate, and all that goes with it.

It was nice to feel that whole ordeal sort of wrapping up. Avery did definitely grow as a character over the course of the trilogy, but I’m not sure I would have made the same choices as her. Perhaps she is just more mature than me.

Overall, while this was my least favorite of the trilogy, it’s clear that JLB is an incredibly talented writer, who knows how to create tension and drama.

As I mentioned above, I am very interested to check out the next book in the series. I am anxious to get more from the boys. I feel like I am going to love it and then all will be right in the universe.

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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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Review: The Last One to Fall by Gabriella Lepore

The Last One to FallThe Last One to Fall by Gabriella Lepore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Last One to Fall is the second novel I have read from Gabriella Lepore. I read This Is Why We Lie in 2021 and had a lot of fun with it.

When I heard Lepore was releasing another YA Mystery-Thriller this year, I was excited to get to it.

This story is set in a small coastal town and it follows six friends after one of them plunges from a warehouse building to their death.

At the very beginning of the story, you know someone has died, but nothing about the incident is clear, not even who the victim is, or if foul play was involved.

Through a couple of different perspectives, as well as some great mixed media usage, the night of the fatal incident is slowly pieced together, until the truth is revealed.

I had fun with this. It’s a good, solid story, full of drama, back-stabbing, secrets and lies. Frankly, we live for that.

I did struggle with my rating. I decided on a 3.5, because I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as This is Why We Lie, which I rated 3.5-stars and rounded up to 4.

I think that’s fair. I feel like, for me, this narrative was a bit of an uneven experience.

My level of commitment to the story got stronger in the second half. The beginning was slow-going and it also had some parental drama effecting the kids and their friendships. I’m not down for that IRL, or on the page.

With this being said, there is quite a bit of family drama, which I do enjoy. Stuff does go down in families, with many barely holding it together. I get it. It’s when parents choose romance, flings, drugs, etc., over their kids well-being that starts to ruffle my feathers.

That is a tiny part of this novel though, I am just using it as an example of why I didn’t enjoy this quite as much. Also, I did find the first half, the relationship dynamics, a little difficult to follow.

In the later part of the novel though, once I had more of a handle of who everyone was and what their role was in the friendship group, I couldn’t put it down. I needed answers. I had no clue what the truth was and it did surprise me.

I did really enjoy the mixed media aspect of this as well. I felt like it added intrigue to the story, as each time it was used it left me with more questions than answers.

Overall, I had fun reading this one. While it probably won’t stick in my mind as a new favorite for 2023, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a solid YA Mystery-Thriller.

Thank you to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a great time trying to figure this one out and will definitely pick up whatever Lepore writes next!

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