Blogtober Book Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

GoodReads Summary:
What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.
Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?
I Killed Zoe SpanosReview:
If you need a mystery/thriller for spooky season, this is the one you need to pick up. This book is almost 400 pages but I had to keep reading until it was finished. I needed to know what really happened and how the story ended. I didn’t love how it concluded, but I loved everything else.
I Killed Zoe Spanos follows a few different perspectives. We get to see ‘now’ and ‘then’ chapters. The story starts with our main character Anna in a juvenile detention center. But then we go back and see her spending her summer in Herron Mills working as a nanny. I think this was of storytelling was so effective. We get to know a bit of the present and a bit of the past and are left wondering the details of what happened in the middle. Frick did an amazing job of giving little bits of the relevant details here and there, just enough to leave the reader wanting more. I don’t usually come up with theories or predictions, but with this book, I had so many that were constantly changing. My first theory that I was so sure was right was completely wrong, but I did have a second one that turned out to be true.
I really liked Anna. She’s a girl that’s let her life get a little out of control. She parties too much and has more nights that she can’t remember than she would like to admit. This is something I can relate to because parts of high school were like this for me as well. So, she moves to Herron Mills for the summer to try to get away from it all. She needs a break and this is her chance. But while she’s there she gets a weird sense of déjà vu, like she’s remembering things that she shouldn’t know. I thought she was an interesting character. She wanted to do the right thing, which led her to get arrested for Zoe’s murder.
We also sort of follow Martina who is best friends with Zoe’s younger sister, Aster. Martina has a podcast all about what happened to Zoe. We get some chapters that are transcripts of the podcast, which I really enjoyed. Martina interviewed people and gave a new perspective to the mystery of what really happened to Zoe. I liked Martina too. She’s Aster’s best friend, but they have issues about the podcast, especially in the later episodes. We also get to see Martina and Aster in the past when they meet Anna for the first time and hang out with her at other points.
Overall, I liked this book so much. It was so good. The different aspects of the story kept me sucked in. I also thought it was interesting that the story for Anna’s ‘then’ chapters were in the first person, but all of the chapters for ‘now’ were in the third person (until the past catches up with the present of course. I am just so impressed by this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

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GoodReads Summary:
In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true-crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way. When another little girl goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers, with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much is she willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth? Dee’s about to find out what’s really at stake in unraveling the mystery of the little girls who vanished.
I Hope You're ListeningReview:
I Hope You’re Listening was provided to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was a ride. I totally thought I had everything figured about what was going on, but boy was I wrong. This story follows Dee ten years after she witnessed her best friend, Sibby, get kidnapped. She was just a child, and powerless to stop her best friend being taken away. In an attempt to try to make a difference in the world (after being unable to help save or find Sibby) she creates a podcast, Radio Silent, that talks about missing persons cases and utilizes the public to help try and solve them. I loved the concept of this podcast. A real-life, true-crime podcast. I thought it was a fascinating idea. I just liked Dee. She never really got over what happened with Sibby. She goes to school and tries to keep a low profile. She has her best friend, Burke, and that’s about it. I liked Burke. He seemed like a good friend to her even though Dee wasn’t always the best to him in this book. I’m happy with how they worked things out toward the end of the book. Now, the romance in the story wasn’t totally necessary. That’s not to say that I didn’t like it. I did like Sarah and Dee together. But I feel like we didn’t get to know Sarah as well as we could have. It was also a bit of insta-love which isn’t my favorite.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It took turns that I wasn’t expecting. It had characters that I was interested to know more about. I think this was a great thriller.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Horrid by Katrina Leno

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Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?
HorridReview:
Horrid was one of my most anticipated releases for the spooky season. I’m really upset to say that I was very disappointed with this book. This book was another that was completely ruined by the ending. I am going to have a bit of a spoiler rant after the last paragraph. I will clearly label when I start with spoiler complaints.
So, this story follows Jane and her mother Ruth as they move from Los Angeles to the middle of nowhere Maine. This is a huge adjustment for Jane. But she’s also dealing with the grief of losing her father. This grief is a huge part of the story and I really appreciated that. It wasn’t just her father is gone, but it really talked about what that meant for Jane. Her father was the one that could help her calm her rage. Now that he’s gone, she’s fallen back into old coping mechanisms: eating pages out of books. This aspect of her character was weird but I sort of understood it on a comfort level. I liked Jane. I felt bad for her, but I liked her. I didn’t like how she clearly knew something was wrong with North Manor (where she and her mother had just moved into) but she wasn’t willing to ask for any real answers about it. It felt obvious that something was wrong and everyone in town knew it. I liked Jane’s relationship with her mother, Ruth. She was obviously closer to her father, but the love between Jane and Ruth is clear and I appreciated that they were doing their best to be there for one another.
I also really liked the new friends that Jane made. She meets Alana and Susie at school. The three become fast friends. I liked them well enough, but the relationships weren’t too deep. I also like Jane’s friendship with her new boss at the coffee shop/book store, Will (who is also Susie’s older brother). They bond over books and coffee and I liked them even though it wasn’t a very developed relationship.
Overall, I enjoyed most of this book. I really liked the spooky aspects, the possibility of a ghost in North Manor. I thought the suspense and the mystery were interesting (though a little obvious). I didn’t love how oblivious Jane was being. She knew there was something wrong in her house and she never pushed when she asked questions and that really bothered me. The ending is what killed my enjoyment of the book. Without spoilers, the book ended at the climax of the story. We’re finally getting all the answers we’ve been searching for the whole story and then we’re still left with so many questions because of the players that were present in the final pages. I’m just really mad about how the story ended and that anger makes it really hard for me to say I liked this book. I felt similarly about Wilder Girls by Rory Power, so if you liked that book, you might like this one. This book has a pretty decent rating on GoodReads, so don’t let this deter you from picking up this book. But if you don’t like unsatisfying endings, this book might not be for you. Now, I’m going to get to spoilers about the ending in the next paragraph.
The spoilers are starting now. The final pages have Jane letting someone die, which is essentially murder, at the guidance of her sister ghost. But it’s never really clear whether the ghost is real or not. The ghost was pretty convincing, but there were hints here and there that made the reader think that there might never have been a ghost and it all could have been Jane. What I’m mad about is that we never got any sort of answers. The book literally ends in the climax of the story. Someone dies and the story just ends. The synopsis says “Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?” and the way that the synopsis is written makes it seem like we will find out whether it is one of those three things, but we don’t. We don’t find out what really happened or what happened in the aftermath and I’m very annoyed by this. I’m just angry and sad because I had really high hopes for enjoying this book. Okay, rage complaining is over. Thanks for reading!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Game by Linsey Miller

GoodReads Summary:
If you loved American Horror Story 1984, you’ll die for this paperback original thriller mash-up of Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C. Murders and Riverdale in which a game turns deadly with a killer who picks his victims one by one, letter by letter.
Every year the senior class at Lincoln High plays assassin. Lia Prince has been planning her strategy for years and she’s psyched that not only does she finally get to play, she’s on a team with Devon Diaz. But this year, the game isn’t any fun–it’s real. Abby Ascher, Ben Barnard, and Cassidy Clarke have all turned up . . . dead. Can Lia stop the ABC killer before he reaches D?
The GameReview:
Big thanks to NetGalley for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I don’t know why, but I almost never actually pick up mystery/thrillers even though when I do, I usually love them. I did enjoy this book. The story follows Lia as she’s in her senior year and the thing she’s been looking forward to since she was a freshman is finally happening. Every year, the senior class plays a game called Assassins. Long story short, it’s manhunt, but with water guns and over a really long period of time. I liked this book I think because it is everything I would have wanted for my senior year. I loved that Lia was so excited about the game. I also really loved that she had her plan so well organized. Lia was an interesting character. She has pretty shitty parents and doesn’t really know what she’s doing after high school, so Assassins is basically the only thing she’s looking forward to. So, when her classmates start dying for real, she’s shaken.
I really liked the cast of characters. Lia’s best friend Gem is not binary with they/them pronouns. I loved Gem. They were so supportive of Lia and being Lia’s best friend really knew what she needed and when. Gem was literally a Gem. They had a crush on their teammate’s sister, May. I loved the little bits and pieces we get of this romance. Then there’s the romance between Lia and her teammate, Devon. I mostly liked the romance, but honestly, I was more invested in Gem and May.
Now, the mystery. I totally figured out who the killer was a little over halfway through the book. But there were two people on my suspect list. One was the killer and the other would have been a great freaking twist had they been the killer. My only issue with the mystery was that the killer’s motivations felt off to me. They literally killed three people and tried to kill two more, over something really insignificant in the bigger picture.
Overall, this was a fun and quick read. I loved the concept and mostly enjoyed the execution. I think I have issues with YA thrillers because I always seem to be able to guess the killer or end result, but that never happens with adult thrillers. This was definitely a fun story though, so check it out!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Hand in the Wall by Maureen Johnson

GoodReads Summary:
Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .
She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.
At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.
Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.
In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.
The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious, #3)Review:
The Hand in the Wall was one of my most anticipated releases. It’s one of the few books I’ve allowed myself to buy this year. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it.
We follow Stevie as she’s solving the mystery of Iris and Alice Ellingham’s kidnapping and murders. Her anxiety is at an all-time high. This was one of my favorite things about this book, her anxiety is portrayed so accurately. She takes medication to calm it and I really appreciate that inclusion.
The mystery is laid out so well. We’re left in suspense, given little bits and pieces at a time. I liked that it wasn’t just dumping the information to tell us what was going on. It gave up nibbles of the whole story. Enough to keep me interested and guess, but not so much that it was spoiled too soon.
I have to talk about David because I honestly love him. He’s kind of a jerk sometimes, but I love him anyway. As for the rest of the characters, I loved them too. Stevie’s friends were a diverse and interesting bunch and their dynamic as friends was one I could get behind.
Overall, I loved this. If you’re a lover of mystery books this series is for you. There are so many little mysteries within the bigger one of solving the cold case of Iris and Alice. I definitely will be recommending this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Seventeen: Thriller Edition

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Hi, lovelies! Let’s talk about the perfect genre for Spooktober: mystery/thrillers. I love me a good thriller as much as the next person, especially this time of year. So, today I’m going to share some of my favorites with you all. I won’t say too much about them, but if they’re on this list I think you should read them.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
I read this one on Halloween last year and it was the perfect book to read. It’s a psychological thriller and things get…weird.

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
The twists and turns in this one were so good that I even got my husband to read it, which says a lot.

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes
This is sort of mystery/thriller combined with historical fiction. It was fast-paced and beyond intriguing.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
I loved her first mystery, but this one was even better. Characters to love and a few different mysteries to keep things interesting.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
I loved this book. I totally did not see the end of it coming. I loved the characters and the atmosphere. It’s the perfect book for this time of year.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
I’m sure this is one that everyone has heard of by now. I read this for book club and it was a wild ride.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
I love this series and I will never stop shouting about it from the rooftops. It has all of the things I love, boarding school, complex characters, the perfect fall read.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
This story told through flashbacks, is full of suspense and build up. I just wanted to know what the hell happened to Monday.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
Listen to the audiobook for this one, you won’t regret it. Two mysteries in one, as we follow Sadie on her journey.

The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
A list of mysteries must always include the Stephanie Plum books. I love these fun mysteries. Plum Spooky would be the perfect one for October.

Under Currents by Nora Roberts
This is the newest of her novels. It did not disappoint. Her books never do. You could pick any of her mysteries and they would be perfect for this month.

Any of these books would be great choices for your Spooktober TBR list this month. Let me know what mystery/thrillers that I don’t have on the list that I should make sure to read this season!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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