Andrea gets in a wreck while driving home after work at 3:00 AM. She’s thinking that she saw someone standing in the road so she swerved and ran into a tree. Her adoptive mother picks her up from the hospital and takes her to their home. Detectives arrive and question her about her brother and show her pictures of mutilated victims from his murder spree. Andrea hasn’t spoken to her brother since he was incarcerated for starting the fire that killed their mother and stepfather fifteen years ago. Her adoptive family happens to be the family of the school bully that terrorized Andrea in middle school before the fatal fire. Andrea leaves and goes to her townhouse for privacy but she can’t help but think about something the detectives said. Her brother is on the loose and knows where she is. Another young woman is murdered and things become more complex. The story alternates between the present and the past, before the house fire and the book written about Eli. Andrea seems to be a bit of an unreliable narrator and it becomes a little difficult to follow the tidbits and figure out the truth of the past and present. The book kept me riveted and I wanted to know how it would end but the ending turned out to be ambivalent. Suspenseful thriller with an unreliable narrator, 4 stars!
The Island by Natasha Preston
A deceptive invitation!
Teen influencers arrive on an island after being invited for a fun-filled weekend to post online reviews and build excitement for the upcoming opening. The island is an amusement park and resort all in one. The six influencers have a variety of online posts and followers. Before they can enjoy much of the island, the killing starts. One by one, people are being chased and killed. Those who remain must work together to outsmart the killer and survive until help arrives.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the premise of inviting influencers to review and build hype about a new place. The mystery was fun and suspenseful. I liked learning about each character’s background.
Language: R for 121 swears, no f-bombs.
Mature Content: none other than the violence.
Violence: R for bloody deaths.
The Headmaster’s List by Melissa de la Cruz
Fast-paced mystery with a slow burn romance!
Spencer wakes up in the hospital after being injured in a car crash that involved her and three other students from Armstrong but she only remembers a few details. One of the students, Chris, died in the crash and another passenger, Tabby, won’t talk to Spencer but only glares at her. Ethan was driving and speeding and says he tried to brake but the car wouldn’t stop and they hit a tree. Ethan is on house arrest, Tabby seems fine but angry, Chris died and Spencer has broken some bones and has stitches from her jaw to her cheekbone. Jackson, Ethan’s best friend, helps Spencer get around and with her schoolwork, as well as helping her piece the details from the night of the accident together because she’s extremely frustrated that she can’t remember. The more she digs into the details, the more in danger she becomes.
Fast-paced mystery with a slow burn romance, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I like the intense, poetic opening that reveals the story. I like Spencer’s strength and integrity and Jackson’s personality. I enjoyed figuring out the mystery and how a mental health therapy dog helped a trauma victim.
Matue content: PG-13 for prescription drug addiction, drinking, vaping
Language: PG-13 for 24 swears and 5 f-bombs
Violence: PG for brakes being cut to cause an accident, hit and run, being held at gunpoint and being hit in the head with a gun.
What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall
Three eleven year old girls entered the woods and two came out. One of them had been stabbed so the other two girls got help and testified that a serial killer rapist was to blame. Years later, when the three girls have become adults, the killer dies in prison. The three women meet and discuss how relieved but worried they are about a secret they’re hiding. The mystery of their secret becomes many mysteries buried, one on top of another. This is a delightfully twisted and unexpected mystery, 5 stars!
Five Survive by Holly Jackson
The intensity builds to the extreme!
Red is traveling in an RV to Florida with her friends to spend a week celebrating spring break together. They lose cell service and GPS capabilities then end up down a dead end road getting a flat tire. After replacing the flat tire with the spare, Red sees a red dot hovering around the RV and yells at the others to notice. They ignore her until they hear the gunshots that take out all four tires. The group runs into the RV for protection. The shooter leaves a walkie talkie for communication and tells them that one of them has a secret they need to share. The secret is going to be revealed, one way or another!
Oliver is annoying because he’s a know-it-all with a superiority complex. The mystery is interesting to try to unravel when a few characters allude to having secrets. The suspense builds intensely, which makes a riveting read.
PG-13 for drinking
R for 20 swears and 105 f-bombs.
PG-13 for Someone shoots at the RV and holds the travelers hostage inside. The sniper fatally shoots an elderly couple that stop to help. Bloody shootings. Attack with a knife.
Mixed, Korean, Mexican, white, African American
How To Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine
Alice loses her sister in a murder spree cut short one Halloween night. She saw Claire get stabbed by Owen and a year later is planning to testify that Owen killed Claire. Any more info in my review will be a spoiler. This unique mystery thriller jumps around and then slams you in the face with the ending. A suspenseful read that I could not put down! 5 stars!
Danielle Valentine is Danielle Vega’s pseudonym and this is her debut thriller!
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Emma remembers summer camp fifteen years ago when her three cabin mates disappeared. She’s now an artist and the three missing girls disappearing into the forest are the subject of most of her paintings. At her art show, the camp owner shows up, purchases one of her paintings and asks her to lunch. At lunch the next day, Emma is asked to be an art teacher to camp residents when it reopens. When she arrives she’s told the counselors are to pick a cabin to stay in with the campers, so Emma requests Dogwood, her old cabin. She’ll be the only adult in the cabin with three teens, Miranda, Krystal and Sasha. Emma is anxious about being back at the camp and every sight, sound and scent reminds her of fifteen years ago. When Miranda, Krystal and Sasha go missing, chaos erupts throughout the camp, accusations fly and the danger has just begun. A perfect mystery thriller, 5 stars!
Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne
The main character’s mom recently passed away and now Cecilia is moving into her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother, Maura, happens to be a famous author and lives in a large home with four floors. Maura has brought fame to the town after writing a fictionalized book about the murder of a classmate that occurred during homecoming when she was in high school. Maura continues to write mysteries and her fandom holds yearly conventions in town. Cecilia makes friends and ends up on the sidelines of their drama. Then she finds the body of another homecoming murder victim and it’s eerily similar to the murder all those years ago. She throws herself into trying to discover the killer as a way to distract herself from losing her mother. She ends up in the middle of trouble and has to fight for her life. A fun mystery, 4 stars!
Language: R for 139 swears and 101 f-bombs
Violence: PG-13 for Bodies found in school swimming pool. Strangulation mentioned. Serial killer in community. Premeditated murder. Punching.
Mature content: PG-13 for sex mentioned, no details, drug use mentioned.
LGBT content: bi mentioned, lesbian mentioned
Likes/dislikes: The swearing was too much. The main character, Cecilia, is wishy washy with her new friends. She expects them to immediately divulge their secrets to her because she wants to know but she’s completely disregarding their rights to privacy and gets upset if they ask her questions about her life. I was enthralled by the two mysteries, past and present, and wanted Cecilia to expose the twisted actions of the townspeople.
Ethnicity: white, brown, Filipino, Black
Go Hunt Me by Kelly deVos
Alex is in the hospital recovering from injuries. A police inspector wants to know what happened from the beginning of Alex’s trip to Romania until the present time and her reason for traveling there. Alex tells the story starting 153 days prior. She’s making a movie with her friends; a movie she wrote based on Dracula. The story then jumps to 46 days ago. Alex and her sister are helping with the family business while waiting for their Dad to get back to normal after cancer. She and her boyfriend Jax go to dinner and check their film school letters together. Jax has been accepted. Alex has been placed on the waitlist. From there, Alex and her six friends travel to Romania planning on creating a film that will get Alex into her dream school and help her become a movie director. What starts as an exciting adventurous idea quickly turns into a deadly few days as someone hunts them down. The ending is jaw-dropping! 4 stars!
Ethnicity: doesn’t specify white or otherwise only that the teens are American, European
Mature content: PG, abstinence
Violence: decapitation, bloody stabbing, bloody bashing in of head
Language: R, 24 f-bombs
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Quincy is the lone survivor of a serial killing spree, therefore she’s a final girl. She knows two other final girls from completely different murder scenes, Lisa and Samantha. Lisa wrote a book about her experience and went on to become a psychologist to help others cope and overcome trauma. When Quincy hears that Lisa committed suicide, she has a hard time understanding or believing it. Samantha has disappeared or at least kept herself hidden from the public until she arrives to visit Quincy with concerns of her own. The lives of the three final girls become intertwined and complicated beyond what should be a logical possibility. Final Girls kept me glued to the pages and it didn’t disappoint! A mystery thriller worth every moment spent reading it, 5 stars!