Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson-- Unpopular Opinion Club Again

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

5 years ago, Fairview was rocked by the disappearance of high school senior, Andie Bell-- and the subsequent suicide of her boyfriend when everything started pointing towards him.  Case closed.  Right??

Enter Pippa.  The summer before her senior year, she decides to do her capstone project on analyzing the case (at least that's what she tells her teachers).  What she's really doing is teaming up with Sal's brother to prove his innocence.  Pippa knows Sal couldn't be involved in Andie's disappearance, or likely death, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

The closer she gets to the case, the more SOMEONE doesn't want her poking around.  She starts getting threats, and it soon becomes clear that she's risking her life in the quest for answers.

I'm always looking for interesting YA Mystery/Thrillers, and this one totally caught my eye.  I love a good Nancy Drew story-- and this threw in some of those epistolary elements that I love, so I had high hopes.

Unfortunately, this just didn't go the distance for me.  Maybe it was the characters, maybe it was the pacing??  It was readable, but it's not going to be one that I remember or think about long-term.

The premise was interesting: A girl chooses to devote her senior project to solving a murder/mystery that is beyond cold and closed.  5 years ago, Andie Bell went missing, and her boyfriend committed suicide after texting a confession.  It was all wrapped up, except Pippa doesn't think they got it right and she decides to do her own investigation for a school project.

Some Bullet Point Thoughts:

  • I read an advanced copy of this book, but I couldn't help but notice how very British this book is.  This version of the book is supposed to be set in Connecticut, so it really pulled me out of the story when the characters busted out with British Slang.
  • Pippa was definitely a know-it-all-- okay, I can get beyond that.  The thing that bothered me about her was the simplistic way she thought about things.  She basically decided to look into this case because Sal was generally nice to her once???  He offered her a piece of candy while he was hanging out with a friend's older sister.  I don't think that's deep enough to know whether someone is capable of violence.
  • Also, who was Pippa??  The only thing I knew about her was that she was studious and a devoted friend/sister/daughter.  That is so surface-level for me.  There's so much more to people than just "I like school".
  • The first twist is kind of obvious.  I knew part of this mystery's end pretty much right away.  The second part was a little more veiled and I thought it wrapped it up well.
  • A dog dies.  I thought we stopped doing that in books??  Or maybe that was just me wishing that...
  • Ughhh. There was romance where none was needed.... again.
  • People in this book were WAY too easy to confess to things when Pippa confronted them.  I'm sorry, but it was super hard to believe people would just blurt out their sins just because Pippa guessed them.
  • I loved how Pippa had a running list of suspects, and the way it almost felt like the reader was involved in the investigation.  The way she's like: here are my notes, here is my list of suspects-- it felt like I was being asked to help solve it.  I loved that part of it.

Look, I think this book is definitely one high school kids will like.  I would 100% recommend it to teens who like to listed to True-Crime podcasts.  It's not that I don't think it's good, it's that I think it could've been so much better.  For me, the characters are just too flat and the story didn't get more thrilling as it went on.  There were times that I was just BORED.  It would definitely pick up and become page-turning towards the end, or in certain parts, but the down-times were just not interesting enough.

OVERALL: Unpopular Opinion Alert.  I didn't love this book.  I had high hopes (which may be a factor in my feelings), but ended up disappointed.  I hear this is a series-- and weirdly, I wouldn't say no to trying out a second book, but I would hope that the second book gives me more depth of characters.

Date Published: 2/4/2020
How I got this book: Thanks to Delacorte Press & PRH for providing me with an advanced copy to read and honestly review.
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 2.5/5

Character: Pippa
Book: People Like Us by Dana Mele

  • I think Pippa would like trying to unravel the scavenger hunt that Kay is confronted with to find a murderer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- Spring 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (March 17th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR

1.  Goodbye from Nowhere by Sara Zarr- I can't believe this is coming out in April!!  I just found out about it in January, so it snuck up on me.  I'm a big Sara Zarr fan & am excited to read this!

2.  What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel- I read the first part of this book last night and it's GOOD.  I'm excited to really get into it.

3.  I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick- I love a good mystery/thriller.  And this is a Pittsburgh author :)

4.  A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight- I loved Reconstructing Amelia and Where They Found Her (not so much her try at YA), so I'm happy there's another Adult Mystery from her to read!

5.  We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian- I love this author and I like 24 hour books, so I'm down for this.

6.  All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban- I am excited to read this and hopefully it will hold up to my high expectations.

7.  The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix- YESSSS!!  I can't wait to see Grady's take on vampires!!!

8.  Clique Bait by Ann Valett- This sounds like SUCH a "me" book.

9.  The Night of Your Life by Lydia Sharp- I need a Prom book in my life right now.

10.  The Whisper Man by Alex North- I know this is a book from last year, but my audio hold is due to come in in 2 weeks-- so I'm definitely reading it this Spring.

What books are on your Spring TBR??

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- One-Word Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (March 10th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books With Single Word Titles

  • I missed last week's topic and it sounded fun, so I'm doing it now :)
  • These are some of my favorite books of all-time that happen to have one word titles.

1.  Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson- If you haven't read this, just do it.

2.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell- I just did a reread of this and loved it just as hard (I kind of had different feelings about Levi though...)

3.  Tease by Amanda Mariel- I loved this book so much-- It wasn't a well-liked book, but 🤷🏻‍♀️

4.  Winger by Andrew Smith- I think I need a reread of this one soon.  Need more Ryan Dean West in my life!

5.  Sadie by Courtney Summers- Another MUST-READ for all.

6.  Crash (Visions #1) by Lisa McMann- Loved this series about a girl who sees a future tragedy.

7.  Wrecked by Maria Padian- I had a love/hate with this book.  I love a book set in college and not afraid to talk about hard issues, but some of it was heavy-handed.

8.  Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly- My first, but definitely not my last Jennifer Donnelly book.

9.  Grit by Gillian French- A very cool book with a very cool name.

10.  Hysteria by Megan Miranda- I LOVE this cover so much!!!  This was my first Megan Miranda book and I've been a super-fan ever since!

Have you read any of these books?  What are your favorite one-word titles?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious #2) by Maureen Johnson-- Frustrating series that I want to finish??

The Vanishing Stair

Stevie's been sent back to Pittsburgh after the death of Hayes and the disappearance of Ellie.  Only Mr. King, her arch-enemy, can convince her parents to let her go back.  The problem with that is, Mr. King doesn't do favors without expecting something in return.

So now Stevie is back and she's supposed to keep an eye on David-- which is complicated for her now that she knows who his dad is.

Working with a local professor, Stevie begins to get closer to figuring out what happened at the school-- past and present.  But she soon realizes that she can't help everyone, and she can trust even fewer of them.

I have very complicated feelings to share about this book and series overall.

My thoughts while reading this book ranged from “I hate this book” to “how was this published” to “okay, this isn’t THAT bad” to “meh”.

I liked the first book in this series okay (review linked above). I didn’t love it and I got irrationally mad at the lack of ANY answers, but I thought that the historical mystery was interesting. I was hopeful that this book would dive right into that mystery and be way better than the first one. I was soooo wrong.

This book started out so incredibly boring and mediocre. The writing, the characters, the plot— everything screamed lazy to me. At one point l almost decided to quit this book and series forever, but I wanted the 400+ pages I read in the first book to be FOR something— mainly, finding out who kidnapped/killed the people in the 30’s mystery.

So I went along, rage reading— and magically at like 75% in, it got good!! Okay, maybe not good, but WAY better. THINGS actually happened besides people wandering around Ellingham being super annoying.

Here are some of the questioning thoughts I had:

  • If you're going to have a big, bad overlord villain in a book, you need to tell me why this person is as bad.  Stevie constantly refers to Senator King as evil, the devil, and monstrous, but are we ever told why??  She briefly mentions not agreeing with his political stances (doesn't mention specifics on what these are), and yes, he's a shitty father to David-- but those things don't add up to the antichrist status she assigns to him.
  • At one point, Stevie is on a plane with Mr. King and she wishes that the plane will crash (killing her in the process), so that world will be safe from Mr. King.
  • Ummm???  Am I missing something??  You want to martyr yourself and save the world from WHAT exactly?? I need to know beyond you say so.  It's lazy writing.
  • It takes some MAJOR suspension of disbelief to accept that this girl who isn't even all that special or smart just plays Nancy Drew for a few weeks and solves one of the biggest unsolved murder case in American history.  I mean, it's entertainment, so I'm trying to let this go, but it's hard.
  • None of these characters are compelling enough for a 3 book series. Stevie is okay, Janelle and her partner are barely there, the new characters added (Mudge & Hunter) could've been interesting but were so underdeveloped.  David is such a caricature, overly weird and obnoxious and exaggerated outbursts.  Nate is the only character that I feel like we know and want to know.
  • USE YOUR WORDS.  This is another book where the main conflict could've been solved with a few words being said.  Instead, these characters say nothing for no reason other than to create drama.
  • One of the big questions I had in the first book was why would Ellingham Academy want her there?  This book didn't help answer that, and in fact made me question it more.  It seems like the school is about to come into a bunch of money if the Ellingham kidnapping remains unsolved.  So why would they bring in this girl-genius detective to figure it all out?

I know you're probably thinking that there's no way in hell I would continue in this series......

And the fact that I'm reading the 3rd book right now might seem ridiculous.... I know.  But......

Ughh.  I just really care about the historical mystery for some reason.  Which I guess says something positive about the book.  The last 25% of this book picked up and I really started to get INTO getting the answers.  And now I am too damn curious not to see it out.

Hopefully the 3rd book will address the lazy- he's bad because I said so- villain, make David a little more bearable, and won't introduce an unneeded love-triangle.

OVERALL: It's kind of a mess??  I pretty much hated the first 2/3rds of the book, but it got better at the end????  I definitely wouldn't recommend this series, but I still want to finish it anyway for unknown reasons.

Date Published: 1/22/2019
How I got this book: Library (Audio)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins

Add to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 2.5/5

Character: Francis Josephine Crane
Book: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

  • Francis idolized Bonnie & Clyde, so this book about friends on the run would totally be her style.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- Characters With Social Media I'd Follow

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (February 11th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Book Characters I Would Follow On Social Media

  • I participate on social media, but I wouldn't say I'm THAT into it.  Of course, I spend WAY too much time on Instagram and Twitter, but I follow mostly bookish people exclusively.  Maybe I should find people like the ones below to follow:

1.  To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Lara Jean- I'm definitely following Lara Jean.  Her baking and her whole aesthetic would be awesome to see daily.

2.  Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
  • Emmy- Surfing!!  How cool would it be to follow an awesome girl surfer? 

3.  A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
  • Esther Solar- I mean, she's documenting all of her attempts to face her very odd fears.  It would be super entertaining and weird and cool to witness.

4.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Cath- I'm here for the Simon Snow super-fandom

5.  The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams
  • Esme Pearl- I'd follow her for her OOTD posts.

6.  Amateurs by Sara Shepard
  • Seneca Frazier- Obviously, she would start a true crime podcast after she closes this case & I would love to hear it.

7.  Confessions of a High School Disaster (Chloe Snow #1) by Emma Chastain
  • Chloe Snow- Chloe has the most hilarious voice & I would read any random thought in her random head.

8.  It's Not Me, It's You by Stephanie Kate Strohm
  • Avery Dennis- Avery wrote her senior paper on her entire dating life & it was funny and adorable.  She could certainly continue that with a blog or a funny twitter account.

9.  The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes
  • Molly Mavity- I would love to go on these adventures with Molly via Instagram.

10.  Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Catherine- Baking Instagram for the win!

Which characters would you follow on Social Media?