Review | The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

2.5 cupcakes

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a book that very much depends on readers piecing together the story surrounding Molly’s blackouts at the same time that Molly, herself, does. Having learned about the disorder that the story depicts in my psychology classes, it didn’t take long for me to figure out what was going on; as a result, the pacing felt rather slow, and the predictability detracted from my enjoyment of the book. Furthermore, the ending lacked the psychological depth that I was expecting; Molly’s disorder was brushed off as something that just happened, although the emotional depth that resulted from it was quite a welcome addition.

The saving grace of The Half Life of Molly Pierce is the way in which it was told. Stream of consciousness is a narration style that I fell in love with after reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and it was just as effectively employed here. This intimate look into Molly’s thoughts allows readers to further sympathize with her character, and added a sense of urgency to the mystery. Molly’s voice was incredibly engaging due to the fact that she is an unreliable narrator, and that her drive to figure out what is wrong with her seems at odds with her diminishing will to keep on living.

Overall, The Half Life of Molly Pierce wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. The writing was beautiful and compelling, but it couldn’t make up for the lack of psychological depth and suspense that this story was lacking.

Review | We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

3.5 cupcakes

We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.” 

Unreliable narrators are one of my favourite tropes in fiction, and We Were Liars didn’t disappoint in that regard. Cady’s mysterious “condition” and selective amnesia made it hard to decipher what was true and what wasn’t – especially when the writing was rife with vivid imagery and beautiful metaphors that were often indistinguishable from reality.

Unfortunately, it was rather difficult for me to connect with any of the characters. The beautiful, privileged “Liars” live in a world where wealth and power are synonymous and money can solve any problem. As a result, the first portion of the book seemed to be filled with petty #richpeopleproblems, making it difficult to sympathize with any of the characters. The relationship between the Liars wasn’t very well demonstrated – in fact, I didn’t even know why they were friends, other than the fact that they were near the same ages. I didn’t know much about Cady as a person, and even less about Gat, her love interest, so suffice it to say that that was a ship I wasn’t on board with.

Overall, We Were Liars was a beautifully written, mystery-driven story. While it wasn’t as mind-blowing as everyone says, since I managed to partially guess the twist, it was certainly an enjoyable read.

Book Review: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Three teens venture into the abandoned Monroe estate one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…

3.5 cupcakes

Dangerous Boys was not exactly what I had expected. It was very much a psychological thriller but, unlike Dangerous Girls, the main focus isn’t on solving the murder: it’s on the characters, and how they evolve over the course of the story.

The mystery itself was just as enthralling as that of Dangerous Girls, even if it was much slower paced. Every scene is important, offering up clues as to which brother survived, and the deeper you get into the book, the more chilling it becomes. Haas shows how every bad thought we have slowly strips away the masks that we wear, until our sinister, inner demons are on full display. She shows how the people in our lives help shape the people that we are to become – for better or for worse – and how seemingly inconsequential actions can have dramatic effects.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Dangerous Boys, but not quite as much as I enjoyed Dangerous Girls. That being said, though, Abigail Haas is definitely on my “authors to watch” list, and I look forward to reading any other “dangerous” books she comes out with next!

Book Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

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Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?

Dangerous Girls is an incredibly difficult book to review, given that any preconceived notions will dampen this reading experience. It’s incredibly well-crafted, suspenseful, and so much darker than I had expected.

The trial itself was very authentic and carefully researched. It was frustrating, enraging, and so incredibly intense, making it very easy for me to become completely invested in its outcome. Anna’s account of the event was completely enthralling, and it was easy to see how the media could become caught up in painting her as a “cold blooded killer” – and somewhat scary to think about how this actually happens.

Dangerous Girls‘ strongest feature, though, is the way in which it is told. The present murder trial is interspersed with flashbacks starting from how Anna and Elise met and leading up until the present day. While this helped me piece together who the murderer was, it also caused me to suspect absolutely everyone. Despite this thick layer of suspicion, I still wasn’t expecting the reveal at the end, and I can honestly say that I’m still reeling from it.

Overall, Dangerous Girls was a twisted, psychological thriller that completely messed with my mind. And I loved every minute of it.

Saturday Showcase (August 23)

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Saturday Showcase is a weekly event hosted here at The In-Between Place which features books that you wish more people had read (or, at least, heard about).

This week’s featured book is Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, which I’ve reviewed here.

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

Dangerous Girls is one of the most excellent psychological thrillers I’ve ever read. It’s enthralling, twisted, and unpredictable — and I loved absolutely every minute of it.

What are some of your favourite underrated books? Leave a list in the comments below.
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Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

With the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars and plenty of romance, bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer weaves a story of secrets and lies—set in a funeral parlor.

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily’s and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

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Given that I absolutely adore How Zoe Made Her Dreams Mostly Come True, I was incredibly excited to see how Sarah Strohmeyer would tackle a mystery novel. Unfortunately, The Secrets of Lily Graves left me feeling pretty whelmed.

Our main character, Lily, had a pretty compelling voice. As someone who grew up in a funeral home, Lily has a rather unique way of looking at the world. She’s not ashamed of her differences, and even goes so far as to dress up in J. Crew clothing for Halloween because she can’t imagine a scarier costume. Unfortunately, Lily’s infatuation with Matt causes her to make many poor and irrational decisions, to the point where she started to get on my nerves.

The romance, itself, was fairly understated throughout the story. Sure, Matt and Lily make eyes at each other and Lily is constantly thinking about him, but that’s as far as it really goes. Matt and Lily don’t spend a lot of page time together, so their relationship progression is mostly told through flashbacks. As a result, Matt’s characterization was severely lacking, and I just couldn’t be invested in their relationship.

The mystery itself was the high point of the story at first. Strohmeyer wasn’t afraid to include somewhat gruesome details about the murder, and the constant revelations kept me wondering who the culprit was. After a certain point, though, my interest in the mystery started to fade. Side characters shared important information with Lily far too readily and conveniently, and the twist at the end was rather rushed, leading to an anti-climactic and awkward ending.

Overall, The Secrets of Lily Graves was a rather disappointing read. I’d only recommend giving it a try if you’re looking for a quick, somewhat entertaining read.

Release Day Blitz: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Today, I’m so excited to be promoting Dangerous Boys by Abagail Haas, which is (finally) released today!

Three teens venture into the abandoned lake house one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense?

Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…

 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK | Goodreads

BloodEverywhere

Early Praise

“Dangerous Boys is a taut, compelling thriller balanced on the razor’s edge of suspense. I could not put it down, and could not stop grinning wickedly as I raced through the pages.” — Leah Raeder, USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable

“Abigail Hass is a master at her craft! This is a special book and a special author. This is the kind of storytelling and writing that stick with you no matter how much time passes.” — The Book Geek Blog

“As with Dangerous Girls, the closing left me with a huge, admittedly rather twisted smile on my face. I don’t know how Haas manages to turn me into such a gleefully evil creature.” — Dahlia Adler, blogger.

“Dangerous Boys was an intense, psychological read which was full of suspense and drama,…Abigail Haas has a way of writing books which reel you in and keep you there, hooked and addicted until the very last page.” — Goodreads.com

 

About Abigail Haas

Abigail Haas has written two adult novels and four young adult contemporary novels under the name Abby McDonald. Dangerous Girls is her first young adult thriller. She grew up in Sussex, England, and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She lives in Los Angeles.

Website / Twitter / Facebook

Teaser: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

I’m so excited to be promoting Abigail Haas’ Dangerous Boys, which is set to be released on August 14th! After hearing so much praise for Dangerous Girls, I can honestly say that I’m excited to give this one a read!

From the critically-acclaimed author of DANGEROUS GIRLS comes a new dark, twisted thriller…

“It all comes down to this: Oliver, Ethan, and I.”

Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense?

 Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together – a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces.

db text teaser

Early Praise:

“Dangerous Boys is a taut, compelling thriller balanced on the razor’s edge of suspense. I could not put it down, and could not stop grinning wickedly as I raced through the pages.” — Leah Raeder, USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable

“Abigail Hass is a master at her craft! This is a special book and a special author. This is the kind of storytelling and writing that stick with you no matter how much time passes.” — The Book Geek Blog

“As with Dangerous Girls, the closing left me with a huge, admittedly rather twisted smile on my face. I don’t know how Haas manages to turn me into such a gleefully evil creature.” — Dahlia Adler, blogger.

“Dangerous Boys was an intense, psychological read which was full of suspense and drama,…Abigail Haas has a way of writing books which reel you in and keep you there, hooked and addicted until the very last page.” — Goodreads.com

Amazon | iBooks | UK | Goodreads

Book Review: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.

1.5 cupcakes
“Nothing is right and nothing is wrong. For some people a thing may be right, and for others it may be wrong. There is no greater truth to morality – it is merely an opinion.”

Dear Killer is a book that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. While I could easily overlook the fact that the Perfect Killer was a seventeen year old girl (even though it’s statistically unlikely), there were so many gaping plot holes that I couldn’t ignore – and, believe me, I tried. The officers of Scotland Yard were made out to be complete idiots, the murders were committed with literally one kick, and any potential evidence was completely disregarded.

The main thing that I just couldn’t believe in, though, was the letters. People send in letters to the Perfect Killer, and those letters are found next to the dead body after the request is filled. Given that most of those letters say something like “kill my husband” or “kill my sister,” it should be incredibly easy to find out who wrote the letter and use them to find out where the location of the mailbox is… right?

Our main character, Kit, definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. Despite the “Perfect Killer” moniker, Kit is anything but perfect; she makes so many rookie mistakes, and I was continuously wondering how she had managed to evade the detection of Scotland Yard for so long. It was, however, really interesting being inside Kit’s head, since the reasons she chose her victims and the reason she killed was so twisted yet intriguing.

The one facet of the story that I really enjoyed was the discussion of moral relativism, and how our perception of good and evil changes based on our life experiences. While the philosophical debate wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked, it was interesting to see how Kit’s worldview changes in response to this information – even if it did lead to inconsistent characterization.

Overall, between gaping plot holes, inconsistent characterization, and an anticlimactic ending, Dear Killer was quite a disappointing read.

Waiting On Wednesday (July 9)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond, which has an expected release date of October 1, 2014.

A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American!

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

After The Night Circus, Pantomime, and Water for Elephants, I’ve been searching for more books that take place in a circus, and this certainly seems to fit the bill. I just wish October wasn’t so far away!

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below. 3