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.

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Saturday Showcase (July 26)

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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 Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer.

Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren’t the most popular girls in school, they aren’t too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they’re missing out on the full high school experience, it’s time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge—and they will totally rock it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she’ll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes—until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want—but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .

Smart Girls Get What They Want is a fluffy, fun read filled with positive female friendships and discussions on identity and stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s realistic, cute, and oh so relatable.

What are some of your favourite underrated books? Leave a list in the comments below.
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Saturday Showcase (July 5)

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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 How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer.

From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl’s summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they’ve hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she’s assigned to serve “The Queen”-Fairyland’s boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe’s job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is a cute, fluffy entertaining read filled with Disney princes and a bit of a mystery. It’s one of the books that helped me become a fan of contemporary YA (which I now love), thanks to its somewhat ridiculous storyline and absolutely adorable romance.

What are some of your favourite underrated books? Leave a list in the comments below.
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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 5

I stumbled across this 30 day book challenge by The Chronicles of Radiya and decided to give it a try. Hopefully it will lead to 30 consecutive days of blogging that liven up the blog a bit and give us a chance to get to know each other a little better.

Day 5: A Book That Makes You Happy

You know those books that just make you feel warm and fuzzy after reading them? Well, Anna and the French Kiss and How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True are just two of the many books that make my heart smile. They’re light, fun reads that never fail to put me in a great mood. The romance is sweet, and always leaves me with a huge smile on my face. Etienne St. Clair and Ian Davidson are adorable and both of them firmly occupy places on my list of book boyfriends; sorry real boys, you’re going to have to work on that charm some more… and maybe an English accent.

Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

It’s Tuesday, which means that it’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is top ten authors who deserve more recognition, which is probably the most difficult one so far. There are a lot of books that I wish more people would read, but when it comes to authors, I’m never sure which ones to choose. (It also doesn’t help that I spent all weekend in Niagara Falls and couldn’t plan my Top Ten Tuesday post in advance, so if it’s rambly and scattered, I’m so sorry!)

Here’s my list, in no particular order:

1. Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind)
Even though I first heard about him a few months ago, I am in love with his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. Zafon has such a beautiful writing style, and there are so many gorgeous quotes tucked into all of his books.

2. Colin Meloy (Wildwood)
Wildwood is one of my favourite children’s books. It’s beautifully illustrated, intelligently written, and is just a really fun read. Fun fact: Colin is also one of my favourite singers and his band, The Decemberists, is fantastic. Listening to their albums is like hearing a story, so it’s no wonder he’s pretty good at this whole writing thing.

3. Jillian Larkin (Vixen)
The release of the Flapper series was completely overshadowed by Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things (which is also good, but much better known because of her Luxe series). I’m slightly obsessed with any book that takes place in the 1920s, so this series was an automatic must-read for me. After all, between flappers, speakeasies and drama that rivals Gossip Girl, what’s not to like?

4. Lauren Morrill (Meant To Be)
Meant To Be is one of the cutest YA contemporary books I’ve ever read. I haven’t been able to find it at any of my local bookstores – which is a shame, since it’s quirky, fun, and set in London.

5. Kelly Creagh (Nevermore)
By now, you guys have all probably seen my many posts about how much I love this series. A combination of dark supernatural elements inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, interesting characters, and a pretty cute, believable romance makes for an excellent yet creepy read.

6. Heather Dixon (Entwined)
Entwined is one of my favourite fairytale retellings. Twelve strong female characters, dark secrets, sweet romance that isn’t the main focus, and some magic make for a thoroughly enjoyable read. Also, the cover is gorgeous enough that I need to buy a copy to display on my bookshelf as soon as possible!

7. Beth Revis (Across the Universe)
I loved Across the Universe. It’s a really neat sci-fi story with so many plot twists and turns. I haven’t read the last book yet since I really don’t wan this series to be over, but I’d be more than okay with it being made into a movie.

8. E. Lockhart (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks)
Her books are so underappreciated, which is probably due to cover judging (which I almost did with her Ruby Oliver series). They’re filled with quirky, intelligent, strong female leads who are trying to find their place in life, which is something I can definitely relate to.

9. Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind)
His works are becoming better known, due to his inclusion on George R.R. Martin’s list of books that Game of Thrones fans should read. However, despite that, a lot of people still don’t know about The Kingkiller Chronicle, which is an excellent fantasy series. And, you know, it helps that his reviews and blog posts never fail to make me laugh.

10. Sarah Strohmeyer (How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True)
In discussions of contemporary YA writers, Sarah Strohmeyer sadly isn’t mentioned all that often. I loved Smart Girls Get What They Want, and How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is one of my favourite contemporaries that I could gush over all day (two words: Disney theme-park). They’re such fun, fluffy reads filled with adorably sweet romance, an entertaining plot, and loveable characters.

Who are some of your favourites?
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