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OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Isabella’s Painting (Karina Cardinal Mystery #1)

Isabella's Painting Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=87551

I was going to in my next book review for OnlineBookClub.org put some of my first couple paragraphs from my review on the site on my blog post and then link to the review. However, in order for me to do so, I’d need to get in contact with someone from the site to make sure that was okay.

But when I actually did that, my message never went through to the person I was trying to send it to. I don’t know why because I put a lot of effort into writing that message. I found out because whenever I didn’t hear back from them I went into my Inbox and discovered that the PM never went through. Once I found out that happened, I was going to attempt to send another message. But right now, I quite frankly just wanted to put up my review on the site for you all to go check out sooner rather than later. And I just didn’t feel like spending another ten minutes working on another private message for it not to go through once again.

As a result, I have provided another link to a review I’ve written on OnlineBookClub.org. I’ll try sending a private message again later whenever I have the energy for it so that with these reviews in the future you can catch a glimpse of a little of what I’ve written. But until I’m able to get permission from the site, this is what I’m going to continue having to do.

Until then, please read my review and share it if you really like it. That would mean so much to me.

Also, I have some really exciting news I’m planning on sharing with you all on my next blog post. It’s personal/life stuff so I’m going to write a new blog post about it once the excitement of it wears off for me.

Until then, I hope you all have a good day today and enjoy my review!

Book Review: Look For Me

Look For Me Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner’s latest twisty thrill ride, Detective D. D. Warren and “Find Her“‘s Flora Dane return in a race against the clock to either save a young girl’s life . . . or bring her to justice. 

The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, look for me.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I thought I would. But at the same time, I wish I’d read this book later after realizing it’s the ninth book in a series. It made this read a little difficult because some of the characters in the story more than likely played an important role in earlier books.

However, I still enjoyed reading this book for a number of reasons. Part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much was due to the characters and the story. I found the detectives involved in the case to be enjoyable because I loved seeing them really put their best effort into finding out the truth of what happened. I also enjoyed Flora Dane as a character. I know part of that is due to my own experiences in life (in particular being a domestic violence survivor) and I felt like I learned a whole lot from her. In essence, I felt like I could really relate to her character and the rest of her little band of misfits. I also loved what she brought to the story with regards to finding out information and trying her best to help others who’re dealing with their own personal traumas, like Sarah. I really enjoyed watching her help detective D. D. Warren but also trying her best to make sure Roxy was safe. I also loved her relationship with D. D. Warren despite their characters being portrayed as different from each other. Their interactions with each other made me chuckle , made me interested in seeing what trouble Flora was going to get herself into next.

What I also enjoyed when reading Look For Me is the case as a whole. A sixteen year-old girl goes missing during the murder of the rest of her family while she’s taking their two dogs on a walk. You as the reader begin to learn more about Roxanna Baez’s past, which involves a lot of emotional twists and turns. You learn how terrible the foster care system can truly be, how it can affect the children involved as well as how cruel the world can really be. You start to feel for Roxanna like I did as D. D. Warren and Flora continue uncovering the truth of why her family was murdered. The reason I enjoyed this case so much is because it’s emotional. D. D. Warren goes back in forth on her belief that Roxy is someone involved in the shooting of her family and Flora does whatever it takes to uncover the truth of it all. It’s an emotional rollercoaster with an unexpected twist that hurts your heart even more, making it a read I really enjoyed.

What also made this book an emotional read for me were the chapters that involved Roxy writing about the perfect family. These chapters were actually mostly about Roxy talking about her own family, including the problems they were dealing with, such as their mother being an alcoholic and having to go into foster care. I really enjoyed reading these chapters because I felt like we as the reader were introduced to Roxy even though you don’t meet her in the story until close to the end. It made me even more sympathetic to her character and everything she was going through. These chapters also made me believe like Flora that Roxy had nothing to do with the death of her family.

However, there are some problems I have with Look For Me. In this book, the twist of discovering who actually killed Roxy’s family and why wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The killer also wasn’t someone I wanted to be heavily involved in the case either. I was already emotionally invested in this book because Roxy lost her whole family and had no idea who killed them. But I feel like making this person the killer made me feel terrible for Roxy. I felt terrible for her because she’s pretty much lost every person who’s ever cared about her. While I do understand the killer’s motivation, I really hated how this was done and wished it was someone else entirely. While it made for a neat twist in the story, I just truly wish someone else was involved because I didn’t want Roxy to lose anyone else in her life.

I also feel like while we learned a lot about Flora Dane and her past, we didn’t particularly learn a lot of information about D. D. Warren. Maybe that’s because this is the ninth book in the series and all of the information you learn about her as a detective has already been uncovered, but she just seems like someone I want to know more about. I feel like there might be some similarities between her and Flora that would allow them to become friends, but the author just hasn’t disclosed them yet. Again though, I haven’t read the rest of the books in this series so this criticism mostly stems from what I’ve read from this book.

But overall, I really enjoyed reading Look For Me. I thought the characters were really interesting and sympathetic, and the case as a whole was a huge emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. I loved hearing from Roxy via the chapters that centered around her writing about what it means to have a perfect family. The only criticisms I had for this book were the twist of uncovering who the killer is and not learning as much about D. D. Warren as I’d like. But overall, reading this book just made me want to read the rest of the series so I can see what all I’ve missed. Because I believe with all my heart that this series is probably a really good one that I need to one day invest in reading.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: I Am Watching You

I Am Watching You Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realizes they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

I Am Watching You is an interesting read, filled with mystery and suspense. It’s not my favorite book of its genre, but it was a nice quick read that I felt like I needed.

One of the things this book has going for it is multiple points of view from different characters who played a major role in the disappearance of Anna, which I both loved and hated. I found switching between the perspective of different characters in each chapter interesting because it made me yearn to find out more about what happened to Anna and the people she cared about. But at the same time, it annoyed me too. What annoyed me about it is that there were too many characters whose perspective we were hearing from. It also didn’t really add anything to the story either other than creating more suspense over who could’ve taken Anna. I think I would’ve preferred to only have the perspective of the two characters who played a major role in the storyline, Ella and Sarah. Not only because their perspectives in the story were the most interesting to read, but because they actually contributed to having more information on what happened. Plus, we didn’t really need Matthew and Henry’s point of view because neither of their perspectives contribute too much to the overall storyline.

I did enjoy reading I Am Watching You though because I found the story to be interesting. There was so much mystery surrounding Anna’s disappearance that I really wanted to find out what happened to her. I wanted to find out what secrets Sarah was keeping and to find out who was leaving the postcards to Ella. This book had so much mystery to it, making it a page turner for me because I wanted to find out the truth. Even if the truth of everything was too ugly to handle.

But at the same time, when I finally finished reading this book, I was disappointed. The story was interesting enough to keep me turning the page, but didn’t fully deliver. I think what made me disappointed in reading this book is that there are no hints at all to who the antagonist is going to be. Every time I thought I had an idea of who was responsible for Anna’s disappearance, the person was cleared of having nothing to do with her whereabouts. Then when we finally do find out the truth, it completely catches me off guard. It’s not at all a character we’d expect, a person with motives that nobody had any inkling of a clue about. The clue that reveals who really took Anna isn’t revealed until the end, almost as if the author had no more story left to tell so she just put it in the end to get the reader turning the page. So I was very disappointed when the mystery of this story was revealed to us because it just didn’t make all that much sense to me as a reader.

Another aspect of I Am Watching You that I didn’t enjoy was the overall storyline itself. It’s interesting, makes you want to turn the page. But with each different character’s perspective, certain moments in the story start becoming repetitive. It’s also very rushed, especially after the anniversary of Anna’s disappearance. You find out more information about what happened, secrets are revealed. But none of the secrets or information you find out is really that revealing to where Anna could possibly be. For example, the information Sarah was keeping secret wasn’t really that big of a reveal to the reader. It wasn’t anything that would’ve really helped the police have any clue as to where Anna had gone because we already knew she left Anna on her own while in London. I do feel sympathetic to her because of the other information she reveals to us, but none of that really helps find Anna.

While I Am Watching You is an interesting read, filled with a lot of mystery and suspense, that’s all it really is. It’s a good quick read, but will leave you feeling disappointed at the overall storyline and at the final reveal of what happened to Anna. Getting multiple perspectives of the story from characters who knew Anna adds another layer to the story, but is often repetitive, making it more of any annoyance than anything else. I enjoyed reading this book, but was overall disappointed when the truth of what happened was revealed.

 

 

Book Review: Carry On

Carry On Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

After reading Fangirl, I knew I needed to read this book to see if I’d enjoy it just as much. And I did, maybe even more so for several reasons. But I found I couldn’t give it a higher rating than Fangirl because I found a lot more things wrong with it that I’ll discuss shortly.

Carry On is about the universe Cath fantasizes about in Fangirl. It’s about the world of Watford, a school for those with magic. It centers on Simon Snow, a boy who’s supposed to be the greatest mage the World of Mages has ever seen. In this book, he returns to school for his last year at Watford and his biggest nemesis/roommate Baz doesn’t return until several weeks later. It centers around the death of Baz’s mom along with Simon stopping the evil Humdrum who’s face is very similar to his.

What I enjoyed so much when reading this book is that it’s unique. While the storyline, characters and everything else in it are supposed to be a play off of Harry Potter, you can tell when reading it that it’s a completely different universe. I like that this story is very similar to the world I already love because it made it that much easier for me to understand everything that happened. The universe was very similar to Harry Potter, but in a humorous way that I appreciated. It was like Rainbow Rowell was writing a one novel parody of the Harry Potter series, but twisting it into something else that is just as enjoyable.

You Know You've Read a Good Book Paul Sweeney Quote
Via Popular Inspirational Quotes

I enjoyed reading Carry On so much that when I was finished, I was sad to see the story end. It felt like a piece of me had gone and went into Simon Snow’s world. And I know why I felt that way. This book has all of the elements I like in a story. It’s fantasy with a mixture of mystery, comedy, and its young adult literature that features LGBTQ characters. I like that the world Rowell portrays has magic in it, yet also has some real world elements mixed in that allow you as the reader to see magic alongside normal reality.

But most of all, one of my favorite features in this book is the relationship between Simon and Baz. Both characters are confused about their own identity, yet end up finding each other and connecting in a way you as the reader don’t expect: through the loss of a parent, aka, Baz’s mom who died many years ago at the hands of vampires. Simon could relate to what Baz was going through because of his own loss of not growing up with parents. So Simon did what he thought was right: to help Baz find out who really orchestrated the attack on the nursery that resulted in her death. This connection resulted in showing us their relationship continue to grow, from being roommates who hated each other to lovers. I loved seeing it come together because it was fun to watch the commentary between both of them as they uncovered the truth. It was entertaining, a breath of fresh air that I didn’t realize I needed. And it made moments in the story when things were turning weird more enjoyable for me. I could see the love for each other with each page I read and just couldn’t wait to watch their relationship continue to grow.

Carry On Simon Snow and Baz Pitch Because We Match Picture
Via Pinterest 

What also made Carry On an enjoyable read for me was the different points of view. I enjoyed reading this story from all of the character’s perspectives. It allowed me a better understanding of what was going on, gave me a clue about things I didn’t know before. It also made this book even more interesting because we were given access to these character’s thoughts and feelings, given an understanding as to what they were doing and why. I liked having access to all of the characters in this way because it allowed me to immerse myself even further into the story. It’s also different from any other fantasy novel I’ve read because there’s usually only one perspective that you have access to.

While Carry On is definitely a page turner, there were some elements when it came to the story that I disliked. For one, I thought the names of the spells in this world was ridiculous. I don’t know what Rowell was thinking when she came up with that idea, but it didn’t make sense to me. Especially because it wasn’t at all realistic to what magic is normally like in books. While this allows her world to be uniquely different, I don’t see how these different incantations would even be justified for someone with magic to say. I don’t know if she thought of this as a way to make fun of magic or something, but I just don’t see why magic wielders would have incantations that are nursery rhymes or common sayings that someone normal could say. That sounds like it could potentially lead to an accident, an incident that very easily could’ve been prevented.

I also wasn’t particularly fond of Agatha’s character. I felt like she acted throughout the story like she was above everyone else and just didn’t seem to care about the people she had called friends for the past seven years. Throughout Carry On, she was completely selfish, focusing only on the things that affected her life. She didn’t seem at all remotely interested in keeping up a friendship with Simon and Penelope, yet felt like she could criticize both of them for working with Baz to uncover the truth about his mother’s death. I felt like her character just existed in the story, but didn’t really belong. She was just in the story, wasting space that could’ve been better spent on other characters that played a crucial role in the overall plot.  I just didn’t like Agatha and wish she wasn’t a part of the story at all.

While this book was definitely a page turner for me, another criticism I have is that the overall plot was okay. It definitely had quite a chunk of holes in it that made it difficult to enjoy it as much as I’d have liked. I think part of the problem for me is that Simon Snow’s story is rushed. The whole plot structure in this story runs a little too fast, leaving very little room for making sure nothings being left out. I think part of the reason this is even a problem is because I feel like this story should’ve been spread out into multiple books. That would’ve given Rowell the chance to get the structure and story together and figure out how to end it. Instead, this story is at the final chapter of Simon Snow’s whole story. You learn most of what Carry On is about if you’ve read Fangirl, but I don’t think it’s enough because we miss out on all of the other years Simon Snow is at Watford. You get bits and pieces of some of the important details, but it’s not enough for us to just jump to the finale and see how everything will end for Simon Snow, which by the way is actually pretty disappointing too. With the plot, it feels like you’re missing something, yet not missing anything at all. It would for me be like only reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the Harry Potter series and expecting to know every detail of the whole series without reading any of the other books. I feel like we miss too much and that the details we are given aren’t enough and have holes in them that don’t really connect the story.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Carry On much more than Fangirl. But because of the amount of criticisms I found myself having about it, it would’ve been unfair to give it a higher rating. But that doesn’t make it any less of a good read for those who want to be taken away to a magical world or for people who want to read about two boys falling in love.

 

 

Book Review: Color Blind (Dr. Jenna Ramey #1)

Color Blind Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

SYNESTHESIA: 
A neurological condition characterized by automatic, involuntary sensory perceptions triggered by seemingly unrelated stimuli.

There is something unusual about Dr. Jenna Ramey’s brain, a rare perceptual quirk that punctuates her experiences with flashes of color. They are hard to explain: red can mean anger, or love, or strength. But she can use these spontaneous mental associations, understand and interpret them enough to help her read people and situations in ways others cannot. As an FBI forensic psychiatrist, she used it to profile and catch criminals. Years ago, she used it to save her own family from her charming, sociopathic mother.

Now, the FBI has detained a mass murderer and called for Jenna’s help. Upon interrogation she learns that, behind bars or not, he holds the power to harm more innocents—and is obsessed with gaining power over Jenna herself. He has a partner still on the loose. And Jenna’s unique mind, with its strange and subtle perceptions, may be all that can prevent a terrifying reality…

Wow, what an enjoyable read! This book was quite the page turner. It was a mixture of crime fiction and neurology. The story centers on Dr. Jenna Ramey, a woman with the ability to read people through a neurological condition that allows her to see colors surrounding people. She uses her special ability to help profile and catch criminals. But she also had to use this ability to save her family from her wicked mother when she was younger. Now, she’s called to help with a case involving a mass murder who holds power even when he’s behind bars and who might possibly be connected with her mother in some way.

What I enjoyed about reading Color Blind is seeing the story from Dr. Jenna Ramey’s perspective. I loved learning more about her condition, being able to see the detail put into describing the colors she was experiencing from the people she talked to. I’ve never read a crime fiction story that went this much into detail, and I found each piece of information I learned about Dr. Ramey more and more interesting. It made the story that much more interesting for me to want to continue reading to find out what happened next. It also showed that Colby Marshall did her research on synesthesia, a condition I’ve never really heard of myself until now. Makes me want to do my own research on the topic to see what more I can learn.

I also enjoyed this read because I found the story and characters to be interesting. I liked getting to hear more about Dr. Ramey’s background, find out about her mother Claudia and how she saved her family from uncertain death. I like how personal this case ended up being for Dr. Ramey because you could see her doing the best she could to save those around her. I found myself really engrossed in this story because of how interesting the storyline became that I couldn’t put this book down. I wanted to find out how Isaac was connected to Claudia and how that resulted in the events that followed. I also found Dr. Ramey’s relationship with Yancy to be most interesting, even though I don’t really understand why her connection with him is stronger than what she had with Hank.

I also like Color Blind because it’s crime fiction. I especially like that they showed Dr. Ramey as someone who doesn’t bask in her celebrity status. She’s a sincere person who wants to do things to keep those she cares about safe from the harm her mother will cause. Because once her mother gets out, she knows her mother will come for her and those she holds dear. This book was just such a page turner for me that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

I appreciate that they include some video game talk in this book. I like that Marshall has Isaac and Sebastian meet each other to make their plans in a video game that they both play. It’s something you normally don’t see in crime fiction stories, so I was surprised by it, but really liked it.

There are only a couple of things with this book I didn’t particularly like. For one, I felt like the connection between Isaac and Claudia was too disappointing. While it was an interesting spin I didn’t see coming, it wasn’t all that surprising for me to begin with. You could tell there was a connection between the two from the beginning just from the way Isaac interacts with Dr. Ramey and how he knew more about her than anyone else.

I also felt like most of the ending was pretty rushed because the last half of the story moves along very fast. Everything happens all at once, like the pieces were there just waiting to be lined up. While I usually don’t mind that, in this story the pieces that came together were pretty disappointing. For example, they made the capture of Thadius too easy to me and I found myself actually feeling for Sebastian. Despite his ties to Isaac, he didn’t seem like too bad of a kid, just troubled and in need of serious help. The end itself while interesting just didn’t do too much for me other than make me sad that the book was over. The only thing interesting about it to me was what happened with Claudia because I find her character to be really intriguing.

Despite these small things most people wouldn’t have minded, I found Color Blind to be a fantastic read. It had a little bit of everything I enjoy about crime novels, plus gave me the chance to learn something new. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to read the rest of the series to see what happens to Dr. Ramey next.

Book Review: Hide and Seek (The Lying Game #4)

Rating: 4 stars

My friends and I used to play lying games. Now my twin sister is living one.

When I was alive, my family seemed picture-perfect. My adoptive parents adored me, and my little sister, Laurel, copied my every move. But now that my long-lost twin, Emma, has taken my place to solve my murder, we’re both learning just how flawed my family really is.

Laurel is shooting Emma nasty looks and sneaking around with my ex-boyfriend. And it turns out my parents are keeping a huge secret – could it be the reason I’m dead?

How far would they go to keep the truth buried? No one can harm me now, but Emma is still fair game. And if she’s not careful, she’ll end up buried, too…

Like the rest of the series, I found Hide and Seek to be such an enjoyable read. After ruling out Thayer as Sutton’s killer, some of those she holds dear become the next suspects on Emma’s list. Each has a potential motive for killing Sutton, but when Emma finds out what they’ve been hiding, she learns more about her and her twin than she knew before. But knowing these truths helps her realize there just might be someone she never expected to be behind Sutton’s death. 

I like this book in the series for different reasons than its predecessors. For one, you learn more about Emma and Sutton’s family, secrets you didn’t expect to uncover about their mother and how Sutton’s adoptive parents are connected to her. I like how this is included in this book in the series because we as readers actually don’t know too much about their family at all. I also think it gives this story more character development because Sutton continues to grow as a person when she realizes how little effort she put in to try to connect with her family. I honestly think family is the central theme in Hide and Seek because as Emma begins to bond with Sutton’s parents, she forms a stronger connection with them, which opens up to her being able to have a family to call her own for the first time. I find it to be a part of the story I truly enjoy because family is one of the most important things to me. So I’m rooting for her to finally have a home to call her own. 

Another aspect in this book I enjoyed is that there were a lot of surprising moments I didn’t see coming. These moments in the story made me want to continue reading in order to see Emma and Sutton’s reactions to what was going on. You discover the secret Sutton’s parents are keeping and how it reveals a new suspect to them that we all didn’t expect, someone who plays an important role in this series. 

I find with each page I read how much I love Shepard’s writing. The story is intense, full of mystery whenever it needs to be and she does a wonderful job of bringing detail through the flashbacks we experience. I find them to be interesting because she does a good job using them to bring new information to light. What I do wonder with them though is if Emma experiences them too, or if Sutton is just slowly recalling memories to unlock her murder. From what you read, I don’t think Emma is a part of those moments, since Emma and Sutton can’t communicate on their own right now. It’ll be interesting though as I get closer to the end of the series to see how Shepard decides to end Sutton’s part of the story. 

The one thing with Hide and Seek I don’t like is the same thing I don’t like with the rest of the series. The reason I hate this pattern so much is because I feel like she’s revealing a little too much to us. Because with each person eliminated as a suspect, we have less of a chance in feeling surprised when the suspect is finally revealed to us. It also makes these books a little predictable too because the reader already knows to suspect the person Emma and Sutton are suspicious of to be innocent of the crime committed. However, there is still a good side to this too. We get to know these people a little better, watch their character develop as the story reaches its climax. We get to better understand why this character is important in Sutton’s life while watching Emma learn something new about her lost twin everyday. It also eliminates people she knows, taking us one step closer to the actual killer. So while at times this pattern can be so predictable, it does have its benefits too. 

However, despite this one flaw in this book/series, I’m still enjoying it and can’t wait to see what befalls Emma next. It’s definitely been worth the read to me. 

Book Review: Two Truths and a Lie (The Lying Game #3)

Rating: 4 stars

Sutton Mercer watches from the afterlife as her long-lost twin, Emma Paxton, takes over her identity to solve her murder. But after ruling out her early leads, Emma still hasn’t found Sutton’s killer. A lot of people wanted her dead—but one name keeps popping up: Thayer Vega. When the gorgeous and mysterious Thayer returns to town, Emma has to move fast to figure out whether he’s back for revenge…or if he already got it.

When I first started reading this series, I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about it. The Lying Game was an intriguing read, but it lacked direction and character development, making me wonder if deciding to give this series a chance was a mistake. But I continued on anyway, knowing I could call it quits if I felt the need. Never Have I Ever upped the ante, bringing with it stronger writing, the character development The Lying Game was missing, and moving the plot further in ways I wasn’t expecting. As a reader, you finally could see where Shepard wanted the story to go and we’re looking forward to go on the journey. 

With Two Truths and a Lie, I still feel like the story continues to be enthralling. In this book, Madeline’s mysterious brother Thayer returns to town. While Emma doesn’t know too much about him, she’s heard of him and is immediately suspicious of him. She wonders whether he’s involved with her death, doing whatever means necessary to figure out what connection he has with Sutton the night she’s murdered. 

What I like about this book in the series is the reader gets introduced to Thayer and learns more about him. He’s someone we don’t really know too much about so it’s exciting to see him reappear and see how everyone reacts to his return. It’s also good he’s come back because you learn he’s with Sutton briefly on the night she’s killed and that it’s possible he could hold the key to who killed her. I also like his character because he’s the bad boy guy in this series.  You can also tell from the flashbacks that he had a strong connection with Sutton, to where you have a better understanding of his character and all he’s gone through to get to the point where he decides to return. 

I continue to enjoy Sutton’s flashbacks. They provide an interesting perspective on the characters. And when she has one, I always wonder what we’re going to see, what piece of the puzzle that’s Sutton’s death will be revealed. I also like that she’s been going through her own development while these events unfold. While Sutton was alive, it’s clear she didn’t cherish the life she had. But since her death, she seems to realize her own shortcomings and becomes better because of it. 

I also continue to enjoy the plot in this series. I think it’s continuing to move forward in incredible ways, bringing plenty of conflict for the reader to want to read more. It’s also well-written because I’ve yet to truly figure out who killed Sutton. I have a couple potential suspects in mind, but want to wait and see how this series ends before voicing them aloud.

I still don’t like Emma and Sutton’s process of elimination when it comes to who killed her. While it intrigued me because we get to learn more about the people Emma suspects killed Sutton, her suspects are never solid, sure picks. In many ways, suspecting these people has begun to show signs of Emma being paranoid because she feels like she can’t trust anyone around her. But then she finds a small amount of proof, believing she’s cleared someone’s name and everything becomes all right in her universe. Until she stumbles upon more information that makes her paranoid all over again about someone else. I don’t think this is the best way for Emma to find her sister’s killer, though I understand there’s only so much she can do to find this person without putting other’s lives at risk. But I think this is the pattern in this series, from what I’ve read so far. 

Even with this key issue for me, I still really enjoyed reading Two Truths and a Lie. It was a page turner that just kept me going because I want to find out what really happened to her and how this series will ultimately end. 

Book Review: Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game #2)

Rating: 4 stars

My perfect life was a lie.

Now I’d do anything to uncover the truth.

Not long ago, I had everything a girl could wish for: amazing friends, an adorable boyfriend, a loving family. But none of them know that I’m gone–that I’m dead. To solve my murder, my long-lost twin sister, Emma, has taken my place. She sleeps in my room, wears my clothes, and calls my parents Mom and Dad.

And my killer is watching her every move.

I remember little from my life, just flashes and flickers, so all I can do is follow along as Emma tries to solve the mystery of my disappearance. But the deeper she digs, the more suspects she uncovers. It turns out my friends and I played a lot of games–games that ruined people’s lives. Anyone could want revenge . .. anyone could want me–and now Emma–dead.

When I finished reading The Lying Game, I initially wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue reading this series or not. But after reading Never Have I Ever, I realized this is a story I want to continue. 
This book is so much better than its predecessor for a number of reasons. For one, the story telling has drastically improved, almost as if Sara Shepard already had a plan in motion of what she wanted her characters to do next. I found myself following Emma and Sutton along on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next. 

The characters are another reason I want to continue reading this series. In The Lying Game, Shepard did a horrible job at developing them in a way that made me want to learn more about them. However, in Never Have I Ever, she truly brings the characters to life via Emma’s dialogue with Sutton’s friends. In this book, I felt like Shepard did a really good job of making these characters more relatable to where I understood their problems and wished I could comfort them. She made me feel really sympathetic to them, which made me want to continue reading. 

The mystery surrounding Sutton’s death also drew me further into the story. I felt like the flashbacks Sutton experienced helped better understand her character while also helping eliminate potential suspects to her murder. So far, every person Emma suspects killed her twin has been proven wrong, making you want to continue reading to find out who her killer could be. 

What also makes me interested in wanting to continue reading this series is the amazing progress Shepard has made in moving the plot of the story along. A lot happened to Emma in this book than in the first one that added excitement to the story. The amount of conflict that occurs really spices things up, to where you think you have it figured out, but then another suspect is eliminated. This all makes you wonder whose going to appear in this series next, which is both exciting and annoying.

The reason I find this annoying is because there are so many people who could’ve killed Sutton. While I find it nice Emma has been able to eliminate some people as being her sister’s killer, I feel like we still aren’t anywhere close to getting the right suspect. This worries me because I’m concerned that this could drag the series on in a way to where I’m not going to want to read it anymore. I also think that even though she’s been able to eliminate some people, she should still be suspicious of them anyway, because they still have a motive, even if Emma and Sutton don’t see it that way anymore. 

Another thing I don’t like is how this book ended. I hate that she ended this book with a cliff hanger, because now I feel like I need to know what happens next. 

But despite these two things, I really enjoyed reading Never Have I Ever  much better than The Lying Game. I hope the next book in this series is just as good because I can’t wait to read it. 

Book Review: The Lying Game (The Lying Game #1) 

Rating: 3 stars

I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does–an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me–to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, care-free daughter when she hugs my parents goodnight? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.

Let the lying game begin.

This book is an interesting read, good at keeping the reader guessing at every turn. However, I sometimes found the storyline to be completely unrealistic and silly due to the nature of these characters and their lives. 

The main storyline of this book is about a girl named Emma, whose twin sister Sutton is dead. Emma knows completely nothing about her and doesn’t even know she has a twin until one day she sees a video of a girl being choked on the internet. She then searches for her sister, hoping to meet with her and maybe become a family. Instead, she finds herself having to take her sister’s place if she wants to live, quickly realizing there’s more to her twin than she realizes. Meanwhile, Sutton is watching all of this unfold and there’s nothing she can do to interfere. Her memories of her family and friends are completely blank and there’s nothing she can do to fill in the pieces and help Emma find her killer. 

What I enjoyed about this story was the dynamic between the sisters. Emma grew up in a completely different environment than Sutton, yet seems to be the one who truly has her head on her shoulders. Yet, Sutton is the one who had a much better life, but from what the reader learns of her character she isn’t really that great of a person. But you sympathize with her anyway because she’s dead and doesn’t remember what she was like when she was alive. I find it interesting that they have these two different dynamics because the reader is given the chance to see a different side of Sutton’s character. I also found myself emphasizing with Emma too because she’s put in a difficult predicament. She’s always wanted a family, yet the one time she’s given that opportunity is snatched away from her with the discovery that her twin sister is dead. Instead of spending time with her twin getting to know her better, she’s busy trying to find her killer. You sympathize with her because you want things in her life to go right for once. 

I also enjoyed this read because of Sutton’s perspective. She’s dead, yet she’s with Emma the whole time, trying to help find her killer. She can’t talk to Emma or communicate with her in any way, but is able to follow her around and see everything she does. I found it interesting that they had her character like this because they made her different than when she was alive. I also feel like it adds more to the story, because it feels like there’s something she’s not telling you. At the same time, I find it too convenient that she doesn’t remember anything. I know she’s dead and that probably has her memory wiped clean. But I feel like she has so many secrets already that I wouldn’t be too surprised about her lying either. 

However, while the mystery surrounding Sutton’s death makes for an interesting read, there are some things with The Lying Game I just don’t like. For one, I feel like Sutton’s character is a cliché. The popular girl dying just seems like something that happens in a lot of novels. Especially when it’s a popular girl who acts like a complete bitch, both towards her friends and those she’s not close with. I know it’s done with the purpose of making it that much harder to find her killer, since even her own friends could’ve done it, but to me it’s a really silly way to go about this story. It makes it harder for the reader to sympathize with her death and enjoy the story because even her friends become a cliché too. 

And I think they are because I’m surprised they haven’t figured out Emma yet. I think that’s one of the things I find unrealistic about this story, because Sutton is their friend. So they should be able to tell Emma doesn’t act like her even though they’re twins. Then again, if they’re responsible for her death, they wouldn’t act any differently. But I still find it hard that if they aren’t involved they don’t notice her acting differently than usual. Especially with the amount of time they’ve been friends with each other. 

Either way, The Lying Game is an interesting read. While I don’t know if I’ll stick with the series completely, I want to try and give it a chance by reading the second book and see. 

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