DEAD LUCKY by Andreina Cordani

Lucky to be rich. Lucky to be famous. Lucky to be alive.

Xav, Ed, Leni, Maxine.

They are the influencers, the lucky ones. Gifted, gilded people who have everything – fame, respect, adulation, more freebies than they can ever unbox. Their lives, loves and feuds are shared with millions of fans on the streaming platform PlayMii, and they are living the dream.

But it’s broken Ed’s heart.

It’s crushing Maxine.

It’s destroying Leni’s friendships.

And it’s gone to Xav’s head.

Then, a masked figure walks into Xav’s apartment and murders him on camera.

As the world reels with shock, Maxine discovers Xav was sitting on a file of secrets about his fellow creators – career-destroying secrets that they’d do anything to keep hidden. And if she doesn’t find the file, she could be next . . .


Title : Dead Lucky
Author : Andreina Cordani
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 323
Genre : Thriller YA/NA
Publisher : Atom Books
Release Date : January 13, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines
Egos
Shocks from start to finish
What is filmed lives forever
Behind the scenes of influencers

Dead Lucky started with a big boom that basically sealed my allegiance from the get go. My reading experience was that I couldn’t put this down and I loved the wild ride.

This story is centred around a group of ex-high school friends who started a dare/stunt channel on the popular PlayMii site that went viral. This rocketed these kids to fame and they all went their seperate influencer way. This lifestyle, the individual personalities of the influencers and their insipid and occasional genuine ways were addictive reading. From Xav to Maxine, this was a hold your breath while judging read.

Most of the story was told from Maxine’s pov. She was heralded the dumb influencer but she was more mature and insightful that most of them; I enjoyed her character growth. As to the who-dunnit, that consumed the book…and me. I didn’t figure it out until late on and my initial guesses were off base.

This YA/NA thriller is well written, it doesn’t poke too much at the concept of influencers but it does expose some elements that we all wonder at. What it does do, is it brings the real person behind the influencer to the fore, what’s behind the camera, the campaigns, the videos. There’s much to unpick here about this element of contemporary society if that’s your thing.

I highly recommend this thriller, I enjoyed it front to back.

Thank you to Atom Books for the early review copy.

THE MAID by Nita Prose

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.


Title : The Maid
Author : Nita Prose
Format : ARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : contemporary mystery / thriller
Publisher : Ballantine Books
Release Date : January 4, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think readers are going to be a bit split on The Maid. For die-hard crime/mystery enthusiasts this might be a bit of a letdown because when it comes down to it.. this is very simplistic. And a bit slow. But it’s both of those things because of our perspective and narrator.

Molly Gray is different. It’s never stated outright but I would maybe judge she’s somewhere on the spectrum? She’s needed her grandmother to guide her through many exchanges or situations throughout her life and now, with her grandmother recently dead, she’s a bit at loose ends. Which makes the fact that she gets caught up in murder rather poor timing, what with the fact that no one has her best interests in mind and she’s seemingly friendless.

What was most interesting, besides Molly herself, was how what we thought to be true of some of the people and dynamics around her was decidedly the opposite. As a reader, some moments were painful, others were just sad, but the way it was done through the use of only one POV was really great. I won’t say more because I enjoyed the reveal but maybe everything I’ve said up until now will give you an idea.

I don’t know if I would classify this as a cozy mystery but it might be somewhere in the same realm. Molly herself inspires both some heartbreak and some warm and fuzzies and there does come to be something of an ensemble in the end and that, too, was warm and fuzzy inducing.

Everything unique about this story was a definite highlight, and the writing was easy to churn through, but for all the unique elements I don’t think this will be particularly memorable. I would pick up the author again, though; and despite the lower rating than I expected to dole out, if this kind of vibe seems like your thing, I would encourage you to pick it up.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

AS GOOD AS DEAD by Holly Jackson

The highly-anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again…

Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?

Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars.

Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. . . 


Title : As Good As Dead
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 464
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 28, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

If not for the fact that I feel obligated to review this, as the first two books are on the blog, I would probably take the coward’s way out and just not review; because I have no idea how to process my feelings about this. Or, rather, I am still processing them.

In hindsight all the extremes we visit in this finale do make sense. The argument could definitely be made that it was all building to this. But I wish we could’ve had the same result via a different means. I wish we hadn’t needed to see those extremes. It added a whole other thriller-y layer to this series, that’s for sure, but it’s hard to settle with.

It does prove that age old adage true, though. I won’t tell you which one, though; it would be a spoiler.

I’m going to slap this with a three because I think the craft and calculation behind this series, and this finale, is well done. And I would definitely read this author again. Especially if she writes in this genre. But the way this one fell out is just a little too.. well. Too something.

However, if you’re looking for a YA thriller/mystery series that definitely gets darker as the series goes on, with mixed media elements, with strong will-go-to-hell-and-back friendships aka found family presence, I would actually recommend.

WE WERE NEVER HERE by Andrea Bartz

On holiday in Chile with her best friend Kristen, Emily is having the time of her life.

Until one night, she finds their hotel suite covered in blood.

Kristen claims a backpacker attacked her. She shouted, but no-one heard. She struggled, but he was too strong.

She had no option but to kill him.

With no evidence of the assault, Emily must help her hide the body. . .

Back home, Emily tries to forget what happened, but a surprise visit from Kristen forces her to confront the events of that night.

As the walls close in, Emily asks herself: can her closest friend be trusted?


Title : We Were Never Here
Author : Andrea Bartz
Format : eARC
Page Count : 306
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Penguin
Release Date : August 3, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Sucked in
Spat out
Head spinning

That’s pretty much me on the whole reading experience of this book and on finishing. What did I read? What were those characters?

This story of two besties having holidays off the beaten track togther across the years focused in particular on one holiday to Cambodia and one to Chile. Not far into the book, I just knew there was something fishy about one of these besties but I had no idea how this was going to escalate.

This read felt like a combination of Single White Female (look it up if you’re unfamiliar) and Shallow Grave. On the one hand I was rooting for the more innocent of the pair and on the other hand, I was conflicted at her implicitness in the events that played out.

It all got a lot more sinister as it culminated.

Did I enjoy it? I guess in some ways yes, but it was angsty, uncomfortable reading. That said, I could not look away or put the book down. It was a wild trip and an all consuming read.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.

THE GIRLS I’VE BEEN by Tess Sharpe

A slick, twisty YA page-turner about the daughter of a con artist who is taken hostage in a bank heist.

Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.

For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:

#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.

#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:

#3: Right after they enter bank, two guys start robbing it.

The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage…


Title : The Girls I’ve Been
Author : Tess Sharpe
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA contemporary thriller
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : January 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was.. wow.

I don’t know what I expected when I picked this up (#NoBlurbers) but this was an off the cuff recommendation from a friend of mine (hi Sam!) and I saw my library had it so thought, hey, why not. And wow.

[..] she kissed me like I was prickly, like I was already understood, like I was worth it.

I really don’t even know where to begin. Within these pages you’ll find con artists, queer humans, trauma, clever girls, one of the absolute best representations of found family I’ve ever read, sharp edges, devoted sisters, dangerous situations, and the absolute will to survive.

I hate the whole “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” saying. It’s bullshit. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you is worse. Sometimes what kills you is preferable. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you messes you up so bad it’s always a fight to make it through what you’re left with.

Some books inspire paragraphs upon paragraphs of words and sometimes you’re just just staring at a blinking cursor. This is obviously the latter.

Netflix has apparently snatched this up to be adapted, with Millie Bobby Brown to star, and that is incredibly exciting. If they capture even half the magic of Sharpe’s words, pacing, and general vibe, it’ll be amazing. More amazing? It might get more people wanting to read the source material. Which you absolutely should. And, yes, I will be chewing through the author’s backlist between now and then.

Highly recommend.

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE by Victoria Lee

For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself. 


Title : A Lesson in Vengeance
Author : Victoria Lee
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ paranormal/thriller
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : August 3, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I think this would’ve worked so much better if, like one of the comp titles, this had been an adult (or at least new adult) novel. I think so much of what I struggled with, or found hard to believe, could have been easier to swallow if this had been aged up.

That said, I really enjoyed the first half of the story. We open up with our main character returning to this elite/exclusive/preppy highschool, almost like a pre-college collegiate style school, after time away in recovery from her girlfriend’s death. She soon finds being back on campus is damaging to her ability to discern reality from the belief that she’s being haunted; not by her girlfriend (or not only..) but by the ghosts of girls long dead who are built into the history, the mythology, of the school. Felicity sees things, feels things, and it makes the reader question her reliability as a narrator; is she delusional, is her grief causing her prior obsession with witchcraft, with the dead girls, making her see things that aren’t there or are these manifestations actually real?

.. grief would tie itself to the small things, that I’d be living my life as normal and then a bit of music or the cut of a girl’s smile would remind me of her and it would all flood back in.

Felicity’s journey, her obsession, her grief, her hauntings, they were all compelling. Where I started to side-eye things was with.. well, almost everything else. Certain characters, with certain influences and motivations, and how transparent it all seemed. And also, my biggest problem really, was just.. why? Maybe there wasn’t supposed to be a why. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

There was one big exception to the transparent bit, though. Something I definitely didn’t see coming. And I loved it? I don’t think many will. Infact, I think the ending in general will be polarizing. You’ve been warned!

I was definitely a bit hesitant going into this, no matter how pumped I was over the concept, because I had a rough go with Lee’s debut series. This? I loved the writing, I loved the dip in and out of spooky paranormal horror, the uncertainty of it all. I started this late at night and I won’t say it scared me but oh did it do a good job with the eerie vibes.

This might not have been a solid win but parts of it worked so so well for me. I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author, especially if they write more in this darker vein, but I think Lee would absolutely excel at an adult story. I hope one day it happens.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

FALLING by T.J. Newman 🎧

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.


Title : Falling
Author : T.J. Newman
Narrators : Steven Weber
Format : Audiobook
Length : 8 hours, 26 minutes
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date : July 6, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Fast-paced
Two tandem/linked stories
Won’t put you off flying

I’m giving this book 4 stars as much for the sweeping audio experience and the storyline in general. I think audio was the right format for this thriller for me, it felt like watching a really great disaster movie.

The story was fast-paced following a hostage situation and a plane situation. All focus was on Bill the pilot and Jo the head steward. These two characters really made the story but in addition, so did the whole air steward crew.

The baddies of the piece weren’t always obvious and I enjoyed the twists we got along the way. The backdrop for why all this happened was an interesting piece of contemporary political history that feels less explored in thrillers.

This was a ride and I sure enjoyed, punching through this in a few days, wishing myself back to the audiobook.

Thank you to LibroFM & Simon and Schuster Audio for the review copy.

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781797128221-falling

THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris 🎧

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling. 

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: Leave Wagner. Now.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career. 

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.


Title : The Other Black Girl
Author : Zakiya Dalila Harris
Narrators : Aja Naomi King, Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Bahni Turpin, Heather Alicia Sims
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hours, 33 minutes
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date : June 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Office politics
Undertones and rumblings
Allies or enemies

The Other Black Girl was an incredibly unusual thriller in terms of plot. It was an office-based story about the relationhip and power dynamics between the bosses and those wanting to move up the ranks, twinned with the inequality of people of colour in the workplace. All that led to a blend of competition, underhandedness and suspicion.

I’d seen this book heralded as a ‘Devil Wears Prada’ thriller but there was little I could equate to that story. There was zero humour or levity, but a lot of looking over the MC’s shoulder. It was hard to see who was friend or foe.

This was a fast-paced read with mulitple POVs and to be honest, I wanted to stay with Nella’s perspective most of the time. I got lost at points when the story moved back to a drama in office from some time ago with an black editor and author.

I didn’t like where the story ended up and that factor definitely brought the rating down for me. However, the journey through the story was tense and entertaining, so I would be eager to read Zakiya Dalila Harris again.

The narration of the audio was strong. Nella’s POV was pitched well, with that kind of suspicious tension that set the tone. There were other POVs that again were a little confusing at times but well narrated.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the audio and physical copies.

THE MAIDENS by Alex Michaelides 🎧

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.


Title : The Maidens
Author : Alex Michaelides
Narrators : Louise Brealey, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : June 15, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Creepy men galore
Power imbalance
Great plot with some fading

I felt really excited about this one, the Grecian historical connection, university, students and with a murder at the centre; this audio did deliver on those aspects. The setting conjured that academia feel but with an encroaching darkness of these ongoing murders.

Mariana as a MC had my empathy to some extent for her recent past but I wouldn’t describe her as brilliant (as per the blurb), in fact I found her to be completely stupid making accusations left, right and centre while running headlong into obvious danger. After a while, she annoyed me.

The Maidens had a complex plot at the heart and I really liked the depth and intracacies. It really kept me guessing, that is, until it didn’t as it faded towards the end. I felt somewhat disappointed in the final culmination. I’m not sure what the point of Fred was in the plot.

I was interested in how Sebastian could be such an important character and creepy from the grave, I thought there was some clever writing there.

The narration was dual POV which was 95% Mariana and 5% someone else. The narration was strong throughout.

Thank you to LibroFM and Macmillan Audio for the audio review copy.

THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON by Ryan Douglass

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed sixteen kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win. 


Title : The Taking of Jake Livingston
Author : Ryan Douglass
Format : eARC
Page Count : 256
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ fantasy/thriller
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : July 13, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

Hm. I’m leaving this unrated for now (for good?) because my thoughts are kind of all over the place.

I think, when you’re neck deep in the spooky thrilling creepiness of this story, you’re in it. You’re having a good scary time. The problem is when you pause, put the book down, and start wondering.. why. Why are these things happening, what is this world, what is the history.. and, the biggest most perplexing thing, why did the author choose to go in this direction with the villain.

I honestly think this would make a great movie because the atmosphere and the ambience, though hella confusing, still did a great job at creeping me out. Some of the visuals were, again, sometimes confusing but somehow still managed to be translated into my brain. But so much of this needs more. Yes, the story is short, so I guess a lot of this surface level non-explanation could be blamed on that but.. why was it short? Why wasn’t this longer, more fleshed out, given context? So much could’ve been improved, including the romance.

If you want a short spooky dose of a novel that brushes up against topics of racism and homophobia, without making them the central theme, and that will likely keep you on the edge of your seat, you could probably do worse. I just wish it could’ve done.. not better, maybe, but more.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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