5 star, YA

Review: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2

The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Timesbestseller, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder! More dark secrets are exposed in this addictive, true-crime fueled mystery. 

Pip is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

When the first book blew you out of the water, it’s probably a smart idea to tamp down expectations for book 2 in case it just disappoints you altogether. I have too often felt that way about first books of series I loved.

But I can’t lie. Good Girl, Bad Blood equally astounded me with its plot line, compelling characters and writing style.

After solving a formally closed case in her small town, Pip is done with solving crimes. She has witnessed how the aftermath has impacted those around her, including people she is close to. Even with the success of her podcast about her crime solving, there seems to be equal parts love and hate for her in the comments. I felt SO bad for her at times because the cost of fame is allowing people everywhere to judge you in ways they have no understanding of.

When her friend Connor’s brother goes missing at the memorial for Andie and Sal, it takes a lot of begging from her friend to dive into crime solving again. Pip lost more than people could understand in book 1 to solve the mystery, and I was even more infuriated when others, including friends, accused her of faking a crime to further the success of her podcast.

Nonetheless, this sequel is just as gritty as we follow Pip down a criminal’s mind. The pacing was excellent, albeit in a different way. Since this is a potential kidnapping crime, every moment counts and you can feel it in the chapter headings as the days go by. I couldn’t put it down as clue after clue was investigated.

I enjoyed the way old characters from book 1 were still very much present. They weren’t just throwaway people who didn’t ever matter but individuals who became more focused in this book based on this crime. I loved that this included Connor, someone we only met briefly in between major scenes in book 1, and now is a major part of the investigation with Pip for his brother.

In the sphere of romance, I enjoyed that this takes a slight backseat to the crime at hand (I mean, you would think romance shouldn’t be the highest priority when someone’s missing), but I did miss more Ravi-Pip interactions that we got in book 1 when he was more involved.

Likewise, the continuity of crimes that TV shows don’t always portray is the fact that criminals don’t always face justice. Without giving anything away, an arrest from book 1 is now moving into the courtroom and the reality is, the jury doesn’t always get it right if they aren’t presented with all the facts in an emotionally wrapped story. While it makes me indignant there’s always the possibility that catching the bad guy doesn’t equate to justice served, I’m glad Holly Jackson addresses that in some aspect here.

And as always, Pip was an amazing protagonist to follow. She’s inquisitive, empathetic and smart (both street smart and intellectually). I couldn’t have asked for a better MC’s POV.

I can go on about this book and its series but needless to say, the hype is well deserved and I cannot wait for the conclusion. Good Girl, Bad Blood is an exemplar mystery piece that balances the heavy topics and realistic characterization.

Overall Recommendation:

Good Girl, Bad Blood proves a second book in a series doesn’t have to be dull or overhyped. With yet another potential crime occurring in their small town, Pip comes out of her self-imposed crime solving retirement to help her friend Connor find his missing brother. Faced with online scrutiny and a criminal who seems to know exactly who she is, Pip, her boyfriend Ravi and Connor set out to investigate before it is too late. Every moment counts when it comes to a missing persons case, and the suspense is ramped up in typical Holly Jackson style. I couldn’t put this book down, even late into the early hours of the morning! The characterizations were absolutely excellent and I wouldn’t change a thing about this book.

5 star, YA

Review: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good. 

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.

Normally I am very picky when it comes to contemporaries. I enjoy them, they’re my guilty pleasures when I just want a solid read to fall in love with characters and the issues they have to overcome in their own lives, but very rarely do I do so in such a way that it makes me laugh and cry and feel for them the way I have with this book.

If I’m Being Honest features a protagonist I didn’t think I would love that much. Not only is she brutally honest to a fault – like, the word blunt has no meaning in her vocabulary – but she definitely falls under the category of mean girl more than your typical shy girl/people pleasers I find in YA contemporaries as our heroine. Yet, there is something refreshing about her because of this. The authors do not just write her as someone who is “bad” so simply, but is nuanced, especially in the way she becomes “better”.

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5 star, YA

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1

For readers of Kara Thomas and Karen McManus, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn’t add up, and a girl who’s determined to find the real killer–but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

This debut had me on the edge of my seat. Hold onto your hats because this was a wild ride that really hit the hype surrounding it.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder follows Pip, an amateur sleuth with a slight personal connection to a case that was considered solved in her small town. Under the guise of a school project to look at social media impact on a high profile case, in reality, Pip was going to conduct an investigation to see if Sal Singh, a boy she knew growing up, could really be a cold-blooded killer at heart like everyone thought he was.

Continue reading “Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson”