4.5 star, YA

Review: Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

In Perfect on Paper: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back.

Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.

Darcy Phillips:
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.

However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.

Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.

Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?

Can I first say that I feel this book is such a breath of fresh air to read? While I have read a number of LGTBQ+ books with protagonists in the community over the last few years, I don’t see bisexual protagonists as much, let alone those who may be attracted to the opposite sex. Perfect on Paper is a wonderful love letter to those who are a part of the community but still struggle with truly belonging.

Continue reading “Review: Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales”
3 star, YA

Review: You’re So Dead by Ash Parsons

A hilarious Agatha Christie-inspired YA thriller-comedy about three best friends who sneak into an influencers-only festival event (gone wrong), only to discover a killer is in their midst–and they have to uncover the truth and solve the mystery before it’s too late. Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying and Truly Devious .

Plum Winter has always come in second to her sister, the unbelievably cool, famous influencer Peach Winter. And when Peach is invited to an all-expenses paid trip to a luxurious art and music festival for influencers on a private island in the Caribbean, Plum decides it’s finally her time to shine. So she intercepts the invite–and asks her two best friends Antonia and Marlowe to come along to the fest with her. It’ll be a spring break they’ll never forget.

But when Plum and her friends get to the island, it’s not anything like it seemed in the invite. The island is run-down, creepy, and there doesn’t even seem to be a festival–it’s just seven other quasi-celebrities and influencers, and none of the glitz and glamor she expected. Then people start to die…

Plum and her friends soon realize that someone has lured each of them to the “festival” to kill them. Someone has a vendetta against every person on the island–and no one is supposed to leave the island alive. So, together, Plum, Antonia, and Marlowe will do whatever it takes to unravel the mystery of the killer, and fight to save themselves and as many influencers as they can, before it’s too late.

Let’s set the night on fire!

When you didn’t think there was such a book that existed like this, You’re So Dead produced a satirical, suspenseful story that seems like it could really be a thing in this day and age of social media obsession.

Plum Winter, our dear protagonist, has always felt like second-tier, especially with a famous influencer older sister who left her behind for fame and status. When a invitation letter for her sister comes for a prestigious, influencer-only festival on a paradise island, Plum is all for taking her sister’s place (along with a few of her closest friends).

A parody of the infamous Fyre Festival, little do Plum and her friends know, they’re stepping not into a wild 3-day music festival but…a sinister plan that will lead to casualties.

I loved the premise of this. It was strange yet very believable. Why wouldn’t some deranged person/persons go to the ultimate length to deceive some potential targets to come to this isolated island for fun, masking their evil motives? I most definitely enjoyed seeing how the group of semi-influencers that ended up on the island slowly understand that this was never about music and rubbing elbows with more influential people. It was a lure to bring them to their deaths.

For no one is meant to survive Pyre Festival. (Yes, Pyre Festival is the name…)

The suspenseful aspect definitely built up well. You knew someone was going to die. Sometimes you knew it was going to occur within a certain time window (thank you, chapter titles). Yet I didn’t know who, when or how it was going down and that left me on my toes! It’s part of my favourite element in thrillers. The wait. The drop of the shoe. Turning around and seeing a friendly face that…isn’t actually your friend.

That’s right, folks. Because at Pyre Festival, there are a number of victims who want to escape the island.

But there is a killer among them.

*dun dun dun dun*

Okay, that was me trying to insert scary music. Now, the things I didn’t enjoy as much was the lack of enthusiasm I had for Plum and her 2 best friends who were dragged into this misadventure with her. They were nice girls who were never meant to be a part of this murderous mayhem. Plum, in particular, always felt so guilty for putting them all in this place. But she was so focused and obsessed on being seen, on being special, that is as the whole reason why she stole the invite from her sister in the first place. I understand, believe me, but there was just so much guilt in that girl.

Oh, and she happened to be in love with her best friend. Who may die on this island with her. The romance bits felt a little out of place (you know, amidst all the trying-not-to-die parts), but it was a nice bit of LGBTQ representation there so I can’t fault it.

To be honest, a lot of the people stuck on the island were not very enjoyable. I suppose that’s what made it entertaining. Who would want to target all these people in particular? Was it just one of them that set a killer off, or did they all have an enemy in common? So yes, they were an interesting bunch but not always great people to be around. I only liked poor, naive streamer Jude. But mostly because he reminded me of a lost puppy dog trying not to get kicked.

All this to say is, if you’re looking for some satirical, island-trapped murder plot, then look no further. You’re So Dead is the book for you!

Overall Recommendation:

You’re So Dead is a great combination of comical satire, suspense and thriller as we follow a group of semi-influencers trapped on an island under the premise of an epic music festival that would elevate their popularity. With a killer among them hunting one target at a time, no one knows who or when another one of them might fall victim to whoever meticulously planned such an elaborate farce. While this means the characters may not be the most likeable (they’ve all done something that makes them a little mean), they’re realistic and you can’t help but hope the ones you like don’t turn out to be the devil in disguise. A quick and suspenseful read, it’s definitely an interesting book to pick up if you don’t know what you’re feeling at the moment for your next read.

4 star, YA

Review: People Like Us by Dana Mele

people like us -dana meleKay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive.

Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

4 Drink Me Potions

With a boarding school setting similar to Truly Devious, whodunnit suspect scenarios such as One of Us is Lying, and the cruelty of a popular it girl group likened to the popular Pretty Little Liars series, People Like Us feels both psychologically familiar yet carries a darker, more messed up undertone.

I don’t know what’s been floating around in the air lately but I’m really digging the dive into (psychological) thrillers and mysteries in YA. This book is part of that ongoing trend that should deservedly get more attention.

The novel starts off with a group of seemingly popular girls without a care in the world. They’re just leaving a party and BAM they find a dead body.

From there, it leaves your typical, simple whodunnit mystery. Our protagonist, Kay, is seemingly blackmailed by the dead girl. What a strange twist, huh?

I would love to feel more bad for her, but she’s not the most lovable person. She’s a pretty flawed, human girl with a secret past that we don’t know about. And that’s what makes it more fun to read and follow along what may happen next.

I flew through this book in almost one sitting. I wanted to know who’s next on this hit list created by the dead girl. I loved the artistry behind the tasks that Kay was forced to do in order to keep her secret. It was poetic and hauntingly cruel. You never knew who was next (and what did they do *gasp*) and who to trust. I sometimes could barely trust Kay’s own perspective because who knows if she’s hiding something huge from us?

Yet I found myself underwhelmed with other elements of the story.

Including the ending.

Yes, everything – and everyone – was kind of messed up. The culprit wasn’t unguessable but the reasoning behind it all wasn’t amazing. The whys matter to me, not just the whodunnit anymore.

Kay’s secret that pushed her so far to protect was…interesting but the delivery to us, the unknowing readers, wasn’t the best. Maybe I’m just being picky, but there was something in the execution that prevented me from loving it wholeheartedly.

Oh by the way, you romance lovers, there was something present in the story for you too. Though at times I wasn’t sure it was all that necessary to force it in.

Kay’s bisexual so throughout the book, she was torn between her ex-boyfriend and her girl best friend. They made for great suspects with motives, no doubt about it, but it was a lot of drama that felt like it just filled in the empty gaps around the main mystery instead of adding to the story itself as an important point.

So as mysteries go, it was an immediately satisfying rollercoaster spin that couldn’t be stopped once it started – for the most part – but after getting off of it, there’re a few mixed feelings thrown in there. People Like Us definitely wasn’t quite what I expected.

Overall Recommendation:

A YA thriller that gives you a glimpse into the secrets at an all girls boarding school, People Like Us was a fast-paced read that took some weird turns along the ride. With a bisexual protagonist (full of romantic angst and drama) and her hidden secret propelling her on a task list sent from a dead girl, lies get unfolded and intrigue hits its max. Although it was a fun journey, the ending came somewhat abruptly that left a strange, but lasting, impression. If you’re one for mysteries (and boarding schools!), definitely give it a shot.