3 star, YA

Review: As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3

The highly anticipated, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the addictive A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series that reads like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end, you’ll never think the same of good girls again.

Pip’s good girl days are long behind her. After solving two murder cases and garnering internet fame from her crime podcast, she’s seen a lot.

But she’s still blindsided when it starts to feel like someone is watching her. It’s small things at first. A USB stick with footage recording her and the same anonymous source always asking her: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? It could be a harmless fan, but her gut is telling her danger is lurking.

When Pip starts to find connections between her possible stalker and a local serial killer, Pip knows that there is only one choice: find the person threatening her town including herself–or be as good as dead. Because maybe someone has been watching her all along…



Save herself to save herself.

Where do I even begin? If you’ve read my reviews of book 1 and book 2 in this series, you’d know how much I absolutely adored Holly Jackson’s writings. Both were a 5-star rating and I guess my expectations just soared too high in a way. Even after taking a day or two to process my feelings, I think this is the best way that I can articulate it all.

The plot and pacing

The writing (at least for the first half of the book) was just as splendid and well thought out as I’ve come to expect in Holly’s previous books. It was definitely darker than the first two books as now Pip, our favourite amateur detective, is potentially a victim of a crime than just objectively investigating one.

Likewise, this made the pacing go by quite quickly as she tries to outwit the stalker who first made a minor appearance in book 2. I particularly loved how so many little things that popped up in her first two cases can be somehow linked back to this most personal case yet. Things that made sense in the course of her investigations for the other crimes can still create new mysteries for this current one. Talk about full circle moments! Pip is always going on about that, but it’s so true. Everything that has brought her to this point in her life is tied to what is happening to her now, and I absolutely loved it. Holly Jackson is a genius plotting this.

The format is more like a regular book instead of the cool texts and interview formats that were more present in her other cases. Regardless of this, the writing was excellent here and I was on edge to find out what’ll happen next.

Then the second half of the book hits and it’s…different. The suspense immediately dies down because, well, the story isn’t a whodunnit anymore. That’s my favourite part in mysteries, by the way, and the previous books in the series didn’t show their hand so quickly.

The rest of the story drags a little in my opinion. It’s a lot of Pip’s meticulous brain planning and all of this clearly marks the end of the series since it’s so different from how her other cases resolved. A part of me even wanted to take a break from this book because it was dark and conflicting.

Characterization of Pip

This brings me to Pip herself. I loved her as a protagonist. She’s brilliant for an 18-year-old and carries herself like she’s on equal footing with all the adults she interviews. She’s confident and bold, loyal and empathetic. She’s a good girl who loves her family and works hard in her studies.

Now, I know some people really enjoy morally grey characters in their books. I’m not necessarily opposed to that. It’s interesting to dive deep into a morally grey character’s thoughts up front. But I think it’s different when the trajectory of the character arc goes from “good girl” to morally grey without it turning into a villain arc. And here is where I’m conflicted.

I understand in the aftermath of the 2 previous cases how that unsettled her, changed her, and left her rather traumatized. In fact, she’s hiding a lot of her PTSD from her family, friends and even Ravi. I get her motivations, I get where she’s coming from.

So do I see how her character arc turned this way? Yes. But do I think it had to be the only way her story could’ve gone in order to end this series realistically? Not necessarily, but for the most part, I accepted it as I continued along.

Romance with Ravi

Let’s take a little breather to talk about romance! Like the other books, it’s definitely not a focal point by any means but sometimes less words is more. I love the secret way Pip and Ravi communicated that they loved each other. They understood each other. Even though so many bad things had to have happened to bring them together, they were meant to be.

This third book showcases maybe even more so than the others the lengths their love for one another goes. I personally LOVE Ravi. He’s sarcastic, uses humor as his fear tactic, and is loyal to a fault. He wears his emotions on his sleeves and loves Pip with all he’s got. Who wouldn’t want a Ravi in their life? And As Good As Dead doesn’t ruin this one beautiful thing.

Now onto the ending (without spoilers, of course)

I don’t have many words to share without spoilers except that I was disappointed in some ways. I shed a tear or two. I thought Pip’s decisions were just driving things towards a pretty sad ending.

While I don’t think it is necessarily a sad ending by any means, it is a bit open-ended so I don’t feel like I have the closure I would want for Pip and co. I loved following her, Ravi, her family, Cara, the Reynolds brothers, even Nat throughout all the books. These were the people she helped, the ones she fought for, the ones impacted by the cases she followed. Do I feel like I got to see how this final case impact everybody? No, I don’t.

Do I feel like Pip dealt with all the baggage her cases dropped onto her? Heck no.

If I was a tiny bit upset at the mid point, the ending didn’t make it better. I’d like to imagine what would happen after the actual ending because I still feel frustrated that I turned the page and there was no more. I normally enjoy open endings if they’re done well, leaves things up to the imagination of the reader. This is more about closure and not receiving much of any.

Final words

Kudos to Holly Jackson. She took a creative idea and really took it to such great heights. What a feat! There is so much imagination and creativity in here, the depths of research to write some of the subject matter, the well-thought out plot points across THREE books.

I will always point people to this series, even non-readers. It’s just that good. I may not have agreed with everything she chose to end in this book, but I can understand the vision she had for it and at least accept that. Because I love the art of it, I kept my rating a little higher than I initially thought I would go.

This may be more of an unpopular opinion and you may end up loving Holly’s vision. If so, even better. As Good As Dead may not have been the conclusion I had envisioned, but it’s a remarkable enough finale to keep readers thinking (and discussing) about it for ages to come.

Overall Recommendations:

As Good As Dead concludes the trilogy with a conflicting and darker story as Pip now deals with a personal crime of her own. The formatting is more like a regular story, but the excellent writing and pacing still shines through. I was so tense throughout the first half of the book! When the story took a different turn, I can’t say I loved the morally grey character arc Pip was given, but I understood why it happened this way. I might’ve preferred a different second half, particularly the ending, but I can appreciate the full circle moments Holly Jackson incorporated from all the books in this series. Regardless of my personal feelings on this last book, I highly recommend A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series to anyone looking for a good read.


My copy of As Good As Dead (@downtherabbithole_blog)
4 star, YA

Review: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

Series: Love & Gelato #3

Santorini felt like an island holding its breath. As if it were keeping in a secret…

Liv Varanakis doesn’t like to think about her father much, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight, leaving her with just a few painful memories of their shared love for the lost city of Atlantis. So when teenage Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father, who explains that National Geographic is supporting a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and asks if she will fly out to Greece and help—Liv is less than thrilled.

When she arrives in gorgeous Santorini, things are just as awkward as she’d imagined. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. Liv doesn’t want to get sucked back into her father’s world. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo, her father’s charismatic so-called protégé, to witness her struggle.

Even so, she can’t help but be charmed by everything Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the sun-drenched villages, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.



What was lost is now found.

A slightly different take from her other travel inspired novels, Jenna Evans Welch takes us to the beautiful island of Santorini in this latest novel, Love & Olives. While we still get the chance to explore around and “see” the different tourist attractions here, it’s a lot less focal to the story. The main attraction is this: a hunt for the lost city of Atlantis.

That’s right, folks. They are searching for Atlantis. Liv’s father abandoned her when she was a child to go in search of his lifelong dream of Atlantis, and now she finds herself on Greek soil for the first time to join her father in his excursion. Sounds like there’s bound to be lots of intense emotions flying around on this vacation, hmm?

Continue reading “Review: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch”
4.5 star, YA

ARC Review: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.
How do you make one month last a lifetime?

Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.

Karina is my girlfriend.

Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.

T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?



**Counting Down with You comes out May 4, 2021**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

I will first say that I do not know too much about Bangladeshi people and culture except the stories I hear from a good friend of mine in grad school. What I do know is that with every culture, there are hardships and this resonated with me in so many ways. Counting Down with You was the emotional rollercoaster romance story centred around a protagonist I could root for and empathize with at the same time in her struggles to fight for herself. This own-voices story was everything I didn’t know I needed in 2021, and I am ecstatic to have found it.

Karina, nicknamed by her family as Myra, has just waved her parents off for a 1-month stay with relatives in their home country of Bangladesh. While they are gone, she finds the sudden freedom from the harsh restrictions her parents have placed on her with regards to school and social life. Normally, she had a curfew to be back from school – yes, not a night-out curfew but to come home directly from school unless she was in the Pre-Med Society meeting. Even tutoring was frowned upon unless it was for something related to STEM. So English, you can kiss that goodbye. As is already obvious, Karina struggled with the sciences and maths while English was her true passion. The premise of this story draws Karina into the path of bad-boy Ace whom she has to tutor in English at the request of her favourite teacher.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan”