Tag Archive | mystery

Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

one of us is lying -karen m mcmanusOne of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


4 Drink Me Potions


One of Us is Lying was as good a mystery as its particular style of narration among 4 main characters. It was a delight to read!

I don’t know about anyone else but the synopsis initially reminded me of The Breakfast Club. A couple of students coming together in detention class, hmm? I find that’s what attracted me to this book in the end. A familiar feel to it while still being completely its own novel that wasn’t exactly like anyone else.

I adored the back and forth POVs between the 4 suspects – er, I mean protagonists. It gave us a chance to slowly discover each person’s backgrounds, and of course, their deepest secrets that Simon somehow found out. The slow reveal had my blood curdling. I couldn’t decide on who I thought was hiding something even from us, the omniscient reader. And that’s half the fun of it, right? For a mystery lover, the culprit wasn’t immediately made known to me and that’s what I love. The ability to guess. And change my mind as more details come to light.

And I think the who-dun-it answer would a) surprise some and b) be the perfect conclusion that made the most sense. I believe it’ll satisfy even the most hardcore of mystery lovers. Hopefully not be too predictable either.

Besides the mystery (which definitely takes the main stage), the amount of character development in these 4 were surprising. Come on. Look at that synopsis. They’re cliched stereotypes of typical high schoolers. The smart one/nerd. The hot jock. The most-envied blonde girl. The hot bad boy. Yet through this ordeal, each had to grow from their mistakes, their secrets. Some secrets were more surprising than others, and likewise, some personal changes were also more astonishing. Either way, this was brilliantly executed.

You romance lovers out there! Never fear. There’s a bit of somethin’ for you too here. Unsurprisingly, a potential love match was developing between Nate and Bronwyn. Maybe I’ve read too many Katie McGarry novels but this didn’t seem so out of the blue to me. It never overshadowed the main components of the book, but it was a relevant component of both their POVs and helped them deal with their own problems. It was cute and just the right amount.

What else can I say? Since the beautiful hook in the synopsis, I was reeled in deep. I might’ve expected something a bit more from this novel (hence the less than full rating) but it’s sure to be a winner for most people.

Overall Recommendation:

One of Us is Lying does not disappoint in its main mystery. From the fun cliched cast of suspects to the craziness of Simon’s death, the slow reveals of this novel kept me happily guessing at the real culprit. With plenty of character growth in each of the protagonists and even a blossoming romance between two of them, I seriously only have good things to say about this book. Mostly fast-paced and steeped in delicious secrets, I’m sure this book would delight you too.

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Review: Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Series: Rock Harbor #6

beneath copper falls -colleen cobleUSA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble returns to her beloved Rock Harbor—but both danger and romance hide in this idyllic small town.

Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff’s dispatcher and is settling in next door to Bree and Kade Matthews. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.

Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams “He’s going to kill me too” before the phone goes dead. Dana immediately dispatches a deputy, but it’s too late. Allyson’s death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn’t believe it. She knows Allyson—an investigative reporter—was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?

Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson’s cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana’s ex-fiance locates her, she’s caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another.


3 Drink Me Potions


Thank you NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Beneath Copper Falls comes out July 11, 2017!**

Ah, another mystery set in Rock Harbor. I will confess. I’m a huge fan of Colleen Coble and while that still remains true, I always found myself enjoying her historical fiction works a little more than her contemporary ones. Even still, I wanted to see how her latest story back by popular demand in the town of Rock Harbor would do.

And it didn’t necessarily disappoint (which is a win!).

Dana is an emergency hotline operator. That’s one tough job, but apparently the story trope of witnessing a tragic murder while on the line isn’t all that uncommon anymore. Nevertheless, Colleen Coble made this her own story.

As I was saying, Dana was a good protagonist. She was relatable, albeit not too memorable. She faced similar challenges as I do, trying to speak up when you’re afraid of rejection or being reprimanded by others. With the challenges she had to face due to the murder of her friend Allyson, it gets somewhat overlooked in the grand scheme of things, but she does grow a little in character. I think her character mostly shone through with the craziness that came from her ex chasing her around the country. I will get back to this later.

The romance was predictable. Boone has faced rejection from a previous relationship and didn’t want trust women, yada yada yada. But of course, Dana’s goodheartedness and inner beauty made him change his mind. Okay, it didn’t quite sound so simple, but it kinda felt that way. I wanted to believe in their blossoming love, but I felt it was all a little too cliched and it just didn’t hit me in a way that made me say “aha, my heart is hurting with them”. ‘Cause of course that’s the sign of true love in my eyes 😉

So maybe the romance wasn’t great with the typical strong male character wanting to save the girl who gets in trouble. But the mystery made up for it.

Except for the fact that I guessed who the unlikely culprit was before the halfway point. I was thinking to myself, “hmm, why do I get this crazy feeling it’s *insert name*? No, that can’t be right….”. And guess what?

I was right.

But I’m sure most of you won’t see it coming (I blame it on reading too many mysteries growing up – and the amount of crime shows I binge watch). So that aspect should still be suspenseful and exciting for most readers. I enjoyed the way the pieces fell together. I was hoping it would be a little bit more creepy – like Colleen’s Abomination – but alas, it wasn’t quite as psychologically twisted as I initially thought it would be.

Other little things made the book better. Appearances by fan favourites Kade and Bree put them in roles – particularly Bree – beyond cameos in this story, and the familiar feeling of being back in Rock Harbor was pleasant. The plot was a little all over the place following different POVs, such as the killer’s and Boone’s and Dana’s, but it wasn’t to the level of chaotic so it felt like a good mix of omniscient narrative for us readers.

To sum it up, the romance wasn’t the best, but the mystery was still Colleen’s best. I liked being back in Rock Harbor, and I’m sure many more diehard fans than I am would really enjoy seeing familiar sights and characters. I may just be a bit picky (although I do love her historical mysteries!) but I believe this book falls in line with all the other works in this series and make for a good addition to fan favourites.

Overall Recommendation:
Beneath Copper Falls was a present to diehard Rock Harbor fans and I think Coble did a decent job with this new book. Witnessing the murder of her friend over the line, Dana was a relatable character who struggled with her own past relationship abuse while trying to figure out who killed her friends before the killer got to her. The budding new romance with Boone could’ve been better – he was a little cliched in personality and backstory – but that’s okay as the mystery more than made up for it. Mostly suspenseful (no matter if I predicted it a little early), this book is bound to satisfy some Rock Harbor fans and also make some new ones.


Know of any other good mysteries similar to this storyline?

And if you read this, do YOU think the culprit was predictable or not? I feel like I’m just an anomaly, but I could be wrong.

Next up: reviews on I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski, and Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh; and my June book haul ❤ Until then, lovelies.

Review: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

to catch a killer -sheryl scarboroughErin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.


3 Drink Me Potions


To Catch a Killer left me second-guessing my whodunnit culprit while still making it exciting with real science, albeit lacking a bit in the “scare” factor.

I am always up for a good mystery, and lately I’ve been in a funk craving a good, suspenseful story to gush and pour over. There aren’t many YA novels that I find does justice to a good crime story. It could be ’cause I read and watch many crime fiction and shows.

This novel captures the essence of forensics in a YA context, so watch out for any skeptical scoffing over the fact that young teenagers do better police work and evidence collection than the ACTUAL police. Erin was an interesting protagonist. She wasn’t deterred so easily by adult figures who kept telling her that she should “just get over” her past and forget the emotions in the aftermath of her mother’s violent death. Sometimes these secondary characters, particularly her guardian Rachel and Erin’s two besties Spam and Lysa, really annoyed me. I get they want to protect her, and it adds to the whole main character versus the world kinda trope but it honestly just got on my nerves after a while. Both sides had decent points for why they were doing what they thought was best, but better communication would’ve definitely gone a long way.

The current mystery surrounding the bio teacher, Ms. P’s death was intriguing, especially once it was linked to her mother’s death. I enjoyed the Erin’s thought process and planning as she set about connecting the dots through her evidence. Although it may not be for everyone, I found the strongest point in this story was the cute little quotes taken from her FBI Uncle Victor that was oddly quite accurate. The story does go more into detail about genetics (aka simplified to just DNA) and how to extract it – ahem, my fav scene was when they made a homemade gel electrophoresis for separating the DNA bands (the bio nerd inside of me is rejoicing at seeing an experiment I do in real life pop into a YA novel!) – but I find they add to the story instead of detracts from it. Erin’s character revolves around wanting to solve murders, particularly her mom’s. And good evidence collection and testing are the forefront of determining how a case may go.

What I thought wasn’t so great or as realistic was the romance. Yep, you heard me. The ROMANCE. Journey Michaels was the love interest for Erin and although he seems like a rather nice guy, I don’t feel we get to know him very well in this story. He’s there to help connect the dots with Erin by providing info that they don’t already know, and maybe to make the story more interesting. But ultimately, he didn’t really need to be a part of this book, which says a lot when it comes to one of my FAVOURITE things I find normally essential in a story. I didn’t set any ships for them, not really. And it felt a bit fast for them to fall for each other in a non-platonic way. Sure, emotions are rampant when you feel like you’re in danger, but I suppose their path to romance wasn’t depicted as well as it potentially could’ve been.

Last comment: what’s with the names in this story? Spam, which is short for SAMANTHA, was an oddball name I’ve never come across a story before. And the only way I figured out her real name was Samantha instead of actually Spam was ’cause someone called her by the full name wayyy later in the book. Also, Journey’s not such a hot name either…It was just very interesting.

Overall Recommendation:
To Catch a Killer isn’t some scary book that’ll keep you up at night, but it does sufficiently for the mystery that is the heart of the story. Erin Blake is an easy to follow protagonist with a love of forensics (that actually dives into real forensics), although it sometimes felt like no one else understood why she needed to do this for her mom’s case. Family and friendships are other things that’re portrayed here, but ultimately this is a story about a killer who needs to be brought to justice (by apparently teen CSIs). However, it falls a bit flat in the romance category with Journey, but all in all, the ending wasn’t the most predictable and closes on a happy note that should satisfy most readers.