What I Read This Winter

Friday, January 27, 2023

I've still been reading, but my reviews have fallen by the wayside (as has my bookstagram account, oof). I don't want to stop reviewing books, though, so I finally sad down to comb back through my recent reads and bang out my opinions on all of them. 
And I knowww winter isn't over yet, but some of these books were ones I read in the fourth quarter of 2022, and I didn't want to wait any longer to post about them. I've already read five books in the new year, so I decided I'd just post about them all. I seem to be on a roll, so... more book reviews, coming soon! 

How to Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine
Alice is the key witness in her sister Claire's murder, and all she wants is a chance at a redo — to make one simple decision that would've saved Claire's life. When a mysterious stranger offers Alice a chance to go back in time and try again, she races against the clock to save her sister the second time around. This was an easy, fun read, and I loved the big whodunnit reveal, which I sorrrrt of saw coming but not really; the final twist at the end made me gasp. Definitely worth the read if YA thrillers are your genre of choice. ★★★★★
Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker

While Molly's car runs out of gas on her way home from her son's game, she accepts a ride to the gas station from a man and his young daughter — and days later, her suicide note turns up in a motel, even though her body is nowhere to be found. This story flips back and forth between being told from Molly's perspective and that of her daughter, Nicole, who doesn't believe her mom is dead. I didn't know where this one was going, and I was shocked by the unlikely but still enjoyable ending. ★★★★✰
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
Emma and Cass Tanner disappeared three years ago, but then one night, Cass comes back home — alone — with a wild story to tell. To the outside world, the girls' mom seems like a properly panicked, grieving parent, but one forensic psychiatrist suspects something more is going on behind the scenes. This book was a bit of a wild ride, and I really enjoyed it, though the ending was extremely fucked up. I didn't see it coming! ★★★★✰

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
When Jenny Kramer is raped in the woods during a party, she starts seeing Dr. Forrester, a local psychiatrist who is also treating both of her parents. Can he help Jenny unlock the memory of that night to help figure out who committed this terrible crime against her? This book was too graphic for me, too cruel. From repulsive, explicit descriptions of rape to the morally repugnant narrator, it was just too much for my not-even-particularly-delicate-sensibilities. Pass. ★★✰✰✰
Nine Liars 
by Maureen Johnson
Like every dedicated Stevie Bell fan, I’d been waiting for this one forever, and while it was good (I devoured it within 24 hours or so), it wasn’t up to par with the four books before it. Stevie and her friends head to England to visit her boyfriend, and they end up helping his friend try to find her missing aunt, which sucks them into a much older case. I love that the author focuses on a combo of both modern and historical crimes, and I was very satisfied with the way both of these crime stories were wrapped up, but the rest just fell short for me. ★★★★✰

Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne
When her mom dies, Cecelia moves in with her grandmother, a famous murder mystery author whose first fiction novel was based on the real-life murder of the town's homecoming queen. When the current homecoming queen, Cecelia's only friend in now, is found dead in the same manner, Cecelia becomes desperate to figure out what happened. Nothing about this book is realistic, but who cares? I liked the main character, found the plot juicy, and always love a double-twist ending. ★★★★★

Dead Girls Can't Tell Secrets by Chelsea Ichaso
Savannah's sister is in a coma after jumping off a cliff. Or did someone push her? Savannah joins the hiking club her sister was in to try to figure it out. Everyone is a suspect in this take on a locked-door mystery. This one was enjoyable enough (I suspected literally everyone), but the story felt disjointed, jumping into the plot too quickly and without any time or lead-up to make me really care about the characters. ★★★✰✰

Very Bad People by Kit Frick

Calliope is a boarding school student who is invited into a secret society... that she begins to think might have something to do with her mother's death seven years ago. She sticks with the group as she tries to figure out whether they're good, bad, or a house divided, until she's in so deep that she can't turn back. This was a great book with an ending so terrible that it ruined the rest of the book for me. It was deeply unsatisfying bordering on infuriating, and honestly I kind of want to spoil it here for you so that you don't read it and get as angry as I did. ★★★✰✰

Five Survive by Holly Jackson
Red and her friends are taking an RV to spring break when they get lost and break down in the dark. Turns out it wasn't an accident; it's a sniper. He shot out their tires and issues them an ultimatum: If one of them reveals the huge secret they've been keeping, the others will be allowed to escape to safety. This book was essentially the opposite of Very Bad People, in that the story itself was just OK, but the ending was incredible. Still, given Jackson’s clear talent for storytelling in her other books, I expected more from this book overall. ★★★✰✰

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My "What I Read In..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

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