Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker

ABOUT:40867676

Name– The Night Before
Author– Wendy Walker
Genre– Mystery/Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Source– St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley
Katie’s case– 3.5/5

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM

DESCRIPTION:

Twelve hours earlier, she was…
Hopeful.
Excited.
Safe.
 

Now she’s gone. 

REVIEW: 

“If you keep leaving the herd, the wolves will come.”

The premise of Wendy Walker’s The Night Before is certainly a fresh one, diving into the modern world of online dating and its potential scares. I really enjoyed that this book focused on something so common in this day and age, but with more twists and turns as well as deeper issues. The plot starts simple, a blind date and a nervous girl with a damaged, and actually infamous past. The book focuses on more than the blind date, going into the territory of mental health, self awareness, and challenging upbringings. That’s all I really want to say about the plot itself, for fear of giving too much away, but just know its more than just a book about dating.

With that being said, I want to start out my review by saying that this blurb was PERFECT and should be a lesson to the whole thriller genre. The blurb was maybe five sentences, just enough to draw you in without giving a single plot line away. (Side rant: way too often I feel like I can basically guess the whole premise by just reading the long, drawn out blurbs and spoil the whole book for myself. Some blurbs give away the whole twist! OK end rant.)

As I said, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot itself, but I do want to share my thoughts about the other aspects of the book. I’ve actually been pretty torn on how to rate this one, because there were some parts I loved and some parts that I felt had potential but didn’t get all the way there. On one hand, I think the pacing was excellent and constantly kept me on my toes. This is going to be a huge hit this summer for the unique plot line and immersive writing alone. I actually had to force myself to turn off my Kindle and go to sleep- it’s that thrilling. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen, and who the real villains were.

Unfortunately I do think I figured out the plot twist a little too early for my liking, and would like to have been more surprised by the end, but that’s just personal preference. Some readers really love to use their armchair detective skills, so they would probably really enjoy this slow reveal. I think I just felt like the plot was a bit spoon-fed for me and tried to hard to make everything neat and perfect. Another possibility is that I read too much of this genre and can’t be totally shocked by what I read anymore, which is also just a personal issue!

Although I liked the pacing and the alternating perspectives, the other aspects of the writing fell a bit flat for me. I didn’t ever really connect with any of the characters, in fact, I didn’t really like any of them at all. I think they could use some more flushing out, maybe by making the book a bit longer and diving deeper into each of their histories? I don’t necessarily need likable characters, but I think I would have liked to see a bit more character development here. Although I do understand the book takes place in basically one day. Again, I really did love getting multiple perspectives on the same night and getting constant cliffhangers at the end of each chapter!

Overall, I think The Night Before is a fresh idea and I absolutely know it will be a hit this summer, I think it was just kind of middle of the road for me, and that’s ok. It was still a very fun read that I finished in a few sittings and would still most likely recommend to my other thriller friends! I will definitely be checking out Wendy Walker’s previous novels too.

Thank you NetGalley, Wendy Walker, and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of this novel and the opportunity to enjoy early in return for my honest review.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts? Comment below!

Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

ABOUT:LITTLE

Name– Little Monsters
Author– Kara Thomas
Genre– YA Thriller, Mystery Thriller
Source– Purchased
Katie’s case– 5/5

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM

DESCRIPTION:

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

REVIEW:

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas hooked me before I even opened it, when I read that it was a high school drama that could be compared to Pretty Little Liars. I will (not so) shamelessly admit that I stuck through almost a decade of that show’s ridiculous twists, turns, cheesy writing, and plot holes galore. Although I loved every second of it, I can still admit that it maaaaybe wasn’t the best quality television out there. When I read that Little Monsters had the same feel as PLL, I was eager to get my hands on it right away, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also a little hesitant; like I said, I know PLL wasn’t great quality.

Well, Little Monsters completely exceeded my expectations of a high school-centered YA mystery novel. I would say the only real similarity between Little Monsters and PLL is the high school setting. Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic- Little Monsters definitely serves up some sinister high schoolers like in PLL, but I don’t want to get too deep into spoiler territory there. All I will really say is that just like in PLL, you will have no idea what these characters are capable of, and you will be on your toes until the very. last. line.

So yes, Little Monsters is absolutely a dark and twisted high school thriller, but it’s also much more than that. I was actually moved to tears at one point in the novel. The characters were written so beautifully with their own unique voices, I actually felt like they were real people. They were complex and interesting, and very different from other YA high schoolers. Kacey is such a little gem, I wish I knew her when I was in school. She’s smart and driven, with some added spunk under her brooding appearance. And Bailey! I absolute ate up her diary entries. That was a lovely addition and I found myself hoping, “please let the next chapter be a Bailey chapter!!” I loved reading her unfiltered perspective, and it was perfectly executed.

I still haven’t even touched upon the writing in general! Kara Thomas has such a wonderful way with words, such vivid descriptions and brilliant metaphors that sound like a teenager could have actually thought them. Now, don’t take that to mean her writing is simple or juvenile, she just captures the mind of a young person so well, and it even brought me back to my own teenage years. The lying, rumors, sneaking out- and internal monologue about the aforementioned- is spot on with these teenagers. It’s not easy to master this level of writing while maintaining a childlike voice, and this is coming from someone who is really harsh while reading YA books. I’m always nit-picking what the narrator says and I think to myself, “ok would a teenager REALLY think that?!” but Thomas completely nailed it. She knows her audience, captures them, shocks them, and then does it all over again with her adult readers too.

If you want a stroll down your high school memory lane, with a hint of added small town mythology, dark secrets, and crime, this one’s for you. I’m rating Little Monsters 5/5 because I want to live in Broken Falls and just insert myself into this small town and their mysteries. I guess I will just have to keep reading Kara Thomas’ books to fill the Little Monsters, and PLL-esque high school drama, shaped void in my heart now!

Next book by her: The Cheerleaders! Already included it as a space on my Winter Bookworm Bingo card. If you haven’t already checked that out, see my last post for details!

 

Review: Child of the Moon by Jessica Semaan

ABOUT:cotm

Name– Child of the Moon
Author– Jessica Semaan
Genre– Poetry
Source– Author/Netgalley
Katie’s case– 4/5

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.png

DESCRIPTION:

In between being your mother and father,
I forgot to be your daughter
And became the child of the moon

“In her debut collection, Semaan offers an upfront & moving glimpse into the true nature of healing: an imperfect, nonlinear journey”–Amanda Lovlace, bestselling author of the princess saves herself in this one

An illustrated poetry collection about finding light in the darkness. Set against the backdrop of the Lebanese Civil War and the author’s turbulent family life, Child of the Moon is a powerful reflection on her journey through fear, shame and despair, and the unconditional love that helped her begin to heal from childhood trauma.

REVIEW:

Child of the Moon captures the journey of grief, trauma, and probably most profoundly- healing- and the many, nonlinear forms it comes in. Jessica Semaan’s diverse range of poetry will inspire a connection with anyone who is lost, lonely, or suffers from self doubt.

I was moved by Semaan’s ability to open herself in such a raw and relatable way to all of us fellow children of the moon, and I appreciate her hard hitting honesty in areas we need to hear it most. I also loved her poetic devices, such as rhyme, which I feel a lot of poets I’ve read recently have done away with. I enjoyed how some verses were fun and clever, while others resonated on a deeper emotional level, and that everything was different.

Besides the genuine, heartfelt, and resonating writing- the illustrations between the sections are simply beautiful. I think I will be purchasing a physical copy if just for the illustrations.

I read this book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down, bookmarked half of “New Moon,” and already know I will be returning to it again soon. Thank you Jessica Semaan for sharing your empowering story with us and thank you Andrews McMeel Publishing for the free copy of this book!

AUTHOR JESSICA SEMAAN: 
author goodreads

Review: Virulent by Jason Scott Melo

ABOUT:virulent

Name– Virulent
Author– Jason Scott Melo
Genre– Thriller, Horror
Source– Author
Katie’s case– 5/5

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.png

DESCRIPTION:

virulent
adjective
1. (regarding a disease) extremely severe or harmful in its effects
2. bitterly hostile

A county epidemiologist and his summer intern are sent to investigate a potential outbreak at a research facility deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Soon after their arrival at All Cure, Dr. Chuck Sparrows and Nina Cabugao find themselves in a situation far more sinister than either could have ever imagined when they agreed to take on the case.

A strong will to live will be just as important as their infectious disease training if they hope to make it out of the mountains alive.

REVIEW:

What a gripping page turner! Melo’s background in epidemiology, paired with his incredibly fresh voice in the subject, truly make for an excellent thriller. You get the best of both worlds, an insight into the world of outbreaks, but also a chilling and skilled style.

I tend to go for books with a strong atmospheric component; I want to feel like I am right there with all of the characters. Melo’s latest novella does not disappoint. You can practically feel the treacherous and sinister setting throughout this novel as chills will run down your spine in real life. You can feel a range of emotion in this book as the characters have to know how to trust and know how to trust their own guts.

Without giving too much away, go into this book knowing you will not want to put it down until you have reached the very last page. I already cannot wait to reread it in the future!

AUTHOR JASON SCOTT MELO:
author wordpress
author goodreads

Review: Basilica by Jason Scott Melo

ABOUT:basilica

Name– Basilica
Author– Jason Scott Melo
Genre– Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk
Source– Author
Katie’s case– 5/5

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.png

DESCRIPTION:

Built by megacorporations in humanity’s waning years, Basilica is the last functioning city on Earth. The Jean-Fa Dynasty, the family that has held majority control of this artificial island and its oligarchic government for decades, will soon fall.

Only the four surviving progeny — Ana, the youngest, her older brother, Dante, their estranged cousin, Eveline, and their troubled uncle, Jack — have any chance of saving themselves from a grim tomorrow. Together, aided by their personal array of unique talents and the technological innovation known as the magnetvakt, the last Jean-Fas will struggle to restore order to their lives, seek out unexpected allies, and take on old foes. Family bonds will be strained, broken, and mended and the city’s darkest secrets will be revealed.

Ultimately, Ana, Dante, Eveline, and Jack will seek justice for their family, a family whose tragic fate might have been the only justice they ever deserved.

REVIEW:

“Tomorrow’s world is yours to build”

Basilica follows four narrators, and four uniquely voiced perspectives, in navigating the life and future of the island mega-city that’s powered completely by individualist corporations two centuries from now. Despite their differences, the four must come together to not only save their lineage, but also to defeat the many twists and turns of evil enemies and forces against them and create a better tomorrow.

While being a novel packed with action and adventure, the book reads with style and language that can appeal to any reader. As an avid reader of other genres, I loved the readability of the action scenes and was engrossed throughout each one. Each scene was described as vividly as if I was watching the scenes play out in front of me. However, there is not an absence of humanity and emotion throughout the book. The novel touches on major themes of culture, heritage, and social issues. Through these themes I was able to feel emotionally touched and connected to each of the characters and grew to feel like I was in the Jean Fa family by the end.

Fantastic first book for Jason Scott Melo and I cannot wait to read more of his work in the future!

AUTHOR JASON SCOTT MELO:
author wordpress
author goodreads

Review: Big Woods by May Cobb

ABOUT:bigwoods

Name– Big Woods
Author– May Cobb
Genre– Thriller, Mystery-Thriller, Crime
Source– Author/Netgalley
Katie’s case– 4.5/5

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 4.50.24 PM

DESCRIPTION:

It’s 1989 in the sleepy town of Longview, Texas, when ten-year-old Lucy disappears. Her parents, the police, and the community all brace for the worst, assuming her body will soon be found in Big Woods. Just like the other unsolved kidnappings.

But then Lucy’s fourteen-year-old sister, Leah, starts having dreams about Lucy—dreams that reveal startling clues as to what happened. Leah begins her own investigation, and soon she meets a reclusive widow who may hold the key to finding Lucy . . . if only she can find the courage to come forward.

Delving into the paranoia surrounding satanic cults in the 1980s, Big Woods is an emotionally wrought, propulsive thriller about the enormity of grief, the magical bond between sisters, and a small town’s dark secrets.

REVIEW:

May Cobb’s debut novel is a fantastic look on not only growing up in the 80’s, but also the inseparable bonds of sisterhood. Big Woods stands out for me amongst recent mystery-thriller novels, and had everything I love in a book: small town secrets, cult-y overtones, some great blast-from-the-past references, and a little sisterly magic.

Told by two incredibly fresh voices, a elderly woman and a young teenager, Cobb skillfully connects the reader to both of the differing personalities. I loved getting into the minds of two characters who were not of my relatable age or setting, but still felt like I could get to know them. As readers, we get to watch Leah grow through some of the classic weird teenage friendships, but also some dark adversaries. I felt Leah’s emotions and pain throughout the novel, thanks to vivid details and very relatable human emotion. And we get to know Sylvia’s past through twists and turns that made my jaw drop at times. I loved getting into the mind of an older woman, I felt this was a very new and fresh perspective for me and admired her story. Cobb also gives life to the setting itself, a small town completely consumed in Satanic Panic and the mysteries of the missing children. Although I would say some of the writing- particularly the metaphors and similes- didn’t completely land for me, I liked how I could practically hear the metal music and smell the pine trees from Cobb’s vivid descriptions throughout the book.

Without revealing too much, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has fascinations with small town mysteries paired with a little bit of cult secrets and finally some sisterhood magic. It encompasses so much depth to the characters, the town, and the writing. This novel stands out from a lot of the other thrillers on my bookshelf and doesn’t follow any sort of overdone formula, so it kept me guessing until the very last chapter and I couldn’t put it down. Great debut May!

Thank you Midnight Ink and NetGalley!

AUTHOR MAY COBB:
author goodreads