Loved That? Look Into This! Part I

Afternoon bookworms! My mood today can pretty much be summed up by one of my favorite 30 Rock scenes:

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But at least that means it’s now officially halfway through the week! Yay! On this fine Hump Day I wanted to do a Part I of my new “Loved that? Try this!” series where I will be giving my recommendations based on books with similar themes, characters, or plots.

I’m going to start off my first edition by featuring some of my favorite thrillers from the last year or so. And with that, let’s begin!

LOVED All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda? LOOK INTO The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok I know, I know I’m kind of cheating with this pick here since it’s the same author, BUT hear me out and cut me some slack because it’s the first recommendation on this list 🙂 What I loved the most about All the Missing Girls was the ever-present sinister and creepy am-I-being-watched undertones throughout the novel. Megan Miranda does a phenomenal job of writing eerie and atmospheric scenes that make your skin crawl. It’s not even that the plot should be considered horror, but the way she describes the woods, the caves, and even the old creaky house, is truly something horrific.

Although I loved the plot too, and loved how the novel was uniquely set backward, it was this atmospheric aspect that truly captivated me in just one or two sittings. If this aspect is what drew you too, that’s why I recommend reading more of her work. It’s not because story lines for All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger are similar. Instead, the tone of being watched and that increasing paranoia and anxiety is skillfully done in both books.

There are definitely a few similar themes in the novels, and themes I typically gravitate toward- the mysterious and enigmatic best girl friend. I love books that focus on a mystery surrounding one person’s secrets and the main character having to uncover who they really were. Miranda definitely seems to like this theme too, as it’s present in both novels, and another reason why if you liked All The Missing Girls you eat up The Perfect Stranger too.

One last aspect that I really love about these books- and please don’t laugh or judge- the covers of these books are so soft and I just love holding them while I read. If you read this in print, you must know what I mean!

And one more last, LAST thing. She has a new book coming out Jan 29, 2019! I can’t wait!!

LOVED The Memory Watcher by Minka Kent? LOOK INTO Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

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I’ve previously written about these two in short, but never explicitly connected why they are so perfect for readers of a very specific theme. When you break it down, The Memory Watcher and Only Daughter both focus on someone lying or putting on an act of someone different than who they really are for their own benefit. I don’t want to get too deep into spoiler territory on either of these, but that’s basically what you need to know about both books.

If you were entranced in how the narrator in The Memory Watcher assumed her role as a nanny to watch over the neighbor’s baby, you will just as much love how the woman in Only Daughter assumes her role as a girl missing years prior. Both books share webs of family secrets, deception, and twisty climaxes. And when it comes down to it, I could just really see both main characters in each book getting along. Maaaaybe it’s because they both have a knack for manipulating and deceiving, but hey I never said it would be a healthy friendship.

Similarly to my recommendation for All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger for their tones, The Memory Watcher and Only Daughter had the same undercurrents of lying, as well as very flawed main characters and very flawed family relations. Both of these books surprised me by how much they, well, surprised me- both incredibly underrated twisty page-turners that I recommend to all psycho-thriller-lovers, and especially for fans of each respective book.

LOVED The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager? LOOK INTO Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

thelasttime  LITTLE

At first glance, or first back-of-the-book-synopsis, these two books may seem like they have nothing in common. The Last Time I Lied is about a woman returning to her childhood summer camp and reliving the lies, terrors, and traumas of her past the night her friends disappeared. Little Monsters, on the other hand, is about a small town struck by tragedy and unanswerable questions when an average high school student goes missing after a party. One obvious similarity here is the disappearance and search for a missing high schooler, but the themes go so much deeper than that; because let’s face it, most all thrillers these days have a missing girl. However, these are not just stories of a missing girl- they’re stories of past trauma, teenage angst, young bullies, and childish nostalgia- and the missing girls are honestly just a coincidence in this case.

While reading both of these novels, I felt a creeping nostalgia and attachment for aspects of my younger self in a way I haven’t before. Both have all of the usual teenage suspects: angst, crushes, cattiness, and lying. It’s not exactly a positive nostalgia that I feel for these situations, but more of an emotional familiarity to these forgotten feelings. In The Last Time I Lied, I felt like I was traveling through space and time to my own camp days where all kids want to do is hang out with the older, cooler kids. The main character gets assigned a cabin of older girls who quickly show her the ways of the camp while also quickly losing some innocence. Just like in All The Missing Girls, I love the stories where there are enigmatic and flawed friends who you just can’t help but be drawn too. In the same way, The Last Time I Lied draws you into these older girls, make you want to be a part of the group, and most importantly know their secrets, all while feeling an odd sense of familiarity for teenage years as a girl. Plus there is a good ol’ mystery of what was the fate of these teenagers, and you know I was on the case for that part too, of course.

So yes, there is also the disappearance of a teenager in Little Monsters, but again it’s not just solving a mystery that’s important in this one. If you liked that sense of nostalgia for being a teenager with secrets and lies then Little Monsters is also a must-read. Instead of being taken back to my camp days in this one, I was taken back to those high school student-packed hallways, parties, and sneaking around. (I promise Mom I only snuck out once! I honestly think I was so un-sneaky that you even knew too!) The  familiar feeling of being a teenager who just wants to make friends, get your crush to notice you, and deal with rumors was all too real in this one. Don’t get me wrong, even though it’s YA, it’s not some vapid high school story. It is a story of grief, trauma, and growing up. And yes! A nice twisty and shocking mystery!

In both books, you really get a deep understanding of the inside of a teenage girl’s mind, and really see what teenagers can be capable of amidst the lies and hardships of growing up. There is also a fun sense of a creepy and foreboding force, but I promise it’s all still realistic! So if you enjoyed these themes in The Last Time I Lied, you will devour Little Monsters just as eagerly!

That’s a wrap for Part I of “Loved this? Look into that!” I swear I don’t only read books about missing girls, but would it be so bad if I did?!

Have you loved any of these and recommend looking into something else? I always want to hear from you guys! 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

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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!

 

Gift Guide for the Thriller-Lover in Your Life

I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a kid, I always got socks for Christmas. You know what I hated getting for Christmas? Socks. You know what I secretly hope everyone gets me for Christmas now? Socks. Socks and books. Now my holidays are spent in my warm, cozy Christmas socks snuggled up with the newest thriller or a classic mystery, and I know I’m not the only one. If you’re like me, or your loved one is like me, you’re always on the hunt for one of these types of books. Well, look no further, because I have the perfect book gift guide for every thriller-lover in your life. Or for yourself if you like to spoil yourself with new books as much as I do. 

FOR THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO EMBRACE THE WINTER COLD: 

An Unwanted Guest By Shari Lapenaunwantedguest

I’m originally from California, where the winter is maybe 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the year. During this time, I like to pretend I understand what a “white Christmas” is and read books that will give me the chills- both in the weather and the thrill. And is there a better way to welcome the chilly weather than by murder(s) in a winter resort that’s freezing cold and the guests are even colder? Maybe even cold blooded? This who-done-it is an atmospheric page turner that would make anyone stay up late in their fuzzy socks just to figure out what happens next. A quick read that I devoured in one day would be sure to be perfect for anyone craving a cold case. Grab your blankets and hot chocolate for this one!

Goodreads Description:

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up. It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm. 

FOR THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO ESCAPE THE WINTER COLD:

The Dry by Jane Harperthedry

Maybe you’ve had enough of the cold cases? Both with the weather AND in your books? Maybe you need a warmer book, but certainly not warm-hearted in this thriller! Set during a drought in Australia, you might almost forget it’s winter here because you will practically hear the dry grass in the hot air, see the falling flies, and feel sweat drip down your face as you read this incredibly descriptive page-turner. I read this book last winter and not only is it beautifully written, it’s a great mystery and a touching story. The book hooked me from the first chapter and kept me guessing until the very end. Now excuse me while I impatiently wait for Harper’s third book in the Aaron Falk series to come out.

Goodreads Description:

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier. 
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds in bleed into new ones.

FOR THE PERSON WHO MISSES CHILDHOOD SUMMER CAMP:

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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Ah, summer camp as a kid: swimming in the lake, taking art classes, your friends go missing in the night never to be seen again… wait what? That last one didn’t happen to you? Well it does to Emma in this creepy mystery-thriller by Riley Sager. What can I say, I love creepy, atmospheric, descriptive novels that make me feel like I’m at the scene of the crime, and this book does not disappoint. I felt like I was returning to a childhood summer camp, but with less missing persons for me. I got this book when it first came out because I love campy stuff, and I ate this book up in a matter of days. This hit all my boxes: teenage secrets, spooky cabins, weird families, dark histories, and a haunted heroine. Just be sure not to check your kids into any Camp Nightingales this winter.

Goodreads Description:

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

FOR THE PERSON ANXIOUS TO RETURN TO THEIR CREEPY, SMALL HOME TOWN:

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

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Maybe you don’t want to return to your childhood summer camp, but what about your dreaded hometown that was once the place of your best friend’s disappearance? Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls was my top read for 2018, a novel told in reverse about two disappearances that shake a small town. This book is creepy. Maybe you want a chilling read for the chilly weather, but I personally couldn’t read this alone or in the dark, it’s that good at creeping me out. I say that with the highest praise because I don’t get scared of mysteries easily, but this one was so atmospheric in a way that I had never read before, and I savored every second of it. This book made me want to hug the main character and be her friend. If you can scare me AND make me feel every human emotion, it’s a pretty good book.

Goodreads Description:

Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.

FOR THE PERSON A LITTLE TOO OBSESSED WITH SOCIAL MEDIA:

The Memory Watcher by Minka Kent

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We all know that person, the person who spends all day checking their Instagram or blog obsessively. Ok maybe I’m sometimes that person… But what about when your constant blog scrolling leads you to your daughter who you had to give up for adoption years earlier? The Memory Watcher introduces us to Autumn, whose social media scrolling does just this. I loved Autumn, she was such a fun character for me to read, and completely unlike any other narrator I’ve met. Minka Kent paints a very unique picture of the connections between social media, lies, family secrets, and the lengths we go for the people we love. This book took me maybe two days to finish, because I was so eager to get the truth. Give this as a hint to someone to maybe get off social media every now and then, you never know what you’ll stumble upon!

Goodreads Description:

When Autumn Carpenter stumbles upon the social media account of the family who adopted her infant daughter years ago, she finds herself instantly drawn into their picture-perfect existence. 
 
From behind a computer screen, Autumn watches Grace’s every memory, from birthdays to holidays to bedtime snuggles. But what starts as an innocent fascination spirals into an addictive obsession met with a screeching halt the day the McMullen family closes their Instaface account without so much as a warning. 
 
Frantic and desperate to reconnect with her daughter, Autumn applies for a nanny position with the McMullens, manipulating herself into Grace’s life under false pretenses. And it’s only then that Autumn discovers pictures lie, the perfect family doesn’t exist, and beautiful people? They have the ugliest secrets.

FOR THE PERSON SECRETLY CURIOUS WHAT A CULT WITH THEIR SPOUSE WOULD BE LIKE:

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

marriage

I should have titled this: “For the person who secretly curious what a cult with their spouse would be like, wants a wild switch up from the average domestic thriller, and just craves a fun, completely insane roller coaster of a book” buuuut that might have been too long of a title perhaps. My alternate title completely sums it up: the is a wild ride and quite the stray from the other domestic thrillers that are popular right now. This book somehow manages to be one of the darkest I read this year, but also one of the most fun. Does that make me sound twisted?! This book asks you to suspend a bit of belief, but after all of the cheating husbands and crazy children in the recent domestic dramas I’ve read, I was happy for a weird little change. If you’re like me and want to laugh, get creeped out, and scream at the characters: this is the ultimate read.

Goodreads Description:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . 

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

FOR THE PERSON WHO WANTS A LITTLE LESS MYSTERY, A LITTLE MORE SPUNK THIS WINTER:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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If you haven’t gotten the chance to read this one, RUN do not walk to your nearest bookseller, and do yourself a huge favor this winter. This book is a little different from the others on my list, but that’s not to say I wasn’t thrilled and terrified while reading it. The Bear and the Nightingale is a dark retelling of an ancient Russian fairy tale, filled with demons, magic, and of course, a spunky and strong heroine. If you couldn’t already tell, I read a lot of thrillers, but this was such a magical stray for me. This book actually thrilled me in a way other books this year hadn’t. Above all, this book was just a work of art both in the writing and in the story. For this reason, it is the ultimate winter read and the perfect gift for a lover of all things thrills, magic, and a little chill.

Goodreads Description:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Have you read any of these thrilling novels this year? Are there any books you are hoping to give or receive this holiday season? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your wish lists for this year!