The Westing Game is a very eventful book with lots of twists and turns. It starts out as a novel about an old rich man who ‘died’, Sam Westing. All of his heirs live in Sunset Towers and are competing in a game he made. In his will, Westing claims that one of the people that resides in the tower killed him. All of his relatives get assigned another family member they have to work with as a partner. The groups start finding and solving clues, one leading to another and making each family suspect each other throughout the whole game. His heirs are hoping to gain control of his business and win millions of dollars through the game, which they will split with their partner. I really liked this book because of all the mystery and obscure details that lead you to the answer. Who set the bombs? Who REALLY killed Westing? Why did Turtle cover up for Angela? Did he even die? Are Sam Westing, Sandy McSouthers, Julian Eastman, and Barney Northrup hiding something? The suspense draws you in, and leaves you wanting more and questioning everything. I would highly recommend this book for any young and curious reader.
Although I was skeptical at first, I quickly fell in love with the bizarre world of Dellecher and its fourth-year theater students. The worldbuilding and three-dimensional characters transcended expectations. I read this novel in a mere 3 days, and it didn't take long to get me hooked. I'm obsessed the way these students were with Shakespeare. Unfortunately, this beautifully written novel has some glaring flaws that it wasn't poetic enough to cover. The plot started off strong but lost its way in the whirlwind of the theater world. It veered towards a tangled romance before reluctantly wandering back to its roots abruptly before the novel ended. I would've liked more development in any and all realms besides Oliver and Meredith. In fact, I would happily read a series of books detailing these seven students' journey through university. After about six hours spent reading, I feel I only have a vague idea of these characters, and I'm on the edge of my seat for more. Regardless, it was a thrilling ride, and I'm optimistic for Rio's other works.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a story about love, loss, stuck couches, time travel, bad magic tricks, and the beginning of everything. It's an examination of death, life, conscious, and missing cats. But mostly, it's about a detective agency that does no detective work, and the people that get roped into it.
It would be very hard for me to describe the plot of Dirk Gently's Detective Agency. It's a book that's highly based on time travel, and this is fully taken advantage of in the novel. Things happen out of order, and it doesn't follow the protagonists journey through time. Rather, the reader and the characters are forced to piece everything together one strange moment at a time. I had to read this book, reread the ending again, then cave and read Wikipedia before every piece fell into place. This is a book that needs to be read more than once. The question is if it's worth it. I feel that it is!
This book exhibits some of the best of Douglas Adams: nonsensical stories, quirky characters, silly syntax, and an emphasis on the absurd. I especially love how are the characters are connected, by circumstance or otherwise. I like the protagonist is confused all the time, because that made him very relatable over the course of the story. The story managed to be both extremely funny and heart wrenching and heartwarming in a relatively short amount of time, without too much whiplash. Every character makes you laugh while they pull at your heartstrings. Basically, everything weaves together like a quilt, whether the writing or plot or characters, to make something fun and fascinating and endlessly comfy!
All in all, this is an extremely interesting and funny book. I docked it some points because the confusing plot can detract from the story, but that's the only flaw I could find! I would recommend this to anyone who likes time travel, hilarious writing, and a real rollercoaster of a story!
Reviewer Grade: 12
This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us is a wonderfully witty Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque tale of crime, passion, and sibling squabbles. Adrian and Zooey Kimrean are twins forced to share the same body: the same brain, the same limbs, the same life. After establishing a Private Eye business to utilize Adrian's deductive analysis and Zooey's creative skills, the two are thrown into the path of a mob war. Can they learn to work together, or will their self-destructive self-sabotage spell the end for the both of them?
This book is insane. It's absolutely insane. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, plot points, and story trajectory, and I loved every minute of it. The mastery of the book comes in large part from Cantero himself, and his mastery of humor and pacing and personality. Every character, especially the two main leads, seem to explode from the page. The book acknowledges the tropes of the detective story, and a lot of it plays into it, but there are also some wonderful subversions in the simple act of giving two-dimensional characters a lot more depth than they usually warrant. Very few characters are taken for granted. Beyond that, there's a beautiful vibrancy to the dialogue, and it highlights the unique character dynamics that emerge from the story. The story takes full advantage of its goofy premise, using it for all the drama and humor and plot fodder that it can. Both the hilarity and the absolute tragedy that is the main character's situation is wonderfully balanced. The jokes about it have some of the best slapstick and back-and-forth I've seen in a book. The sorrow of it was genuinely moving, and wasn't undercut or dragged out. Finally, even the writing was wonderful. The imagery was gorgeous, the prose was moving, and the general comic air of the book make the serious parts hit that much harder.
There are some problems with the book. Yes, the wildness of the plot can detract from the mystery. Sure, the humor can be crude and the ending was pretty conflicting. But I don't care. I read this book in a straight 48-hours and I wish it could've lasted for hundreds of hours more. It's a masterclass in characterization, dialogue, humor, and out-of-the-box writing. All in all, I'd recommend this for anyone who wants detective stories, mob wars, unlikely friendships, fantastic action, and one of the most interesting sibling dynamics you'll ever see!
Reviewer Grade: 12
Daniel, the main character of the novel ‘Took’ is struggling with family issues, but then his sister, Erica, is taken from plain sight. It can’t be the woods where the witch lives, so what happened to Erica? The book is about Daniel uncovering new clues and going through twists and turns to find his little sister.
I absolutely loved this book! I’ve read it at least three times and it never gets old. I can appreciate everything about this book from the detailed scenes to the simple, but chilling artwork on the front cover.
Reviewer Grade: 8
The Girl in the Locked Room is a ghost story written by Mary Downing Hahn. In a nutshell, this book is based on a strange girl who has been locked in a small room for many years. As the story goes on, many secrets unfold and all questions are answered with shocking twists.
I enjoyed the plot of this story. As simple as the setting is many secrets unfold throughout the book. The character (the girl) is extremely complex even though the setting is small. This isn’t my favorite novel by Mary Downing Hahn, but it is definitely worth reading in my eyes.
This ghost story revolves around a pair of siblings, the older sister named Diana and the younger brother named Georgie. The strange thing about these two is they don’t have any parents or legal guardian looking after them. It has always been Diana and Georgie on the Willis Farm. The two have a strict set of rules to follow which may lead to consequences if they break.
I really enjoyed this book. It was really an attention grabber and I was extremely interested in the plot because I haven’t read anything like it so far. Diana and her little brother Georgie are really complex characters and their relationship is interesting to follow throughout the entire book. This book is another ghost story from Mary Downing Hahn. If you have any free time, I recommend picking up the book and start reading!
Reviewer Grade: 8
Have you ever read a book that’s so bad it’s good? Maybe even great? Even if you haven’t, there is room for one of these books in everyone’s lives. This book for me is Horror Hotel. Cringey, “Gen Z” dialogue? Horror Hotel has it. Badly written plot with an obvious twist? You can find that in Horror Hotel. One dimensional characters? You guessed it, Horror Hotel. Though, I will give this book credit where it’s due. I had found myself laughing harder than I’ve ever had at a book. It has the exact same energy of something you’d write with your friends at 3 AM. If you are looking for grade-A trash, you’ll definitely find it in Horror Hotel.
League of Liars is an excellent read for fans of anything from fairytales to Ace Attorney. I enjoyed its heart-racing mind games and plans. The prison’s ever-changing playing field always made sure the characters didn’t have things too easy. I also loved the interesting magic system, (and the legal consequences that come with it). However, I think that the plot could have been instantly resolved if magic was used, which makes the characters, who took the hard way, feel idiotic at times. Other than that, if you like well-crafted fantasy worlds, page-turning mysteries, more twists than a bag of pretzels and twice as many likable characters, read League of Liars! (8th Grade)
The third book in the Dresden Files, Grave Peril continues the adventures of Chicago’s resident wizard as he takes on ghosts, godmothers, and ghoulish vampires. While it’s definitely an improvement from Fool Moon, Grave Peril still has some of the misogynistic flaws of the series’ titular character. On the plus side, we finally get to delve into deeper lore for the series. And we get Michael. He’s the best new character in this series and by far my favorite for many reasons—mainly because how he does things differently than Dresden.
I’ll admit that it took me a while to get through this book, which felt odd considering the action was superb, the writing was proficient, and the story was thrilling. For some reason, I didn’t feel the motivation to continue reading and went weeks between picking it up and continuing. I think if I had read it all as quickly as possible, then it might have earned another half-star. I know it’s not this book’s fault for my inability to focus on reading to save my life (thanks to the pandemic; I think). Perhaps there’s something subconscious about this book that prevented me from devouring it, though.
Since the Dresden Files are mainly written through the POV of Harry Dresden, this might be my biggest qualm right now. I absolutely adore all the new characters introduced in this book, but I cringe at all the obvious instances of “men writing women” that have persisted since book one. In fact, I’d almost rather have an entire series from Michael’s point of view, because he seems much more interesting in his denim-wearing, sword-wielding ways. I’ll still continue with this series, but only to see where it takes Michael.
Great new characters and a deeper dive into the lore, I give Grave Peril 4.0 stars out of 5.
Paper Towns by John Green is a thrilling, coming-of-age mystery. Readers get to solve the mystery along with the main character. The book provides interesting insights and a sense of grounded wonder and sparks deep thought about our own reality of life and inevitable death. It follows senior Quentin Jacobsen on a wild journey with dreamy but unattainable childhood friend later drifted away, Margo Roth Spiegelman. The mystery that surrounds her the next day is sure to excite readers with fear but also curiosity as they journey with Quentin inside his mind on the sublime adventure to uncover her whereabouts. On many occasions I found myself unable to stop reading even though the book took me into the late hours of the night. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for an exciting venture into the unknown!
We Were Liars is a mysterious young adult novel about a wealthy family who spends every summer on their private island. The story focuses on the main character, Cadence. After Cadence suffers a head injury during one of the summers, she cannot remember almost anything from that trip to the island. The next summer things are very different and Cadence has to try and remember why.
This book is quite a page-turner. As Cadence slowly remembers more and more details of the mysterious summer when she suffered her head injury, it is nearly impossible to put the book down. However, not all page-turners are necessarily great books. The story of We Were Liars may have been intriguing, but the content was not very substantial. There didn’t really seem to be any morals, and if there were, they weren’t very clear. Things just happened throughout the story, and although it was a mystery, nothing was truly deep or thought-provoking
Murder on the Orient Express is a compelling Christie mystery. The book is steady and methodical: after the initial inciting incident, each of the passengers are questioned in order. Then, the evidence is reviewed and the conclusion comes easily to the detective. This novel was a straightforward, easy read, but I found it was better enjoyed by just sitting back and reading. Formulating theories, from the perspective of the reader, is relatively difficult due to key details being under developed when first introduced in the book. Therefore, the detective is better informed than the reader throughout the mystery, which took away some of the intrigue for me. Ultimately, however, the ending was satisfying, and Murder on the Orient Express is a well-written, captivating read.
Any fan of mysteries should read And Then There Were None because it is such a wonderfully refreshing book. It is understandable why the book continues to have an impact decades after its release. Following And Then There Were None is not that difficult. Yes, it's a mystery, so pay attention (or at least keep track of who's passing and when), but the book doesn't aim to mislead its readers with unusual text. Guilt and justice are two of And Then There Were None's themes. Every visitor taken to the island is charged with an unfounded murder. As the death toll climbs, visitors struggle in various ways with their own personal emotions of guilt. Justice Wargrave's confession clarifies the notion of justice. Those who loved And There Were None like me should read more of Agatha Christie's work or if you want to read a book similar to And Then There Were None I recommend The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Overall, I loved Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None because of how it always kept readers on the edge.
Initially, the premise of this book caught my attention: a psychotherapist sees a patient who murdered her husband years ago (as revealed in the opening line) and has not spoken since. Without spoilers, the story is told in a fascinating way, and Michaelides makes the most of his creative freedom in the medium of novels. Right after I finished reading, I thought the book perfect for what it sought out to do; however, upon further reflection, I feel it missed the spark that makes a good book. Yes, the story was interesting and the flow of events was steady, but by the last third I felt there wasn't enough struggle or buildup to make the progress with Alicia impressive. The novel told two stories simultaneously (the one of Theo's wife and the one of his patient), which was a great artistic choice, but I think that left each individual plotline underdeveloped in the 300 page novel. The Silent Patient is well-written, organized, and unsettling. Although I struggle to grasp the greater message behind the nuanced story Michaelides told, I definitely enjoyed reading it.
Please believe me when I say, this book deserves the hype. It is genuinely one of the best books I have ever read. The storyline was unique, the pacing was perfect, and the characters were so interesting. Kya is a girl living in the marshlands of South Carolina who is abandoned by her family at a very young age. The book follows her journey to survive, using nature's resources and a few memorable lessons from her mother to become a strong and capable woman. Despite this accomplishment, Kya is labeled as an outsider and is linked to a cruel murder, whose ruling will determine if she will ever grow beyond the constraints of others' opinions. Kya is a character with much perseverance, and her gratitude for the simplest of things is a lesson to take to heart. The friends she meets along the way are also patient and caring. The jump between timelines kept things interesting, and the two dates finally colliding into one made it impossible to put the book down. It is worth reading this book for the themes of child psychology, social rejection, appreciation for nature, and much more.
You'll Be the Death of Me was disappointing to say the least. McManus' other book, One of Us is Lying, had fascinating characters and a clever plot. This book felt like a knock-off. Ivy, Mateo, and Cal are three high school students who skip school one day and get swept up in a shocking murder mystery. The actual plot and eventual killer was kind of interesting, but not enough of a shock to be fully entertained. This is one of those mysteries that you can absolutely guess midway through the book. The three main characters are pretty bland and don't have good chemistry. Why do they just remember this one "Best Day Ever" in middle school and decide to randomly skip school? Were they actually long-term friends or just acquaintances? It seems like the author couldn't decide. Plus, every romantic interaction felt forced and uncomfortable. Not my favorite.
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is a surprisingly dark and complex book. The main character, Pip, decides to investigate a "solved" murder in her town from five years ago, one that she is very close to. She teams up with the alleged murderer's brother and slowly unravels a well-hidden mystery. The book's organization made an otherwise-complicated crime easier to understand. You would read a chapter, then Pip would summarize the findings in her capstone project diary entry. This information was backed up with occasional maps and diagrams as well. Although I did get lost at some parts with there being so many names, I appreciated there being enough suspects that it was impossible to figure out the mystery until the characters did. Pip was clever and eloquent, so her handling of this personal investigation didn't take away from the story. Not to mention her friends along the way, who were pretty well-developed side characters. If you think the pacing is slow for the first part of the book, keep going!
The Bayview Four, the four pupils Simon falsely accused of being the cause of his death, are no longer together, and their younger classmates and relatives are forced to play a new round of gossip-filled Truth or Dare. One year has passed since the events of One of Us Is Lying, and a game of Truth or Dare has begun. However, this isn't your typical Truth or Dare. This game can be deadly. Accepting the dare could be risky, even fatal while telling the truth might reveal your deepest secrets. This sequel had a mixed record as far as success goes. First on the list is Phoebe. It's true if you decide not to play. Phoebe’s secret is dark and it keeps her relationships and family messed up until the very end when the truth is spilled. Maeve then enters the scene, and she ought to know better than always taking the dare. However, things have become dangerous by the time Knox is ready to be tagged. The dares have turned deadly, and Maeve has learned that she cannot rely on the authorities for assistance after what happened to Bronwyn last year. or security. Although Simon is no longer with us, someone is committed to preserving his legacy at Bayview High. And the regulations have altered. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending, so many things were left untouched like relationships and the truth or dare game that I feel like there must be a third book.
This is the kind of book with so many cliffhangers, you can't find a stopping point. This is a book you'll want to read in one sitting but remember you have homework and have to reluctantly put it down. This is a book that makes your hands sweat and your heart beat faster. The vivid imagery and dynamic characters will make you feel as if you're there yourself. This is a book for adventurers. This is a book for the fearless. This is Underlined Paperbacks and this is The Wild.
When Dawn is sent to a wilderness boot camp for one to many bad decisions, she ends up in a situation her parents nor her ever expected. The people she meets there have bad decisions they are also living with and as the woods get darker, their pasts are revealed. Will they make it out of the camp alive? Is everyone there for the reason they claim they are?
Reviewer Grade: 11