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.
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
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)
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.
Unwind has a fresh, fascinating, and frankly genius premise: after a war is fought on abortion, the U.S. government passes legislature allowing parents to sign an order to "unwind" their teenagers. The teen is then taken apart, and each body part is used for transplants. Like any good dystopia, the concept poses a number of thought-provoking questions that the book tries to address, like "do we have souls?" or "what makes a person themself?" or "how scary is it to be unwound, really?", and it answers them with varying degrees of success. Unwind is an excellent conversation starter; it is riddled with nuanced philosophical ideas which are, at times, uniquely terrifying. However, that's where the problems with Unwind lie: the intrigue doesn't stretch much farther than the initial concepts. Shusterman is talented at worldbuilding, and every new detail of Unwind's dystopia is interesting, inspired, absurd, and simultaneously realistic. Unfortunately, the story fails to make use of this inherent intrigue. Much of the reader's time is spent spectating characters as they shuttle from one location to another. They have minimal development, or, when they do have development, it is sudden and drastic. Shusterman builds a vivid universe only to guide readers through the dullest corners. Unwind is worth a read for the conversation, not the story. If a reader expects the average teenage dystopia, they should pick another book; but if they want fresh perspectives, creative horror, and possibly a hint of existential dread, Unwind is the perfect read.
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
The Ivy League Universities are the most prestigious schools in America and even the world, and a group of five girls will stop at nothing to get into them. They call themselves the Ivies. The leader of the group, Avery, assigned each one of them a school: she is Harvard, .Emma is Brown, Sierra is Yale, Margot is Preston, and Olivia is Penn. After getting into Harvard, one of the girls is found dead. Olivia devotes herself to uncover secrets and scandals that could have caused her friends death, while avoiding becoming the killers next victim.
This book is a great book that is almost impossible to set down. It struck my interest because the thrill of murder mixed in with the stress of collage admissions sounds like the perfect story (and it is). This is a great story for anyone who loves a book with twists and turns that you never expect. I love that this story is not a one way, super easy murder case. It has lots of unexpected twists and turns that make it irresistible. This book also has a fair share of romance and gore, so readers who don't want anything PG13, this might not be the book for you.
I found the book, "Run, Hide, Fight Back" to be a very interesting and suspenseful book. I really enjoyed reading it and I would like to read more books like this. I very much enjoyed the detail described in this book and there were plot twists that I never would have expected.
Two years ago FBI agent Nina Brandt sent a hacker with a paranoid disorder to prison, and he has spent these past two years to make a detailed plan of how to get is revenge. At the same time, her ex-fiancee's brother hacks into the TSA's No Fly List. When Quinn Stone, her ex-fiancee, realises his brothers only hope to stay out of jail is to ask her for her help. What Nina and Quinn don't see coming is that their past is going to come back to haunt them. Nina is pulled far deeper into the investigation that she ever thought she would be. Although crime isn't the only thing on Nina's mind. She realises quickly that she is falling for Quinn again. Everything depends on if Agent Brandt can manage to solve the crime and prevent terrorists from receiving the No Fly List information and also keeping herself from being killed by Wiley, the felon out to get her.
Web of Shadows is the second instalment of the Agents Under Fire Series.My reason for reading this book is that I have read other books of Sleeman's and this one sounded interesting. From its many intriguing plot twists to Nina's romantic indecision, I enjoyed almost everything about this books. The only thing I don't like, is at the beginning most of the point of view is from the felon. I think the type of people who would enjoy this book the most are teens and adults, and it is a fiction mystery.
This book was so well written! Ivy, Mateo, and Cal all used to be friends in middle school but then grew apart. Ivy was having a bad day because she didn’t get class president, Booney did. She ends up running into her two old friends in the school parking lot and then decided to skip school. Little do they know they will be witnesses of Booney’s murder. The three have a day full of crazy events from being suspects of murder to being kidnapped. I really enjoyed this book. There were so many twists and turns that made it hard for you to know who did it. The suspense made you want to never put the book down. I really liked how this book was not predictable it kept you guessing all the way to the end. I would definitely recommend it.
This eerie thriller was interesting, and I could have never guessed the plot twist! The Silent Patient follows a psychotherapist named Theo who is intrigued by patient Alicia's story of murdering her husband without warning or motive. She becomes mute and is resistant to talk about what happened that night, but Theo is determined to change that. Each chapter was engaging and added to the mystery of what led to the murder. Plus, the setting of a psychiatric hospital added to the grim and suspenseful tone of the book. By the very end, I was a bit confused by the plot twist because once it was revealed, it seemed like the characters totally changed personalities. Nevertheless, it was still a great book.
Everyone contains secrets but it is about how far you are willing to bear them and how long you want to shelter them. One of Us Is Lying is the first book in the One of Us Is Lying Trilogy and a YALSA 2018 Teens' Top Ten selection. One of Us Is Lying has the perfect mix of drama, suspense, mystery, and romance, and I haven’t read anything as unique. The book is extremely well written, perfect and extraordinary with the proper balance of words to keep anyone seated in one spot for hours at a time. The novel starts with five students sent to detention with only four leaving alive. The Brain, Bronwyn, The Beauty, Addy, The Athlete, Cooper, and The Criminal, Nate, Bayview High School’s most notable hypocrites are brought down throughout the novel to a level so low. According to investigators the death of a student during detention with the other four students, The Outcast, Simon, was not an accident. The leading characters are Cooper, Addy, Bronwyn, and Nate. They are all altogether diverse in the way they behave and their personality. I found Cooper the most interesting, but Bronwyn was the most sympathetic. Addy changed throughout the story starting as a typical high school popular girl and then ending with a more refreshing style. I enjoyed how the story was put together in the first person because the perspective was constantly varying which made it altogether more interesting. It uses multiple perspectives to provide you the point of view of not one, but all four suspects in a murder mystery with their motives, but the real marvel lies within the journey and experiences of the characters. This book is much deeper than just a murder mystery, and it has much more to it in terms of character development and diversity. You witness the characters’ vulnerable lives being picked apart and their deepest secrets being spread to their peers. This book is 5 Stars and exceeded expectations. I enjoyed this book and suggest it for the next time you want to read something as unique as this.
Reviewer 8th Grade
Storm Break follows Harry Dresden, the only wizard-for-hire in the country, as he investigates a grisly murder that could only be done by dark magic. Along the way, he'll have to juggle the case of an abandoned wife, the demands of his only friend in the force, the pressures of a sentient skull, and the condemnation of a council that wants to end him once and for all.
I didn't give this book three stars because it's a decent book. I gave this book three stars because it does some things really, really well and some things really, really badly. Throughout my reading, my internal rating jumped between one and four stars, so I stuck with three because it was mostly a good book and two stars should be reserved for boring books. And this definitely wasn't boring.
On the good side, I enjoyed the world building. It remains typical enough to the urban fantasy realm to seem cozy without being boring. Every magical creature has the exciting things we're used to, with some extra thrown in for fun, and lots of personality to make up for any stereotypical writing. The creatures and world building sell the danger of the world, making the stakes very high in the first book, something I appreciate. I like the main character, Harry Dresden, because he's a funny guy. I mean funny in that he cracks actually funny jokes, as well as funny as in he doesn't ever think things through and the outcome is always hilarious. I also like how the Harry has a "sad hidden backstory", but its not really hidden or sad because he talks about it so matter-of-factly that you forget how messed up it is in context. I loved the mystery of the novel, even if some twists threw me for a loop. The writing could also be surprisingly emotional for whats meant to be a cynical cop novel, in a way that really makes you sympathize with the twisted situation the protagonist is in, as well as the innocent people wrapped up in it. The ending was very satisfying and climactic and well bought, and really kept me invested until the end. Basically, its a very good urban fantasy novel with a fascinating protagonist and a thrilling story!
Now for the really, really bad stuff. Or just one really, really bad thing. In short: the author of this story has no idea how to write women. Or, he knows how to write women, and he just chooses to do it in the worst way possible. Every single woman in this book is one of three things: desperate for help from the dashing protagonist, incredibly attractive for no reason and really into the protagonist, or a token "strong independent woman" who devolves into one of the other two types within chapters. And I cannot stress how jarring this was. The author can write witty dialogue and fantastical creatures and heart wrenching emotion, but he can't write a single female character without sexualizing or demeaning her in some way. It's like walking through a local art gallery full of beautiful landscapes and self portraits, and then out of the blue there's a two-year-old's finger painting. I could go on for hours about how bad it was, and I really want to, but basically: about half of the women in this book are prostitutes, about half of the women die horribly and helplessly, most of them hit on Dresden and he always assumes its to seduce him for nefarious purposes, and not a single one of them has more than a shred of autonomy, character, or soul. All of that had to go into the main character, who is amazing alone, but whenever he's around woman he feels like a gross power fantasy that I can't sympathize with until about ten pages after he shares a conversation with a female character.
All in all, this book is a frustration. I want to enjoy the world building and fun characters and funny moments and good plot, but every so often a woman is introduced and I have to resist the urge to track the author down and throw the book at his face. If you can suffer through that, there is some great writing to be found! If you can't, I don't blame you.
Reviewer Grade: 12