Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

This is a thriller that I’ve been seeing in all the libraries and bookstores. And yes, as per the usual, I decided to try it out and see whether it lives up to the hype.

And this time, it does.

25365530Summary (Goodreads): How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review: I’m going to start with a trigger warning – there are instances of abuse, murder, and some horrific bullying in this novel. This novel is really not for the faint of heart because it deals with very sensitive topics.

The story starts off slow, with Milly telling us that she has turned in her mother and is being fostered by a psychologist who will be helping her prep for the trial. Right off the bat, I loved Milly’s voice. It’s choppy sentencing, but done right. The short sentences convey so much emotion and I can feel Milly’s troubling thoughts, her inability to live with her guilt, and her struggle to separate her identity from her mother’s. Even though it was slow-going, I really enjoyed how the author drew out the story and made the readers really understand Milly.

Not only is Milly facing the trial, she is also being severely bullied by her foster sister. This aspect actually made the story more of a teen read rather than an adult read, but the extent and cruelty of the bullying still makes this a hard read. I could never imagine bullying to be this terrible … but that’s wishful thinking. Bullying happens, in schools and in workplaces, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the bullying scenarios in the book are similar to what actually happens in real life. Every time I read what Milly was going through at the school, I felt chills. A part of me knew that Milly wasn’t just a meek girl. She was silent, but she was watching. I loved that the author made me feel sympathy for her but also tempered it by making me fear her a little.

For most of the book, we are shown these bullying aspects. At times, I wished to know more about the trial and the circumstances that led to Milly confessing to the cops about her mother. But the story eventually gets around to that. It was definitely worth the wait, and while it was predictable, it was done very well and I could feel the emotions that Milly was feeling.

I had only one problem with this novel, and this is the reason my rating went down. An incident happens in the story and Milly and the foster family must band together for it. This instance, while something predictable, was put together in a very awkward and abrupt way, and made for a very weird transition in the story. After all the time the author put in to develop the other details of the story, this lack of a proper segue was a bit disappointing. It also made the story lose some of its believability, which is a characteristic I think is very important in a book. The ending was also very abrupt because of this.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It gave me chills and it had me feeling all the feels for Milly. I just wish it had ended in a cleaner way. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~


I Found You by Lisa Jewell

The last time I read something by Lisa Jewell was 2 years ago, and I absolutely loved it. The book was The Girls in the Garden, and I found the thriller to be very engrossing. With that experience in mind, I was really excited to see how this novel would turn out! Here is my review: 

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside. Meanwhile, in London, newly-wed Lily Monrose’s husband fails to come home from work one night. Stranded in a country where she knows no one, Lily goes to the police – only to find out that the man she calls husband never existed. 23 years ago, Gray and Kirsty were teenagers on holiday with their parents. But their annual trip to the seaside town takes a disturbing turn when an enigmatic young man starts to pay attention to Kirsty. As these 3 paths intertwine, lies will be told, hidden secrets will be revealed, and lives will be changed forever.

What I had loved about The Girls in the Garden was how character-driven the story was. This novel was also heavily character-driven, which would have been great … except I didn’t like the characters. Every single one of them is so needy and so unbelievable. For example, let’s take the character of Alice. Even if you consider yourself to be very outgoing and in the habit of making bad mistakes, why would you bring a random stranger into your house? Especially considering that you have children who live with you? Okay, say I believe that you want to be a nice and helpful person – why would you let them stay for longer than a day? In what planet does it not strike you to call the police and get them to help you? And why, oh why, would you start up a romance?! The sheer amount of Lily’s character, while being well developed, was one that I just didn’t like. The way she spoke and acted were not always synchronous with her emotions so I would sometimes feel confused by what she was thinking or feeling (especially nearer to the end when everything was revealed). I didn’t actually mind the missing guy’s character, nor did I mind the story line that takes place 23 years ago; in fact, those were the only 2 things I liked about the novel. By the time I got to the middle of the novel, I had pretty much figured everything out. Nearly all of my predictions came true (and I’m usually pretty bad at predicting things). I don’t actually mind that sometimes thrillers can be easy to predict – as long as the story is well-written and clearly resolved, I can still enjoy it. This was not the case here. When the final turn of events were occurring, it was a complete mess. All of the characters come together, and then some random journalist gets involved where she really didn’t have to, and nobody does anything logical. Not at all. Everything is revealed in such a way that it made me dislike the entire novel. I’m actually quite sad that I didn’t like this book more, especially since a lot of people gave it rave reviews. But the actions of certain characters, combined with an ending that was implausible and random were just too much for me. I’m giving this a 2/5 stars because I liked the storyline that took place in the past. But that’s the only positive from me.

Happy reading ~

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

This novel is actually a sequel to You, which I had written about previously. When I first began to read this novel, I was happy and surprised to find out it took place right where the previous book left off. I devoured this book in one sitting and enjoyed it immensely, if not more than its predecessor. So if you have not checked out You by Caroline Kepnes, then please do so! And come back and read this novel afterwards!

Joe is living it up with his new girlfriend, Amy. So what if things didn’t work out with Guinevere Beck? She was fake anyways. Amy understands him, and loves him, and she is all he has ever wanted. Joe is happy. Until he discovers that Amy ran away with a bunch of priceless copies of some classics. Now Joe is on the hunt. No one lies to Joe and cheats him in this way. He will get even. And Amy must die. As Joe makes his way to Hollywood, he finds himself becoming immersed in the culture of young upstarts. But soon, his past with all of the hidden bodies starts surfacing and Joe becomes more antsy by the minute. Will he be able to survive this stint in Hollywood? Or will his deadly secrets finally catch up to him?

This is the first novel where I have actually been on the side of the psychopathic killer. I don’t know at what point in this novel things changed for me, but by the end, I was rooting for Joe! This novel was dark and outrageously humorous as it describes Joe’s (mis)adventures. At times, it read like an expose on the lives of the rich and famous, pointing out how ludicrous they are and how shamelessly people would go about trying to become famous. At other points, it was horrifying to see the way Joe came up with plans and executed his victims, the ones he believed deserved justice. It was thrilling to watch Joe trying to evade his past while maintaining a cool facade to those around him. This novel was immensely satisfying, and well worth reading for those who like creepy psychological thrillers. If you like messed up books that make you rethink how well you know someone, READ THIS NOVEL! Actually, I don’t care what genre you like, READ THIS NOVEL NOW. GO OUT AND BUY THE PREQUEL AND THEN BUY THIS ONE AND READ THEM ALL IN ONE DAY! It is a fantastic read and Caroline Kepnes created a perfect psychopath through the character of Joe Goldberg. Trust me on this book… you DO NOT want to miss out!

Happy reading!

The Watcher in the Wall by Owen Laukkanen

Remember how I always say that I have to read the first books in the series before I read another? Well, I broke that rule with this novel! I read the premise for it and just found it to be too good to ignore. I didn’t want to wait until I had gotten the first book so I decided to just go for it!

Carla Windemere and her partner, Kirk Stevens, are part of the joint FBI-BCA violent crimes task force and have had their fair share of disturbing cases, But when Steven’s daughter, Andrea, asks them to investigate the case of a student in her class who committed suicide, things become even more troublesome. What seems to be an ordinary case of suicide ends up being more than just an isolated event. There is a teenage suicide chat group that is presided over by an anonymous person who seems to be pushing vulnerable teenagers to commit the final act and kill themselves. Andrea’s classmate wasn’t the first to be enticed… and won’t be the last. Stevens and Windemere have to find this psychopath – before time runs out for his next victim.

I started this book this morning. And I did not put it down the whole time. My family literally had to take the book away from me so that I would spend time with them and eat dinner. This book was fantastic and had me on the edge of my seat. I could not stop following the journey of all of the different characters. Windemere is one of my favorite detectives of all time. And the psychopath? Well, I loved the way the author depicted him. Everything about this novel was perfect. And my gamble to not read the rest of the series worked! Although there were parts that I couldn’t figure out because I hadn’t read the series, it was minor and not too big of a deal. If anything, this novel convinced me to go back and read everything else connected to Windemere and Stevens. If you are looking for your next crime fiction novel, look no further than this one! It will have you enthralled and full of suspense until the very last page!

Happy reading ~

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz – Book One

My first experience reading a novel about vampires was Twilight. At first, I got swept up in its popularity but I soon found myself hating it. After that, I didn’t think I could ever get into that theme again. But then this novel came along. I didn’t really expect too much from it if I’m to be honest. But when I read it, I fell in love with it and was excited to read the rest of the novels in the series. At that time, the rest of the novels hadn’t been written yet so I forgot about the series completely. When the novel popped up on my recommendations list, I decided to reread it and see if it matched my standards today. So without further ado, here is my review:

Schuyler Van Allen has always felt at odds at her prestigious New York City private school, Duschesne. Although her family tree is just as impressive as the other students in the school, Schuyler does not have the sizeable inheritance that comes with it. While she is an outcast among the popular students, she has a true friend in Oliver Hazard Perry, who has been her best friend since childhood. When a student is found dead, the whole school is in shock. This leads to a rapid turn of events, and Schuyler finds herself invited to join “The New York Blood Bank”, better known as “The Committee”, a select group comprising of the most influential and elite families of New York. And it is at her first meeting of The Committee that Schuyler discovers that she and all the other members are vampires, fallen angels cursed to be born again and again to walk the Earth. In this way, the vampires or “Blue Bloods” find themselves living a series of different lives. But this “life” may prove to be the most dangerous, as something begins to kill the newly awakened vampires one by one. But is the threat really from something unknown? Or does the danger lie within the Blue Bloods themselves?

Just as before, I found myself swept up by the story. I couldn’t stop reading it and loving every inch of detail. This novel reads like Gossip Girl but has enough fantasy and mystery to give it substance. I loved getting a glimpse into the life of Manhattan’s elite but I also loved that the quintessential “gothic” vampire image was maintained. The idea of “cycling” or reincarnation was quite interesting and just made all of the character connections that much more appealing. Schuyler is a great protagonist; although she is initially presented as being quiet and unobstrusive, she soon emerges to be a strong-minded and courageous teen that anyone would love to be friends with. This book was a great teaser that sucked me in and left me wanting more action and more secrets. Now that the series is finally complete, you can count on it that I will get through it all and write a review for each book! So if you are looking for a good teen/adult vampire fiction, this should definitely be on your list!

Happy reading ~

Help For the Haunted by John Searles

I have literally been waiting for this book for close to 7 months, which is a VERY long time. Something about the idea of psychics and demonologists is just so enticing that I can’t help but grab any book on that topic. This novel is no exception.

Sylvie’s parents have an unusual career: they are demonologists. Aside from nation-wide conferences where they speak about their experiences, they also are called to help people who believe they or someone they live are possessed. It isn’t unusual to get late night calls so Sylvie isn’t perturbed when her parents take her with them to meet someone in a church. She is surprised when she hears gunshots – shots that kill her parents. Through a narrative that entwines the past with the present, Sylvie must uncover the secrets of her family in order to discover the identity of the killer.

At first, I thought this novel would be very much about possession and demons and exorcisms. It is not. It is about family secrets and ties, the way the media can destroy a family, and the power of belief. Although this novel deviated from my initial expectations, I still enjoyed it immensely. It was told from a naive child’s perspective, which made the novel that much more heartbreaking. The characters that I admired in the beginning were the ones I hated at the end and vice versa. The story was extremely complex and touched on a multitude of issues that really brought the story together. All in all, a great novel and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a complex thrill.

Happy reading ~

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I have no idea how I found the time to read this book. It’s a really stressful time for me at school and this book is quite long. But I finished it in a matter of days and I must say, it was worth it!

The New York Museum for Natural History has always been popular. But it’s about to get a lot more interesting: the directors of the museum have decided to open a massive exhibition on all sorts of hidden mysteries in the world. But as the date for the opening approaches, the museum staff are horrified to discover that there is a killer on the loose that is savagely murdering museum visitors and staff, a killer that may not even be human… The directors are firm in their decision to continue with preparations for the new exhibition. It’s up to Margo Green, a museum  researcher, to discover who (or what) is responsible for the grisly deaths – before the killer can strike again!

This book was quite good! I loved the buildup and the different perspectives of each character. The biological explanations were quite sound and the main detective was a very unique character. It felt like a mix of Sherlock Holmes with Jurassic Park – and I really enjoyed this combination. If you like Michael Crichton’s stuff or James Rollins, then you will thoroughly enjoy this book. I can’t wait to read the rest of the novels in this series (did I mention it’s part of a series? Because it is. And I intend to read all of it!)!!

Happy reading ~

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

For the first time, I forgot to blog about a book I read. This is my problem with borrowing physical copies of a book; I get so worried about returning it on time that I forget about everything else. It’s a good thing I went through my posts and realized it was missing!

Grace Blades is a brilliant psychologist with a penchant for knowing how to reach out to people in all stages of grief in order to console them. She seems perfect on the outside, with her beautiful home and her nice clothes and fancy cars. No one would ever imagine that at the age of five, she had witnessed a murder-suicide that had left her parents dead. Although Grace was adopted by a warm family and was able to use her intellect as a way of escaping the trauma, she still harbors a dark side. And when both of her worlds come together, Grace’s past returns – with the intention to kill.

This book was good. But not great. Grace was portrayed pretty interestingly. She did not show many feminine characteristics in her thoughts and glimpses of emotion were a rare thing. Although the story made sense, the ending was anticlimactic and abrupt. There was a lot of buildup and detail (sometimes a bit too much) throughout the novel but the ending took away from that by happening so quickly. I wish there had been a bit more to it because that would have really taken it to the next level. This is a pretty good psychological thriller but if you want something fast-paced, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Happy reading ~

Second Life by S.J. Watson

I actually read Before I Go To Sleep by this author a few years ago and I loved it. It was one of my first psychological thrillers. Naturally, I was excited to hear about this new book and decided to give it a shot.

When Julia’s sister is found murdered, it hits her hard. Although they haven’t been close in a while, Julia has always been protective of her younger sister. When police don’t turn up with any information regarding her death, Julia decides to do some of her own research. There she discovers that her sister had an online life full of sex and desire. When Julia creates her own account in order to entrap the killer. But soon she finds herself hooked to this world of desire, so much so that she begins to wonder if she is doing the hunting or is being hunted herself…

I actually did not like this book at all. It fell extremely short of my expectations. Julia is not a very intelligent character and throughout the whole novel, one can’t help but shake their heads over her decisions. It never really felt like she figured anything out during the novel; most of it was about how much she was in love/lust with her online “friend”. Then suddenly the whole novel sped up in the end. The only thing I truly likes about the book was the cliffhanger ending. Other than that, this novel was a let-down after this author’s previous work and I wouldn’t recommend people read this novel.

Happy reading ~

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

I waited almost a whole two months to read this book. During that time, I heard lots of raving reviews about this novel and this author, making me even more anxious to read it. I was so eager to read it that I started reading it while I was working (I’m so lucky that no one caught me doing that)!

Olav is a fixer. He was terrible at robberies and drug cartel work but people soon found out that he had a penchant for killing people. But it is a lonely life and for a man as simple as Olav, it can make him quite sad. Until the day he meets the woman of his dreams. Who is actually his boss’s wife – and his next target to kill.

This book moved along very quickly but it took me by surprise because of the way it was written. The language was as simple as the main character and this simplicity was what really made this book irresistible for me. I loved the main character; I found it impossible not to love him. The story was so good that I was sad to finish it (it was rather a short read, to be honest). I would recommend this to anyone looking for something unique, refreshing, and short!

Happy reading ~