About The Book Agatha Christie meets Clue in this delightful, tense manor house murder mystery. This clever murder mystery is the perfect gift for fans of classic mysteries, festive Christmas books, and armchair detective work. Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas. But how many will die before Twelfth Night? Buy The Book:https://amzn.to/3UBj1s0
I had been looking forward to this book since I heard the plot, but sadly, it was a complete let down. When I think of this book, the word that comes to mind is ‘boring’. That’s not to say the plot was bad, because the story truly did have potential. However, it was executed poorly.
Most of the characters were unlikable or uninteresting. The tolerable characters played relatively small roles within the story. And, we didn’t get to know each person enough to fully understand them.
The main character, Lily, was okay, but I felt as though the author made her out to be this golden girl. She was smart, kind, and clearly her aunt’s favorite. At times, I could understand why her cousin, that aunt’s daughter, couldn’t stand her.
It was annoying that Lily never came to terms with her mothers death. Sure, finding her mothers body was terribly traumatic but it is infuriating when fictional characters ignore seeking help for something so obvious. You can only really move on once you have faced the loss.
“It’s cruel, when she thinks of it, to ask her to return to this house, with its secrets written on walls and she’s the one who has to strip back the wallpaper.”
Now the second half of the book was a lot faster-paced then the first half. Although, it was pretty clear to me who the killer was. I wasn’t completely correct on the killer, and didn’t guess their motive, but I was half right.
Overall, the book was slow, and the murder-mystery aspect didn’t actually take place until the halfway point. I will say that if you are looking for a book with a complicated family relationship in it, then you might want to give this one a read. Because family being ruthless is very central to the plot.
As for the writing style, it wasn’t horrible, so I might try to give this author another chance. This particular book just wasn’t for me. Also, there is a romance situation that I can’t talk about much since it’s a spoiler, but definitely research trigger warnings for this book before picking it up.
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Author: Alexa Donne Published: 2021 Genre: Young Adult/Murder Mystery Rating:
Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions…among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.
I hadn’t heard or seen anyone talk about this book, but the cover intrigued me so I picked it up. The book started off with a bang, with the first chapter captivating my attention. I wanted to see how the story play out. The book was set up as a murder mystery that shows the lengths people will go to ensure they get into a good college.
Although, the beginning was gripping, I found myself getting bored as the story progressed. The mystery element was there and the plot wasn’t bad, but for some reason the story was weak. It might have something to do with the fact that I have never felt the need to go to an Ivy League school. (Well, there was the small desire to follow in Rory Gilmore’s footsteps and attend Yale.) I don’t really think an Ivy League college is the only way to have a good future.
Olivia, our main character, felt like a typical YA protagonist. In my opinion, books that feature an expensive boarding school usually follow the rich and/or elite kids that attend it. However, there is always the one person that doesn’t feel like they belong. Olivia was that girl in this book. She doesn’t feel like she fits in amongst the wealthy.
Olivia’s friend group includes Avery, Emma, Sierra, and Margot, better known as ‘The Ivies’. You could tell that the girls weren’t genuine friends, as they secretly undercut each other at every turn. They didn’t have each other’s backs, and could be just as ruthless to each other as they were to everyone else. I guess there is some truth to the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.
I did find myself getting annoyed with Olivia at times, because her and her friends did awful things to people. However, Olivia kept making excuses for their actions. She might have not known about all the things her friends had done, but her hands were far from clean. She was naive, sure, but that’s hardly an excuse. I never really felt like she owned up to any of her wrong doings. And, somehow still turned out to be the victim.
Avery was clearly made out to be a Regina George type character. She carefully picked her friends; going so far as to select their Ivy League colleges for them. However, she wasn’t this mean girl that was obsessed with getting into Harvard. Well, she wasn’t only that girl. There was a softer side to her as well.
“We improve our own odds by slightly decreasing the fortunes of others.”
As for the rest of the group, they weren’t very fleshed out. We only got to know a little bit about each of them. Emma was probably the one we learned the most about, since she was murdered. We got a small glimpse at who Sierra was. As for Margot, the author didn’t really give any information on her. All we learned was that she didn’t care for Olivia. She didn’t think she fit in with their friend group, and was outright a bad friend to her.
Also, there was a side romance plot that, I guess, was cute. But, I didn’t care for it. I felt like there really didn’t need to be a romance in the story. Maybe I would have felt differently if Olivia was already in a relationship, but I’m not sure. I do, however, think that the outcome of relationship was surprising, and was the best twist in the book.
As for the murder aspect, the killer’s motive was somewhat weak, yet still relatable. I could actually see somebody killing for this reason. The story showed that having a high social status and money, doesn’t make you entitled to anything. Money can’t by dignity, or make you a decent person. The amount of energy these kids put into getting into college seemed exhausting. In the end, the teenagers in the book made getting into a fancy college seem like a ‘kill or be killed’ situation.
I had a lot of theories on how the book would play out, and some of my guesses were right. However, most of the time, I was dead wrong. This book had the potential to be on the level of Karen M. McManus’ books, but it lacked her amazing writing style and thrilling plot. The author has talent, but just didn’t hit this book out of the park.
A small thing that bugged me, but probably isn’t a big deal to most people, was the focus on Harvard. The book mentioned a few other big name schools, but getting in to Harvard played a major role in the story. Why does it always have to be Harvard? Is it too much to ask that we have a little more outside the box thinking? Okay, rant over.
I do want to mention that Alexa Donne happens to be an authortuber. This wasn’t something that I was aware of until after I read the book, but she has some great author content on her channel. If you want to get to know the author behind this book, then I recommend you check out her channel.
I hope that you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this book. It was an interesting read, yet not a book I would pick up again. Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on this book. If you like bookish content, then follow the blog before you go.
I mentioned how I was switching up the way I do my TBR posts, so I thought it might be fun to do a seasonal TBR instead. Spring hasn’t really started in my state, since the days have been going from 60 degrees to almost 90 degrees. Anyways, these are some of the of books that I would like to read during the spring. I could have a lot more on this list, but I tried to be relatively realistic.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
This seems like the perfect spring read! After watching a reading vlog featuring this book, I am even more excited to pick it up. I only watched the first half of the video, because it was filled with spoilers. I want to be surprised while reading it, so I have now been trying to stay away from reviews or videos talking about the book.
The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
This is the last Karen M. McManus release that I have yet to read. She is probably my favorite YA thriller author, and I am excited to read another one of her books. All her books have been top-tire YA thrillers for me, and I have heard some great things about this story. I am not too familiar with the plot of this book, but I don’t mind going into her books blind.
They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman
I didn’t care for this author’s first thriller novel, ‘They Wish They Were Us’, But, I wanted to give her a second chance. This one follows two sisters, and has a more intriguing mystery. I haven’t heard anything about this book, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It seems like Goodman is still a pretty unknown author, and I enjoy reading more underrated books from time to time.
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
I am dying to continue on with the ‘Good Girl’s Guide To Murder’ series. The characters and mystery of the first book was so good that I have pretty high hopes for the rest of the series. This is the second book in the trilogy, and is bound to be amazing. These mystery thrillers are fast paced, so I am pretty sure it will be a quick read.
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
This book has been on my radar for a while now, since it is an extremely popular YA trilogy. I get ‘Knives Out’ vibes from the plot, yet I have never seen that movie, so I don’t know how right I am. This is supposed to be a mystery thriller, but from what I have heard it leans more towards the mystery genre.
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Kasie West is my favorite young adult contemporary author, so I had to put one of her books on my spring TBR. I have been slowly making my way through her back-list titles. This is one of her first book releases, and I’m sure it will have me swooning. I typically give her books between a 4 or 5 star rating, which is why I always get excited to pick up her books.
Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning
I own this book both physically, and on audiobook, which makes it a high priority read for me. I haven’t read anything from this author, nor heard anything about this book. The plot interest me, but it isn’t the type of story that I would normally read. However, the book does have just under a 4 star rating, so I am keeping my hopes high.
Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie
This book wasn’t one that I originally wanted to pick up, but I have heard good things about it. People have mentioned that the story has a lot of diversity. However, I am still on the fence about it, because I have heard it is a bit slower pace. I plan to go into it with an open mind and hope for the best.
Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman
I am really excited for this book, because it sounds like a great read for me. This is a super cute contemporary that I predict to be at least a 4 star read. I luckily found this book on a whim, since the book community hasn’t mentioned it. Nevertheless, I want to pick this one up fairly soon. Also, it has plus size representation, which is always a bonus.
Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards
I have been wanting to read something from this author for a while. Despite not having heard that great of things about her books I still find the premise of her thrillers to be very interesting. I could be completely wrong with this ending up to be a disappointment, but I have to read it to find out.
If you haven’t noticed, I have become really into YA thrillers lately. But ya contemporaries will still always find their way on to my TBRs. Let me know in the comments what you will be reading this spring. Also, don’t forget to give my blog a follow.
Title: They Wish They Were Us Author: Jessica Goodman Published: 2020 Genre: Young Adult/Mystery
Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on. Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player–a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it. But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy. Source:Goodreads
This was one of my first introductions into YA mystery. I figured since I love thriller movies, then thriller books should be right up my alley. I had been anticipating reading this book for a while, but had seen some mixed reviews on it. I’ll start off with the negative aspects of the book, so we can end on a good note. I wasn’t a fan of the slow moving plot. I felt as though nothing had happened, but I was already at the 1/3 mark.
Another problem was that I could instantly tell who the killer was going to be. I feel that a thriller is more interesting when there are a lot of suspects, and you don’t know who to trust. I found all the characters to be fairly shallow, and only cared about their social status. I never went to high-school, so I don’t have any frame of reference on how other teenagers act. But I hope they aren’t as bratty as they were portrayed in this book.
My biggest problem was the female lead’s indecisiveness. For the majority of the book, she bounced back-and-forth between helping or just staying out of it. Even though she had many doubts about her friend’s killer, she tried to talk herself out of helping an innocent person go free. There’s not wanting to get involved, and then there’s just turning a blind eye. Now, moving on to happier things! I enjoyed Goodman’s writing style tremendously. I could see her writing some amazing, lighthearted contemporaries in the future.
I thought that the killer’s motive was done very well. I didn’t expect it at all. One of the most redeeming points is that I find this to be a great first step into the YA thriller, murder mystery genre. It is on the tamer side, but has solid writing and plot. Don’t be afraid to give me some YA thriller and horror recommendations in the comments. Subscribe via email to get notified whenever there’s a new post.