The Cousins // Book Review

SynopsisMilly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious. Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option.
Synopsis from Amazon

My Rating


My Thoughts
I don’t know how Karen M. McManus does it, but her books seem to have a way of pulling me in right from the start. This story was no different, I was immediately intrigued by the story and characters. In this book, we follow three teenage cousins from the Story family: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah, who barely know each other. They are all very different from one another, but somehow their personalities worked well together. Each of them must drop everything to spend the summer working at their estranged grandmother’s resort. As the three get to know each other, you can see a bond forming between them while they try to uncover family’s secrets.

They were all likable characters, but didn’t stray too much from the author’s typical character personas. They are each facing issues at home, and even though the book was a crazy mystery/thriller, there was definitely some character growth, which was a nice added touch. The Story cousins aren’t clueless, and were immediately suspicious of their grandmother’s sudden invitation. Personally, I enjoy a mystery when the characters aren’t oblivious to things that seem fishy.

As perusal, we have dual perspectives throughout this book, but we don’t just alternate from Story cousin to cousin. There are chapters that take place in the past, which I found very interesting since it helps you piece together the mystery. In the past, you get a glimpse of the cousins’ parents as teenagers, and find out just how different they are from their kids. Let’s just say that money can’t buy you humility. I mean, the word ‘townie’ was used. More than once.

Besides the characters, the plot and mystery was amazing, intense and a roller-coaster ride. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, because there were so many twists, each just as shocking as the last. There were tons of jaw-dropping moments, making it impossible to put the book down. The story is addictive, and I couldn’t wait until everything came together. However, I will say that I figured things out right before the big reveal. Still, I was pretty stunned by the ending.

“Leave the past where it is.”

Of course, there was a romance which I found to be predictable. And truthfully, I wanted it to go another way. Although, I understand that sometimes the most obvious route is the easiest one to take. But make no mistake, the romance is minor, since the book is truly all about the mystery. And, the ending proved that Karen M. McManus is a queen when it comes to YA thrillers.

Overall, I found the story to be incredible, which you have probably already gathered. And, the newfound sibling type of bond amongst the cousins was charming. The Story family were a very dysfunctional bunch, so it was nice to see that not all of them were heartless. If you’re looking for an amazing thriller, with many surprises, then this is a must read! However, I think that all of McManus’ books are must reads. If you want to know my thoughts on her other books view my reviews here.

Leave me a comment letting me know your thoughts on this book. Did you love it as much as me? Did you hate it? Or, maybe you thought it was sub-par? Before you go, give my blog a follow, so that you never miss a post.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

Good Girl, Bad Blood // Book Review


Synopsis
Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh. The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?


The first book in this trilogy was fantastic, so I was eager to jump into second book. Unfortunately, I had forgotten a lot of the characters from the first book, so it made this book a bit of a challenging read. However, I did find an overview of ‘A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder’ at Recaptains.

Unlike the first book, I wasn’t captivated from the start. I wasn’t sure about the whole friend’s missing brother plot. A missing persons case is very different from a murder/mystery. Still, Pippa is a fearless protagonist with a curious personality. Even with her reservations about taking on another potentially dangerous case, she can’t say no. It’s like they say: “A tiger can’t change it’s stripes”.

Although, the mystery was interesting, and I was enjoying all the twists, the plot wasn’t as thrilling as the previous book. But as the plot progressed, the pace picked up, and the story continued to get better. For me, a part of the reason I wasn’t as engaged as I thought I’d be, is that I felt like Pippa had changed since the first book. But, that is to be expected, given the life and death situation that she went through.

In this book, Pippa and Ravi are in a relationship, but I am unsure of how I feel about them being together. They had cute moments, but I didn’t sense a ton of chemistry between them. That aside, I do think they work well together. Ravi is very supportive of Pip’s inquisitive nature, while still being protective of her.

There was this new podcast element, and a lot more social media references. There are mentions of Instagram and Tinder. Authors tend to love throwing in bits of the real world like that, Maybe to connect with their readers more?

By the halfway point, I couldn’t put the book down. I felt like Pip. Trying to piece everything together, and my suspicions were even right a few times. And, when everything unfolded at the end, I was shocked, but not surprised at where the story went.

“I think we all get to decide what good and bad and right and wrong mean to us, not what we’re told to accept. You did nothing wrong. Don’t beat yourself up for other people’s mistakes.”

There was a lot of talk about the justice system, and how it fails more often than not. I think the justice system isn’t always so black and white. The way this book handles right and wrong is very powerful. It is an interesting take on justice and makes you take a closer look at your own beliefs.

The ending was incredibly sad, and begs the topics of what makes a victim. Should the sins of our parents become ours as well? By the end of the book, I sympathized with both the killer and victim. The ending was done so well, and was very thought provoking. In fact, the entire book will leave you with a lot to think about.

This book does show how much hypocrites people can be. It is always interesting to see just how easily people can turn on others. This is a real life thing, and makes you wonder why the world is full of so many judgmental individuals. Do genuine friends even exist?

Overall, I found it to be a great sequel. The storyline didn’t disappoint me one bit, and my reading experience was a positive one. Give this post a quick like and a share before you go. Also, did you know you could follow my blog? That really does help it grow, and reassures me that you like my content.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

Friday Reads #10

Hi Friends,
You are all probably use to my ‘Friday Reads’ posts by now. I love doing this post because it gives me the chance to fill you in on my reading. And honesty, my reading hasn’t been the best this week, but I am hoping to get out of my slump this weekend. I have started a lot of books, and would really like to finish some of them.



“The highly anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again.”



“It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a 2006 novel by American author Ned Vizzini. The book was inspired by Vizzini’s own brief hospitalization for depression in November 2004.”



“After being dumped so his boyfriend can pursue more “serious” guys, a teen boy decides to prove he can be serious, too, by running for senior class president in this joyful romp from the author of The Sky Blues.”


There you have the books that are on my radar for this weekend. I might change things up a bit, or who knows I may even start a new book. I really don’t know what my mood will be like as the weekend progresses. Nevertheless, if you want to know my thoughts on these books follow my blog to get post notifications. I try to always review each book that I read throughout the year.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

The Ivies // Book Review

Author: Alexa Donne
Published: 2021
Genre: Young Adult/Murder Mystery
Rating:Full, star, bookmark, favorite, favourite, like, rating icon - Download on IconfinderFull, star, bookmark, favorite, favourite, like, rating icon - Download on IconfinderFull, star, bookmark, favorite, favourite, like, rating icon - Download on Iconfinder

Synopsis
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.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

Book Haul // August 2021

Hi Friends,
In August, I went a little book buying crazy, which is pretty rare. Typically I wait to receive books as gifts and hardly buy any throughout the year. The only expectation is secondhand and discounted books. Also, I am big about not buying books I haven’t read. Nevertheless, the book lover inside me couldn’t contain themself this month. To be honest, I’m not mad about it.

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin
This book is giving me all those fall vibes. It has to do with witches, obviously, and a girl that has element magic. Basically, she has different powers in each season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter). I haven’t seen anyone talk about it, so I am going into it pretty blind. It seems to be a underrated 2021 release.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
The first book in a YA mystery series about a boarding school, a true crime lover and an unsolved mystery. If you follow the book community than you have probably heard nothing but good things about this series. Also, who doesn’t love a good private school book. I have been on a mystery and thriller kick lately, so this one was an automatic buy.

Finale by Stephanie Garber
This is the last book in the Caraval trilogy. The first and second books were given to me as gifts a couple of years. I was very excited to see a hardback copy for under $10, so now my collection is complete.

Lucky in Love by Kase West
I believe I’ve shared before that I am a major Kasie West fan. I don’t have any of her books, so I was happy to get one at an affordable price. This is one of her releases that I have yet to read. But I did read ‘Windfall’ by Jennifer E. Smith, which has a similar plot. I didn’t care for that book, still I am hoping Kasie West doesn’t disappoint me.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
The Twisted Tale books always rope me in, which I’m not sure is a good thing. I have read Conceal, Don’t Feel and Unbirthday, and have reviews for both of them. From the title, you can probably suspect this is an Aladdin retelling. The book tales the story if Aladdin had never found the lamp. It seem like very interesting plot twist that I am looking forward in reading.

Blackout by Various Authors
I didn’t know anything about this book before buying it. But I noticed that Angie Thomas was one of the authors, so I knew it would be a awesome read. After reading the synopsis, I learned that the book is a collection of short contemporary stories that follow black teens. I am all about reading more diverse books, and YA contemporaries steal my heart. My opinion on short story collections vary , but I haven’t written them off yet.

The Girl in the Headlines by Hannah Jayne
This is young adult thriller that I have heard nothing about. It is a Lizzie Burden type story with a interesting twist. Our main character has a seemingly perfect life. But her world comes crashing down when she wakes up on the day after her eighteen birthday with no memory of what happened the night before. She learns that her parents have been brutally murdered and she’s the prime suspect. If that synopsis doesn’t intrigue then you are going to be missing out.

All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
I’m not sure if this will turn out to be psychological thriller, mystery or horror. The plot follows a teenager girl, who’s best friend ends up in a psych hospital after finding a dead body. The murder has been caught, but the main character isn’t convinced they committed the crime. I perdict it to be a mystery with a lot of suspense.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
This is a young adult mystery thriller series that has been recommended to me countless times. I hear that it is a great for readers new to the thriller genre. It seems to have great a rating, so I am curious to see my thoughts on it.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Yep another Kasie West book purchases. However, I have read this one and adored it. It is probably one of my favorite book from her. It is a young adult enemies-to-lovers story, which is one of my favorite tropes.

There you have my smallish book haul. I am most likely going to go on a short book buying ban. I can’t remember the books on my wishlist, and with the holidays approaching I would hate to buy a book that I might be gifted. Let me know in the comments any books you’ve recently purchased. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to the blog.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny