Posts Tagged 'betrayal'

We Were Kings by Court Stevens

Nyla and her mom have struggled her entire life because it is just the two of them and they did not have much money. Her mother’s best friend, Frankie Quick, was convicted 20 years ago for murdering Cora King, the daughter of the well known King family in their small town. Since that time, Nyla’s mother has spent every waking moment trying to prove Frankie’s innocence, but time has run out. They recently passed a new law that will expedite the death penalty for anyone in Frankie’s situation. Frankie now has 30 days before her execution and Nyla’s mom is not handling the news well. For the first time, Nyla starts to put together some inconsistencies in the murder investigation and begins to suspect Frankie is indeed innocent. Along with her friend, Sam, who actually gives tours on the island of the now notorious Cora King murder, Nyla begins a new YouTube Channel called Death Daze and tries to get to the truth of what happened to Cora King. Along the way, Nyla uncovers some truly surprising twists in this case as she meets all the suspects, including the King family. Can she prove Frankie is innocent? Can she do it in time to save her? Is it possible Frankie really is a murderer? If not Frankie, who could’ve done such a heinous crime?

This mystery pulls you in right from the beginning as you follow Nyla along on her journey to discovering the truth. There are numerous surprises and exciting events as people try to keep Nyla from discovering the truth. Each time she hits a roadblock, though, she actually takes that as a sign that she is in fact going in the right direction. Frankie, whom she has known about her entire life, but only recently met, has become very important to her and she feels it is highly unlikely she is a murderer. Fans of mysteries who want a truly captivating and unique store will enjoy this title.

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart

In this prequel to We Were Liars, Carrie narrates the story of the first summer on the Sinclair island after they lost their beloved sister, Rosemary. Carrie, Penny, and Bess, the three remaining Sinclair sisters, are all doing their best to cope with the loss of their baby sister and each doing it in their own way. Carrie seems to be struggling the most as she had to undergo painful jaw surgery during the school year that has led to a pill addiction now. She is very much looking forward to her cousin coming to join her for the summer, but when Yardley finally comes she is joined by her boyfriend and two other boys. That greatly changes things as Carrie has never before had a boyfriend of any kind. As they frolic on the small island, she begins to form a relationship with Pfeff, but every time she gets her hopes up he always manages to disappoint her until they reach a breaking point. Will she look back on this summer with affection or not? Will she come to regret some of the things said and done during that fateful summer? Will she ever make peace with losing her baby sister?

Fans of the original story will enjoy learning more about the famous Sinclair family and how things got to be so difficult. There are a lot of twists in the plot of this story and the writing style is very descriptive and rich, but sometimes can be a little hard for struggling readers. It is refreshing to meet the sisters at such a young age and learn about some of the things they struggled with before they became adults. There is definitely a lot of pressure on them to be perfect in every way to the outside world. The characters in this story will leave readers thinking about them long after the book is finished. Recommended.

Mere Mortals by Erin Jade Lange

Genre: Fantasy

Charlotte (Charlie) and her brother Reg have been immortal vampires for over 100 years, but a recent unfortunate incident has led to them being severely punished… by becoming human again. They have no memories of their lives before they became vampires, so life as a human teenager is all new to them. They are taken to live with a former slayer who agrees to watch over them as they get acclimated to life as a high school student, but they are not interested in staying human. They desperately want to think of a way to get their status reversed, but in the meantime they are forced to attend school in Nowhere, Iowa. Charlie feels like Reg is adjusting easier than her because he has joined clubs and made friends, but he never wavers whenever she voices her desire to return to the vampire life. She worries that when or if they get that chance that he might choose to stay human. Meanwhile, she’s slowly adjusting as well. She’s on the Halloween Hoopla committee and enjoying time with new friends as well, but she believes that if given the chance she would do anything to become a vampire again…but that choice might be harder than she thinks. Can Charlie and Reg really leave their new life as humans and all the human memories behind? Will they ever adjust to life in Nowhere, Iowa or is it just not the life for them?

This fun fantasy starts a little slow with the pair adjusting to life as humans after a 100 years as vampires, but soon the characters develop and it’s easy to get pulled into their lives. The ending in particular is fun and exciting as several questions are answered regarding the vampire life and how it coexists with the humans. It is not predictable and the end will leave you wanting to know more about all of the characters in this climactic ending. Recommended for fantasy fans who do want too much suspense or gore.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Genre: Historical Mystery

In this fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Lizzie is desperate to work for her father’s law firm, but he has kept her to the side working small office jobs because he doesn’t think it’s proper for a young lady to aspire to become a lawyer. Meanwhile, the heir to his estate, a dour Mr. Collins, is working at the firm and frequently takes credit for Lizzie’s work as he seems to have very little work ethic himself. Lizzie’s mom would love to see one of their five daughters marry Mr. Collins so that they will not be turned out of their house when Lizzie’s dad eventually dies. Lizzie has made it clear she has no interest in Mr. Collins and finds him rather repulsive. When Lizzie learns that there has been a murder and a Mr. Bingley has been accused of the crime, she immediately feels this is her shot to prove to her father that she can be a valuable asset to the firm. She goes to the jail to meet Mr. Bingley, but is not there very long before a Mr. Darcy arrives to post bail for his client and good friend. Mr. Darcy is not amused that Lizzie is inserting herself into this case, but Mr. Bingley is desperate for anyone to help him out of this predicament. The man who was murdered was Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law and it was well known that the two were not getting on very well at the moment and that Mr. Bingley’s sister was planning to leave him. Lizzie decides she needs to prove her ability to solve a case by continuing to investigate and comes across a young man working as a runner named Mr. Wickham who seems very eager to help her. Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy has made it very clear that he doesn’t want her meddling in his case. Who can Lizzie trust to help her get to the truth? What secrets are the Bingley’s hiding? Can Lizzie every prove to her father that she is more valuable than Mr. Collins?

This fun retelling will interest anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. Fans of the original will have fun seeing how each character fits into this version. The mystery itself is very engaging and has some serious twists and turns leading up to its big finale. Mystery fans will not be disappointed by the resolution of the mystery. Lizzie’s character is true to her original nature, but pushes her to be even more forceful in her wish to find the truth for Mr. Bingley. There are several characters who do not play as big of a part as they did in the original, but that doesn’t detract from the interesting plot of the mystery. It was thoroughly entertaining throughout and it will be fun to see more in this series in the future.

That Weekend by Kara Thomas

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Claire wakes up alone and covered in blood on a hiking trail with no memory of the previous 24 hours. She remembers going to her best friend Kat’s cabin with Kat and Kat’s boyfriend, Jesse, on Friday, but it is now Sunday and she can’t remember anything that happened on Saturday. What’s worse is that Kat and Jesse are nowhere to be found and everyone is looking to her for answers. Claire is badly injured and must spend some time in the hospital while others comb the mountain looking for Kat and Jesse and Claire feels utterly helpless in every way. Meanwhile, she can’t decide if the police working the case believe that she has lost her memory or if they consider her a suspect in their disappearance. As a few days go by, Claire and her parents begin to feel like there is no one around they can trust and they decide to go home, but the chaos follows them and Claire begins to feel anxious all the time. Will she ever know what happened to her friends? Will she ever be able to accept that she might not get her memory back and move on?

This story moves between the past and present and allows the reader to follow Claire on her journey as she tries to make sense of what has happened. Kat’s parents are justifiably upset and worried, but it’s easy to see how their behavior starts to make Claire uncomfortable after awhile as if they blame her for being found while Kat was not. Kat definitely feels guilt that she is safe while they are not and struggles to make sense of this tragedy. There are several dramatic twists in the story that will keep readers wanting more. Fans of suspenseful mysteries with very surprising endings will thoroughly enjoy this title.

Sense and Second Degree Murder by Tirzah Price

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery

Elinor Dashwood is greatly saddened when her father suddenly dies working at his desk one night. She has to break the news to her younger sisters, Marianne and Margaret, and their mother. To make matters worse, everything their father owned legally now belongs to his son from his first marriage, and his wife makes it very clear that they want them out of the house. With very little to their names, they must rely on the kindness of a distant relative who offers to rent them a tiny apartment in a bustling part of the city. Marianne, the middle sister, had previously worked with their father in his detective business and very much wants to keep it going, but is denied by her brother and his wife who now legally own the business and have chosen to close it. Before they move out of their home, Marianne notices that the teacup their father was drinking from the night he died contains an unusual substance. Elinor likes studying chemistry and immediately tries to find out what the substance is, but it does not appear to be a commonly known one. As they settle into their new life, they find that many of their old friends have forsaken them now that they are no longer a part of high society and they quickly learn who they can really rely on. Can they trust Edward Farrell, their brother’s brother-in-law, who seems to be eager to help the Dashwoods? Who is this mysterious man Mr. Willoughby who has begun to show a romantic interest in Marianne? Is it possible someone intentionally hurt their father and if so, why?

Fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this fun updated mystery version. All of the main elements are there from the original story, but the sisters seem more modern and savvy in their quest for truth and wisdom. The mystery itself holds up very well considering the characters are already set from the original version. Somehow the personalities of the characters remained in tact even as their role in the story changed to fit the mystery of how Mr. Dashwood died. There are many satisfying twists to the mystery and the resolution seemed fitting for the time period the story is set in. Highly recommended for Jane Austen fans and those looking for a fun historical fiction mystery.

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Genre: Fantasy/Realistic Fiction

Margaret Moore and her friends all go to Marshall Naval School every summer and proudly represent Deck Five. The previous summer, however, things were cut short because sometime bad happened. Margaret and her three best friends are determined to make up for it this year by showing everyone how strong Deck Five is in all of their competitions. Margaret notices that several girls failed to return this year, however, and she doesn’t know why. She also knows that something happened to one of the boy campers as well, but she doesn’t understand why the gossip mill keeps blaming her for every bad thing that happened. She does know that if she had been honest with her friends about what was going on with her the previous summer then some of this drama may have been avoided. Is it too late to tell them everything? Will they be able to help her or is it too late?

This story is told through chapters that alternate between the two important summers. The language used is very flowery and poetic, which helps to tell the story in a very unique way, but may be difficult for some readers to follow. The major revelations of the story come out slowly and not always in order, forcing readers to pay attention and put the pieces together, but the payout is worth it as the ending of the story is powerful and satisfying. Fans of We Were Liars will enjoy this title. Recommended for higher level readers looking for something that will challenge them.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: Fantasy

Seven families in Ilvernath fight every generation for access to the high magick. Each family puts forth a competitor and they fight until the death and the winner/survivor’s family gets to control the high magick until the next Blood Moon determines it’s time for a new battle. Up until now this has been a secret arrangement, but an anonymous author recently wrote a tell-all book telling the world all about the bloody battle and suddenly the small town of Ilvernath has been flooded with reporters and tourists trying to see who will be chosen to represent the seven families. Each candidate has their reasons for wanting to represent their family and many have plans for how to outmaneuver the other contestants, but at what cost? What are they willing to sacrifice in order to secure that power for their families? Is there any way to bring this terrible curse to an end?

Each chapter focuses on a different candidate so that you can really see each of their perspectives. Alastair is a Lowe and they have historically won the most times and therefore he feels like he is expected to bring home that win even though he does not feel like his family is particularly supportive of him. Isobel was thrust into the spotlight first and as such seems to have a target on her back from everyone else. Gavin is from the Grieve family who not only rarely wins, but is believed to be the family behind the infamous book. Each character can agree that he or she does not want to die, but in the end they know that some must in order for them to survive. This is a dark tale with a new spin on magical abilities. Fans of Three Dark Crowns and other darker fantasy stories will be eager to see the second installment of this tale.

Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets by Chelsea Ichaso

Genre: Mystery

Savannah’s sister, Piper, was in a mysterious hiking accident that left her in a coma. Everyone thought it was a tragic accident, but Savannah is taking it particularly hard since she always felt like she was in Piper’s shadow. Piper seemed to just excel at everything she did and often Savannah felt resentful, which feels really wrong now that there’s a good possibility she won’t wake up. In order to try and connect with her sister a little, Savannah takes up one of Piper’s activities, which was the winderness club. In fact, they give her Piper’s backpack filled with wilderness essentials and it’s there that she finds a note telling Piper that there will be a wilderness meeting at the same time and place where she had her tragic fall. However, everyone in the group assures Savannah that there was no such meeting. Was someone with Piper when she fell? Did someone lure her there on purpose? Can Savannah find out what really happened to her sister?

This mystery presents several different characters who all seem to be involved in the story in some way, which makes it fun for the reader to follow along and find out who really knows what happened to Piper. It’s also easy to understand why Savannah has such mixed feelings toward her sister as you see how everyone continues to treat her even now that Piper’s not around. The mystery itself is fun and the ending is satisfying. It’s a fun read for those looking for something quick and light.

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

Genre: Mystery

Olivia Winters goes to Claflin Academy, a fancy prep school, for her senior year and is somehow befriended by the elite clique known as the Ivies. The Ivies are all from wealthy families and their goal is to all get into Ivy League Schools. They actively sabotage classmates in order to increase their own chances of getting in where they want to go. The only hitch is that they believe only two people are usually accepted into any Ivy League from a particular school. So, because queen bee Avery wants to go to Harvard, Olivia is instructed to choose another school. She secretly applies anyway and is unsure how to feel when she gets in. She’s thrilled to have gotten in, but worries how her friends will react and how she will pay for it. When Avery finds out she didn’t get accepted she goes ballistic and demands the other Ivies find out who did get in so she can “kill them.” When a murder does indeed occur Olivia is more terrified than ever to announce her new accepted status and for the first time realizes how under handed some of their schemes have been this year in order to keep others down. Are her friends really looking out for her or were they using her to get what they wanted? What would they do if someone got in their way?

This mystery story is unique in that it dives deep into the college application process for elite schools. The pressure to succeed and be the best is so prevalent in this school that you can almost see how these girls got to be so cutthroat in their path to success. Olivia is a sympathetic character who really seems to want to get the truth and due to her financial status is one of the few characters who truly has a lot to lose. The ending is satisfying and exciting. Recommended for mystery fans!

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Teddy Crutcher is an English teacher at an elite prep school where money talks and appearances definitely matter. Whenever he feels a student is spoiled or entitled he often tries to find a way to take him or her down a peg and in his mind he is actually helping the student to learn that not everything in life can be bought. Enter Zach Ward, a rich and entitled student with very demanding parents who cannot handle their son not getting straight As in order to set up his entire future. Zach isn’t as worried about his grades as his parents are, but he definitely isn’t used to teachers not liking him and believing every word he says so he starts to keep a closer eye on Mr. Crutcher. Then, during a party at the school a very overbearing mom suddenly drops dead during the speeches. Everyone is shocked to learn that she was actually poisoned, but was it murder or an accident? Was she even the intended target? Soon, everyone at school is alarmed and the growing chaos leads to more gossip and false leads. Sadly, it also leads to more unfortunate incidents at the school that leaves everyone, including police, reeling and struggling to make sense of it. Who is trying to hurt people at this school and is it random or calculated?

In a place where everyone has secrets it can be hard to expose others without your own getting revealed. This story follows several different characters who all have connections to the Belmont Academy and their motivations are quickly revealed, as well as how far they will go to get what they want. The students and staff all feel superior to others in their own way and believe they deserve everything they want. Many are truly surprised when things do not work out as planned. The set up of this school is incredibly believable as students are more competitive than ever to get into prestigious colleges so they can enter enviable careers. It’s not hard to imagine how much tension there can be in an environment where everyone has such lofty goals. Teddy’s motivations are revealed quickly, but several other characters are concealing shady secrets of their own to the point that it’s hard to know who to root for. Fans of crime fiction and true crime podcasts will enjoy this title as it creates an eerie but realistic vibe.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction

Cristian is a seventeen-year-old boy living in Communist Romania with his entire family, including his elderly grandpa, in a tiny apartment. His Grandpa Bunu is very vocal about his displeasure for the Communist leader and how Bucharest has changed in recent years and Cristian’s mother is worried his opinions will get them all in trouble. Cristian goes to school 6 days a week while the rest of his family works ridiculous hours, and they still do not have the essentials they need such as proper food or clothing. They take turns waiting for hours in lines to get rations that still do not keep them nourished, and they know that there are spies and listening devices all over so they never feel they can speak freely. Cristian is shocked when he is approached at school to become an informer on an American diplomat’s son he recently met through his mother’s employment. He refuses at first, but then it becomes apparent they have been watching him and know exactly how to make him do exactly what they want. He hates himself for agreeing to spy, but it also makes him realize that if he can be blackmailed who knows who else around him is spying for the government as well. At one time or another he suspects most of those around him. Slowly they start to hear rumblings about a revolution and despite his mother’s warnings to keep his head down and stay safe, Cristian knows that if given the chance he would fight for a better Romania for its citizens. Will Cristian be able to outwit his handler or will he always be a step ahead? Will Cristian ever find out who he can trust among his family and friends? Will Cristian live long enough to see real change in his country?

Once again, Sepetys has highlighted a time in history that many people know very little, if anything about. The life Cristian, his family, and his school mates lead is unbelievably bleak, especially when you consider the final insult that they all suspect there are listening devices planted in their homes. The way the story is written it becomes easy for the reader to truly feel what it would be like to live this type of restricted, depraved existence, which is terrifying. Cristian is easy to identify with, but it still feels like he’s living in a no-win situation that can only end horribly. Recommended.

Castles In Their Bones by Laura Sebastian

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Beatriz, Sophronia, and Daphne are princesses and triplets who were raised for the sole purpose of marrying the three nearby princes so that their mother could secretly find weaknesses that would allow her to invade and someday rule all of the land. They understood their purpose and endured a lifetime of training in poisons, code breaking, fighting, seductions, and so much more. Yet, once they are all sent to their new kingdoms things are not as simple as they first appeared and they start to realize there is more at play than they originally thought. Daphne arrives to find that her situation has changed irrevocably just prior to her arrival and is scrambling to re-strategize. Beatriz really likes her prince, but there is a problem that neither of them can ignore regarding their relationship. Sophronia, considered by their mother to be the weakest, starts to notice discrepancies in the way the kingdom collects and spends taxpayer dollars and starts to believe her and her new husband could potentially be really good rulers…if she doesn’t let her mother’s plotting get in the way. Can the three sisters who are so far from each other work together to untangle all the betrayals and secrets? How will they know who they can truly trust?

This exciting plot twists and turns from the beginning right up to the end. Fans of Grace and Fury and The Ash Princess series will devour this book and clamor for more. The three main characters are all placed in very different yet equally precarious situations that they must figure out largely on their own. All of them uncover betrayals and secrets that leave them shocked, which is saying something considering they were all raised with the sole purpose of overthrowing kingdoms. Their mother, while not a big character, is felt throughout the story and clearly has more power than even they could have predicted. The ending reveals some answers, but there are still many more to be had. Recommended.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Genre: Mystery

Hannah has been married for over a year and it has been going relatively well except for the fact that her husband’s teenage daughter does not care for her. She’s still hoping that things will get better when she receives a note from her husband, delivered by a stranger, asking Hannah to protect his daughter. That is the moment that Hannah learns her husband has gone on the run and she has no idea why. His daughter, Bailey, is equally confused and hurt once she discovers that he left her a bag full of cash and no further instructions. Hannah and Bailey reluctantly work together to find out the truth about Owen, but the more they learn the more they discover they didn’t know about him. First of all, his name was not actually Owen and he is not from New England like he had said. It’s not a coincidence that Owen went on the run after his company was highly publicized for fraud and other charges, but Hannah isn’t convinced that is the issue he’s running from. She thinks there’s something from his past that he is terrified will find his daughter, but the question is what and will they ever see him again? Can Bailey ever trust her enough to find out the truth together?

Fans of The Woman in Cabin 10 and the Woman in the Window will enjoy this title, but it is not as dark as those. As Hannah begins to find answers, the reader will most likely be surprised at why Owen ran and the difficult choices Hannah feels she needs to make going forward. Recommended for readers looking for a fun, fast paced mystery or for a book club looking for an engaging mystery.

You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Ivy, Cal, and Mateo used to be close in junior high after they all skipped school one day and had “the best day ever” and were never caught. They have drifted apart in high school, but one day fate brings them together and they all decide to skip again in the hopes of rekindling that magical day. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned and they end up witnessing the aftermath of the murder of a classmate. They know they had no business being there and it looks very bad so they run. As they try to figure out what happened on their own, it becomes clear they are all dealing with some pretty difficult secrets that they must trust each other with in order to be able to move on. Can they clear their names even as rumors start swirling that they know what happened to their classmate and could have been involved? Will they ever be as close as they once were? Is there anyone out there they can trust?

This story engages readers right from the beginning, because you naturally feel for all of them in one way or another. It is really easy to identify with all of their struggles and yet you can see how they all came to make the choices that they did. Without giving too much away, the ending is very exciting and dramatic and leaves room for more in a potential sequel. Readers who enjoyed One of Us is Lying will enjoy this title.


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