3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Young Adult

ARC Book Review | The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

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The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas 

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: July 31, 2018

Pages: 384

Genres: young adult, contemporary, mystery, thriller

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: dark young adult novels

Read with food: iced frap at Starbucks ~ so many clandestine meetings happened there

 

Synopsis: 

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

My rating is actually 3.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.

The Cheerleaders is a fun, yet dark young adult novel that captivated me from beginning to end. In the span of a few weeks, 5 girls from the local high school cheerleading team were dead. Murders, accidents, suicides, but is that what really happened?

The book quickly drew me in and held my attention throughout. I absolutely flew through this quick read. Definitely something you could read and still comprehend while tired or in a noisy place. I also enjoyed that the narrator is one of the dead girls’ younger sisters. Monica and her friend Ginny were likable and smart, making the story work well. I find that if I don’t connect with the main characters or at least understand their motives, I rarely enjoy the book. Not an issue at all in The Cheerleaders.

However the plot trope of teenagers trying to solve a crime that the police can’t or got wrong has been done a lot. It’s easy to overlook in this book, but it’s worth noting. Also, every characters has a distinct role in solving the mystery. Which in theory sounds great, but left me feeling as if certain characters were just being used for what they could bring to the solving the mystery, instead of actual relationships or character development.

Overall, The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is worth a read in my opinion. Fun, serious, with a mystery that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for those hot summer days when you want to escape into a book for awhile.

 

Who is looking forward to reading the book?

 

Random question of the post: 

What’s your favorite color? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense · Uncategorized

Book Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Published by Thomas & Mercer on July 1, 2017

Pages: 300

Genres: psychological thriller, suspense, mystery

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: psychological thrillers, the TV show Criminal Minds

Read with food: nothing because you’re too nervous to eat

 

Synopsis:

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Review:

Such an addicting book!

Gwen took her kids and ran, trying to stay one step ahead of all the people wanting to hurt her family. Her emotions and struggles drew me in and didn’t let go. Her fear was palpable. Her love for her children was genuine. The book was a wonderful terrifying ride set in the world of one of the worst what ifs.

What if my husband was secretly a serial killer and I never knew?

What if the world turned on me and was convinced I helped that sicko, but in reality I had no idea.

It’s a whirlwind of a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The cliffhanger made me definitely want to find out what happens next to the family. 

One downside was that I felt the last quarter or so was a bit rushed. The story started out better than it ended, but the psychological suspense was still phenomenal. So looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

 

Do you like it when books have cliffhangers?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

Book Review: The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

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The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

Published by Kira on April 26, 2016

Pages: 384

Genres: psychological thriller, mystery, suspense

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: dramatic intense Lifetime Movies, disturbed and smart teenage girls, supposedly perfect rich neighborhoods

Read with food: strawberry lemonade to sip by the pool

 

Synopsis:

Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she’s felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she’s determined to make it work—if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who’s about to enter high school.

Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can’t be trusted—and almost everyone has secrets they’d do anything to protect. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can’t help but find sophisticated Kelsey’s interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.

But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz’s relationships with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it’s not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control…

Review: 

The Drowning Girls is an addictive novel.

Creepy, suspense filled, and dramatic people make up the characters in this story. Is the book the most original in terms of plot lines? … No, but it’s so entertaining.

I couldn’t stop reading.

The Drowning Girls has the vibe of a Lifetime Movie and episode of Law and Order SVU. Kelsey, the teenager, is conniving, smart and highly disturbed. Phil, the man she is obsessed with isn’t completely innocent either. The stress from Kelsey’s obsessions reveals the true nature of all involved.

I highly recommend this addictive, page turning, drama filled book!

 

I want to read more books with a similar vibe. Anyone have any suggestions?

 

Book Reviews

Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

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Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on September 15, 2017

Pages: 430 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, crime fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: intense twisted books with satisfying endings, passionate characters, trauma intensive stories

Read with food: Alcohol and nachos 

A shot of whatever alcohol you have lying around to get through the tough traumatic sections (Some cold water if you’re under 21 or don’t drink alcohol) Be safe people!

Football game nachos: quick, cheap, and not that nutritious but it gets some food in your system; much in the keeping of the character of Niko

 

Synopsis:

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

First and foremost, a big trigger warning for torture and sexual assault in graphic detail. It’s definitely intense, and I almost stopped reading the book because of it. That being said, about 10% of the book or maybe less is torture and assault. Also, the authors put a trigger warning at the beginning which I much appreciated.

Niko has spent his entire life caring for people, especially those close to him and in need. As a child, Niko’s friend and neighbor Aislin has a very difficult upbringing. He does his best to be a great friend and protector, even though he’s only 14 years old. Aislin is kidnapped. Niko is devastated and angry. He grows up to be a cop, but never stops searching for Aislin, his North Star.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about Pitch Dark. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed the storylines. The drama, the suspense, and how everything turns out. Works well in the book. It’s the details where I have some issues. Of course there’s the graphic descriptions of the assault. It makes the book what it is, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. At least not to that intensity. Also, the character of Niko is very over the top at times. Obviously he had gone through terrible things, but he acts as if he’s the only one who can solve the case, protect the victims, etc. I appreciate the sentiment and passion, but it gets to be a bit much at times. Also, some of the descriptions are a bit odd and left me asking “do people really talk like this?”

The story overall works well and I’m glad that I read Pitch Dark. I liked the revelations towards the end. The character of Aislin was a welcome breath of fresh air and encouraging strength. I ended up enjoying Pitch Dark, despite my mixed feelings throughout.