WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: One of Us is Lying

unnamedHi everyone! Wow, it’s been an absolutely insane month. I’ll admit I haven’t been making writing a top priority, but I’m chalking it up to a lot of personal stuff that went on the past few weeks. However, I’ve still kept up my reading! February’s book is ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus, and I have to say, I LOVED IT. Before I get into specifics, here’s the official overview from McManus’ website:

Pay close attention and you might solve this:

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention:
 

  • Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule

  • Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess

  • Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing

  • Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher

  • And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s
    notorious gossip app

 
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom alive. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. He died on a Monday. But that Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates. Now, all four of them are suspects in his murder. Are they guilty? Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
 
They all have a motive. They all have something to hide. They all have a history with Simon. And one of them is definitely lying.

Whoa. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of young adult fiction. Not saying I don’t like it – it’s just usually not my first choice. But, a lot of people who know me know that I love Gossip Girl, so naturally this premise clicked with me from the start and I had to pick it up. Many people have described it as GG or Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club, which in and of itself makes it a must-read. So, grab your backpack and cell phone – we’re going back to school.

First, let’s talk about how seamlessly McManus executes the multiple point-of-view writing. We get glances into the minds of the four remaining students – Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate – but it never feels confusing. This is a super difficult thing to pull off, but McManus does it. She writes them differently enough so that you can tell which character’s mind you’re in, but not too much so that it become distracting from the plot. Well done. I enjoyed getting to view the story unfold through the different perspectives.

I also loved her voice. Her writing style was rich in detail, but also kept the story moving and didn’t ever feel stifling or self-indulgent. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a plot girl, so I like when writers keep things moving with a strong premise. I also love mystery and thrillers, and I’ll admit, even with my lofty consumption of thrillers and determination to solve it for myself, I didn’t see this ending coming. Without giving too much away, it was an interesting concept, and the motivation behind the killer was timely in a dark and painfully real way.

In addition to an unforeseen ending, we also learn deep secrets about the four main characters themselves. As each one unfolds, we realize the murderer could be any of them – and that’s what makes it so gripping. I kept going back and forth on who could’ve done it – but when I ultimately learned the truth, and why the killer did it, I was pretty shocked.

All in all, if you love mystery, suspense, dark secrets and high school drama, pick up ONE OF US IS LYING. You won’t regret it.

Buy the book here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound

Know a book that I should read next? Let me know in the comments!

 

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: Hunting Annabelle

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Hi everyone! Thanks for bearing with me – it’s been a busy last few weeks, but I’m back on the blog. This week, I’ve got the January edition of WHAT I READ THIS MONTH! My January book was adult psych thriller HUNTING ANNABELLE by debut author Wendy Heard. I’m so excited to dive into this with you, because I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Also, if you haven’t seen – I’m now on YouTube! Catch me here in a video review of the book and subscribe for future book/writing/life content.

All right, here’s an overview of HUNTING ANNABELLE from Heard’s website:

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle—beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle—who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken firsthand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.

First off – wow. Personally, thrillers are my favorite genre of literature, particularly psych thrillers. This premise struck me as so original, while at the same time masterfully tying in inspiration from real-life serial killers. Not only that, but the twist at the end had me yelping. Sean, our narrator, is unreliable to say in the least and certainly serves as a red herring in himself. I thought, like the police and basically every other character in the book, that Sean would end up being responsible for Annabelle’s disappearance. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say this – don’t be so sure of whatever you’re thinking. Heard has a big trick up her sleeve with this one.

If you’re like me, you enjoy a more plot-driven story that has you gripped from the first page. Not only does Heard accomplish this, but she also develops rich characters with whom a reader can make a connection. At times, I felt sympathetic toward Sean, even though he’s a troubled man with a murderous past. Heard wonderfully shows his complicated relationship with an overbearing mother, and that dynamic in and of itself made the book fascinating to consume. At times you feel bad for Sean – he’s in love and desperately trying to find this woman with whom he found a real connection. But his honest confessions of feeling violent toward women pull you back into reality. And that truth is that Sean can’t be trusted.

And even he knows that. Several times, he questions if in fact he is responsible. And isn’t that the scariest part of all? Feeling like your reality may not be real at all? Whoa.

On top of this, Heard’s beautiful use of language makes her debut novel a triple threat. Not only is her plot strong and her characters developed and complex, but her voice is compelling. She writes in tight, succinct sentences that pack a punch. She doesn’t bore you with useless detail – everything she writes and describes has a reason. As someone with a journalism background, I always appreciate encountering that in literature.

All in all, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of HUNTING ANNABELLE. It’ll take you on a roller coaster you’ll never want to get off.

Buy HUNTING ANNABELLE:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books