Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.


Title: The Secret History
Author: Donna Tartt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Vintage Books
Source: Paperback
Release Date: September 11, 1992
Rating: ★★★★★

I’m a little late on this one.

And when I say late, I mean about 26 years late. This book came out before I was born. When it was released, it was critically acclaimed and widely considered one of the best books of the 90’s. I’ve been hearing of this book for quite some time, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.

Honestly, I don’t know how to review this book. It’s the kind of story that stays with you well after you’ve finished reading it. It tells the dark and haunting story of a close-knit group of college students that commit the murder of their best friend. The murder isn’t a secret; in fact, it’s revealed in the first chapter. This book focuses more on the buildup and subsequent aftermath of the event.

The Greek program at Hampden College is a very small handful of students that are exclusively selected by the program’s mysterious professor, Julian Morrow. Richard is an outsider who gradually becomes a member of this group. Because he is from a different world (he is a poor California boy with distant parents, while the rest are pampered and wealthy New England elitists), we are given an interesting perspective on the events that unfold. None of the characters are particularly likable, but the story is compelling and kept me turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The Secret History is a slow-burn psychological thriller about intellectual arrogance, obsession and insecurity, and the lengths that people will go to cover up a murder. This is the kind of book that I could reread again and again, and always find something that I missed the first time.

I’ve never read anything like it, and I’m not sure that I ever will again.

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Waiting on a Wednesday: Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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*Waiting on a Wednesday is a weekly feature in which I spotlight upcoming releases that I can’t wait to read!

This week, I am waiting on Vengeful by V.E. Schwab.

Vicious came out in 2013 and was originally written as a stand-alone with possible sequels. Recently, Victoria/V.E. Schwab, my favorite author, announced that she was writing the sequel, Vengeful, to be released in the fall of 2018. It will be followed by Victorious.

Vicious is a delightful little monster of a book, with villain/anti-hero protagonists and an interesting multiple-timeline story structure. It captivated me from beginning to end, and I am so excited to see what these wonderful/horrible characters will do next in Vengeful!

Before the sequel is released, a new cover of Vicious will be available in May. Can we all just take a moment to admire how cool this cover is?! Apparently, the rest of the series will match this cover, rather than the old one. I read Vicious on my Kindle, but fully intend to buy this one in hardcover once it’s released.

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Victoria Schwab is very honest and open when it comes to the difficulties of writing, and frequently expresses these troubles on social media. This is one of the reasons that she’s my favorite author. Instead of sugar-coating or glamorizing the entire writing/publishing process, she shows it for everything that it is: scary, difficult, exciting, and rewarding. She has been very candid about her troubles with writing Vengeful on Twitter (recently, she scrapped the entire first draft and started over again!) but that just makes me all the more excited to read it. She has exposed her readers to the inner-workings of her brain while she writes a book that we all know is going to be absolutely amazing once it hits shelves.

I seriously cannot wait for this book. I may just hibernate for the summer, to be honest.

Wake me up when I can read Vengeful.

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Under the Book Covers (Romance Freebie)

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*Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to bring bookish friends together. A new topic is posted each week.

This week, the topic is a romance freebie in honor of Valentine’s Day! I will be listing my top ten favorite book romances. To me, romance is an important aspect in a book. While it isn’t a deal-breaker, I tend to be more invested in the overall story if there’s a couple to root for.

  1. Rhys and Feyre (A Court of Thorns and Roses)
  2. Ignifex and Nyx (Cruel Beauty)
  3. Vasya and Morozko (The Bear and the Nightingale)
  4. Mara and Noah (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer)
  5. Jacqueline and Lucas (Easy)
  6. Mac and Barrons (The Fever books)
  7. Warner and Juliette (Shatter Me)
  8. Kacey and Trent (Ten Tiny Breaths)
  9. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
  10. Braden and Jocelyn (On Dublin Street)

 

  1. So Rhysand owns my heart and no romance will ever beat Feysand. Never ever. Seriously, the development of their relationship in A Court of Mist And Fury was so perfect and tension-filled and swoony and just…ugh. Feyre underwent huge personal development in this book, and the part that Rhys played in this development was absolutely adorable. Best romance ever, fight me.
  2. It’s been awhile since I read Cruel Beauty, but I loved the dark mystery of this book. I’ve always loved Beauty and the Beast, and this version was by far my favorite retelling. I really loved how the story and the romance unfolded.
  3. This isn’t really a romance (only sort-of) but it developed a lot more in The Girl in the Tower, and I hope something relationship-y happens in the final book! I love Morozko. Yes, he’s the frost demon. No, I don’t care. I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing further develops between him and Vasya, but I really hope it does!
  4. Its been years since I’ve read the Mara Dyer books, but they were so delightfully creepy. I remember being really invested in the romance between Mara and Noah.
  5. Jacqueline and Lucas are so perfect for each other, and this story is so heart-wrenching in so many ways. I would recommend Easy to anyone looking to read a college romance.
  6. Oh my god, those Fever books. I only read the first five, as Karen Marie Moning only intended for there to be five books initially. In my opinion, the story was wrapped up perfectly after the fifth book, so I have no interest in continuing the series. But Barrons is such a great love interest because he’s actually such a horrible love interest, but he’s unapologetically the way he is. He helps Mac become a better, stronger version of herself.
  7. I love villains, and love villain love-interests even more. Warner is the pinnacle of this trope, and I absolutely adore the Shatter Me series because of it.
  8. Ten Tiny Breaths hit me like a train when I first read it. Its been a few years, but I plan on rereading this one soon. Trent and Kacey each have their own demons to battle, but circumstances bring them together in the most heartbreaking way.
  9. How could I not include the greatest romance of all time?! I personally think that Pride and Prejudice had a huge impact on modern romance novels. Also, books during this publication era were not exactly known for feminist values, so you can’t help but admire Jane Austen for writing a strong and vivacious female heroine.
  10. I had to include On Dublin Street, because this list needed at least one super-steamy read. This couple goes from hate to love, which is one of my favorite tropes. The love interest is alpha-male without any of the Christian Grey-esque weirdness.

The Status Quote – January

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*The Status Quote is a feature in which I discuss my favorite quotes from books that I’ve read throughout the month.

The following are quotes from my favorite books that I read in the month of January!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks. Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”

“I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.”

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

“I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.”

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”

“The breath hitched in his throat. His hand caught hers, but he did not untangle her fingers. “Why are you here?” she asked him. For a moment she thought he would not answer, then he said, as though reluctant, “I heard you cry.”

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

“Did you know that when you take away a person’s fear of pain, you take away their fear of death? You make them, in their own eyes, immortal. Which of course they’re not, but what’s the saying? We are all immortal until proven otherwise?”

“He wondered about himself (whether he was broken, or special, or better, or worse) and about other people (whether they were really all as stupid as they seemed).”  

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

“Missing girls had a way of working their way into someone’s head. You couldn’t help but see them in everyone – how temporary and fragile we might be. One moment here, and the next, nothing more than a photo staring from a storefront window.” 

“We were a town full of fear, searching for answers. But we were also a town full of liars.”

“The house felt different. Unsafe, unknown, too many possibilities existing all at once. Too many voices whispered back at me from the walls.”

Our Dart Duet by Victoria Schwab

“There were two kinds of monsters, the kind that hunted the streets and the kind that lived in your head. She could fight the first, but the second was more dangerous. It was always, always, always a step ahead.”

“There was a strange place, between knowing and not knowing. A place where things could live in the back of your head without weighing your heart.”  

Sunday Spent in Bed With…The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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Don’t we all like to waste our Sundays curled up in bed with a good book? Maybe that’s just me. Honestly though, there’s no other way I’d rather spend a day off.

On a whim, I decided to buy a paperback copy of The Secret History by Donna Tartt from the Book Depository. The package arrived three days ago, and I immediately dove into it. I’ve seen this book everywhere, but I’ve never bothered to pick it up. Clearly, I’ve been missing out.

This book is a 600 page monster, and it’s taking me longer to read than most books typically do. I think this is partially because of Donna Tartt’s writing style, but also because I want to absorb every word. The story has a dark, haunting quality to it, and I can’t help but feel like there are clues on every page. I’ve been told that this story isn’t a whodunit, but rather a whydunit, since the murder is revealed in the very first chapter. The characters don’t seem very likable, and yet, you can’t help but like them anyway. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds!

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I feel like this one may take me awhile, especially since I have a few Netgalley ARC’s to read and review in the meantime. For today, I have no obligation other than to snuggle up in bed and devour this world that Donna Tartt has created.

Review: Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

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Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?


Title: Shadowsong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★

*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Once there was a little girl, who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was an innkeeper’s daughter and he was the Lord of Mischief, but neither were wholly what they seemed, for nothing is as simple as a fairy tale.”

There’s a certain kind of person that would love Shadowsong. This kind of person would love beautiful prose, thoughtful and emotional introspection, and star-crossed lovers. This kind of person would adore musical analogies and find resonance with characters that struggled with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, I’m not that kind of person.

Wintersong and Shadowsong were not the right books for me for multiple reasons. I can see why some people love these books, and I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t able to enjoy them the same way that others did. I had a lot of issues with Wintersong, which I started off loving, but then almost didn’t even finish. The first half had the same dark, mysterious, and mind-bending feel of the Labyrinth, which Wintersong was roughly based off of. In the first 50%, I really thought that it would be a four or even five star read for me. Unfortunately, the second half was like an entirely different book. It turned into an angsty, confusing, contradictory romance in which the two leads barely even seemed to like each other, let alone love each other. Then it just kind of… ended.

I wanted to read Shadowsong anyway, hoping that it would have more of the qualities that I loved from the first book. It was actually quite different, and this worked well for me in some ways and not so well for me in other ways.

There was very little action and a great deal of introspection and emotion. The main character was less irritating to me than she was in the first book, as the majority of her thoughts didn’t revolve around her ugliness and desire for sex, like they did in Wintersong. There was also much less focus on the relationship between Liesl and the Goblin King, and more focus on the relationship between Liesl and her brother.

This book wasn’t for me, but S. Jae-Jones is an incredible writer, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

(Side note: I hear she’s coming out with an East Asian-inspired fantasy series based on Sailor Moon, so um, count me in).

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?


Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Kindle
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

After reading and loving The Cruel Prince, I wanted to try out another Holly Black book. This one certainly didn’t disappoint. I can’t wait to read more books from her!

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In the town of Fairfold, there is a horned fey prince in the woods, asleep within a glass casket. For years, people have been visiting him, partying around him, and speaking to him. Then, one day, he wakes up. As faerie mischief becomes more egregious, siblings Hazel and Ben must team up with the mysterious horned boy to save their town.

The Darkest Part of the Forest takes place in the same world as The Cruel Prince, as well as some of her other books. Our own mortal world is mixed in with the magical realm of Faerie, which exists on a different plane. This makes for a unique combination of normal and magical.

This story is atmospheric, haunting, and dark. The fantasy is blended in well enough with the realistic aspects that the inclusion of magic isn’t at all jarring. The characters are all endearing in their own way. You have the strong and brave Hazel, her adorable and slightly insecure brother Ben, their changeling friend Jack, and the mysterious fey prince Severin.

The romantic inclusion in the story is cute, but a little rushed. I loved the connections with the two pairings, and wished that a little more time was spent building the relationships. I wouldn’t call it insta-love, but just a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes that I would have liked to read about.

I also felt like the action scenes were a little lacking in depth. There was a huge focus on backstory, to the point where I felt like it almost bogged the story down, and the climax and resolution all felt crammed into the ending. The characters would do something great, but then the story seemed to instantly move on without giving the reader time to absorb what happened.

Also, I just want to say, I hate Ben and Hazel’s parents. It was established that they were very neglectful of both of their children from the time they were very young, and even though Hazel claims her parents “grew up”, I don’t think that level of neglect is redeemable. Seriously, they let Ben and Hazel stay out all night in the cold as young children and eat out of dog bowls. Not okay.

All in all, I really enjoyed this story. I can’t wait to read more great books from Holly Black!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been on My TBR the Longest

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*Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to bring bookish friends together. A new topic is posted each week.

This week, the topic is “Books That Have Been on My TBR the Longest (That I Still Haven’t Read). My TBR is sort of becoming a graveyard of books I want to read, so this is an easy list for me to make. In my experience, I’ve found that the books I’ve wanted to read for the longest time end up being some of my favorites, and I always kick myself for having waited so long. The best example of this is the Shades of Magic series and The Bear and the Nightingale, which were absolutely phenomenal.

Reading these books is more of a need than a want at this point.

  1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  2. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  4. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  7. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
  8. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  9. Tithe by Holly Black
  10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

 

  1. I own a paperback copy of All the Light We Cannot See, but just haven’t gotten around to reading it. I’m like a magpie, always attracted to the allure of new books and forgetting about the ones I already own.
  2. Red Rising is a book that I’ve heard a lot of great things about, but just haven’t gotten around to reading it. Now that the series is over, I’ll probably pick it up! It’s always more fun binge-reading without having to wait for the next book to come out.
  3. I actually read Throne of Glass a while back and didn’t really enjoy it, but I’ve heard the books that come after are amazing and worth the read. I love the ACOTAR books, so maybe I’ll give this one another shot.
  4. Life After Life is another book that I own, but just haven’t gotten around to reading.
  5. The only Maggie Stiefvater book I’ve ever read is Shiver, way back in my Twilight-obsessed high school days. I didn’t LOVE it, but people rave about her writing and these books sound really intriguing, so I want to give them a shot!
  6. I’m guilty of having never read The Night Circus. I feel like it’s one of those books that became super trendy and everyone else has already read it. I actually owned a paperback copy and lost it a few years ago (how does that happen??), but I ordered another online, so I’ll be starting this one soon.
  7. I love mysteries, thrillers, and scary things, so Bird Box has been on my radar for a while. I guess now it’s going to be made into a movie?? Possibly with Sandra Bullock?? So yeah, count me in.
  8. The blurb of Dark Matter sounds freaky and scary and mysterious and I can’t wait to read this one. I’m not sure why I haven’t yet.
  9. I’ve been on a little Holly Black kick lately, and I love dark faerie books. Tithe seems like the most obvious next choice, even though it came out years ago and I probably should have already read it.
  10. The Secret History is another one I have being shipped to me as I’m typing this, so I’m hoping to cross it off from my TBR soon! I’ve heard great things about this one. So many books I read are new releases, but this one was originally published in 1992. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

 

Hopefully, I’ll be crossing these books off my list soon!

Books I Loved in High School

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The other day I was looking at a collection of my old books, most of which I completely forgot that I owned or had ever even read. It got me thinking about all the books I loved in middle school and high school, and how I would feel about them now.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Okay, I loved this book when I first read it back in high school. I wasn’t blind to all the problematic tendencies of the male MC, the bad writing, the corny scenes, and the flat characters, but I was willing to let it all slide because OMG sWoOnS. Of course, the reader that I am now wouldn’t even get past the fifth chapter. Seriously, this book is bad. Every single other character except Abby and Travis only exist to talk about Abby and Travis and how much the two of them should be together. There is literally nothing keeping these two apart except for their own stupidity. Travis is extremely immature and borderline abusive, and yet literally everyone thinks he’s a god. He does corny things like dancing on lunch room tables and singing to Abby while everyone else claps along, and we as readers are expected to think it’s endearing instead of horrendously cringe-worthy. There is no plot whatsoever. The sex scenes are atrocious. I’m getting mad just thinking about how much my teenage self liked this book.

Evermore/Shiver/Halo/Fallen/Hush, Hush/etc.

AKA, every paranormal romance Twilight rip-off that I was unable to keep my hands off from. Many of these were filled with characters that were either boring or abhorrent with derivative plots that didn’t make sense. They usually revolved around cheesy cardboard insta-love romances with hot brooding alpha males. While they were entertaining at the time, I would probably find many aspects eye-roll inducing now.

This leads me to the next obvious choice:

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

You were either obsessed with these books, or you’re lying. The Twilight Saga completely took over my life during my freshman year of high school. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about this questionable series, but while there are many things I find mockable/humorous/disturbing now, I think these books were exactly what I needed at the time.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

This was a trilogy, but I’m sad to admit that I never read the last two books. Someone spoiled the ending for me, and it’s hard to finish a series knowing that it may not end the way you want it to. I really enjoyed this first book, though. It focused pretty heavily on a love triangle, which is usually a deal-breaker for me, but the two male leads were both endearing in their own way. I’m sure I could find something to pick apart if I read this book at this point in my life, but I remember loving it for the coming-of-age contemporary YA beach-read romance that it was.

The Vampire Academy Series by Rachelle Mead

Okay, if I reread these books now, I would probably still love them. What can I say, I’m a sucker for vampires (pun intended). Rachelle Mead is a talented author, and the way she writes is incredibly compelling. I was completely sucked into this world (I’m done now, I promise) and became invested in every one of the characters.

Honorable Mentions:

Anything Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, or Nicholas Sparks. My middle school/high school self definitely had more of a taste for humorous books and contemporary romances.

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. I went through a huge phase of loving all things British.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. Because who doesn’t want to share a pair of pants among your friends for years without ever washing it?

The Giver, The Outsiders, and The Great Gatsby. Three of my most enjoyed assigned reads.

 

Friday Favorites: Stand-Alone Novels

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*Friday Favorites is a feature in which I discuss my personal favorites in categories, genres, and more.

This week, I will list my favorite stand-alones!

This was definitely a hard list to come up with, since most of my favorite books are part of a series. I had to dig deep into past reads, but I was able to find some gems! While sequels are fun, stand-alone books are great if you want to read a book that ties up every loose end without dragging a story on for longer than necessary.

So without further ado:

Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy is a New Adult college romance. I read it when I was in college, so it was definitely a right-book-at-the-right-time situation. It’s a very cute and fun story, and the romance is absolutely swoon-worthy. While it is technically a stand-alone, it has another book written from the perspective of the love interest and a spin-off book with different characters.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Okay, this is definitely cheating, since Vicious has a sequel (Vengeful) planned for release at the end of the year and a third book to follow (Victorious). However, it was originally considered a stand-alone and works very well as one, with the ending wrapped up nicely while also leaving room for speculation/future books. This is also one of my favorite books ever, and V.E./Victoria Schwab is my favorite author, so how could I not include this?

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Sooooo I may have gone through a steamy New Adult romance phase, but what can I say? These books are addictive, fun, and bring on allllll the swoons. Wallbanger is straight-up hilarious. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something light, funny, and sexy.

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

This is another New Adult romance, but it is not what I would consider light. It has some pretty dark themes, but K.A. Tucker really knows how to write sexual tension and suspense. Kacey is such a feisty, strong, and fun main character, even though she has some problems to work through over the course of the book. The male lead is the love of my life, and his dedication to pulling Kacey out of the darkness is heartwarming. It concludes in such a satisfying way, and UGH. I might need to read this one again soon. This one also has spinoffs, and Kasey and Trent have cameo appearances in each of them.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

There isn’t much to say about this one. Adore x10000. If you haven’t read it, read it.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I’m not usually a fan of contemporary fiction, but I really enjoyed this one! It involves a beachside community, a schoolyard scandal involving a kindergarten class, and the murder of a local. The story leads up to the murder, while it is broken up with interviews from people in the community after the murder takes place. You don’t know who died until the very end, and the mystery will keep you hooked. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a good beach read.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

The main character of this book moved to Boston from Maine and starts dating a sexy neurosurgeon. Which is basically my life story, minus the sexy neurosurgeon. The less you know about this book going into it, the better, though I will say that it isn’t as light and fluffy as it may seem at the start.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

This is a mystery/suspense story that is written in reverse. It involves a young woman named Nicolette, who returns home after several years to discover that the mystery of her high school friend’s disappearance is being revisited due to another disappearance. I was guessing the whole way through, and still didn’t know what happened until the events unfolded at the end. I read this entire book at the airport during an extended layover, and didn’t even mind that my flight was delayed because of it.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

This book is a terrifying and intriguing dystopian thriller involving a young zombie girl. I think this one actually has a sequel, but it’s a separate story that takes place in the same world. I loved how creepy and weird this was. Its been awhile since I read this, but I remembered completely devouring it.

 

Soooo in conclusion:

That was hard. I need to read more stand-alones, I think. After reading (and loving) The Cruel Prince, I plan on reading two of Holly Black’s stand-alone novels (The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown).

If anyone has any other great stand-alone novels that they’ve read, let me know in the comments!