Tag Archive | Thriller

REVIEW: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Read: May 30-June 11, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Dutton

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Pages: 352

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


BOOK TRAILER


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

Final Girls was a good page turning thriller that had me questioning all of the characters, including our heroine, Quincy. However, I went into this book with really high expectations, having been praised by Stephen King as “the first great thriller of 2017”, and was a little disappointed in the end.

Things I loved: The plot. I loved that Quincy couldn’t remember what happened to her the night her friends were all slaughtered. I loved the very idea of The Final Girls. I loved the depth of Quincy’s character, how she coped with the aftermath of the massacre. I really enjoyed getting to see the full story of what happened to Quincy and her friends at the cabin in pieces scattered throughout the story. It was all very solid.

Things I didn’t care for: The ending. I mean, the ending itself was pretty awesome. But I expected a bigger twist. I had a theory that would have been epic, but it didn’t happen that way. The ending is good, I see how it all tied up in the end, but I recently read Gone Girl and was expecting my mind to be blown. Unfortunately, it was not.

So, do I recommend this one? Yes, because it was an enjoyable ride, even if the ending was a little more predictable than I would have preferred.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

(From an advanced release eBook)

The closest he gets to showing affection is on my birthday, when he sends the same text: Another year you almost didn’t get. Live it.

 

I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Lisa and I had stayed in touch. Maybe we would have eventually met in person. Maybe we could have become friends.


Maybe I could have saved her.

 

Usually he’s simply Jeff, the boyfriend who doesn’t mind cuddling. Who’s a far better cook than I and whose ass looks amazing in the suits he wears to court.

 

While I make the dough for the tarte, I keep checking my hands for signs of blood, certain I’ll find lingering crimson stains across my palms.

 

REVIEW: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

RoamHer Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1

Read: May 21-June 21, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Pages: 407

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER

Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.

BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST

Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. I am in no obligation to review this book, let alone give it a good review.

  

Word to the wise: Don’t read two thrillers concurrently in which a teenage girl is the sole survivor of a massacre.

This was a book I won through Goodreads. (Yay!) I don’t read a lot of straight up romance, but this is a romantic thriller. And though from the very beginning I was hesitant, I wound up absolutely loving this book. I need to get my hands on the prequel and the next one in the series!

Evelyn Talbot is an interesting character. Having survived being tortured and left for dead by her psychotic high school boyfriend—after he killed all her best friends—she’s spent her life dedicated to unraveling the minds of psychopaths as a psychiatrist. Now running Hanover House, a prison in the wilderness of Alaska meant to house the most dangerous psychopaths in America, Evelyn must face her past.

In this book, one of Evelyn’s dearest friends at Hanover House is murdered, her dismembered head the only thing found. Evelyn is sure it’s Jasper, her psychotic ex-boyfriend, toying with her before finishing what he failed to do when she was sixteen. From there, the clues keep piling up.

This was a very fun, dark, and twisty ride. There were so many red herrings it was hard to know who the killer really was. And just when you think it’s going to end — BAM!! Another twist!!

The romance was really good too. Evelyn is emotionally scarred because of Jasper and has never been with a man since. The sexy and fierce state trooper, Amarok (a nickname, which means wolf), is determined to break through her shields though. She doesn’t think she’s worth the hassle, but he begs to differ. The chemistry between them is awesome. I can’t wait to see what happens next for them.

I also really loved all the quotes from real psychopaths which preceded each chapter. Those plus the story itself had me looking at every person I know with a “could they be a psychopath?” filter on.

I absolutely recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. This was a real treat and won’t be my last Brenda Novak novel.


Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

 

Looking down at their entwined hands, he moved his thumb over her palm in a seductive circle. “You realize you’re giving me conflicting signals.”

 

Maybe he was as attractive as sin, but they were worlds apart in every other way.

 

Psychopaths dismissed murder as easily as most people dismissed neglecting to send a thank-you card.

 

“I haven’t seen you with anyone since I’ve been here. So. . . Who is your type?” She held her breath after she asked. She’d opened herself up, knew he had to understand she wanted to be his type ….

“Apparently I like uptight psychiatrists.”

 

“I can’t—I can’t be restrained.”

“I’m not restraining you. This is called comfort. There’s a difference.”

 

“I don’t want to fall in love with you.”

“Because of my age, Evelyn? Really?”

“No, because love is the biggest risk of all.”
 

REVIEW: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Read: April 12 – May 3, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Broadway Books

Release Date: May 24, 2012

Genre: Mystery / Psychological Thriller

Pages: 555

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017, TBR 2017


ABOUT THE BOOK

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?


REVIEW

I don’t remember how the topic of this book came about, but my co-worker Jess and I somehow ended up talking about this book one day at work. She said she owned it, but still hadn’t read it, but loved the movie. I told her I hadn’t seen the movie OR read the book, and I really wanted to. So, she brought the book to work and loaned it to me. And I devoured it as quickly as I could. Way too many late nights were spent reading this book. But it was so worth it.

So, if you’ve been living under a rock (as I was) and don’t really know what this book is about, except that it’s absolutely mind-blowing, then I’ll just tell you this:

Nick’s wife Amy disappears. He’s the prime suspect. But did he do it? Did he?

This book is literally mind-blowing. I was constantly texting my co-worker with each new theory I had for what happened to Amy. I can’t even count the number of times I changed my mind.

And the actual ending? Yep, mind-blowing. Like… WHAT? Did that seriously happen?

This review is not going to contain spoilers so, I mean, I literally can’t say much else. I will say this though, this book was amazing. Truly amazing. And this is coming from someone who really doesn’t enjoy reading “grown up” books.

The only reason I knocked half a star off was because the beginning was a little slow and because of the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the ending, but I feel like it went on a little too long. I feel like the author gave the reader too much of an ending, if that makes sense.


Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

 

My wife loved games, mostly mind games.


It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just getting started.


Just like he jettisoned his parents when they were of no use to him, he’s dropping me because I don’t fit in his new life here.


Right now,
I thought, I am a man who loves his wife and will find her. I am a man who loves his wife, and I am the good guy.

 

REVIEW: Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Series: Follow Me Back #1

Read: January 15 – 17, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: June 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 368

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA Reading Challenge

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Words cannot epitomize the epicness of this book. My mind still reels every time I think of it!

Girl (Tessa Hart) has something bad happen to her. Girl becomes agoraphobic. Girl turns to obsessing over a super hot singer boy (Eric Thorn), following him on Twitter. Without intending to, girl starts a hashtag trend about boy.

Boy has his own issues. Sees the hashtag and who started it. Creates fake twitter. Trolls girl. Somehow ends up in a friendship with girl. Together they share a deep personal connection, even though they’ve never seen each other and she doesn’t know his true identity.

This book is all kinds of epic. We get to experience the cliched fangirl and her celeb crush fall in love scenario but in a completely unique and twisted way that is 100% awesome and only about .05% cheesy, but good cheese, like Asiago.

I love how the author dropped little clues as the story went on as to exactly what happened to Tessa that resulted in her agoraphobia.

I loved the twisted, twisted ending! At about 67% I was CONVINCED I knew whodunnit. Then TWIST!

The absolute end… this is a cliffhanger done right. I wanted to throw my book at the wall, but I love books too much to hurt them, and besides I read on my Kindle and that’s an expensive book to break. Instead I sat in shocked silence, gaping at the screen, cursing myself for reading so soon before the release date and therefor the sequels release date.

I seriously can’t even talk about all the intense amazing things that happen because it would totally ruin the story for anyone who has not yet read this.

THE ENDING YOU GUYS! This is the kind of book that ends and you desperately search Goodreads for a friend who has also read it so you can share your freak out with someone. Alas, none of my friends have read this yet, so if you have, contact me and we can freak out together!

 

Bottom line: READ THIS BOOK! This is one of my top picks of 2017.


Get the Book here:

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QUOTES
~ From an advanced release copy. Actual text in final copy may vary. ~

“Have you seen TMZ? It’s like fan fiction but less believable.”


“You smell like a zoo animal, by the way. Did you shower?”
“Body Odor isn’t in the contract,” Eric said dryly.

He’d slipped into attack mode so easily. It was just Twitter after all. Just words. Not real.

She could do the front stoop. She must have run down those steps a million times over the course of her childhood. She just needed to shut her mind off. Focus on the task at hand. Her mother reached for the door, but she stopped and stepped aside. She knew the drill. The two of them had been doing these desensitization exercises for weeks now. It was Tessa’s job to open the door herself.


He paused and swallowed hard against the lump inside his throat. “Please, just this once. Just let me be the guy that takes you home.”


There was a pain in his chest—the last ember of a fire that hadn’t quite died. He had to give it one more try before the flame went out for good.


His fingers were freezing, but his lips melted a path straight through her icy core. She felt a crack in the numb exterior—a fissure that slowly spread until she crumbled.

REVIEW: Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Read: December 6 – 11

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: YA Mystery / Psychological Thriller

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some secrets are worth killing to protect.

Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, not that she cares what anyone thinks. She and her homeschooled boyfriend, Andrew, are inseparable. All they need is each other. That is, until Zachary Zimmerman joins her homeroom. Within an hour of meeting, he convinces good-girl Vic to cut class. And she can’t get enough of that rush.

Despite Vic’s loyalty to Andrew, she finds her life slowly entwining with Z’s. Soon she’s lying to everyone she knows and breaking all the rules to be with Z. She can’t get enough of him—or unraveling the stories of the family he’s determined to keep hidden.

Except Z’s not the only one with a past. Straight-laced Vic is hiding her own secrets…secrets that are about to destroy everything in her path.


REVIEW

I have a love/hate relationship with this book.

Basic gist: Vic tells the story to her boyfriend, Andrew, all about how she cheated on him, falling for the new guy at school, Z. The ending is OUT THERE. If you don’t read books because of cheating, don’t count this one out for that reason. Seriously.

What I loved:
I loved the bits of interviews, newspaper articles, and so on that preceded each chapter. They were little clues to the end game that kept me invested in the story, needing to know what happened. I loved that, until almost the final chapter, I had no clue where this was going. I didn’t even know who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. I loved that it kept me guessing.

What I didn’t care for:
I wasn’t really invested in the day to day play-by-play that Vic was giving us. It bored me a little. I didn’t like the decisions she made, though I understand that’s part of her character, and I don’t knock stars for that. I just didn’t like some of the things she did. Actually, aside from her stupid decisions, I can kind of relate to Vic. She feels like an outsider, doesn’t really feel like she belongs and can’t connect to her peers. Gosh, that was me in high school!

As I read books I tend to have a star rating in mind, this one jumped quickly from about a 2 up to a 3.5. This is the kind of book that seemed, to me, tedious as I read it. But when I read that ending? Wow. Blew me away. I actually didn’t quite understand what was happening until it was happening. Suddenly I was backpedaling, saying, WAIT! WHAT??? Yeah, it was good. So trippy.

So, do I recommend this book? Yes. But go into this knowing that the pacing is slow and steady, the clues are there, but you’re unlikely to put it together until the very end. And you’ll probably keep thinking about the story afterward, I know I did!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Get the Unnatural Deeds here:

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~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

Who knew that my boyfriend, quiet, unassuming Andrew Quinn, had that in him.
I thought I knew you inside and out, but… I was wrong.

I breathed in. Breathed out. Prayed to the Effexor gods. Tried to remember what that therapist had said last year before my parents’ insurance ran out and they couldn’t afford to send me. Control. You have the control. Visualize.

I hardly knew him, and already I hated to disappoint him. Because that’s hat my story was: disappointing.

“You’re unpredictable so people won’t figure you out. That’s your big fear, isn’t it? You don’t want anyone too close to you. Because the people closest to you have all let you down. And you’re afraid of being let down again.”
Z looked into my eyes. “See? You…you get me.”

Somehow, I’d thought that being Z’s friend would make me visible. That being next to him would finally put me on the nap and make people who once detested or ignored me give me a second chance.
So far, that was not the case.

But Z had a way of making any proposition appealing. Venturing out in frigid temperatures? Sure. Snorkeling with sharks? Awesome.

“You and me. We’re both so fucked up, so afraid that one wrong move will send the house of cards crumbling to the ground. I get you, all right? That’s what I mean.”

But that was Z. He thrived on danger. I sure didn’t.

 

REVIEW: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

 Read: October 2 – 5, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.

Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.

Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

One Was Lost is my second Natalie D. Richard’s novel and will not be my last.

First – look at that cover! That screams thriller. I actually get kind of a Blair Witch vibe from it, which isn’t too far off the mark. The basic premise is a group of kids (and two teachers) lost in the woods with a killer on the loose. They’re drugged, wake to have words written on their arms, and nobody knows who to trust.

The way this book starts, we’re thrown into the story. Sera is on a “Senior Life Experience” camping trip with 4 classmates and two teachers. Early on the group gets separated, leaving Sera with Mr. Walker (a teacher), Emily (a girl with unexplained bruises), Jude (a rich boy with a set of gay dads and a chip on his shoulder), and Lucas (the boy Sera has history with, that she’s been trying to avoid for months). In the other group are Ms. Brightman (another teacher), and Madison and Hayley, who are sort of interchangeable to Sera.

Richards doesn’t info dump like a lot of authors do, spending pages at the beginning explaining backstory and characterization. Instead, we’re thrown in with these kids and slowly get to know them over the course of the novel. Immediately we know how Sera feels about each of her classmates, though we don’t really know the why’s just yet. It isn’t until the end of the book that I really understood all of the characters. By the end I’d also felt like I experienced this ordeal with them, and it was interesting to see how their experiences changed them.

The mystery in this novel is awesome. Just like the kids in the book, I had multiple suspects in mind as I read through. My theories of whodunnit fell on each of the students and teachers in turn, and even at one point went to, “this is all planned by the teachers to mess with the kids.”

I think this story possibly could have benefited from starting a touch sooner, to include the ghost stories told around the campfire that are mentioned throughout the story, but we as the reader didn’t experience. But I really don’t think the story lacked anything not including that scene. It just would have been nice to have more “on camera” time with the other group who Sera is separated from early on.

As with the previous Richards book I read, My Secret To Tell, she shines at characterization. She throws little pieces of the characters back story at the reader, giving them time to absorb before handing over another piece of the story. We know from the beginning that Sera’s mom left, but it isn’t until the end that we know why. We know Sera has a history with Lucas, but we don’t know what that history entails and who was at fault. By the end I completely understood Sera and why she acted the way she did throughout the story, and I appreciated where her character development left her by the last page.

I also give props to Richards for including a diverse cast. Sera is Lebanese. I believe Jude is African American, and Emily may be non-caucasisian as well. The way Richards writes, skin color is not a top priority. The characters are just people, three-dimensional characters. Sera may not be of European descent like me, but I could put myself in her shoes and relate to her.

Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! This is a fast paced, mystery thriller with well-defined characters. I know I’ll be getting my hands on the rest of Natalie D. Richard’s publications.



Get the Truthsong here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

(RE: Lucas’ height) I have no idea what you have to eat to grow like that. Corn? Eggs? Small children?

 

Whatever script we’re following out in these woods—this is my role… and I’m supposed to die out here.

 

Something snaps in the distance, and I flinch, scanning the darkness. Leaves rustle, and then I hear the scrabble of tiny claws on a trunk.

 

Nothing has ever hurt like the peroxide he pours over my hand. It hits my tender flesh like lava, flashfire painful and leaving a loud throb in its place.

 

…thinks he’s guilty because I kissed him? My desire did this. I followed my heart, and it might kill him.

 

I close my eyes and feel my heart slow even as my stomach rolls. A mourning dove coos softly. Sadly. Rain drips. My hand burns. Nothing is different, and nothing is the same either.

 

I went sixty-two days without looking at him after the first time we kissed, but that was then. And now it is very different.

 

 

 

REVIEW: The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

Read: July 27 – September 1, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Penguin First Reads)

My Book Rating: 2 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes the greater good requires the smaller evil.

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to “evolve,” as Beau, the retreat leader, says.

Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman’s not sure, but more than anyone he’s ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he’s failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.

And then, in an instant Arman can’t believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he’s always trusted the least: himself.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

Basic premise: 17-year-old Arman has a crappy home life and is convinced that he screws everything up. He gets invited to go to this “retreat” by the groups leader, a charismatic father figure named Beau. Arman is led to believe he’s special, but then Beau is gone and Arman has holes in his memory. He’s been injured and doesn’t know how. He’s convinced Beau is dead, but the body is gone. Was it suicide? Did Arman kill him?

First things first, I wanted to read this book because I was convinced this “retreat” is really a cult. (It basically is.) I was intrigued. This is a step outside my normal reading box. And I enjoyed the journey. But this book did not leave me feeling satisfied. It left me wondering what I was supposed to take away. There was a conclusion in the end, we find out what really happened, but… I can’t figure out what the purpose of Arman’s journey was. There was a bunch of philosophical thoughts and ideas, and they just went over my head, I can’t imagine the average teenager taking away what the author meant, if she meant for them to take anything away.

There were also sections of text (un-numbered chapters if you will) in all italics, and I don’t know what it was. I think it was Beau talking to… someone? Maybe Arman? But maybe not? I didn’t get the purpose of it. I need someone to explain it to me!

In the end, this was a very strange book. It was mostly enjoyable, especially when I started to question EVERYTHING, including Arman’s sanity. I can’t give it more than 2 stars though because while the writing was very good, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, and as I mentioned above, I just can’t figure out what I was supposed to take away from this book.

I’ve read other reviews of this book mention this being the authors strangest book yet, so I would consider checking out one of her other books, because she does have a compelling writing style.


Get the The Smaller Evil here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

Faith is an investment, you tell her, when you see she doesn’t understand. You bargain now for what you hope matters later.

“You know what my father used to tell me about fear?”
“What’s that?”
“‘You only fear what you believe will kill you, never what will.’”
Dale stared at him. Then: “Your dad sounds like a dick.”

“Because always taking the easy route means forgetting there could be others. Maybe better ones. You can’t know unless you try.”

“What’s the doctrine of double effect?”

“It’s a philosophical principle that states an immoral act can sometimes be considered moral if the greater good outweighs the smaller evil.”

“Which would you rather believe in: a bad truth or a good lie?”

BEHIND THE COVER, Vol 2: Unhinged by Shelley R. Pickens

 

Since 2011 I have been honing my talents as a cover designer for a small press called Melange Books, LLC, as well as their subsequent imprints, Satin Romance, and Fire & Ice YA Books.

It’s been five years and hundreds of covers, and I’m still evolving as a digital artist.

As a cover artist, I am charged with creating an eye catching cover design that accurately represents the theme of the book, while remaining visually captivating to the potential reader, and satisfying the author.

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to showcase some of my cover designs and explain what inspired them; why I chose the elements/images I did, and how they relate to the books theme or tone.

I’d love to hear your questions and comments below!

 

I did not intend for so much time to pass between my first Behind the Cover feature and the second, yet here we are.

I’ve been busy as a bee with my (not so new) part time job, plus my work for Melange Books. Last night I added more to my plate, starting a new in depth revision on my teen paranormal novel, Blood & Magic.

But enough of all that, today I’m here to talk about the process that went into designing the cover for Unhinged by Shelley Pickens.

This cover was created using 2 pieces of stock art; the girl, and the tornado.

Unhinged is another cover I had the opportunity to read prior to publication, due to my job as acquisitions editor for Fire & Ice YA Books.

This is the second in a paranormal/horror series about a girl named Aimee with the power to absorb ones memories with only a touch. In this particular book in the series, Aimee’s loved ones are being trapped in their own minds, poisoned by horrific memories that have been placed there by the story’s villain. Aimee must save her friends by going into their minds herself and removing the memories.

The girl on the cover is, obviously, Aimee. Her powers are being tested to their limits, she’s and she’s not really in control, which shows in the girls pose. She’s becoming Unhinged.

The tornado in the background is both metaphorical and literal. Metaphorically, Aimee’s life has turned completely upside down. It is in total upheaval. The tornado represents the chaos that is taking over her life. On the literal end, when Aimee travels into her loved ones minds, she encounters a literal tornado that she must face in order to save them.

I chose to give the cover that sepia toned look because storms are often devoid of color, and visually it is easier for the eye to focus on the basically two-toned elements.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 7.28.58 PMAs for the text, the font was an easy choice because it had already been chosen for the first book in the series. I opted to use a white font with a slight drop shadow / glow because the sepia color pallet was so dark I wanted the text to pop.

I love this cover, and it’s honestly one of my favorites I’ve designed to date.

This cover also earned me the bragging rights of ‘Award Finalist’ for the 2016 EPIC Ariana awards.

 

You can see more examples of my covers on my website: www.carolineandrus.com/design/covers.html
And my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns

I’m also available for hire. Shoot me an email or Facebook message!


UNHINGED by Shelley R. Pickens

Being normal isn’t always a good thing, especially if it ends up killing you.

Aimee, the sixteen year old girl who can see your every memory with just one touch, is fresh out of the torture room after risking everything to capture a killer. Despite her instinct to avoid contact with others, she tries her best to find a new normal at school—perhaps even a boyfriend. But for those who are cursed, happiness and normality aren’t easy to obtain. A bizarre illness spreads like wildfire through the school and causes those around Aimee to lose their sanity before falling into a coma. Slowly, all the people she loves succumb to this strange disease.

Alone and terrified, she must use her curse to find a way to save her family and friends. As she delves deeper and deeper into their memories, she realizes David, a delusional person from her childhood, is the bigger threat that could destroy her. Despite the danger that surrounds her, she struggles to solve the puzzle before it’s too late to help those she cares for the most. But as David moves closer to eliminating her, one puzzle still remains. Will she be able to save herself?


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I wouldn’t say Mary is a delicate flower per say, but her stint in the hospital almost dying from smoke inhalation has definitely made her more fragile. Hell, it would soften most people. Most normal people at least. For a freak like me, facing death and coming out the other end damaged but alive, changed me. It has made me hard, unbending, and unwilling to let anything I love come to harm. Some would call that strength. Most would call it stubborn. I just call it my life.

“Mary, are you okay?” I ask in a soft voice, careful not to startle her.

Her eyes are vacant as they stare off into space. She begins to rock back and forth in her chair, both hands cradling her head. She begins to murmur to herself, but I can’t make out what she’s saying. The scene from the lunchroom today comes flooding back. I have never been more scared in my short life than I am right now. I have no idea what to do; helplessness consumes me. Then I remember what happened to Logan in Dejana’s basement and how my touch brought him out of his trance. I get up out of my seat and slowly approach her. I gently put my hand on her shoulder, hoping it comforts rather than startles her.

“Mary,” I repeat in a soft whisper. “Please, tell me what’s wrong. What can I do to help you?” I ask, desperate to find a way to get through to her. I’m not sure if she feels my hand on her or not. She doesn’t try to remove my hand, but doesn’t acknowledge it either. Panic boils up inside me. Okay, enough of the careful approach; time for more desperate measures.

“Dammit, Mary, stop it this instant!” I scream in the best scolding mom voice I can muster. I even stomp my foot on the floor for good measure. My voice must have gotten through to her because she stops rocking, removes her hands from her head, and begins to look around. Confusion marks every feature of her face. When her eyes land on me, her sweet smile returns as she pats my gloved hand still resting on her shoulder.

“Aimee, dear, why are you up from your seat? You know you can’t be excused until you’re finished with your food. Is everything alright? Do you need something else to drink, sweetie?” she asks, clearly unaware that five seconds ago she was murmuring to herself like a lunatic.

“Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I’m not very hungry right now. Can I be excused please?” I ask, hoping she doesn’t notice how my voice shakes.

“Well, of course dear. I’m not feeling well myself, either. I think I may go ahead and go to bed. Do you mind cleaning up the kitchen for me?” she asks, her voice normal with no hint of confusion or idea that something was off.

I nod, still confused by what just happened. Maybe I just imagined it. There’s that avoidance therapy again, rearing its ugly head.

“Thank you, sweetie,” says Mary, giving my head its usual pat since she learned from the beginning I don’t like to be kissed, even if she’s never understood why.

I watch her walk away, my heart heavy with worry for her. I have no clue what’s going on today with people acting so strangely. I am no fortuneteller but I have a bad feeling that something terrible is coming. And I have no idea how to stop it.