Book Review: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Better Sister
Author: Alafair Burke
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: April 16, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.89

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Keep your enemies close and your sister closer.

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be the one in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky—always restless and more than a little reckless—was the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed that both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenage stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past.


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MY REVIEW
Chloe and Nicky are sisters. Though Chloe is the younger sister, she has always been the more responsible one. As adults, it seemed Nicky’s restless behavior improved when she married Adam and had a baby. Then things took a dramatic turn. Now, fifteen years later, Chloe is married to Adam, she is stepmother to her nephew Ethan, and estranged from her sister. When Adam is found murdered in their beach house, Ethan becomes the prime suspect. These events bring Nicky back into Chloe’s life. When finally reconnected, the sisters are forced to confront their past.

This mystery starts off strong with Adam’s murder, but the pace does slow down. When the police start looking at Ethan as a prime suspect, the sisters are brought together to support him and help prove his innocence. Both sisters have secrets they have been keeping, and as things unfold, the sisters relationship changes.

An easy reading novel. Murder mystery, courtroom drama, and family secrets.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: I Will Never Leave You by S.M. Thayer

I Will Never Leave You by S.M. Thayer

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: I Will Never Leave You
Author: S.M. Thayer
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: September 1, 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.47

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
All they want is a baby — and they’ll do anything to have one.

Banking heiress Trish and her husband, James, seem to have it all, from a lavish lifestyle to a historic mansion in the nation’s capital. All that’s missing from their privileged life is a baby.

So when Trish sees Anne Elise for the first time, it’s no surprise that she falls deeply in love. There’s just one problem: Trish isn’t the mother. The baby belongs to Laurel, James’s young mistress. And James and Laurel want the wife out of the picture.

When Trish becomes perversely obsessed with making Laurel’s baby her own, the lovers come up with a wicked plan to end James’s marriage that quickly goes awry. As the love triangle becomes more and more dangerous, how far is each of them willing to go to get what they want?


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MY REVIEW
Trish and James seem like a couple who has everything, but nothing is as perfect as it seems. Trish desperately wants a baby, but she and James have been unable to conceive. However, James’s mistress Laurel just had a baby. Laurel wants Trish out of the picture, so she and James can be a family. Trish wants the baby.

Told with alternating points of view – Trish, Laurel, and James. Trish is a wealthy woman and has everything she wants, except for a child. When James has a child with another woman, Trish sees it as an opportunity. James is a scoundrel. Besides cheating on his wife, he’s terrible with money, which is why their finances are kept separate. He’s in debt, and needs money fast. Laurel is young and naive. She trusts James, and believes they could have a nice life together, if only Trish wasn’t in their way.

Fast-paced story full of unlikable characters. This is a quick and entertaining read, but it does require a suspension of disbelief.

This was my pick for Amazon’s First Reads in August 2018.

Book Review: The River by Peter Heller

The River by Peter Heller

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: The River
Author: Peter Heller
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Mystery – Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.06

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars, the story of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip–a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: The next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.


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MY REVIEW
Two college best friends, Wynn and Jack, travel to Canada to canoe the Maskwa River and spend time in the wilderness. They envision a leisurely trip to enjoy nature, but their journey soon takes a turn. For starters, a wildfire is heading their way. Then, they hear a couple arguing, but the next day, they encounter a man paddling alone. Wynn and Jack decide to go in search of the missing woman.

A lovely story of male friendship, adventure, and nature. Wynn and Jack met as freshmen in college and soon bonded over their love for books and nature. The young men are both knowledgeable of the wilderness and capable of taking care of themselves. Their canoeing adventure turns into a suspenseful search for a missing woman and a trip out of the wilderness before the wildfire reaches them.

This is a beautifully written novel. I enjoy novels that focus on nature, and found this one to be very well done. Also, the wonderful male friendship in this book was great to read. The story is slow-paced, though it does get more exciting toward the end.

I received a free digital copy of this book via First to Read.

Book Review: The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger

The Banker's Wife by Cristina Alger

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: The Banker’s Wife
Author: Cristina Alger
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publish Date: July 3, 2018
Genre: Mystery
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.95

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Werner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew’s death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.

Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she’s engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York’s social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including a few who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel’s heartbreaking search–if Marina chooses to publish it.

The Banker’s Wife is both a high-stakes thriller and an inside look at the personal lives in the intriguing world of finance, introducing Cristina Alger as a powerful new voice in the genre.


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MY REVIEW
Annabel’s husband Matthew dies when the private plane he was on crashes. Matthew worked in the world of finance. After his death, Annabel discovers her husband was keeping secrets, and she becomes a target of her husband’s enemies. Meanwhile, Marina, a journalist, is working on a story that could disrupt the financial world.

Told with the alternating viewpoints of multiple characters. I enjoyed the different POVs and found it worked well for this story. Both Annabel and Marina are strong female protagonists with interesting stories.

An intriguing thriller focused on the financial world. There is a fair amount of financial jargon, but it works and is not boring. Complex, compelling, and suspenseful.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.

Book Review: The Line Between by Tosca Lee

The Line Between by Tosca Lee

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: The Line Between
Author: Tosca Lee
Publisher: Howard Books
Publish Date: January 29, 2019
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.40

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
In this frighteningly believable thriller from New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee, an extinct disease re-emerges from the melting Alaskan permafrost to cause madness in its victims. For recent apocalyptic cult escapee Wynter Roth, it’s the end she’d always been told was coming.

When Wynter Roth is turned out of New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.

As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.

Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter herself.

Filled with action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, The Line Between is a high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness.


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MY REVIEW
Wynter Roth is banished from the cult New Earth. Now in her twenties, Wynter has lived with them since she was a kid. New Earth has cut itself off from the rest of the world and maintained a self-sufficient environment. New Earth has always told its members that the end of the world was coming. When Wynter leaves, she enters a world where a mysterious disease is quickly spreading. She has been told the apocalypse was coming, and now she is faced with that reality. However, Wynter soon learns she may be able to help save the world.

Wynter is a smart and courageous young woman. She wants to protect her sister and her niece, but she doesn’t know how after she is banished from New Earth. When Wynter’s sister locates her and gives her some medical samples, along with information that Wynter did not know, Wynter does all she can to help. Wynter needs to get the samples to Colorado, and she’s not sure who she can trust along the way. Enter Chase, a former military man.

A fast-paced and exciting thriller. Intriguing characters. Suspenseful story. Great for fans of novels involving cults and apocalyptic storylines.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: Until the Day I Die
Author: Emily Carpenter
Publisher: Lake Union
Publish Date: March 12, 2019
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.01

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls comes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.


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MY REVIEW
Erin Gaines, her husband, and two friends created a tech company that has started to take off. Erin’s husband died unexpectedly, and Erin is grieving his loss. Her daughter Shorie is leaving for college, but wants to stay home and work at her parents company. Between their grieving and difference of opinions regarding Shorie’s future, the mother-daughter relationship has become strained. Erin is encouraged to go to an exclusive spa for help, but it turns out the spa is not the relaxing resort experience she was expecting.

Told with alternating viewpoints – Erin and Shorie. Erin is grieving, working too much, and doesn’t seem to be taking care of herself. Shorie is smart and resourceful, and wants to work with her parent’s tech company rather than go to college. Erin and Shorie love each other, but their relationship is strained with what is currently happening in their lives. Erin’s friends and family encourage her to attend a spa on a private island to help her get back on track. The island resort turns into a dangerous experience. While Erin is away on the island, Shorie starts to look into some questionable activity going on with the tech company.

An exciting thriller, especially the parts that take place in the jungle of the private island. This book combines a mystery at a tech company and a perilous island experience. Overall, a wild, mysterious, and fast-paced page turner.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: The Hiding Place
Author: C.J. Tudor
Publisher: Crown
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
Genre: Mystery – Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.89

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, C. J. Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.


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MY REVIEW
Joe goes back to his hometown after being gone for many years. Once back in town, he discovers some recent events that are eerily similar to things that happened in his past. He gets caught up in discovering the truth behind the recent events and uncovering the secrets and lies of his past.

Joe is a desperate mess. He’s down on his luck, owing money to some bad people, and lying his way into a new job in his hometown. Not to mention the events from Joe’s teen years have led him to not exactly be welcomed back with open arms.

The secrets from Joe’s teen years mostly center around what happened to his sister. She went missing, but she came back. Soon after arriving back in town, Joe learns another kid recently went missing and showed up again after a couple of days. He is afraid history is repeating itself, and takes measures into his own hands to set things right.

This is a slow-paced, character driven story. I was not expecting a supernatural element to this novel, so that took me by surprise. This book is listed as a mystery thriller, but it read more like a horror novel. Dark, bleak, and atmospheric.

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: The Hunting Party
Author: Lucy Foley
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: February 12, 2019
Genre: Mystery
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.83

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Everyone’s invited… everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?


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MY REVIEW
A group of old university friends take a trip to celebrate New Year’s together. They travel to a remote estate in the Scottish Highlands. Within a few days, tensions have risen, secrets are revealed, and someone dies.

The character list for this novel is fairly long, with eleven guests plus a baby staying at the estate and three employees working there. The employees are Heather, Doug, and Iain. The university friends are Miranda, Katie, Julien, Mark, Nick, and Samira. Miranda and Julien are now married. Katie is single and traveling alone. Mark is married to Emma. Nick is dating Bo. Samira is married to Giles, and they have a baby, Priya. In addition to this friend group traveling together, an Icelandic couple, Ingvar and Kristin, are also staying at the estate.

With so many characters, it is not surprising that multiple points of view are used in this novel. The viewpoints are Heather, Doug, Miranda, Katie, and Emma. The switching POVs are seamless, and are easily distinguished from one another. The story is told over a three day period, using a flashback approach. The stories open with the “Now” where a body is discovered. Then the events of the preceding days are told, flipping between what happened in the preceding days to the events in the “Now” timeline. This novel has a lot happening, but I found it easy to follow and never got confused with the who and when of the story.

As for the plot, it’s an intriguing mystery. While a dead body is found right off the bat, the identity of the deceased is not known until near the end of the story. So, not only was I trying to guess who the killer was, but also who the victim was.

I enjoy this type of mystery. A group of people in an isolated location. A murder. Secret and lies. Dysfunctional friendships and drama. Such an entertaining read. Highly recommended.

I received a free ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Dagger by Pam Anders

The Dagger by Pam Anders

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Dagger
Author: Pam Anders
Publisher: Real Publishing
Publish Date: September 8, 2018
Genre: Mystery
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.14

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Twenty-four year old school teacher KATHRYN (KAT) DELANEY enjoys a comfortable and nondescript life, until events begin to crash down around her, beginning with the murder of her acutely secretive and over-protective father. His death triggers an investigation, which raises questions as to who he really was, and who she is.

Kat is determined to find the answer to her true identity, but the answers find her before she has a chance. Kat is thrown into the violent and chilling world from which her father had protected her all these years, and now she must fight for her life.


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MY REVIEW
Kat’s father was a wonderful dad who loved and protected his daughter, but he was never clear about his past. After Kat’s father is killed, Kat is thrown into a mystery to find out what her father was hiding and who she really is.

This is a fast-paced read. The first part of the novel is a typical mystery, where someone is killed and an investigation into the death begins. Then things take a turn, and a wild adventure begins for Kat as she discovers more about her past. Kat is a young woman, working as a teacher, and living a normal life. She is a little spoiled by her father, but as the novel progresses she starts to take care of herself and become more independent.

An interesting mystery. Kat’s search into her past leads to a wild experience with a variety of characters, including a former boyfriend turned PI, a crazy madman, and a fanatical cult. Suspenseful and exciting.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: All These Beautiful Strangers
Author: Elizabeth Klehfoth
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: July 10, 2018
Genre: Mystery – Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.87

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon
One summer day, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Alistair Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New England school she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.


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MY REVIEW
Ten years ago, when Charlie was seven years old, her mother disappeared. Charlie is now seventeen, and away at boarding school. When she is tapped to join the A’s, the school’s secret society, she’s excited, but a little concerned about the initiation process. As she plays the game the A’s ask of her, she learns they may not be as great as she originally thought. In addition to school life, Charlie starts to think there is more to the story of her mother’s disappearance, and looks into the past to uncover the secrets.

Told using alternating points of view – Charlie, Grace, and Alistair. Charlie is the main character. She’s popular, rich, smart, and pretty. She seems to have it all, but she is haunted by her mother’s disappearance. From Charlie’s viewpoint, the reader learns about the present and the past. Grace and Alistair are Charlie’s parents. Their chapters are mostly about the past. The alternating timelines and POVs were handled well, and easily distinguished from one another.

A large portion of the book is about Charlie’s school life, friendships, and initiation into the A’s. The initiation process involves an elaborate scavenger hunt, that often has risks. The mystery part comes from Charlie learning something new about her mother, which reignites Charlie’s interest in her mother’s disappearance. She decides to look into the past, and attempt to uncover what happened.

This is listed under adult fiction, but it reads like a YA mystery. I was fine with that, but if you don’t like YA books, then this might not be a good fit for you. If you enjoy YA, mysteries, and books that involve elite boarding schools, then this is perfect for you.

A compelling debut novel. Captivating, mysterious, and clever. I look forward to reading more by this author.

I borrowed this book from my local library.