In an effort to cut down on posts and burnout, my Review Roundups will feature 2-4 books I’ve read or listened to recently. Sometimes they’re newer releases and sometimes they’re all backlist titles. My ARC reviews usually get the solo treatment. Enjoy the mini reviews!
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Simon and Schuster on June 28, 2016
Format: eBook (371 pages) • Source: Scribd
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Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.
It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.
The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.
Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.
Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.
In the shitty year that is 2020, I completely blew it with #ReadForGrace. No calendar reminder could help me keep track of what day it is, apparently. I decided on a whim to start a book a day or two after her birthday and I think she’d be fine with that 🙂 Megan Miranda (and ALL THE MISSING GIRLS specifically) were favorites of hers. I’d been wanting to read this one forever so it was the perfect opportunity.
I’m going to keep this review brief because of spoilers, but wow – what a format! The first chapter or two set the scene for the story: Nicolette is managing the health of her aging father and has to return home to NC to help clean the house in order to sell it. You learn that her best friend from high school went missing a decade before. The narrative is then told in reverse, beginning with Day 15 and ending up at Day 1, the day another girl (Annaliese) goes missing.
Along the journey, you find out about the complex relationships between Nicolette and her father, ex-boyfriend, brother… a bunch of people who never left town. It took some getting used to, reading a story in reverse, but it was pretty fascinating! I couldn’t stop reading. That’s high praise in this pandemic reading slump I’ve got going on. The “ending” (or beginning, depending on how you look at it!) definitely surprised me.
I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Dear Justyce by Nic Stone
Series: Dear Martin #2
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published by Random House on September 29th, 2020
Also by this author: Dear Martin, Snow in Love
Format: Hardcover (288 pages) • Source: Library
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The stunning sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. Incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas.
In the highly anticipated sequel to her New York Times bestseller, Nic Stone delivers an unflinching look into the flawed practices and silenced voices in the American juvenile justice system.
Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, though, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University . . . and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center.
Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce--the protagonist of Dear Martin--Quan's story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there's a dead cop and a weapon with Quan's prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure.
"A powerful, raw, must-read told through the lens of a Black boy ensnared by our broken criminal justice system." -Kirkus, Starred Review
I was blown away by DEAR MARTIN. It was a quick, heavy, and hard-hitting book that I read in one sitting, staying up way too late. I was hoping DEAR JUSTYCE would be the same. I can confirm it was the latter two, but not quite as quick. It took me a few days to read, but that’s still a positive thing in this crappy reading year!
The main character, Quan, writes to Justyce (the MC from book one) instead of to MLK like Justyce did. Quan is in prison for shooting and killing a police officer, but did he really do it? This story was an incredibly powerful example of how fucked up the criminal justice and mass incarceration system is. The synopsis describes it best: “an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.”
Like DEAR MARTIN and other stories featuring Black voices, I wish I could put this in the hands of everyone who doesn’t seem to understand systemic racism and that people often can’t just simply “rise up by working hard” and get out of bad situations. Quan talks a lot about he essentially feels like he was destined to a life of crime because of his father, living situation, etc.
It was eye-opening, powerful, and a must-read. I really need to get to Nic Stone’s other books.
I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Second Chance on Cypress Lane by Reese Ryan
Series: Holly Grove Island #1
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Published by Hachette on December 1st, 2020
Format: eARC (432 pages) • Source: Publisher
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In this heartwarming second-chance romance, a woman returns home and discovers that, when it comes to finding love, there's no place like home.
When a romance gone wrong lands reporter Dakota Jones in the pages of the tabloids, her rising star crashes and burns. Instead of getting the weekend anchor job she'd been promised, she's promptly shown the door. Which leaves her one option: return home to lick her wounds, eat lemon meringue pie, and plot her comeback while actively avoiding the man who once broke her heart.
Dexter Roberts made a huge mistake when he walked away from Dakota, and he's regretted it ever since. So when Dakota returns to Holly Grove Island to regroup and decide what's next, Dex can't pass up the opportunity to win back the love of his life. Now he just needs to convince Dakota to give him a second chance.
Yes y’all, here I am with another cute small town romance! Forever Romance is out there publishing the best of them. LAST CHANCE ON CYPRESS LANE features some of my favorite tropes: Dakota returns home to her small town on the Outer Banks (Holly Grove Island) after losing her job, only to find her ex, Dexter, is trying to atone for his mistakes and is just as handsome as she remembers. This is an Own Voices romance, which made it even better – so many of these small town companions series are usually full of white characters.
The two end up working together for the new resort on the island and sparks fly between them. In hindsight, there isn’t a ton of plot in this book – they visit a jazz festival in Newport, RI to get some ideas for their resort and can clearly tell their feelings are back. There’s a bit of back and forth while she rediscovers her love for the island.
There were a few secrets everyone was holding back from each other that were the main causes of miscommunication. I don’t want to spoil anything but one thing in particular was a bit odd and extreme, which put me off for a bit.
Clearly the Holly Grove Island setting will be an amazing place to explore in the next books. I love taking guesses at who the next main characters are. Her best friend, Sinclair, better have her own book at some point soon! I’m really excited to see where this series goes next.