Review: Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

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We followed Audrey Rose and Thomas from the streets of London, to the mountains of Romania and on a ship across the Atlantic ocean. Now, we watch them discover New York City and Chicago.

After all of the drama from the RMS Etruria, Audrey Rose and Thomas are ready to rekindle their romance. In fact, Audrey Rose’s dad and aunt, plus Thomas’s sister are on the way to New York so Thomas can officially ask Audrey Rose to marry him.

The details are set and their families have put together the perfect wedding, when Thomas’s father’s meddling stands in the way of happily ever after. Out of anger, Audrey Rose and Thomas try to come up with solutions to get their perfect love story.

However, at the same time, bodies have been found across the city and the killer has a similar style to Jack the Ripper. But Jack the Ripper is dead, isn’t he? After going through the journals of the man who died claiming he was the notorious murderer, dark secrets come to life and the mystery might not have been as simple as they originally thought.

They follow the killer from New York to the World’s Fair in Chicago, where a lot of young women have gone missing, but no bodies have been found. The real Jack the Ripper might be closer than they think, having more of a connection with the two forensic scientists than they ever thought possible. Will Audrey Rose and Thomas be able to stop the person who has been watching them for months and finally walk down the aisle?

This book did not disappoint. We loved this series overall, even though portions of Escaping From Houdini annoyed us. This book made up for it, with Cressworth being stronger than ever.

We won’t spoil the ending, but Maniscalco wrapped everything up nicely. Although, we’d love to see more of Cressworth’s future endeavors, we accept that this story has come to an end. 

Maniscalco also did a good job of tying the books together. We loved how she brought back Jack the Ripper and that she still had surprises in store from that mystery. 

Overall, the plot moves quickly and the reader can see how much these characters developed from the beginning of the series. Audrey Rose is strong, intelligent and ahead of her time. Thomas is witty, loyal and the perfect companion. Their unconventional love story set among forensics and dead bodies was the story YA readers needed.
If you haven’t tried reading this series, go out and buy them immediately. Now that all of the books are out, spend your weekend binge-reading. You know you want to! 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Cressworth forever!)


Review: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet Cute

*We received this book in exchange for an honest review*

Pepper’s mother owns a fast-food chain called Big League Burger. It used to be a mom and pop place in Nashville, but when it got popular, it expanded throughout the country, leading to Pepper and her mom trading in country life for the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Jack attends the same fancy private school as Pepper, but he doesn’t have the same money as his classmates. His twin Ethan, mom, dad and grandma, all run a deli called Girl Cheesing in the East Village. They are famous for their Grandma’s special grilled cheese sandwiches.

One day Jack wakes up to find out that Big League Burger stole Girl Cheesing’s special grilled cheese recipe. Out of anger, he starts a Twitter war with Big League Burger. Big League Burger replies instantly, starting a back and forth that gains national attention through its thousands of retweets. Little does Jack know that his classmate, Pepper, is behind most of the criticizing tweets.

At the same time, since Pepper is on the swim team and Jack is on the dive team, the two find their lives intertwined. The two end up realizing quickly that the other is behind the tweets and they agree to keep things as civil as possible. Except, Pepper’s mother keeps trying to be hostile. Plus, the internet found out who the two people behind the accounts are and it seems the whole country starts shipping Jack and Pepper. Will these two be able to start a real relationship, or will the conflict between their parents over business and twitter war cause an irrevocable rift?

We had high expectations going into this. The summary sounded cute and the reviews so far have been great. But, we were left disappointed. This book can be described best as cheesy (pun not intended). First of all, their names are Pepper and Jack (pepperjack cheese) and the war is over a grilled cheeses recipe. Second, Pepper’s mom was the worst! She wanted her daughter to forgo school responsibilities to tweet for her company, when she has a hired social media team. Third, there wasn’t a ton of character development. We didn’t feel like we got a sense of who Pepper was. She liked making dessert and was described as a constant over-achiever, but she lacked depth.

However, we did like Jack’s character a lot and his point of view was much more interesting to read. He felt his family had his life planned for him by wanting him to take over the Deli. Plus, he struggled with having a popular identical twin, who everyone mistook him for. He had to work hard to be seen as an individual.

Overall, this was a fun and lighthearted story, but don’t expect any plot twists or tons of swoon-worthy chemistry. It’s a quick read with a decent ending that resolves everything. Tweet Cute will be released on January 21, 2020. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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After fleeing her coven for the city of Cesarine two years ago, Louise le Blanc (Lou) has been living as a thief, using her quick wit and intellect to survive. In Belterra, magic is forbidden and white witches are hunted by the Chasseurs, witch hunters who have sworn allegiance to the Church. Lou and her best friend, Coco— a blood witch— are looking to pull of a heist: stealing a magical ring from a powerful Vicomte. The ring is the last chance Lou has to protect herself from her coven, because with every day that passes, they grow closer to catching her. 

After a run in with broody Chasseur, Reid Diggory, turns into a potential embarrassment (read: compromising situation) for the Church, Lou and Reid are forced to marry. The only problem? Chasseurs live by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. A war is brewing between witches and the Church, and Lou is caught in the middle. As she grows closer to Reid, she risks exposing herself to a man that has sworn to kill her. When the witches reveal their hand, Lou and Reid are sucked into a dangerous game— one that may change their lives forever. 

Serpent & Dove is the first book in the series by Mahurin…and boy did we love this book! It had everything we love: excellent world building, dimensional characters, romance and witty banter. The side characters, Ansel, Coco, the Archbishop, and Madame Labelle, were excellent and played pivotal roles in the book. Lou and Reid were also fabulous main characters and we really enjoyed that the book had multiple point of views. This technique helped us to better understand their inner thoughts and feelings. Their chemistry was off the charts and if you love a good hate-to-love trope, then this is the book for you! It definitely gave us A Court of Thorns and Roses vibes. 

The plot was also spectacular and well-paced. Mahurin did an excellent job of creating a dynamic world and that— combined with the character development— really made a difference in plot development. There were never any boring chapters, and we guarantee you will be left dying for the next one at the end! 

Do yourself a favor and definitely pick this book up in October! 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

October 2019 Book Club: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

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The Book

Our October book club pick is The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh. It will be released on October 8, 2019.

Why did we pick this book?

This book looks like the perfect read for October! It’s full of magic, secret societies and history. The setting of 1870s New Orleans adds a fun twist. Plus, who can resist a good murder mystery this time of year?

What is this book about?

Set in 1872, New Orleans is controlled by the dead. Celine Rousseau moves to the city from Paris, where she learns of the world of La Cour De Lions, an underworld organization. When bodies start showing up, Celine grows suspicious of the organization’s leader, Sebastian. Dark secrets are revealed and Celine must put herself in danger to figure out the unsolved murders. 

What other YA books has this author written?

She wrote the Wrath and the Dawn series and Flame in the Mist series.

31 YA Books to Read Before Halloween

Do you love all the spookiness of October? So do we! To celebrate our six month anniversary of blogging, we compiled a list of thrillers and mysteries to satisfy your book needs for the entire month. Leave a comment if you’ve read any of these and tell us your favorites. Happy Halloween!

1. The Secret Circle series by L.J Smith

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You can’t have Halloween without witches. The witches from the Secret Circle series live in the eerie town of New Salem, Massachusetts. Cassie Blake moves to  town and suddenly she’s thrown into a world of magic and danger. She always believed she was a normal teenager, until she meets the circle, a group of 11 other witches who need Cassie to complete their group.

Follow Cassie as she discovers the dangerous secrets of her past and tries to stop a killer from destroying the town. These books have everything from magic to mystery to romance. 

2. Vampire Academy

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Vampire Academy is a cult YA series about Rose Hathaway, a teen with human and vampire blood– a dhampir. Rose attends St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-in-training. After two years on the run protecting her best friend, Lissa– a mortal Moroi vampire princess with the rare gift for harnessing earth magic–, the duo returns to St. Vladimir’s after coming under attack by Strigoi, immortal (read: evil) vampires. Along the way, Rose falls for her hunky instructor, Dimitri, and finds herself in constant danger when the Strigoi begin targeting Moroi and dhampir. 

This book has it all– vampires, romance, and action! The characters are extremely well developed and memorable, and the series is so popular it got a spin-off called the Bloodlines series. The plot is also exceptionally written, and the world building sucks you in! 

3. The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Small town murder mysteries are also a must. The Dead List tells the story of Ella, an average American teen trying to finish her senior year of high school in one piece…quite literally. There is a killer on the loose, and he is after Ella. This novel can best be described as IT meets Criminal Minds, and we could not be more about it.

4. Season of the Witch (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan

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If you love the hit Netflix show, read the book that acts as a prequel. Brennan tells Sabrina’s story as she prepares for her 16th birthday and signing her name away in the book of the beast. She tries her best to balance being a teenager with her friends and a dark witch with her family. Since part 3 won’t be back in time for Halloween, get your CAOS fix from this book.

5. The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater

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The Raven Boys is another cult classic YA series…and for good reason! Blue Sargent is clairvoyant. One evening when she goes with her mother to watch the soon-to-be-dead walk into the afterlife, a boy named Gansey speaks directly to her. Gansey, along with his friends from Aglionby Academy (called the Raven boys for their school’s crest), Adam, Ronan, and Noah, are on a quest to find the grave of The Raven King. Against her better judgement, Blue helps the boys on their journey, growing closer to Gansey despite the prophecy that she has had since birth: she will cause her true love to die.

This series is full of magic and ghosts. The plot is one of the best developed in the game, and the characters are iconic. Definitely check out The Raven Boys tumblr tag, because it is fabulous! 

6. The Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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Weird things start happening to Ethan Wate.

7. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodki 

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a cult classic among YA readers— and for good reason! Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how she got there. As it turns out, Mara was involved in a horrible accident involving the collapse of an abandoned asylum, which left all of her friends dead. But somehow, Mara survived. She soon discovers that she has the ability to kill people with her mind. Mara meets the dashing (and total swoon worthy bad boy) Noah, and the two attempt to uncover the secrets behind Mara’s accident. 

Wow, this book is a giant, mind-boggling mess….but in the best possible way. The ending revealed a major plot twist and left us wanting more. If possible, the other books in the series are even better than the first. If fact, the series had such a cult following, Hodkin started a companion series told in Noah’s POV. Definitely do not pass on this series! 

8. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

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There are no more cheerleaders left in Sunnybrook, NY. Five years ago, five cheerleaders died within a few weeks of each other. Now, one of the cheerleader’s younger sisters, Monica, believes she doesn’t know everything about their deaths and is determined to find out what really happened. But, that would also mean a killer has been out there for years. Follow this dark and twisted path with Monica as she can finally comes to terms with the tragic events that haunt her childhood. 

9. Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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The Raxter School for Girls has been under quarantine for eighteen months after the Tox began killing teachers and students. The students of Raxter are cut off from the world and must protect themselves from the deadly Tox. The girls are instructed not to go into the woods outside of the school’s fence until a cure arrives from the outside world. When Hetty’s best friend Byatt goes missing, Hetty goes on a quest to find her, breaking the quarantine and risking the lives of her classmates. What she finds outside of Raxter may be darker than she ever imagined. 

This book has taken the YA mystery/dystopia scene by storm and is critically acclaimed. Definitely check this out if mysterious diseases interest you! 

10. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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Resident true crime expert, Stevie Bell, attends the Ellingham Academy— site of the infamous Ellingham kidnappings of the early 1930’s. The case’s only real clue was a mocking riddle signed by ‘Truly Devious.’ Flash forward to modern time, and no one has solved the case— that is, until Stevie Bell makes the decision to attend the Academy with the sole purpose of busting it wide open. Stevie’s plan is complicated when a new murder occurs on campus. Will Stevie solve the mystery of Truly Devious and the latest Ellingham murder before its too late? 

This book literally had us on the edge of our seats wanting more. The second book is even better than the first and we gobbled this story up. Do yourself a favor and read this ASAFP! 

11. All Hallow’s Eve by Vivian Vande Velde

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Who can resist a few terrifying stories in October? This book has 13 short stories to scare the pants off you this month. Think cemeteries, woods and physics. All 13 of these tales take place on Halloween night. If you prefer horror instead of mystery, this book is for you!

12. Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

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You’ve all heard the stories of Jack the Ripper. But what you don’t know is that the case was solved by Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her hot crime-solving romantic interest, Thomas Cresswell. 

This murder mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until Audrey ultimately discovers the culprit. Maniscalco did a great job with the ending, which felt resolved and still left the reader wanting more. She hid little clues about the murderer throughout the novel while still leaving an air of mystery. As a reader, we could tell that Maniscalco did her research into the Jack the Ripper story— all the details were woven together very nicely and felt realistic.

13. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

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Basically, the breakfast club with murder. Five students go into detention and only four come out alive. Simon, creator of the school’s gossip App, doesn’t make it out of that classroom alive. Now, four very different classmates must work together to solve the mystery unless they want to take the blame for it.

Read this book in 2019 because its companion, One of Us is Next, is set to release in January 2020. 

14. Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

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There is something spooky about the small town of Broken Falls, Wisconsin. Kacey moves to town with her dad and step mother and almost immediately, two girls named Bailey and Jade invite Kacey to be a part of their clique. One night Bailey goes missing and never returns. It’s up to Kacey to find out what really happened and learn that these so-called friends might have been hiding some dark secrets this entire time. 

15. The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

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Amateur detective Seneca Fraizer spends most of her free time on Case not Closed, a website for unsolved crimes. One day Aerin Kelly posts on the site about her sister who disappeared five years ago, Helena. Seneca, along with her online friends from the website meet up to help Aerin get closure. Throughout the three-book series, this group discovers a much more threatening serial killer than they ever imagined. As it turns out: the group has been connected by one person.

16. Unwind series by Neal Shusterman

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What is Halloween without dystopian fiction? The second U.S. Civil War is fought over reproductive rights. The solution: life is inviolable until the age of 13. Once a child turns 13, parents can have their child unwound. Three different teenagers, Connor, Risa and Lev, come together to stay safe. The chilling four books in the series imagines a horrifying dystopian scenario. These three teenagers try to change the world as they know it, not only to save themselves, but to make sure no child has to experience what they have. 

17. Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

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Mac’s best friend Amy was brutally murdered by a werewolf. With the killer on the loose and anti-werewolf rhetoric at an all-time high, an extremist group called the Trackers arrives in Hemlock to find Amy’s killer. Lupine syndrome has left many in Hemlock infected, forcing them to hide their symptoms. Plagued by nightmares of Amy’s death, Mac sets out to find Amy’s killer before the wolf strikes again. Along the way, she discovers hidden secrets about Hemlock and its inhabitants…secrets that could change her life forever. 

If you love a good werewolf story then this series is for you! The romance was absolutely swoon worthy, and the plot development was terrific. We definitely recommend this series! 

18. The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

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Set in 1872, New Orleans is controlled by the dead. Celine Rousseau moves to the city from Paris, where she learns of the world of La Cour De Lions, an underworld organization. When bodies start showing up, Celine grows suspicious of the organization’s leader, Sebastian. Dark secrets are revealed and Celine must put herself in danger to figure out the unsolved murders. 

This book is set to release on October 8, 2019. We haven’t read it yet, but it is our book club pick for October!

19. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

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The Hex Hall series centers around a teenage witch named Sophie Mercer. After Sophie almost reveals her powers at prom, her estranged dad– a warlock– and her mom– a human– send her to Hex Hall, a reform school for witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. Once at Hex Hall, Sophie befriends a band of characters and finds herself crushing on a swoon-worthy warlock. After students are attacked by a mysterious predator, her roommate– a vampire– becomes the prime suspect. Sophie ventures on a journey with her friends to find the killer…and maybe fall in love along the way! 

This series is great, and the romance between Sophie and her love interest (who we will not reveal due to spoilers) definitely makes this book worth reading. Sophie is a witty character and her chemistry with the other characters is excellent. If you love witches, faeries, and vampires, then this story is for you! 

20. All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick

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Two very different girls receive threatening text messages. Their connection, they are both dating the same guy. Amanda stays with Carter because her parents guilt her into it out of their selfish desire for social climbing. Rosalie uses Carter to hide from her fundamentalist parents that she’s a lesbian. 

The mysterious text messager gives them tasks, to publicly humiliate Carter before his birthday or things will get violent. Tons of twists and turns make this story unforgettable. 

21. Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

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This book will be released on October 8, so definitely check it out! 

Into the Crooked Place is the first book in a two-book YA fantasy series. It takes place in Creije, and follows Tavua, a busker, Wesley, a gangster, Karam, a warrior, and Saxony, a resistance fighter. After Tavia delivers a vial of dark magic to the wrong person, a great conflict breaks out, and these four characters with magical powers must band together to save Creije. 

22. Trouble is a Friend of Mine series by Stephanie Tromly

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One day Digby shows up on Zoe Webster’s doorstep, asking her for help in solving the mystery of his little sister’s disappearance. At first, Zoe is dumbfounded by Digby’s arrogance, dry sense of humor, and overall reckless behavior. Before long, Zoe finds herself sucked into Digby’s scheme to uncover the details behind his sister’s kidnapping. 

The story gave us major Sherlock Holmes vibes, and you won’t want to miss the banter between Digby and Zoe, not to mention the super engaging mystery! You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you piece together the details along with our favorite detective duo. 

23. Crossing the Line (The Raven Files series) by Meghan Rogers

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The tag line for this book reads: “if Jason Bourne were a teenaged girl…” And holy guacamole— there is no more accurate tag line in the history of YA books. The novel tells the story of Jocelyn Steely, who was kidnapped as a child and raised in North Korea as a spy. Her parents were former American spies, but disappeared when Jocelyn was young. Her North Korean handler sends her to the United States with the intent of making Jocelyn a double agent. Her mission is to infiltrate the U.S. intelligence agency— the same agency her parents used to work for. The only problem: Jocelyn’s allegiance to North Korea isn’t as strong as her handlers believe. Will Jocelyn defect to America and solve the mystery of her parents’ disappearance?

At the outset, this book does not appear like your standard thriller. But trust us, this is a very thrilling novel, and it left us on the edge of our seats as we continued to uncover the secrets of Jocelyn’s past. The plot was also super fast paced, and there were lots of “oh shit” moments! 

24. Out of Control by Sarah Alderson

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Liva witnesses a brutal murder and is taken into police custody for her own safety. While relaying her statement, the police station comes under fire by unknown assassins. During the chaos, Liva is saved by a car thief named Jay, who was being held for booking at the cubicle next to her’s. Liva soon realizes that these attacks are not a coincidence, and that someone may be trying to kill her. Jay and Liva go on the run through New York City, trying to uncover who is out to get her. 

This story was incredibly thrilling, and we would definitely recommend it to those of our readers looking for a romantic mystery. The book is definitely on the lighter side, and you will likely gobble it up in one sitting!  

25. The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett 

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Welcome to Eastern Europe in 1937, where Theodora Fox must solve a dark mystery around Vlad the Impaler. She quickly learns that last summer, her father was a hired by a Hungarian man to track down the ring of Vlad the Impaler. Her father believed that three rings were made, one real and two fake, and that one might hold supernatural powers.

Enjoy this past faced historical mystery perfect for this time of year. The side characters include a witch, occultists, and creepy twins who run a traveling antiquities store.

26. Prep School Confidential series by Kara Taylor

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Prep School Confidential is comparable to Truly Devious in that both plot lines involve a murder at a private school. The comparisons stop there, though— we promise! The book’s synopsis labels the story as a cross between Gossip Girl and Twin Peaks, and we have to say this description is spot on. 

After burning down part of her exclusive prep academy on the Upper East Side, queen bee Anne Dowling is sent to a prestigious boarding school on the outskirts of Boston. Anne is less than enthused to be attending the Wheatley School and plans to book a ticket back to NYC at the first chance she gets. Too bad her roommate, Isabella, is found murdered in the woods behind their school shortly after Anne arrives. Together with Isabella’s broody twin brother, Anthony and class hottie, Brent, Anne tries to uncover the mystery behind Isabella’s death. 

27. The Necromancer’s Prison by Alec Whitesell and Craig Bonacorsi

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This YA supernatural thriller is perfect for October. Emily Murphy thought the worst thing that would happen to her that day was being late to her college entrance exam. She never expected the exam to get interrupted by a kidnapping of her classmate and the killing of her teacher by mysterious cloaked people. Emily runs toward the danger, determined to save her classmate, Quinn.

This book was full of surprises. The ending caught us entirely off guard. We don’t want to spoil it, but trust us, it is hard to predict Emily’s journey. Be careful who you trust!

28. The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 

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The Naturals tells the story of gifted seventeen-year-old profiler, Cassie, who is recruited with other teens for the FBI’s newest project, the Naturals program. The Naturals program recruits only the best and brightest teens. Their task? Unlocking infamous cold cases using their special talents. Among the cast of characters is sarcastic Michael, who can read emotions, and broody Dean, who is also a gifted profiler. When a killer strikes, Cassie is sucked into a dangerous case that closely resembles that of her own mother’s murder a decade earlier. 

This story was very well written! The author is a psychiatrist, so Barnes infuses the story with insights into profiling. We love a good murder mystery, and this book did not disappoint! The love triangle, unlike most in YA novels, was tolerable and we found ourselves liking both of Cassie’s prospective men. 

29. Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

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There’s something spooky about Autumn in New England, especially in the small town of Echo Ridge, Vermont. Ellery and Ezra are shipped off to live with their grandmother in this small town when their mother is sent to rehab. More than 20 years ago, their mom’s sister disappeared. Five years ago, another girl was found murdered. Soon after Ellery and Ezra arrive, another girl goes missing.

As a true crime fanatic, Ellery, along with new friends, is determined to find out who is tormenting the town and to see if this person is connected with the past crimes. But, Ellery puts herself into a lot of danger and realizes her past might be more connected to the killer than she ever thought possible. 

30. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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Pass the tests and you’re the creme de la creme of society. Fail the tests and you’re never heard from again. Cia Vale always wanted to participate in the testing. But once it begins, Cia realizes that shes not only fighting for a spot at the university, she’s fighting for her life. The people who run the test don’t want their secrets learned and they will do anything to keep members of society subservient. 

31. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Aremntrout

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Samantha wakes up from a horrible accident with amnesia. She has no idea how she came to be involved in the horrible accident that led to the death of her best friend, Cassie. Before the accident, Samantha had the perfect life: the hottest boyfriend, endless wealth, and a posse of friends. After she wakes up, Cassie tries to reinvent herself, and grows closer to Cassie’s brother while the two try to piece together the night of Cassie’s death. 

This book had a very shocking ending, and, like The Dead List, was superbly written. The mystery was engaging and left you dying (pun intended) to piece together the night of Cassie’s death. Definitely snag this one if you are looking for an excellent thriller with an equally stellar romance! 

Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

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*We received this book in exchange for an honest review*

Istanbul, Turkey. The year is 1937. Theodora Fox’s tutor has just quit, running off with her money and any hope of leaving this godforsaken city. To top it off, she’s alone and hasn’t heard a peep from her father in days, even though he promised to be back by now. 

When she arrives back at the hotel after an unfortunate mix-up involving the Turkish authorities, a surprise is waiting in her room. A surprise named Huck Gallagher, aka Huck. The boy who left without a word last year. The boy who broke her heart. The boy she’d never thought she’d see again after a terrible event she now calls “Black Sunday.” 

Turns out, her father had not only been in contact with Huck since that fateful Sunday, but also lured him into joining his idiotic adventure in Turkey— without a word to Theo on the subject. When Huck returns to Istanbul without her father in tow, Theo realizes something is wrong— really wrong—  and that her father is in trouble. Honoring his word to her father, Huck promises to take Theo to the planned meeting place in Romania— but nothing goes to plan. Armed with her father’s journal, Theo must decipher his notes and piece together the details of his secret adventure. 

She quickly learns that last summer, her father was a hired by a Hungarian man to track down the ring of Vlad the Impaler. Her father believed that three rings were made, one real and two fake, and that one might hold supernatural powers. 

On the way to Romania, men have been tracking Theodora and Huck, forcing them to abandon the train and fight for survival in both the Bulgarian and Romanian wilderness. When they finally make it to Bucharest, Theodora’s father has not been seen or heard from. Huck wants to get Theodora to safety, but she is determined to find her father and solve the mystery of the ring using his journal. 

Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and the truth about the rings may be darker and more surprising than Theodora thought possible. In a freighting game of cat and mouse across Eastern Europe, Theo learns about the past of the infamous Dracula. 

Regular readers know that we read Jenn Bennett’s YA Contemporaries, so we were ecstatic to see her write Historical Fiction. This book is non-stop excitement with a plot that moves at a rapid pace. You’ll quickly be cheering Theodora on as she discovers history’s hidden secrets before anyone else. Bennett did an excellent job of weaving in historical context throughout the book, and we were captivated by her engaging writing style. 

The romance also added a nice touch to the book. Theodora and Huck have unresolved feelings from the last year, which play an important role in the story. The two have to learn to trust each other again as men from a secret society are trying to kill them. In between the violence and mystery, they realize how horrible it was to be without each other. Also, we must say that they had hilarious banter and their chemistry was palpable. Their romance gave us major Alex, Approximately vibes in this respect. 

The side characters and plot development were also fabulous. We came to sympathize with Theo and really understood her complicated relationship with her father, who is not always present in her life. The side characters include a witch, occultists, and creepy twins who run a traveling antiquities store.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this mystery just in time before Halloween. Fans of Kerri Maniscalco will love the mix of history and suspense. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Our Favorite Jennifer L. Armentrout Books!

In honor of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s upcoming release, we have made a ranked list of our favorite JLA novels. Check out JLA’s newest book, The Burning Shadow, out on October 8th! 

**Note: since JLA is a writing goddess, she has a lot of books, most of which are series. For the purposes of this list, we grouped her series together instead of listing out individual books. For example, JLA’s novel, Half-Blood, is group with the Covenant series, ect. Also, we are only ranking JLA’s YA novels, though, she has written many romance and New Adult books if those are more your speed! 

Claire had the honor of meeting JLA at her YA/Romance book convention, Apollycon, and she was the sweetest human! JLA is one of our favorite authors, and all of her books are worth checking out 🙂 We hope you enjoy them the way we have! 

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1.) The Covenant series 

This was the first JLA series we both read, and trust us when we say it is fabulous! Claire ranks this series in her top five favorite books of all time. The series is a mix of action, Greek mythology, and romance. What would happen if Greek gods and mortals produced children? Well, in this story, it is definitely possible, and their descendants are called hematoi. 

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria is a half-blood, the daughter of a pure blood hematoi and a human. Alexandria attends the Covenant, a special school for pure bloods and half bloods, located in North Carolina. Half-bloods can either train to become Sentinels who hunt daimons or become servants in the homes of pure bloods. After her mom– a pure blood– is captured by daimons, Alex will stop at nothing to get her back. Along the way, she falls for her hunky instructor, Aidan (*Swoon*) and discovers she has some crazy freaky powers. As it turns out, Alexandria’s fate was written by the Gods, and her life changes forever once she discovers the secrets behind her powers. 

This series is action packed from start to finish! You will find yourself completely immersed in the story, and we guarantee each book will leave you dying for the next. The romance in this series is A+++, and Aidan is one of Claire’s top YA love interests of all time. The ending to the series was also beautiful. Do yourself a favor and definitely pick this series up! 

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2.) The Dark Elements series 

The Dark Elements series is a New York Times Bestseller…and for good reason!  Layla is a half-demon, half-gargoyle, living with Wardens, a race of gargoyles who hunt demons. One of her housemates is Zayne, her protector, whom she also happens to be in love with. The only problem is that he thinks of her as a little sister that needs constant protection. Why? Because Layla has powers no other Warden possesses, and demons will stop at nothing to hunt her down. Layla’s kiss will kill anyone with a soul. Her sheltered life is changed forever when she meets Roth, a demon harboring major secrets. Together, Layla and Roth work to stop a violent demon uprising…while falling in love along the way. 

This series is excellent! Arguably JLA’s most popular series, the Dark Element novels have excellent characters and plot. In fact, the series was so popular that JLA made a spin off series focusing on Zayne (spoiler alert: Zayne does not come out on top in this love triangle– sorry!). Roth is hands down one of the best YA love interests, and, like all of JLA’s love interests, he is witty and broody– the best combo! 

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3.) The Origin series 

The Origin series is a spin-off of the Lux series (to be discussed below). The series tells the story of Evie Dasher, a seventeen-year-old who is caught in a raid at a club for humans and Luxen, an alien race who has settled on earth. Evie is rescued from being arrested by Luc, the club’s mysterious owner. Evie thinks he is a Luxen, but he is much more powerful than she ever thought. After students at her high school are found murdered, her town thinks the Luxen have begun attacking students. When the killer targets Evie, she finds herself drawn closer to Luc for protection. As the two work to find the killer, Evie discovers secrets about her past that will change her life forever. 

The Origin series is well written and, for being a spin off series, does an excellent job of world building without assuming the reader is familiar with the Lux novels. The romance between Evie and Luc is fantastic, and, in usual JLA fashion, Luc is totally swoon worthy. Evie was also a total bad ass, and we found ourselves relating to her on many levels. We prefer this series (although unfinished) to the Lux novels because the latter series got very cliche as the books went on. We hope this series does not follow the same path! 

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4.) The Dead List 

The Dead List tells the story of Ella, an average American teen trying to finish her senior year of high school in one piece…quite literally. There is a killer on the loose, and he is after Ella. This novel can best be described as IT meets Criminal Minds, and we could not be more about it. 

We definitely recommend this book for the mystery lovers out there. To top it off, the romance in this book is top notch! You will find yourself swooning…and then running to make sure every window and door is locked. Fun fact about this book: JLA originally published the story for free on Wattpad, but fans were so obsessed with the story that they demanded she publish the book! So yeah, the story is that good—trust us!

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5.) Don’t Look Back 

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout tells the story of mean girl, Samantha, who wakes up from a horrible accident with amnesia. She has no idea how she came to be involved in the horrible accident that led to the death of her best friend, Cassie. Before the accident, Samantha had the perfect life: the hottest boyfriend, endless wealth, and a posse of friends. After she wakes up, Cassie tries to reinvent herself, and grows closer to Cassie’s brother while the two try to piece together the night of Cassie’s death. 

This book had a very shocking ending, and, like The Dead List, was superbly written. The mystery was engaging and left you dying (pun intended) to piece together the night of Cassie’s death. We also loved the romance between Samantha and Cassie’s brother, Carson. Definitely snag this one if you are looking for an excellent thriller with an equally stellar romance! 

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6.) Lux Series 

If you like sci-fi, then this is the series for you! The Lux series tells the story of Katy, a teenager who just moved to the middle of nowhere West Virginia. Katy is your average teenager…until her new neighbors, Daemon and Dee, change life as she knows it. You see, Katy’s neighbors are not human, they are Luxen, an alien race that has resettled on earth after their planet was destroyed by a rival alien race. The Department of Defense resettles Luxen among the human population and ensures they live “normal” lives undetected. While being attacked by a stranger in a parking lot, Daemon comes to Katy’s rescue, and soon Katy finds herself sucked into the dangerous life of the Luxen. 

This series is great, and it definitely will fulfill all of your swoon-worthy romance needs! The only real issue, though minor, is that the last two books of this series were on the cheesier side. However, the banter and character development in these books is top-notch and more than makes up for it! 

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7.) If There’s No Tomorrow 

Lena is ready for her senior year of high school. Her biggest problem is that she is in love with her best friend Sebastian and she doesn’t believe her feelings are reciprocated. Then one night after a fight with Sebastian, Lena makes the decision to get into a car with a drunk driver. One decision changed her life forever and she can never take it back. 

Armentrout teaches an important lesson on consequences of actions. Lena has to live with her bad choice forever and learn how to move on. We liked the character depth in this book, especially the relationship between Lena and Sebastian. If you’re looking for a super happy book, leave this one alone. If you want to read about real issues teens face, pick this one up and get ready for an emotional roller coaster. 

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8.) Harbinger series 

The first book in the Harbinger series, Storm and Fury, was recently released in summer 2019 as a spin-off to the Dark Elements series. The Harbinger series focuses on Zayne, the loser of the Roth-Layla-Zayne love triangle from the the earlier series. We admit, this was not our favorite of JLA’s series simply because we are not the biggest Zayne fans. We found him to be a bit boring, and thought he lacked the same broodiness and wittiness that Roth had. That being said, this is still an excellent book and will be sure to entertain you! 

Trinity is a seventeen-year-old teenager, who is also going blind. Despite her vision impairment, Trinity has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. In an effort to keep her special ability under wraps, Trinity has been hidden on a secret Warden– gargoyles who protect the world from demons– compound. Trinity’s powers make her susceptible to a demon attack, and after demons breach the compound, she is forced to work with Zayne to uncover the secrets behind her special powers.  

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9.) The Problem with Forever 

The Problem with Forever is a standalone novel about a teen named Mallory, who, after years of homeschooling, decides to take the plunge and attend public school. All her life, Mallory has kept her head down, developing in a quiet and shy teen. While at school, she reconnects with Rider Stark, her childhood friend and protector from her days in foster care. But Rider has dark secrets, secrets that risk changing Mallory’s life forever. Mallory’s adoptive parents hardly approve of her budding romance with Rider, but Mallory is determined to help him no matter the cost. 

This is an excellent standalone novel, and it is one of JLA’s more serious books, as Mallory and Rider were part of the foster system and both have troubled lives. Though the story deals with serious topics, a very sweet romance develops between Mallory and Rider. If you are a fan of sweet romances, this is the book for you!

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10.) Cursed 

Cursed is the one novel by JLA that we did not love–like, at all. The story centers around a teenage girl named Ember McWilliams, who, after surviving a fatal car crash, discovers she has the power to kill people with her touch. Ember meets Hayden Cromwell, who thinks her curse is a gift and offers to get her powers under control with the help of his adoptive father. The only problem is that Ember gets major creeper vibes from Hayden’s adoptive father, as she thinks he is singling out children with special abilities for his own evil devices. 

To be honest, the romance between Ember and Hayden was lackluster, and the character development was sub-par. Overall, this novel was super boring, and lacked the certain charm that all of JLA’s other books have. The story had so much potential (special powers, hot boys– who wouldn’t want to read this?!), but the approach was flawed. Do yourself a favor and pass on this one!