Booknerd Wednesday: My TBR’d YA Mystery-Thrillers! #YAWeek

I’ll be honest, I enjoy YA fiction, even though, I am no longer included in the targeted demographic and haven’t been for almost two decades a while. You know what…let’s not get into specifics about ages and dates. Those are all technicalities.

Sometimes I can feel a little bit weird when I have some interest in a YA books. A feeling of “I know I’m 32, but please don’t judge me for reading this” can wash over me from time to time.

30 rock hello GIF

I try to let myself like what I like, but there is a sense that YA is my “guilty pleasure” because it’s really not intended for me. And sometimes it’s painfully obvious that I am not intended for it.

I can also feel a little bit weird in reviewing YA books, because usually if the book didn’t work for me it’s because the 16-year-old main character says/thinks something along the lines of, “I’m not child!” And I immediately think, “oh, yes you are young lady!

Or the 18-year-old who works at a grocery store part time is decorating her warehouse style loft apartment and it’s total bullshit because I didn’t buy my first piece of new furniture until I was 30 years old. That sense of utter and complete bullshit about how teenager on their own would truly live annoys me because no one ever plays within the boundaries of real life, at least not of what I’ve read so far.

the simpsons adult GIF

Nevertheless, I remain dedicated to my search for an amazing YA mystery-thriller that I actually like, that feels honest and genuine and manages to pull some punches on someone who is hard to please. (Me. That’s me who’s hard to please.)

In honour of #YAWeek, I’m going to be taking a look at what’s floating around my YA TBR pile; what books I’ve come across and thought, “yes, you could be THE ONE.”

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Review: The Lies They Tell by Gillian French

35887572★★½

Opening Hook: Rich people get lit (on fire.)

Main Character: A copy of a copy of a copy…

Plot Twisty-ness: Kiddie-rollercoaster levels.


I was really hoping this was going to be sweaty, atmospheric summer thriller. But I only got 1 out of 2 from that list.

Depending on what’s important to you – the atmosphere or the thrills – you’re either going to love this or not.

Immediately upon starting this I got a Revenge meets Gossip Girl meets Riverdale vibe. It’s got that spoiled teens with no adult supervision in the Hamptons thing going on.

It’s very rich versus poor. The pool owners and the pool cleaners. The haves and the have-nots.

The novel opens with a bang, so to speak, when the Haves suffer a tragedy the year prior – the Garrison estate goes up in flames, killing four members of the family. The only survivor is their teenage son, Tristan. The town is straight shooketh, casting blame and suspicion on the members of the Have Nots, because of course the poor people want to kill the “elites.” Right, ‘Murica?

the kingsmen laughing GIF by Collider

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Review: The Girl I Use to Be by April Henry

25944786★★

I’ve yet to read a YA mystery-thriller that really works for me. I’m looking for logic. And if there can’t be logic, I’m looking for it to not take itself so seriously.

I picked up this book because April Henry is one of my youngest stepkid’s favourite authors. I have been asked, for what seems like years, to read her books. Which is super sweet that the kid wants to share that with me, but at the same time, I’m really bad at pretending to care about something.

But I’m going to have to act like I liked this as not to disappoint and emotionally scar this young person in my full-time care. I don’t want to be dismissive.

So at home I LOVED THIS AND I CAN TOTALLY SEE WHY YOU LOVE THIS AUTHOR AND WANTED TO SHARE IT WITH ME.

But, here, which is technically my private space (that is also accessible to anyone with an internet connection), I did not like this.

Not because it’s bad. But because I’m the wrong audience for it. My brain is way too rational. I require a book to make honest-to-life-sense, unless it’s purposefully setting itself up to be campy.

The Girl I Used to Be takes itself too seriously.

And I hate to say this, but I think my age stops me from being able to buy whatever shit an author wants to throw at me. Don’t worry about this illogical inconsistency, just enjoy. I CAN’T.

Continue reading “Review: The Girl I Use to Be by April Henry”