Blogtober Day Fourteen: If You Liked This, Then Read That

Hello, lovelies! I have had some great fun doing the ‘if you liked this book, then try that one’ in the past. So, no big surprise, here I am to do it again today. Today’s comparisons are all going to be recommendations for spooky season. Hopefully, you’ve read some of these so that you can try the books I’d recommend next.

If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers, you will probably like The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. Sadie follows a young girl named Sadie who is bent on finding her sisters killer and bringing him to justice. While we’re following that story from Sadie’s point of view, we’re listening to West’s podcast which is trying to find the truth about what ultimately happened to Sadie. The Night Swim follows Rachel who has a well known true crime podcast. For her third season, she will be covering an on going court case, a rape trial. While she’s in this small town, she’s approached via letters by someone who grew up there. Her sister was murdered in that town years and years ago, but it was ruled an accidental drowning. I think these stories are comparable because of the podcast element (I did the audiobooks for both of these and would recommend that you do too). Both books also cover some really heavy topics like murder, sexual assault, and rape.

If you liked Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, then you should try The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Home Before Dark is the story of Maggie alternating between the past and the present. Her father has died and she’s learned that she now owns Baneberry Hall (the house her family fled when she was a child). Her father wrote a non-fiction book about their time at Baneberry Hall (the book is what we get in the past parts of the story). There are so many secrets and deceptions about this book that Maggie’s determined to go back to Baneberry Hall and finally get to the truth for herself. The Sun Down Motel follows Carly, in present day, and Viv, in 1982. Viv went missing and was never found, this is something that her niece, Carly has fixated on. We follow Carly as she follows in her Aunt Viv’s path, coming to the town of Fell, working nights at the Sun Down Motel, trying to solve a mystery. Both of these books have the element of ‘is it ghosts or is there a logical explanation’ which is apparently a horror/mystery trope that I really like. Both stories also give us alternating chapters from the past and the present, with the present reflecting events that happened in the past. If you like spooky murder houses (or motels) you’ll probably like these books.

If you liked They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman, you might like How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao. They Wish They Were Us takes place at an expensive prep school with a “secret” society that everyone knows about. Jill’s best friend died in their Freshman year. Now she’s a senior and it’s her turn to be in charge in this secret group. She’s vowed that she will do things differently. But she’s starting to suspect that her best friends killer might actually be innocent and if he is, then who actually killed her best friend? How We Fall Apart also takes place in an elite prep school. Nancy’s best friend goes missing, and later is found dead. Nancy’s friend group each have secrets, so when an anonymous person named “The Proctor” starts revealing these secrets, the friends band together to try to uncover The Proctor’s identity. The common element for these books is exclusive prep schools and murder. They were both relatively fast paced stories who’s twists I did not guess.

If you liked Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, you will probably like Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. Small Favors goes through the seasons of a year. And over this year, strange things are happening in the small town she lives in. They’re surrounded by a forest that has legends of being filled with monsters. It’s been years since anyone has seen these monsters, but they might be returning. People are dying and things are getting weirder as the seasons are changing. This book was just full of weirdness in the best way. Plain Bad Heroines follows a few different time periods, but all taking place in the same place: a creepy house/school. This house might actually be cursed. Murder and mystery are what this house is all about and unraveling what’s real and what isn’t is absolutely the appeal of the story. Both of these books follow creepy, atmospheric settings where people are dying and the reason why is unclear.

If you liked Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw, then you should try Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. Winterwood is about a magical (maybe even haunted) forest. Nora and the women in her family have a special connection with this forest. When a boy survives his time in the forest, Nora needs to find out what really happened. Wild Beauty is about a lush garden estate that is cared for by the Nomeolvides family. They all have flower magic. But their curse is that the men they love always leave them. Until one day, the gardens give them a boy instead of taking one. Both of these stories involve magical nature. They also involve boys mysteriously appearing from the flowers and the forest. I think the biggest difference is that Wild Beauty is a story that feels like spring and Winterwood is a fall/winter story. Both are magical and mysterious.

These are the books that I’ve chosen for comparison and recommendation today. Have you read any of these? Would you agree or disagree with any of my comparisons? Are there any books that you would recommend with the books I’ve chosen? Let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Project by Courtney Summers

GoodReads Summary:
Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.
When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.
The ProjectReview:
Thank you, NetGalley and the publishers for providing me this eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Project is one of my anticipated release for 2021. Summer’s books have been hit or miss for me, but the premise of this one had me very intrigued.
The way this story was told was very interesting. There are a few different points of view that tell the story. The first is Bea, told in the third person, as her younger sister (Lo) is born. Then it flashes forward twelve years, still in Bea’s perspective, then forward again six more years, where the story changes to a first-person narrative, but now it’s Lo telling the story. This was a little bit confusing at first. The change from this person to first was abrupt and the jumps forward in time left me wondering who the story was following now and what had happened in the last six years. As the story went on, I ended up really enjoying the fact that the story was told this way. It continued to go back and forth between Lo’s present perspective and Bea’s perspective in the past. The way their stories ended up so similar, with one big difference, was absolutely fascinating.
I think both Bea and Lo were such compelling characters. Lo has so much anger in her but still ends up on a similar path as Bea. Bea on the other hand was filled with gratitude that led her to her downfall.
Overall, I don’t know that I would say I liked this book. It was an absolutely riveting story. One that I had to read in one sitting, staying up way past when I should have gone to bed of course. But it was filled with things that made me uncomfortable. There are relationships with large age differences, not that this itself is bad, but the dynamics of the two relationships were gross (as was the intention, I think). I went into this book unsure what to expect and ended up sucked into the story and left with one question: What the fuck?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eighteen: If You Liked This, Then Read That

Hey, lovelies! I want to start by saying a big thank you to my favorite human, Alana (find her here!), for helping think of this post idea. Today I am going to be recommending some books that are all great for October. I thought it would be fun to recommend books based off of other books. So, this will be a ‘if you liked this book, try that book’ kind of post, but they’re all books that would be great to read during the spooky season.

If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers then you should try I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan. Sadie is a girl that is trying to find out what happened to her younger sister. At the same time, we get chapters that are written in the format of a podcast (which is why the audiobook is so great). The podcast is several months after Sadie’s chapters and it’s trying to find out what happened to her. I Hope You’re Listening follows Dee. Ten years ago, she saw her best friend abducted. In the present timeline, a new family moved into her best friends old house and the young girl that lives there is kidnapped. Dee is equally horrified and fascinated. One of the thing’s Dee did to move on from seeing her best friend kidnapped was to start a podcast that focuses on current kidnapping cases. She brings awareness to current cases and directs the internet to see if they can find anything that might help solve these cases. These two books both follow young girls that have dealt with loss. They both also have taken to trying to find the truth themselves or with the help of others. Also, both have podcasts. I really enjoyed both of these books and I think you will too.

If you liked Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power you might like The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Burn Our Bodies Down follows Margot, who has always been desperate for family outside of her mother. So, when she finds out that she has a grandmother she travels to meet her. Things get weird at her grandmothers house. Margot realizes that she is surrounded by secrets and she’s desperate to get to the truth. The Roanoke Girls is about Lane moving in with her grandparents after her mother commits suicide. The women in this family have either left and not been heard from again or they’re dead. This family is full of secrets and Lane can’t help but run when she learns the truth. But she returns when she hears here cousin, Allegra, is now missing. These two books are both full of family secrets and young girls that are determined to learn the truth, but the truths they discover might be more than they bargained for. I loved Burn Our Bodies Down and mostly liked The Roanoke Girls but they definitely have some common elements.

If you liked Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson you will probably like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. Truly Devious follows Stevie after she’s been accepted to the famous Ellingham Academy in Vermont. Stevie is determined to solve the schools cold case. The founders wife and daughter were kidnapped shortly after the school opened. While she’s working on that, one of her fellow students is murdered. There is more going on at this school that Stevie realizes. A Study in Charlotte is a Sherlock Holmes retelling of sorts. It follows Charlotte and Jamie who are descendants of Holmes and Watson. They end up going to the same boarding school where they are being framed for murder. These two books obviously have the boarding school in common. But they also both are filled with diverse characters and murders that aren’t quite what they seem. They also both have complicated romances that I absolutely adore.

If you liked Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus you should try Little Monsters by Kara Thomas. Two Can Keep a Secret is the story of Ellery moving to her mother’s home town to live with her grandmother. Her aunt went missing years and years ago and five years ago, the homecoming queen was killed. Someone is making threats. Threats that say this will be the most dangerous homecoming season in five years. The threats aren’t taken seriously until a girl goes missing. There are all kinds of secrets in this town and they’re all going to come to light. Little Monsters follows Kacey after she moves to a new town to live with her dad and his new family. She suddenly has a stepmother, a stepbrother, and a half sister. She almost doesn’t trust the calm when she settles into her new life and makes friends with Jade and Bailey. Then Bailey disappears, and everyone is looking to Kacey for answers. She doesn’t know if there is anyone she can trust anymore. So, these two stories both follow girls that have not so great mothers that cause them to move to new towns. In those new towns, things are probably not as perfect as they seem at first look. I liked both of these, but I cannot recommend Little Monsters enough and I wish more people talked about it.

If you liked A Million Junes by Emily Henry you might like We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund. A Million Junes follows June who is dealing with the grief of losing her father. The one rule that’s been instilled in her is to stay away from the Angerts. But when Saul comes back to town, there’s just something about him that she can’t stay away from. The two join together to figure out what the truth behind their family feud is. They find magic, ghosts, and secrets. We Speak in Storms is the story of three characters, Joshua, Brenna, and Callie. It’s been 50 years since the tornado that destroyed the drive-in movie theatre, and on it’s fiftieth anniversary another tornado comes. The three main characters are all outsiders and they’ve been brought together when they don’t know that they need it. They work together to solve their problems and the problems of the past. I chose these two together because they both involve ghosts and history that needs to be righted.

These are the ten books I’ve chosen for my first attempt at ‘if you like this book then try that one’. I hope you agree with my choices because I had so much fun picking out comparisons for some of the more well known books. I tried to highlight books that I don’t often see anyone talking about. I enjoyed these books very much and I hope you will too. Do you have any books that you think would work for these comparisons?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

GoodReads Summary:
When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.
Cracked Up to BeReview:
In the new introduction that Courtney Summers added when this book was published again, she mentions that Parker is a hugely unlikeable character. This is so true. She’s self-destructive and beyond unlikeable. She was pretty relatable because I was pretty self-destructive when I was her age. I liked that she had friends (sort of) that were there and tried to keep her accountable.
This book was almost hard to read, but the mystery and suspense of the flashbacks (which led up to why Parker went from head bitch to almost drop out) kept me interested. I really wanted to know what Parker went through to cause this change. I was a little disappointed with the reveal. It was a terrible thing, but really, she did a terrible thing. She didn’t look out for her friend and that just made me mad. It made me angry with an already unlikable character.
Overall, this was a pretty quick read. If you like Courtney Summer’s other books, you’ll probably like this one too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary:
When popular radio personality West McCray receives a desperate phone call from a stranger imploring him to find nineteen-year-old runaway Sadie Hunter, he’s not convinced there’s a story there; girls go missing all the time. But as soon as West’s boss discovers Sadie fled home after the brutal murder of her little sister, Mattie, he sees the makings of something big and orders West to the small town of Cold Creek, Colorado, to uncover what happened.
Sadie has no idea that her story will soon become the subject of a blockbuster podcast. She just wants revenge. Armed with a switchblade, Sadie follows a meager set of clues hoping they’ll lead to the man who took Mattie’s life because she’s determined to make him pay for it with his own. But as West traces her journey to the darkest, most dangerous corners of big cities and small towns, a deeply unsettling mystery begins to unfold-one that’s bigger than them both. Can he find Sadie before it’s too late?
Alternating between Sadie’s unflinching voice as she hunts the killer and the podcast transcripts tracking the clues she’s left behind, Sadie, is a breathless thriller about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love and the high price we pay when we can’t. It will haunt you long after you reach the final page.
Review:
After hearing the endless hype for Sadie, I finally bought the book when it was on sale for black Friday. Shortly after buying it, my library informed me that they went ahead and bought the audiobook at my request. So, this led me to wait for the audiobook to be available instead of reading the physical book because I have heard nothing but good things about the audiobook. None of those things I heard were wrong. The audiobook and the story were so so much more than I ever expected.
This story follows two alternating perspectives. The first we follow is Sadie. We follow Sadie as she’s trying to deal with losing her sister, the one person she lived for. Sadie spent her life doing everything for Mattie. Taking care of her sister was her life’s purpose. I think I really related to Sadie because my own mother is one that struggles with addiction and wasn’t around for much of my life. So I know how Sadie feels toward her mother and I could understand those feelings. I cannot imagine what it wo0uld be like to lose a sibling like she did, in such a gruesome manner. I would be inconsolable and would likely attempt revenge, just like Sadie. Following Sadie on this mission was hard because it took Sadie to some dark places both physically and mentally. She had some dark thoughts, including but not limited to murder. I think that was one of the things I liked about this book. It was a mystery/thriller but the darker themes within it really made it just that much more exciting.
The second perspective we follow is West McCray who is a reporter, I think. I thought this was a very interesting way to tell this story. His chapters were so perfectly placed. Every time we switched away from Sadie it was always at the perfect place to just add that much more suspense. I really liked that we get to see into the process of West making the podcast instead of just the podcast episodes. I thought it was cool that we got to see how Sadie’s story was affecting West and the impact this project was having on him. I also really enjoyed the interview parts of the story that were included in the podcast. I feel like they really allowed the reader more insight into all the different pieces of the story.
I think my favorite part was the parallels in the storytelling. What I mean by this is that one chapter will be following Sadie going to a specific place or telling us about something and the next chapter will be the podcast where West is learning about the same things. I thought it was really interesting to see how Sadie saw or thought things and then seeing those same things from the perspective of another.
Finally, I have to mention the audiobook. It was freaking amazing. I absolutely adore audiobooks that are read by a cast of narrators. I think they make the story experience so much better and they’re my favorite kind of audiobooks. I actually waited to read this book despite owning the physical copy so that I could experience the audiobook because I’ve heard such good things. I was not disappointed in the least. I think this is even more important because the one thing I never see mentioned in the reviews I’ve seen is that Sadie has a serious stutter. I don’t know how that is portrayed in the book, but the audiobook you heard the stutter and felt the anxiety and anger that Sadie felt about it. I think the narrators for this story were absolutely incredible. They drew me into this book and spit me out in the last pages all used up and emotionally ruined.
If you haven’t read this book, you need to. If you’re not reading this book because of all the hype, don’t be silly.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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