Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy ~ Sarah A’s Review

Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.

In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.

The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she’s next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she’s never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.

There’s something he isn’t telling her. But there’s something she’s
not telling him, either.

Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.

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I’m leaving this book unrated because I’m not sure how I actually feel about it.  (For Amazon review purposes I’m leaving a three-star rating because it seems like the fairest rating for a book I am so unsure about.)  My initial reaction was that it was interesting and fun to read, but when I truly think about the entire experience, I’m left feeling a bit empty.  Unlike most thrillers I’ve read, it seemed to be lacking in substance when all was said and done.

Pretty Dead Girls is a standalone YA thriller.  It’s primarily told in first person POV by Penelope Malone, with a few chapters thrown in from the viewpoint of the killer.  Initially, it threw me off, since there is little delineation between the two POVs, only a change in font.

I did not care for the characters, for the most part, they were completely unlikeable, but I’m pretty sure that was intentional.  Cass was the only character I felt had any sympathetic qualities or had a dynamic personality.  Penelope and her group of frenemies were completely awful – to each other and everyone around them.  They also all seemed to have the personality of a paper bag, there just wasn’t anything to them beyond the façade of being popular.

The plot of this book moved quickly enough to keep me interested, but in the end, it was trite and lacking in any real character growth.  I hoped that the tragic events Penelope experienced throughout the novel would change her, but she always seemed to revert back to the vapid, uncaring person she was at the beginning.  Maybe it was a defense mechanism, but it felt like that was really all she was.  Cass’ affection and care for her was the only thing redeeming about her if he hadn’t been an important part of her story I’m not sure I would have stuck it out.  I likely would have flipped to the final chapters and discovered the killer without reading the rest of the novel.

I wish the ending would have been more impactful.  From the time they figure out the killer until the end there is just not enough there to feel like the story had a strong conclusion.  Had there been a few more chapters where everyone begins recovery from all they lost, had they dealt with their grief, had the remaining girls reflected on the reasons they ended up in the killer’s crosshairs, I think I would have been far more satisfied with Pretty Dead Girls.  Unfortunately, there is just too little there for my gratification.

I had read a Monica Murphy book ages ago, one of her early romances, and I had remembered enjoying it.  So, when I saw she’d written a thriller, I thought it a good time to reacquaint myself with her writing.  Alas, I was disappointed with the writing in this book.  At times the writing seemed amateurish and awkward, while other portions felt like they’d been written with a practiced hand.  It was this strange combination that I found lacking in coherent style.  There were also a few bizarre moments when Penelope broke the fourth wall and was talking directly to the reader, I didn’t care for that at all; had it all been written that way – like the killer’s POV – it would have been different but since there were so few instances it just didn’t work.

After all of that, I will say, I did enjoy Penelope and Cass together.  I loved watching them try to figure out whodunnit and explore the dynamics of their precarious relationship.  Cass, his grandmother, and his history were of far more interest to me than the rest of this book.  I would have loved to read the book from his POV, to find out more about him.  In fact, at one point I thought the killer was going to be closely tied to him, even if he had no idea who they were to him.  GAH!  With a few tweaks, especially to the ending, this could have been such a great book.  However, since there is so little growth for the narrator, it just left me unfulfilled.

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

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NOW AVAILABLE!! Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.

In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.

The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she’s next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she’s never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.

There’s something he isn’t telling her. But there’s something she’s
not telling him, either.

Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.

Amazon US | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

 

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Facebook | Website | TwitterNewsletter | Goodreads | Amazon

ARC Review – Jane’s Harmony by Ryan Winfield

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Atria Books |  352 pages | ISBN 9781476771250 | August 2014

RELEASE DATE: August 5th

Synopsis

Starting over is hard to do. 

That’s what forty-year-old Jane McKinney learns when she quits her job, sells her home, and leaves Seattle behind to start a new life and pursue the man she loves in Austin.  After the death of her daughter, Melody, Jane never thought she would find happiness again — until she met Caleb Cummings.  Sensitive, loving, and mature beyond his years, Caleb is a handsome young musician struggling to make ends meet.  But when his fortunes take an unexpected and drastic turn for the better, Jane is left wondering where exactly she fits in.

Can you ever leave the past behind?  Jane must now decide if she really is willing to commit to a new beginning with Caleb — or if some wounds are just too deep to ever truly mend.

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Patricia’s Review

Jane’s Harmony picks up where Jane’s Melody left off with Caleb and Jane adjusting to the Austin life together. While Caleb was content having Jane back in his life, Jane struggled with the cramped space of the tiny apartment, thin walls, and the constant lights and music of Austin nightlife. But Caleb was determined not to let anything get in the way of his and Jane’s happiness. When an unexpected opportunity with the power to change everything for Caleb and Jane presents itself, the newly rediscovered happiness hits a bump in the road. Their relationship will be tested by time constraints, distance, some unwanted attention and an overwhelming surprise. When push comes to shove, each must decide whether they are strong enough to face whatever may come their way together.

I was so thrilled to spend more time with Caleb and Jane. At the end of Jane’s Harmony, I felt like there was more to their story and I am grateful Ryan felt the same way. It was good to see these two reunite and overcome some of the normal obstacles of a new/budding relationship. I enjoyed watching their story unfold taking twists and turns that had me laughing at one moment and holding my breath the next.

Caleb seemed more content with his life since he moved to Austin. He worked hard at his day job and even harder on his music. But he never made Jane feel second to any of those things and I fell even more in love with him and his thoughtful gestures and tender ways. He never missed an opportunity to observe others and find the next inspiration for his music. But he remained humbled and grounded, always mindful of where he had come from, where he wanted to be and the woman who owned his heart.

Jane seemed to come alive in her new surroundings. She grappled with her insecurities about where she was in her life, but I suppose those kind of drastic life changes make you vulnerable to doubt. I loved seeing her personality take flight and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion thanks to Jane. The uniform blunder was priceless, never mind the coffee grounds. I admired how supportive she was of Caleb and never wavered in showing him with her actions just how much she believed in him.

The dual POV added depth to the characters and allowed for a well-rounded reading experience. The angst was minimal save one very intense section that had me holding my breath. There was just the right mix of sweet, sexy, funny and drama to keep me engaged throughout the story. I love the realistic ending…a humble ending that seemed fitting for Caleb. My only hitch is that I felt there was unresolved family matters. Otherwise, I loved this story and am sad to say good-bye.

Overall Rating: 4.5 -5 Stars

I was provided a complimentary copy from the published in exchange for an honest review.

Jane’s Melody – Book #1

JM

 

Atria Books |  336 pages | ebook ISBN 9781476771243 | October 2013

 

What boundaries would you cross for true love?

That’s the question a grieving mother must answer when she takes in a young street musician she believes can shed light on her daughter’s death—only to find herself falling for him. A sexy but touching love story that will leave you both tantalized and in tears, Jane’s Melody follows a forty-year-old woman on a romantic journey of rediscovery after years of struggling alone.

Sometimes our greatest gifts come from our greatest pain. And now Jane must decide if it’s too late for her to start over, or if true love really knows no limits

 

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About The Author

Winfield

Ryan Winfield is the New York Times bestselling author of Jane’s Melody, South of Bixby Bridge, and The Park Service trilogy.  He lives in Seattle.

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