ARC Review: Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

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For fans of We Were Liars, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl, this powerful psychological thriller with multiple mysteries is set against the backdrop of the megawealthy elite of New York City. Toten delves into the mesmerizing yet dysfunctional world of those who manipulate but seem ever so charming. With its gripping pace and Hitchcockian twists, Beware That Girl will keep readers guessing until the very last line.

The Haves. The Have-Nots. Kate O’Brian appears to be a Have-Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of—some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. Oh, and she’s also a masterful liar.

As the scholarship student at the Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ladder and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior class “it” girls—specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he immediately charms his way into the faculty’s and students’ lives—becoming especially close to Olivia, a fact she’s intent on keeping to herself. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal—and can’t afford to ignore. How close can Kate and Olivia get to Mark without having to share their dark pasts?

review3/5 Stars

***I received this ARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and as part of #FirstInLine 

+++Features some subjects that may be triggers: domestic abuse, violence, mutilation. 

Here’s what I liked:

  • The main characters were complex and a psychological minefield of explosive issues. From psychosis to social disorders to past trauma, there’s a ton of rich, dark, and terrible secrets that threaten to topple the carefully crafted world they’ve created. There are mysteries that slowly unravel, parallel to their overall loss of control. The closer they are to reaching their goals, the harder they fall into fear and paranoia. 
  • Mark Redkin is a textbook sociopath and he’s pretty freaking terrifying. The ease by which he infiltrates the school and preys on these impressionable young (and old!) women will make you take a cold, hard look at screening for the school system and extending background checks beyond one state level, especially when it comes to safety of children. 
  • Kate is a genius. She understands people at their core and uses it to her advantage. Her motives are far from pure, as the story progresses, we learn a little more about why Kate is the way she is. The flashbacks are sometimes cryptic, other times outright traumatic and appalling. The abuse and what Kate suffered through is enough to scar anyone psychologically and Kate’s determination is a coping mechanism. 
  • There were two twists that really threw me. One you might see coming, the other, no way!

Here’s what I disliked:

  • The pacing was abysmally slow, to the point where it took so long for the suspense to build that it kind of fell flat. Scenes that could have added tension and fear to the story abruptly cut off (like most of the chapters when things were getting interesting). 
  • The slow simmer romance building between Kate and Johnny might have added some spice to the story, but hardly anything comes to fruition. Encounters are far an d few between and when they are together, it feels disconnected. The chemistry was floating there and needed an extra push to bring it to the story, but just sat, hovering around everything else. 
  • I don’t know how to explain why this is, but despite everything creepy going on, the activities were mundane, dragged, and were a little boring. I fought to remain interesting. Kate goes and researches, barely makes any headway, and yet there are a billion scenes of her looking through books. Why? The tidbits of information, there needed to be more, more often to propel the plot forward. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Intense reading, 

Jordan

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Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

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Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heartthrobs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?

authPenny Reid is the USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Funny reading, 
Jordan