Review for The Secrets Of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

The Secrets Of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

TITLE: The Secrets Of Lily Graves
AUTHOR: Sarah Strohmeyer
PUBLICATION DATE: May 13, 2014
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 304 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC / ARC
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Freebie shelf at Malaprops
RATING: 3 bows

Lily Graves comes from a family of morticians. She has spent her life around dead bodies and the process of fixing them up for funerals. So when Erin Donohue, the school’s perfect class president shows up died, she’s not so sure what she knows anymore. First everyone suspects Erin’s boyfriend Matt for the murder and then all eyes are on Lily people learn that Matt & Lily had a secret friendship that Erin was none too pleased about. One thing is for sure, Erin’s killer is still at large and it’s up to Lily to figure out who before the murder gets pinned on her.

Lily was an interesting character. I didn’t fall head over heels in love with her, but I also didn’t find her annoying. She is hard not to sympathize with when it seems like the entire town is out to get her. Even her own family members don’t protect her the way they should (in my opinion, anyway). My feelings were about the same for Matt. Though he does some questionable things, he seems like a good enough guy and I liked him enough to root for his and Lily’s success.

I’ve been avoiding this review since the moment I finished reading the novel. You see, I loved How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True and I was overjoyed to see Strohmeyer coming out with a new novel. Even better, she going in a new direction with they whole murder/mystery thing. Awesome, I can’t wait! Even starting it, I found it highly enjoyable. It was witty and addictive in that sleep is not important anymore way.

Why, then, does it only get three stars? That would be because of the ending. It felt so rushed and unfinished that I can’t possibly give it a higher rating. It’s like Sarah was writing and having a good time and then she got to page 250 or so and remembered that the book was only supposed to be 300 or so pages long. Whoops! Better wrap this up quickly! It’s a problem I’m seeing a lot lately, and not just in YA. In this particular case, the killer(s) and the motive didn’t make much sense. The big bad, maybe, but the sidekick really threw me for a loop. I’m sure that was the point, to give us a villain we weren’t expecting. The problem with that is the more you think about it, the less it makes sense. Why would this particular person do it? I realize we get a half-assed reason, but that just didn’t fit for me.

What it always comes down to for me is the ending, and this one failed pretty epically. I’m not saying that it should be changed, but maybe give us more about why this particular person felt the need to take things this far. To now only assist in the act but to frame our Lily. That seems spiteful in a way I can’t believe without a little more context. So all you need to know is that it’s a great little story with a somewhat inconclusive ending. If that doesn’t bother you, than you’ll love it. If it does, then you’ll probably have mixed emotions.

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

3 bows
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Review for How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

TITLE: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True
AUTHOR: Sarah Strohmeyer
PUBLICATION DATE: April 23, 2013
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 320 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

We follow Zoe on her summer adventures in Fairyland. No, not some mythical, magical place where supernatural all the Disney princesses are real, but a theme park with actors portraying the non-Disney-fied versions of the fairy tales. Every summer Fairyland holds internships to allow rising seniors to pump up their resume and give young actors a chance to showcase their talents, even if it’s only at a children’s park. Zoe arrives assuming she got an actual role, with her cousin Jess, only to find out that she is to be the Queen’s assistant. Disappointed, but trying to make the best of it, she goes in on her first day only to be berated for her every action. So much for a fun, carefree summer entertaining children. This summer is going to be a nightmare and it’s only just beginning.

I really enjoyed this. I seem to be stuck in a contemporary YA loop these days, but with stories like these, I’m not complaining. I didn’t realize until about a third of the way in that this was a retelling of Cinderella, but that realization only made me happier. I love fairytale retellings and this was no different. You can’t help but sympathize with Zoe, dealing with the hellish Queen (aka the lady in charge of all that happens in Fairyland) who commands her to get up a dawn to walk her precious pooch and the proceeds to yell orders and demand near impossible tasks. Zoe is the invisible hand that keeps the place up and running, from waking up late cast members to filling in for dismissed workers and everything in between. I loved her through every minute. Sweet and willing to do anything to give her cousin a boost to a coveted Princess position, which is one of the big four (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel). Jess has a minor role as Red Riding Hood, but dreams of being Cinderella.

Jess was everything the sidekick was supposed to be. She stands up for Zoe and never does that backstabbing thing that goes down in so many YA’s. She’s completely loyal. The other characters all range from perfectly charming to alarmingly despicable (like the Queen, who is a tyrant). I will say that my favorite male was Ian. A little cocky, oozing charm, sarcastic, and armed with way too many bad puns, he’s got the Prince Charming at down to a “t.” Watching Zoe do the “I don’t like you, I like you, I hate you, I like you” dance with him was more than a little amusing.

This tale has everything you could want, great characters, good writing, witty banter, and a wicked twist that you may or may not see coming. I certainly didn’t. I recommend it to everyone who loves fairytale retellings, especially fans of Robin Palmer or Alex Flinn.

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****