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review 2018-06-29 16:05
‘The Cheerleaders’ is a new thriller from Kara Thomas, but in this small town, all the cheerleaders are gone...
The Cheerleaders - Kara Thomas

When I first heard about this book ‘The Cheerleaders’ from Liberty on Book Riot, my ears perked up at it being a new thriller from Kara Thomas (plus Liberty said it’s awesome). Then I saw the amazing bare-bones cover with the cheerleading skirt, and that absolutely convinced me. A thriller with cheerleaders? Bring it on!!

Cheerleaders have been an iconic feature in American culture since the sport of cheerleading became popular for teenage girls in high schools and colleges (rather than it previously being a male sport) in the 1950’s. There’s really no mistaking what a cheer uniform represents in terms of status when one is donned; the cheerleaders in high schools seem to occupy their own certain bewildering stratosphere in the hierarchy of school cliques, and it’s hard to describe the ‘cheerleading effect’ (although it’s done really well in the hilarious movie ‘Bring It On’). Cheerleaders have long made perfect fodder especially for movies (particularly of the horror variety), TV, and books, because of the stereotypes that befall girls who become them.

In this book,'The Cheerleaders' of Sunnybrook have either been killed, or they’ve had to become the not quite as high-flying dance squad, so there's not much cheerleading going on. After the deaths of five cheerleaders (two dead from hitting a tree in a car crash, two brutally murdered by the man who lived net door to them, and one by suicide, the squad is disbanded. Monica, whose sister Jen died by her own hand, is now on the dance team, and even though it's five years on, she doesn't have the answers she needs about her sister's death, especially after she comes across her sister's cell phone in her stepad's (the cop) desk. She also has a new friend at school who really pushes to find out what really happened, and to see if the deaths are connected.

Now there's a lot about this novel that I really loved: a seasoned writer like Kara Thomas means the reader gets to enjoy clear voice for our protagonist Monica, who is surrounded by friends and family, but still seems rather lonely, having lost her sister Jen some five years prior (and we have some chapters told from her perspective too), and she leads us through this thriller/mystery. Opening with what clearly is her having to deal with the aftermath of an abortion, thanks to an unplanned pregnancy, this is something pivotal to the plot, and something that may turn a few readers unnecessarily away (Thomas isn’t afraid of that though).
Quickly though, the reader is given the back story about how the cheerleaders died and why Monica becomes so adamant on finding the truth. But this is also where I find the major flaw: I really did want more ‘cheerleaders’, and more action than just at the end (the twist is still good, although a few times I’d got bogged down in too many details, and got lost in the information given). The book gave me an entirely sad feeling as a takeaway; after ‘solving the mystery’ I came away with such a profound sense of loss for these characters, which I didn’t expect. There’s some closure but it doesn’t balance how much I wanted a bit more of a bloody thriller, much like the blood splatter on the cheerleader skirt on the cover suggests, instead of a sad mystery.

This is a solid mystery from Kara Thomas, well-written and with an unexpected twist. Just very sad, and with a lot of amateur sleuthing (instead of cheerleading).

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review 2018-05-21 23:48
The Darkest Corners - audiobook
The Darkest Corners - Kara Thomas,Jorjeana Marie


At nine years old, Tessa and Callie were the prime witnesses in the trial of a serial killer (the Ohio River Monster). Now a teenager, Tessa returns to her hometown to confront her past and find out the truth.

This book was just okay for me. I didn't care for any of the characters and I didn't enjoy the narration. The main plot was okay, but the end felt contrived and unbelievable. The subplot involving Tessa's mother and sister was unnecessary and distracting.

Bottom line: Take out the subplot, make the characters a bit likable or relatable, and this story would be better. As it is, there are better thrillers to spend your time on.

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text 2017-09-03 01:55
Halloween Bingo - Amateur Sleuth
Little Monsters - Kara Thomas

My second read for Halloween Bingo was Little Monsters. I'll be using this for the Amateur Sleuth square since it focuses on a high school student trying to figure out what happened when one of her best friends goes missing.



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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-01-23 11:00
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas Review
The Darkest Corners - Kara Thomas

Goodreads Synopsis: The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.





I went back and forth on my rating for this book as I did really enjoy the story and flew through it but by the end I did feel a little a little let down and was left with a lot of questions (see spoiler questions at end of review).


I really enjoyed the mystery aspect to the story and that until the end you really don’t know who the murderer is. However, as we’re progressing through the story there were some unnecessary details in there. The author I guess was trying to throw us off the scent but these details didn’t add anything overall so could have gone without.


I loved Callie and Tessa’s friendship! I found it to be very realistic that they would start off quite distant from each other but over time rediscover the bond that they had years before. The fact that Callie and Tessa were witnesses at the age of only 8 years old was awful! They not only had the trauma of having someone close to them being murdered but they had the added pressure of being the ones to put a man in prison for it. If thats not psychological trauma I don’t know what is!


This was quite slow moving in the beginning, we were getting information here and there, and there were quite a few plot twists I didn’t expect but I wasn’t blown away by the ending. It also turned into more than just a murder mystery which I thought was a bit too much going on all at once. I did really enjoy this book but had to take a star and a half off because there were some loose ends that weren’t tied up and the ending did feel a bit too put together. I would recommend this book to those who want to read it but just be aware that it does take a while for the storyline to pick up and for it to feel like a thriller mystery read.






My unanswered questions….


1.What was that ending with the 7 year old girl in the cellar?

2.Did Callie and Tessa stay in touch when they went off to college? I’m going to presume they did but I would have liked confirmation.

3.We never found out how Annette actually killed Lori. We know she said it was an accident but what actually happened? And was Annette the dark figure in the garden the girls saw?

4.How did Wozniak get Callie out of the house without Tessa hearing anything?

5.What happened with Ariels dad? We never heard anything more about him or his family.

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review 2016-04-24 01:50
The Darkest Corners
The Darkest Corners - Kara Thomas
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 4/19/2016
Format:  Hardcover 
Audio-Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
My Rating: 4 Stars 

Kara Thomas delivers THE DARKEST CORNERS, dark ugly secrets, lies, and a ten- year-old crime—a man wrongly accused, convicted. (Nice Cover)

Guilt-ridden, two teen girls search for the real killer-after possibly putting the wrong one behind bars. A gritty suspenseful psychological crime thriller, keeping readers glued to the mystery and what lurks in the darkest corners.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa is living near Tampa where she is about to start college, when she is called back to Fayette, Pennsylvania. There were secrets and lies in the small town. Her dad is in prison for armed robbery, now dying and she is on her way to the town.

She has not seen her best friend, Callie since the summer night surrounding the murder of a girl ten years earlier. Family. Lies and Secrets. A murder. What about her sister and mother? What is the truth and what is a lie?

Ten years ago, a jury found Stokes, now 34, guilty of the murders of four women along I-70 in Fayette. Recently, Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled in favor of the convicted Ohio River Monster, agreeing that his attorneys should be allowed to present to a judge new evidence that may exonerate him.

A trial, a murder, and Wyatt Stokes is in prison. However, lies were told years ago, haunting two teens with guilt. In their search for the truth, they must uncover the real truth and find the real killer. Haunted by a decade-old murder, Tessa is emotional, and faces dangers and the past, which threaten her future—desperate to find the real killer to set things right.

With twists and turns, and dark secrets, I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Jorjeana Marie (a favorite among the YA genre), providing plenty of suspense. Fans of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars, will appreciate the compelling twisty, dark secrets, and the chilling mystery.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!The-Darkest-Corners/cmoa/57128b980cf20b4e25a77015
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