“Everything You Want Me To Be” by Mindy Meji

Last night I finished Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia. It had been on my TBR list for some time and I was excited to finally grab a copy at the library. I absolutely adore the cover of this book, it just screams dark and twisted. This book was labeled as a thriller/murder mystery, but I’d put it in the sub-genre of “high schoolers having inappropriate relationships with adults/teachers.” I’ve actually read and watched a surprising number of books and shows with this theme lately (The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Dare Me, Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, etc.) so I feel like I’m a little burned out, but Everything You Want Me To Be did it well.

The book opens with a dead, mutilated body found in an old shed, which turns out to be that of Herietta “Hattie” Hoffman, all-American high school senior and star of the school play. Hattie is a good student, a promising actress, and a kind, albeit sharp-tongued young woman. She has a happy home life and dreams of moving to New York City after graduating to pursue a career on Broadway. Hattie has no enemies, or so it seems, which makes her death within a small town even more shocking.

The investigation soon reveals that Hattie is having a fiery internet relationship with a stranger named “LG.” But when it turns out that Hattie and LG are less of strangers than they think, he calls their relationship off and sends Hattie spiraling. The story is told from alternating points of view between Hattie, her English Teacher Mr. Lund, and lead detective, Del. The mystery has your classic lead suspects: a lover scorned, the cheated-on spouse, the ex-boyfriend, the jealous best-friend, etc. While there are several minor red-herring moments, the big reveal didn’t prove to be terribly shocking.

This book has a few holes and lose strings, and I found myself being less intrigued in “whodunit” and more invested in Hattie’s illicit relationship with the older man. You start to feel empathetic to the adult in charge, as his and Hattie’s feelings and relationship seem to be genuine, real love. Thinking about this too much made me feel a bit uneasy and sick to my stomach. But, maybe that was the point. An overall enjoyable read.

3.5/5 stars.

www.mindymejia.com

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“This Is Not Over” by Holly Brown

I just finished reading This Is Not Over by Holly Brown, and I wish it weren’t over! Although this book has gotten mixed reviews, I really enjoyed it for entertainment’s sake. I found the plot line different and interesting, and the story jogged along at a pretty captivating pace.

This Is Not Over starts with Miranda getting a negative review on Getaway.com, a fictional Air BnB short-term rental site. Since she regularly receives rave reviews for her gorgeous Santa Monica mansion, the negative remarks floor her. Miranda prides herself on being fair, honest, and a superior hostess. She normally has great communication with her renters, is upfront and prompt, which is why she thinks charging Dawn $200 for the damage done to her sheets is more than fair.

Dawn can’t believe that Miranda had the nerve to charge her for ruined sheets that she most certainly didn’t ruin. When Dawn and her husband left the home, everything was in perfect shape. Dawn views herself as an honest, respectable renter, and believes that Miranda must be trying to run a scam. Her Getaway.com review wasn’t rude, it was just the facts.

What starts as a simple online argument blows up into full on obsessions of vindication between two grown adults. As the feud progresses, both women learn more and more about one another and eventually find themselves entangled in a mess that is much larger than an internet review.

This premise in and of itself is intriguing enough to run a plot line, but the back stories of Miranda and Dawn give the book an extra layer of depth. Miranda’s son has a methamphetamine addiction and Dawn has an unhealthy history with her parents and upbringing. Yes, both characters are exceptionally unlikeable, but I’ve never been a reader who insists on falling in love with my protagonists. I don’t mind reading about completely despicable and unreliable humans; after all, that is what fiction reading is all about, stepping into a world outside of your own.

Since I am someone who tends to keep my Facebook comments to myself, I did, at times, find the extent of Miranda’s and Dawn’s feud a bit extreme. However, a simple browse through the comment section on any online political article will show you how quickly these differences of opinion can heat up with keyboard warriors and trolls.

Some readers have felt that the ending of this book was too rushed, and I do have to agree. The climax of the story happens with mere pages until the ending, so it did feel that there were some loose ends that were never fully tied up.

But, overall, I found This Is Not Over to be an entertaining and exciting read, one which I sped through in three days. I even had a dream that I was addicted to meth after reading some of Miranda’s chapters before bed. I woke up in a sweat thanking God I was sober and had all of my teeth!

3/5 stars

http://hollybrownbooks.com