I started reading Pretty Little Liars on a whim last summer. Well, that’s an exaggeration. There was nothing else available on OverDrive and so I checked out the audiobook one late night. As it was a sixteen-book series, I expected a vapid plot about rich white girls and their rich white girl problems.

Boy, was I surprised. The story picked up at a brilliant pace, and I hungrily finished the book in two days. Moving onto the next one, I found myself starting to care about the characters. The plot twists surprised me. I may or may not have been guilty of screaming at the end of book six and demanding the next one from the library. I binge-read and finished the whole series in two weeks. (That’s my personal dirty little secret- that I read and enjoyed them)

Recently, I picked up an advance preview of Sara Shepard’s newest book The Amateurs at my local B-Fest (Barnes and Noble teen book festival). It was a three-chapter booklet, printed with the enticing cover that now graces the hardcover edition.


I devoured the booklet and placed the book on hold three months in advance. It came to me yesterday, and I was not disappointed. Sara Shepard strikes again, with an enjoyable, suspense-packed read.

I need some answers about my sister. Help…

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

Thanks, Goodreads. Anyway, the characters of The Amateurs are vibrant and seem to come to life on the page. Seneca, Maddy, Aerin, Brett and the rest are colorful and diverse, and they all have different personalities. They are all human and eager to prove themselves. They make mistakes and have faults, and are clever and goofy and real.

Sara Shepard is no amateur at writing, and this story is thrilling and makes you want to triple-check the lock on your front door. Not recommended to read at night- will cause feelings of intense paranoia. However, if you dare to crack its spine after dark, make sure you’ve got a blanket and a snack. Brew a cup of tea and do what you’ll need to first- you won’t be getting up until this book is done.


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