The Perfectionists | The Taking | The Tattooed Heart

Three young thrilling young adult audiobooks - perfect for commutes, road trips, and chores.

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Perfectionists | The Taking | The Tattooed HeartThe Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
Also by this author: Pretty Little Liars, , The Amateurs, The Good Girls
Series: The Perfectionists #1
Also in this series: The Good Girls
Narrator: Cassandra Morris
Length: 7 Hours 57 Minutes
Published by Harper Collins on October 7th 2014
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, General, Dating & Sex, Girls & Women
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062074515

You don't have to be good to be perfect.
From Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series, comes another series full of juicy secrets, nail-biting suspense, and beautiful girls who will do anything to hide the ugly truth.
Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker are all driven to be perfect—no matter the cost. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they discover that they all hate the same person: handsome womanizer Nolan Hotchkiss, who's done things to hurt each of them. They come up with the perfect plan to murder Nolan—jokingly, of course. They'd never actually go through with it. But when Nolan turns up dead in the exact way they'd discussed, the girls suddenly become prime suspects in his murder. Only, they didn't do it. So who did? Unless they find the real killer, and soon, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

Wow, I have read two Sara Shepard books in rather quick succession. Both Shepard books are from different series, yet have a similar sort of feel to them. The Perfectionists is the first of Shepard’s Perfectionists series. Basically this series revolves around teenagers who feel immense pressure to be the best. Of course, there is a murder and thrills to be had as you listen to this book. What else would you expect from a book by Shepard? I do mean that in a positive way.

The Perfectionists is about five girls: Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julia, and Parker. All five girls don’t really have a whole lot in common. Except, they all hate the same person – Nolan Hotchkiss. As awful as this sounds, sometimes that is a really solid way to bond. So, they come up with this plan to kill Nolan, but obviously they do not go through with it. Only, apparently someone does go through with it and kills him in the way that they hatched. So, the girls are all under suspicion. It is a race to find out who the real killer is.

I truly think that Shepard fills a good niche in the young adult section. Her books tend to be thrillers where there’s murder and someone sinister is hiding in plain sight. This book shares a similarity with Pretty Little Liars in that one adult male uses his position of power to prey on teenage girls in a pervy way.

The Perfectionists is a quick audiobook. I listened to it at 1.5x speed, because at this point I am used to listening to my audiobooks at a sped up rate. It is narrated by Cassandra Morris. I do think her voice seems more suited to middle grade than to this book. It comes across as very, very young sounding and not like senior girls tend to sound. However, the plot line and the mystery is quite engrossing as are the different characters. You might enjoy The Perfectionists and all of the other books Shepard has written if drama and thrillers are your thing.

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I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Perfectionists | The Taking | The Tattooed HeartThe Taking by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Taking #1
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 9 Hours 29 Minutes
Published by Harper Collins on April 29th 2014
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, General, Romance, Family, Parents
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062293626

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer meets The Fifth Wave in this chilling and explosive new series from author Kimberly Derting.
The last thing Kyra Agnew remembers is a flash of bright light. She awakes to discover that five whole years have passed. Everyone in her life has moved on—her parents are divorced, her boyfriend is in college and dating her best friend—but Kyra's still the sixteen-year-old she was when she vanished. She finds herself drawn to Tyler, her boyfriend's kid brother, despite her best efforts to ignore this growing attraction. In order to find out the truth, the two of them decide to retrace her steps from that fateful night. They discover that there are others who have been "taken," just like Kyra. But Kyra is the first person to have been returned past the forty-eight-hour taken mark. With a determined secret government agency after her, Kyra desperately tries to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had . . . but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Kimberly Derting’s books tend to be hit or miss for me. The Body Finder was a hit and The Pledge was a miss. However, I am super excited to report today that The Taking was definitely a hit for me. I actually do plan on continuing on with this series and definitely via audiobook as it’s very well narrated and just completely draws you in.

The Taking is about this girl named Kyra Agnew. Kyra is having a championship softball game. She wins and so, her dad drives her home after the win. They have a fight in the car and Kyra is all DAD JUST PULL OVER I AM GOING TO WALK. Which, he does. She wakes up the next day behind a gas station dumpster. She walks home, only her home is inhabited by a strange man and a toddler. So, she goes across the street to her boyfriend’s house only to find herself in the arms of her boyfriend’s little brother who isn’t quite so little anymore. It turns out that Kyra’s actually woken up five years later with no memory of what happened.

Also? She has not aged one bit. And so, The Taking revolves around Kyra trying to find out what exactly happened to her during those five years that she was gone. There’s implication of aliens. There’s the NSA. There’s even a band of people who have experienced something similar to Kyra. Of course, if you like romance, you will definitely be into this book because Kyra finds attraction in what is the most unlikely of places.

Friends, I really enjoyed Derting’s The Taking. I thought the plot was well paced and actually interesting. The reveals come at good times, so my interest never really waned. The romance is pretty sweet too. The narrator of the audiobook is Tavia Gilbert. The choice of Gilbert as narrator is totally appropriate. I was really absorbed into this audiobook and have no qualms recommending it.

Other reviews of The Taking by Kimberly Derting:

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I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Perfectionists | The Taking | The Tattooed HeartThe Tattooed Heart by Michael Grant
Also by this author: The Magnificent 12: The Call, Messenger of Fear, Front Lines
Series: Messenger of Fear #2
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 8 Hours 19 Minutes
Published by HarperCollins on September 20th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Horror, Romance, General, Social Themes, Bullying
Pages: 416
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062207449

The games continue in New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant's sequel to Messenger of Fear—a haunting tale for fans of Stephen King that combines fantasy with real-world horror stories.
Mara has learned to punish the wicked as the Messenger's apprentice. Those who act out of selfishness and greed, and others who become violent because of prejudice and hate, pay the ultimate price. But Mara is constantly reminded that Messengers are serving their own kind of punishment—for every person who is offered justice, they wear a tattoo that symbolizes the heart of the crime. As Mara delves deeper into her harsh reality, she will discover that in spite of all the terror she and Messenger inflict, caring in this world is the hardest part of all.

So, I should probably begin this review of The Tattooed Heart by Michael Grant with a caveat. I began listening to this audiobook before the problematic posts on I think it was School Library Journal? Anyways, as I have a hardcover review copy and an outstanding Edelweiss review copy, I personally feel like I need to write this review in order to fulfill my obligation. I should also state that in absolutely no way does this review endorse those problematic comments.

I borrowed The Tattooed Heart via Hoopla as I have been in this clear physical books off my shelf mode. This was a book that although I read the first Messenger of Fear via physical copy, I did not feel invested enough to feel loyal to format. The Tatttooed Heart is a direct sequel to Messenger of Fear. It continues to star Mara who is training to be a Messenger and to mete out justice by having people who commit evil participate in a game or be punished for this misdeeds. Actually, if they lose the game, they are also punished for their misdeeds. There’s a few different game scenarios that we see in this book – one revolving around some horrific racist acts and another revolving around a girl who is taken advantage of by a famous singer and then a pimp.

Ultimately, I liked The Tattooed Heart better than Messenger of Fear. I felt like the plotting was tighter and the story kept me more engaged. I also appreciated the development of the Messengers and the Goddess they serve. Furthermore, there’s some new twists in the story. The ending too, is very well done.

Perhaps some of my heightened enjoyment comes from the audiobook narration. The book is narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. She is fast becoming one of my favorite audiobook narrators. I can’t help but be a fan of Zeller’s narration. She does teenage girl very, very well. Also, I think she’s a pro when it comes to action oriented audiobooks. The Tattooed Heart is 8 hours and 19 minutes long and available via Hoopla if you have interest in it.

Other reviews of The Tattooed Heart by Michael Grant:

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. […] Good Girls by Sara Shepard Also by this author: Pretty Little Liars, , The Amateurs, , The Perfectionists Series: The Perfectionists #2 Also in this series: , The Perfectionists […]

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