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The Secrets of Lily Graves [Paperback]

Sarah Strohmeyer

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In this book, The Secrets of Lily Graves, Sarah Strohmeyer delivers a more mellow murder mystery than I’m used to. 24 May 2014
By Dark Faerie Tales - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: In this book, The Secrets of Lily Graves, Sarah Strohmeyer delivers a more mellow murder mystery than I’m used to.

Opening Sentence: “Hey, Lily.”

The Review:

The Secrets of Lily Graves tells the story of Lily, who helps run the family funeral home. (Yeah — last name Graves.) When Erin, Lily’s tormentor and bully, is unexpectedly murdered, Lily and her close friend/maybe more than a friend Matt are the prime suspects. I did not expect a huge amount from this story, so it did deliver a few exciting moments. The negative reviews I had been hearing originally swayed me from opening this book and I definitely see what they were taking about: it’s not that thrilling for a murder mystery and there was no development in the romance. However, I would like to also discuss the good things about the novel. Things that interested me, surprised me, things that scared me. If you are a patient reader and like yourself a book with a few large twists, you can open this one up, but if you usually go for more action-filled books than this probably isn’t your cup of tea.

I loved the originality of Lily’s character, the clothes she wears, the slightly guarded way she thinks. It was easy to get into her point of view when things were happening that intrigued me. Also, I loved the sudden twist at the end. If I’m mentioning this plot twist maybe I should go into further detail, actually — hugely unexpected ending. It bumped the book up to three stars. I was impressed by the way the mystery and clues tied together, although I can admit I wish I’d seen more of the suspect because we talked to him only once or twice before we realize he played a role in the murder. And I was disappointed with how Lily handled the also large betrayal towards the end. In my opinion, she didn’t get mad enough.

Now, let’s talk romance! Matt and Lily have been friends, but as the book goes on they bond and become something more. I didn’t see any development in Matt’s character. He’s cute, just not believable. Almost to good to be true, if you know what I mean, so halfway through the book I still suspected he murdered Erin. Again, I’m glad the murderer wasn’t too obvious, but hey! All the not-so-happy reviews made me doubt the author. Erin doesn’t change much either, plus she makes some decisions I don’t agree with. When she sneaks out to see Matt, and he is still the number one suspect, for me it should’ve gone down differently. No no no! Don’t sneak out to see a could-be murderer! Don’t trust him so easily! Arghhhh!

The Secrets of Lily Graves? Please. This is all about Erin’s secrets, and all of them are highly predictable other than who killed her. Misleading title, but I’ll admit this is a small problem and nothing you shouldn’t buy the book for. If you need a reason to not buy the book, then don’t buy it because it’s very iffy. Honestly, I forgot some of the main characters names and it’s been a week. I still remember main characters names from books I reviewed last year. If you want a reason to buy it, then buy it because of the originality of the main POV’s life and the fact that it’s an easily readable book that can be wrapped up pretty quickly, if you push through more boring scenes.

After nitpicking my feelings about The Secrets of Lily Graves, my conclusion is this. Eh. It was something I wouldn’t have bought with my own money because I choose my books carefully. It was something I forgot easily. If you, however, are a more patient reader than me, maybe your feelings will be different. I hate seeing reviews that flat out discourage the book, because everyone will have different opinions, and someone may have a different reading experience than you. That being said, read a sample on Amazon and if you are pulled in than feel free to buy.

Notable Scene:

The trio of TNs stifled their laughter.

I stepped slowly on the gas and, after a fleeting fantasy of driving over Jackson’s feet, headed down the street. In my rearview, I could see Kate, Allie, and Cheyenne burst into hysterics.

Three girls were spotted coming out of Erin’s house on Saturday night, according to the police report.

Kate. Allie. Cheyenne.

FTC Advisory: Balzar+Bray/Harper Collins provided me with a copy of The Secrets of Lily Graves. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read with surprising plot twist 22 May 2014
By Kris - Published on Amazon.com
I'm a fan of Sarah Strohmeyer's writing. Thus far, I've adored the wit and humor she incorporates into her reads. The Secrets of Lily Graves is different form her previous works also in that it doesn't have the humor of Smart Girls or the romantic, magical feel of How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True (which also had humor). Instead, Lily Graves keeps the plot moving with the secrets surfacing like puzzle pieces slowly building the completed picture to reveal the surprise plot twist at the end.

On the spectrum of crime novels, Lily Graves falls more on the investigation side than on the action / thriller / life-is-on-the-line end. Not until the end did I really get the feeling that Lily's life was seriously in danger from anything more than a potential false arrest. This was disappointing, as I was expecting more danger with Lily pursuing the real killer, as the synopsis suggests that there will be more victims. Suspense is created through the unraveling of clues and through flashbacks to time Lily and Matt spent together during their 'tutoring sessions'. Narrating the story from a futuristic point of view also helps add tension with foreshadowing comments from an older Lily. However, this results in an anticlimax towards the end when the secrets don't live up to the suspense created at the beginning. Also, many don't even have to do with Lily, as the title suggests.

Character-wise, I love how Lily is surrounded with unique, quirky people. Lily loves to wear black with heavy makeup. While I wouldn't classify her as a goth like one of my good friends (other than clothes, she doesn't seem to participate in the culture), and I appreciate this piece of diversity in the book. There's also her aunt Boo with her tattoos and easy-going attitude and Lily's crime-investigator-wannabe best friend Sarah who has a disability (withered arm). Sarah is very expressive and has an over-the-top personality. She plays such a big role in Lily's life that I wish we saw more of her. The same goes for Matt. Lily and Matt have a definite chemistry going on between them, and I wish that the story spent more time going over what happened between them. I'm still at a loss for how the romance between them developed to the point where they care so deeply for each other or why Matt joined the investigation when earlier he wasn't responding to her texts and phone calls.

I wish that the story spent more time exploring character motivations. While I really hated Erin's friends for how they treat Lily, I don't feel like we ever really did get to know them and how they're involved in events other than the party they threw on the day of Erin's murder. There's also Erin and who she really was under the image she conveyed of the girl who had everything. And the real culprit and those involved with the culprit. The plot wraps up pretty quickly after Lily uncovers the identity of Erin's murderer, and we don't really get a chance to figure out what's going to happen and how events have changed the lives of all involved. I'm especially surprised by the involvement of one particular character and would like to know more about why and how s/he got tangled in this affair.

Overall, this has been an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to those looking for a YA murder mystery with likable characters and a surprising plot twist at the end. Though not to those looking for a heart-pounding, action-packed crime novel with high stakes.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Mystery 3 July 2014
By Britt R. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Let me start off by saying The Secrets of Lily Graves is not a romance novel. Yes, there's a teaser of romance in the book description, but that's not what this book is about. It's about the secrets that surround the lives of the characters and how they unravel after a murder. The twists and turns are excellent, and I am happy to say I couldn't see the ending coming.

Lily Graves is the daughter of a mortician, living in the house where the dead go to get ready for their funeral. Lily is the social outcast because of her family and how morbid others consider her to be. She's had one best friend, and that's really about it. So when Matt Houser starts to hang out with her, even though it's because she's helping him with school, she finds happiness in her new friendship. Yet when Matt breaks up with his girlfriend Erin, Lily is immediately the suspect. Things become even more twisted when Erin is found dead, murdered, the day after attacking Lily. With Matt and Lily at the center of the focus, she has to work hard to find out the truth.

I liked Lily. She was her own person and didn't try and change to have more friends. She knew that if people didn't like who she was, she didn't need to have them in her life. Of course, this doesn't mean she's immune to the comments she receives, but she chooses to look beyond them. I think she's a very well written teen. A little head strong and stubborn, like continuing to see Matt even though everyone tells her to stay away, but she's also a little insecure about things. Her determination to figure out who killed Erin really drove the novel.

Matt was fine as a love interest. He's a little too perfect for my tastes, but since their relationship wasn't the main reason for the novel, it didn't bother me too much. He's sweet and a little corny, but it works. It makes for an interesting character study, when he is shown to be one way with Lily, but still have a mountain of evidence piled against him in Erin's death.

There were a few things about the plot of the novel that I found to be just a little too convenient, but given how long working around those instances would have been, I can forgive. Things like Lily's mother dating the chief of police and getting little pieces of information she would have otherwise never known seemed a little to convenient, but it worked. I was never really sure where the novel was going to go and until the very end, I had no idea how the murder case would be solved. When everything finally came to light, I was shocked, but in a good way.

The Secrets of Lily Graves is an excellent look into the secrets a town can hold and how those secrets can destroy. Everyone has a secret and while some are harmless, others lead to death. It's one of the better Young Adult mystery thriller novels I've read. Definitely worth a read.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Secrets of Lily Graves was a fun mystery that had me turning pages 25 Jun 2014
By Emily @ Falling for YA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I love me some mystery books and The Secrets of Lily Graves is one of those novels that kept me turning pages and wondering who the killer could possibly be. After being attacked in a graveyard by her long time hater, Erin Donohue, Erin is found dead. Originally Erin’s death is viewed as a suicide but as more clues come to light Erin’s death is found to be a murder. Immediately fingers are pointed at Erin’s boyfriend Matt Houser and even Lily is looked at as a suspect.

I liked Lily. She was unapologetically goth, she wears black everyday and likes to study history because everyone’s dead. Lily’s family runs the local funeral home and lives there. Her aunt Boo is a tattooed hair dresser/embalmer. And even her grandmother gets in on the action. There is a just a fun, albeit a little morbid, aura that surrounds her.

Matt was also someone I liked despite my better judgment. I was never really certain if I could trust him or not. He is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Erin and was a bit of a liar so it made it hard to trust him. But I did like the way he stuck up for Lily and the glimpses we got in to Matt and Lily’s shared history.

My favorite part of this story though was definitely the mystery. I had a lot of theories about who killed Erin but none of them were right. It was fun to solve things right along with Lily and to watch the relationship between her and Matt evolve.

Overall, The Secrets of Lily Graves was a fun mystery that had me turning pages. I liked the characters, the romance, and the mystery. This is my first Sarah Strohmeyer novel but it definitely won’t be my last!
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Mystery 24 Jun 2014
By Stormy(Book.Blog.Bake.) - Published on Amazon.com
The Secrets of Lily Graves is quite a departure from Strohmeyer’s previous YA books, both of which were quite light reads(though still some of my favorites). I wasn’t sure how Strohmeyer’s writing would translate into a real mystery, considering one of her greatest talents is sarcastic humor, which was absent here, but it did really work! While I had been anticipating The Secrets of Lily Graves, I was also quite nervous for this reason. I’m glad to discover my worry had no grounds and this book pleasantly surprised me–as much as I can use the word “pleasantly” to describe a murder mystery book.

And make no mistake, The Secrets of Lily Graves is indeed a murder mystery–full of possible suspects, filled with characters that all had motive, and of course, some danger to the main character herself, Lily Graves. It’s not just enough that Lily’s last name may remind one of the cemetery, but her family owns a funeral home, and they’re all in the business of dead people. As creepy as this could have been, Lily embraced it and therefor so did I. Reading about the day-to-day stuff in the funeral home was strange for me, because my first job was doing filing in a funeral home, and it’s a unique setting that’s not often explored. While I, however, was banned from the ebalming area(not that I would have wanted to see it anyway), Lily embraces that aspect of the business. In fact, in a way she enjoys it.

Lily may be a strange main character. It’s likely she may rub some readers the wrong way. There’s no doubt that she’s strange, but there was something very compelling about her from the start. I was intrigued as she attempted to unravel the murder mystery. I also really liked how Lily was actually capable of making certain conclusions–it wasn’t far-fetched at all for her to know certain things about the way bodies behave but she grew up around them. It felt logical for the story to have Lily be good at certain things most teenagers wouldn’t have a clue about, and I appreciated the level of care given to the minor details in The Secrets of Lily Graves.

The actual mystery in The Secrets of Lily Graves was incredibly well done. There were so many possible suspects and unlike so many books, I really thought any of them could have done it for a variety of reasons. I did actually guess the “who did it?” question in the end, but instead of being disappointed, I felt SUPER proud of myself because it was a really tough mystery and unless you pay really close attention it will just pass you by before all making sense at the end. There was definitely a sense of danger in this book, one that made me catch my breath a few times while being afraid for Lily’s sake, especially at the end. The mystery in The Secrets of Lily Graves certainly pulled no punches.

The last thing of note is that I really appreciated one of the questions that is raised in The Secrets of Lily Graves. Erin is upheld as a model high school student. Straight A’s, president of the abstinence club, plenty of extracurricular activities and internships, etc. People around Lily kept saying that Erin made such good choices and didn’t deserve to die like that. Lily, quite rightly, often stands up to this–that even if Erin made bad choices(which she certainly made some), she didn’t deserve to die like that either way. There are some common murder mystery tropes that often paint the victims in unflattering lights, so I really loved that small but important theme that ran throughout The Secrets of Lily Graves.
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