Thriller Reviews #2 – The Haunting of Sunshine Girl & What She Left

June 27, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 1 star, 4 stars, Books, Reviews

Thriller Reviews #2 – The Haunting of Sunshine Girl & What She LeftThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on March 26, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
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Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is what I would call a fluffy horror book. Aimed at younger readers, it would be the perfect balance of horror and humour.
I love creepy books that will scare me, and while I didn’t find this one to be particularly creepy, there were a few moments that surprised me, with paranormal twists that I didn’t expect. Going into Sunshine Girl, I knew it was going to be about a girl at a haunted house, but the luisearches who banish ghosts made it really unique.
The real star of the book however is Sunshine’s fun, fresh and hilarious personality, which lightened the hauntings dramatically. Her narration and point of view were really easy to get into, but I do admit she had had traits that often annoyed me. Such as being cute for the sake of it and mispronouncing things, saying how she never lies or has never, ever felt alone. I would be drawn into Sunshine’s point of view and then she’d say things like that that would jar me right back out. She felt like an inauthentic and idealised character.
I don’t think I’ve actually ever felt lonely before. I’ve heard other people complain about loneliness, I’ve read about it in books and watched it on TV shows, but I never actually felt it myself. 

There were a few creepy moments in the book, but I think Sunshine’s lighter narration kind of downplayed the impact of these for me. The trailer was awesome though:

I haven’t heard of The Haunting of the Sunshine Girl on Youtube before, but it’s worth a second look especially if you have an interest in the paranormal. I enjoyed this installment, even without being a fan of the series. With a fun, hilarious girl at it’s center and a few creepy moments, it was a fun fluffy read. I just prefer my horror to be scarier.

Rating: 3 out of 5


 Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me this book for review.
Thriller Reviews #2 – The Haunting of Sunshine Girl & What She LeftWhat She Left by T.R. Richmond
Published by Penguin Australia on April 23, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
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Gone doesn't mean forgotten.

When Alice Salmon died last year, the ripples were felt in the news, on the internet, and in the hearts of those who knew her best.

But the person who knows her most intimately isn't family or a friend. Dr Jeremy Cook is an academic whose life has become about piecing together Alice's existence in all its flawed and truthful reality.

For Cooke, faithfully recreating Alice's life - through her diaries, emails and anything using her voice - is all-consuming. He does not know how deep his search will take him, or the shocking nature of what he will uncover...

What an absolutely frustrating book with deplorable characters! My emotions ran high while reading What She Left, a thriller where a girl has died drowned in a river. What results is a media storm, social media commentary and the vested interest of Professor Jeremy Cooke who collects all mentions of Alice’s life and death, which frankly, wasn’t that interesting.

I do enjoy a story told using creative mediums, and this one features snippets of Alice’s diary, Jeremy’s letters, emails, media clippings and social media snippets. But at the risk of sounding callous, the circumstances surrounding Alice’s death were hardly suspicious, so much of the collected media pieces on it were quite boring.

The story is rather slow going which made me more and more frustrated – especially when I discovered that each and every character featured here, including Alice, were incredibly unlikable. Jeremy was super creepy with his obsession with Alice and her mother, and he was overwhelmingly pompous with how he got away with cheating on his wife. The guys which Alice were involved in were abusive jerks and her mother, gosh I wanted to slap her so hard at getting involved with her previous affair.

Once I hit the 40% mark and realised the story wasn’t going anywhere, I started skimming furiously and realised I didn’t miss much at all when I got to the end. More of Jeremy’s self-inflated commentary, more of Alice’s stupid decisions and more people getting involved with Alice’s life that I did not care about.


It’s not often that I give out 1 stars but What She Left just did not float my boat. With supremely unlikable characters, an agonisingly slow pace and a lot of resulting frustrating, I just wanted this to be over.

Rating: 1 out of 5


Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this book for review.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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31 responses to “Thriller Reviews #2 – The Haunting of Sunshine Girl & What She Left

  1. I have been so, so curious about Sunshine Girl, even though I still don't completely understand the YouTube connection! I am glad that it was somewhat enjoyable, if not completely terrifying. I think I could live with that.

    As for What She Left… oh no no no. I mean, I am with you- I rarely give out 1 stars, so when I do, they mean something! This sounds just so BLAH. And like I would hate every single one of the characters! I shall be staying away from this! Lovely reviews 😀
    My recent post Book I Read In 2015, You Have Captured My Heart

    • Ah, they wrote a book about it because it was popular on Youtube. Oh gosh, What She Left, I just don't want to talk about it anymore lol. Thanks Shannon! 🙂

  2. Yikes a 1 star for What She Left? I agree with Cait, the cover was really catchy.. I haven't seen that many low ratings from you, so this one does sound like it wasn't meant to be </3 On the bright side, Sunshine Girl sounds interesting though, not watching that trailer. I'm a sissy with horror movies lol 😀 Lovely reviews and Oh, I was going to email you soon about the buddy read with either Scarlet or Splintered 😀
    My recent post Double Review ♥ Fire &amp; Blood Series by Victoria Scott.

    • Hahaha you are hilarious Benish! Got your email, just let me know when you wanna start! Yeah, I only rate under 3 stars if books just did not strike my fancy.

  3. Oh man, that trailer was quite creeptastic (heh) but the book doesn't sound that amazing. I do like to read creepy things that give me goosebumps, so I would be looking to read a REALLY scary book. Will probably give it a pass.

    And What She Left does sound really frustrating. So sorry you didn't enjoy it Jeann 🙁

    • I know, I somehow thought it was more exciting than the book unfortunately? Man, nothing can beat Night Film!!!

    • Hehehe teeny boppers indeed 😉 I would have LOVED the first book in my teen days! Yeah, I know what you mean.

  4. What She Left, the synopsis doesn't sound too bad, but why was he collecting information about her life if it wasn't suspicious, and was this just a hobby or some sort of sick perversion? I really don't mix well with slow pacing either, so this one really isn't on my radar. But I liked Sunshine Girl. A few creepy moments, but fluffy and entertaining nonetheless. Glad you were able to enjoy that one somewhat Jeann. Wonderful reviews <3
    My recent post Stupid, Stupid Girl… The Devil You Know

    • Yeah, that's why I decided to review it. I think he was a researcher looking into it, but the obsession side to it did come through as well. Sunshine Girl had good writing, I just wasn't the biggest fan of the fluffiness and lack of horror for me, anyway.

  5. Faye M.

    Yikes! I'm sorry to see that you've had two quite disappointing reads in a row, Jeann. For the first book, I don't think I'd really want to read about… fluffy horror. When I read horror I want REAL horror, not with some lame adorkable nitwit who would easily grate my nerves. the seconde book sounds pretty boring for a thriller so I'll pass as well.
    My recent post [BLOG TOUR] Review + Giveaway: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

  6. lab1990

    That's a bummer you didn't really like What She Left at all, because it sounds like it could have been really, really good. I like books told in creative mediums as well. 🙂

    My recent post Ask Me Anything – Answers!

  7. Eugenia

    I agree with The Haunting of Sunshine Girl – it was good, but I do wish it was a bit more hard-hitting with the scare factor to make it truly memorable. I've started What She Left and I can see what you mean about not much happening really, but I still have a small sliver of hope that I end up liking it somewhat. Thanks for sharing Jeann 🙂

    • Yeah, great to hear from someone else who had read it too. I hope you like What She Left, but I can't guarantee anything lol

  8. Neither book sounds like they're for me, actually! D: When I read horror books, I want them to be SCARY–not really interested in "fun" scary–plus for some reason I can't get into books when they are told through non-prose mediums…

    What She Left = NO PLEASE NO.

    Awesome reviews, Jeann!
    My recent post If You Enjoyed… Then You’ll Probably Enjoy…

  9. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    I love the covers of both of these books. Stinks that What She Left wasn't that great but if it's slow and the characters aren't likable that's hard to come back from. Great reviews!

  10. Agh, I was just about to go add What She Left because I LIKE THAT COVER. But seriously?? Nothing happening?! Thrillers can't be like that. It ain't thrilling. And as much as I've seen mildly positive reviews for Sunshine Girl, I need my horror MEGA scary if I'm going to be pleased with it. xD Which is weird, because i'm the person who won't take the rubbish out at night buuuuut I need scary books. hehe.

    • Yeah, I just didn't find sunshine girl scary at all. Maybe for younger teens I guess, but not for me. Nope, What She Left really wasn't thrilling at all