Mini Reviews: The Leaving, With Malice, You Know Me Well

August 31, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

Mini Reviews: The Leaving, With Malice, You Know Me WellThe Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on June 7th, 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back--with no idea of where they've been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn't really recognize the person she's supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they're entirely unable to recall where they've been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn't come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max's sister Avery, who needs to find her brother--dead or alive--and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story.

I have a penchant for devouring YA thrillers, so when I heard about the mystery behind The Leaving, I had to pick it up.

Five teenagers get dropped off home with no knowledge for the past 11 years. They have procedural memory, but they have no memory of their relationships with each other, or what they’ve done and where they’ve spent their time. We get three perspectives – two of the missing teenagers, Lucas and Scarlett, and Avery, the younger sister of one of the missing people who didn’t return.

The mystery of where they’ve been and what happened to the 6th teenager is unfolded throughout the course of the book, with a few twists and turns along the way. This kept me reading, as I wanted to unravel the mystery. Unfortunately, the book dragged on at times with a lot of unnecessary detail that made no impact on the final outcome. There also wasn’t very much excitement along the way,

I also found the three characters bland and emotionless, with the relationship between them seemingly more important than the gaps in their memory. I felt the mystery was thrown to the sidelines as Avery would pine over Lucas and Lucas and Scarlett would attempt to figure out where they stand with each other. The different characters and their messy relationships left my head spinning.

I did like the narrative of the book, with creative formatting and choppy writing to illustrate the gaps in Lucas and Scarlett’s memory. The ending, which is usually the best part of a thriller, was also incredibly underwhelming as it kind of fizzles out towards the end.


Overall, The Leaving left me disappointed with my search for answers by the end of the book. It all seemed a bit too convenient with much of the book dragging out with characters I couldn’t really connect with. The mystery did keep me reading though and there were some unique aspects of the twist, but it was a bit too messy for me.

Rating: 2 out of 5


Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this book for review! 

Available now at Australian bookstores for AUD $16.99. 

Mini Reviews: The Leaving, With Malice, You Know Me WellWith Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Murdoch Books on June 9th 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
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Wish you weren't here…
When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…. wasn't just an accident.
With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn't the one to blame?

If you’re looking for a thriller where a best friend is suspected of a murder from an overseas holiday (based off the Amanda Knox case), Dangerous Girls is the only one to read. With Malice felt like a poor carbon copy of that book, with many elements that felt really similar: Jill with memory loss, a co-dependent relationship, a story told through media items and interviews, and the twisty court case. It felt like a haphazard mish mash of these elements – none of them done really well.

I’ve read enough of these types of thrillers to know what would happen at the end of the book, which I predicted within the first few chapters. The twist at the end felt really underwhelming, with a rushed reveal and not much build up or resolution at all.

Jill herself was a really bland character. Yes she’s struggling with memory loss and is an unreliable narrator, and it’s practically hammered into us that she could be a sociopath based on everyone’s interviews. I wasn’t really convinced at her motivations and didn’t really get a feel for her much throughout the course of the book.

It was also disappointing to find the holiday/Italian setting only mentioned within the novel, without many scenes of the exotic place, any of which felt authentic to the destination.


I’ve already read one of these thrillers, and it feels like I’ve read them all. Unfortunately With Malice paled in comparison to Dangerous Girls, and it felt like I had read it all before. You might enjoy it more if you haven’t read the other one, although I still felt it was pretty bland and lacklustre.

Rating: 2 out of 5


Thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me this book for review! 

Available now at Australian bookstores for AUD $16.99. 

Mini Reviews: The Leaving, With Malice, You Know Me WellYou Know Me Well by David Levithan, Nina LaCour
Published by Text Publishing on June 13, 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

I always struggle with the believability of books that are set in a short time frame, and You Know Me Well only happens in the course of a week. Mark and Kate bump into each other in a gay nightclub, who sat next to each other in class but never really spoke. Next thing you know, they’re practically best friends with each other, bonding over their own LGBT relationships.

Both of them are on different stages of their journey when it comes to their partners – Mark, who’s desperately in love with his gay best friend, and Kate, who is meeting Violet for the first time from the internet. They help each other out which leads to different results for the both of them.

I was really invested in Mark’s unrequited feelings for Taylor but felt his side of the story was rushed and I struggled to believe the scenes at the end of the book. Kate’s story was more subtle and sweet, but with the whole gallery opening for her paintings also feeling quite rushed. If this story was set out in a longer period of time, it would’ve felt more believable given how quickly they move through their feelings. Each day is packed full of events – what about school? Everything is too easily resolved at the end of the book.

I thought David Levithan’s writing was a lot punchier than Nina’s here, therefore I was a lot more invested in Mark’s story rather than Jill’s. It felt like he had a lot more to learn and discover about himself, whereas Kate had that fear of meeting Violet and fighting over her best friend about it.


While I thought You Know Me Well was sweet, I struggled over the short time frame of the story and therefore the believability of it. This means I wasn’t really invested in some of the story because it felt so rushed.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Thanks to Text Publishing 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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11 responses to “Mini Reviews: The Leaving, With Malice, You Know Me Well

  1. Yeah, it's just a shame because I have a feeling most of us have read Dangerous Girls and we compare everything to it. It felt like such a letdown because of that, especially since it had a similar plot! Hey at least the cover is beautiful. Oh man, the formatting would definitely put me off reading a book, it would be a frustrating read for sure!

    If You Know Me Well was set in a longer time frame I think I would have liked it better tbh. And if it was longer with more development between characters as well. Thank you Shannon! I miss you!

  2. I know, With Malice just seemed so bland with not much happening! And yes, there WAS potential to set some scenes in Italy but there was like nothing? And Jill was kind of boring really…I mean I didn't really care for it at all.

  3. Awww sad to see that most of these are 2/2.5 stars! From what I've seen with others, they didn't like You Know Me Well due to the same issues, the believability part of it. And it sucks that With Malice is a copy of Dangerous Girls. Dangerous Girls was one of the only YA mysteries I've read, and for that reason really.

    Awesome reviews Jeann!
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  4. Ahh these are all looks like dissapointing books 🙁 The Leaving has the most interesting plot, but the romance seems to mess everything up. I think I'll skip With Malice because the only reason I want to read it (other than the mystery) is because I want to be transported to Italy. Great review, Jeann, I hope your next read would be better!
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    • Yeah, it\’s such a shame that it was disappointing! I expected more out of With Malice especially with the Italian setting, but it wasn\’t set there at all. Thank you for commenting Tasya! <3

    • It wasn’t very popular in the bookstores but it’s seriously my favourite YA thriller of all time. I really recommend picking it up czai!

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