ARC Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Posted May 2, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah StrohmeyerThe Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 13th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

With the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars and plenty of romance, bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer weaves a story of secrets and lies—set in a funeral parlor.

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

2.5 Stars

I absolutely LOVED Sarah Strohmeyer’s Smart Girls Get What They Want and I liked How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, so when The Secrets of Lily Graves appeared, I just KNEW I had to read it – regardless of the fact that this was not a fluffy romance but a mystery. Sadly, Strohmeyer’s foray into a new genre didn’t work too well for me.

Lily Graves is a murder mystery. Lily’s classmate Erin is found dead. First it is assumed to be a suicide, but quickly it becomes clear that there was foul play involved. Lily is one of the last people who saw Erin alive – in fact, they had rather a dramatic encounter, because Erin was suspicious of her boyfriend, Matt, being too close with Lily. And Lily, being the daughter of a family of morticians and the best friend of a crime series addict, can’t help but try to find out what happened.

I’m sad to say that I lacked a spark from the main character, Lily, that I did have with Strohmeyer’s other main characters. Lily is more subdued and kind of gothic, but she came off as rather bland. Very sporadically she made sarcastic remarks that made me giggle, but I just didn’t feel a connection to her at all. In fact, I was really annoyed with her and her fixation on Matt. A common problem for me is when we’re thrown into the middle of a story and then find out about how the current state arose through flashbacks later. That was what Lily and Matt’s relationship was like. At the beginning, you just see that Lily has these feelings for him, but you don’t really get why. Through flashbacks later, you see what their history is like, but messing with the chronology like this is one way to get me to not ship this romance.

I didn’t buy it for a second, and in fact, I was pretty suspicious of Matt from the outset. He was in an unhappy relationship, and it quickly becomes known that Erin was last seen arguing with a guy of his exact description, by one of her neighbors. Lily knows this, and yet from page one it never even crosses her mind to be suspicious of him. Her family and her friends tell her to be cautious, but all she’ll say is, “It wasn’t Matt. It definitely wasn’t Matt.” Her naivete about this seriously bugged me. I mean, YOU weren’t the guy’s alibi, and you knew he and Erin were in a rocky place. How can you not for even a SECOND doubt this guy?

At that point I just wanted him to be the killer, if anything to prove that Lily was a dumbass who needed a reality check. Lily, on the other hand, completely fixates on this random suspect. She saw him talk to Erin once, weeks ago, and is completely convinced that he is the guy. Why? I… honestly couldn’t tell you. There wasn’t a smoking gun or anything. It made no sense, especially when the police later follow up on her “tip” – like they completely believe her. Guys. This is not how crime shows work. You have to show me some freaking evidence.

So basically, what I’m saying is this mystery is a hot damn mess. It’s trying to build suspense that the audience can completely see through. Then it whips out the truth at once trying to surprise you. It won’t work on everyone. In a way, I was both surprised and not surprised. The killer had crossed my mind, but I wanted it so badly to be more complicated than that, so I kept searching for other explanations. In that way, I was absorbed in reading it, because I did definitely need to know who did it. In the end, it did surprise me a little, but that surprise lasted mere minutes before I shrugged my shoulders and moved on with my life.

Summing Up:

*sigh* I’m really sad this one didn’t work for me. I want so badly to shout from the rooftops that Strohmeyer is one of my favorite authors, but one success does not a favorite author make. To be honest, I don’t do mystery often, so it’s not really my thing, but stepping out of your comfort zone is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, with lackluster characters, an annoyingly naive main character, and unimpressive plot twists, The Secrets of Lily Graves is average at best.

GIF it to me straight!

Me to Lily

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5 responses to “ARC Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

  1. After your recommendation I read Smart girls and enjoyed it, so when I had the chance I also gave this one a try. I was disappointed just like you. I also couldn’t connect with Lily and it annoyed me how much she trusted Matt. It wasn’t believable how easily she believes him (and I didn’t felt any chemistry between them) The murdered did surprise me a little, so I guess that was nicely done.

    • Right? That romance was just the stupidest thing ever. I did not swoon for Matt for even a second – but it’s common for me to have 0 feelings for a love interest who cheats on his significant other. Just ugh.

  2. I’m sorry to hear that this book disappointed you, even more since the author had written some books you had loved!
    At least the murder mystery kept you entertained enough and managed to surprise you at least.

  3. Too bad this one was disappointing. If I don’t feel a connection with the main character, that pretty much dooms the book for me. And then if you don’t even ship the romance…not good. I do like mysteries if they’re well done, but I don’t read too many of them these days.