Death Prefers Blondes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

A fun, charming romp of a heist novel centered around four lovable drag queens and a teenage socialite with a heart of gold. 

It's nonstop action in this campy, capery story that reads like an action movie with a side of sass and a side of sweetness. The story does get a little too sweet and saccharine at times, and it's not even close to realistic, but it was an utter joy to read. Eagerly looking forward to more escapist adventures with Margo Manning and her crew,
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Death Prefers Blondes is full of thrilling adventure, sassy drama, high stakes, and all the wittiness you expect from Roehring's books. This book looks into the queer culture, the importance of found families, has witty banter, romance, and adventure!
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I liked the unique concept and characters. However, it was difficult to follow at times and keep track of who was who. The kindle version format made it difficult to follow transitions within each chapter. Keeping track of everything prevented me from being fully engaged in the story.
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This book was a wild roller coaster ride from the first page on. Packed full of amazing characters and high-action scenes, it takes you on an elaborate and vivid journey through LA's criminal underground. A group of teenage drag queens with more heart (and more makeup) than I thought possible, perform extravagant heists. Each character is fully realized, with their own motivations and struggles and the group forms a found family which I am always completely weak for. 
It's an incredibly fun read but unlike other books, there's depth to it as well. You fall in love and get invested in the characters before you even realize it's happening.
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I found the book a little more serious than the cover art suggested.  However, that being said, I enjoyed the book.  It's a modern Robin Hood story with drag queens and a party girl turned expert thief.  The premise is a bit thin - how does a socialite gain the skills necessary to steal and then fence her high-class loot?  But the action moves along quickly and all the elements tie together at the end, with the promise of more adventures to come!  The development of multiple relationships (inter-generational friendships, gay romance) is a plus as well.
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This novel is a heist thriller with a murder mystery starring Robin Hood—if Robin Hood were a rich teenage girl with a crew of drag queens. I adored it! Margo Manning is a socialite whose father has more money then a person can spend in a lifetime so naturally she steals from the rich. And I mean she has a full-on operation with a fence, and help with gadgets, and a crew of teenage drag queens. The heist scenes are kick-ass, and read like scenes from awesome thriller movies–but this novel is far from just flashy fun scenes. Rather than stereotypical drag queen characters used just for fun quips we get to know the entire crew, including their personal lives and the how and why they ended up as thieves. The novel is about birth families, found families, trying to make the best out of terrible situations, social justice, and the wrong path for the believed right reasons. I absolutely loved every second of this ride Roehrig took me on. And if that isn’t enough of a sell, think of this book like Ocean’s 11 dated RuPaul’s Drag Race and the wedding reception got crashed by Hamlet. (TW addiction)
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"Teenage socialite Margo Manning leads a dangerous double life. By day, she dodges the paparazzi while soaking up California sunshine. By night, however, she dodges security cameras and armed guards, pulling off high-stakes cat burglaries with a team of flamboyant young men. In and out of disguise, she’s in all the headlines.

But then Margo’s personal life takes a sudden, dark turn, and a job to end all jobs lands her crew in deadly peril. Overnight, everything she’s ever counted on is put at risk. Backs against the wall, the resourceful thieves must draw on their special skills to survive. But can one rebel heiress and four kickboxing drag queens withstand the slings and arrows of truly outrageous fortune? Or will a mounting sea of troubles end them - for good?"

Recommened to me by Johnnie Cakes from Murder By The Book, and he's never wrong in his recs!
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My issue with this novel started with the formatting and the way the story was told. I was not a fan of how we switched (without warning) to different points of view in the middle of chapters. I had read novels where this is done well, but here (and maybe this is because it is an arc) we had no warning, no little cute dashed line or pretty curly cue to indicate we were following someone else. As a result, I had such a hard time following the different characters. It did not help that we are dropped into the story in the middle of a heist and suddenly have to keep track of all the characters names and their drag queen names as well. I swear I thought two characters were the same for about half the novel. 

I had such a hard time in the beginning. Aside from my confusion over who the characters were, the plot was mediocre. The main plot does not start until about 30% in (from what I remember) and that was also when I started to finally figure out who all the characters were. 

I also was not a big fan of the heist plot and enjoyed the family plots a lot more. I liked seeing Joaquin and Axel’s relationship grow and the two of them start to understand them better. I liked seeing Margo dealing with her parents.

Overall I appreciated the queer representation in this novel and loved the drag queen element, but this novel tried to do too much and unfortunately did not deliver on any of it. I had such high hopes for this novel, but ultimately it fell flat for me and honestly I would have put it down if I had not received a review copy. That being said, if you do like heist novels you might like this one, but prepare yourself for a slow beginning.
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This story is fabulous. Everything you could ever dream of. Drag queens? Check. Witty banter? Check. A story that keeps you engrossed from page ONE? CHECK!
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Caleb Roehrig has done it again! Actually, this may be my favorite of his works so far.

Margo Manning leads a double-life. During the day, she's an LA Socialite, trying to keep the paparazzi off her trail and partying it up. At night, she and her crew of drag queens steal priceless jewels and works of art to sell on the black market. One night, though, Margo and her crew pull a heist that gets them in over their heads with a Russian Mobster. Will they be able to get rid of their ill-gotten gains before the mobster gets rid of their heads?

If you're looking for a fast-paced heist thriller with equal measures of mystery, action, and heart, then this is definitely a book you want to pick up. Margo's relationship with her crew is total #squadgoals. And, Roehrig strikes just the right balance of edge-of-your-seat action scenes and exposition/breather scenes. I could not put this book down and would have finished it in one sitting if I hadn't had to go pick up my kid.
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This is amazing. Just pure amazing. Roehrig has been constantly entertaining me since his debut and Death Prefers Blondes is his best work yet.  Following a teenage socialite with just as much bite as bark who just so happened to be a jewel thief. Who also just so happens to work with a team of fierce drag queens. 

That premise is awesome. But the actual content surpasses it in every way. This story is not only fun, but there's a surprising amount of heart. Margo is a wonderful main character, exploring her own sexuality while also being a complete and total badass. This is a thrilling story, the writing keeping a wonderful pace that never seems to loose momentum no matter what. God, I just...this book is a lot of fun and you should all consider looking into it. You won't be disappointed.
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I loved Caleb Roehrig's debut and I just I loved this one too. I found Death Prefers Blondes extremely hard to get into. The characters are referred to on page as their real names and their drag names interchangeably. I was confused from the very beginning and I found it very difficult to keep the story straight, along with the personal relationships and motivations. 

I loved the premise and plot behind this book, I just couldn't get past that initial hurdle. I really wanted to love this one because I can see its place and others like it in the publishing world.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Feiwel and Friends through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*
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Combining the basic premise of The Bling Ring, Robin Hood, and local drag culture, Roehrig has written a unique heist novel aimed at the YA market. The book is primarily plot based and is heavy on the action, light on meaningful dialogue and introspection. For those that crave more ninja infused fight scenes that feature characters in colorful wigs and precariously high heels, this book is just for you. I tend to be one of those people that skims over paragraphs describing car chases and battle scenes, so many of the sections felt overly long for me. However, just because this isn't my preferred genre doesn't mean that someone else won't pick this up and feel it's the most five of five star reads ever. I enjoyed the overall premise, but would have liked to see more character development (especially for Leif). As it was, it was hard for me to connect with many of the main characters or feel particularly interested in what happened to them since I lacked that relationship with them. However, the pacing picked up for about halfway through, and while I slogged through the first 150 pages or so, I spend through the last 200. Overall, 3.5 stars.
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Thank you to Macmillan for an advanced reading copy! I was a big fan of Caleb’s White Rabbit (I’m still meaning to read Last Seen Leaving), so Death Prefers Blondes was something I’ve been looking forward to. And, I mean, with a title like that, who isn’t intrigued?! This one took a while for me to get immersed in, and I think that’s because it’s plot driven, whereas Caleb’s other novels are debatably character driven. The characters in DPB are all extremely colorful and diverse — and their dialogue is FANTASTIC — but this is in no way a character driven novel, and I think that’s usually my personal preference. 

So that said, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up if it weren’t written by Caleb, but I’m glad I did. It was nice to step out of my reading comfort zone and try something different. Caleb obviously is a huge 90’s fanboy and loves the same things I do; his main protagonist, Margo, is on the level of Buffy Summers and Veronica Mars. And you can’t go wrong with drag queens thrown in the mix! If you’re looking for a super queer and fun YA heist, with some Veronica Mars and James Bond textures, look no further. 4/5 stars.
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This book is making the rounds right now, and I keep seeing a bunch of the same comparisons. It's a little RuPaul's Drag Race, a little Ocean's 11/8, a little Hamlet, and a little Bling Ring, and I say, YES! to all of it.  

• Pro: I say this EVERY time I finish a Roehrig book. He does such an amazing job blending a myriad of different story elements. This book was a mystery, but it also had a little romance, a bunch of action, lots of family drama, and most importantly, a fantastic friendship. 

• Pro: Each of the main characters had such a compelling backstory, and their reasons for seeking a life of crime varied widely, but I truly fell in love with each and every one of them. I was super invested in their futures, and needed them to pull of their last, big heist. 

• Pro: So FUN! I am a fan of Roehrig's brand of humor, and once again, he had me laughing, giggling, and smiling widely. 

• Pro: I am not a huge action/adventure type reader, I am pretty much all about the characters, but I was fascinated by the intricacies of the heists this crew pulled off. There was integration of some really fantastic gadgets and science too, which totally piqued my interest. 

• Pro: This little band of misfits shared quite a special bond, and I am a sucker for a great friendship story. I got to witness some really beautiful moments and adored the way they went out on a ledge and made sacrifices for one another. 

• Pro: I am a character driven reader, and I really appreciated the way Roehrig gave us a strong plot, while still pulling us into the heads of each main character. I wanted to know their emotions, feeling, and thoughts, and it was all there for me to enjoy. 

Overall: A wild and crazy heist adventure filled with family, friends, humor, and even some romance. I am hoping Roehrig considers continuing their story, because I would love to read more stories starring this rag-tag group of thieves.
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A fun and funny heist story. Unfortunately, this does get a bit lengthy and the book suffers as a result.
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The tabloids call her Mad Margo, but they don't have the foggiest idea what kind of shenanigans teenage socialite Margo Manning really gets up to. Along with a quartet of butt-kicking drag queens, she pulls off elaborate heists in museums, consulates, and the castles of Russian oligarchs. It turns out all that padding and contouring makes for fabulous disguises, and ballet dancers have serious musculature. But the body blow that changes Margo's life forever comes not from her nighttime hobby, but her ordinary life. One high-stakes job will literally mean either life or death for Margo and her crew. Just oodles of fun.
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In 2019 and we’re finally getting all the heist/thief books we deserve. Death Prefers Blondes is one such heist book and IT IS AMAZING. Maybe you’ve read Caleb Roehrig before or maybe you’re drawn by the fantastic premise and gorgeous gover. Regardless, this book is both quintessentially Roehrig and also different from what he has written before. His previous books are more on the fun end of the spectrum (WHICH IS NOT A BAD THING. I love fun books!) and while Death Prefers Blondes is incredibly fun, it also has a tendency to punch you in the guts. TO SAY EVEN MORE because I clearly cannot shut up, Death Prefers Blondes is not a short book but it FLIES by. It was so well written and visuals/imagery were done so well that I felt like I was watching an extremely badass heist movie.

Margo Manning is a teen socialite who also happens to be a thief. She isn’t doing it for the money though. She does it for the thrill. And she isn’t alone. She has a team of drag queens to help her commit some felonies. Her team, unlike her, does need the money so they have slightly more at risk. ANYWAY. SO MARGO. She may be a sad little rich kid, who the world seems to both hate and envy, but she is really just the best. Her loyalty to her friends makes me so happy. She will cut someone for them and that’s the kind of friend you need.

Axel, Joaquin, Leif, and Davon are the aforementioned drag queens and Margo’s dearest friends. Even though Death Prefers Blondes is mainly narrated by Margo, we do get snippets into all of their lives through asides within the narrative. Honestly, like, they are already awesome when you get to read about them through Margo’s perspective but I genuinely enjoyed that we did get to hear from them because it really allowed me to connect with them. THEY ARE ALL SO PRECIOUS AND GOING THROUGH SO MUCH. ANYWAY. I WANT TO BE specific but if I am, you won’t get to enjoy being gut-punched so I WON’T be. Please just know that I love all of them and you will too.

Death Prefers Blondes opens with the team in the middle of a job. Things are a little tense between Margo and Axel though and the team barely makes it out. When a job that could end all jobs comes along, the team decides the risks that come with it are worth it but things soon spiral out of control. There is a target on Margo’s back and soon tragedy strikes her household. THINGS GET ROUGH and the stakes get higher than you could possibly imagine in a fun-looking heist novel.

Death Prefers Blondes is the perfect book for ANYONE who loves a good plot-driven book but it comes with the advantage of amazing character arcs, fun banter, cute romances (YES, MULTIPLE ROMANCES) and friendships to die for. If you loved Ocean’s 8, this better be on your to-read list. If you have loved any heist movie, this should be on your to-read list. If you are a living, breathing human, this needs to be on your to-read list.
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I received an ARC of Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig through Netgalley, and while I enjoyed the rollicking adventure story reminiscent of The Bling Ring, I could never fully immerse myself in the story due to odd diction choices and overly-descriptive blocks of text. “Mad Margo” Hammond, a wealthy heiress with a Robin Hood streak, leads a band of drag queen teens on precision heists, knocking over LAMFA in the first few pages and even attempting to steal jewels from a wealthy Russian mobster before having to deal with more serious crimes on the heels of her father’s untimely death. High-tech gadgets, near-misses, and humor abound in the first few chapters, reminding readers of Ocean’s 11, but the action fades to the background as overly descriptive settings, particularly during Margo’s jaunt to Venice, take the main stage. Phrases such as “dunked an offensively tasty biscotti in a demitasse of potent coffee” and “stopping briefly for an affogato and some fresh-baked focaccia...studded by tomatoes and perfumed with rosemary” seemed at odds with the otherwise action-packed plot.  As an antithesis of this uber-developed description, however, Roehrig also throws in repeated phrases that jar the reader right out of the story; I was so distracted by the constant use of the phrase “the boy” (I highlighted it over 100 times) that I actually started highlighting it each time it cropped up, with highlights numbering above 100.  Characters never seemed fully developed to me, either. I understand that Roehrig was less interested in character sketches than the main action of the plot, but “the boys’” backstories felt flimsy at best, making it tough to truly root for these “good guys turned thieves.” In fact, the description of Los Angeles (which is clearly loved by both Roehrig and his characters) felt more complete than a few of the backstories. 

I came into Death Prefers Blondes prepared to love it, what with its action-packed plot and female- and LGBTQ-empowering storyline where a good heart wins out against all odds. However, the action was fewer and further between than I had anticipated, and I came away feeling like Roehrig’s novel would be a tough sell to students. Purchase in libraries looking to bulk up action and LGBTQ selections, but be prepared for some readers to struggle with vocabulary and some slow sections.
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As soon as I saw Death Prefers Blondes being pitched as Ocean's 8 meets RuPaul's Drag Race, I was all in. (Because if there's one thing I love more than queer YA, it's queer YA that ALSO involves drag queens). And, friends, this one did NOT disappoint. Not only did the action scenes keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading, but I couldn't help but fall lace-front head over six-inch heels for this whole cast of characters.

I won't go into any specifics about plot in this review, since Death Prefers Blondes is so action-packed from start to finish. However, I will say that we follow a main character named Margo Manning, a Hollywood socialite by day and LA's most capable criminal by night. Along with her team of drag queen accomplices (and a little help from her own drag persona, Miss Anthropy), she pulls off some of the toughest, most high-profile break-ins around the city. We're talking everything from stolen jewel heists to stealing priceless art from a well-guarded museum. One day, though, Margo's fence offers her a sum of money she's only ever dreamed of-- but it would require her team to pull off a seemingly-impossible job. Everything takes off from there, and the mystery at the heart of the book becomes increasingly more personal to Margo as new information is revealed.

As a very character-driven reader, I sometimes struggle with plot-driven stories. However, in Death Prefers Blondes, even though I honestly could not care less about the elaborate action sequences-- although, let me be clear, they are objectively VERY well-written-- I was still 100% invested in the story because of how much I cared about the characters. Each queen in Margo's crew has very specific motivations for their involvement in organized crime. There are Axel Moreau, AKA Leisl von Tramp, and Joaquin Moreau, AKA Anita Stiffwon, two brothers trying to keep their family afloat after their Hollywood royalty father landed in jail due to stealing money from the entire who's-who of Los Angeles. There's Leif Darby, AKA Electra Shoxx, who needs money to pay his dance school tuition in order to remain in LA, far from his homophobic family. There's Davon Stokes, AKA Dior Galore, who is forced to pay off the drug dealers who his drag mother can't stop paying visits to. And, of course, there's Margo herself, who has her own myriad reasons for her involvement in LA's criminal underbelly.

In so many ways, Death Prefers Blondes was a love letter to drag families (and therefore found families in general) and to queer culture. Every queer person will tell you that you naturally seek out other queer folks for understanding and acceptance, and no more is this more evident than in drag sisterhoods. In addition to all of our leading men in this book being queer, Margo is also bisexual, which is representation I was so not expecting but that made my heart SIIIIIING. This label is explicitly stated on page, and we also see her involved in relationships with people of multiple genders. There is also nonbinary rep in a side character, another wonderful surprise! And 3/5 main characters are POC, as is the love interest. Basically, Death Prefers Blondes proves that drag is not just for white, cis gay men. As a huge fan of drag, but a not-so-huge fan of RPDR and mainstream drag's frequent disdain for trans, nonbinary, and bio queens-- and also the RPDR fandom's racist tendencies-- this book was a much more inclusive portrayal of drag, which felt so much more true to the queer community that *I* know and love. Fans of drag will recognize a lot of the colloquialisms commonly associated with the community, which made me smile every time they appeared.

Death Prefers Blondes also features a romance that I adored, between Margo and Henry Yang, a half-Asian, half- Hispanic law student who begins an apprenticeship with the Manning family's lawyer. I especially appreciated how sex positive this book was in general, but particularly in regards to Margo and Henry's relationship. Also, there was witty banter galore between these two. And if you're going into this book looking for a cute #ownvoices m/m romance, you also will not be disappointed on that front! A romance develops between Leif and Joaquin, as well as the budding chemistry between Axel and Davon.

As I already mentioned, the action sequences in this book, while not something I particularly cared about, were so well-described. Each high-stakes scenario had me on the edge of my seat. Really, the adrenaline never left me while reading Death Prefers Blondes, because there was always some looming threat on the horizon. The story is full of twists and turns that keep you on your toes. I also loved how dialogue-heavy this book was, mostly because the dialogue was extremely well-written.

Overall, if you're looking for a queer YA mystery with no shortage of thrilling twists and turns, Death Prefers Blondes is the book for you. It may be long, but it will keep you engaged and flipping the pages the entire way through, and you'll totally fall for these characters.

Have you read Death Prefers Blondes?
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