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Two Truths and a Lie

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Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry
Expected publication date: May 24, 2022

Date read: March 30, 2022

On their way to a theater competition, a group of teenagers and their chaperone are stranded in an unexpected blizzard, finding shelter in a run-down motel. Their fellow guests at the motel include another group of teens on their way to a robotics competition, a few adult males, each traveling alone, the motel owner, and a caretaker. While the teenagers decide to play “Two Truths and a Lie” to pass the time, Nell pulls a slip of paper that reads: “I like to watch people die” and “I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve killed”. The kids assume it’s a prank, until bad things start to happen. When a student disappears, the motel guests have to work together to figure out what’s happening, before it’s too late for everyone.

I unintentionally read two locked-room stuck-in-a-blizzard mysteries back to back, which might have affected my feelings for this one (the second of the two). That being said, I did enjoy this one.

I really liked Nell, our main protagonist. The characters that were supposed to be unlikable were loathsome. We get a lot of love-obsessed teenagers for main characters, but this book is written for a teen audience. None of the characters were too annoying about it, just a few moments that had me (not a teenager) rolling my eyes

My biggest complaint also has to do with one of the things that I liked best about this book, and I’ll do my best to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. Up until the half-way point of this book, it was unclear if we were dealing with a ghost story or a murder mystery. I loved the way that both scenarios seemed possible for a good way into the book. My biggest complaint is that the way that it didn’t end up going, wasn’t as wrapped up as I wish it had been; it left a few unanswered questions. I also didn’t love the epilogue - I don’t mind stories getting wrapped up in neat little bows, if it’s done well. This one kind of reminded me of the cards you get at the end of teen rom-coms that tell you what happened to each character. But again, I’m not a teenager, and I don’t think that most readers of the target audience will mind this trope.

Overall, I actually liked this book quite a bit. The plot moved fast and I loved that I didn’t know where it was going. It’s a fast, fun read and I think teen mystery fans will really enjoy this one.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Trigger warning: Murder, hanging, death by fire, human trafficking, gore, drugging someone against their will

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.

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This was a great YA thriller with plenty of twists and turns! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting!

I received an e-ARC from the publisher.

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Two Truths and a Lie is a thrilling, chilling, and captivating murder mystery story in true Agatha Christie style! I love a good “who dunnit?” story and that certainly is the vibe of this book.

Pacing of the story was pretty good, slow at the start and then picks up in the second half, getting really intense. It definitely built up in the way that I wanted it to.

Also, I loved the art at the beginning of the chapters!

I did manage to guess the killer was pretty easily though and I was hoping there would be a bigger twist than what I had guessed.

The characters are kinda flat and not very likeable, at least for me. Apart from the main characters, I got really annoyed at the behavior of the other characters. Some of them could have been pretty good if they had been fleshed out a little more.

Overall though I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to more from this author!

Special thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

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I don't know if this was an issue with reading a protected PDF on my phone and just being annoyed with Adobe the whole time, or if this really wasn't the book for me, but I couldn't get into this at all. It just read... False to me. I couldn't get into this and stopped around 10%, but I know that April Henry's books are usually awesome so I am pretty sure it's a me issue not a book issue

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A quick, fun read about two groups of teenagers stuck in a creepy hotel during a blizzard. The characters were entertaining. The plot was a bit over the top in spots, but overall enjoyable.

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Two Truths and a Lie was a decent read. I usually love YA books but this one was a little more juvenile for my tastes. The writing seemed choppy to me. The characters were also too juvenile for me. The story as a whole had promise.

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Two truths and a lie was a pretty typical locked room thriller . The characters were pretty interesting and it was easy to figure out who the killer was, but it still was an entertaining book.

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The synopsis for this one sounded so good, a group of teens trapped in a creepy motel with a killer on the loose? Sign me up! However, this one was not able to meet my expectations. First off, there were so many characters it was hard for me to remember who was in which "group". Secondly, when a new adult came to stay at the hotel, they would wander into the common room where the teens were playing two truths and a lie and say something weird and "leave them to their game" and walk out. I felt that we didn't really need to go through this 2-3 times for each person, it felt like it was just a way for us as the reader to get introduced to other characters. The prank was also not something I enjoyed and I don't know how the characters could just brush it off so quick. So many things happened but at the same time it felt like nothing was happening if that makes sense. The killer was predictable and the ending was too abrupt. I've read one other book by this author and I didn't enjoy that one either so it might be time to cut ties.

Overall, not something I would want to read again, as I was pushing myself to finish.

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I should have LOVED this book. Given the premise, it should be something that I could devour in short order and it was, but by the end it was for the wrong reasons.

So, here's the deal: Nell and her theatre friends, with their theatre advisor, are on their way to a competition. It's a big deal, they could get scholarships, etc. A blizzard forces them to pull off the interstate and seek shelter at a super sketch rundown motel. Soon another group of high schoolers arrive and claim to be on their way to a robotics competition. A couple randoms also arrive, a truck driver, and the dude who the robotics team picked up on the side of the road. They're adults and all have secrets of their own.

To pass the time, the kids decide to play Two Truths and a Lie. Nell's group's advisor tells the kids to let her sleep and pops a pill, disappearing into her room for the duration of the book. Totally a responsible thing to do. The other group's advisor is not much better. Oscar is super young and also kind of creepy in an I'm-the-cool-adult-who-flirts-with-high-schoolers kind of way. The adults basically wander off, letting the kids have the run of the place.

During the game of Two Truths, the kids are having fun, Nell is flirting with Knox, a boy from the other theatre group. It's all good until Nell (of course) pulls a slip from the pile that has the following written on it:

1. I like to watch people die
2. My least favorite food is mushrooms
3. I've lost count of how many people I've killed.

Suddenly things aren't so fun anymore and despite Nell going on and on and on about how she does the backstage stuff, isn't an actor, blah blah blah, things felt like they were getting good because the mystery was beginning to unfold.

The kids are understandably freaked out, but try to rationalize it away saying someone must have made a mistake and wrote two lies instead of two truths. But no one will admit to it. So they decide each of them will take their own slip and then anyone without a slip will be the one who wrote it. Problem is, when they do this, each kid has their own paper and the creepy one remains unclaimed.

The maintenance guy, Travis, and the owner whose name I forgot already, share some of the history of the motel. The owner talks about how there had been a double murder twenty years ago and his parents tried to keep the business going but they were not successful and that's why it is so rundown now. Travis gives a lot more details on the murders. He has a scrapbook basically of articles and stuff.

He also talks about himself in third person. Obviously we need an OBVIOUS weirdo who could be a killer, but won't actually be, because it would be TOO OBVIOUS. He clearly has had some kind of TBI that makes him act and speak the way he does, and it was a shitty weird stereotype that I hated.

The kids find an Ouija board and decide to do a séance because, why not? Most don't take it seriously, but two do - one because she has done these before and one because his religious beliefs make him believe it is incredibly dangerous.

(Side note: if you have been around a while, you know all things paranormal are my jam. But even I draw the line at Ouija boards. I don't fuck around with that stuff, EVER.)

Then in the middle of asking the spirits about the murders, the power goes out. Don't forget, there is a blizzard raging outside and they are isolated. The board does not get closed properly due to everyone being startled by the outage, and everyone is freaking out.

Everyone decided to go to bed and, OH NO! One of the girls from the other team is MURDERED! She's found hanging in the common room where they'd all hung out the night before. THEN in another's girl's room, BLOOD IS FOUND, but NO BODY!

Turns out, the robotics group was really just another theatre group on their way to the same competition and they decided to play this SUPER FUNNY joke on Nell and her crew, because of how snobby and pretentious they'd been acting. Truthfully, all the kids were annoying in various ways, and did not always read like high schoolers. They seemed very young sometimes, or at least super immature, despite being in high school.

So the joke is that the two girls are not really dead, they just used theatre props and fake blood, etc. to make Nell's team think a murderer was loose among them. Apparently Knox, the boy who Nell is crushing on, is 'super convincing' - meaning he is a douche who is very persuasive, and he basically bullied his team into pulling this prank. And their advisor, Oscar, was okay with it because he basically bullied Oscar into it too. And he like, knows stuff about the others and blackmails them into doing this.

Naturally that should make Knox a suspect when the two girls who were supposedly murdered end up missing FOR REAL.

So that next morning when all this nonsense has come to light, the kids are running around, the adults are just background at this point, and NELL looks out the window to see ANIMAL TRACKS! The owner of the motel says he will take his snowshoes and head out to get help, many miles away. The blizzard continues on and off, Nell and one of the guys end up out in the storm trying to find the owner or something, a family of undocumented immigrants is discovered freezing in the trucker's truck...all kinds of WHAT THE FUCK stuff starts coming fast.

The worst part is the revel of the killer, which I had a pretty good idea was coming. All the sudden it's revealed but it happened so fast that I had to go back and reread because I thought I missed something.

Turns out, nope. It really just happened that way.

As you might surmise, the pacing is all over the place and that's what makes this book such a letdown. You don't have time to be surprised by the final twist because it just barrels over you and the story keeps moving. For those who don't read YA thrillers often, this might be okay, but for seasoned veterans like myself it was ridiculous. I've often said that even if I see a twist coming, it doesn't typically ruin my enjoyment of a book if there are other positives going for it. That can't be said her unfortunately.

I think the book would have been better off without the "joke' played by Knox and his crew. I get why the theatre angle was played up, because HEY IT COULD ALL BE A JOKE, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S REAL! But it fell kind of flat.

There was also nothing to really help distinguish the teens from one another. I kept mixing up which kid was on which team, because they all might as well have been the same person - except Knox and Nell OF COURSE.

So, between the twists that weren't, the depiction of Travis, the random family in the truck, the bobcat lurking outside (JUST KIDDING! The murderer faked the tracks to scare everyone), and awful pacing, and bland/annoying characters, this one didn't work for me.

There was so much promise in the beginning, but in the end I have to say I can't recommend it if you're looking for a unique read.

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LOVED! The ending was great and such a surprise. I definitely recommend! The anticipation to see what was going to happen kept me hooked throughout the entire time I was reading.

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the kids are just so immature i couldn't stand reading them
the whole 'theatre kid' twist was pretty obvious and so was the murderer twist
the rapid escalation at the end made absolutely no sense to me???
overall the pacing of the book was really off - it felt too quick in some places and too short in others, especially when it came to fleshing out the characters
also the way no adults were taking responsibility or acting normally,,,, wtf

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Teenagers do stupid stuff, then regret it.
Character development ❌
Plot ❌
Pacing ❌
Mystery ❌
This book was just not it.
(Arc from NetGalley)

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It started out a little slow. About halfway through is when things started to pick up. I guessed who the killer was about halfway through. I usually love April Henry, but this wasn’t my favorite by her.

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This book was a 3.5 to 4 star book for me. I am a big fan of thriller/suspense and this YA thriller was pretty faced paced, hard to put down, and a fun read. The short chapters kept me wanting to keep reading one more chapter. I was able to figure out a little bit of where the story was going but I liked April’s writing and characters and she did manage to surprise me with one of her bigger twist/reveals. .

Teenagers on their way to their drama competition end up at having to detour due to weather and stop at a creepy hotel and are stranded there until the weather passes. With ghost stories, murder, missing guests, and a couple of twists, this book kept me trying to guess whodunit.

This was my first April Henry book and I did enjoy it and will read more by her.

Thank you to the NetGalley, April Henry, and the publisher for this ARC with me in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

This review is posted on Goodreads and I will post on Amazon when the book is released.

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Review of Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry
2 out of 5 stars

Thank you, NetGalley, for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What happens when a group of teens get snowed in at a roadside motel with a killer?

That right there was enough to get me to read this book. Honestly, anytime a book is about people getting stranded somewhere, only to realize they’re trapped with a murderer, I will read it. Don’t judge me.

Because I read books like this so much, it’s hard to surprise me. Because of that, I saw a lot of the twists of this book coming. I don’t want to say that I had it all figured out, but there were no “GASP!” moments with the twists.

Nell and her school’s theater group friends are on their way to a competition when the snow storm begins As it gets worse, they are forced to seek refuge at a nearby motel. They are soon joined by a group of robotics students, a trucker, and a couple other strangers. All seems to be going okay, considering the circumstances, until the kids decide to play a game of Two Truths and a Lie. The game starts off innocently enough, until Nell pulls out a slip that reads:

I like to watch people die.
My least favorite food is mushrooms.
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve killed.

Then (of course) they decide to play with a Ouija board. Then (of course) the power goes out and the teens must deal with the idea that there is a murderer snowed in with them.

Most of the issues I had with the book are spoilers, so I won’t include them here (scroll to the end to see), but overall I just wasn’t impressed. While this book kept my interest, it just didn’t do anything new. If you’re looking for a quick, fast-paced thriller, give it a try. But if you’re looking for something that will knock you off your feet, this may not be the book for you.

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Nell and her high school acting troupe are on their way to a competition when a snow storm forces them to stay the night at a run-down hotel. When another group of students shows up, they decide to have some fun in the common room with a game of Two Truths and a Lie. The slip of paper Nell draws turns out to be a murder confession, and the night suddenly turns grim as guests begin to go missing. Trapped by the snow, Nell and her friends are going to have to figure out who is a lying in a group where everyone is good at it, and everyone has something to hide. I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Little, Brown. Trigger warnings: character death, suicide, human trafficking, fire, injury, blood, racism, slurs, threats, underage drinking.

I'm fond of YA thrillers, so I'm happy to read variations of the same stories over and over again, but the truth is that most of them are about average, and this one doesn't really stand out. I guessed the killer and the first major plot twist, and while there are a couple small surprises near the end, it's all a bit obvious. Regardless, I had fun following the characters as they tried to unravel what was going on, although I didn't much care for the attempts at blending the paranormal with human monsters. There's some unexplained weirdness with a Ouija board early on, and then the novel seems to forget that it ever tried to invoke the supernatural at all.

None of the characters particularly stand out, and even Nell is an almost blank slate as a narrator. It's interesting that half of them are actors though, who are always a particularly dramatic bunch, and they have their own little culture and language of the stage. I didn't enjoy Nell's cocky love interest, Knox, or the jealous girlhate between her and Maeve over him. Ladies, I promise you, any guy who encourages that doesn't deserve you. I liked her quieter friendship with Adam more, and I wished they had more page-time together earlier in the book.

I think the hotel is meant to be creepy, but I found it really cool with its abandoned Tiki bar and various other charming details you'd never find in a chain. There are some attempts to distract from the real killer when pretty much every guest is some variation of Terrible Person, but in my opinion, there was only ever one option. <spoiler>I mean, you've seen Psycho (1960), right? Stuart is full on Norman Bates, and he was the only one with access to the basket during the game.</spoiler> The ending is a bit bonkers, with stakes that seem quite a bit higher than they would be in real life, but it's fun for fans of the genre.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for my honest review.

The first half of this book was pretty average and I didn’t have a ton of feelings towards anything. The second half was a lot better, the tension was amped up and I started to really enjoy the book. Set against the backdrop of a spooky motel in the middle of a snowstorm was really fun. The last half unfortunately did not work for me. It felt rather chaotic and rushed. I wish the author would’ve kept going with the plot she laid out in the second half. It felt messy and a little far fetched. I’m sad this didn’t work for me because I loved the second half up until it became something else.

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4/5 Stars

This review is spoiler free!

I don't know what it is about thrillers set in blizzards, but obviously I'm here for it as Two Truths and a Lie is the third blizzard book I've read so far in 2022! April Henry does a great job of creating a super atmospheric setting for a book that reads like a classic teen slasher movie.

The main character, Nell, and her theater troupe from school are road tripping off to a competition when they are forced to stop at a kitschy motel due to the weather. They aren't the only travelers stuck here, they are joined by another group of teens from a different high school who are on their way to a robotics competition, and a few other travelers who were stopped by the blizzard. As the night goes on, the teens discover that this hotel has quite the past, and when they decide to play a fun variation on the game "Two Truths and a Lie," they realize the past might just be repeating itself.

This book was honestly just so fun to read. It was very fast paced, and while at times it felt predictable, to be honest -- that's the genre of a teen slasher/horror, and I didn't mind it. Another goodreads reviewer mentioned that during the first half of this book, they expected this to be a 3 star read, yet when they got to the second half, they soon realized it was definitely a 4 star. I absolutely agree. The twists and turns the second half of the book takes are really fun and the payoff is absolutely worth it. I highly recommend reading this book, especially if you have a soft spot for 80s horror and creepy motels.

*I received an ARC from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and views in this review are my own.

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A fun, suspenseful YA thriller. Two groups of teens are stranded in a creepy hotel during a winter storm and engage in a game of “Two Truths and a Lie”. The game takes a dark turn when someone writes about watching people die and killing people. And the hotel has a murky, murderous past. Shades of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

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I received this ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in an exchange for my honest review.

In this YA thriller, we follow a group of theater teens who are on their way to a competition, when they run into a heavy snowstorm, and need to find shelter. They stumble upon a creepy, old motel, and have no choice but to spend the night.

Here they meet another group of stranded teens who were on their way to a robotics competition, along with a few other drivers, seeking shelter from the storm.

The two teen groups decide to hang out together in the common room when one of the students, Knox, decides to play the game Two Truths and a Lie.

The teens are having a lot of funny playing this risky little game, until our main character, Nell, draws a paper with some terrifying information on it.

1. I like to watch people die.
2. I don't like mushrooms.
3. I lost count of how many people I've killed.

To make matters worse, they learn about the horrifying history of the motel where two people were murdered in 1996.

One by one, people at the motel start disappearing, and they begin to wonder, has the murderer returned?


This was actually a very fun read for me. I really enjoy the "whodunnit" books, and I didn't want to put this down because I really needed to know who actually did it. I had my suspicions, but April Henry did such a good job of making EVERYONE suspicious, that you really weren't sure until the end. This was a very fast paced book, I had no issues with finishing this in a day, which is the fastest I've ever read a book. The only negative thing I would say about this, is it reads more like a middle school thriller than a YA thriller. But other than that, it had me guessing the whole time, so kudos to April Henry!

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