Cover Image: Only If You're Lucky

Only If You're Lucky

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"Only If You're Lucky" by Stacy Willingham presents a gripping tale of friendship, betrayal, and the consequences of living life on the edge. Set against the backdrop of a liberal arts college in South Carolina, this novel follows the transformation of Margot, a shy and reserved freshman, who finds herself drawn into a dangerous world of mystery and intrigue.

The story revolves around Margot's relationship with Lucy Sharpe, a charismatic and enigmatic figure who captivates her from the moment they meet. Willingham deftly explores the dynamics of their friendship, highlighting the allure of Lucy's larger-than-life personality and the insecurities that lie beneath Margot's surface. As Margot becomes increasingly entangled in Lucy's world, she finds herself confronting her own desires and fears, leading to a series of unexpected twists and turns.

What sets "Only If You're Lucky" apart is its exploration of the complexities of female friendships and the dark underbelly of college life. Willingham delves into themes of identity, power, and the consequences of reckless behavior, painting a vivid portrait of a group of young women navigating the murky waters of adulthood.

However, while the novel's premise is intriguing and the character development is strong, the pacing can feel uneven at times. The plot meanders in places, and certain narrative threads are left unresolved, leaving readers with more questions than answers.

Additionally, some readers may find the portrayal of certain characters, particularly Lucy Sharpe, to be lacking in depth and nuance. While Lucy is undeniably magnetic, her motivations and actions often feel exaggerated and unrealistic, making it difficult to fully invest in her character.

In conclusion, "Only If You're Lucky" is a compelling read that offers a thought-provoking exploration of friendship and self-discovery. While it may falter in pacing and characterization at times, its engaging plot and evocative themes make it a worthwhile addition to the genre. Fans of psychological thrillers and campus dramas will find much to enjoy in Willingham's sophomore novel.

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I have really enjoyed both of Stacy Willingham's previous works - A Flicker in the Dark and All The Dangerous Things, so I was looking forward to this outing.

As with both of her other books, the beginning presents itself as a very important scene. It sets the tone for the rest of the novel before flipping back in time and proceeding along two different timelines. Margot, a privileged girl from the Outer Banks of North Carolina is attending college while still grieving the death of her best friend, Eliza. When she's pulled into a friend group by a gregarious and well liked classmate, Lucy, she ends up living in a house next door to a fraternity. A frat that has a member that she blames for Eliza's death. When Lucy disappears after a frat member is murdered, Margot's life is thrown into even more turmoil.

The premise? Solid. The execution...not as solid. It felt like it took absolutely forever for anything to really happen here. There was so much time spent showing how Margot gets further and further attached to Lucy and dragged into her orbit, and endless comparisons to Lucy and Eliza. So much time was spent here that it felt like any other plot development was rushed. I got bored/tired of the constant comparison, and I think it could have been done with a much lighter hand. The opportunity for learning more about Eliza in the backstory was there, but it was glossed over/rushed through. I think we could have gotten the same comparison between Lucy and Eliza in less time and it still have the same impact. There wasn't a lot of depth to the Eliza/Margot relationship because so much was spent on the aftermath of her death instead of showing their relationship leading up to it. At times I wondered why Margot was grieving as deeply as she was because it seemed she and Eliza weren't as close as the level of grief might suggest.

90% of the twists in this came at the very end, and several of them were quite predicable while one of them seemed completely implausible. I know you have to suspend disbelief when reading thrillers, but this required a little too much.

Overall, a decent read, but not my favorite of Willingham's.

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So I thought this one sounded really interesting and was looking forward to reading it. We knew that the opening scene was going to be super important somehow and I was ready to uncover why. The story was split into before and after timelines. In the before we learn how the girls all became friends. Margot is still grieving the loss of her friend Eliza and she blames one of the fraternity boys for it. The after storyline is focused on the detective investigating Lucy's disappearance... a disappearance which the girls seem to know more about than they let on. I mean the book had all the super interesting elements to be amazing.

I just really struggled to stay engaged in the story because it felt like it took forever for anything to happen. I know we needed all the background on Margot and the friendship with Lucy... and the book spends most the time making Lucy this mysterious character who Margot attaches herself to because she reminds her of Eliza. I honestly got tired of the before storyline really quickly. I think we could have done a lot of that background in less time and achieved the same impact. I don't think we got enough of the after timeline for it to make enough sense. Like I really wanted more of that one to be honest. The book saved all the big twists for the end but like they just felt rushed. One of them was highly predictable and the others I think needed a bit more to them. I struggled to like any of the characters in this one and I think it played a huge role in my not enjoying this one.

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this was such an intriguing read and I had so much fun picking up this mystery/thriller after not having read one in a while! this story jumps between timelines which adds a lot of great suspense as you are waiting to understand what has happened in the past and how it relates to what is occurring in the present tense. the college setting was also super fun, exploring this kind of dynamic of students away from home and growing independent, trying to find themselves and maybe not making the smartest decisions all the while. the entire friendship plot was so interesting too as you get to see various power dynamics play out and some super complex, sometimes twisted, relationships at play. and WOW so many plot twists! when I tell you they just kept coming, I am not even kidding. I wasn't even able to guess most of them which is a great sign for a thriller read and made it impossible to put down for the last 30% of the story. oh and I can't forget that we have an unreliable narrator which makes it even more intriguing as you try to figure out what is true and not throughout the story. overall, if you are looking for a bingeable mystery/thriller book (that is also great on audio!), I would definitely recommend this one!

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This book hooked me immediately! Such a good story and mystery. I was not expecting the ending with that twist at all.

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Stacy has done it again! I absolutely loved this book and that it was set at a college. The uncertainty between the characters, never knew who you could trust. I definitely did not see the twist coming either. This book was such a quick and easy read!

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#OnlyifYoureLucky by @stacyvwillingham is the audiobook I listened to this weekend thank you to NetGalley and @macmillan.audio !!
This was narrated by the most awesome @karissavacker - I always know the audio will be enjoyable with her narrating!
In this story, set in off-campus Greek housing, three friends start to wonder about the fourth friend, the magnetic Lucy, around which they all seem to orbit. Lucy has an air of mystery and charisma about her that seems irresistible. The POV is told from Margo’s perspective, who after suffering a year from the death of her hometown best friend tragically the summer after hs graduation, comes to meet Lucy, and winds up moving with her and two others to off campus housing. Throughout the story you flash back between the summer when Margo’s friend died but you really only gets pieces as the story then flips to “after” Lucy disappears and one of the boys from the frat house is dead.
A true who-done it that will shock and entertain you!
Look for this after publication date coming Jan 16th of the new year!!

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Very very disappointed in this book. I loved the author’s other 2 books but this one was just not for me. Very cliched mean girl sorority vibes, ridiculous frat bros. There was literally nothing interesting about any of the characters in this book. They all seemed to be robots and had a plot let no backbone. Lucy was decidedly not fascinating and the red herring at the end was absurd

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I love Stacy Willingham's books, and Only If You're Lucky is no different! It's more of a dark academia thriller than her other books and had me hooked from the start!

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Only If You're Lucky by Stacy Willingham tells the story of college student Margot, who is finishing up her freshman year and is haunted by the fact that her best friend Eliza is not there to experience college life with her as planned. Eliza died three weeks after their high school graduation and Margot is coming up on the first anniversary of Eliza's death. One day Margot is approached by the beautiful, striking, mysterious Lucy Sharpe and as they chat, Lucy invites Margot to move in with her and her friends at an off campus house for the summer and the upcoming year. The house that Margot moves into is owned by a fraternity and they live next door. And Margot becomes more concerned when she finds out that Levi, Eliza's crush and neighbor, is living in the next door frat house. Levi was the last person to see Eliza the night she died.

This book has a distinct YA feel - much different than Ms. Willingham's previous books I have read and not necessarily my favorite. Maybe it was because it was set at a college and there was a lot of truth-or-dare type spin-the-bottle games, drugs, drinking, and partying. I felt like this book was a lot slower, too. It took a while for the book to gain momentum and even then the plot was pretty predictable.

I think if you like YA books set at a college, family secrets, and kids running amok, you'll enjoy the newest book by Stacy Willingham.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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I loved Willingham’s first two books and was so excited to get this one from NetGalley. I saw a lot of mixed reviews and put it off. So it’s been out for a few months and I’ve now read it. Like many others, this was a miss for me, which made me so sad.

Margot lost her best friend this summer, but goes to college anyway and tries to move on. She makes new friends. Friends with secrets. And her best friend had secrets. And soon enough, all those secrets are coming out.

I like the outline of this book. It’s a great concept. I thought there was way too much internal monologue between the action. Too much stewing. I have that problem with a lot of thrillers though, especially domestic thrillers, so this might just be me. I also just didn’t like the characters. At all. So by the time all the twists were revealed, I just didn’t care. I’ll still read Willingham’s next one! Her first too are great!

Thank you to Netgalley and Minotaur Books for the advance digital copy. All opinions are mine. This is out now!

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Only If You’re Lucky is the latest thriller by Stacy Willingham. I have read other books by her and expected to really like this. I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate it. There were parts of the story I really liked but there were also parts that seemed to drag and it was often a lot easier to put down than pick up. I also didn’t particularly like any of the characters and Isorta felt the story would have been better if it was a tad shorter. On the other hand, I did finish it and I did like the twist at the end but if I had to sum this book up in one word, it would be meh.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and St Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review

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Like her other books, this is a good pallet cleanser... if you're in a reading rut and thriller isn't usually the genre you pick up, I would recommend this for a quick read.

If you're an avid thriller reader, I wouldn't recommend this one.

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I feel guilty for the review I'm about to give, as I received a free ebook copy from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.
If you've read other reviews, then you know this is a story about three college-age girls who live together in a house owned by a frat, and somehow they get mixed up in a murder. This story is told in first person, by the protagonist, Margot.
Interesting premise, cool old house vibes, what could go wrong?
The main problem with this book is it's repetitive. And because the details are told over and over (and over), the story gets boring FAST.
No big surprise: the college-age characters drink alcohol and have parties. And make bad decisions while they are drunk. That is interesting the first couple of times in a story, but 300 pages later and the 50th mention of getting drunk -- the story is trite and dull.
Also no big surprise: college age girls have a lot of strong and dramatic feelings. But the author repeats these feelings so many times in the narrative that it almost feels like filler. She needed a few more pages to make the required number, so let's talk about those feelings again. It was repetitive and boring, especially at the end.
There is a murder (or two...). There is a twist (or two...). Sadly, the twists were easy to guess and by the time the murderers were revealed in the final pages, I just didn't care anymore. The book had begun to stink like week-old tuna casserole and I couldn't wait to be done with it.
This book was extra disappointing because I loved the author's debut "A Flicker in the Dark."
"Only If You're Lucky" fell flat for me. Both my apologies and thanks to Minotaur Books for the ARC. Views expressed are entirely my own.

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This is not going to be the thriller for everyone but for me it was great! It fits that sweet spot between upper YA and adult as it follows college age characters.
It was definitely a slow burn but once it gets going it's juicy and I couldn't stop reading until I finished it and got all the reveals which happen at the very end so you gotta stay with it.
I can't wait to see what the author does next as I've enjoyed everything she's put out so far.

Thank you to the publisher for the copy!

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I loved this book. There are a couple of things that might be some readers off, such as a slower pace and a YA feel to the book (it’s about college girls). Neither of these bothered me though. I really liked all of the characters and loved the twists. I thought this was a really well written mystery and I loved it as much as the author’s past books.

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This book was great, it felt fresh and not like anything else I've read lately. It kept me intrigued all the way through, I didn't want to put it down.

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This was a great palate cleanser thriller/mystery. I enjoy a college student trope, and this one didn’t disappoint. Margo goes off to college without her best friend, and struggles to fit in and find new friends, until a popular girl invites her to move in with her friend group. Immediately, Margo is happy to be hanging out with the popular students, but she seems to be reminded of her best friend at every turn. What happened to her best friend, and what are this new friends’ motives? This book did not disappoint! Grab it right away!

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An eerie academic thriller that kept my body tensed up the entire time. Is it just me or are fraternities just soooo creepy?

Margot gets invited to move into a house with three other girls, and basically shit hits the fan slowly but surely. I really do enjoy a book with a girl group full of dynamic characters, and I thought Willingham did a great job making them fairly different but similar enough to be believeable friends. I liked flipping back between then and now, and that we only got the information on an as-needed basis.

And that ending??? Could've seen it coming, definitely didn't. My new fav SW thriller!

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
⁣⁣⁣
📖 I received this digital copy of Only if You’re Lucky from @netgalley and it was easily a 4 star read! I read this story while on vacation and I literally couldn’t put it down! I loved the suspense and the constant second guessing every step of the way. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with the ending throughout the whole story!

This is actually my second Stacey Willingham book, “A Flicker in the Dark” being my first and I am so glad I picked this one because it was just as great of a book as the first one!

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