Fall Favorite Things – The Amateurs


While I am a bit saddened to see this tour conclude, I am excited to be reviewing The Amateurs by Sara Shepard. As I know many of you have been anticipating this title. It seems like the perfect note to end on. I want to thank Morgan Rath and everyone at SparkPoint Studio/BookSparks, as well as the fabulous authors involved, for what has been one of my best blogging experiences to date!


The Amateurs (The Amateurs #1)
By Sara Shepard
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Available 11/1/16
ISBN13: 9781484742273
Pages: 320
Genre: YA Mystery

Book Blurb:

As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.

But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet.

As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.


The Amateurs was my first experience with a book by Sara Shepard, I know I know, I can hear half of you gasping in shock. But it is true. I have never read her work, but that is not to say I am unfamiliar with Pretty Little Liars. As some of you know, I happen to be the proud owner of a 16 yr old daughter. So I have caught snippets of the television series and discovered the books lying casually around the house.

So let me explain in a bit more detail why I was very excited to receive this book. My daughter is hardly a reader. The normal titles strewn about her floor are “required” reading for her Honors English course. Discovering leisure reads in her possession is a huge and thrilling deal for me. So when I began to see a pattern with Sara Shepard’s work, I knew there was something special here. And to seal the deal, landing an advanced copy of her newest book suddenly made me one of the “cool” kids in my daughter’s circle! So immediately, The Amateurs was prone for success without having even been read. Great start! So what happens next?


I have learned, a lot in part to Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon (who I discovered as part of this tour), that YA Mystery is not bad. In fact, when you learn to adjust your mindset and discover a great author, it can be pretty rewarding. And that is exactly how I would describe The Amateurs. Rewarding. I quickly discovered that the author’s writing is clean and eloquent, avoiding flowery or useless speech. It feels precise, but just descriptive enough to allow you to fully picture the events unfolding with incredible ease.

The characters are evolved with enough depth to easily convey empathy and anger where needed. They are convincing. It is easy to appreciate their struggles and to like or dislike them. I understood within a matter of several chapters how this author has created so many characters my daughter has connected with. You find yourself invested. Simple, but important additions of appropriate details such as accessories and style complete the viable feel of true young adults. They work. And while I was not smitten with any particular character, I found myself enjoying Seneca and her friends acquired from Case Not Closed, an online crime solving forum.

The plot felt original and familiar at the same time. The story of a group of young adults struggling to solve the mystery of murder is definitely not a new concept. However, Shepard easily provided a fresh addition to the story with the introduction of the online forum and a group a characters coming together for the first time in hopes of solving a heinous crime. It created a unique experience for me and made perfect sense in a time where the internet connects so many of us.

I did not find The Amateurs to have a true element of suspense, as the story unfolds at a very steady pace for the most part. However, the mystery vibe is definitely present, as I soon realized I was unable to pinpoint any definitive suspects. Of course there were multiple people in question regarding the death of Helena, but everyone seems to have an alibi or leave just enough room for question. It is hard to commit to one or two particular “prime” suspects. Sign of a good mystery, right?!

I found myself having to put the book down for days at a time because I do not like to allow too much time between completion and reviews to past. I was tearing through this too fast for my preferred review date. Shame on me for being excited and starting too soon. I have stumbled across several mixed reviews and a few low scores, but here are my final and honest thoughts: The end result was a light, and enjoyable read that I would recommend to any fan of YA Mystery, especially on the younger end of the spectrum. The conclusion was fantastically surprising, leaving a beautiful segue into future editions. This is a title that is worth investing the time in.  I now have a better understanding of why this author has reached my daughter on a level so many others could not.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Purchase The Amateurs
Barnes & Noble.com

About Sara Shepard

For as long as she can remember, Sara Shepard has been writing. However, when she was young she also wanted to be a soap opera star, a designer for LEGO, a filmmaker, a claymation artist, a geneticist, and a fashion magazine editor when she grew up. She and her sister have been creating joint artistic and written projects for years, except they’re pretty sure they’re the only ones who find them funny. Sara’s bestselling young adult series, Pretty Little Liars, is loosely based on her experiences growing up on Philadelphia’s Main Line…although luckily she never had any serious stalkers. The series has also inspired the Freeform television series of the same name.

Follow Sara Shepard Here:

47 thoughts on “Fall Favorite Things – The Amateurs

  1. I LOVED your review Danielle! I had NO clue that this author was the mind behind the one show that managed to string me along like a mouse chasing cheese on a string smh LMAO! I loved PLL but this last season I kind of put my foot down & said NO MORE! I won’t let you continue teasing me with revelations of A everywhere…I had no idea that it was the last season though sooOo yea haha! I received a chapter sampler at Bookcon & it caught my interest. This sounds like something I’d enjoy for fun, I’m guessing it’s the beginning to a series? def checking this one out, maybe pick this one up this wknd along with The Sun Is Also A Star 🙂

    P.S. I can’t wait to be the cool mom of a reader *fingers crossed*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will totally be the cool mom of a reader 😎😘 This isnthr beginning of a series so I will follow along. My interest is piqued. Who knows ,maybe my daughter will read a long with me! Hearing that you lived the review makes me.feel so good ❤ Thank you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Danielle 😃😘 a buddy read with your daughter would be awesome! I’d throw that in my review lol. I just started chapter books with my 5 year old & I find myself going all out on theatrics just to keep her attention. We’re reading The Never Girls which has all of the adventures in Pixie hollow. Every night we become faeries & although it’s fun, I can’t wait to read with her 😆😆😆 & you’re very welcome 💕

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You should have heard me trying to read through The Chronicles of Narnia with my son. He loved it! We took turns and added our own theatrics as well. It was interesting with the different dialect.

          He will be 12 soon and people look at me like I am weird when I say we still like to read together. I read an interesting article (shluld have saved it) about how majority of parents stop reading to or with kids around ten and the kids still actually prefer to read with oarents as they grow. I would totally sit and pass a book around the livingroom each night haha 😂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Omg! That sounds awesome, I’ve been reading to my kids since they were in the belly. My 2 yr old son loves to bring me books to read to him. My little bookworms love the theatrics lol. The Chronicles Of Narnia & Harry Potter! My husband started getting me the exclusive editions of HP with the illustrations, dtr goes crazy over those books haha! I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading to my tiny humans 😃

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m way behind with PLL, only saw season 1 and 2 I think, but I feel the need to start again now. This book definitely has the same feel as PLL. One of the most important things for me is that there’s enough mystery to keep you entertained and that you don’t solve the whodunnit too soon, and that most definitely seems to be the case here. Great review and a book, possibly series, that I would love to follow myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This Blog Tour brought so much awesomeness! I believe it’s the first time I’m getting excited about joining one because of it! *thumbs up!*
    It’s beyond awesome how you’re the cool mom now (as if you weren’t before already, pff) by reading a book from this author xD. I watched the first season of PLL as one of my guilty pleasures with the curtains closed. Every girl needs one of those right? Right?? Anywho, I might pick it up again sometime soon now because of your review (and because I know the killer has finally stepped up in the end 😉 ). This story, however, sounds like less of a guilty pleasure but more of a pleasure. Period. I love the idea of online CSI clubs! This is one damn fine review, Danielle! Your daughter can definitely be proud of her mother ;).

    Oh, and slowing down your reading because you have to wait to be able to review it. Yeah, that’s definitely a thing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Anne. You are always to good to me! And yes, best to pace the read. I cannot have a book set for too long before reviewing. A day tops haha. Quirk of mine I guess 😉

      So this is definitely a fun read. It was nice, because even though it was apparent that the targeted audience was “much” younger, I was able to completely enjoy it. Maybe I will jump into PLL in the future as well 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dude, I’m properly good to you <3. Well, your still young at heart obviously!! Adulting is for party poopers. I absolutely loathed it at first. And yet, I felt compelled to keep on watching ;).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha ha about being one the “cool” kids 🙂 I think I’ve seen a few stops on this blog tour, to be honest that cover jumped out at me and now I think I’ll be getting this one. I love the premise and had no idea the author was the PLL author until just recently! The online forum is a neat idea. Sounds like a nice YA mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fabulous review! I hope I’m the cool mom one day 😎 I read the first PLL book and honestly thought it was just “ok” but I’ve never watched the show. I really do want to read this book though. And you definitely make it sound worth it!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s huge– knowing what audience is targeted for books. Keeping that in mind will often keep me more engaged with a specific book if I know I’m not the intended audience.
        But, I get you Megan, sometimes that still doesn’t cut it. (Don’t worry, you’ll be a cool mom. That’s obvious)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic review! 🙂 Pretty cool to see that you got your hands on a book that potentially made you an AWESOME MOM! 😛 I’ve heard about the author and her books, but I didn’t know she had more stories to tell!

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Haha I used to watch Pretty Little Liars, then I got tired of it because they kept twisting things every time more, like in Quantico XD But it was super addictive 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome review! The name of the author did ring a bell but I had to wait for you to mention Pretty Little Liars to remember! I watch the show (well, was watching, I’m stuck on season 5, will I ever discover the truth? xD). I read a few reviews on YA mysteries that were not good, so it feels nice to know there are authors out there who do it well!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. *First* of all: “I happen to be the proud owner of a 16 yr old daughter.” This line made me laugh aloud for a good five minutes. We’re talking tears streaming down my face.

    I also haven’t read anything by Sara Shephard. I personally like to avoid overhyped books until I completely forget why they were hyped in the first place. It’ll be a while since I read Pretty Little Liars, for sure. But I’m so glad you found enjoyment in this book– and not only for you but for your daughter potentially as well! When I’m in the mood for a mystery, I might need to reach for this book. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha Jackie.. owning a teenage daughter is fun, confusing and hard. I never know which direction I am going and can hardly relate on anything. Since getting her to read is usually like pulling teeth, I knew the author had to be doing something right when I discovered she liked her books 🙂 Thanks so much!


  10. I have to admit I’ve never read anything by Sara Shepard either (though now you have) but I did watch PLL for a long time and was so invested in it that it wasn’t even funny 😂. I’ve since stopped watching but maybe I’ll finish it one day lol. Either way, I want to read this so bad! Especially after having read your review. I love the whole concept of the online forum and trying to solve a crime. I’ll definitely have to try to get my hands on this. Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your review has me excited to read this one. This is a standalone book, right? That was the impression I got with this one. I’ve been looking for more standalones. Series are too time consuming anymore. I’m glad the writing is good and the characters are well fleshed out here. Would you believe I own two sets of books for PLL? One is in paperback and the other kindle. I haven’t read either of them. Crazy, right? I watched a few seasons of the show before I got bored of the same old stuff over and over again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to get these ARCs cleared out before I can read them. And I always forget I own them. 🙈 I have 9 ARCs I need to read and more are on the way from the publisher. Lately, I’ve only been reading ARCs. I’m hoping to finish them by January because I’m planning to do a Harry Potter series reread the month of January. Oh, I was thinking it was a standalone book. I should’ve known better, seeing as how PLL is a massive series. I think some authors are incapable of writing a standalone book. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.