Second Look: Sara Shepard’s THE AMATEURS (The Amateurs #1)

Sara Shepard has a new series hitting the shelves November 1!  The Amateurs mixes Pretty Little Liars with Serial.

I have to admit, when I saw this pop up on NetGalley, I was a little unsure.  But I figured, “What they hay?” and requested it.  I’m still not completely sure…but I have to say, the ending surprised me enough to want me to read the second book.

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Releases November 1, 2016

What It’s About: The story focuses on a group of teens (age ranging from about 17 to 19) that come together to solve the mystery of Helena Kelly, a girl who went missing from the prominent town of Dexby, Connecticut, and showed up dead four weeks later.

The story focuses around the friendship of Seneca and Maddox, who met online on the forum, Case Not Closed, where amateur and armchair detectives try to solve cold cases.  When spring break rolls around, Seneca decides to visit Maddy — who she thought was a girl — and try to solve the case.  (Maddox lives in Dexby.)  They are joined by Brett Grady, another member of the Case Not Closed File.

Together, they enlist the help of Aerin Kelly, Helena’s little sister, to find out what really happened to Helena.

How It’s Like PLL:  It’s the classic Rich Girl/Boy town.  Aerin is the quintessential “poor little rich girl” who’s trying to figure out who she is after the death of her sister five years earlier.  Madison, Maddox’s half-sister, is also the classic Rich Girl stereotype.

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How It’s Like Serial:  They’re trying to solve a crime.  (And in that way, it’s probably like PLL, too…)

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TV News: Pretty Little Liars…ENDING?!

I don’t have much commentary on this, beside SHOCK AND AWE that it’s actually ending.  So instead, I’ll simply quote the original post from E! News:

It’s official: Pretty Little Liars is ending after its seventh season.

After much speculation over the future of the show, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse and creator I. Marlene King announced the “bittersweet” news in a Facebook Live broadcast from the show’s set, where they’re filming the final batch of episodes.

Although, not to fret!  In true PLL fashion:

While King had hinted at the possibility that the show could continue in a different form after season seven, the group confirmed that the last ten episodes will mark the end of the series.

Alas, we still have a few months before we have to say good-bye.  The second half of season 7 of PLL won’t air until April 2017.

Until then.

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PLL 6B Season Finale: WE MUST DISCUSS!

Spoilers abound, obvs.

No time to mince words. I’m diving right in. I’ll try to go in order as they happened in the episode (however random rants and tangents are to be expected).

  • Biggest takeaways of the first half hour: 1) Ali is home from the hospital an hallucinating that her dead mother and Det. Wilden are paying friendly visits. 2) The old gang is back together and concoct a plan to capture A-moji (Caleb Rivers ftw for securing Uber A’s new nickname) by telling this creep that Hanna killed Charlotte, which is obvs a bald-faced lie. 3) There was way too much talk about Spencer’s panties in a scene left us all feeling a little uncomfortable, but also a little turned on.
  • #EZRIA is back!! Kind of. I mean, they knocked boots so I guess that counts? In all honesty, I was too busy questioning how easy it was for them to publish their book (#unrealistic) that I didn’t even process that they kissed until they were rolling around on the bed. Also, can we address the fact that Aria is hardcore cheating on Liam?

  • #HALEB is back!! Kind of. Hanna told Caleb she never stopped loving him and they had a special feelings moment. Then they kissed. AND CAN WE ADDRESS THE FACT THE BOTH HANNA AND CALEB ARE NOW A CHEATERS, TOO?! Maybe not quite as bad as Aria, BUT STILL.
  • The entire fandom lost their shit and had to sleep with the lights on when Mrs. D showed up looking like this.

  • Ali wants to go somewhere  “safe” after hallucinating all these dead people. So she goes to the church where, like 6 people (including her sister) have violently died. Seems legit. Fortunately, Emily finds her and brings her to a psychiatric facility at Ali’s request. Ali voluntarily checks herself in because she fears she’s going crazy. Given that town’s history with mental institutions, I think I’d stay as far away from any such facility in a 20 mile radius if I were her. But whatevs. Do you, girl.
  • Caleb Googles how to make an electric fence (because of course you can do that) and tries to fortify the room at the Lost Woods Resort where Hanna is dangling like a worm on a hook into the waters of A-moji. We’ve returned to the scene of the first A lair (kind of), further evidence that the show has come full circle. Or gone off the rails completely, I can’t decide which.

Caleb earns his woodworking badge.

  • Meanwhile, Spencer and Toby sneak out of Mrs. Hastings’s election night party (is there a more official name for those things?) to snoop in the bowels of Radley. They bump into Mona and together discover (are you ready for this shizzle?) a former Radley patient named Mary Drake was Charles’s biological mother and the DiLaurentis family adopted him. Charles was nearly the same age as Jason, so Mr. and Mrs. D lied about Charles’s age so no one would question why he and Jason were so close in age.

  • Ezra, Caleb, and Aria are lurking in the woods trying to catch this person (who they think will be Bad-Haircut-Harvey) in the act, while Hannah is waiting to be kidnapped meet A. Their super sophisticated surveillance (an ipad linked to a security camera) tells them someone’s near. They get blinded by their own booby-trap spotlights and find that Hanna’s disappeared, presumably through a trapdoor they neglected to find while they were trying to make it kidnap-proof (literally every episode of Scooby Doo will tell you to ALWAYS CHECK UNDER THAT THROW RUG FOR A SECRET DOOR).
  • Mrs. Hastings? You mean SENATOR HASTINGS, BITCH.
  • Then this happened…

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  • Wilden was there, and then his face came off and it was Doc Elliot Rollins in a mask and he was suddenly British. And then Mrs. D came out, who wasn’t really Mrs. D but Mary Drake. Turns out she and the Doc are trying to avenge Charlotte’s death because he was in love with her. And since Ali committed herself, she gave control of Carissimi to her husband, Elliott, which is also apparently what this new dynamic duo wanted.

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  • Meanwhile, at Rosewood’s infamous Church of Death, an unconscious Hanna is being drug across the floor by a darkly dressed shadowy person, clutching flowers and blood trickling out of her mouth.

I’m so done.

But I would like to give props to this fan, who clearly has her priorities in order.

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Pretty Little Liars “Do Not Disturb” (06×15): The saga continues, and I just can’t even.

I know it’s been a couple weeks since I wrote about PLL, but this week’s episode was just too ridiculous to not discuss.

Non-fans need to understand that there’s a lot of self-loathing that comes with being a PLL fan. We love it and hate ourselves for it. So then we deny ourselves the privilege of watching this train wreck. And then we hate ourselves even more because we probably missed something epic. Which will probably also be reneged in an upcoming episode. Then we hate ourselves for getting sucked back in, and count down the hours until the next episode.

And this is how we ended up here: up to our eyeballs in intrigue and absurdity six seasons later in the PLL Post-Time Jump Era.

As always, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. If you haven’t watched PLL 06 X 15 yet… watch it, don’t watch it, whatever. It honestly probably doesn’t matter anymore because it’s all cray cray.

01. Ok, so we’re now led to believe that Byron is NOT Charlotte’s killer/New Emoji A. Instead he was just sneaking around and hooking up with his estranged wife. Because that’s not awkward for Aria at all. But, hey… Byron and Ella are back together! (At least for the foreseeable future until they find out their daughter is being stalked (again) and they disagree about how to handle it (again). But she’s an adult now so maybe they’ll be all “whatevs, you’re on your own chica.”)

02. Am I the only one not buying Jordan and Hanna as a couple? Even if we completely remove Spaleb from the equation, I’d rather see Hanna grow old with a kangaroo than Jordan.

You should do that Hanna… just not with Jordan.

03. Even though we live in a world where we need metal detectors in elementary schools, Rosewood doesn’t find it necessary to have any type of security presence in their high school. As a result, it’s totally acceptable and not at all suspicious for a young woman who has no business in that school to show up dressed like a cat burglar and creep around the hallways.

*Side note: Every time I see Sara Harvey’s face, I want to rip it in half. AND WHY DO THEY KEEP PUTTING THIS GIRL IN SUCH UNFORTUNATE HATS?

04. Sara to Ali: “I didn’t know you worked here.” *pause* “I did know you worked here.” GO BACK TO RADLEY, YOU WEIRDO.

05. Hanna/Caleb/Spencer scenes are SO AWKWARD. No love triangle like this would exist in real life without a serious cat fight. To this day, I still wouldn’t be caught dead in the same room as one of my exes. I’m really not sure how any of these ex-couples are even functioning in this town.

06. This whole Emily egg-donor thing is… strange. I don’t really buy how a smart, resourceful, hard-working girl would have to resort to selling her eggs to make money. But she had some hard hits the past few years so I can’t judge too much.

07. Emily had an anesthesia-induced dream that Sara tried to kill her, only to wake up and find that the intended recipient of her eggs backed out. Which is really horrible considering the procedure she just underwent. But hey, homegirl’s hair is KILLING IT post-surgery. So it’s all good.

08. HANNA FINALLY TOLD OFF HER HORRIBLE BOSS. YOU GO GIRL! But don’t come back cuz ya’ll just got fired.

09. Aria and Spencer climbed over the balcony to get into Sara’s hotel room. Even though they clearly learned nothing from Seasons 1-5, I still enjoy Team Sparia.
*Side note: If anyone wants to nickname me “Little Big One” I’d be ok with that.

10. Aria disappeared down a mysterious hole that Sara single-handedly excavated out of the closet in her hotel room. So she’s either investigating without telling Spence (because that’s always smart in Rosewood) or someone took her down that hole. Either way, Aria’s nowhere to be found.

11. Caleb totally owned New Emoji A and corrupted all of that creepster’s files. Caleb Rivers puts the KING in HACKING.

(Even though in this case he planted a virus in a fake backup of the security footage that Hanna covertly delivered to New Emoji A). BUT I STILL STAND BY MY ORIGINAL CLAIM!

I hate myself for being excited for next week’s episode.

PLL 06X12: Questions and WTF moments

Let’s talk some Pretty Little Liars.

Episode 2 of season 6B (also known as Ep. 12 of the Season 6 to most normal people) aired last night. We had some huge reveals (characters running around in the middle of the night all sneaky-like? Lying liars? No one trusting each other? Destroying evidence? What?! That’s crazy-talk…), but unfortunately we were also left with EVEN MORE QUESTIONS. But what else is new?

NOTE: **SPOILERS AHEAD**

Here some of the MANY questions viewers were left with (in order of my perceived importance)…

1. ARE CALEB AND SPENCER DOING THE DANCE WITH NO PANTS?! I was sad and enraged when I discovered “Haleb” was no more, but I gotta say… I found myself endorsing “Spaleb” last night. Honestly, I loved Caleb’s relationships with all the girls. He wasn’t just Hanna’s boyfriend. He was also a friend to all of them who did his best to help, support, and protect the whole gang when shit was goin’ down. I’m actually more upset that this could cause a rift between Caleb and Toby than between the girls. I’m not sure what that says about me or my feelings towards this show…

2. WHAT IS EMILY’S MYSTERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION? I’ve seen a bunch of theories including cancer, diabetes, and fertility treatments. We can speculate until we’re all blue in the face, we’re not going to know until they want us to know.

But what else do we know? (See what I did there? *slaps knee*) Em lost her scholarship after her dad died (RIP Wayne Fields) and now is possibly broke after using all the money he left her on medical treatments. She also told the nurse that she “really needs this to work,” which makes me wonder if the treatments are elective and not medically necessary for some life threatening disease. What person with a potentially serious illness doesn’t need their treatment to work? Her comment doesn’t really seem to make sense in that context.

3. WHY HAVE WE NOT HEARD ANY DISCUSSION OF MRS. D’S UNSOLVED MURDER?! This bothers me more than I can possibly express. Although we saw her gravestone at the end of the ep next to Charlotte’s freshly dug grave… I’m hoping they’ll shake up that mystery again soon. Mrs. D may be gone, but she’s not forgotten!!

4. WHO WAS NOT SURPRISED ARIA MET FITZY IN THE WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING? Show of hands… anyone? Anyone at all?

5. (Follow up to #4) DID EZRA KILL CHARLOTTE?! His whereabouts are unaccounted for during the time of Charlotte’s murder (because apparently Aria is an expert at detecting lies based solely on eye contact). However, since they’re leading us in that direction, it’s obviously NOT him.

Now, for some epic moments that left me saying

1. How did Sara’s hair somehow get worse? Or it maybe didn’t change that much. Either way, it didn’t get any better. You’d think she’d want to change up her look after 5 years.

2. They’re having the funeral for Charlotte in the same church she was flung off of?

3. Did Ali seriously work a threat into a prayer? Damn, that’s cold…

4. Why is Emily lying to her mother about grad school and not being at Pepperdine? Emily is lying through her teeth about her current academic standing, but can Pam seriously not have any idea that her daughter lost her scholarship and is no longer enrolled in a major university? Meanwhile, Pam is all “EMILY YOU’RE GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL HERE IN ROSEWOOD?” Poor Pam. Someone get the woman some more wine. She’s gonna need it later this season.

5. Can Aria ever have a legit, out-in-the-open relationship? OMG this girl. Did she seriously not learn anything from her high school relationship with her English teacher?

6. Does Ali throw the WORST dinner parties ever or what? Ali’s threatening her guests, wine glasses and corkscrews don’t exist in Ali’s house, Hanna’s ex-boyfriend and current fiance are sitting across from each other at dinner, and, for whatever reason, Hanna’s fiance felt the need to feed the masses with a variety of ethnic foods at someone else’s dinner party.

Also, learning your sister’s time of death before dinner really sets the tone of the evening.

I’m so happy the ridiculous PLL of old is back. More mysteries, more super-shady characters, and more bizarre story arcs. See ya’ll next week!