Top 10 Books to Read in 2018

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At the beginning of every year, I always put a list together of books I want to read. I don’t have to necessarily stick to it, but it’s always good to go through my TBR list and pick out the ones I want to bring to the top. Here are my top ten picks for 2018!

These books are in no particular order.

1.

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

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With an execution order on her head, Yelena has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth. With only a year to master her magic – or face death – Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician’s Keep. – from Goodreads.com

I read the first book in the series, Poison Study, in January 2017, and so it seems only fitting that I would read the sequel in January 2018! This series was an excellent surprise, and I can’t wait to get cracking with book two.

2.

Wires and Nerve, Vol 2: Gone Rouge by Marissa Meyer

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Iko – an audacious android and best friend to the Lunar Queen Cinder – has been tasked with hunting down Alpha Lysander Steele, the leader of a rogue band of bioengineered wolf-soldiers who threaten to undo the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna. Unless Cinder can reverse the mutations that were forced on them years before, Steele and his soldiers plan to satisfy their monstrous appetites with a massacre of the innocent people of Earth. And to show he’s serious, Steele is taking hostages. – from Goodreads.com

Wires and Nerve Volume 1 was my second favourite book of 2017, second only to that of John Green’s latest release (which was, honestly, always going to be top!). The Lunar Chronicles has been another favourite series of mine in the past few years and this graphic novel companion series is just the icing on the cake.

3.

Red Hood’s Revenge by Jim C Hines

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Roudette’s story was a simple one. A red cape. A wolf. A hunter. Her mother told her she would be safe, so long as she kept to the path. But sometimes the path leads to dark places. Roudette is the hunter now, an assassin known throughout the world as the Lady of the Red Hood. Her mission will take her to the country of Arathea and an ancient fairy threat. At the heart of the conflict between humans and fairies stands the woman Roudette has been hired to kill, the only human ever to have fought the Lady of the Red Hood and survived-the princess known as Sleeping Beauty. – from Goodreads.com

Another fairy tale retelling series! Again, I read the first two books last year and really enjoyed both of them, so now that I’m halfway through the series, I must continue and find out what happens!

4.

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

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It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Until strange things start happening to him. Strange things that might mean nothing at all—or that someone is after him again. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex. Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows that her Watson can’t forgive her. – from Goodreads.com

Can you tell I love retellings? This is the final instalment of the Charlotte Holmes series, and the final showdown where everything gets tied up. I need to find out whether Charlotte and Jamie get together – but let’s face it, they probably will!

5.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist: Break into the notorious Ice Court (a military stronghold that has never been breached). Retrieve a hostage (who could unleash magical havoc on the world). Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it). Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.
 
– from Goodreads.com

Even though this book was published in 2015, there is still such a hype surrounding this book. It’s been on my TBR for a year now and I must get around to reading it and seeing what all the fuss is about.

6.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew. Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both. – from Goodreads.com

Another Marissa Meyer book on the list comes as no surprise, as after the release of Heartless, she was bumped up to my auto-buy authors list. I’ve never read a book about superheroes before so this book will be my first.

7.

Psycho by Robert Bloch

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Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates Motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can’t help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife. – from Goodreads.com

One of my favourite TV series, Bates Motel, finished this year and I’m getting serious withdrawal! In an attempt to fill the Bates Motel hole, I’m planning on reading the book. Not usually a fan of horror but this one has me interested.

8.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

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On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister… – from Goodreads.com

I’ve read all of Ruth Ware’s books (In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10) except The Lying Game, but I aim to read it in 2018. I really, really love reading mystery/thrillers and 2018 will be no different.

9.

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews

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Audrina wanted to be as good as her sister. Her sister was so special, so perfect — and dead. Now she will come face to face with the dangerous, terrifying secret that everyone knows. Everyone except… Sweet Audrina. – from Goodreads.com

A few years ago, I read the Flowers in the Attic series as research for my dissertation and fell in love with Andrews’s tone and writing style. Andrews only wrote six books before she died, the five books in the Flowers in the Attic series and My Sweet Audrina. I’d love to give this book a read and see if I enjoy it as much as her others.

10.

A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin

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Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. – from Goodreads.com

I read the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, last year and loved the rich world building. I really need to get into the series again and start reading A Clash of Kings. Then I can get on with the TV series too!

So this concludes my top ten books to read in 2018. What’s on your list? Let me know in the comments!

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Netflix and Chill: My Week with TV

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I spend a lot of time on Netflix, like most of the population, and I love nothing more than sitting in front of my laptop binge-watching my favourite shows. In fact, I take pride in my well crafted TV Schedule that keeps me ticking over for weeks on end, (until the mid-season finales and season breaks, that is.) You may thing a schedule is incredibly sad, but this is coming from the girl who does monthly lists of her top five/ten/fifteen favourites. And I’m a Virgo, get over it.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time

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If someone were to say, ‘Clare, we’re going to create a TV show just for you‘, I would have chosen something along the lines of Once Upon a Time. Fairy tale characters in the real world? Totally up my ally. The huge ensemble cast of the show and the varied characters not only from fairy tales but from Oz, Neverland and Wonderland, are what makes thing show so special.

Monday

The Fosters

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I watched The Fosters, firstly, for the diversity it brought to television. Then, as I got more invested, I watched it for Callie and Wyatt. Now, I still watch it for the diversity in the show and I live in hope that Callie and Wyatt will get back together and Callie will forget all about Brandon and we’ll all pretend like it never happened. Okay? Okay.

Tuesday

Finding Carter

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Sadly it was recently announced that, Finding Carter is not being picked up for a third season, but I wanted to give this beloved show an honourable mention.

I used to watch Kathryn Prescott in Skins many years ago, and I spent most of the first season marveling at her slick American accent. Although I love Max/Taylor as much as the next person, I’m still hoping for Max/Carter to drive off into the sunset like a teenage Bonnie and Clyde. Although the show has wandered far from it’s original premise, there’s something lovable about these characters that keeps me coming back.

Also on a Tuesday is:

Pretty Little Liars

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Although the Big A mystery is over, (and we’re all still not sure quite WTF happened in that episode), our Pretty Little Liars continue convince themselves that telling the truth will get them killed for another season and a half. I’m just hoping we get a bit more backstory/information re: the first five and a half seasons because let’s be honest, we’re all a little bit confused. That being said, it’s the PLL quintet of friendship that keeps us watching, especially after the scene where they all said goodbye before college. Don’t talk to me. I’m welling up.

Wednesday

Catfish: The TV Show

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My non-fiction pick of the week. For me, the mystery side of the show is what appeals to me (along with Max and Nev’s bromance), and whether or not the the love interest is Catfish-ing or not. I’m always thinking up wild ideas of who could be behind the profile before the reveal the identity, but some of them are so bizarre you just couldn’t call it.

Thursday

How to Get Away with Murder

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I wanted to watch this originally because of Alfred Enoch who starred as the lovable Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter movies. Then, when I watched the Pilot, I was hooked on the mystery that surrounded the Keating Five and binge-watched the whole of the first season. Then the second season came out, and I didn’t think they would be able to top the neatly packaged, perfectly paced story line of season one – but they did. The writers of this show are genius. They manage to keep the suspense moving, keep the character development deepening and seem to go bigger and better.

Friday

Reign

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Mary Queen of Scots, fiercely portrayed by the wonderful Adelaide Kane, shows what life was like for the young Queen at French Court, and the short-lived marriage she had with Francis II of France. I originally wanted to watch this show for Anna Popplewell, who played gentile Susan Pevensie from the first two Chronicles of Narnia films, but soon I fell in love with the whole ensemble of characters, from Mary’s ladies in waiting, the Valois family and the nobles at court. And as an already established Tudor fan, this show was just my style.

Saturday

Doctor Who

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Watching Doctor Who on a Saturday is a habit I’ve let slide. When David Tennant and Matt Smith occupied the role I was an avid watcher, and I’m not for one minute saying I don’t like Peter Capaldi. I do like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. The issue I have is with the content of the show, as some of the science-based narratives often get lost on me, so I prefer to sit down and binge-watch the whole season after it has aired so I can at least remember what happened between each episode, rather than have them weeks apart. I love each Doctor for different reason, and I won’t participate in a who-I-like-better debate because, for me, the Doctor is the Doctor, no matter who’s face he has, and he’s the reason why I still watch the show.

And then we go back to Sunday and do it all again! Let me know in the comments what TV shows you like to watch, and did I miss any out that are on your TV schedule?

Honourable Mentions to Shows Not in Transmission

FRIENDS

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For me, Friends is the mother-ship of TV shows. The best of the best, the cream of the crop, I can put any episode or season of Friends on and laugh my ass off. The characters, their lives, their love of coffee, the New York City apartment life. Everything about this show is perfect. (except for the episode where Joey “speaks” French. I mean REALLY?!)

One Tree Hill

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I missed the boat when the show was airing but I spent a long, long time watching and re-watching this show. I still can’t decide whether I wanted Peyton/Lucas to Brooke/Lucas to be end-game, and it’s something that still keeps me up at night, but maybe that’s the power of a good TV show. It keeps you thinking long after it’s finished.

Recap: Becoming a Pretty Little Liar

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Please be aware that there are spoilers for Pretty Little Liars in the post ahead.

My Pretty Little Liars journey began on the 15th August 2015 when I sat down to watch the Pilot and my life changed forever. Then I swiftly watched seasons one to five in a record-breaking five weeks. To say I was obsessed was an under statement.

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The mystery surrounding Alison DiLaurentis was what drew me in to the show. She had gone missing the night of the barn sleepover and the Liars spent a year wondering exactly what had happened to their best friend. Then, at the last moment, they found her body, and us and the Liars were posed with a new question: Who Killed Alison DiLaurentis? A missing person became a murder victim, and another mystery unraveled. This was when the now infamous A messages started arriving for all four of the Liars, threatening to spill their deepest and darkest secrets, secrets that only Alison knew. So was Ali really dead? Or was she messing with the girls like she had done throughout their whole friendship?

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The first two seasons were tightly packaged up in a neat bow. Both we well paced and the revelation that Mona was A not only reflected the books but also made sense in the way the show was constructed. But we still didn’t know anything about Alison’s death, or who had killed her. Then we got a taste of what was to come in season three, and things got a whole lot crazier. The season 2 finale parting scene depicted Mona sitting in her room at Radley, telling someone wearing a Red Coat that she had done “everything they asked her to.” Cue our minds being blown. But of course, if Mona was sitting in Radley, how come the girls were still receiving A messages?  The Red Coat character that had been introduced was a clear accomplice in the A Game and the ever-growing A team.

Original A: Mona Vanderwaal

Big A: Unknown

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Not only was season three crazier than the two seasons before it, but it also reached the next level in terms of drama and mystery. It began with the revelation that Alison’s body had been removed from her grave and gone missing, and it looked as though the Liars were being set up by A once more. But as we’ve established A is now a Team, and the biggest shock of the show so far revealed that Toby Cavanaugh was a member. So with Toby and Mona running all over Rosewood doing A’s bidding, we saw Paige and Garrett become the next two targets on A’s hit list. What I loved about the ending of season three was that Spencer went rogue, deciding she was taking it upon her shoulders to be a double agent with the A team and get the answers her and the Liars had been looking for.

Then the Thornhill Lodge fire happened, and everything we thought we know about the show turned on its head. Both Spencer and Toby decided to be double agents to try to find out the identity of Red Coat, the master behind the A Team, but when Shana decided to set the Lodge on fire, the plan turned to disarray leaving the girls trapped inside the burning building. It seemed only divine intervention could help them, as all the girls thought they were saved by Alison… but Alison couldn’t be alive? Could she?

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So as we came into season four, Mona and Toby were kicked off the A Team and the truth about Toby’s mother, Marion Cavanaugh, began to unravel. Did she kill herself? Or was there a more sinister end to her life? After Wilden had turned up dead, A tried to have Ashley Marin charged with his murder, and it seemed A had recruited some more minions on the path for revenge. A mysterious phone number led the girls to Ravenswood, to Mrs Grundwald who became the key to finding out about Alison’s disappearance. When the girls returned there in the annual Halloween special, they found out Ali was in fact alive, having been saved from the grave Jessica DiLaurentis had dug for her daughter by Grundwald. Ezra also was revealed to own the mysterious A-like lair in Ravenswood, and seemed as though he had been hiding his shady side all along, perhaps having deceived the girls into thinking he was an innocent (and slightly naive) teacher. Turns out he was just writing a true crime book on Alison. #disappointment

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The girls also had an exciting revelation regarding Sara Harvey, believing she was the body in the grave. It seemed the Liars were finally on track to finding out the truth about A, until Shana turned up. Was she A? Whose side was she on? Did she want to help Ali or hurt her? Regardless, Aria managed to take care of Shana by pushing her off the stage in New York, and when the girls finally thought the A Game was over, it only got more and more threatening.

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The next episodes after New York seemed to barrel roll in terms of drama. Ali returned to Rosewood, and soon after Mona ended up murdered at the hands of A, who tried to pin it all on Alison, as she tried to convince the jury she had been kidnapped by Cyrus the whole time she was away. All the girls ended up getting involved in the trial, and season five ended with the Liars being carted off to prison, only to be ‘saved’ by A, who took them to a different kind of prison. The Dollhouse.

The only positive aspect to being inside A’s new lair, was that the girls found out Mona was in fact alive, and masquerading as Alison to please A. The Liars thought they had it bad being stalked by A in Rosewood, now they were being tortured non-stop in a sick A game for weeks before they were found. The first half of season six revolved around the girls struggling with the after effects of the Dollhouse and finding out that the identity of A was none other than Ali’s brother, Charles DiLaurentis. Then we were promised in the episode ‘Game Over, Charles’ that the identity of Charles DiLaurentis, the A who had tortured the girls for three and a half season, would be revealed.

I. Marlene King even fashioned a pre-finale campaign, assuring us that the reveal would be fruitful, despite the same promises falling flat in the past. She assured us “It’s No Lie” which prompted fans to theories that Charles DiLaurentis was in fact Noel Kahn, wondering if Marlene was trying to tell us “It’s Noel”.

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So as the season six mid-season finale came around, we knew we were forty minutes away from finding out who Big A was. There were so many theories circulating around the internet with incredibly well thought out ideas as to who had been behind the years of torture, but I’ll include my theory I developed down below.

A/Charles DiLaurentis: Darren Wilden

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Wilden was the detective investigating Alison’s murder/disappearance, and I was convinced that he had faked his death with Red Coat at the end of season three. I thought Jessica DiLaurentis would have had her baby boy Charles/Darren at an early age and placed him for adoption. Then as Charles/Darren grew up, he became a Police Officer to get information/keep tabs on his mother and family. When Ali went missing, he thought the Liars might have something to do with it, and after Mona was revealed as the Original A, he teamed up with her to get information on the girls, and subsequently his half-sister Alison.

Red Coat/Black Widow: Cece Drake

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Cece had been a shady character from the start, and I believed she was both Red Coat and Black Widow, as both of them appeared throughout the show wearing an Alison mask. I thought Cece would help Darren/Charles fake his own death and that she would take the blame for it, before trying to pin it on Ashley Marin. At the funeral, I thought Cece would come as Black Widow as she was currently linked to the “murder” and did not want to be seen, and wanted to make sure the fake funeral went off without a hitch.

Obviously, the result was much, much different, as we saw Cece Drake revealed to be Big A, also known as Charlotte who had transitioned when she was sixteen. What I wanted from the mid-season finale was to be totally and utterly shocked, to the same extend I was when Toby was revealed to be on the A Team and when Ezra was shown to be the owner of the mysterious lair in Ravenswood. Instead, I already felt like I knew Cece was involved in the mystery somehow, and the fact that she was revealed to be A wasn’t surprising at all.

I felt very indifferent to her story that she told Alison in Radley. I felt sorry for her that she had grown up inside a mental institution and somewhat proud that she had decided to come out and be her true self, but that was where my feelings finished. I couldn’t get past the plot holes, the bad editing and filming, and the parts of the story that didn’t make sense. I was left wanting more, and as the next episode flashed forward to five years later, I still felt the longing for answers and closure that the mid-season finale hadn’t provided for me.

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Original A: Mona Vanderwaal

Big A: Cece Drake

Uber A/Big Bad: Unknown

Regardless, we were promised more answers, and as we saw the girls reunite after college, with a new Big Bad Uber A on the loose. Could the A game work for a third time after the disastrous Big A reveal? Then came the rumours of a #TwinonPLL that roared like rapid fire all over the internet. Suddenly, we were fueled with theories again. Who could possible have a twin? What did this mean for the rest of the series? Was the twin the new Big Bad Uber A? Cue us re-watching every past episode for twin clues.

So here was my original theory on the season six finale and the #TwinonPLL.

The Liars believed Sara Harvey was the one antagonising them but I thought in the finale she was going to turn up dead at the hand of Big Bad/Uber A. This would reveal to the Liars that someone else was going after them, not Sara. I believed Sara Harvey was antagonising the Liars with the Amoji threats, but she was trying to avenge the death of Charlotte, believing (initially) that one of the Liars/all of the Liars killed Charlotte out of revenge of her being A.

I believed Big Bad killed Sara as, after much digging, Sara almost uncovered the truth that Big Bad killed Charlotte. I predicted that Big Bad was Melissa Hastings, who killed Charlotte out of revenge/paranoia for knowing/revealing that Melissa buried Bethany Young alive.

In regards to the #TwinonPLL, I believed Sara and Bethany were twins, similar to the Sara Shepard’s book plot, and at some point, they switched places. This meant that “Bethany Young” who was a resident in Radley, was actually Sara Harvey, and the “Sara Harvey” we knew (and hated) was truly the ‘explosive’ Bethany who grew up with Charlotte in Radley. This gave her a further motive being The Avenger.

So ‘Bethany Young’ (who was actually Sara Harvey) tried to escape from Radley “that night” and used Charlotte’s clothing as she knew she had out privileges, but was hit over the head by Mona and buried alive by Melissa. So Sara Harvey (the real Sara Harvey) was the body buried in Alison’s grave, not Bethany Young, which tied in nicely to why there was a missing person’s campaign for Sara Harvey around the time Ali went missing.

(Side note: I think image we saw of Melissa talking to Cece wearing the yellow dress was actually Melissa talking to Ali AFTER she buried Bethany Young believing her to be Ali. She was probably quizzing her on how she got out of the grave!)

Which brings me back to Melissa. Charlotte and the Liars both knew that Melissa killed Bethany. Melissa being Big Bad ties in nicely with the Hastings Campaign.

  • Twins: Sara/Bethany.
  • Avenger: Sara Harvey.
  • Big Bad: Melissa Hastings.

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Obviously, the reveal went nothing like I’d planned. The late Jessica DiLaurentis was found to have had a twin sister named Mary Drake, who had a little boy named Charles whilst locked in Radley. Jessica and Kenneth had adopted the baby and raised him as their own. This meant that Cece and Jason weren’t brother and sister but first cousins, and that Ezra’s conclusion that Jessica DiLaurentis was A was half right as he could have been talking about Mary. Elliot Rollins was also revealed to be in on the act, marrying Alison to con her out of the inheritance left by Charlotte/Cece, who Rollis had been in love with before she died. This confirmed Elliot and Mary were the Avengers of Charlotte’s death. Did it also mean they were working together as Big Bad/Uber A Team, or is that title reserved for Charlotte’s killer? Who is AD who texted the group in the last moments of the episode? Has Alison DiLaurentis been behind it the whole time? Or is AD another Drake sibling we need to look out for? I guess we’ll have to wait until season seven.

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So what can we expect with the final season of Pretty Little Liars that starts this coming June? Well, here are a few questions I know that I want answered:

What did Ali do all the time she was away from Rosewood?

How much contact with Charlotte did Ali have whilst she was away? How much did Ali know about Cece and the A Game? For example, why were Ali and Cece both wearing Red Coats?

Why did Cece frame Ali for Mona’s (fake) death? If Cece wanted an Alison for her Dollhouse, she could have manipulated her friendship with Ali and kidnapped her?

What were Cece’s connections with Wren?

Who killed Jessica DiLaurentis?

How much does Mona know and who’s side is she really on?

How did Sara Harvey end up running with Cece?

Why did Lesli have so many fake glasses?

So considering that season seven is going “to be the end of the show as we know it”, what do I want to happen in the end?

Here’s what we know: Mary Drake and Elliot Rollins are avenging the death of Charlotte, as Mary is her biological mother and Elliot was her lover. They wanted the Carissimi Group Inheritance to go to the rightful heirs – themselves. Now that Alison has married Elliot and checked herself into rehab, he has full control of her assets.

I believe/hope that in the end Alison is playing all of them. I think underneath this “Changed Alison” is really the manipulative girl she used to be, and still is. Alternatively, I think my theory on Melissa Hastings still stands, that she is afraid of Charlotte who knew she buried Bethany Young alive, and killed Charlotte to keep her quiet. I believe Melissa killed Charlotte and staged her suicide, informed how by the article that Spencer wrote.

Let me know in the comments what questions you want answered in the seventh, and final season of Pretty Little Liars, and what you think of the show so far?

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