Monthly Archives: October 2015

LINK by Summer Wier – YA SciFi that will take you to the stars and back

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LINK by Summer Wier – YA SciFi that will take you to the stars and back

I spent many years looking at the stars and, at one point, I wanted desperately to become an astronaut (Thanks, Space Camp).  Years of abysmal grades in math and science grounded that dream, but I can always enjoy books set in or around the stars.  LINK by Summer Wier is definitely a book steeped in starlight and wishes, but I just didn’t connect with this read.  Perhaps you will have better luck because my two star review does look a little suspect amid all the great four and five star reviews it received on Goodreads.  I will say that the author has generously donated a copy of the book and a nice stack of beautifully designed bookmarks to our classroom library, even after she saw my honest review, so I might not have loved the book, but I’m a huge fan of Summer Wier.

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This picture in no way prepares you for how beautiful this cover is in person. It is really gorgeous IRL.

Goodreads Summary

For seventeen-year-old Kira, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than being surrounded by friends and huddled beside a campfire deep in the woods. And with a birthday in the peak of summer, that includes late night swims under the stars.

Or at least, it used to.

Kira’s relaxing contemplation of the universe is interrupted when a piece of it falls, colliding with her and starting a chain of events that could unexpectedly lead to the one thing in her life that’s missing—her father.

Tossed into a pieced-together world of carnivals and gypsies, an old-fashioned farmhouse, and the alluring presence of a boy from another planet, Kira discovers she’s been transported to the center of a black hole, and there’s more to the story than science can explain. She’s now linked by starlight to the world inside the darkness. And her star is dying.

If she doesn’t return home before the star’s light disappears and her link breaks, she’ll be trapped forever. But she’s not the only one ensnared, and with time running out, she’ll have to find a way to save a part of her past and a part of her future, or risk losing everything she loves.

Dreamy, fluid, and beautiful, Link pairs the mystery of science fiction with the minor-key melody of a dark fantasy, creating a tale that is as human as it is out of this world.

My Thoughts

This isn’t a terrible book.  It was creative and had a unique plot that I definitely was not able to predict.  There are a few revelations that I found really surprising and cool.  At the same time, it was a book I struggled to finish.  The pacing is far too rushed to create believable relationships, and that is a problem in a book that is focused on a love triangle.  While one romantic interest is an established person in the protagonist’s life, the second comes out of nowhere and creates an insta-love scenario that will leave most readers dissatisfied.  The dialogue is also a problem.  The conversations rang false, and the banter felt corny and flat.  Finally, no one feels like a real, nuanced character.  The good guys and the bad guys are black and white, with none of the gray areas real people have.  They just never came alive for me.

I also found the whole concept too esoteric.  I honestly have no idea where the plot is or will be going.  There are stars. There are black holes. There are some people who want to control the power of these two forces, but I don’t have a clue why.  I have no idea why there is a carnival involved. Or ponies.  (Not that those are bad things. I really like carnivals and ponies.  These just didn’t fit the context for me.  That might be the point, though.)  Overall, I just struggled, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

This book is in our classroom library because Summer Wier is an awesome person.  I sincerely hope you read it, love it, and tell me I’m a fool for not recognizing her genius!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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A Cold Case by K.D. Van Brunt – some mysteries are never solved for a reason

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A Cold Case by K.D. Van Brunt – some mysteries are never solved for a reason

Nothing can draw me in faster than an unsolved mystery.  Seriously, I just lost three hours of my life watching people not solve the mystery of Roanoake Island last night.  I blame this entirely on my childhood obsession with the show Unsolved Mysteries (again, Mom, kind of inappropriate viewing for a pre-tween).  I bet if I counted up all of my DVRed shows, at least half of them are dedicated to finding Atlantis, the Black Dahlia murderer or King Arthur’s tomb.  That means I was really ready to embrace this book, and that means I was a bit disappointed when the mystery kept getting shoved to the side for some teen love drama.  Actually, I think the mystery is almost solved by the premise, but I honestly liked this male protagonist, so I enjoyed the book more than my head says I should have.  I gave this book three stars.

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Goodreads Summary

In 1985, high school senior Jake Weathers stumbles upon a clue to a decades-old mystery… The day after their graduation in 1961, Kate Delisle and Trish Hawthorne left Weston, Massachusettts and were never seen again. When he discovers a note Trish wrote to Kate the day before their disappearance, Jake decides it’s his destiny to solve the oldest cold case in the state. He’s fascinated by the story, because sometimes he wants to disappear too, and leave his father in the rear view mirror. Jake needs help in his investigation, and reluctantly turns to the annoying and spoiled Julie St. Hilaire… Julie would have been Trish’s niece and has the inside track to information about the reclusive, wealthy Hawthorne family. As they chase down leads, the personality clash between Jake and Julie simmers down, and Jake finds it impossible to ignore the growing attraction between them. Jake and Julie find more than they bargained for… Jake suspects Kate and Trish had been living a lie and hiding dangerous secrets. As the mystery unravels, he and Julie start to dread what they might discover about the fate of the missing girls. Some cold cases should not be solved… This could be one of them.

My Thoughts

I think one of the best elements of this book is the male narrative voice, Jake.  He is believably a teen guy, struggling with the conflicts that most people face in real life, and I liked his perspective on other characters.  I thought his complete inability to pick up on signals from the opposite sex came across as authentic, and it certainly made for some drama in the romantic relationships in the story.  This drama does, at times, overshadow the mystery and I thought that was a bit of a shame.  I was unsure if the drama was merely there to make the timeline of the investigation seem more realistic, but there were times when I wanted the pace to pick up and the plot to focus more clearly on the mystery.  Alas, I am old and had little interest in this much detail about the romantic kerfuffles of a teen boy, so the target audience might feel just the opposite.  At least he wasn’t portrayed as only interested in one thing, and that is refreshing.  The mystery was a bit of a disappointment for me because it took me about three seconds to grasp what it took the teens in the story a long time to put together (at least it took a while for Jake).  I was curious about how it would resolve, but there was a lot of focus on the “why” that felt repetitive.  I thought the teens came across as quite progressive in their thinking for average small town kids in the 1980’s, and while I enjoyed all the references to one of my favorite eras, I have to question if this was the right era to set the story.  I’m not sure who I would recommend this book to because Jake’s voice would make this a great book for guys, but the romantic relationships might make for an annoyance for many of my high school male readers.  I liked the book myself, but I did think it could have been more compactly paced, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. It felt like I deserved more for all the time I put into it.  I was rather baffled by the epilogue because it sort of threw the narrative perspective off for the book as a whole -it kind of busted through the wall between audience and narrator in a way that was never hinted at until then, but I was grateful for the resolutions I got there.  Some language, but very light sensuality, so it is appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dark Heart of Magic is the second YA urban fantasy in Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series

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Dark Heart of Magic is the second YA urban fantasy in Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series

Jennifer Estep’s newest books, the Black Blade series, had a pretty great start in Cold Burn of Magic.  I was anxious to see what would happen in the second book.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed because the hardcore warrior girl from CBOM is definitely losing her edge as she becomes attached to people.  It still makes for a decent YA urban fantasy, and this one includes some pretty intense competition, but I think the target audience will enjoy it more than adult readers of YA.

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Amazon Summary

Something Wicked This Way Comes . . .

As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight–or the danger.

Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents,” it looks like someone will do anything to win–no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…

My Thoughts

I enjoyed the second installment in this series, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first.  I think that is in part because this story felt younger in terms of themes and concerns.  A lot of time was spent dealing with the various romances thwarted by family and personal loyalties when I just wanted threat and battle. Lila also seems a lot less independent now that she has been taken in by the Sinclair family, so she feels more like an average teen than the street smart loner we started with.  There are pros and cons to that, and I understand it is part of her character’s growth, but I honestly preferred the tougher, edgier Lila.  Not everyone will feel the same way, though, and plenty of readers will be excited to watch the relationship between Lila and Devon evolve as she becomes less standoffish.  This book does also provide some new revelations about Lila’s mother and her past, and I thought that added a few great complications that kept the story fresh.  Some readers will find the pacing is slower than expected (presumably because it is setting up situations for the next book) and some will be disappointed at the ease with which they spot the bad guy.  Neither of those were barriers to my enjoyment.  I look forward to where this series goes with the next book.  I think this will be more appealing to the target audience than to adult readers of YA simply because the drama and romance will be more engaging to that demographic.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Placebo Junkies tries to be a Trainspotting for a new generation, but I’m calling it a fail

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Placebo Junkies tries to be a Trainspotting for a new generation, but I’m calling it a fail

Placebo Junkies is edgy, dark, and completely without redeeming qualities.  I’ve read other reviews left by people who loved this book and they all felt it was an important expression of pain in the lives of these young characters.  I respectfully disagree, and I have to wonder if they finished the book because that isn’t what this story is about in the end.  I gave this book two stars.

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Goodreads Summary

Going Bovine meets Trainspotting in this gritty portrait of at-risk teens gaming the prescription drug trial system.

Meet Audie: Professional lab rat. Guinea pig. Serial human test subject. For Audie and her friends, “volunteering” for pharmaceutical drug trials means a quick fix and easy cash.

Sure, there’s the occasional nasty side effect, but Audie’s got things under control. If Monday’s pill causes a rash, Tuesday’s ointment usually clears it right up. Wednesday’s injection soothes the sting from Tuesday’s “cure,” and Thursday’s procedure makes her forget all about Wednesday’s headache. By the time Friday rolls around, there’s plenty of cash in hand and perhaps even a slot in a government-funded psilocybin study, because WEEKEND!

But the best fix of all is her boyfriend, Dylan, whose terminal illness just makes them even more compatible. He’s turning eighteen soon, so Audie is saving up to make it an unforgettable birthday. That means more drug trials than ever before, but Dylan is worth it.

No pain, no gain, Audie tells herself as the pills wear away at her body and mind. No pain, no gain, she repeats as her grip on reality starts to slide….

Raw and irreverent, Placebo Junkies will captivate readers until the very end, when author J. C. Carleson leans in for a final twist of the knife.

My Thoughts

In the tradition of other horrifying things I’ve been compelled to stick with until the bitter end, Placebo Junkies was an extremely visceral and disturbing look behind the curtain of experimental medicine.  There was a twist worthy of the second season of American Horror in there as well, and I can’t decide if it made the story more or less upsetting.  I wasn’t really sure what the message was and there wasn’t really a clear direction for concerned readers to address the horrors of the corrupt and unethical practices described.  It is certainly on par with Trainspotting and Requim for a Dream for being relentlessly gritty and depressing, and I have no doubt that it will be the insider ticket to outsider hip just as they were a couple of decades ago.  Unfortunately, I have outgrown the desire to be the edgiest, so I didn’t enjoy this read.  I can’t begin to imagine who I could recommend this to, since it didn’t even really amount to a cautionary tale in the end.  The language, situations, and general level of depressing lead me to say this isn’t appropriate for high school students.  The characters are teens, but the situations are entirely adult.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honesty review.

Immaculate – YA contemporary that is bound to provoke discussion

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Immaculate – YA contemporary that is bound to provoke discussion

I’m pretty sure I was the weirdest preteen ever.  I spent at least two months struggling with the secret belief that I had consumption (tuberculosis) thanks to L.M. Montgomery, Ruby Gillis, and a particularly lingering cough.  To my mom’s credit, when I finally told her, she didn’t laugh and she took me to the health department for the test that would lay my fears to rest. But a bigger anxiety that kept me up at night was one I never confessed to her.  I really feared that I would end up immaculately conceiving, and when it happened, no one would believe me.  Whole sleepless nights were spent worrying about this. I chalk this ridiculous idea up to some impressive religious fervor that I maintained throughout my early teens mixed with the Christian fiction of the early 1990’s and an inflated belief in my own importance in the universe.  Also, I probably needed some anxiety meds.  All this is to say that, when I saw the premise for this book, I couldn’t resist.

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Goodreads Summary

Mina is seventeen. A virgin. And pregnant.

Mina is top of her class, girlfriend to the most ambitious guy in school, able to reason and study her way through anything. But when she suddenly finds herself pregnant—despite having never had sex—her orderly world collapses. Almost nobody believes Mina’s claims of virginity. Her father assumes that her boyfriend is responsible; her boyfriend believes she must have cheated on him. As news of Mina’s story spreads, there are those who brand her a liar. There are those who brand her a heretic. And there are those who believe that miracles are possible—and that Mina’s unborn child could be the greatest miracle of all.

My Thoughts

I kind of knew I wasn’t really going to enjoy this book because it was bound to be full of intense conflict.   It is inevitable that drama will run high and ugly when someone announces that they have experienced a miracle like immaculate conception.  The premise was just hard to resist despite my reservations.  In the end, I was right. Lines were quickly drawn between believers and non-believers and it got dirty and mean just as I expected.  What I didn’t expect was the way the book ended.  It is impossible to say more than this without spoilers, but it is fair to say I wasn’t perfectly satisfied with the resolution, and I think others will feel the same.  I think the author is prepared for this, based on the things she said in her acknowledgements, so I expect she is girding herself for the division this story will create in readers.  I’m not sure if you are going to find the beauty and affirmation this book has to offer or if you are going to be distracted by the answers, but I think it is certainly going to be a book that provokes thought and discussion.

So, should you read it?  There are a few things to consider.  The point of view is first person and it is the narrative voice of a teenager; readers should expect a sensitivity to judgement and isolation that is in line with the age of this protagonist.  As an adult, I found the normal concerns of teen life being weighed evenly with the bigger implications of spirituality a bit irritating, but I have to acknowledge that it probably reads true for the protagonist. While I thought this was detrimental to the pace, I also think that the target audience will accept it more easily and find themselves asking where they would stand in this situation.

It was interesting that a premise poised to be so deeply religious resulted in a book that wasn’t focused on religion.  This really is a story about faith in the ones we love more than Faith.

While I didn’t enjoy this book as an escape, it certainly was a book that lingered in the back of my mind all day.  I think my high school readers would be interested and engaged and language and situations are appropriate for them.

 I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss – for those of us who are happy to find a character who is worse at adulthood than we are

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The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss – for those of us who are happy to find a character who is worse at adulthood than we are

This is a niche read – geeky mystery with lots of references that might slide past the uninitiated, but as a member of the uninitiated – I scored a 6/10 on our high school scifi geek test only because the club sponsor gave me hints – I have to say this book is still a riot.  I’m not sure this is YA so much, but I’m glad I got a chance to read this little gem.  I’ve got my eye on you, Max Wirestone, and I’m buying your next book.

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Goodreads Summary

For fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.

The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.

Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed, broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she’s not living her best life. But that’s all about to change.

Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she’s offered a job. A job that she’s woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).

Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she’s just the girl to deal with them.

My Thoughts

Dahlia is a fabulous narrative voice, and despite her Millennial aimlessness, jobless and penniless existence, and dating disaster rut of a life, I really enjoyed every moment of her cheeky, clueless story.  She is one of the funniest protagonists I’ve read in quite some time.  The secondary characters, too, add a lot of engagement to the story and realism to the post college, not quite settled life.  I’m talking about that stage when you own furniture that has duct tape performing essential tasks and you have only condiments and alcohol in your fridge.  I particularly enjoyed Charisse, Dahlia’s roommate – she is one hot mess of fun, and it just wouldn’t have been the same without her flitting around in the background.

The plot is one where minor things, like the theft of a spear in a multiplayer online game like World of Warcraft, are made into impossibly huge issues that blossom into real life disaster that is marginalized by the minor issues, like the theft of a digital spear.  I found it hilarious, but more staid readers searching for a serious book need not apply.  This is a purely escapist read of the laugh out loud variety.  Lots of the humor came from references to movies, books, and pop culture that I did “get,” and the ones that I didn’t get were well enough explained that I felt part of the joke anyway.  I do think younger readers will struggle with these references more than new adults, so while I thought this was a YA book, I would say that 20 and 30 somethings will enjoy it more.

Overall, this is a great read when you just want to laugh and enjoy characters who are more directionless and less prepared to be adults than you are.  I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading a hipper and more contemporary take on an American Bridget Jones.  It also reminded me a bit of Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments.  I can think of three friends right now who I desperately want to gift this book, but I think it would be a harder sale to high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Red Girl, Blue Boy – love and politics for the YA crowd

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Red Girl, Blue Boy – love and politics for the YA crowd

This was a cute story with a sweet romance that is part of a Bloomsbury series of books about wanting the one thing you can’t have.  The series is simply thematic, so each book is actually a stand alone title.  It’s not great literature, but if you are looking for a simple, straightforward YA contemporary romance, this one might entertain you.

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Goodreads Summary

Sixteen-year-old Katie and Drew really shouldn’t get along. After all, her father is the Republican nominee for President of the United States while his mother is at the top of the Democratic ticket. But when Katie and Drew are thrown together in a joint interview on a morning talk show, they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. With an entire nation tuned into and taking sides in your parents’ fight, and the knowledge that—ultimately—someone has to lose, how can you fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate?

This title in the If Only line is a frank and funny romance that shows how sparks fly when opposites attract.

My Thoughts

This is a fairly surface read with one dimensional characters and a predictable plot line.  It didn’t bother me because I enjoy a good, simple romance every once in a while.  I liked Drew, and I think most readers will agree he is a pretty ideal love interest.  The problem most readers will have is with Katie.  She is a strange mix and it is hard to see Drew’s attraction to her.  She is socially awkward beyond belief and her oblivious and often entitled world view cancels out a lot of empathy that her loneliness creates.  I’ll admit that she eventually grew on me, but she is hard to relate to.  This book is a pretty fast read, and the pace is fairly consistent.  I think the romantic relationship could have used more detail and I actually would have enjoyed a longer book.  Now, to my biggest complaint – the ending.  While the biggest plot point is nicely resolved, the author chose to leave readers hanging on one of the subplots.  I believe it was to make a point, but, come on!  It irritated me.  This is a clean, sweet contemporary romance with language and situations appropriate for grades 7+.

I received ed an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Velvet Undercover – Espionage, History, and Romance in a twisty little YA read about WWI

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Velvet Undercover – Espionage, History, and Romance in a twisty little YA read about WWI

I have never been able to resist a lady spy, so Velvet Undercover had me at the premise.  Samantha reminded me a bit of Veronica Mars, without the loveable snark, but if you enjoy espionage and historical settings with a little romance thrown in the mix, you will probably find this book engaging.  I was particularly glad to find a WWI setting since the Victorian Era has been done so much in this genre.  Four stars.

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Goodreads Summary

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this YA historical spy thriller.  It was well paced to keep the action moving and the threat of discovery alive.  I was particularly intrigued by the setting – WWI isn’t a big time period in YA books, and it was a nice change from the usual WWII.  Samantha is a good heroine.  She is smart but she still makes a few mistakes, as any teen would, so she came across like a real rookie spy.  The romance in this story is entirely too rushed.  I liked the romantic interest, and he will be a character that other readers will consider very charming and attractive, but little time is taken to establish a believable relationship between him and the protagonist.  I enjoyed the way the story was set up, which allowed for a little training, and a lot of time in the field.  This was just twisty enough that I got turned around for a little while.  Who can trust a spy, after all?  However, when it was time for the big reveal, I wasn’t quite as satisfied by the explanation as I could have been.  There just wasn’t enough of a backstory to allow readers to put the pieces together on their own, and that always feels a little like a cheat to me.  This story reads quickly and it is compelling.  I think it could have been longer to flesh out a few more of the details, but overall, it is a good read for middle school and high school girls who like lady spies.  I would be interested in seeing Samantha in a few more adventures.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

If You’re Lucky by Yvonne Prinz will keep you reading and guessing long after you should have gone to bed

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If You’re Lucky by Yvonne Prinz will keep you reading and guessing long after you should have gone to bed

If You’re Lucky reminded me of a YA version of The Talented Mr. Ripley (look it up, youngin’) but with the added confusion of an unreliable narrator.  I love an unreliable narrator.  This is a fast and compelling read that will have you questioning everything.

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Goodreads Summary

Is Georgia’s mind playing tricks on her, or is the entire town walking into the arms of a killer who has everyone but her fooled?

When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He wouldn’t have surfed in waters more dangerous than he could handle. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating his girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: did Fin murder Lucky in order to take over his whole life?

Determined to clear the fog from her mind in order to uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. Georgia is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying.

As the chilling narrative unfolds, the reader must decide whether Georgia’s descent into madness is causing her to see things that don’t exist–or to see a deadly truth that no one else can.

“A remarkable page-turner . . . Keep[s] readers wondering, twist by twist, if Georgia’s universe will simply burst apart.” —Andrew Smith, author of Grasshopper Jungle

My Thoughts

Readers will be compelled to get to the bottom of this twisty little mystery/thriller, and I don’t think they will be disappointed by the conclusion.  While Georgia is a schizophrenic, and she admits that her ability to make connections has been a lifelong problem, I found myself warming up to her rather quickly.  She was honest and insightful about her feelings, which made it difficult to watch her spin out of control.  I wanted her visions of her brother to be real as much as she did.  The story is paced nicely to move the story forward and develop characters.  I liked the way that the book addressed the stigma of mental illness and the way it drew a clear picture of the battle that mental illness can be.  I think that is an important topic and I’m always glad when a writer is able to present these kinds of messages in a way that almost anyone can understand.  I read it straight through in a couple of hours, so it certainly drew me in and held my attention.  I think fans of YA contemporary mysteries should seek this book out.  Language and situations are most appropriate for grades 9+, but adult readers of YA will also enjoy the complex conflicts and twisty plot just as much.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Supervision was a confusing horror, I mean, a confusing YA horror book.

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Supervision was a confusing horror, I mean, a confusing YA horror book.

This was a strange little tale with a maybe dead protagonist and a ghostly serial killer.  This time, surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one who thought it had potential but fell flat because it got rather low ratings on Goodreads as well.  Go ahead, you obstinate little readers, and insist that I am a YA horror snob and a grouch (I won’t even deny it).  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  
When Esme is sent to live with her grandmother, it feels as though she is invisible, and there is a possibility that she might be dead, at least according to her new friends. Linking her strange circumstances to the mysterious disappearances that have plagued the community for years, Esme begins to uncover a long chain of misery with a key player at the core. The puzzle behind Esme’s inexplicable situation was the focus of the story, and though all other conflicts were resolved, there were still questions about Esme’s “state,” leaving the story open for a sequel. My frustration with this book centered around that focus. I was as confused as Esme for a majority of the book. It was hard to switch gears near the end and start caring about mysterious disappearances, especially when the threat seemed to be to a character I had only really met a few pages earlier. When the climax and resolution of the story arrived, I didn’t really care because the all consuming question of “Why?” wasn’t answered. Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t what I wanted either. Many of my high school students enjoy mysteries, especially those that have an element of horror, but this isn’t going to be my first recommendation to them simply because the threat wasn’t really very frightening and the ending wasn’t really satisfying.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.