Tag Archives: thriller

Three Truths and a Lie

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Three Truths and a Lie

This suspense thriller reads quickly and has a compelling mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None if it was influenced by a teen slasher movie.   It did feel contrived.  The author incorporated some provocative sexual situations that some YA readers (and their moms) won’t be prepared for.  Also, I love a twisty tale as much as anyone, but the deception needs to be for other characters in the story, not the audience.  This felt like it was all about tricking me as a reader.  I did give it a three star rating based on the fact that I read it in one tense sitting.

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Goodreads Summary

A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.

My Thoughts

While the title makes it clear deception is at play, few readers will unravel this one until the end.  That is partly because of the twists and partly because there aren’t enough clues to allow readers to reach the real conclusion on their own.  That means the ending comes a bit out of left field, which will leave some readers feeling played.  Without giving too much away, I can say the narrator is easy to connect with, and the story follows a basic “stupid folks are going to die in the woods” format.  Like I said before, it is entertaining.  I did have some problems with the sex scenes in the book.  They aren’t graphic but they left me feeling uncomfortable because it seemed love was the last thing fueling them – that is my general way of deciding if sensuality is appropriate in YA books, and this one fails the test.  The ending put another spin on all the relationships, and I’m still working through that.   Overall, I was engaged by the mystery, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I felt the whole purpose of the book was to trick me.  While this is marketed as YA, the sexual situations make this book more appropriate for the 17+ crowd, but the contrived storyline will be a turn off to most discerning readers.

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

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The Killer in Me

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The Killer in Me

The Killer in Me is an intense and fast paced read with a pitch perfect creepy atmosphere.  It will leave you uncertain and unsettled in a wonderful way.  I couldn’t put it down, and I think other readers will find it just as absorbing. Fans of Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers and Lisa McMann’s Wake series will be interested, but I think it holds a wider appeal that transcends gender and age.  I gave it five stars.

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Goodreads Summary

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

My Thoughts

I think the most compelling element is the fact that you really never have a solid grasp of whether Nina is a reliable narrator.  Is she really experiencing something or has she created a story in her sleep deprived mind?  She is balanced nicely by Warren, a character who comes across as solid and trustworthy.  I liked how the author manages to build some history between them  because it adds so much validity to the relationship.  As much as I liked that aspect of the book, the central conflict between Nina and the Thief is the real reason to read this book.  The author masterfully puts readers through their paces.  I found myself relaxing only to feel the tension creeping back in time after time.  There really isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book, and I can’t wait to add it to my high school classroom library.   Situations make this most appropriate for mature high school readers.

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

Thicker Than Water – this isn’t your run of the mill YA mystery

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Thicker Than Water – this isn’t your run of the mill YA mystery

This was a rather unusual mystery for a couple of reasons. First, the isolation and dislike the protagonist experiences is much more intense than I anticipated. There is no doubt that people really think Thomas killed his mother, and they are on a hairpin trigger to get him. It was kind of shocking, and it was palpable. Second, this isn’t the straightforward contemporary YA mystery I expected. The blurb leaves out a few surprises. Some readers won’t be bothered by the unexpected twists to the story, but other readers might feel like they had been a little mislead, especially if they expected a more run of the mill mystery.  I only gave it three stars because it had some issues, but I still found it a compelling read, and for $2.99, this book could definitely be an easy way to kill a few summer hours.

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Goodreads Summary

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

My Thoughts

I’m not going to ruin the surprise – okay, I’m going to ruin the surprise – there is a left field supernatural element in this book I never anticipated.  I wasn’t quite satisfied by the explanation I was given about that element because there were a few things I just couldn’t quite get to track.  Despite these misgivings, I would still recommend this book to many of my high school readers because, like I said, it is very compelling.  I read it in a few hours because I really did find the story engaging and I kind of liked that the rabbit hole just kept changing.  I liked both of the main characters, and I thought they were almost as surprising as the plot.  Charlotte was an interesting mix of old fashioned and modern, and she might have been a little too naive for my comfort (seriously, leave the maybe-murderer alone, Charlotte) but she held her own in the end.  The plot moves quickly and efficiently towards a resolution, but it does give readers time to get some character depth and some relationship development.  I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Stan and Thomas because it felt so real – two guys just living together in that silent “man” way.  It was cute and funny and honest.  I did pinpoint the perp long before the book was over, but there was enough of a red-herring that I began to second guess myself.   Overall, I enjoyed this book even if it wasn’t exactly what I expected and open minded YA mystery readers probably will as well.  I think there are clarity issues around the supernatural element, but I could roll with it.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

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

How to Disappear 

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How to Disappear 

With echoes  of Gone Girl and a fast-paced, threat-filled storyline, this twisty mystery will hold a lot of appeal for YA fans of suspense thrillers. It has its flaws, but I enjoyed.

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Goodreads Summary

This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed?—and the boy who’s sent to kill her.

Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything…until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear.

Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.

As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.

My Thoughts 

It took a while for me to hit the groove with this book simply because it took a while for me to really puzzle out what was going on.  That wasn’t a bad thing. It was a really intriguing thing.  Nicolette saw something she shouldn’t have, and this time her stepdad (even with his crime boss connections) can’t help her.  On the run, but longing for the life she left behind, Nicolette struggles to keep herself hidden from the powerful men who want her silenced.  Jack has tried to forget the legacy of crime and violence connected to his name, but when the one thing he cares about most is threatened, he is willing to use every advantage he was born with to get the girl he’s been sent to kill.  This is a tense game of hide and seek, and the author uses both the dual narrative perspective and the dramatic irony it creates to keep readers holding their breath until the last page.  The really impressive thing about this book for me is how Nic and Jack both manage to come across as crafty and street smart while still reading like teens.  Sure, they both know that getting involved with the other is a horrible idea, but just like real and impulsive teens, they find the siren song of attraction is hard to resist.  I liked the fact that they made mistakes and were thwarted by stupid turns of fate because it added an authenticity to their characters and the plot which kept me in suspended disbelief just long enough to really get swept away by this story, a story that I would have scoffed at as completely unrealistic if I hadn’t been so invested in the outcome.  I think it might be hard for some readers to buy into two teens navigating this situation, but I also think most YA readers who pick it up will have a hard time putting it down simply for its tense blend of underworld mystery and dangerous attraction.   I will say that I wasn’t able to guess this ending at all, despite my excellent prediction skills, and it has a twist that I wasn’t really sold on, but I think it will delight most readers.  I don’t think this is a perfect book, but I did find it compelling and extremely entertaining.  I will definitely recommend it to my high school readers, especially those with a penchant for mystery and a yen for a darker kind of romance.  This one is going on my classroom library wish list and my high school librarian recommendation list.  Language and situations, specifically violence and some sensuality, make this most appropriate for high school readers.

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


Kim Savage’s After The Woods is a creepy and compelling YA psychological thriller for the fan of the unexpected twist

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Kim Savage’s After The Woods is a creepy and compelling YA psychological thriller for the fan of the unexpected twist

I am every mystery author’s nightmare.  I can guess the ending of almost any book, probably because I’ve read a bunch of books, but it might be my freaky superpower. Your choice.  Either way, I just didn’t see this one coming, and that means After The Woods might just give you a jolt in the end, too.  It wasn’t a perfect read, but I thoroughly enjoyed the reading, so it is a solid four star book in my mind.

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Goodreads Summary

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

 My Thoughts

This was one surprise of a book.  I wasn’t expecting the narrative voice to be so unlike a victim.  Julia’s horrible experience should have left her a quivering mess (I certainly would have responded that way), but the author chose to portray her as the victim who goes the other direction, and I appreciated that.  She is smart and strong and determined to dig deep in the muck of what led up to her kidnapping.  I liked Julia’s perspective from the start, and though she sometimes sounded more like an adult than a teen, she had the impulsive nature and eye rolling attitude that convinced me she was, indeed, sixteen.

The other surprise was where this plot went.   It brings out the monsters that hide in their mother’s basements and get swept up in fantasy worlds fueled by the internet, but it also drags forward the monsters who sit next to you in church and at the country club.  I thought I knew what this story was about all the way through. I had a good idea of what the resolution would reveal, but I have to say that seeing the whole thing laid out at the end was rather breathtaking and shocking. It was a Gone Girl/We Were Liars/The Sixth Sense kind of a moment.  I love those moments!

Clearly, I enjoyed this book, but there were times when the narrative felt disjointed on the first read through.  It caused a little confusion, but it didn’t really keep me from enjoying the book.  As I stated earlier, Julia didn’t always talk like a real teen, and I found that a little off putting, particularly at the beginning of the book.  Overall, I thought this was a compulsively readable book, and I didn’t want to put it down until the end.  I think my high school readers will enjoy it as well, so it is going on my classroom library wish list.  I would recommend it to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers and psychological horror.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but adults can enjoy this book as well.

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

Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ The Naturals – the best dollar I’ve spent in a long, long time.

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Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ The Naturals – the best dollar I’ve spent in a long, long time.

I get a lot of books from publishers in exchange for review, but that doesn’t stop me from browsing.  When I saw that a book from the same author as The Fixer , and noticed it was only 99 cents today, I went into high alert. The blurb sounded like a go, and the price was unbelievably right, so I bought it before I even sampled it.  I’m so glad I did.  Think Criminal Minds, and add in a little teen angst, and you’ve got yourself a YA read that, while a bit unbelievable, is compelling and entertaining.

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Goodreads Summary

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

My Thoughts

I thought this was a very engaging book with enough suspense and suspects to keep me guessing.  Right up until the big reveal, I kept changing my mind.  That speaks well for this suspense/mystery/thriller because that doesn’t happen very often in a head so full of plots and predictions.  I liked the characters, who represented a variety of personality types with their white, black, and gray sides.  I liked the concept.  No,  I didn’t really believe the concept could happen, but I was able to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the ride.  The plot moved quickly and there were no noticeable lulls, but there were some sketchy relationships.  That might be due to the fact that these kids are all suppose to be masters of deception and detection and thus made themselves really hard to read, or it might be the fact that I smelled a more than awkward love rectangle early in the game.  I honestly wasn’t bothered by the Anita Blake/Stephanie Plum they are going to pass each other around relationship set-up, but I would have enjoyed a more clear-cut romance.  Don’t want to write it myself, though, so I’ll take what I can get.  I particularly appreciated the fact that Cassie wasn’t forced to join the team and we didn’t have to listen to her sullen resentment – it is a breath of fresh air in the YA genre.  She did pull some tern pouting when she didn’t get her way, but nothing on the scale I expected.  Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I think my high school readers will as well, particularly those who enjoy watching Criminal Minds or just interesting if implausible teens hunting murders read.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school, but as an adult reader of YA, I got a kick out of it as well.

This book is available in the MHS library.

Becca Fitzpatrick’s Dangerous Lies is a surprisingly satisfying YA contemporary, especially since or despite the fact that I think her Hush,Hush series is unreadable

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Becca Fitzpatrick’s Dangerous Lies is a surprisingly satisfying YA contemporary, especially since or despite the fact that I think her Hush,Hush series is unreadable

I wasn’t a fan of this author’s paranormal books, but I really enjoyed this YA Suspense/Thriller.   I thought that there was a nice complexity to the plot, characters, and conflicts. Underlying themes of family, friendship, responsibility and guilt added depth.  I think fans of Becca Fitzpatrick will be pleasantly surprised, and her naysayers will be pretty surprised as well.  I recommend this book to readers who enjoy YA contemporary mysteries rand romance as well as those who enjoy small town life and all the complexities that accompany it.

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Goodreads Summary

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

My Thoughts

As a narrative voice, I liked Stella, and she felt like a real teen dealing with the big issues of being ripped out of her own life.  She is initially bratty, but I think most of us would act in the same way (let’s be real – I pout when there aren’t any cold cokes in the fridge or when the lunch menu at school is wrong, so leaving my past, present, and planned future behind would probably involve an all out temper tantrum).   Once readers start peeling her layers back, it is clear that she is not a bad person, but a girl who desperately is clinging to the only security she has had for the last few years.  She cares about people and has a righteous anger when she thinks someone is being a bully.  It is that characteristic tendency that plays havoc and creates both internal and external conflict that I thought was both believable and compelling.  Chet is the love interest in the story, and most readers will fall quickly and hard for this reformed bad boy of a cowboy.  He isn’t too country, and he has a backstory that let’s you know he can get up to some antics, but he is the guy you want to cuddle up with in the back of a pick up truck.  While there is some concern about a love triangle, the other guy is in the Witness Protection Program, too, and readers are told up front that Stella won’t be able to contact him ever again, so the battle between the boys really takes place in Stella’s mind – I honestly didn’t really consider this a love triangle at all. The story was nicely paced to develop relationships and allow time for a believable epiphany, but it also maintained a nice tension by giving Stella an adversary in her new setting in addition to the drug dealer who wants to snuff her out back in Phillie.  There are some characters I wanted to know a little more about, but I thought the resolution was satisfying, and I think most readers will as well.  I started this book late at night, and two hours had passed when I looked up again!  Clearly, it reads easily and the story and characters are absorbing.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but I think adult readers of YA will enjoy this book as well.

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

Need by Joelle Charbonneau is a YA suspense/thriller that is hard to read but hard to put down

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Need by Joelle Charbonneau is a YA suspense/thriller that is hard to read but hard to put down

Need is a really edgy and engaging read!  I read it cover to cover in one sitting despite my growing horror because I just had to know who and what was behind this awful scheme.  I’m not going to tell you this is great literature or try to convince you that there are lessons about morality and social media to be learned through this story.  This is absolutely a book you read for entertainment of the rubbernecking variety, and I certainly got an eyeful.

Need will be released Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”

Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

My Thoughts

The story is a series of narratives that are all held together by the protagonist, Kaylee.  Her situation and bungled attempts to help make her someone readers will quickly empathize with, and her inherent goodness makes her likeable.  Some readers will be overwhelmed by the large cast of characters in this book.  Breathe.  Most of them aren’t really important and are stereotyped to give you a fast idea of who they are without wasting a lot of time – exactly the purpose of stereotype in writing.  Relax. Just read.  The major players will start to distinguish themselves fairly quickly, so just wait to start memorizing every name and need.  This is such a smart way to set up this book because it really creates suspense and adds a lot of dramatic irony – it doesn’t take long for you to figure out who this is going to play badly for.  The joy is reading to see if it happens like you expect, and it is paced to deliver.  It doesn’t fool around – rewards come quickly and there are no real lulls in the action. However, I did have a problem with the resolution.  I’m not a big fan of the villian confessional monologue as a resolution, but, again, it is a device that gets a job done quickly.  It was in keeping with the whole teen slasher flick feel of the rest of the story, so it was satisfactory enough to wrap up the fun, but it wasn’t as great as it could have been.  Overall, I think this will be a big hit with my high school readers, and I see it making the rounds based on word of mouth.  I just need folks to practice reading, so I can ignore the violence, selfishness, and awful picture of humanity it portrays (to be fair, these behaviors are appropriately censured and punished).  I especially see this being popular with reluctant readers because it is hard to resist.  Situations make this most appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley 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.