Book Talk: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Book Talk: Far From You by Tess SharpeFar From You by Tess Sharpe
Publisher/Year: Disney Hyperion- April 8, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None! Debut!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

book synopsis

When Sophie’s best friend, Mina, is murdered everyone blames her. Why? Because she used to pop pills after a bad accident and everyone thinks that it was a drug deal gone wrong no matter how much Sophie swears she’s clean. Sophie knows what happened that night –  that Mina’s murder was NOT random or a drug deal gone wrong. Her parents send her to rehab and when Sophie returns she comes faces the same distrust, the secrets she and Mina shared and this burning desire to solve the mystery of Mina’s death because she KNOWS as killer is still roaming free and that she has to bring everything to light.

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Oh man, Far From You! It’s no secret this one was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2014 and it was even MORE than I was expecting — one of the best debuts of 2014. It was one of those mystery type reads that balances that element so well with this genuine characterization that really had my gut twisted. It managed to be and do a lot of things really, really well!

1. Far From You was really intense: Sophie’s past is rough, friends. As the summary tells, she gets in a car accident that almost kills her and she ends up on pain meds and then she ends up really hooked on them. She gets clean, comes back and then shortly after her best friend gets murdered right in front of her and everyone thinks it is because it was a drug deal gone wrong and they blame her. So THEN Sophie’s parents send her to rehab because they didn’t believe her. Man, Sophie’s pain became my pain in this — the grief of losing Mina, the unanswered questions of their complicated relationship, the hurt of nobody believing her and the fact that she knows Mina’s murder was NOT random and fighting that desire to use pain meds. It was quite an intense, absorbing read. Each and every thread was just handled really well and packed quite a punch and then the action-y bits were intense when the reveal happens and AH TAKE SOME BETA BLOCKERS BEFORE READING. (please do not really consider that as medical advice, k?)

2. I loved the back and forth of the past and the present to learn more about Sophie and Mina: Their relationship was JUST as compelling as the mystery and I loved seeing the bits and pieces of their friendship through the years and in relation to these big events in Sophie’s life. The flow and transition was done really well between them and really added all these dimensions to them individually and as friends. Their relationship was just so complicated and messy and I could feel the hurts and the betrayals and the confusion SO much — all tied together with this deep love for one another. God, my heart ached throughout this whole book when it came to these two. Their relationship was one of the most raw and memorable ones in recent history for me and it made me weep a little. I also loved how Mina’s brother factored into everything and how absolutely complicated his relationship with Sophie was. My heart was torn for Sophie but the heart wants what the heart wants.

3. What a thrilling and page-turning mystery that kept me guessing: I’m that person who ALWAYS guesses the baddie or the twist. ALWAYS. It annoys me that I do this. I actually didn’t figure it out until like a couple of pages before the reveal and even then I was like HMMM COULD IT BE?! The mystery was so interesting because nobody else but Sophie is even looking at it like a true mystery. Everyone else thinks it is this random drug deal related shooting. But Sophie knows, based on the interaction before she gets knocked out, that this person was TARGETING Mina and Sophie has to figure out WHY. So Sophie starts sleuthing like one does, while dealing with the guilt daggers that everyone is throwing her way, and starts to trace back what Mina wanted from the person she thought she was meeting in the woods. And honestly it’s kind of like a mystery withing in a mystery and that just delighted me to no end.

4. Sophie is a damn well written character: You know those characters that you swear are just going to pop out of the book when you are reading? YEP. Sophie. There’s so much to her — all these layers you could just keep peeling back and back. A lot of times with mysteries and thriller-y type books, I find that I don’t find those I FEEL THEIR SOUL sorts of characters and they are wibbly wobbly almost real characters but not Sophie. I appreciated the care in which Tess Sharpe lets us get to know Sophie and her story — especially when it comes to her sexuality. She’s got some tough issues — a murdered best friend, a drug habit that she has to work at every day, she’s got a limp as a forever reminder of her car accident — but I always could feel Sophie not ever being defined by those things and I really felt like, if we got to see Sophie grow up, she was going to kick life’s ass because she already was strong.

 

book reviews

 

Far From You by Tess Sharpe is one of the best 2014 debuts out there! It had this compelling & very emotional mystery element to it — Mina’s murder + the fact nobody but Sophie knows that it was NOT a random murder — that completely knocked me off my game as a person who always guesses early on but the strength in this story is the characterization — something that makes me so, so happy because I need characters who live and breathe. Sophie is as real as they can get and Sophie and Mina’s relationship has this ability to make my heart ache even weeks later. It’s all so complicated and confusing and tender and GOD I COULD FEEL IT ALL. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on whatever Tess Sharpe is up to next!

 

short book reviewFar From You by Tess Sharpe

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you guess who it was??


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Find Me by Romily Bernard | Book Review

Find Me by Romily Bernard | Book ReviewFind Me by Romily Bernard
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- September 24, 2013
Genres: YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

After their mother committed suicide and their criminal father fled to allude the police, Wick and her younger sister Lily have been placed in foster care and are trying to leave their life behind. The only thing is that it keeps catching up with them and Wick’s hacking skills don’t help keeping them out of danger. She tries to lay low with it until she receives the diary of a former childhood friend on her doorstep and then she finds out at school that Tessa is dead — a suicide. The Post It with the diary says “Find Me” but Wick doesn’t want to get involved until she finds out something that threatens someone she loves and knows she has to do whatever it takes.

Find Me by Romily Bernard was quite the page-turning thriller and I think that was the type of read I needed to get me out of my weird reading slump I mentioned I was in where I was putting down all sorts of books after 1 or 2 pages.  But here’s the thing, the strong start that kept me panicky and flying through it slowly dissipated for me a little more than the halfway mark. I was feeling super bummed and kept me at a point where I couldn’t say this was the phenomenal read I saw it shaping up to me — just a good one. Still positive feelings toward it — I liked it– but I became a little disappointed by the end.

Find Me opened up real strong for me and really progressed at a rapid pace. We learn about her past and find out along with Wick about the suicide of her old friend, Tessa, along with diary that finds its way to Wick. As the contents inside are revealed I couldn’t stop turning the pages and HAD to know what happened to Tessa and who the older creeper was she had a relationship with that made her commit suicide — especially when we find out who his next target is. I was ready for Wick, who is pretty kickass & a hacker, to start using those skills and find this mega creep. I was ready to get my Nancy Drew/Veronica Mars on with her!

I was flying through this book and it had that perfect amount of mystery to keep you going and thinking up all sorts of theories. But then about half way (or a little more than halfway) it became really obvious where this was heading to me as I started to eliminate people logically and think about certain things. What I was really hoping was that I was WRONG about who it was or that some new suspects would be introduced or a twist or something to at least trick me a little bit or make me doubt myself. Instead, it played out exactly how I thought it would so when the big reveal happened it was a bit luckluster for me and so the pursuit and resolution weren’t as “OMG AH WHAT IS GOING ON??” for me. I just needed a little bit more I think — there was only a certain amount of people and connections that could possibly be introduced. There was nothing too shocking for me. But that’s my dilemma when it comes to these types of books. I AM good at guessing so was it really just the book and the way it was plotted or should I be pursing a career in detective work instead??

Despite the way I thought the story went, I still liked other aspects of it. I really loved Wick and Lily and loved the strong sense of family loyalty between them and how each girl felt about their new family with their past still lingering. There was also an interesting thread in the story that had to do with Wick and Lily’s real dad and showed a lot of their past and you could just see how this transition into a new life would be hard. Wick was a great character and definitely not cookie cutter for me. She was quite sassy sometimes, loved her sister fiercely and was a hacker! I will say, I’m probably in the minority, but I didn’t LOVE the romance in this one but did appreciate that she didn’t become some weak and feeble girl when a boy came in the picture.

Find Me by Romily Bernard definitely was the page-turner I needed to snap me out of my reading slump because it immediately had this MUST FIND OUT mystery element to it. However, it became really predictable in the way it was plotted out, for me, so then the big reveal seemed lackluster because I had ruled out the other possibilities pretty easily. No doubt I enjoyed most of the book but for me to be anywhere other than “just liked it” it would have had to deliver something else that blew my mind. Luckily there were great characters and some familial threads that gave some more meat to this story as well.

Recommendation: If you are one who has read a lot of thrillers, you might end up predicting it early on like I did because there wasn’t much else that made sense and no other possible twists thrown out. If you don’t really pick up thrillers often, I absolutely recommend this because it’s such a page-turner and maybe you won’t read it the same way I did!

Find Me by Romily Bernard review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you like it more/less than I did? Did you guess who it was?? Or am I just the boring person who apparently guesses everything all the time?? GRR. On that note, does your ability to predict a book effect your enjoyment of a book? I definitely still enjoyed this but the fact it didn’t surprise me at all made it on an OMG MUST READ. But is that MY great guessing skills or the book’s fault? SIGH. What are some thrillers that kept YOU guessing?

The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston | Book Review

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston cover & reviewBook Title/Author: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
Publisher/Year
: Disney-Hyperion – May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA – Mystery
Series: The ending seems  to leave it open that it could be one (and I see a #2 on Goodreads) but I think it could also stand alone.
Other Books From Author: None — debut!

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I received this from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

Meg and her family have been put into the Witness Protection Program and have been bounced around to new towns and given new identities six different times. Meg doesn’t what her dad did to land them  in the program and her parents refuse to speak about it. Meg sees her family falling apart — her mom is drinking a lot, her dad is keeping something and look stressed all the time and her little sister is so fragile and is barely speaking — and she knows she has to figure out why they are in this situation to save her family and to stop all the tiring identity changes. She’s sick of making relationships only to have to leave so she enters this new school keeping a low profile and vowing not to make any friends — until she meets Ethan, the cute farm boy, whose curiosity could be dangerous for them both.

I really enjoyed The Rules For Disappearing though the first half was significantly a better experience for me in many ways. I didn’t fall in LOVE with this book like so many did but it was a pretty good read for me that and the MOST PERFECT gym book! It was a fun blend of mystery, romance, action, great character development and some nice familial aspects that I don’t often see.

The premise, right off the bat, drew me in as it was wholly unique with the main character and her family being in the Witness Protection Program. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the WPP and Ashley Elston definitely drew me in with the main character’s experiences of being moved around and having new identities all the time. The majority of The Rules of Disappearing takes place in the latest town but I loved the way we learn about the prior moves and how, at this point, she’s just so weary of it all. You really see why she is so hardened now when she arrives in this new town and I really felt for her and how her life was now totally different than it ever was. I felt for her especially since it seemed like the rest of her family was taking all of this even worse than she was and I was drawn into how all of this moving and changing of identities could wreak havoc on a family. I thought Ashley Elston really excelled in creating a believable voice and exploring how this experience might really mess a family up –especially with so many secrets and mystery around WHY they are in this situation.

The mystery element of this book was what made it the most perfect gym read because I just wanted to keep finding out MORE of what happened that put them in this Witness Protection Program and her dad was so hellbent on not telling her that it drove me just as crazy as Meg. It was unraveled at what I found to be a good pace and I was surprised once we finally found out the event that was the catalyst for everything. I figured out “the twist”  for sure because of how fixated Meg was on it but the actual event was surprising to me but that’s where it kind of got EH for me as things start being remembered and Meg decides to take matters into her own hand.

Things that prevented this from going beyond a GOOD read to that next level? I thought the romantical element started out  interesting — she was so cold to him because she knew they’d probably have to uproot again and he kept annoying her and trying to find out more. I thought their exchanges were fun and playful but then as the romance progressed it just fell flat for me. The love interest is by all standards swoonworthy and I really adored Ethan but it just really felt like really intense so soon and the things that I loved about Meg just seemed to get lost inside of this romance. There was just so much of her doing things wrong and him always coming in to save the day and I just thought the first part of the book was better in terms of their relationship dynamic. I just didn’t feel anything after the halfway mark when  I was LOVING their exchanges in the beginning.

The second part of the book gets increasingly action packed and I had a love/hate relationship with it. It was good because it kept up this page-turning tempo that held my attention until the very end but pretty much I had to suspend my disbelief VERY often. I mean,  I know it’s fiction but just the way everything went down I started to get eyerolly about certain things and it distracted me from the things I LOVED about this book — the character development, the familial dynamics, etc.

The Rules For Disappearing was a book that I enjoyed but ultimately didn’t finish as strong for me. It made a great gym read for me because of the mystery and the building suspense. I was invested in Meg and her family and finding out the reasons for why they were thrust into the Witness Protection Program but as the why’s started being revealed I felt conflicted about where it went. On one hand, I flew through it but, on the other hand, I just thought it missed the mark as it progressed. I loved the character development and the unique premise and thought it was a breeze to read and quite fun. It never went anywhere past the “good” mark for me but overall an enjoyable read.

 

The rules for dissappearing ashley elston

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? I’m probably in the minority on the love story huh? I mean,  I did LOVE Ethan but I just loved it more in the beginning than the end. Did you guess the twist? Have you read any other stories with the Witness Protection Program plot?

 

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley | Book Review

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz ColeyBook Title/Author: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Publisher/Release Date
: Katherine Tegan Books – March 19th 2013
Genre: YA Mystery, YA Contemporary
Series: No.
Other Books From Author:

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

The last thing Angie remembers is being thirteen and at Girl Scout camp. When she finds herself in front of her house with no memory of why she’s standing there, she finds out from her very shocked parents that she’s actually been missing for 3 years and is no a sixteen year old. Angie has no memory of the last three years at all. She struggles to make sense of what happened and tries to remember and piece together the mystery of her kidnapping and captivity while trying to reintegrate back into her normal life — but her psyche is making that very hard.

I went into Pretty Girl-13 knowing it was going to be a pretty intense book — after all I saw a blurb saying it was reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case and I knew of her story of being kidnapped as a young teen and eventually found so I knew that sort of storyline was going to not be a light read. I was definitely right. Pretty Girl-13 had my attention from the start. Liz Coley immediately begins it in a way that unsettles and intrigues and the questions started flooding to my brain. Who did it? How did she escape? Why can’t she remember? What happened in those 3 years?

I have to applaud the way Liz Coley unraveled this mystery with, what I thought, was perfect execution. The mystery of who abducted her is weaved together with a psychological mystery too — why is her own mind shutting her out and causing her to not remember where she was for 3 years?  We get some pieces here and there and things are revealed in a way that just makes you hunger to know more and turn the pages faster. Sometimes we are learning things along side with Angie and sometimes we are meant to understand and piece things together before she does and have to experience her painful journey to figure out the tidbit we just figured out. It took me a little bit to get into it and figuring out who was narrating because there is the story and then there are these pages in italics but you quickly figure it out and understand what is going on. But even with that..it made me even MORE intrigued and once you start to understand a little bit of WHAT is going on with her mental state it makes a ton of sense and becomes this page-turning mystery that I honestly had a hard time putting down.

I was a little scared as to HOW intense this book would be because I’ve read some kidnapping stories before and, even though they are all equally hard, some are way more graphic and disturbing than others. This one is quite disturbing — there is sexual exploitation — but it never went to the graphic side. All of the sexual abuse that I remember was very much alluded to or “behind the curtain” so to speak. The psychological aspect of this was absolutely fascinating. I don’t want to give too much away (because I think this is a good book to go in somewhat blind to)  but it was absolutely riveting and frightening to me.

Pretty Girl-13 was one of the most gripping stories I’ve read in a while. Angie’s story of being kidnapped and returning home with no memory of the last three years was riveting, chilling and made my heart heavy but also appreciate the ability of the human spirit to triumph and be courageous against all odds. The mystery of her abduction and the psychological state she is in was revealed in a way that made it impossible to put it down! It’s definitely not a light read and will twist your insides around but I really recommend it if you are okay with something a bit darker but not graphic or explicit.

 

 

Pretty Girl-13 Liz Coley Review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Think it sounds like something you’d like to read? What did you think if you have read it? Did you find the psychology part fascinating like I did?  Have you read any other kidnapping stories? They intrigue me but are super hard to read! I can’t imagine being a parent and having this happen or being the child and being ripped away and abused.

The Ruining by Anna Collomore

The Ruining by Anna Collomore - YA new release 2013Book Title/Author: The Ruining by Anna Collomore
Publisher/Release Date
: Razorbill – February 7th 2013
Genre: YA Thriller
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None — The Ruining is her debut title.

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I received this from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

Annie can’t wait to leave home after she graduates high school — there’s too many things that haunt her there. She’s lined up a nanny job with a picture perfect family across the country where she’ll also attend her freshman year of college. Immediately she gets along great with the Cohens and she absolutely adores the wife, Libby, who seems like a sister to her. It doesn’t stay perfect for long — Libby starts snapping on her and accusing her of things she knows she didn’t do (like staring flirtatiously at her husband). The job becomes more demanding and Libby seems to go from hot to cold easily and Annie finds her privacy suddenly stripped away when the door is taken away because Libby thinks it’s broken and needs to be repaired. Annie finds herself struggling to keep up and on Libby’s good side but has a hard time staying afloat as she becomes more and more suspicious of Libby and also haunted by her past.

I have beyond complicated thoughts right now about The Ruining. My whole brain is just feeling like it’s in a post night out drinking haze where I’m like “How did I get into bed with my shoes still on, the key still in the door and why did I call Pizza Hut 50 times?” My brain is just reaaaaaching to find some clarity here so I can tell you about this book and my thoughts on it but the book was complicated. It’s complicated further by the fact that I can’t say TOO much or I will spoil it for you because it’s the kind of book that really relies on the element of the MindWTFery…like most psychological thriller type books.

The first 50-75% of this books was flipping fantastic for me! I was intrigued by Annie’s new life as a nanny and immediately I kept getting little pricks of “something isn’t right here!” within this picture perfect family and giddily awaited the potential MindWTFery. As the story progresses, my mind went into overdrive trying to figure out if the things that were happening in the story were real or if Annie was  crazy. I pretty much changed my theory every chapter as things escalated. Sometimes I thought Libby was a psycho and then other times Annie’s reactions to things were so extreme and then I would feel all suspicious of the family again….all to sit there and think, “I really have no idea because at the end of the day Annie seems like she could be a pretty unreliable narrator and now I feel crazy because I’m in her head.” The suspense was perfect and clever because you never felt completely sure what was going on and things just got crazier and crazier.

The part that really keeps from me RAVING, in the way I thought I would as I breezed through the first 75% of The Ruining, was the ending! It was a huge letdown. Friends, I am a HUGE lover of a good mind-you-know-what. I relish in them and am a psychological thriller junkie. And normally I never see it coming. And remember all those theories I told you I came up with? There were some I never wavered from because I felt so strongly about them and, honestly, a lot of them seemed so obvious. I kind of figured I would be wrong about them. But then unfortunately I was right about all of them. Admittedly, I DO guess things in books and movies but it’s quite rare in a really good psychological thriller that I do. I walk away stunned with the ending and my head spinning and this was not the case.

But not only did the actual ENDING let me down but the way the ending WAS just killed the mood. Through the first part of this book I was very on edge and feeling everything — that tension of truth and not truth was intense. But then the ending and the revelations were just so dull, rushed and anti-climactic. It wrapped up so quickly and without much oomph ( I wish I could explain more but I don’t want to give it away). Revelations were just sort of told rather than experienced and I kept thinking, “that’s all?” all the way up until the end. Resolutions happen very behind the scenes and we aren’t a part of it like we were in the beginning. I get WHY because of what’s happened to Annie but it just, for me personally, was a let down to how Anna Collomore had me feeling before.

Random but this also reminded me of a movie or something that I CANNOT for the life of me think of!

My feelings on The Ruining are so complicated. I very much enjoyed the ride of feeling like I couldn’t tell what was real or who was the crazy one in this story. I knew SOMETHING wasn’t right. The tension was perfect that I flew through. But then the ending…the execution and the conclusion of that last quarter of the book were just such a let down for me that I can’t really rave about this book as much as I would have had it stayed on par with what I came to expect or would have hoped for it. I’m a huge fan of the MindWTFery and maybe because I’ve read and watched so much of those psychologically jarring books/movies that I was hoping for something more WOW. It was pretty much the most obvious things and the storytelling  became dull compared to how fantastic it was before. If you are new to psychological thriller type books, I’d say you might like it compared to someone who has read a lot of them.

 

For Fans  Of: psychological type thrillers, MindWTFery, suspense, books dealing with mental illness, people who don’t mind a bit of predictability

Get Another Opinion: The Quiet Concert loved & gave it four stars!

The Ruining by Anna Collomore

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Did you enjoy it/not enjoy it? Heard of it? If you have read it, did you find that your theories were right in the end? And what did you think about Owen? Because honestly he seemed charming but towards the end I was getting some controlling vibes. ALSO, have any of you ever been loving a book but then the end of the book is a complete let down for you?  Anybody have any good psychological thriller recs? I’m talking Fight Club-ish. :)

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Book Title/Author: Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Horror
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: Possess

Amazon| Goodreads |Gretchen McNeil’s Website

I received this for review from the publisher. This did not sway my opinions in any way.

 

Best friends Meg & Minnie are invited to the super exclusive weekend house party thrown by one of the most popular girls at school. As they arrive at the party at her vacation home on Henry Island, they are immediately whisked into the fun by Meg’s crush TJ — a boy she has a secret history with & that Minnie has been in love with — and Ben — a hot friend of the hostess who Minnie clings to right away. As the party gets started and the friends start having fun, it takes a turn to the sinister upon discovering a creepy video that threatens the ten party-goers. When the body count starts climbing and they find themselves with no electricity or way of getting off the island, everyone is on edge with the video’s threats in mind and starts turning on each other. Can Meg figure out the killer before it’s too late? Is it someone they know or is it somebody else that wasn’t at the party?


Please understand that all I read during my middle school years was RL Stine and Christopher Pike along with some other horror books. I love the horror genre but have really neglected it these days. Ten by Gretchen McNeil excites me in the same way that those books did. I love a good scary slasher-y story where I’m changing my mind every couple of pages of who the killer is and the big twisted WHY. It was everything I loved about those books and movies like Scream & I Know What You Did Last Summer — which every teen in the 90′s loved despite wanting to pee their pants and learned that you ALWAYS, ALWAYYYYS MAKE SURE THE BADDIE IS DEAD LEST THEY REACH OUT AND TRY TO GRAB YOU AGAIN!

The thing I loved most about Ten by Gretchen McNeil is how she kept me guessing the whole way through. I had so many theories swirling about my head and pointed the guilty finger at just about every character at the party and invented scenarios in which it could be someone outside of the party. I seriously had a BALL trying to figure out who the killer was and WHY they did it. But you know what, I did NOT guess that ending nor who it was…though I initially had my suspicions of who it was but they were fleeting so SHOCKER. I went back and read the part where I suspected that person and MAN, I was SO CLOSE. Because of this crazy guessing game I devoured this like a hungry animal but it also helped that Gretchen McNeil created some really gruesome (albeit not graphic) death scenes and crazy tension-filled situations where you just didn’t know what to expect. Props to her writing for setting the scene of the creepy house & creepy island!

I think that, while it satiated my love for a quick horror story, that it really just stayed on par with the 100′s of teen horror novels I read in the 90′s…it never rose above those. What I mean is that I enjoyed it but it wasn’t ground-breaking to the genre; almost stayed true to the “formula”. There were a lot of times where it clung very close to the cliched tropes in teen slasher type horror and, like those books for me, I really never thought the characterization wasn’t that great — seriously, lots of cliches and unlikeable characters who you never end up caring about (some because they just die so soon naturally). They are books that I really enjoy and devour quickly but most of them blend in. I think they are great for quick, fun (?) reads that give you a little bit of a fright but that’s where it stayed. Also, I have to say I thought sometimes the reactions of the characters and the things they were thinking of and talking about in the midst of a big slaying of their friends were just so strange to me. Rather than being worried about a boy I’d be worried about not DYING so maybe I could like enjoy a boy again. JUST SAYING.

I also hear that this was based on an Agatha Christie novel (And Then There Were None) and that if you LOVED that novel you might have a hard time with this one. I can’t compare Ten to that since never having read And Then There Were None so that wasn’t a problem for me.

If you loved books from RL Stine & Christopher Pike or movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer when you were a teen, then I think you’ll enjoy Ten by Gretchen McNeil. It’s got all the riveting action and pulse-racing tension with a body count and the ability to keep you guessing until the very end. It was a good read but not stand-out in the genre for me. It wasn’t honestly that scary; more mysterious than anything. It was a perfect start to my Halloween reading binge nonetheless and begged to be compulsively read for the action & the mystery of WHO the killer was and WHY he or she was after them.

 

For Fans Of: YA horror, slasher films like Scream & I Know What You Did Last Summer, Christopher Pike & RL Stine books from the 90′s

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Were you able to guess the killer? What other horror novels do you recommend? And I HAVE TO KNOW…were you huge Christopher Pike or RL Stine fans like me??

Review Of The Innocents by Lili Peloquin

Book Title/Author: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin
Publisher/Year: : Razorbill October 16 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery
Series: YES!
Other Books From Author: None!

Amazon| Goodreads | The Innocents Facebook
I received this ARC from the publisher and, while appreciated, this did not sway my opinions in any way.

Sister’s Alice & Charlie have always been close — best friends even. When their mom gets remarried to a very wealthy architect, the girls get uprooted from their small home and the life they’ve always known and are move to their new stepfather’s mansion and are thrust into the lives of the rich where scandals and secrets abound and where the allure of it all could threaten their bond. Charlie easily embraces her new rich life while Alice rejects it and falls into a web of secrets that could put an even bigger wedge between her and Charlie.

Oh this book. I have confusing feelings. I didn’t hate this book by ANY MEANS but it just wasn’t fully what I was hoping for unfortunately. I could see something compelling and intriguing just bubbling under the surface but unfortunately it never came into fruition until about 75% of the way in and the BIG SHOCKING REVEAL (really the only BIG one to be honest ) that I kept reading for was something I predicted so very soon in the novel. I expected at least something else CRAZY to go along with it.

I mean by the end we are left with SO many intriguing things to find out — what Tommy’s big secret is, how Camilla found out — and so many things we KNOW are going to go down as a result of events — like how Charlie is going to find out the BIG SECRET or her confronting her dad about things. To be honest, I WANT to read the second book for all the potential mystery, suspense and crazy huge drama that this book set up for — seems like it really could be along the lines of Pretty Little Liars meets Gossip Girl meets Revenge. THOSE kinds of awesome dramas with secrets and crazy plot twists and rich families.

But that’s mostly what this book was for me — a tease for what’s to come — because seriously I couldn’t even figure out where this story was going for like 50% of the book and then it didn’t start getting REALLY compelling until 75% of the way through like I mentioned. It just seemed it was, prior to becoming engaging to me, all  “hey this is a story of two sisters who are uprooted when their mom marries a wealthy architect and they have a hard time adjusting to rich society and they both fall in insta-love and one is super paranoid that there is this conspiracy and I don’t quite know why.” TRULY that’s all I was getting in the beginning. That’s all it seemed like and I was just DYING for some drama and mystery and twisty turns that would induce gasps of shock and horror. But when it got good…it was GOOD. Really good. I felt like I was MEH until the 3/4 mark and then the rest of the way I’m breathless and turning the pages like a madwoman. Wished that feeling had been stretched out evenly during the book and not contained to the last part. Like I said, I so WANT to find out what happens in the next book. I just hope it’s better for me than this book.

I had my difficulties with Alice among many of the characters. Firstly, she starts sleuthing around based on really nothing. She has all these theories and things (which clearly they are founded) but most of the book it doesn’t seem like there is any basis to any of her theories. She just has these hunches but none of them seemed like obvious red flags until she gets digging around a bit. It just seemed like her suspicions came nearly from thin air. Also, she’s really quite a tightwad? Harsh perhaps but OH MY GOSH she was rather abrasive at times. She was always thinking everyone was slighting her or out to get her.

 

I think this series will be popular amongst the Pretty Little Liars fans as well as for people who like shows like Gossip Girl, 90210 & Revenge. It’s got the potential for major mystery and suspense, drama and those oh so seductive twists, turns and family secrets amongst rich society members that has me tuning into ALL OF THE ABOVE shows each week. Unfortunately for me, all THAT came to late in The Innocents. I was barely intrigued or engaged until 75% through in which I was left with an OMG ending that was packed with all the ingredients that make me love those shows. This book didn’t do it for me but I am going to book 2 a chance because 1) This book set up for some potentially awesome storylines and 2) Peloquin’s writing is quite good.

 

For Fans Of: Pretty Little Liars series, contemporary YA mysteries involving scandals & rich society
** An FYI for anyone wondering about content issues — a fair amount of cursing, alcohol, weed & such. Just so you know **

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Was I the only one who found it slow until 3/4 of the way through? ALSO, I want recs for books like this and the Pretty Little Liars series!

Review Of Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful Jennifer Shaw WolfBook Title/Author: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publisher/Year: Walker Childrens – April 2012
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None

Amazon| Goodreads | Author website

I received Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf for review by the publisher for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my opinions. They are all my own.

What’s It About: Allie survives a horrific accident that claimed the life of her boyfriend Trip. Her memory as to what happened that night is gone but she knows it’s better to stay in the past because of the secrets she has kept about their relationship that makes grieving for him complicated. When suspicions arise about what really happened the night of their accident, her small town brings in a big time detective to investigate causing Allie to be even more cautious to keep her secrets guarded as rumors start flying about that night. Allie & her close friend Blake (pegged the town’s bad boy because of his troubled past) reconnect as helps her to cope with the accident  which causes the town to talk. For Allie to move on, she knows she must try to remember that night but with that comes dredging up secrets she’s hidden for so long.

Breaking Beautiful was one of those intensely read books where I would absolutely devour huge chunks of it in one sitting — a lot like stuffing my face at Thanksgiving dinner. Jennifer Shaw Wolf holds you captive by slowly revealing Trip & Allie’s relationship and creating a sense of urgency that Allie feels as she struggles to remember that night. The speculation of what happened that night, at times, seems too much to bear and the author really knew where to hook you and keep you reading as Allie is facing these memories and what they mean. Not to mention, the budding romance between Blake and Allie factors in this mental list of “Things I Need To Know RIGHT NOW, Dammit” along with Blake’s involvement of that night.  The tension of finding out the truth of what happened is what kept me reading. It was done really, really well as the tidbits we got about their relationship, about that night, about who else could have been involved were well placed and the memory loss element was done really well. It didn’t seem manipulative in the way I’ve seen in other cases.

However, despite my eagerness to find out what happened & the raving about this book I saw, it just didn’t hold up for me in other places. I really wanted to LOVE it. I thought I would. But there was just something that held me back from it.  I think Allie herself was part of the problem. The girl is a mess and rightly so. She’s been through a horrible ordeal and has been a punching bag for one of the douchiest guys ever and she’s scared.  So scared. And I get that. I do.  Nobody knows Trip the way she does and she probably thinks nobody will believe her. But it just seemed like she put herself in the OTHER situations in the book (not the abuse part) and just was so MOUSY and timid and I wanted to pull her up and say “DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF, ALLIE.” She just seemed so frozen. I think that’s a good word for her — frozen. There just were a lot of places in the book where I didn’t understand her lack of action, her lack of opening her mouth. I just couldn’t fathom it especially when it affects people you love. And then when she DOES decide to do something, at the end of the story, it seems to me to be one of those most overly dramatic, dumb decisions.  I felt horribly for her but I could never fully wrap my head around her.  ALSO..it seemed like anything that could go wrong WENT wrong and I just felt like there was toooo much going on.

The other thing for me, and  I’ve mentioned before that this happens a lot to me, is that I guessed the “twist” part decently early on and was right. I saw it coming a mile away but in talking to others who have read it — they honestly didn’t guess it! I think it’s just a ME problem but it felt so obvious to me and I was mad that I wasn’t wrong. I love when I’m wrong .

  In the end it was a good read. I did enjoy it, loved the pacing of revelations as it kept me wanting more. I found myself lost in the story for large chunks of time without realizing it. It was emotional on so many different levels — in obvious and not so obvious ways. There were some really great secondary characters that made up for my frustrations with Allie. I just don’t think I LOVED this the way that other people did — could have been my frustrations for Allie, could have been how  it DID drag at times, was overly dramatic at others. Not sure what it was — just felt like I should have been feeling more as it concluded. Something profound. But I didn’t.

 

Review Of The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

Book Cover Of The Last Echo Kimberly DertingBook/Author: The Last Echo: A Body Finder Novel by Kimberly Derting
Part Of A Series: Yes – The Body Finder (Bk 1) & Desires Of The Dead (Bk 2)
Genre: YA mystery (supernatural elements but  it’s not paranormal)
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen – April 17, 2012
I received this from the publisher for an honest review & it did not sway my opinions on this book or series.
Buy It Here | Goodreads

 

The Last Echo, the third installment of The Body Finders series by Kimberly Derting was by far the CREEPIEST & most thrilling (and my personal fave) of the three books. In the first two books, Violet has used her ability to hear echos from the dead to solve murders on her own. But in this book, she’s working with a team – an underground government agency if you will – with special abilities similar to her own that we were introduced to at the end of Desires of the Dead. Working on these cases with this group seem to get her into even more trouble!

As in The Body Finder & Desires of the Dead, every few chapters we get inside the head of who Violet is tracking down. This time around was THE creepiest ever. I honestly kept shuddering while reading the killer’s perspective in this one because it was just psycho killer movie type creepy to me as he hunts down girls from a local college. I wasn’t frightened but I definitely got the heebie jeebies for sure by being in his delusional mind. Though I thought one of the big things that happened to Violet was a little predictable (but then again I’m always guessing what’s going to happen in movies and tv shows), I compulsively had to read to figure out how this killer would be caught. I felt like a crazed detective that can’t eat or sleep until the case is cracked.

I loved learning more about Rafe and Sara and the rest of the gang. Although, my biggest issue with how this storyline was done  is that I wish we could have learned more about them and their abilities but hopefully we’ll get to learn more in the next book. I thought this storyline was interesting and made for some ultra tense moments that were eluded to at the end of Desires of The Dead… although I was a little distraught at the lack of Jay in parts of the book. I LOVE ME SOME JAY! But the parts he was in were worth it..especially a sexy little scene.

Let me just say the ending – SHOCKING. Cannot wait for the next book to see how THAT all plays out!

The Final Thought: If you want thrilling mysteries that involve supernatural elements & a tinge of romance, this is a great YA series for that! These books are always very quick reads and always keep my attention. The Last Echo did NOT disappoint for me as it upped the thrills and creepiness factor. I flew through it and couldn’t put it down until the very end…which left me with my mouth open and anxiously awaiting book 4! My crime drama show loving heart can’t help but love this series because they are a cross between Criminal Minds, Medium & a dash of Veronica Mars for good measure.

You Might Also Like: Clarity by Kim Harrington

 Review On A Post-It

PS. I’m looking to find even more YA mysteries that are either contemporary or have some supernatural elements (I already know a ton of paranormal mysteries). Recommendations??

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Title/Author: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Publisher/Year: Harper Teen 2010
Where I Got It: I bought it on my Nook!
Why I read It: I heard it was so creeptastic.

Violet, outwardly your average high school girl, has a secret that only a few close to her know. She has the ability to hear the echos of the dead whose lives were wrongly cut short at the hands of others. Their killers, unbeknownst to them, carry their own unique imprint that matches that of their victims that are also sensed by Violet. These bodies seek her out so that they can be uncovered and be at peace. But what happens when a serial killer is on the loose too close to home? And if that wasn’t bad enough, now she is starting to have feelings for her childhood best friend who suddenly became eye candy at school overnight.

The premise had me from the moment I read it–hook, line and sinker. I was a little carp just flapping around on Derting’s line. I was intrigued by the fresh idea and got a wee bit giddy for some supernatural action and a good mystery. I like to try and guess whodunit because it makes me feel like Nancy Drew who I idolized as a child. However, I’m not sure that Nancy Drew ever had a connection with dead people.

I could not stop turning the pages of this one. I needed to know who this serial killer was and I just wanted to find out what was going to happen between Violet and Jay! So on one hand, you have this super creepy aspect of this book where there is a serial killer and a girl who hears echos of dead people and then you have this adorable budding romance where you just want to throw these two characters together and show them how obvious it is that they want each other. At every point there was something that interested me whether we were a step closer to finding out who the killer was or whether there was some drama with Violet or Jay. And the romance was not at all annoying (other than wanting them to just BE TOGETHER) and it was very much realistic and sweet. It was like watching two friends in high school who were so obviously into each other and you just wanted it to happen already. I would have been placing bets on how long it took them to realize this. Anyways, I was rather fond of them as a couple. The other characters in the book were not so memorable to me and actually Violet would have fallen flat for me at times if she didn’t have such an interesting “gift”. Hopefully in the sequel she’ll become a little more alive for me.

I have to say I was hoping for it to be super creepy and keep me up late at night to the point where every creak in the house HAD to be some psycho serial killer creeping around my house. Seriously, I get like that. I start sweating and thinking of what I could hit him with. Anyways, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. However, Derting did something very effective to add the creepy element to satisfy me. She had some alternating chapters from the perspective of this unknown serial killer. Being in the serial killer’s head was CREEPY and added a whole other element to the story. Props to Derting for doing that because she pulled it off well! She must have been browsing the true crime section of the bookstore because I thought she captured the essence of the serial killer perfectly.  And props to Derting because I, the queen of figuring out the endings to things, didn’t even see that ending coming until nearer to the end of the book. That made me happy!

My Final Thought: Read this if you are looking for a YA book that will quicken your heart rate with its creepy plotline involving serial killers and dead bodies along with a romance that gives you butterflies. Derting creates the perfect novel for someone who wants to dabble in a little supernatural action but not fully immerse themselves. For lovers of the supernatural/paranormal scene, this one will definitely be one that will chill you and thrill you with its fast pace and its refreshing premise although it might be lacking in the paranormal creature department.

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