Genre: Mystery

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Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz

February 27, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★½

Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria StolarzShutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 18, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
one-half-stars
Sixteen-year-old Day Connor views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she observes and the truths she believes—neatly captured in black and white—begin to blur.

Julian does not look like a murderer, but his story is full of holes, and his alibis don’t quite add up, either. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture…whatever it reveals.

Did he kill his parents? Or didn’t he?

While Julian remains on the run, Day digs deeper into his case. But the more facts she uncovers, the longer her list of questions becomes. It’s also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels with Julian.

Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case that will prove Julian’s innocence. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Julian’s mom suffered from depression and a painkiller addiction; she attempted suicide multiple times)
Intersectionality: 0

Back when I was just a wee fourteen-year-old just getting into reading, Laurie Faria Stolarz’s Blue is for Nightmares series was a small thing and her Touch series was just beginning. While looking for new reads, her books would always be right there waiting, but I never bothered with them. Well, if their quality is anything like Shutter, I’m thankful little me was never interested.

Read more »

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Review: Avenged by E.E. Cooper

October 28, 2016 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Avenged by E.E. CooperAvenged by E. E. Cooper
Series: Vanished #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on November 8, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Avenged is the conclusion to the Vanished duology, an absorbing, psychological suspense story about friendship, deception, jealousy, and love.

Everyone believes Beth’s death was an accident, except for Kalah. The girl she loved was stolen from her, and now Kalah’s broken heart wants revenge. In order to crack Brit’s perfect alibi, Kalah pretends to be Brit’s best friend—with the sole mission to destroy her.

Kalah knows that playing Brit’s game is deadly. One wrong move could cost someone their life, including her own…but the more lies Kalah tells, the closer she is to the twisted truth.

Diversity Rating: 4 – This is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Kalah is Indian)
QUILTBAG:
4 (Kalah and Beth are bisexual, a gay couple is in here somewhere)
Disability:
2 (Kalah has OCD and anxiety)
Intersectionality:
4 (See all the above about Kalah)

Return of the bisexual Indian girl with anxiety! Vanished remains fresh in my mind even though I read it close to a year and a half ago thanks to its characters and well-written mystery. Also, diversity and intersectionality are fantastic. Naturally, I was excited to see its sequel Avenged land on my doorstep! Cooper writes a solid conclusion to her duology and the mystery remains as engrossing as ever, but I have more problems with the ending than I can discuss. That’s very literal. I can’t discuss them without spoiling everything. So I don’t! Read more »

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Review: Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid

September 23, 2016 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: Perfect Liars by Kimberly ReidPerfect Liars by Kimberly Reid
Published by Tu Books on May 15, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
two-stars
Andrea Faraday is junior class valedictorian at the exclusive Woodruff School, where she was voted Most Likely to Do Everything Right. But looks can be deceiving. When her parents disappear, her life and her Perfect Girl charade begins to crumble, and her scheme to put things right just takes the situation from bad to so much worse. Pretty soon she's struck up the world's least likely friendship with the juvenile delinquents at Justice Academy, the last exit on the road to jail and the first stop on the way out.

If she were telling it straight, friendship might not be the right word to describe their alliance, since Drea and her new associates could not be more different. She s rich and privileged; they re broke and, well, criminal. But Drea s got a secret: she has more in common with the juvie kids than they d ever suspect. When it turns out they share a common enemy, Drea suggests they join forces to set things right. Sometimes, to save the day, a good girl's gotta be bad.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Andrea and her brother are biracial; Xavier is Korean; I believe Gigi is Latina)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 2 (plenty of acknowledgement of how different Andrea’s life is from Xavier’s because of her family’s ill-begotten wealth)

Tu Books is probably one of my favorite publishers and yet this is the first time I’ve read one of their books. Seems silly, I know, but their dedication to publishing diverse, representative books and the truth that flows from their Twitter feed daily has always impressed me. Meeting the tweeps behind the account at ALA was lovely and my copy of Perfect Liars has a dedication that I’ll likely remember the story behind for the rest of my life!

But to cut to the chase, I didn’t like Perfect Liars very much. It’s a deeply introspective caper and will need just the right reader to appreciate that. Read more »

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Review: We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash

September 19, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0

Review: We Know It Was You by Maggie ThrashWe Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash
Series: Strange Truth #1
Published by Simon Pulse on October 4, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
zero-stars
Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars in acclaimed author Maggie Thrash’s new Strange Truth series.

It’s better to know the truth. At least sometimes.

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.

Just like that, she’s gone.

Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.

SPOILER WARNING TIME. I’m spoiling some major stuff here.

Diversity Rating: -5 – What the Fuck is This?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (one Nigerian girl and three Korean men, but they’re ALL villains; Benny is Jewish)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

WOW, have I been waiting to rant about this. I read We Know It Was You alllllllllllll the way back in April 206 because my TBR Jar told me I had to. Seeing as I was legitimately excited, I wasn’t keen to defy the almighty jar either. Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars sounds fascinating and twisty! Well, it’s a lie. Instead of the magnetic surrealism of Twin Peaks, we get cockamamie bull that’s also kinda racist. Read more »

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Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

July 7, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: With Malice by Eileen CookWith Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on June 7, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-half-stars
It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Jill’s roommate Anna is Mexican)
QUILTBAG:
Disability: 2 (I believe Anna was paralyzed from the waist down when her boyfriend pushed her down from the stairs)
Intersectionality: (Anna; see above)

Once upon a time, this little book called Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was a cult hit among book bloggers. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell very well at all and most casual readers had no idea it existed. If you haven’t read that book, go read it right now. If you have, congratulations! If you were into that true crime-inspired tale and its unreliable narrator, then With Malice here should be next on your TBR. Read more »

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Review: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

June 13, 2016 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat WintersThe Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books on March 8, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Historical
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Goodreads
five-stars
Scene: Oregon, 1923.

Dramatis personae:

Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man

Hank Denney, her father—a ghost

Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother

Clyde Konig, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather

Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney

Members of the Ku Klux Klan

Townspeople of Elston, Oregon

Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?

Diversity Rating: 4 – This is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Hanalee is the biracial daughter of a black man and a white woman; her identity is central to the story)
QUILTBAG: 5 (Joe’s identity as a gay man is also central to the story)
Disability: 0 (Hanalee’s dad has a telltale limp as a ghost, but that’s it)
Intersectionality: 4 (between them, Hanalee and Joe say a lot about race and sexuality that’s still relevant today)

I just… What am I supposed to say? This novel is brilliant! I’ve been on the outs with YA historical novels lately for a variety of reasons and my history with Cat Winters’s YA novels didn’t create high expectations, but The Steep and Thorny Way completely blew me away! It’s what every historical YA novel should be. Let’s just get on with it. Read more »

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Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

June 10, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 3

Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah JudeThe May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on May 3, 2016
Genres: Gothic, Mystery, YA, YA Horror
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
one-star
Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

Warning: lots of animal death in this book.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Ivy is half-Mexican through her mother; her parents’ “love story” is nasty)
QUILTBAG: 0 (Heather is a lesbian and her story falls right into the old Bury Your Gays trope)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

It shouldn’t be nearly as difficult as it is to find a good horror novel. I’m fully aware it’s a genre as worthy and full of quality as any other, but I have such a bad radar for horror that I wonder sometimes if the good ones are just exceptions to a “YA horror is bad” rule! (Then I slap myself for being ridiculous.) The May Queen Murders was yet another novel that promised isolation, creepy happenings, and death, but it’s a letdown in almost every respect. Read more »

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