Genre: Suspense


Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

January 1, 2018 Diversity 4, Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke NijkampBefore I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 23, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, YA, YA Contemporary, YA Horror, YA Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley, YA Books Central
Days before Corey is to return home to the snow and ice of Lost Creek, Alaska, to visit her best friend, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

But Does It Represent?

  • #ownvoices asexual representation in Corey
  • Kyra is pansexual and has bipolar disorder
  • Roshan and Sam are gay and together
  • Roshan and his father are Indian and from the UK
  • Native and indigenous people are mentioned regularly but never appear on the page

Ah, Alaska: the US state where the people have Canadian accents, can see Russia from their backyards, and have one of the only decent Republicans in the entirety of Congress. (Their senator Lisa Murkowski has been instrumental in stopping ACA repeals, though her general record is spotty and she’s very pro-gun.) You won’t find many YA books set in Alaska and now Before I Let Go joins the small club. It also joins the “books I’m gonna get but never reread” because it’s SO GOOD but omfg I can’t put myself through this book again. MY HEART.

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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
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
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.

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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
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)
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 »


Review: Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan

July 14, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. MorganSecrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan
Published by Simon Pulse on July 5, 2016
Genres: Suspense, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Nothing ruins summer vacation like a secret…especially when it involves a dead teacher.

Ivy used to be on top of the social ladder, until her ex made that all go away. She has a chance to be Queen Bee again, but only if the rest of the group can keep quiet.

Tyler has always been a bad boy, but lately he’s been running low on second chances. There’s no way he’s going to lose everything because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.

Kinley wouldn’t describe herself as perfect, though everyone else would. But perfection comes at a price, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her perfect record—one that doesn’t include murder charges.

Mattie is only in town for the summer. He wasn’t looking to make friends, and he definitely wasn’t looking to be involved in a murder. He’s also not looking to be riddled with guilt for the rest of his life…but to prevent that he’ll have to turn them all in.

Cade couldn’t care less about the body, or about the pact to keep the secret. The only way to be innocent is for someone else to be found guilty. Now he just has to decide who that someone will be.

With the police hot on the case, they don’t have much time to figure out how to trust each other. But in order to take the lead, you have to be first in line…and that’s the quickest way to get stabbed in the back.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Cade is Japanese; Kinley is black)
QUILTBAG: 1 (Mattie is bi but plays out a bi stereotype)
Disability: 0 (off-screen character with an unspecified mental illness fulfills the “mentally ill people are dangerous” stereotype)
Intersectionality: 1 (See above; though bare-bones diverse, the novel doesn’t handle it particularly well)

There’s nothing like a good YA suspense novel that keeps you up at night and results in you dropping your Nook on your face! (Yeah, that happened. It also hit my cat Shadow, who’d crawled up onto my chest to take a nap, but I digress.) I didn’t know how much I wanted this book until I started reading and took down somewhere between 250 and 300 pages of it in one night. Read more »


Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

June 24, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. AndrewsFlowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Series: Dollanganger #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 1979
Genres: Gothic, Historical, Suspense, YA, YA Historical
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror!

It wasn't that she didn't love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake--a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father.

So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic.

Just for a little while.

But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work--children who--one by one--must be destroyed....

'Way upstairs there are
four secrets hidden.
Blond, beautiful, innocent
struggling to stay alive....

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Way back when the Lifetime movie of Flowers in the Attic premiered on television and I watched it (aka about two years ago), I finally decided to read the infamous book people the teens of the 80s passed around. Really, there’s not a person in the United States who doesn’t know this series is one big dramatic saga about incest. I knew what was coming and yet I wanted to read it anyway. Whoo, was that an experience! Read more »


Review: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

May 5, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. BickDrowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick
Published by Carolrhoda Lab on February 1, 2012
Genres: Suspense, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
Disability: o
Intersectionality: o

Someone failed to tell me about Drowning Instinct‘s unreliable narrator earlier, which is an act so egregious that it should be criminalized. I love unreliable narrators and I heard a lot was going on at once, which is also a plus. And yet it took four years and the set-up of a TBR Jar system for me to finally read the book. THANK YOU, SERENDIPITY. If you want to read a mildly older YA book instead of getting lost in all the new releases each week, this is one of the books to travel back in time for. Read more »


Review: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

June 29, 2015 Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee AdamsRuthless by Carolyn Lee Adams
Published by Simon Pulse on July 14, 2015
Genres: Suspense, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.

Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.

When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup trick, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.

At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.

The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.

Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.

In case you don’t know me very well, I’m always angry at the patriarchy for various reasons. Whether it’s men trying to explain things to me that I already know, them trying to tell me what I can and can’t do with my body, or when I stub my toe on something in my room, there’s always a reason for me to scream “DAMN YOU, PATRIARCHY.” If there’s not, I’ll find one. All my facetious fun about patriarchy aside, I was especially angry at it one day in early January and decided I needed something patriarchy-smashing to read. Enter Ruthless. It follows the standard formula of using the victimization of a woman to entertain, but it flips enough conventions to be great.

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