Published April 21, 2017
Tags: betrayal, cruise, murder, trust
Genre: Mystery Thriller
# of Pages: 340
Lo suffered a terrible shock when someone broke into her home while she was asleep. Luckily, she only suffered a bruised cheek before he left, but she’s very shaken up. Unfortunately, she’s scheduled to go on an elite cruise the next day for her job as a travel journalist. She considers this her big break and does not want to mess it up. The first night on board the small, but elegant boat she meets a young woman in the cabin next to hers who loans her some mascara. Later that night she hears a scream and a big splash as if someone was thrown overboard. She immediately inquires, but not only does no one believe that someone was thrown overboard, but she learns there is no one staying in the cabin next to hers. After demanding to meet the entire staff she realizes that no one fits that woman’s description. She does not believe she made it all up, though, despite their efforts to blame her post traumatic stress and the alcohol she consumed. Then, when she falls asleep during a required trip to the spa she wakes up to find the shower has been turned on to create a foggy bathroom where someone wrote “stop digging” in the mirror. Can she really ignore that a crime happened right next to her? Will she be next if she keeps “digging?”
This mystery was exciting and suspenseful, especially since Lo is basically on an island where no communication is working to reach any land and the only suspects must be on board with her. She only met these people the previous evening and therefore has no idea who she can really trust. Mystery fans will be intrigued and they won’t be disappointed with the ultimate resolution.
Genre: Mystery Thriller
# of Pages: 308
Anne and Marco were horrified to come home and find their infant daughter missing from her crib. When the police arrive they are surprised to learn that the couple had left their daughter alone while they went to a birthday party next door. Anne and Marco had fought about what to do when the sitter canceled last minute, but Marco had argued that they would take the baby monitor and check on their baby every half hour. Anne eventually relented since their neighbor, Cynthia, had made it very clear that Baby Cora was not invited. They checked on Cora every half hour until after midnight, but when they eventually returned home they discovered the front door open and their baby gone. Who could’ve known exactly when to strike? Could it be someone they know? Will the kidnappers want a ransom?
This mystery thriller grabs the reader right from the beginning because Anne and Marco are so easy to identify with. What happened to them appears to be so terrible and unexpected yet eventually the pieces start fitting together and it becomes obvious that they both have secrets. Fans of The Girl on the Train and Harlan Coben novels will enjoy this exciting tale right until the end.
# of Pages: 360
When Lily Bennett moves with her mother to a new town before her junior year of high school she tries to remain optimistic, but in reality her mother is fleeing her cheating husband and his pregnant girlfriend and Lily is fleeing her cheating father and the boyfriend who cheated on her with her best friend. They are both looking for fresh starts and unfortunately, that involves living on her wealthy grandmother’s property. Ever since she was a child Lily has had a bizarre recurring dream where she’s running on a big field that has caught fire and she approaches a teenage boy’s body in the middle of it. It has scared her since she was little, but normally she only has this dream a few times a year. Since she moved she has had this dream every single night and it’s beginning to take a toll.
Amber was a teen living in the same town Lily just moved to in the 1980s. Her boyfriend, Spence, was murdered on the football field of their school and the police investigator believed that Amber committed the murder. Four days later Amber was stabbed to death and it was ruled a suicide. Could Amber be trying to send Lily a message all of these years later about what really happened to her and Spence? What is Lily’s connection to Amber’s death?
Fans of Victoria Laurie’s mystery When will enjoy this title as well. It has many great plot twists, sinister characters, and red herrings. The idea that Lily could be the reincarnation of Amber is a unique twist you do not often see in YA mystery novels. The book itself moves quickly and will keep even reluctant readers engaged.
Genre: Realistic fiction/mystery
# of Pages: 372 p.
Tess has lived with her grandfather ever since her parents died in a car accident when she was small. Her older sister, Ivy, went away to college and never really came back so Tess knew things were about to unravel when Ivy showed up at her grandfather’s ranch. Despite her best efforts, Tess could no longer hide her grandfather’s dementia from the world and Ivy had come to put him in a treatment center while Tess was forced to pack her bags and come to D.C. to live with the sister she hardly knew. Only after she gets to D.C. does she realize what her sister actually does for a living: she’s a fixer for wealthy and powerful people who have serious problems. Tess is expected to be a fixer like her sister when she starts her new school by the children of wealthy and powerful people who attend, but Tess is not interested in following after her sister’s example. Then, a supreme court justice suddenly dies and a girl at her school confides to Tess that she does not think it was an accident. Can Tess find out what’s really going on in D.C. without alerting her sister or anyone involved? Will Tell and Ivy ever mend their relationship?
This is a fun novel for mystery or spy fans (fans of Ally Carter will enjoy this title). The characters are fun and getting more developed all the time and no doubt will continue to do so as the series continues. The mystery was exciting and provided a satisfying ending. The idea of “fixers” has only started getting discussed in the last five years or so and it’s fun to see a young adult series focused around such an interesting career.
2016-17 Iowa High School Award Winner
Sam Hopkins is the son of a preacher so he is often not treated the same as other kids, but he is not immune to bullies either and on one particular day while running he inadvertently draws the attention of three of the biggest bullies in school. He refuses to back down to them and ends up joining their gang for a short while and they teach him how to steal cars. Eventually he comes to his senses and realizes that he could get himself into real danger, but just as he’s telling them he won’t steal actual cars with them he sees them pick on Jennifer, who is an unusual girl in school who often speaks of demons and other strange things. The bullies are about to go after her when Sam steps in and allows her to escape while he himself takes a terrible beating. Afterward, everyone praises him for saving “poor, crazy” Jennifer and Sam begins to realize that all of her “premonitions” might in fact be real. Can he convince anyone that she might really be telling the truth about her visions? Will he continue to get into more trouble if he keeps staying involved with her?
This story is difficult to describe without giving the heart of the story away. Sam is confused by Jennifer and her condition, which makes the reader confused as well. Meanwhile, everything that happens to Sam does eventually come together to make an interesting and complete story, but for a long time several of the pieces do not seem to go together at all. Sam is a well crafted, complex character who is easy to identify with even if the reader has nothing in common with him. For those who stick with the story past the beginning they will be pleasantly surprised by the action and fast paced resolution.
# of Pages: 473
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
Iowa High School Award Winner 2016
Rory is thrilled when she gets accepted into the prestigious Theden Academy, an all expense paid prep school with an excellent reputation. Shortly before she leaves, she learns that her mother, who died in childbirth, also attended Theden and left her a symbolic necklace. This story is set in the future where everyone is dependent on their smart phones and uses an app called Lux that makes literally every decision for them from what to major in to what to eat for breakfast. As Rory settles in she meets a young barista at a nearby coffee shop and he helps her see what a disadvantage it is to always have an app make decisions for you. She begins using Lux less and less and in the process notices more around her, including the shady practices of her new school. Is someone out to get her? What really happened to her mother and did she actually die during childbirth?
This is a fun, fast paced story that fans of futuristic fiction will enjoy. The story is detailed and has many revelations that unfold in a timely way. The characters are all well developed and it’s easy for the reader to see each of their motivations. Despite there being quite a market for futuristic dystopian-esque books this one is unique enough to stand out and will keep readers engaged.
# of pages: 277
Jillian does not believe in paranormal activity, but yet she works running her father’s paranormal investigation firm ever since he left her to fend for herself and her dying mother. She tells clients what they want to hear in order to earn money to pay the electric bill, but that does not stop her from judging those who do believe in the paranormal. When a high school classmate offers to pay big money for her to find her missing boyfriend, Jillian jumps at the chance until the mysterious new student, Sky, inserts himself into the investigation claiming that there is supernatural activity at work here. As Jillian and Sky work the case she faces the possibility that supernatural occurrences might actually exist.
Fans of mysteries and fantasy will enjoy this light, fun story about a teenage girl trying to do it all. There is a lot about Jillian’s backstory that has not been uncovered yet, including a mysterious obituary she finds of herself dated six months in the future listing a sister among her family whom she’s never heard of. There’s plenty more stories Jillian can and probably will tell in future volumes.