Genre: Thriller

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Book Review

Posted September 2, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 7 Comments

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Book ReviewDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton Juvenile on May 25, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 375
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

I’m on a major mystery/thriller kick right now, and I’m all about conspiracies! I’m not usually a fan of revenge, but this is revenge for a good reason so I LOVED it. Daughter of Deep Silence is filled with ominous, creepy, obsessive revenge. Basically, it was amazing. I’m doing a small review for this title because I don’t want to give anything away. The synopsis is very vague for a reason, and I intend to provide only my opinions. So don’t worry! Reading my review is totally safe, even if you’re the type who likes to discover books on your own, rather than read a review that basically tells you the entire plot. Seriously. I just read a bunch of reviews on Goodreads and they are just not safe!

We start out on the Persephone, a luxury yacht at sea. Everything is fine, and then disaster strikes. I was immediately engrossed in this story, and was completely on the edge of my seat. It starts out with a huge bang and gets more and more crazy and mysterious as the book continues and Frances’s life continues at home. Frances is a very hurt, very complex, very lost and rage-filled soul who has her heart set on finding answers. She will stop at nothing to find these answers, no matter the cost. And I’m not kidding. There were times I hated her and there were times I absolutely loved her. Her past is heartbreaking, her present is a lie, and her future could go in so many different directions depending on her actions now. There’s a bit of romance, but mostly the suspense is the frontrunner. My only qualm is that I wish there was more of a gradual build-up to the climax instead of the huge info dump and a quick ending I got. I’m the kind of person who likes to guess and form opinions, but I needed a few more clues than I was given.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with Daughter of Deep Silence. I loved every second, and was sad when it was over. Sure, it was a little unbelievable in places, but that’s why this is a novel instead of a memoir. This story would never happen in real life, but neither would Jurassic Park. I love the author’s writing style, and am seriously considering reading her backlist because I was completely entranced. Carrie Ryan is an amazing author! Definitely give this book a shot if you’re looking for a little suspense that won’t keep you up all night in sheer terror.

5 Stars

Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book Review

Posted August 6, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book ReviewShadowlands by Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 8, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
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4 Stars

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

This book had the makings of everything I love. Serial killer. An escape. Witness protection. Suspense. What’s going on here? Paranoia. Stalking. Relocation to a quaint beach town that has creepy fog roll in at night. Shady people. I was all over this book and so super in love for about 96% of the story. The ending derailed my happiness, and I was frustrated and annoyed that such an amazing book had to end that way! It was honestly such a disappointing ending that I’m not even sure I care to read the other two books in the trilogy.

Kate Brian’s writing style and her ability to scare the living daylights out of you and keep you up all night are amazing. I’ve got no complaints there. I loved her descriptive writing style that made my spine tingle. The suspense was intense. The feeling of the book is very ominous and creepy, and I’m glad I read it while I was on vacation so that I was in a hotel room with my family and not sleeping on my own. I loved the alternating chapters, which go back and forth between Rory’s point of view and the killer’s. This guy is psycho. I liked the characters and feel like more attention was paid to them than most characters receive in a mystery or thriller. I enjoyed reading about them and grew to feel for Rory. I loved the setting of the book. It was the perfect location for a story like this because it was so sweet and friendly on the surface, but was hiding an uncomfortable reality underneath. There was a little romantic intrigue, but not so much that it took away from the creep factor. Really, I have very few complaints.

But the ending. UGH. I finished it, threw my book down on my bed, and immediately began venting to my mom. I remember saying, “I spent all my time on this creepy book, looking for an amazing climax… and THIS is the resolution?” I don’t even know why there are two more books in the trilogy. It’s no longer a mystery or a thriller for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to ay anything other than the fact that there’s a genre change. If you look on Goodreads and see how this book is classified, you’ll see what I mean. Needless to say, I was so disappointed. I loved everything else about the book, so I’m sad! This is really just a case of the author going in a direction I was not happy about. But oh well. I’m still glad I read it, and I would not refrain from recommending it to others. I would just preface my recommendation with “expect the unexpected.”

4 Stars

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller | Mini Book Review

Posted June 5, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller | Mini Book ReviewThe Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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4.5 Stars

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

I gobble up mysteries and thrillers like the best of ’em, so I was all over The Devil You Know as soon as it arrived on my doorstep! Road trip + mystery + suspense + a little romantical intrigue and I was sold. And honestly, I loved it! I read it in one day because I was so creeped out that I worried I would not be able to sleep if I did not read the resolution and the wind-down of the story. The Devil You Know was exhilarating and refreshing and reminded me why I love reading so much.

Cadie, in an almost rebellion against her typical life and her typical self, daringly sets out on a road trip with two total strangers, doing many stupid and reckless things along the way. How could she NOT expect to end up in a boat load of trouble, unsure about who to trust? I mean… oh the scary. I kept wanting to tell her to stop! Go home! But the thing is, teens do this. Teen Jana NEVER would have, but I know teens who have done things like this, so I believed everything even though I was so flabbergasted that it was happening. I can only describe it as watching a train speed towards the end of the track with nobody in control. You know something is going to happen and you can’t do anything about it. This is the kind of thriller I love! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

This is my first book by Trish Doller, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of hers. I loved her writing style in this story, and her ability to completely transport you to the scene at hand. No matter what was going on in the story I was on pins and needles. There is this underlying feeling of discomfort that envelopes you from beginning to end, which is why I honestly could not stop until things were over. The characters are not the most important part of the story, and that shows. And it’s fine. Trish really focuses on feelings and settings and events more than the people involved, which actually made me feel even more nervous. The boys are both mysteries, and Cadie is a normal girl that I think most readers can relate to in some way or another. I felt like I was Cadie, and that I was the one in danger. The entire story is incredibly well done, and I continually think about it even though I finished it months ago. I really hope Trish writes more thrillers!

 

4.5 Stars

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | 2015 Debut Book Review

Posted January 12, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | 2015 Debut Book ReviewThe Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Published by Putnam Juvenile on January 13, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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5 Stars

To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.

I’ve always had this weird interest in conspiracy theories. Now, I’m not some paranoid theorist, but I find these theories very entertaining to read about. So naturally, The Conspiracy of Us had me very intrigued from the get go. And when I read that is was being compared to The Da Vinci Code, I was even more excited! I ended up LOVING this book, and am so excited to read more from debut author, Maggie Hall! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I learned very quickly that I would need to suspend a little disbelief in order to immerse myself in the story. Avery is 16 years old, so I found it to be a little unbelievable that she was so valuable and in so much danger, with so many people out to kill her. We’re not given a ton of details in the beginning, so just roll with it and Maggie Hall will convince you. The story ended up being pretty fantastic, and I believed all of it.

2. The world in this story is amazingly secretive and interesting. The Conspiracy of Us is contemporary, but with this underlying mystery that is believable and unbelievable at the same time. Basically, The Circle of Twelve is a group of twelve families who rule the world. They have family members in every government system, in every country, and in pretty much every facet of life. You think you know why WWI happened, but you’re wrong. It was because of dueling families. And these families go all the way back to Alexander the Great and Napoleon. I loved learning about all these secrets and mysteries of the world. Everything fits together in a really complicated puzzle that was so much fun to try and put together.

3. The Conspiracy of Us is FILLED with action and excitement. I flew through this book because there was never a good stopping point! Crazy things happen back to back to back, and I barely had time to catch my breath.

4. I loved the travel aspect. We bounce around Paris and Istanbul, and I loved it! Things happen in Notre Dame and at the Hagia Sophia. I’ve been to Paris, so I loved revisiting, and now I want to go to Istanbul super bad.

5. The romance is pretty perfect. Jack is so swoony and perfect. Plus, he has a British accent. I mean, really. There is the one chapter that just had me melting. It was the sexiest, most tender, most romantic moment that I’ve ever read in young adult fiction.

6. Maggie’s writing is beautiful, and I just know she is going to become a strong facet of the young adult community. I was truly intoxicated by some of her passages, not to mention her vivid imagination.

7. I loved the characters, but Jack has stolen my heart. Holy swoonfest.

8. The Conspiracy of Us is fun and light, but also has some serious elements. The characters are flawed, and we get to learn about those flaws. I tend to love and connect with characters for their flaws because it makes them more real.

All in all, The Conspiracy of Us was my perfect book. I love the secrets, the mystery, the puzzle, the romance, the travel, the characters, the writing. I really can’t come up with a complaint, except that it’s not a standalone and I’m DYING for the next book! I recommend this to all fans of YA. There’s a little something for everyone. I’m so excited for Maggie, and hope she plans to stick around the YA scene for a long time.

5 Stars

Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

Posted September 9, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewEvery Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published by Self on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 360
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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5 Stars

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. I will read anything Tracey writes, and I was extremely excited when I heard she was writing a romantic suspense novel! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think I’ve mentioned this point in every review I’ve written for Tracey’s books, but I just love her characters. She is so good at writing about people you can find common ground with. I’ve never been in Daisy’s position. I’m not a single mom, I did not go through a nasty divorce, nobody in my family has been murdered, and I have never been as alone as she has. But I could still identify with her feelings of inadequacy, her worry that she had failed, her concerns for the future, and her desire to tear down the walls she has built around herself.

Likewise, I have never been in Brook’s situation. I’ve never had to give up a career to move home and take care of my parents, I do not have an immediate family member battling a tragic disease, and I never tried my hardest to get out of the town I grew up in. But I identified with his deep love for his family, his worries that he was not strong enough to go through things that were thrown his way, and his fears for the future as well. Tracey writes characters you become invested in and care about. You can tell these people are real to her, and she cares for them too. We learn so much about both Daisy’s and Brooks’s pasts, and I think that is just one of the many reasons readers will care about them.

2. I really enjoyed the realistic timeline of Daisy and Brooks’s relationship. It began as a simple reporter/victim relationship, but turned into Brooks worrying about her safety, into Brooks caring about her happiness, into Daisy recognizing how nice it is to have him around, into friendship, until it finally blossomed into something that seemed sweet and meaningful. Everything developed out of a mutual, supportive friendship and genuine need of one another. You feel like they have a chance.

3. I also enjoyed how Daisy and Brooks handled their feelings. Regardless of how they felt about each other, their families came first. Daisy was constantly putting the needs of Elliot ahead of her own, and Brooks did everything in his power to help his dad and comfort his mom through her illness. It was so refreshing to read about a mature, adult relationship that was both give and take on both ends. They both have so much at stake, so they proceed with caution rather than lustful feelings. And they both have to make a lot of difficult decisions.

4. I learned a lot about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and I appreciated that Tracey used her book to raise awareness for a disease that does not get a lot of recognition, especially in books where cancer is usually the culprit. She treats the disease with sensitivity, and the emotions she conveys really send a message about what this disease does to a person and their family. For me, it was much more effective the reading medical jargon.

5. The mystery aspect of the story was very intriguing, and I was constantly trying to figure out the reasoning behind Daisy’s grandmother’s murder. Again, it was real. This could happen to me! And that made things even creepier. The suspense was a little less than I was hoping for, but definitely enough to keep me flipping pages as fast as I could. The climax is a doozy.

6. The romance, while slow-burning, is so romantic and wonderful. I’m going to say flat-out that Brooks is a guy who will make you swoon. He’s the perfectly flawed hero that leaves you hopeful that there’s someone like him out there for you.

7. Tracey’s writing is flawless. She has me hanging on her every word every time. She never forgets to write you, the reader, right in to her stories, leaving a part of you there when it’s all over.

Basically, Tracey has done it again! I always worry that someday she will write something I won’t love, but it has not happened yet and I’m pretty sure it never will. I wholeheartedly recommend that you go and get yourself a copy of Every Time I Think of You. It has a little something for everyone, and it will leave you even more excited for what she has in store for us next!

5 Stars

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson | Book Review

Posted September 5, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 9 Comments

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson | Book ReviewBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Published by Harper on June 14, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 359
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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3 Stars

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me...'

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love — all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.

Every once in a while I have a hankering for a really great mystery or psychological thriller. I had seen Before I Go to Sleep popping up around the Internet, and was very intrigued by the concept of a woman who wakes up every morning with no idea who she is, where she is, what year it is, and who is sleeping next to her in bed. How scary would that be? I dove right in, and turned the pages as quickly as I could! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book is CREEPY. Christine is at the complete mercy of others. She has to decide whether or not to believe Ben, the man who tells her every morning that he is her husband. He has this routine he goes through, where he tells her the basics of her life so that she understands what she is going through. She is also secretly seeing a doctor on the side who is trying to help her regain her memories and her ability to remember memories. Every morning he calls her on a cell phone she had no idea she had so that he can remind her of things Ben is not telling her.

This doctor has Christine write a journal of her every move and experience so that she can read it the next day and remember more things more quickly. As she continues to write and he continues to call her and tell her where she hid it and that she needs to read it, Christine begins to find this new power that enables her to make her own decisions. She also begins to have flashes of memory. As she remembers she starts to realize how many questions have been left unanswered.

2. I was a little turned off by the bluntness of some situations. Christine discovers the flaws of her older-than-expected body, and I was left uncomfortable by her bodily explorations. I felt very icky when I read about her longings for intimacy, and later the descriptions of her intimate encounters with Ben. Things were just very detailed with nothing left to the imagination and, since I was already creeped out by the story itself, I guess I was just extra sensitive. I mean, she is taking the word of a stranger and sleeping with him because she feels she has to. *shudder*

3. I never felt like I trusted anyone. I was just always on edge, wondering if anyone was telling her the truth. This book really lives up to its description of psychological thriller. My mind was going every which way.

4. There were several slow moments, where I just wanted to get done with the details and learn who the bad person here is! The problem with Christine forgetting everything every night is that every morning she gets up, we have to read about her and her journal-reading and her epiphanies over and over again. I just wanted to move on.

5. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you’re given something that makes you question your thinking. The plot is twisted and complicated, and you will really probably just want to jump ahead to the end to put yourself out of your misery. Luckily I was reading on a Kindle, so I could not just jump to the end. Stick with it, though. No peeking! You’ll be happier. The ending is pretty exciting. :)

All in all, Before I Go to Sleep is creepy and intriguing, if not a little slow in places. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone in the mood for a thrill!

 

3 Stars

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted August 18, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 1 Comment

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 213
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

I have been on a real YA mystery kick lately, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was the next one on my list. The premise sounded pretty exciting, and I had a feeling I would fly through it pretty quickly. I gobbled up the entire book in about two hours, which is pretty rare for me. April Henry laid the book out in such a way that you could not help but continue to read way past your bedtime. The chapters are short, the story never stops, and she wrote it in short, choppy sentences that made me read a lot faster than I usually do.

While I did read it super fast, and the book really kept me interested and intrigued, it was not the most memorable of mysteries. I feel like the kidnapped heroine frequently has amnesia in stories like these, and that plot element is getting pretty worn out. I know that in some cases it adds more mystery and excitement, but I feel like it’s a bit of an easy way out. There are many other ways to create a suspenseful mystery, and I would have liked to see something new. Amnesia also prevents readers from really getting to know and caring about the character, which is not always necessary in a mystery, but would have been nice in this case.

The main guy of the story, Ty, is a very likeable character, but I had a hard time believing that he would put himself in so much danger, skip school, and spend all of his money on a girl he doesn’t know at all. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a charitable enough person, but I was really surprised at how quick he was to believe everything she said and make himself a target for the men after her. There was a little interest, but no romance at all, so I’m just surprised at how conveniently he fell into her life and pretty much saved her.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit until the huge info dump regarding biochemical and biological weapons. Things became even more outlandish and unbelievable as I began to learn who Cady was, why she was wanted, and what she had to do in order to fix everything. Things wrapped up so easily and seamlessly, even though these events in real life would have been a lot messier. I began to think of the book as science fiction, which helped me.

All in all, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is enjoyable and entertaining as long as you are willing to turn a blind eye to certain details and suspend quite a bit of disbelief. The characters and storyline are not memorable and the resolution comes faster and neater than I was expecting. I have read stronger mysteries, but April kept me reading late into the night and I’ll give her credit for that!

3 Stars

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book Review

Posted August 11, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book ReviewDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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4 Stars

Paradise in Aruba quickly gets gruesome in this "ripped-from-the-headlines thriller (Kirkus Reviews)" with a twist that defies the imagination.

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge's decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone could ever imagine...

Ok, so I could not hold off on reading Dangerous Girls any longer after continually reading how insane it made my friends! Dangerous Girls came with a lot of dangerous hype, and I hoped so much that it would live up to the masterpiece I had assumed it would be in my own mind. it DID. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think it goes without saying that my mind was completely shredded. I was flipping pages and staying up until all hours of the night, holding my eyelids open to try and figure out what was going on! My first thoughts upon finishing were (according to my Goodreads status after finishing the book at o’dark thirty):

What the HECK? What planet did this book come from? If I weren’t such a lady, I’d be swearing right now. What just happened?

2. Some people say Dangerous Girls is predictable, by I had NO IDEA who did it. None. I thought I had an idea, though, but my thoughts kept jumping around to everyone. And my lack of coherent thinking had nothing to do with the author’s writing style or her choices in the details she revealed. We were given so many clues, but I could not put them together until the book was over and I went, “WHAT THAT MAKES SENSE WHY DIDN’T I KNOW!!!??”. It was just so twisted and crazy! And the ending just iofhaergstgdrjtkgnsrgiaefiajefraorejfaerg.

3. I was so fascinated by Anna and Elise’s super weird relationship. These girls were TOXIC when mixed together. Were they friends? Enemies? Lovers? All three? None of the above? They brought out the worst in each other, and their intense obsession with being best friends forEVER was just creepy. These girls are not your typical best friends, allowing drugs, alcohol, parties, and shifty men to dull their senses and fuel their obsessions. So many lines were crossed that I honestly had no idea whether I should be ok with it or not.

4. I found myself not really liking anyone in the book, which I find very rare in books I actually liked. It’s hard to read books where you don’t like anyone. I felt extremely bad for Anna, and I wanted her to get out of prison SO BAD. But I didn’t like her. I’m not really sure why. And her “friends” became enemies very quickly after Anna was arrested, so I didn’t like any of them. I think I was so engrossed in the whodunit and the little details that the characters slipped through the cracks. I had absolutely no problems with this, though. I was actually happy it worked out this way.

5. EVERYONE is shady. The prosecutor, Anna, the boyfriend Tate, every friend, the men Elise meets before her death, the judge. Reporters kept digging up all kinds of information about everyone, which gave me more layers to think through. Everyone seemed to be hiding something. I just loved that I kept questioning everyone and everything.

6. The reader is witness to Anna’s interrogations, preliminary hearings, prison time, trial, TV interviews, etc. We also get to jump into her head and feel her thoughts and see her memories of happier times. She feels so much anger and frustration, betrayal, grief, and fear. She has flashbacks of her healthy relationships with Elise and Tate. We get to know Anna so well, even though people reveal details that make you question whether or not you know her at all. I loved being with her throughout the entire process.

7. The ending. WHAT. THE. CRAP. I still have so many questions and so many thoughts. Abigail Haas is brilliant.

Basically, you need to get yourself a copy of one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. It has every creepy element you could think of, plus everything else you didn’t realize you wanted. I can’t get over how I just didn’t see it. I’m thinking a re-read is in my future because I’ve just got to see what I missed! And I can’t wait to read more from Abigail Haas. She has a crazy imagination/mind, and I want LOTS more from her.

4 Stars

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

Posted April 29, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewDon't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Holy. Moly. I’ve been in a major reading slump for about the past month, so I went to Twitter and asked people what I should read. One of my friends recommended I read this one because she was hooked so quickly! I love mysteries, so I was all about it. Guys, this was amazing! I absolutely loved everything about Don’t Look Back, and am so happy to say that it pulled me out of my slump! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. There are not a lot of good mysteries out there for YAs these days. And the ones that ARE out there usually ends in some annoying way, like the main character dreamed/hallucinated the whole thing, or there’s not really a mystery after all because the main character is mentally ill. Don’t Look Back is a good, nail-biting, spine-tingling, gripping mystery with all the elements one looks for when they are in the mood for such a book.

2. Usually mysteries don’t do well with a romantic element because there ends up being way too many things and emotions to keep track of. The romance actually enhanced the story in this case, though. Of course, I’m happy about this because we all know I drink love stories like some people drink diet soft drinks.

3. I could not GUESS who did it! I thought for sure at two different times in the book that I had figured out who it was. I was feeling so smart and smug that I had figured everything out. NOPE. I was no Nancy Drew here, which was a very pleasant surprise.

4. Ok, I’m sorry… but I LOVE the whole “I’m caught in a post-traumatic stress induced bout of amnesia, so everything is even scarier because I don’t know anything or anyone” kind of storyline. I know it’s been done before, but I honestly do not care. There’s just something about a person with no memory of the evil that happened to them just makes my spine tingle and my skin crawl.

5. Our main girl, Samantha, does not have the Rapunzel Syndrome as a result of her memory loss. She is not this scared, timid, little naive thing with no reason or common sense. She knew to question things and she knew to keep things to herself when she needed to.

6. Speaking of Samantha, she was a HORRIBLE person before she lost her memory. I mean, she had every single mean girl stereotype going on. I LOVE that this memory loss gave her a second chance, and I loved how mortified she was every time she received new evidence of her evil past life. It just goes to show that people can change, and that you don’t HAVE to be a mean person.

7. There is such a strong sense of family and companionship in this book, and I loved that. Samantha’s brother almost immediately steps into the role of “you touch my sister, you die” even though she has been an absolute jerk to him for years. This loyalty he has for her makes him one of the strongest secondary males I’ve read about in a long time. I love that he was able to set aside the hurt she caused him to help her. And Carson, ahhhhh. She was even worse to him, yet he is able to forgive her and help her as well! I was just amazed that so many people from her younger kid days of being sweet and loving possess the ability to gather around Sam in her time of need.

8. I gotta say this: I LOVE it when a former mean girl gets to tell off her mean girl clique and leave them speechless.

9. The suspense just killed me! I read this book mostly at night, and I was too scared to run across the dark hall to go to the bathroom! There were some moments just dripping with danger and mystery, and I could not handle it! I loved it.

Thank you, Jennifer Armentrout, for pulling me out of my reading slump! Thank you to my Twitter friend (I can’t remember which one of you recommended this!) for pushing Don’t Look Back on me. I had no idea I was in the mood for a mystery, but apparently I was! Definitely get your hands on this book, friends.

5 Stars

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards | Book Review

Posted October 21, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards | Book ReviewSix Months Later by Natalie Richards
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on October 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

Chloe didn't think about it much when she nodded off in study hall on that sleepy summer day. But when she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life. Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her?
And why can't she remember?

I’m loving these new mystery thrillers Sourcebooks keeps publishing! Mysteries have always been one of my favorite genres, and I’m very excited that they are starting to trend in the young adult book world! Six Months Later is an awesome story from a talented debut author! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The cool thing about this story is that we know no more than Chloe does. She has completely forgotten six months of her life, and has no idea why. Her best friend won’t talk to her, her parents thinks she is crazy, and she’s got this boyfriend who didn’t even know she existed six months ago. Nothing feels comfortable to her. I wasn’t comfortable either! I was squirming, trying to figure out what was going on. I was also intrigued by the bad boy with the bedroom eyes…

2. I liked all the characters for the most part, yet the story took my attention away from them. Chloe is your typical confused heroine. I appreciated the fact that nobody could convince her she was insane. I also liked that even though her memory is gone, she has this innate sense of distrust in people even though she does not know why. She blindly trusts her intuition, which is the sign of a strong character. I adored her best friend, Maggie, even though she played a small part for most of the book. She’s just so sweet, and seemed like a wonderful friend. Clearly, Chloe did something to ruin their friendship, and I kept rooting for them to mend fences and figure everything out. Blake is creeeeepy. He made my skin crawl. Adam is swoony and kind of scary and dangerous. He kept me guessing. My biggest issue with the characters is Chloe’s parents. They are terrible! They don’t like anything about their daughter except for the fake parts, and they don’t trust her either.

3. The mystery aspect was interesting. Why can’t Chloe remember? Why is this new life of hers completely unrecognizable? Who are we supposed to trust? The climax was pretty exciting, and the mystery was finely woven into an exciting plot line. I was able to predict the ending, which was a little disappointing. The author left too many hints, in my opinion. There were some extra details I had not thought of, though, so that was a nice surprise.

I feel like this is a super short review, but at the same time my mystery reviews usually are. My focus is always on the plot. Who did it? Everything else takes a back seat. There was no world building in Six Months Later, and not a much character development because we were not allowed to know much about the characters for the sake of the mystery. I enjoyed it, though! It was a fun, quick, entertaining mystery and I would recommend it to those of you who are looking for just that!

4 Stars