Mystery

Recommendation Tuesday: Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. Basically, this is my way of making Tuesday a little more awesome. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @SarahSMoon or tag me on Instagram @sarahbethmoon and I'll help spread the word.

View all of the past recommendations over here. 

Stephanie Tromly’s first novel, Trouble is a Friend of Mine, packs clever dialog, great characters and a complex mystery into a quick paced and excellent read.

Recommendation Tuesday: Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Recommendation Tuesday: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. Basically, this is my way of making Tuesday a little more awesome. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @FullShelves and I'll help spread the word.

Today, Sandra is recommending a book that's straight-up fun, the always-entertaining Jennifer Armentrout's Don't Look Back. 

On its surface, Don't Look Back shouldn't be that gripping. The plot is not unique: murder, amnesia, uncertainty, danger and a dark shadow haunts the main character, Samantha Franco. But Jennifer Armentrout’s  addictive plotting make this mystery deepens into an unforeseen  denouement, an unravelling of a long-held secret.

Recommendation Tuesday: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Gripping Prequel to a Frustrating & Excellent Series: Lucky Day by Barry Lyga

Imagine blithely driving down the freeway when without warning your car begins shaking, rattling faster and faster; you’re doing your best to remain calm as sweat forms on your forehead and your hands tremble. Then boom, flap, flap, flap. Something’s terribly wrong, control’s barely there and you know the outcome isn’t looking rosy.

(Editor’s Note: That actually happened to Sandra last week.)

That’s akin to my experience at the conclusion of Barry Lyga’s Game, the second in his I Hunt Killers Trilogy. The first, I Hunt Killers, ended with resolution and the knowledge that the sequel was on hand, ready and waiting.

Conversely, Game ended like a blowout on the freeway. 

What in the name of all that’s creepy, frightening and gripping happened with that thrilling, brutally-cliffhangerific book? 

 

A Gripping Prequel to a Frustrating & Excellent Series: Lucky Day by Barry Lyga

Review + Giveaway: Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s novel Under the Egg dazzled me with its complexity, its unexpected turns and its classic Shakespearean misdirection.

Early in the novel, I found the text interesting, yet without knowing precisely when, the depth and ingenuity of Fitzgerald’s writing crept up on me. The story is both profound and intricate and I could comfortably read it on any number of levels, each with its own kind of joy.

“It’s under the egg,” he rasped, his once-icy blue eyes now foggy. “Look under the egg.”

Theo’s bound by her uncle’s last words. She must delve into his mysterious legacy, go on a quest in search of an unknown treasure. Under the egg will lie both a treasure and a letter taking thirteen year old Theodora, Theo, into a world she pieces together like a painting, color by color, layer upon layer, as she delves into the puzzling enigma of her uncle’s secrets.

Review + Giveaway: Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Quick(ish) Thoughts on Four Recent(ish) YA Novels

I've been disinclined to write extensively about young adult titles lately, despite that I've been reading quite a few recent releases. I do have a few I want to be sure to write about more extensively (particularly the final novel in Gabrielle Zevin's spectacular Birthright series), but I wanted to share my thoughts on a few I've read recently.

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Admittedly, I was nervous about reading Lauren Morrill's new novel, Being Sloane Jacobs. Lauren is one of the few authors I follow on my personal Twitter account and I enjoy her thoughts on publishing and tweets about being an extra on The Originals but I haven't read her debut, Meant to Be, and was worried that I wouldn't like her book. (I've had this happen before, enjoyed someone's online persona and their book didn't work for me--and I always fell badly about it.) 

Fortunately, my worries were completely needless, as I enjoyed Being Sloane Jacobs a bunch. The premise is essentially The Cutting Edge meets The Parent Trap, except without twins. Instead, we have two points-of-view, both girls named Sloane Jacobs. One is a stressed former competitive figure skater from a high-powered Washington, DC political family. The other Sloane Jacobs is a tough hockey player from Philadelphia with a bit of an anger problem.

 

Quick(ish) Thoughts on Four Recent(ish) YA Novels

The YA Crime Thriller I've Hoped For: Fake ID by Lamar Giles

You don’t have to know someone your whole life to know them. Not really. Lonely is the same everywhere.”

I've read a lot--and I mean a lot--of crime fiction, and until I picked up Lamar Giles' Fake ID, I'm certain I haven't encountered a young adult novel that really hit the notes of adult crime fiction. 

Lamar Giles' Fake ID is told from the first-person point-of-view of of Nick Pearson--and yes, that is a fake name. He's been in the federal Witness Protection Program with his parents since his father agreed to testify against the crime boss he worked for. Nick's father is terrible at being in Witness Protection and they're on their last placement--the family has to make this work or else they're out of the program, on their own and in serious danger.

Nick's starting at a new high school in Stepton, Virginia, with yet another new identity, studying his personal "legend" (the fake backstory developed by the U.S. Marshall Service for each family) and trying to stay under the radar. He's quickly befriended by Eli, rabble-rousing editor of the school paper, who's eager to recruit the new kid to his one-man journalism operation. 

The YA Crime Thriller I've Hoped For: Fake ID by Lamar Giles

A New Favorite, But Not for Everyone - The Diviners by Libba Bray

Libba Bray writes of the wind in the first pages of The Diviners, of how it swoops through New York City, silent witness to all that has been, is and will be.

The wind existed forever. It has seen much in this country of dreams and soap ads, old horrors and bloodshed. It has played mute witness to its burning witches, and has walked along a Trail of Tears; it has seen the slave ships release their human cargo, blinking and afraid, into the ports, their only possession a grief they can never lose ... It ran with the buffalo and touched tentative fingers to the tall black hats of Puritans. It has carried shouts of love, and it has dried tears to salt tracks on more faces than it can number. 

The wind also saw the  Roaring Twenties, a time when anything seemed possible, where money flowed as freely as illegal booze. 

Evie O’Neill felt trapped in a small town with small minds. She ached to jump out of the confines of he life into the glamour and excitement she knew waited for her. Her exuberance and sometimes her rashness made Evie a poor candidate for living happily in a backwoods Ohio community. 

One evening while partying with friends and drinking way too much, Evie stretches the bounds of acceptability for the last time by revealing a town scandal. It lands her in front of her parents with her head pounding from a hangover with mom and dad shouting their displeasure and despair.

A New Favorite, But Not for Everyone - The Diviners by Libba Bray

Review: Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Rosemary Clement-Moore’s name on a book assures me that I’m in for a delightful and clever  novel. It also translates to some late nights of reading until my eyes will no longer continue a marathon session filled with humor and a fantastical world.

The Goodnight family’s funny, eccentric, unique and lovable and they have the gift of magic. Their magic has wrapped itself around me from my first read of author Rosemary Clement-Moore’s Texas Gothic to her latest novel Spirit and Dust.

I first met the Goodnights with all their magical quirkiness Texas Gothic, which I loved for its humor and a thick coat of mystery with a few Nancy Drew references. None of the Goodnights fit neatly into predicable package, which is true of Spirit and Dust’s main character, Daisy Goodnight, who possesses a magical talent with a deadly twist.

The local cops kept staring at me. I couldn’t decide if it was the plaid miniskirt in subarctic temperatures, or the fact that they’d never seen anyone talk to the dead before.

Review: Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Review: He's Gone by Deb Caletti

The clanging sailboats and the wind in the trees and the groaning dock and that wide, wide night sky say only one thing back. He’s gone, they say. He’s gone, the darkness and the empty street say, too.

I've read and enjoyed several novels for teens written by Deb Caletti, most memorably The Nature of Jade and The Story of Us (invest in some Kleenex before reading that one). What consistently struck me most about Caletti's novels is that she develops backstory with a slow-burn reveal. It's subtle and effective.

When I learned last year that she was publishing an adult novel, He's Gone, it quickly became one of my much-anticipated 2013 reads, as I was certain Caletti's style which I knew from her young adult fiction would likely translate well to a novel dealing with adult issues. 

He's Gone did not disappoint in terms of twisty backstory, and while it definitely heads in a darker direction than fans of Caletti's YA novels may be accustomed to,  this unusual journey into the secrets of a marriage is both fascinating and mysterious.

Memory is such a sadistic, temperamental little beast.

He's Gone unfolds from the first-person perspective of Dani Keller, who wakes up after a night out at a part with her husband, Ian, only to find that he's disappeared. Dani doesn't know what happened, as she unwisely combined painkillers and booze in order to cope with the stress of attending a party at Ian's company.

The novel focuses on the aftermath of Ian's disappearance and Dani's struggle to figure where he went and why he disappeared. Did he leave? Was he having an affair? Is Dani responsible? Was their marriage in jeopardy? Was nothing of Dani and Ian's life together as it seemed?

There is that dream, and that memory, and those damn pills. A black hole of forgetting and remembering. Is there a secret self I am not willing to see? If it was me, if I have done something … Please, let it not be so. I need to stop this mad, pointless unraveling, this panicked fluttering. I am making fools of the good people around me. 

 

Review: He's Gone by Deb Caletti

Mini Reviews: A Mystery Mixed Bag

It's been well-documented that I love mysteries of all sorts. I recently devoured three, all of which I recommend--but with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers, the first in Barry Lyga's series featuring Jasper Dent better known as Jazz, a serial killer's son, ended with a cliffhanger--a seriously obnoxious one. Game was released about two weeks after I finished “Killers” so my wait wasn't too painful.  But, Game goes beyond cliffhanger. It leaves you plummeting off the cliff with no way of knowing or guessing what the landing will entail.

Billy Dent, Jazz's serial killer father, roams free to continue his dastardly deeds while Jazz searches for him in New York City. In contrast to his demented father, Jazz has come to his own understanding of humanity and his place in the world.

People are real, Jazz told himself, repeating his mantra. People matter … Jazz had always thought that his past was his own burden to bear, but could it be possible that he was meant to have people around him? Was this the true meaning of “People are real. People matter?

Jazz confronts his past, his own emotional pain and commits himself fully to finding and bringing down his father.

Connie, his girlfriend,  goes against her parents wishes and her own common sense  to follow Jazz to the city with the intention of helping him, even saving him from whatever may come.  

I closed the pages of the second in Lyga's series, frustrated and irritated. Everyone I liked best in the novel was heading down a winding road toward a collision. Nothing is resolved, and this does not read as a complete story.

I haven't found a date for publication of the sequel to Game.  So it goes. I'll just have to wait.

Mini Reviews: A Mystery Mixed Bag

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

The cover of Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers asks,

"What If The World's Most Notorious Serial Killer . . . Was Your Dad?"

Told from from the mind of the son of said notorious killer, this book's creepy question hooked me from the first page and held me until the end.

Lyga created a complex character, Jasper known as Jazz by family and friends, whom most of us can relate to. Not because he's the son of a serial killer, but because he struggles with memories of his growing up years.

He tries to understand them and to sort through his memories to know himself for who he is, rather than what others may think he is or who his father tried to craft him into becoming.

A haunting question is seared into his mind by his experiences: Are memories dreams or are they real?

A river of images and thoughts and feeling, dirtied and polluted so that no one could drink from it without gagging... Jazz knew killers. Billy [ Jazz's father] had studied the serial killers of the past the way a painter studies the Renaissance masters. He learned from their mistakes. He obsessed over them. And he passed his knowledge down to his son. Lucky Jazz--those were the things he remembered from his childhood.

Jazz wonders about his lineage. Perhaps, he muses, caring for his grandmother whose mind flits randomly from one thought to another in a crazy zig-zag that often coalesced into cruelty causes Jazz to wonder about his relationship with her.

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Review: Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

My expectations of thrillers and mysteries are pretty simply: intriguing characters, both good and bad, a mystery that tantalizes but isn't resolved until the end, clever language and a setting that's a bit real or surreal. This is not all that unreasonable.

I received an advance reader's edition of Elizabeth Haynes second novel Dark Tide. Eagerly, I opened it and dug into it with these expectations, as the summary promised all of this and more.

Dark Tide will hit the racks and e-readers March 12. I am glad I did not pay for the book as it would have felt like I'd not spent my money wisely. With that said, for me to have a copy from the library would be a reasonable way to access the book.

The characters did not intrigue me in any way. 

Genevieve, the central character, at best made me yawn and mostly irritated me. She's highly successful in sales at her London-based job but hates the work. Since she was a child she has dreamed of living on a houseboat–living on it and refurbishing and repairing it to her liking. This takes money, a lot of it. 

She finds a way to earn large sums in a relatively short time doing pole dancing, private lap dancing and chatting up customers at an exclusive gentlemen's club on the weekends. With that, comes the darker side of life which she believed she held herself apart from. Money flows, she quits both jobs with rancor from her employers, buys her boat and proceeds to live her dream. But, a dark tide follows her. She meets another guy, not the guy she truly loves, but there's an undeniable attraction.

Review: Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

List-O-Rama: Beginner's Guide to Awesome WTFery

A couple of weeks ago, I detailed my favorite fictional Awesome WTFery. I love explosions, random ghosts and fake relationships with a possibly unhealthy passion. Much of my love of WTFery manifests itself in my movie and television watching, but it creeps into books too. 

Are you wanting to delve into a big of Awesome WTFery escapism? Here are a few I dare you not to secretly devour.

The Lux Novels by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Entangled Teen)

Why It's Awesome WTFery: Hot aliens live in West Virginia, hijinks ensue. 
Bonus Points: Sex-Positive YA; No Love Triangle

I just blew through the first three Lux novels by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and while I'm not normally ​one to be embarrassed by my reading, I'm not exactly proud of not being able to put these books down. The plot of these (marginally) sci-fi young adult urban fantasy romance series is incredibly absurd and has continuity issues, but damn... the plot just moves along at a swift clip and Armentrout manages to make the reader care about snarky teen book blogger Katy and her good-looking pain-in-the-ass alien neighbor Daemon. 

Amazon | Goodreads

List-O-Rama: Beginner's Guide to Awesome WTFery

Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

I was in the unusual position of holding all the cards. I had to decide what to do, and only I could do it. And I was going to do it. I had faced frightening things before and had been powerless. But not this time.

Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star was a real surprise for me in 2011. It had a bit of everything--mystery, paranormal, romance, humor--and it all came together in quickly-paced, gripping read.

The long-awaited sequel, The Madness Underneath, continues in the same vein, but amps up the over-arching intrigue factor, building the overarching mystery that began in the first Shades of London novel.

Note: the rest of review contains mild spoilers for the previous book in the series. If you want to remain wholly unspoiled about The Name of the Star and are curious about starting reading this series, please read Sandra's spoiler-free review of that book

The Madness Underneath revisits Rory, a Louisiana native in England who survived a run-in with the ghost of Jack the Ripper in the first novel, but was also profoundly transformed--in a very literal way. She's now a terminus, a human who can vanquish ghosts on contact. Her background means that she's mostly unflappable, even to her weird circumstances.

It’s possible that I have a higher tolerance for crazy talk than most people because of my background. I’ve channeled multicolored angels with my cousin and gone for discount waxes with my grandmother. I know two people who have started their own religions. One of my neighbors was arrested for sitting on top of the town equestrian statue dressed as SpiderMan. He just climbed up there with a few loaves of bread and tore them up and threw bread at anyone who got near him. Another neighbor puts up her Christmas decorations in August and goes caroling on Halloween to “fight the devil with song.”

Rory finds herself back in London after her parents sequestered her away in Bristol. She's rejoined her classmates at Wexford, the boarding school she left after her incident with the aforementioned ghost. Understandably, Rory has a difficult time adjusting, especially since her friends from the ghost catching squad (I call them the Ghost Busters in my head, but they're actually called The Shades), Stephen, Callum and Boo, seem to be missing. She's alone with her weird ability.

Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

List-O-Rama: 2013 Mysterious Reads

I used to adore mysteries and crime fiction, but at some point the genres went in two extreme directions: incredibly gory or incredibly campy.

But hope is on the horizon! I've seen a number of intriguing-looking new or upcoming releases that look like they walk a nice line of mysterious and atmospheric without being too extreme. Fingers crossed!

Ratlines by Stuart Neville | Soho Crime, Jan. 2013

The folks at Soho Press were the best "book talkers" at ALA and got me incredibly excited for a number of their titles, including Stuart Neville's thriller, Ratlines, which promises to name names regarding the Irish government officials who granted asylum to Nazis following World War II. 

Amazon Goodreads

What We Saw at Night by Jacqueline Mitchard | Soho Teen, Jan. 2013

What We Saw at Night is another Soho title, this time from the new teen imprint. This one is about a group of teens who are allergic to sunlight and witness what they think is a murder. It's the first of a series that involves Parkour and sleuthing and secrets. I'm nervous, though, because reviews have mentioned a cliffhanger, which annoy me in mysteries. 

Amazon / Goodreads

List-O-Rama: 2013 Mysterious Reads

Mini Reviews: 3 Kate Shugak Novels by Dana Stebenow

I separate thrillers or mysteries into two distinct categories. 

I love the old fashioned sleuth stories consisting of smart detectives whose investigative skills rival Sherlock Holmes, where probing investigation and a nose for ferreting out truth pull you into the heart of the story. A second category is the titillating serial-killer aka psychopath who has no qualities except to do evil with a smart detective ready to take the disgusting psycho-human down.

Dana Stebenow's writing falls solidly into the first category with her Kate Shugak series.

Kate's a petite five-foot Aleut and a P.I. who lives on a 160-acre homestead in an Alaskan National Park. Her beloved companion Mutt is an impressively sized half-wolf half-husky who weighs significantly more than Kate. Mutt's love for and loyalty to Kate take them through adventures in the rugged Alaskan wilderness that completely satisfies my love of epic detective tales. (And stories involving dogs.)

Stabenow's written eighteen novels with Kate and Mutt delving into secrets and solving crimes. Old Sam Dementieff, her uncle who raised her as his daughter, her adopted teenage son Johnny and her love interest Trooper Jim Chopin are a colorful and always entertaining cast of characters. 

Kate's home in the wilderness is a half-hour trip to the closest settlement, the Ninilna village along the 600 mile long Kanuyaq River, a waterway rich in salmon that feeds into Prince William Sound. She comes in contact with recluses, dog mushers, miners, hunters, fishermen, park rangers and other natives: Aleuts, Athabascans and Tlingits. There's an inexhaustible array of individuals and an extensive history of Alaska. This in itself makes the reading of Stabenow's books a joy beyond good storytelling.

I recently read three of Stabenow's books, each one with a unique quality and story. I did not read them in the order they were written, which would be a preferred chronology, naturally. They are well-written and any references to past events are clearly delineated within each book. In fact, I read the most recent book first and will review them in the strange order in which I read them.

Mini Reviews: 3 Kate Shugak Novels by Dana Stebenow

Review: Scorched by Laura Griffin

Scorched by Laura Griffin

In Laura Griffin’s Tracers series—like in the television series 24, which I enjoyed—practical considerations are unnecessary. In the Tracers world, domestic terrorists drive MINI Coopers, anthropologists defuse bombs and everyone is terribly attractive. 

Scorched is the sixth book in the Tracers series, which follows employees of a top-notch private crime lab in Texas. The series has featured hackers, scientists, sketch artists, cops, criminal investigators, writers and FBI agents who all work to solve crimes while simultaneously finding true love.

Yes, Laura Griffin’s Tracers books are as awesome as they sound. 

Admittedly, this latest installment isn’t my favorite because it marks a distinct departure from the previous novels which focused on local crime-solving and veers toward stopping a terrorist plot (in addition to solving a local crime—it’s complicated). However, it still features Griffin’s trademark fast-paced writing and capable, tough characters.  

Scorched features forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn at the Delphi Center, where she focuses on identifying bodies. While on a dig in The Philippines, where she’s investigating a mass grave, Kelsey discovers a body that’s buried separately from the others, one that’s had facial reconstruction and appears very out-of-place for a remote Asian island. Suspicious, she takes samples and sends them to her former fiance, Blake, who works for the FBI. 

Upon her return to the United States, Blake asks Kelsey to come to his apartment because he has information about the evidence she collected oversees. Except when she gets to his apartment, Blake is murdered and Kelsey is a witness and on the run. And because she fled, she’s also a suspect. 

Kelsey suspects that law enforcement is involved in a larger conspiracy related to Blake’s murder, and turns to her ex-boyfriend Gage, a Navy SEAL who worked for her uncle Joe. This is where I was a bit confused—I’d not realized that Griffin has published a novella featuring Kelsey and Gage, Unstoppable, and that provides much of these characters’ backstory.

Review: Scorched by Laura Griffin

Twofer Review: The Devotion of Suspect X + Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

The Devotion of Suspect XI confess my addiction to books shrouded in mystery and intrigue. I trace  the seeds of said obsession to my early years when I would hide under my quilt with a flashlight to continue reading without parental interference.

To hell with sleep when there’s a good mystery unfolding before me.

I admit I can be lax when it comes to quality. Just give me a thriller or mystery and I’m happy as long as there’s some suspense and a bit of fuel for the imagination—and a really, really good one (i.e., Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series) is a real treasure.

Sarah received a review copy of one of Keigo Higashino’s books translated from Japanese into English a few weeks ago (Salvation of a Saint, out in October). Knowing my passion for the genre, she passed it to me to read. Thank you, Sarah! This one was a keeper, which led me to purchase another Higashino book, The Devotion of Suspect X.

Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X and Salvation of a Saint both had me beguiled from the first sentences to the final pages.

Not only beguiled, but unable to develop my theory or suspect for the murders that occur in both novels. And given that I am very adept at solving mysteries, thanks to my study of all of the Nancy Drew canon, this is unusual.

Twofer Review: The Devotion of Suspect X + Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

I trace my love of mysteries back to my pre-teen years when I discovered the oh-so clever Nancy Drew. She brought the world of imagination and adventure into a mind ripe and ready for a gutsy, vibrant detective who had her own sports car and didn’t have space in her life for punks, aka criminals.

So, when I read the synopsis of Ally Carter’s Heist Society I thought,

All right! This one’s perfect for me.

Unfortunately, Heist Society didn’t satify my craving for a fun teen mystery/caper, although it was somewhat entertaining.

I admit I’m giving a bare-bones plot here, but it goes like this: Katrina aka “Kat” Bishop enters the world of high stakes theft at the age of three when her parents take her to the Louvre. This trip is not for cultural reasons, unless casing a place comes under the designation of art appreciation—instead, it’s to case the joint. A few years pass and her seventh birthday comes around. This bright and felonious fingered kid travels with her uncle to steal the Crown Jewels.

By the time she’s fifteen, she wants out. She pulls off an impressive, hopefully last, scam to turn her life into something like normal. She schemes her way into the best boarding school in the country. All right then. It’s time to leave the legacy of her family’s business behind. 

The setting: Colgan School, with its perfect grounds and finely manicured world is a place where most of the senior class has its sights set on Ivy league schools.  

Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

{Book Matchmaker} Victoria Would Love Some YA with a Dash of Mystery

Mystery is supposed to be the next paranormal, right?

Well, our latest Book Matchmaker victim participant, Victoria, wants a bit of both, plus some quality contemporary reads— only YA need apply, please. And add in a dash of romance for good measure!

Victoria’s Book Matchmaker Responses

YA or Adult: YA

Genres: Contemporary, Dystopia, Romance, Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller

POV or Narrative Style: First Person, Third Person, Multiple POV, Epistolary, Male POV, Main Character or Narrator, Female POV, Main Character or Narrator

Likes: Patrick Ness, Courtney Summers, Sarah Dessen, JK Rowling… probably my favourite authors EVER!

Dislikes: Instant love

Smut Factor: 2 

Fluff Factor: 2 

Swoon Factor: 4

Gross Out Factor: 3

We had a ton of fun with this matchmaker, since all of us love YA. 

The Results

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

This is a genre-bending psychological novel that’s very challenging. It’s YA, but mature, and told in second person, in the form of a letter from a kidnapped girl to her captor. It takes place in the Australian outback and the landscape adds to the atmosphere of the novel.

{Buy at Amazon | Add on Goodreads}

 

{Review} Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Editor’s Note: Today we’re thrilled to welcome our newest contributor to Clear Eyes, Full Shelves, Rebeca. She’s joining us as our Official Romance Correspondent, and you may remember her from the Book Matchmaker feature a few months ago. We’ll be posting a little introduction soon, but in the meantime, welcome to CEFS, Rebeca!

Flirting in Italian by Lauren HendersonDo Italian boys really drive purple Vespas? Do I really need to answer that?

Can one book simultaneously be a Gothic mystery, a contemporary YA novel and travel writing?

Lauren Henderson has tackled this interesting mash-up with Flirting in Italian.

Violet, the protagonist, has recently graduated from secondary school and aims to attend Cambridge in the fall. Her plans do not include a mysterious painting, a trip to Italy or a brooding prince. (Bad planning on her part, in my opinion.)

Luckily for both Violet and readers, her life takes a sharp turn for the more adventurous.

While preparing for her art history A-level, Violet stumbles across a painting in a museum that could be her mirror image, circa 1790. This would be remarkable enough, but she has long wondered over her lack of resemblance to either branch of her family. The painting lures her to Italy and the secrets that await her there.

Henderson does a good job establishing a tense, mysterious atmosphere in which the somewhat improbable plot makes more sense.

The heavy oak kitchen door at the far end of the long room swings open with such force that it slams against the wall. Sunshine floods in, and I realize how dark it was in here, how little natural light this kitchen has. A figure’s silhouetted against the brightness outside, tall and lean, and in the next moment it tears toward us threateningly, footsteps ringing loudly on the stone flags.

Just don’t hold your breath for all the answers as this is only the first book in a series.

 

{Review} The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star by Maureen JohnsonI love a good mystery, so when Maureen Johnson takes it to another level creating her witty and fun paranormal young adult thriller The Name of the Star, I was instantly hooked.

Aurora (who prefers Rory) Deveaux comes from Louisiana, the land of all things fantastical and magical, a place where her uncle has eight freezers filled with everything from batteries to milk intended to get him through another Hurricane Katrina (no worries about electricity going out) and an aunt who sees various angels of several hues designating their place on a spectrum from good to not-so-good. With this background, nothing should come as a surprise to Rory.

But, surprised she is.

It’s Rory’s senior year of high school. Her parents have an opportunity to teach at a university in England for a year, so off they go to a place more laden with ghosts of the past than Louisiana could ever scare up. She’s installed in Wexford, an elite prep school where she becomes embroiled in a mystery dating back to 1888: Jack the Ripper.