Tag Archives: thriller

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury. March 20, 2018. William Morrow, 304 p. ISBN: 9780062741998.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 880.

A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.

But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.

Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.

It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.

Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Hunting, Inhumane treatment of animals, Recollection of a sexual assault, Murder, Two instances of strong language

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Tracy lives to hunt, sometimes spending days in the Alaska wilderness with nothing but her wits and her knife. Ever since her mother died, her father has kept her on a tight leash, especially when it comes to training for the upcoming Iditarod. Tracy’s preternatural drive to hunt is insatiable, however, so she sneaks out regularly, which is where she is when the stranger attacks her. She fights back, waking up with a bruised head and bloody hands, but she’s convinced he’ll return to finish what he started. When her father takes on a hired hand, Tracy’s careful secrets start to unravel, and she discovers disturbing truths about her desperate need to hunt. Though the pacing can be haphazard and Tracy’s folksy, first-person narration doesn’t always ring true, debut author Bradbury cultivates vivid atmosphere with visceral action and a dynamic cast of characters. Tracy’s unsettling compulsion for hunting takes a magic-realist turn early on, which might disappoint fans of straightforward survival thrillers, but patient readers who like earthy, genre-blending, coming-of-age stories should be pleased.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
An Alaskan teenager on the cusp of adulthood is drawn to the feral life.Although the folksy and stubbornly ungrammatical voice of Bradbury’s first-person narrator, Tracy Petrikoff, takes some getting used to, it conveys a visceral sense of her world. In the nearly two years since her mother’s death, a month before Tracy’s 16th birthday, her home life has been thrown into disarray. Now nearing 18, Tracy hopes to enter her first adult Iditarod. But her father, Bill, a champion musher, has given up the sport and is deaf to Tracy’s pleas to let her train. Younger brother Scott has retreated into his books and photography. Other than tending the fleet of sled dogs her family still maintains, she is officially grounded—she’s been expelled from school for fighting. However, Tracy easily evades her father’s halfhearted discipline to set woodland traps. Her catches—martens, minks, hares, and squirrels—provide meat for the family and pelts to sell in the nearby village. Furthermore, trusty hunting blade in hand, Tracy gains essential strength from drinking the blood of her prey while also temporarily mind-melding with victims. One day in the woods, a strange man slams Tracy against a tree root and she blacks out. When the man, Tom Hatch, shows up at her home, bleeding from a stab wound, Tracy assumes she inflicted it. Returning to the scene of her supposed crime, Tracy finds a backpack containing wads of cash, enough to enter the Iditarod. Jesse Goodwin, a young drifter, appears, taking on the role of hired factotum. Tracy and Jesse develop a special bond after she learns Jesse was fleeing Hatch. However, Jesse is not what he seems. The ingredients of a thriller with surreal elements are all in place, as Tracy suspects that Hatch has recovered and may be seeking revenge. From here the plot veers off in directions that are not only unexpected, but at time beggar belief. Still, readers will warm to the unconventional persona Bradbury has crafted for Tracy, that of wilderness savant. A strange and soulful debut.

About the Author

Jamey Bradbury’s work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Sou’wester, and Zone 3. She won an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

She moved to Anchorage, Alaska, in 2002 but kept leaving to join the Peace Corps, work in Vermont, and go to graduate school. The important part, though, is that she came back. If you’re ever in Anchorage, she recommends Spenard Roadhouse for drinks, Bear Tooth Theater Pub for movies and burritos, and Eagle and Symphony Lakes for hiking. She hails originally from Illinois.

Her website is www.jameybradbury.com

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Strange Star by Emma Carroll

Strange Star by Emma Carroll. March 20, 2018. Delacorte Press, 240 p. ISBN: 9780399556067.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.3; Lexile: 590.

From the critically acclaimed author of In Darkling Wood comes a spine-tingling novel inspired by Frankenstein with more than a hint of mystery and suspense. 

One stormy June evening, five friends meet at Villa Diodati, the summer home of Lord Byron. After dinner is served, they challenge each other to tell ghost stories that will freeze the blood. But one of the guests–Mary Shelley–is stuck for a story to share.

Then there’s an unexpected knock at the front door. Collapsed on the doorstep is a girl with strange scars on her face. She has traveled a long way with her own tale to tell, and now they all must listen.

Hers is no ordinary ghost story, though. What starts as a simple tale of village life soon turns to tragedy and the darkest, most dangerous of secrets. Sometimes the truth is far more terrifying than fiction . . . and the consequences are even more devastating.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Some gruesome imagery, Death of a parent, Inhumane treatment of animals

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 4-7. On a dark summer night in Switzerland, Lord Byron challenges his friends to tell ghost stories, while Felix, a servant boy told to stay out of sight because of his dark skin color, listens at the door. One guest, Mary Shelley, struggles with the challenge. Then, a knock at the door: a half-dead girl named Lizzie with strange scars has appeared on the doorstep, and she has a chilling story of her own. A comet—some say a bad omen—passed over Lizzie’s village, and a lightning storm changed her life for the worse. Her inquisitive sister keeps getting into trouble, and a mysterious scientist keeps appearing in the graveyard. As all these seemingly unconnected things come to a head, Lizzie faces an incredible journey, carrying a story that, perhaps, Mary Shelley needs to hear. Frankenstein’s influence is clear in this Gothic-infused middle-grade novel—though knowledge of it is certainly not a prerequisite—and Carroll (In Darkling Wood, 2017) is adept at crafting tense, atmospheric backdrops. Effective as an introduction to a classic or as stand-alone horror-lite.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
’Twas a dark and stormy night in 1816 when several literary luminaries gathered at a Swiss villa to spin tales of unearthly terror. Beginning with their host, Lord Byron, the participants—who include Percy and Mary Shelley—embark upon their evening’s entertainment but are soon interrupted by the dramatic arrival of a blind English girl, famished and bearing mysterious scars. She has a shocking story of her own to tell, one that includes a comet that portends misfortune; the arrival in Somerset of a reclusive woman scientist, Francesca Stine; a ravening beast preying on livestock in the night; an arrogant cloaked gentleman lurking in graveyards; visions of imminent death; and horrific experiments in the name of science. The sole nonwhite character, Felix, is a former American slave who somehow acquired his freedom and sailed to Europe, where he was hired by Byron’s housekeeper. The inclusion of a courageous young person of color who is respected by the white people around him is a welcome novelty in historical fiction. Against the backdrop of the central mystery, the texture of daily life in Georgian England and some of the pressing social issues of the day are vividly portrayed. Suspenseful and atmospheric, the book features an afterword by the author about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and her inspiration for the characters and plot. An adventure story packed full to the brim with drama—and just the right amount of shivery, fearsome delight. (Horror. 9-14)

About the Author

After years of teaching English to secondary school students, Emma now writes full time. She graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing For Young People. In another life Emma wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier.

She lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and three terriers. Her website is emmacarrollauthor.wordpress.com/

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Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter. March 27, 2018. Scholastic Press, 297 p. ISBN: 9781338134148.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Violence, Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Maddie Manchester has spent the last six years isolated in the Alaskan wilderness. Apart from her father, who brought her to Alaska after a near-fatal incident as a secret service agent, Maddie interacts with no one, forcing her to become physically tough and mentally acute. Her old life—including her best friend and presidential son, Logan—has become a distant memory. That is, until Logan shows up at her door after one too many acts of rebellion for his parents’ tastes. He’s taller and hotter—and then, suddenly, missing. Maddie is immediately thrust into a desperate hunt to save Logan from his kidnappers, armed with only her wits and know-how (and more than one strategically hidden knife). It is no surprise that the author of the Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series has delivered another fun thriller with equal parts action and angst. Maddie falls right in line with Carter’s other protagonists as a canny and capable heroine. While the premise of the book is just as high concept as Carter’s previous offerings, the delivery is grittier and more visceral, while still indulging in some teen romance to lighten the complex tale of revenge and loss. Gripping and smart, this book will appeal to readers looking for a thrill ride with some darker twists.

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2018)
Estranged best friends must come together to survive man-made threats in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.Maddie and Logan, both white, were best friends at age 10. Maddie’s father’s job was to keep the president safe, and as the president’s son, that meant Logan too. But when Russians attempt an attack on Logan and the first lady, everything changes. Maddie’s father decides they must move somewhere with no phones, no internet, no access. Soon Maddie and Logan are thousands of miles apart, she in rural Alaska and he in the White House. For six years there’s no contact; Maddie spends two years writing to him with no response. She becomes skilled in the ways of the wilderness, her anger at Logan building. His perspective highlights a privileged, reckless life, leading the president to administer a unique punishment: staying with Maddie and her father in Alaska. But Logan brings dangerous baggage with him, and with her father away for the night, it’s up to Maddie to keep them both safe. Maddie’s grit, humor, and cleverness make her an engaging action hero. Logan’s less dynamic, hyperfocused on ensuring Maddie’s safety when she’s not the one who needs saving. Fans of survivalist fiction will be impressed by the well-researched, immersive Alaskan landscape and all its beauty and brutality. A tightly plotted thriller helmed by a firecracker that never loses her spark. (Thriller. 14-17)

About the Author

Ally Carter writes books about teen spies, thieves, and diplomats.

She is the New York Times bestselling author of three YA series about the world’s best teenage art thieves (Heist Society), the world’s coolest spy school (Gallagher Girls, including I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You), and the granddaughter of a diplomat who has to find her mother’s killer on Embassy Row.

Her novels have sold well over two-million copies and have been published in more than twenty countries. She lives in Oklahoma, where her life is either very ordinary or the best deep-cover legend ever. She’d tell you more, but…well…you know…

Her website is AllyCarter.com

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People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us by Dana Mele. February 28, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 384 p. ISBN: 9781524741709.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Suicide, Homophobic language, Inappropriate relationship between teacher and student

 

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Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Murder, mayhem, and unreliable friendships take center stage in Mele’s debut novel. Kay Donovan, a popular girl known for her soccer skills and her biting humor, gets more than she bargained for when she and her friends go to the lake, after a night of dancing, and a girl’s body turns up, frozen and with her wrists slit. When Kay gets an email the day after, things take a dark turn, and she ends up ruining the lives of former friends and classmates in an effort to assuage her own guilt. As she embarks on the digital scavenger hunt in an effort to clear her name, Kay starts to wonder who is actually behind it all. To some extent, the pacing is inconsistent, and certain characters are static in the end, which may lead readers to wonder how certain relationships came to be. Mele, however, manages to weave a tale of mystery, intrigue, and revenge in the style of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007), but with its own twists to keep readers on their toes.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2017)
For some girls, it’s a killer getting into Bates Academy. For others, attending the elite prep school means getting killed.When Kay Donovan and her popular senior classmates uphold the tradition of skinny dipping in the lake after the Halloween dance, they’re surprised to find the dead body of Jessica Lane, a fellow student. But it’s not the first time Kay has seen a dead body—and someone knows it. As she, her friends, and other acquaintances begin answering questions for the police, the teen also receives an email from Jessica’s account that takes her to a revenge website. There, Kay receives instructions to take down all her friends—this one for doping, that one for sleeping with a professor—or her own secrets will be revealed. The debut novel has all the tropes one would expect from a prep school mystery: plenty of backstabbing, predominantly white young socialites (except for Brie with “smooth brown skin”), and frequent parties with alcohol and sex. Yet this intertwined mystery that has readers figuring out Jessica’s murderer and Kay’s secrets (and their possible connections) is more than these clichés. The characters and their relationships are nuanced, especially bisexual Kay, who has intimate encounters with males and females. The blend of predictable prep school elements with unpredictable suspense makes this a fizzy read for fans of the genre. (Mystery. 14-18)

About the Author

Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer and a work at home mother. A graduate of Wellesley College, she is a former actor, lawyer, musician, and briefly, associate producer. She prefers tea to coffee, snow to sand, and stars to sunshine, and she lives in the Catskills with her husband and toddler.

Her website is www.danamele.com

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People Like Us on Amazon

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Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu. January 2, 2018. Random House Books for Young Readers, 288 p.; ISBN: 9780399549779.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.
In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

In this second DC Icons book–following Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer–Bruce Wayne is proof that you don’t need superpowers to be a super hero, but can he survive this game of tense intrigue, pulse-pounding action, and masterful deception?

Part of Series: D.C. Icons (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Criminal culture, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Lu (The Young Elites, 2014) continues the DC Icons series with this second installment; this time, the focus is on Bruce Wayne before he became Batman. Lu’s take on the caped superhero imagines him as a restless high-school senior who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when he witnesses criminals escaping a crime scene and gives chase himself. Following his reckless (but ultimately successful) vigilantism, Bruce is sentenced to community service at—where else?—the infamous Arkham Asylum. Housed there among Gotham’s roughest criminals is brilliant but troubled Madeleine, who makes Bruce question everything he thinks he knows about the nature of evil. Familiar faces will be welcome to Batman fans, but none stand out save for Madeleine. Even Bruce, from whose perspective the story is told, is somewhat bland. However, Lu excels at making action sequences come alive and feel immediate, and this latest is no exception. An action-packed thriller from one of YA’s preeminent voices. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lu’s a blockbuster in her own right; when combined with this high-interest series, she’s unstoppable.

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2017)
Young Bruce Wayne has a pre-Batman adventure.Famed boy billionaire Bruce Wayne has just turned 18, officially inheriting his deceased parents’ vast fortune. But Bruce doesn’t have time to give his coming-of-age much thought: a gang calling itself the Nightwalkers is terrorizing the elite citizens of Gotham City, and Bruce is determined to shut them down. Bruce’s antics earn him a community-service sentence in Arkham Asylum, where he cross paths with Asian-American Madeleine Wallace, an accused murderer with ties to the Nightwalkers. Madeleine remains silent when the cops are around but speaks privately to Bruce. As the two grow closer Bruce works to shine a light on the mysterious gang and perhaps get a possibly innocent Madeleine released. Lu effectively mixes familiar Batman characters and locations with the new Nightwalkers and Madeleine, avoiding overstuffing the narrative with future villains and excessive Batman foreshadowing. The trickiest aspect of any Batman narrative is getting into Bruce Wayne’s head, and she doesn’t miss a beat. Bruce is headstrong, haunted but not overwhelmed, and capable of improvisation, but he isn’t yet the fully formed Caped Crusader. The building blocks are there, but the author doesn’t rush to assemble them too quickly. Bruce’s terrible, self-destructive taste in women travels from the comics to this novel, making his relationship with Madeleine suitably complex and a bit frustrating at the same time. An engaging character piece with enough Batman allusions to intrigue fans and newcomers alike. (Fantasy. 12-16)

About the Author

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Legend, Prodigy, and Champion, as well as The Young Elites. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Her website is www.marielu.org.

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Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten. October 31, 2017. Simon Pulse, 320 p. ISBN: 9781481418607.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 690.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls comes a stylish thriller about the darkness that lurks inside all of us.

When I looked up, his smile was wide and real. “Ready?” he said.
I faked a smile back. I had gotten so good at faking things.
I thought: You brought this on yourself, Sasha. You will have to pretend forever now.
He squeezed my hand again. He couldn’t begin to imagine what this actually was. He had no idea what I’d done. What any of us had.

When Sasha’s best friend Xavier gets back together with his cheating ex, Ivy, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. So she poses as a guy online to lure Ivy away.

But Sasha’s plan goes sickeningly wrong. And she soon learns to be careful of who you pretend to be because you might be surprised by who you become…

Told in multiple points of view, Bad Girls with Perfect Faces is sexy and twisted with shocks at every turn

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Underage drinking, Marijuana

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Sasha would do anything to help her best friend, Xavier, and in the month following his seventeenth birthday, she does. After having his heart broken by Ivy, a volatile, sexy, commanding, former ballerina, Sasha has almost gotten sweet Xavier back on his feet, and she is almost ready to tell him how she really feels about him. Then Ivy pulls Xavier back to her, and Sasha is dead set on proving to Xavier that Ivy hasn’t reformed her cheating ways. Sasha’s alcohol-fueled online snooping quickly morphs into catfishing. She soon realizes that not only is she right about Ivy but she’s in too deep to turn back, and if she wants her relationship with Xavier to survive, she needs to take desperate measures. This stylish, edgy novel of mistaken identity told in three voices takes a dark, lurid turn, with the second part ricocheting into psychological suspense with devastating consequences. Readers will revel in the twists and turns as the characters attempt to gather the pieces of their shattered lives.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2017)
A love triangle takes a turn for the dark. There never seems to be a good time for Sasha to tell her best friend, Xavier, that she is desperately in love with him—not while he’s depressed after Ivy dumps him, not when Ivy decides she wants him back, not even when Sasha comes up with a beastly plan to entrap Ivy into revealing her selfish and cheating ways. Ivy is “a tornado, unpredictable and cracklingly alive.” Sasha tells herself that she has Xavier’s best intentions at heart when she uploads a picture of a hot guy with a “muscular bicep” and sends Ivy an Instagram follow request. Ivy takes the bait and starts a text flirtation, but she continues to lure Xavier deeper into a naughty relationship. “Come to my house,” she tells him. “I promise we won’t get caught.” Sasha goes to extreme lengths to free Xavier from Ivy, and these pretty girls create some very ugly situations. Weingarten draws provocative characters with searingly sharp writing, but underneath the stylishness, the plot twists are abrupt and may leave readers with vertigo. The absence of specific racial or ethnic markers implies a white default. A teen love story that flits through a titillating social scene and wanders into a murky moral swamp. (Fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Lynn Weingarten is a writer and editor. She is the author of Wherever Nina LiesThe Secret Sisterhood of HeartbreakersThe Book of LoveSuicide Notes from Beautiful Girls, and Bad Girls with Perfect Faces. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Her website is www.lynnweingarten.com

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Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway. January 9, 2018. Knopf Publishing Group, 688 p. ISBN: 9781524732080.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

From the widely acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World andTigerman, a virtuosic new novel and his most ambitious book yet–equal parts dark comedy, gripping detective story, and mind-bending philosophical puzzle–set in a not-too-distant-future, high-tech surveillance state.

In the world of Gnomon, citizens are ceaselessly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody during a routine interrogation, Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector, is assigned to the case. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, she finds a panorama of characters and events that Hunter gave life to in order to forestall the investigation: a lovelorn financier in Athens who has a mystical experience with a shark; a brilliant alchemist in ancient Carthage confronting the unexpected outcome of her invention; an expat Ethiopian painter in London designing a controversial new video game. In the static between these mysterious visions, Neith begins to catch glimpses of the real Diana Hunter–and, alarmingly, of herself, the staggering consequences of which will reverberate throughout the world. Gnomon is a dazzling, panoramic achievement from one of the most original voices in contemporary fiction.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Alcohol, Kidnapping, Murder, Gore

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
Beguiling, multilayered, sprawling novel that blends elements of Philip K. Dick–tinged sci-fi, mystery, politics, and literary fiction in a most satisfying brew.In surveying, a gnomon is a set square used to mark right angles on a chart. “By extension,” writes the genre-hopping British novelist Harkaway (Tigerman, 2014, etc.), “it means something perpendicular to everything else, such as the upright part of a sundial.” It is different from its surroundings, and so is everything that police investigator Mielikki Neith (as in ’neath, where hidden things are to be found) learns about the case just assigned to her: it involves a dissident, now deceased, in a near-future society where citizens patrol each other by means of social media, totalitarianism with a thin veneer of friendly hyperdemocracy, all committee work and political correctness. In this world, Diana Hunter, “a writer of obscurantist magical realist novels” read in fragmentary samizdat editions, harbored antinomian thoughts—and, given the recent news that the brain remains conscious for at least a short time after death, it makes sense that Neith should try to get inside her brain to ferret out subversion. That’s not easy, for Hunter has laid land mines throughout in the form of odd diversionary characters: ancient mathematicians, Roman legionaries, and other formidable obstacles who share Hunter’s “bad attitude.” The possibilities in the story are endless, and Harkaway looks into most of them, it seems, firing off brilliant lines (“The universe has cancer,” “Thousands and thousands of years, thousands of bodies, thousands of minds combined into one, and your best answer to pain is still revenge?”). Although he doesn’t go out of his way to advertise the fact, Harkaway is the son of John le Carré, and from his father he has inherited a feel for the world-weary tediousness of police work. Yet there’s no Smiley in the smiley-face future world where being a fascist busybody is a badge of honor—though enigmas abound, to be sure. Fans of Pynchon and William Gibson alike will devour this smart, expertly written bit of literary subversion.

Library Journal – web only (January 19, 2018)
This latest from Harkaway (Tigerman) is set in a near-future Britain managed by the Witness, a pervasive surveillance system connected to instant plebiscites that has taken the place of government. This system is perceived as the ultimate rule of the people by the people, but, disturbingly, the Witness can see into your mind. When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies under interrogation, investigator Meilikki Neith mentally ingests neural recordings made by the interrogators and thus relives the experience. The book then launches into multiple narrative streams, revealed in the recordings, involving macho Greek banker Kyriakos; fifth-century alchemist Athenais, mistress of Saint Augustine; and Ethiopian expatriate artist Bekele. These narratives are woven together to create a tapestry of meaning and of mystery. The theme of katabasis, the descent and emergence from the underworld, is central. Verdict The book functions as a riposte to the dangers of the surveillance state, demonstrating the interconnectedness of consciousness and the triumph of the all, the gnomon, over totalitarian control of the few. This work goes so far as to invoke the reader’s role in creating the narrative, which is simply astonishing; to be read at all costs! -Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

About the Author

Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall, UK in 1972. He is possessed of two explosively exciting eyebrows, which exert an almost hypnotic attraction over small children, dogs, and – thankfully – one ludicrously attractive human rights lawyer, to whom he is married.

He likes: oceans, mountains, lakes, valleys, and those little pigs made of marzipan they have in Switzerland at new year.

He does not like: bivalves. You just can’t trust them.

His website is www.nickharkaway.com

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All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

Al the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry. October 10, 2017. Algonquin Young Readers, 288 p. ISBN: 9781616206666.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 750.

Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 2))
Grades 9-12. Lakes have dried up, the earth is dying, and Sarah Jac and James flee southwest, leaving behind a gritty Chicago to harvest maguey in the desert. Surrounded by other transient workers, they hoard their money, hiding their love and scamming other workers while they dream of a different future. After an accident forces them to flee, the two find themselves working at the Real Marvelous, a ranch that’s rumored to be cursed. The owner of the ranch has two daughters, and Sarah Jac, who knows her way around a horse, is asked to give the youngest, timid and angry Bell, riding lessons. At the same time, James catches the eye of the eldest, fierce and beautiful Farrah, ill with a mysterious, terminal disease. As Sarah Jac and James are inexorably drawn into this family and their secrets, strange and magical things begin to happen at the Real Marvelous—things no con in the world can overcome, things that even their love may not be able to withstand. In aching, luminous prose, Mabry (A Fierce and Subtle Poison, 2016) crafts a story impossible to forget, infused with southwestern folklore and magical realism. The harsh desert is exquisitely, painfully rendered, and the characters are flawed and wholly real. A gripping, fablelike story of a love ferocious enough to destroy and a world prepared to burn with it.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2017)
In a dangerous, post-apocalyptic America, Sarah Jac and her boyfriend, James, keep their relationship a secret as they work at a mysterious farm. After environmental collapse, the western half of North America is desert. Seventeen-year-old Sarah Jacqueline Crow, aka “Sarah Jac” (who’s mixed-race), and fellow orphan James Holt (who’s white) specialize in picking the maguey plant for violent overseers and profit-hungry ranch owners whose harvests turn into pulque, mescal, and tequila. After a fatal accident during a dust storm, Sarah Jac is accused of murder, and the two stow away on a train that leads them to the Real Marvelous, a ranch in Texas that’s rumored to be cursed. To protect themselves, Sarah Jac and James pretend to be cousins, fearing that if they’re open about their love, they’ll expose themselves to blackmail or worse. Soon, Sarah Jac is commanded to provide equestrian lessons to the owner’s younger daughter, Bell, while James is commissioned to work in the big house as a groundskeeper—and ends up catching the eye of Bell’s sickly but beautiful older sister, Farrah. A complicated series of plagues, prophecies, and love triangles ensues. The author’s prose is rich and lyrical, but the worldbuilding is lacking, leaving readers wondering about details rather than immersed in the story. In a reverse of most romantic story arcs, the love story goes from initially swoonworthy to deeply unsatisfying. Mabry’s mix of magical realism and dystopia doesn’t live up to its promising start. (Science fiction. 14-17)

About the Author

Samantha was born four days before the death of John Lennon. she grew up in Dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

She spends as much time as possible in the West Texas desert. Her website is samanthamabry.com

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The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose. August 1, 2017. Viking Press, 384 p. ISBN: 9780735221833.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 870.

Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run. Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, she finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle, but the façade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. They believe Lee holds the key to it all.

Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city—empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families, but the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Theft, Attempted sexual assault, Teen pregnancy

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
A young woman must outthink and outplay a group of men trying to uncover the deepest secrets of the universe (with the help of clues left by Marcel Duchamp) in Rose’s debut novel. Lee has always felt invisible, taking advantage of this by shoplifting and dealing drugs to her high school classmates. When her friend Edie turns her in, Lee is sent to juvenile detention and then the psych ward, from which she manages to escape. Homeless, friendless, and directionless, Lee stumbles upon a group of other lost teens who live in the Crystal Castle under the control of a mysterious figure known as the Station Master. When she steals a strange object that turns out to be a work of art by Marcel Duchamp, Lee has no idea that she has attracted the obsessive interest of a shadowy and dangerous society that effectively worships Duchamp. They believe he left clues in his art that reveal the key to immortality, and they are willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone to decipher them. Together with her friend Tomi, an art fanatic who likes to creep around abandoned buildings, Lee fights to stay one step ahead of the Société Anonyme, which seems to have spies everywhere and which has determined that Lee herself is central to their dastardly plans. The novel is complex on many intellectual levels, drawing heavily on theories of art history and physics, and the mystery is deep and satisfying in both its unpredictability and its culmination. The sheer scope is impressive, as are Rose’s evocative descriptions of underground and abandoned places, reminiscent of David Lynch’s films. Lee, despite being a strong survivor, doesn’t captivate, however. Her survival depends on her ability to be self-sufficient and to separate herself from people, which also estranges her from the reader. Admirably ambitious but lacking in soul.

Publishers Weekly (June 26, 2017)
The 17-year-old heroine of Rose’s debut novel, a richly detailed intellectual thriller set in contemporary Philadelphia, has already been through an adventurous childhood and adolescence when she ends up in juvie, set up by a former friend for a crime she hasn’t committed. Not that Lee Cuddy hasn’t earned her stay there: a natural-born shoplifter, she has also sold enough drugs to accumulate thousands of dollars in cash. Escaped from prison, she winds up in a creepy, cultish home for runaways and then goes on the lam with Tomi, a gentle Czech boy who has a talent for data retrieval, a taste for urban exploration, and a passion for the work of French artist Marcel Duchamp (whose “readymades” cemented the idea that ordinary objects could be considered art if their assembler defined them as such). After Lee steals a satchel from the office of the cult leader, she finds herself pursued by the mysterious Societe Anonyme, which is involved in the production of designer drugs. While Rose may put in one too many obscure references to alchemy and unified field theory, Lee is an excellent character, and the many shadowy settings she travels through make for a fascinating vision of an alternate, underground Philadelphia.

About the Author

Augustus Rose grew up in and around San Francisco, California. His debut novel, The Readymade Thief (Viking 2017), is about a young woman at the center of a mystery involving the art Marcel Duchamp, the dark net, urban exploration, and the shotgun marriage of alchemy and string theory. He teaches fiction writing at University of Chicago.

His website is augustusrose.me

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The Readymade Thief on Amazon

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. September 26, 2017. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 289 p. ISBN: 9780525426011.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Grotesque violence, Transphobia

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. The ever-popular Perkins (Isla and the Happily Ever After, 2014) takes a sharp turn out of YA romance in her latest offering, a clever—and, to fans, no doubt surprising—foray into the teen slasher genre. When Makani Young moved from her native Hawaii to her grandmother’s house in Nebraska, she thought her biggest concerns would be fitting in, putting her troubled past behind her, and navigating her attraction to a mysterious boy. She didn’t expect the students at Osborne High to start dying as murder after seemingly unconnected murder shocks the small town. And Makani certainly never expected herself to be targeted by the killer. Perkins deftly builds the suspense like a pro: an uneasy opening leads to some legitimately horrifying murders, and the identity of the killer isn’t quite as important as the motivation. Diverse characters, including a transgender boy, are folded into the tale. This is the same reliable formula that spawned the Scream franchise, and Perkins wields it to great effect: readers will be sleeping with one eye open.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2017)
Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false. Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

About the Author

Stephanie Perkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. She has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. Stephanie lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.

Her website is www.stephanieperkins.com

Around the Web

There’s Someone Inside Your House on Amazon

There’s Someone Inside Your House on Goodreads

There’s Someone Inside Your House on JLG

There’s Someone Inside Your House Publisher Page