This book is an excellent read and perfect for fans of TV shows like Scandal and House of Cards.
In The Fixer, Montana teen Tess unexpectedly comes toThis book is an excellent read and perfect for fans of TV shows like Scandal and House of Cards.
In The Fixer, Montana teen Tess unexpectedly comes to live with her sister Ivy, a DC power broker and "fixer" of political problems. Tess is enrolled in a swanky private school where popularity is a power game and she gains a bit of a reputation as a fixer herself. And of course, she quickly becomes embroiled in a mystery with deadly implications from the halls of her school to the halls of the ultimate seat of power - The White House.
Tess and Ivy are fantastic characters. They're both smart, savvy and full of spunk. I really enjoyed reading the sharp-witted interactions between these women and every other character in the story. The supporting cast is sufficiently interesting too - looking forward to learning more about them.
The mystery and intrigue are both compelling and plausible. While you have to suspend your disbelief a little, I never found myself rolling my eyes at too convenient details. Barnes builds an excellent mystery with a heroine I was rooting for - hard.
In particular, I loved the way Tess avails herself of the aid of adults in her life at times. Too often, in YA, characters make unbelievably, annoyingly idiotic decisions simply by declining to talk to adults, by ignoring that there might be risks they shouldn't take because, as teens, they aren't best positioned to accomplish them. Tess, while she has a healthy does of hubris, does recognize the moments where she really needs help - and she asks for it. And it didn't render the story one bit less exciting.
I already love Barnes's Killer Instincts series. And now I can't wait for another installment in the ongoing adventures of Tess and Ivy. Barnes is rapidly becoming an auto-buy author, for me!...more
I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to review this book. It certainly captivated me - I powered through to the end because I wanted to know what happenedI'm at a bit of a loss as to how to review this book. It certainly captivated me - I powered through to the end because I wanted to know what happened. And it is BY FAR the best NA I have ever read. Hands down. No contest. The writing is solid, the editing is solid, and the book isn't one big giant predictable stereotype.
The love interest isn't a jackass - a "bad boy" with a heart of gold and a sad sack backstory whose only "badness" seems to come from the fact that he has tattoos. At the same time, I can't entirely say he's a good guy . . .
The main character had a lot more pride than many - any? - of the NA heroines I've read. She makes some healthier choices, stands up for herself more, that's for sure. At the same time . . .
These characters want to be good people, but their actions, their choices - you know, they're problematic. They make some terrible decisions. Unambiguously bad, to my mind. The book, to its credit, confronts this. The characters talk about, regret it, struggle to live with it. But they do it anyway. The love conquers all, heart wants what it wants message is a bit heavy handed. For many readers, this won't be enough to overcome the morality issues but I imagine others will be swept away by the romance and melodrama of it.
There were also some other really good elements to this book: - Musician romance. Two things I'm a serious sucker for. And this book involves a pretty unique kind of musician - one I've not read about before. - While some of the supporting cast was under developed and stereotyped (Hunter, Tori, Bridgette), Warren was an interesting character, if a bit of an asshole. I actually wouldn't mind reading more about him - seeing him have an arc of his own.
And the playlist component - talk about taking the concept of a book playlist to a whole new level! Given that the main characters fall in love while writing song lyrics, a playlist was an obvious choice. But Hoover actually partnered with a Nashville recording artist, Griffin Peterson, to write and compose the songs that appear in the novel. And then made them available online. You can listen to the songs as they're relevant to the book. And they're pretty decent. Actually, Maybe Someday is a legit good song. Multimedia book experiences don't always make a lot of sense to me, but here it was a runaway success.
All of the above made this for a compelling read, though an uncomfortable one - or perhaps discomforting is more accurate? I don't know - I guess I'd say read it for yourself and see how you feel! ...more
The Body in the Woods is an entertaining YA mystery, well plotted and populated by something other than totally run of the mill characters.
The YA mystThe Body in the Woods is an entertaining YA mystery, well plotted and populated by something other than totally run of the mill characters.
The YA mystery seems to be a bit of a trend lately (perhaps it always was and I just hadn't noticed?) Either way, Henry offers a good contribution to the genre with this novel.
The teen detectives here are part of the Portland police's volunteer Search and Rescue team. This conceit provides and excellent reason for them to get caught up in the mystery, something other than the usual friend/family member victim. I quite liked the way their training and the S&R excursions advanced the plot.
Body in the Woods follows a certain formula - though I wouldn't call it a "formulaic" novel. Rather, this is a classic mystery, featuring discovery of the crime, presentation of multiple suspects, inexperienced detectives bumbling into clues, a detective-in-jeopardy denouement, and other familiar elements. They will please most readers, I think, because, for non-mystery fans, they'll be new, and for mystery fans, they'll feel like comfortable old friends. I wouldn't say the ultimate criminal is a huge, Sixth Sense shocker. Careful readers will, I think, pick out whodunnit pretty early on. But the teens' investigation will still feel interesting and entertaining even to those who saw it coming.
The one comment I'd make on the novel is I had a hard time connecting with the three main characters. Alexis holds herself aloof for family reasons, Ruby is clearly somewhere on the autism spectrum, and Nick - I dunno. I just didn't fall for any of them. I did, however, really like that not a single one of them felt stereotypical, I found them to be pretty unique. I note the novel appears to be a series. Maybe more time with these characters in other books will help.
All in all, a good read, perfect for mystery fans.
The Killing Woods is told by both the daughter of the accused murderer and by the victim's boyfriend. What happened the night Emily's father hauls a c The Killing Woods is told by both the daughter of the accused murderer and by the victim's boyfriend. What happened the night Emily's father hauls a classmate of Emily's body out of the woods is a mystery. The police accuse EMily's father, a war vet with serious PTSD. But through the vicim's boyfriends, Damon's, recollections, we know she and Damon's friends were playing dangerous games in the woods - and Damon can't quite recall what happened that night. He finds himself wondering and second guessing how well he knew his girlfriend, just as Emily second guesses everything she knew about her father. Forging a strange sort of friendship, the two investigate the events of that night - not quite together - but not quite apart either, each seeking a truth that might be hard to understand.
The novel is an excellent mystery, sensitive and well thought out, asking difficult questions about whether we ever really know the people we love. There are plenty of red herring suspects to keep even avid mystery fans on their toes and enough weight questions to keep readers' minds working long after they turn the last page.
An excellent read, highly recommended.
Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC for review....more
What would happen if a few select people could hear everyone's thoughts? Don't Even Think About It addresses that question by positing that a high schWhat would happen if a few select people could hear everyone's thoughts? Don't Even Think About It addresses that question by positing that a high school homeroom has received a contaminated vaccine batch that gives them ESP. How will the kids use their powers - for good or evil or something in between? How would people change how they behave if their and others' thoughts were on display?
DETAI grapples with questions about the devastating natures not just of secrets but of sharing them. Are we better off knowing the truth of everything?
The novel skewed toward a younger YA audience, although some of the subject matter (cheating, sex) is more mature. Also, it had a bit of a tempest in a teapot feel; in contrast to novels which take a similar concept and pit the characters against the world or external bad guys, DETAI pitted the students against one another and against their new found ability. As an adult reader, that sometimes meant the stakes were too focused on the world of high school drama and intrigue, but it also led to my favorite part. At it's strongest, I see in this novel a fantastic metaphor for they way we live our lives on social media. The way students receive snippets of information, digest that information, share it onward brought up serious questions for me about social media privacy, how kids construct their social media lives purposefully, and what would happen if there were more transparency. I enjoyed thinking about those questions and bet thoughtful teens would as well.
An entertaining read, with serious undertones, recommended for fans of contemporary and light magical realism.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me an ARC for review....more
An excellent character study about a young woman thrust into a new world and questioning her upbringing for the first time in her life.
The Tyrant's DaAn excellent character study about a young woman thrust into a new world and questioning her upbringing for the first time in her life.
The Tyrant's Daughter tells the story of Laila, the daughter of the ruler of an unidentified Middle Easter country. Laila has been raised to think her father is king, but after a coup and his death land her a political refugee in the United States, she learns her heritage isn't what she thought. Her family styled themselves kings, but to the rest of the world, they are dictators.
Living with her mother and younger brother outside of Washington DC, Laila sees America for the first time. She finds herself mostly overwhelmed by the land of plenty and openness, but also intrigued. The novel does a wonderful job of showing Laila's attraction to and distaste for American culture, of showing Laila's interactions with Americans she both likes and can't understand, and with ex-pats who she both detests and identifies with.
There's also a bit of pseudo spy intrigue, as Laila's mother is appears to involved in some kind of spy game with a CIA officer. Laila isn't quite sure what her ambitious mother is up to, especially once Laila's mother contacts her ex-brother-in-law, who is now the ruler of Laila's country. I enjoyed the ambivalence of this plot line - is Laila's mother doing something right or wrong? Who is she really working for? And what does Laila really think about it all? I wish it had been a bit more fleshed out - it was mostly hinted at in fade-to-black references and a final summing up of what happened. Given that the author's other job is "Spy novelist" I wished for a more overt exploration of this plot line through the novel, but I suppose then this would have been a spy novel, too.
On the whole, a very enjoyable story about discovering who you and are and how your family defines you. The author's background with the region and sensitivity for the topic shine through. Highly recommended....more