I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for inforThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for information about the third book in Gemma Halliday’s delightful Deadly Cool series. Her name popped up as the coauthor of this book, which is a complete fallacy. Halliday didn’t co-write I Spy Dead People, she published it. This is, possibly, a cheap gimmick, but one I have no objection to. I probably wouldn’t have purchased I Spy Dead People if Halliday’s name hadn’t been associated with it, and that would have been a shame. It’s a fun teen mystery with a dash of paranormal.
I Spy Dead People introduces us to teen sleuth Piper Grimaldi, a girl inspired by strong heroines like Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Kind of dated for a 15 year old at this point, but I’m not complaining.) Piper and her father just moved (for the zillionth time) to a neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. Such is Piper’s life; her dad writes True Crime and every year they have to follow a new story so her father can write a new book. Piper’s sick of moving (it’s hell on her social life) and hopes Texas will stick. Especially when she meets a potential best friend and–even better–a potential love interest.
Though the love interest gets mentioned in the blurb, the romance in this one is scanty at best. In fact, I’m not even rooting for the obvious guy. I prefer the guy whom Piper firsts describes as kind of a skeezeball. (I liked him from the start, probably because of the fedora. I don’t care what Piper says, they are cool!) Piper spends most of the book trying to solve the mystery of her next door neighbor’s murder. She doesn’t have much time for romance. Her determination to solve the crime is fun and funny and, thankfully realistic. As a 15 year old, Piper’s scope is limited. There’s only so much she can discover with her limited resources and sometimes her investigation looks a lot more like snooping. Still, you gotta appreciate that she gets the job done, even when it’s at risk to her own life.
About Piper’s supernatural ability, I’ll say little. I don’t know if it’s spoilery to reveal, so I’ll just say that it adds a degree of interest that I really liked. I look forward to learning more about her powers as the series progresses. I still have a lot of questions, but I look forward to them being answered. Yes, I’ll definitely be reading book two. In fact, I can’t wait for it to come out. Jennifer Fischetto has written a delightful teen mystery and created a fun new heroine. I think Piper and I are going to be new best friends....more
Over and over I’ve mentioned my craving for teen mysteries, so I won’t belabor the point again. NeedlessThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Over and over I’ve mentioned my craving for teen mysteries, so I won’t belabor the point again. Needless to say, I snapped up A Girl Named Digit the moment I saw it at my favorite local independent bookstore (say that three times fast!). That said, I’ve had the attention span of a gnat lately, so my reading of Digit was slow as molasses. I picked it up and put it down without regard to how much I was enjoying it.
So, what’s the story? Farrah (aka Digit) lives in LA with her actor mom, her professor father and a younger brother. She’s happy living in the traffic capital of the world because it offers plenty of opportunity for her to read her beloved bumper stickers. Farrah’s biggest secret is that her interest in numbers borders on the obsessive (okay, maybe that’s a understatement). The pressure to fit in has led her to conceal her talents. She’s so perfected the guise of a self-absorbed teenager that she runs with some of the most popular girls in her school.
Then she cracks a terrorist cell’s code and attracts the attention of the FBI. Luckily for Farrah, the agent that gets the case is a boy genius, cute and not much older than her. Unluckily for Farrah, her life is danger. A few days kept in close confinement gives Farrah and Special Agent John Bennett time to bond and to get closer to solving the case.
A Girl Named Digit was a fun read. Everything, down to the chapter titles, is infused with the kind of humor I like best. Digit’s internal monologue is a hoot. She sees the world through a unique lens and since the story is told from her perspective, we’re privvy to it. It’s just too bad that, despite all that humor, I never really connected to Farrah. I like characters that use humor to deflect, but only if I’m also allowed glimpses of the deeper emotions behind the humor. Farrah was a little too glib and her arc a little too shallow for me to be invested in her character. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything unlikeable about Farrah. I’d be happy to while away some time with her, but I won’t be calling her if I’m looking for a more meaningful connection.
So, while I liked Farrah and was interested to see how her romance with John (The Prodigy FBI Agent) would play out, I felt a lack of something while reading Digit. It’s hard to evaluate the books that are a little bit better than good but still not great. A Girl Named Digit was middle of the road, but a decently paved one with those little reflector thingies in the center. I would recommend if someone asked me if I knew of any books about teenage math geniuses, but it won’t be making my Top Teen Mysteries list anytime soon....more
I’ve heard absolutely nothing about this book. I haven’t seen it featured on any blogs, nor read any reviThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’ve heard absolutely nothing about this book. I haven’t seen it featured on any blogs, nor read any reviews (that I recall). Also, I haven’t read The Gallagher Girls books, so the comparison in the description means nothing to me. This was kind of refreshing. I read this book because it sounded interesting and that was all. The end result was middling. Young, Gifted and Dead wasn’t the hidden gem I want every book to be, but I’ll definitely be reading book two. I’ve already checked to make sure it’s not on NetGalley. I don’t want to miss it if it gets added.
The description sets up the story for the reader and the book itself jumps right in. Lily’s death is no spoiler because it happens right away. But don’t worry! Alyssa’s eidetic memory (Cam Jansen anyone? Anyone?) allows the narrative to dip back in time whenever necessary. If there’s a detail that needs to be pulled, given time, it’ll be accessed. Which–bam!–you’ve got a great setup for a sleuth. Problem is, it’s not such a great technique for making me care about Lily’s death. I mean, yes, untimely death is tragic. Lucy Carver made me understand that even if she didn’t make me feel it.
I felt like all the relationships in this book were more tell than show, but that may have been because I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Alyssa felt more like a tool for the readers to use to solve the mystery and my impression of Lily and Paige (Alyssa’s two closest friends) was of people who kept their distance. Maybe it’s a British thing? The best relationship in the book was Alyssa’s with Jack. The couple gets off to a rocky start but I appreciated that, once they decided to be together, they were together. Even if I felt they delved into “I love you” territory too quickly, there wasn’t a protracted, “I love you but I can’t be with you” plot. It’s refreshing to see teen fiction (any fiction, really) setting aside the will they/won’t they stuff in favor of the concept that relationships involve work, trust and communication. You know, the stuff you have to face once you get past the initial, “Wow, you’re cute!” stage.
If I found the interpersonal relationships a bit lacking, that’s okay, because Young, Gifted and Dead is more about the mystery, anyway. I liked how events unfolded slowly, with real investigation and few leaps in logic. Alyssa’s photographic memory came in useful more than once and it’s used well. Just because Alyssa can remember everything, down to the smallest details, doesn’t make the investigation easy, though. She still needs to connect the dots, draw conclusions and talk to people. It takes her a while to solve the case, but it’s done with old-fashioned grunt work.
I have to say, though, that the process was better than the resolution of the mystery. Not because it didn’t make sense, but because it felt impersonal somehow, and didn’t jive with Lily’s backstory. I can’t be more explicit without offering spoilers, but I was disappointed when the last secret was revealed. Still, I’m eager to revisit St. Jude’s Academy. I liked the minor characters best, so I’m hoping to see more of them in future books. And who knows–maybe Alyssa and Jack will grow on me....more
Full disclosure: This is the second review I’ve done of this book. The first one got lost in the misThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Full disclosure: This is the second review I’ve done of this book. The first one got lost in the mists of the interwebs, never to be seen again. And while I might feel better after some wailing and raising of my fists to the sky, I shan’t subject you to any more than I already did on Twitter. The worst part is, I was really happy with the first review. I’ll try to recreate it, but you probably already know that feeling doesn’t usually come that second time.
To sum up my feelings about Escape Theory in a sentence: I adored it. As I look over the books that I’ve read in 2013 (so far), this has been my favorite. The best part? It lived up to my enormously high expectations. In retrospect, there wasn’t really any reason for me to have those high expectations. SoHo Teen is a new imprint, and this is Froley’s debut. I’ve no more read her short story in Who Done It than I’ve watched Privileged. Luckily, whatever smidgen of clairvoyance I possess proved to be right. This time.
I suppose it’s possible that Escape Theory was the right book at the right time but, honestly, I believe it was more than that. Froley’s writing was intense and engaging. She pulled me not just into the mystery, but into the Keaton School community. I felt I was inhabiting the world. So much so that it was with great surprise that I periodically realized the book was written in the third person. Escape Theory was the kind of story that was disorienting to disengage from. Pulling myself away was like trying to escape from a vat of saltwater taffy; a sticky, messy process that left a million small bits behind.
Escape Theory‘s strength comes from Froley’s writing, true, but it also reflected the connection I felt to the main character. Devon’s internal dialogue reminded me a lot of my teenage self, even down to the moments when I wanted to shake her and tell her to get off her high horse. I did think, however, that Froley’s expended so much energy on developing Devon (and the very much dead Hutch) that the other characters felt a little one-dimensional. Even this worked, though, because the book is told from Devon’s point of view, and she has a tendency to remain clinically detached. Or to try to, anyway. Hopefully the other characters will be expanded upon in further Keaton School novels. I also hope that future stories are also from Devon’s perspective.
If I’m honest, the main mystery didn’t interest me very much. What was far more fascinating was the exploration of boarding school life and the mystery of Hutch himself. Not how or why he died, but why he lived the way he did, and why he and Devon had such a strong connection based on one night spent together. Speaking of Hutch, he doesn’t stand up to my adult standards (he dealt drugs, but that’s okay because he regulated how much each person got), but I bet the teenage me would have been as in love with him as the rest of Keaton.
I think Escape Theory‘s greatest strength comes from Froley’s ability to inhabit the teenage world. I read a lot of YA, but I don’t read it looking for an authentic teenage voice. In fact, a lot of YA (Dystopians, in particular) features teens having to mature because of the circumstances, thereby making us forget how truly young sixteen is. Froley doesn’t let us forget it, and this is most evident in Devon’s role as a peer counselor. Training or no, Devon’s in over her head when she starts counseling the best friends that Hutch leaves behind. We know she’ll be a good therapist someday, just not yet.
I loved this book, flaws and all. Lack of romance and all (gasp!). I’ve already recommended it to my brother and I have no hesitation in recommending it to my readers as well. And when you’ve finished the last page, come back here to let me know your thoughts!...more
A little gem of a book,Ten was a thriller that zipped by at a furious pace. It tells the story of MeThis weeview was originally posted at Ruby's Reads
A little gem of a book,Ten was a thriller that zipped by at a furious pace. It tells the story of Meg, average teen, and the trip she takes to an isolated island in the Pacific Northwest. What Meg’s best friend Minnie thought would be her re-entry into the popular circle turns out to be a plot for revenge.
As I mentioned, Ten was a quick read. I enjoyed most of the minutes I spent reading it, and my main complaint would be that I’d have liked the book to be longer. I love teen thrillers, and I wish that there were more of them (without supernatural elements), so I think I was predisposed to enjoy this one. Still, McNeil created an absorbing mystery, complete with a romance and a complex best-friendship. The writing is good without being great. Characterization of each of the ten teens suffers a bit because of the abbreviated length of the book, but Meg, Minnie and even TJ are sufficiently fleshed out....more
My desire to read this book is based entirely on the fact that I recently watched the eThis review was first published on http://www.rubysreads.com.
My desire to read this book is based entirely on the fact that I recently watched the entire first season of The Lying Game and, to be honest, was completely engrossed in it. I enjoy look-alike life-swapping plots, especially when they involve identical twins. It's my childhood obsession with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield rearing its ugly head. Because I watched the TV show first, it was impossible for me not to compare the two, so I warn those of you who have neither watched the TV show nor read the book that I'll probably be spoiling you a bit, as differences will inevitably be discussed in this review. By the same token, if you've read one and watched the other (or vice versa--so to speak), please be forewarned. * * * Right away, The Lying Game differentiates itself from the TV show (I saw it first, so it's my first example) from the book by a pretty huge twist. In the show, Sutton is still alive when Emma takes her place. In the book, Sutton is dead. A virtual ghost, she can only follow Emma around as her long lost twin tries to take her place. As a method of narration, I suppose it's a bit different, but not, I think, particularly effective. Sutton plays a completely passive role in the book. She doesn't remember the events that led up to her death, nor very much about her life. She can't communicate with Emma or anyone else. Perhaps this will be addressed in later volumes, but I didn't understand why Shepard didn't just tell the story from Emma's perspective. In the television series, as much as the book, Sutton is portrayed as a villain. She's the twin that got the good life--who has it all, and appreciates none of it. In fact, the only thing she's done with her privileged life is hurt people, been mean, and played elaborate, often horrific practical jokes on people (the eponymous Lying Games). Emma, by contrast, was in the foster system and tried to make the best out of a string of bad situations. I read the book almost in one sitting, but I finished it feeling kind of empty. It lacks many of the things that I enjoyed about the television show--the way that Emma formed real relationships with the people in Sutton's life, and Emma herself--and, frankly, the convoluted, soap opera-esque plot. It makes sense that Emma doesn't form relationships in the book, because it takes place during a relatively short period of time. Also, Sutton takes bitchiness to a whole new level. She's not just a bitch, she's a MEGA-BITCH. I found myself wondering why I would even care that anyone murdered her. Hey, it's fiction! It's not like someone really died. On the question of whether or not I'll continue with the series...I'm not sure. I definitely won't buy them, but if my library has copies, I just might check them out. I didn't hate the book, and I don't think it was poorly written...but I'm not sure I liked it, either. I'm all about relationships between characters. Romantic ones, definitely...but when the MC has no relationships with anyone else besides her romantic one? Well, I get bored. End of story....more
I adored this book. It was sent to me by the publisher, but it sat on my bookshelf for a lThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I adored this book. It was sent to me by the publisher, but it sat on my bookshelf for a long time until I picked it up on a whim. And, boy, am I glad I did. It's light, frothy and humorous, but with a good mystery. From page one, I was hooked. Honestly--once I picked it up I didn't put it down again until I was finished. And when I did finish, I shot straight to my email to query the author about setting up an interview. Deadly Cool's greatest strength is its characters. I like Hartley plenty--she comes off as a teen you'd like to know--but even better is her best friend, Sam. Not to mention her possible new love interest, Chase. You gotta love a high school boy who has the self-confidence to wear eyeliner. Plus, there's a visible parent! With actual speaking appearances! YA books get points based on that fact alone. As wonderful as the characters were, I also enjoyed the writing. It had a teen "voice" without coming across as juvenile or immature. Halliday's sense of humor was just right--funny but not over the top. I'm ready and raring to try out the light romantic suspense she writes for adults. Let me address the romance for a moment. First of all, romance is rather too strong a word. In a nice departure from most teen novels at the moment, this is not a story of insta-love. It's a mystery first and foremost, with the possibility of romance in the future. I really, really appreciated this, not least because I'm a fan of slow-burn romance. The fact the Halliday doesn't make Deadly Cool about Hartley's move from her loser boyfriend to her "perfect match" does more to make her book stand out amongst than the most paranormal twist out there. Basically, run out and get this book. You need to read it in time for Social Suicide. It comes out in April, so you've got a little time. 5 Points: I would move in with this book. ...more