“And now she’s gone” Rachel Howzell Hall

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Forge Books (Tom Doherty Associates). 525 p. To be published September 22, 2020.

And now she's goneIsabel Lincoln has been reported missing by her rich doctor boyfriend, who appears more interested in getting his dog back than in reuniting with his girlfriend. Since this is Grayson Sykes’ first case, she is determined to leave no stone unturned in her desire to find clues that will lead her to Isabel. While she’s busily uncovering stones, boulders are appearing in their place. It seems as if everything Grayson had learned, or been told, about Isabel has a double meaning. Grayson is left to wonder if, just like her, Isabel had a reason to disappear.

Interspersed with the missing person case is Grayson’s own story of strength and resilience in the face of constant abuse. Readers will be drawn into both of these women’s stories and, hopefully, find a way to arrange their own escapes from these types of relationships.

Recommended for Adults.

I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“You were never here” Kathleen Peacock

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. HarperTeen (HarperCollins). To be published October 20, 2020.

You were never hereSeventeen-year-old Cat Montgomery got into trouble in New York, which cost her a friend, her phone, her laptop and her freedom. Her angry father shipped her to Montgomery Falls Canada, where she was expected to spend the summer with her aunt at her boarding house.

Cat hadn’t been there in 5 years and was surprised to learn that Riley, her best friend and neighbor, had been missing for months. She doesn’t want to get involved in finding him but, when she finds a body, gives in to his grieving brother’s wish to use her family legacy to search for clues. What she finds out is worse than she’d ever imagined.

I was sucked in – hook, line and sinker. As I followed clues with Cat I thought I had a pretty good idea of the guilty party, but was SHOCKED to be proven wrong. Kathleen Peacock was very devious. Very devious indeed.

Highly recommended for ages 16 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“The girl who wasn’t there” Vincent Zandri

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Oceanview Publishing. To be published October 13, 2020.

The girl who wasn't thereSydney O’Keefe spent 10 years doing hard time for a quadruple murder he didn’t commit, but kept his mouth shut and didn’t rat out his mob boss. His boss wanted him silenced so, after several attempts on his life, Sydney decided to sing like a bird to the DA and was released.

After ten years away from his wife and eleven-year-old daughter Chloe, Sydney was ready to begin a new life. The three of them went to Lake Placid for a well-deserved family vacation but, when they took their eyes off Chloe for a short while, she disappeared. The police are convinced that, with his criminal history, Sydney kidnapped her and are ready to place him under arrest. Sydney believes his former boss is seeking revenge so, with no way to prove his innocence, goes rogue to find her. He is not going back to jail, and plans to use everything he’s learned about prison justice to find whoever took her and make them pay.

Bloodbaths, shootings, twists, turns, and ingenious deceptions will keep readers on the edge of their seats. I read this Die Hard-like book in one sitting, eager to see what would next happen to Sydney who, like John McClane, took lots of lickings but kept on ticking because nobody messes with the O’Keefe family. Nobody.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“White fox” Sara Faring

Rated 2 stars ** ARC. ebook. Macmillan Publishing Group. To be published September 22, 2020.

White FoxTwo sisters, with completely different personalities, travel back to their childhood home in the Mediterranean to try and figure out what happened to their actress mother who disappeared 10 years earlier.

That is the premise of this novel, told through the sister’s alternating viewpoints and a mysterious person called “Boy.” Interspersed with the narrative are different acts from a screenplay their mother had written before she disappeared which, supposedly, contained clues as to what happened to her.

This book was supposed to be about finding out what happened to a loving mother and well known, beloved actress who abandoned her little girls ten years earlier. However there was too much “stuff” thrown into the narrative that, to me, impeded more than revealed. While attempting to be explanatory, the constant foray into interviews, home movies, scripts, ghostly voiceovers by the mysterious “Boy,” etc. were too distracting.

I didn’t like it, but will leave it up to you readers to decide if you want to read it or not.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“I killed Zoe Spanos” Kit Frick

I killed Zoe SpanosRated 4 stars **** ARC. ebook. Margaret K. McElderry books (Simon & Schuster). To be published June 30, 2020.

Seventeen-year-old Anna is thrilled when she’s offered a job as a nanny in the Hamptons on Long Island. She’d wasted the last few months of her senior year drinking and partying in Brooklyn. She’s ready to save money for college, turn over a new leaf, and spend time hanging out on the beach.

She and her charge hit it off quite well, and she’s prepared to relax and enjoy her summer. However it doesn’t take long before Anna finds out she looks exactly like Zoe Spanos, a girl who went missing months earlier, and hasn’t been heard from since January. As days pass Anna keeps getting feelings of déjà vu, believing she’d spent time in the town and had met Zoe in the past. Things begin to get jumbled in her mind and the more they do, the more she’s convinced she killed Zoe. She confesses to the police, and is sentenced to a juvenile center.

Though Anna believes she’s guilty, one person feels there’s more to her story that needs to be explored. Martina, best friends with Zoe’s little sister, runs a podcast about Zoe that tries to figure out what happened to her. Martina is determined to ferret out the truth but, when it’s finally revealed, it will shock everyone.

Told in flashbacks from when Anna first arrived and her time in juvie, the story seemed a bit disjointed. Anna’s memories seemed out of place, and I couldn’t figure out why she was having them. However as more was disclosed, the more her memories made sense. When all was revealed in this whodunit I was completely shocked. I definitely did NOT see that coming!

I recommend this book for ages 16 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Throwaway girls” Andrea Contos

Throwaway girlsRated 4 stars **** ARC. ebook. KCP Loft (Kids Can Press). To be published September 1, 2020.

Caroline was crushed when her girlfriend moved to California and left her behind. Her life was already on the skids because her judgmental mother refused to accept her as she was, and sent her to conversion camp to make her into a more acceptable daughter. Caroline was teetering on the edge, and just needed to hang on to her phony life for three months. Then she’d be 18 years old, and could set out to live her own life.

Her private school, rich girl life was set even more upside down when her best friend Madison disappeared. Caroline was determined to find her, and wound up at a nearby rundown town where she’d set up a secret life for herself with her girlfriend. There Caroline uncovered the names of other girls who had disappeared and had never been found. She wondered why so many girls were disappearing, and why the police weren’t concerned. The closer she got to answers, the harder it became to accept what was staring back at her.

Despite Caroline’s constant bemoaning of her lost love, the plot of lost, unwanted girls kept me hooked. I found the constant back and forth from unnamed characters to be distracting, and thought it would have been better to have had those various conversations in italics. Despite those reservations, I thought it was a good read.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“I hope you’re listening” Tom Ryan

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Albert Whitman & Company. To be published October 6, 2020.

I hope you're listeningDee was 7-years-old when her best friend was kidnapped and she was left tied to a tree where they had been playing. Ten years have passed, but Dee has never forgotten Sibby. As a result of the kidnapping she became introverted, and started a podcast to help find missing people to erase the helplessness she felt about not being able to do anything to help Sibby. With the aid of “laptop detectives” around the country who listened to her show, she was able to get clues to solve these mysteries.

When a young girl goes missing from the house where Dee had lived as a child, similarities are drawn to Sibby’s case. Dee pushes back against reporters who want to put her in the spotlight, and her best friends insistence that she use her podcast to solve the case. Her growing relationship and friendship with Sarah, her next door neighbor, helps calm the confusion she’s feeling about whether or not to get involved and gives her courage to do what needs to be done. What she doesn’t know is that the nightmare in which Sibby had found herself was lying in wait for her too.

I loved, loved, LOVED this book! As Sibby and Dee’s stories were slowly revealed, the suspense kept me turning pages. My list of suspects grew higher in this whodunit, and then plummeted with each reveal. Ryan did a great job tying a knot at the end of the book. I love his last sentence. Touché!

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

“Behind the red door” Megan Collins

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. ebook. Atria Books. To be published August 4, 2020.

Behind the red doorFern loves her daddy even though he was always distracted with his work. His research dealt with the effects of fear, and she was always part of his Experiments where he terrorized her for years in many ways then interviewed her about her feelings. Though she had always been truly afraid during the Experiments, his care during the follow up interviews made her feel important and loved. As she grew older the years she’d spent being tormented caused her to become anxious and develop nervous habits, but it never diminished her love for him.

When Ted called to ask for help packing for an upcoming move, Fern was thrilled because she believed he needed her. Once she arrived they took a trip to town where she picked up a book about a local woman who was kidnapped 20 years ago and was missing again. As reading about the kidnapping tugged at memories she’d long kept hidden, these remembrances began to turn her life upside down.

This book really bothered me. I can’t reveal what happened, but I can say I was not happy at how that particular situation ended. I also couldn’t understand how, as an educated Social Worker, she was so ignorant about her own father. I liked the suspense, and how she gave Fern a wonderfully loving and supportive husband.

I gave it 3 stars for its twists and turns, and will recommend it to Adults.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Dead to you” Lisa McMann

Rated 2 stars ** Simon Pulse. 2012. 243 p.

Dead to youEthan was seven when he was kidnapped, and is reunited with his family nine years later. At first things are strange between him, his parents, younger brother Blake, and little sister Gracie. He’s upset he can’t remember old family photos, relatives or neighbors, but is sure his memories will resurface. Ethan also has to deal with Blake’s jealousy and increasing anger at his presence. After a few months things start to settle, but a ringing doorbell forever changes life for Ethan.

I absolutely DESPISED the ending, and thought it was a complete copout on the author’s part. Why couldn’t she have given a real ending instead of those final three words? I feel like she sold Ethan out, as well as her readers. I was definitely not a happy camper, and took off one star because of the very bad ending.

Though I was EXTREMELY upset with the way the book ended, I will leave it up to you readers, ages 14 and older, to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

“Taken” by Norah McClintock

Rated 4 stars **** Orca Book Publishers. 2009. 165 p.

TakenStephanie’s father was killed in a car accident, and she hates that her mother found a boyfriend just a few months after the accident. She hates the new boyfriend, feeling as if he’s mooching off her mom. A serial killer kidnapped two girls who look very similar to her in nearby towns, but she’s sure her town is safe. So, late one evening she declines her best friend’s advice to accompany her home, and sets out on her own. While taking a shortcut across a dark, abandoned field she’s attacked.

When Stephanie wakes she finds herself tied up in an abandoned cabin. She manages to get herself free and sets off into the woods that surround the cabin, desperate to put distance between herself and the serial killer who’d kidnapped her. With no food, water or shelter readily available she dredges up every bit of survival advice she’d learned from her grandfather on past hiking and camping trips. The days pass with no hope of rescue, and Stephanie’s situation is worsened when she steps into a hole and severely twists her ankle.

I liked reading about the things Stephanie learned about survival from her grandfather, and it seemed as if she was an exceptional learner. I also thought the ending was predictable and it felt rushed. Though it felt like I already knew how the story would play out before I even got to the end, I’ll recommend it for reluctant teen readers because it’s interesting and is a quick read.

Recommended for teens ages 13-16, especially reluctant readers.