“Gilt Hollow” Lorie Langdon

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Published September 27, 2016. Blink. 341 p.

gilthollowWhen Ashton Keller was 14 years old, he was accused of killing his friend by pushing him over a cliff. None of his three friends vouched for him and, despite protesting his innocence, he was sentenced to 4 years in a juvenile detention facility. Abandoned by his parents and his best friend Willow, Ashton was forced to grow up quickly and learn to defend himself in the facility. Released at the age of 18, he is determined to return to Gilt Hollow, where he grew up, to find out who murdered his friend and why he was framed.

Gilt Hollow is full of torturous memories of former good times, but his worst memory is that of Willow. They’d grown up together, and Ashton was crushed when she never contacted him in prison. His bad boy persona and good looks attracts lots of attention from the female set, but Willow is all Ashton can see. For her part, Willow is angry with him for ignoring her when she was the only one in town who believed in his innocence. However she can’t keep her eyes off him.

As Willow and Ashton attempt to reconnect, strange things start happening in Gilt Hollow. Each seems to have been perpetrated by Ashton, making it seem as if someone wants him back in prison for good. With the local police chief and his former best friends seemingly out to get him, Ashton needs Willow’s help before it’s too late. Will they be able to reconcile and get to the bottom of the strange events before it’s too late for Ashton?

I enjoyed the suspense as the mysteries unfolded. I had my suspicions as to who was the instigator, and went down the wrong rabbit hole a few times. Langdon did a good job hiding the truth, but I was not happy with Willow as she seemed a bit too whiny and insecure. I thought she and Ashton made a good couple from the beginning, while she wasted too much time second guessing everything he said or did, as well as her own thoughts and feelings.

I will put a spoiler alert at the bottom because I had some questions about some things that happened which weren’t clear enough for me. Don’t read it if you don’t like to read a Spoiler. These events, as well as Willow’s behavior, made me drop a star in my rating.

Despite my questions and Willow’s annoying behavior, I will recommend this book for ages 14 and older because the suspense was really good.

****SPOILER ALERT!*****SPOILER ALERT!****SPOILER ALERT!*****SPOILER ALERT!

Willow left her solo cup in Cory’s room, and Colin found it. He later told her he knew it was her cup. How did he know? Did he do a fingerprint analysis on it?

Colin said he had a knife from Ashton’s collection in the garage. How did he get into the garage to get it? Earlier Willow told Ashton to come get the key so he could get his motorcycle, thus implying the garage was locked.

When she got the note Ashton supposedly had written, why didn’t she notice it was written “To Willow” and signed “A?” Ashton calls her “Wil” and would’ve signed it by her nickname for him, which is “Ash.” Even I knew it was fake! She later claimed she didn’t know his handwriting, but she should have known their nicknames. Also she had just seen him at the dance. Why would he have slipped her a note when she was standing near him right before she left the party and he could’ve told her in person to meet him?

“Baby Doll” Hollie Overton

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. To be published July 12, 2016. Redhook Books (Hachette).

BabyDollLily and her twin sister Abby have always been attuned to each other’s feelings and thoughts, sharing unspoken pacts to always be there for each other. When 16-year-old Lily was kidnapped and held as a sex slave for 8 years, their lives were turned upside down. During those 3,110 days of captivity, Lily gave birth, bore numerous beatings, and learned to be a perfect Baby Doll. Despite his attempts to make her forget, she drew strength from memories of her family, and used that strength to escape the night her captor got careless.

Told through the voices of Lily, Abby, her mother, and her kidnapper, “Baby Doll” takes readers on a roller coaster of emotions as we learn what Lily endured during her 8 years of captivity, and the ramifications it had on her family. Lily’s freedom affects each one differently, but the revenge planned for her disobedience by Rick, her captor, brought goose bumps of horror. This psychological thriller kept me on the edge of my seat, and will do the same for you.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“The edge of lost” Kristina McMorris

Rated 5 stars ***** 2015. Kensington. 340 pp. (Includes “Author’s Note,” “Q & A with Kristina McMorris,” and “A reading group guide.”)

TheEdgeOfLostThe year is 1919. Twelve-year-old orphan Shan Keagan from Dublin, Ireland is living a hard knock life with his Uncle Will, trying to earn money and meals as a singer, dancer and impressionist in local bars. When the two of them decide to immigrate to America his uncle dies onboard, leaving Shan to figure out how he will enter the country of his dreams and find his real father.

Befriended by an Italian-American family who had just lost their younger son, Shan began his new life in Brooklyn, New York as Tommy Capello. As Shan adjusts to his new life with the Capellos, he hopes for a chance to find his father and finally find happiness with a real family. Despite his best efforts, life doesn’t turn out as he’d hoped, and Shan finds himself on the short end of the stick of life once more.

McMorris’ keen attention to detail brings Prohibition, Vaudeville, and Alcatraz, among other happenings of the 1920’s and 30’s, to life. These historical events, along with Shan’s struggles to find happiness while still keeping his own heart pure, will keep readers wishing for more even when the last page has been turned.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Pretty Baby” Mary Kubica

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Published July 28, 2015. MIRA.

PrettyBabyHeidi and Chris Wood had a good marriage until cancer and the loss of her future family took away her dreams. She immersed herself in caring for others through charitable work, longing for the closeness she used to have with her only daughter Zoe who was now a teenager and confided only in her best friend Taylor.

Chris and Zoe were used to Heidi’s many lost causes, but were still shocked when she invited Willow, a homeless teenager, and her baby Ruby to live with them. Willow is very secretive about her past, and the Woods don’t press her, but are sure she is hiding something. However they soon find out the biggest secrets may be those you tell yourself.

“Pretty Baby” was definitely a page-turner as Chris, Heidi and Willow told their stories, but I felt the author did an injustice to Zoe. She picked at her food, barely ate, and was always cold, all signs of anorexia. I thought Heidi’s best friend Jennifer might have noticed something and was trying to talk to Heidi about it, but Heidi was in her own world. Zoe was left to drift at the edges of Chris and Heidi’s worlds; while I felt her obvious need to be noticed should have been one of the stories explored in the book.

Despite this observation, I highly recommended this book for Adults.

“The walls around us” Nova Ren suma

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. Published March 24, 2015. Algonquin Young Readers.

TheWallsAroundUsViolet and Ori became the best of friends the day they took the same ballet class when they were little girls. Motherless and poor, Ori had a generous heart while Violet was both rich and spoiled by her parents. Over time she grew to hate her best friend because Ori was a natural at ballet, while Violet had to work hard to master the dance.

Ori wasn’t the only one on Violet’s list of dancers who stood in the way of her supposed greatness. With dreams of grandeur filling her mind, Violet made sure to get rid of all her competition so everyone would notice her true talent. However, though it took some time, Violet learned wishes didn’t work the way she thought they would.

“The Walls around us” irked me because of Violet. Without giving away any of the storyline let me say I was upset she was able to do what she did and get away with it because no one paid attention to details. I was also upset about the way the author chose to solve that problem at the end of the book, as the solution didn’t make any sense to me.

I gave it 3 stars because the author did a good job getting into the mind of a diabolical, uncaring reprobate. I would have given it a higher rating if said reprobate had gotten a punishment that made more sense.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Tunnel Vision” Aric Davis

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2014. Thomas & Mercer (Amazon).

TunnelVision

Betty Martinez is bored with her high school life. Despite being a junior, her two moms have grounded her for sending a bikini photo to Jake, a boy she doesn’t even really like. Betty just wanted some excitement when she sent the photo, but her moms don’t understand.

Betty and her best friend June love listening to Indie bands, and plan to have a great time sneaking out to attend a concert. However everything goes onto the back burner the day she learns June’s aunt Mandy, a prostitute and heroin addict, had been murdered fifteen years ago by her former boyfriend, Duke Barnes, who has been incarcerated for her murder.

Neither girl had ever been aware of the crime and, with the moms and June’s mom doing everything they could to keep it quiet, Betty and June decide to do the opposite. With their teacher’s help, they arrange to do a research project on the murder and search for clues, which will prove whether or not Duke is innocent or guilty. Knowing the crime is a cold case makes it more exciting, but meeting a strange new boy named Nickel who makes Betty’s pulse race is even more fun. Nickel appears to be very hardened, but neither girl questions his sincerity in also wanting this crime to be solved.

Little do they know that the further into the case they get, the more tangled will be the web of deceit that has been woven around Mandy’s death. As they get closer to finding out what happened to Mandy fifteen years ago, none of their lives will ever be the same. Betty will soon see that excitement is overrated.

With multiple suspects to keep Betty, June and Nickel’s heads spinning, Davis brings readers onto a roller coaster ride which will leave them gasping with incredulity when the mystery of Mandy’s murder is finally solved. Despite having a very boring cover which doesn’t do justice to the action in the story, and having Nickel managing to accomplish many acts which will leave readers scratching their heads since he’s just a teenager, “Tunnel Vision” is an excellent read.

This is only his second book, but Aric Davis is an up and coming author. Keep your eye on him! I look forward to reading an earlier book with more information about Nickel titled “Nickel Plated,” as well as any further offerings along this same genre.

Recommended for readers aged 16 and older.

“Alice & Freda forever: A murder in Memphis” Alexis Coe

Rated 4 stars **** Pulp (Zest Books). 2014. 223 pp. Includes “Appendix,” “Bibliography,” “Notes,” and an “Index.”

Alice&FredaForeverI was asked to participate in the “True Stories Fall Blog Tour,” put on by Zest Books, where you can see lots of other information on this great book.

In 1892 nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell, fine upstanding citizen of Memphis, Tennessee, committed an unfathomable crime against her seventeen-year-old ex-fiancée. In a fit of passion, she brutally slashed Freda Ward’s throat on a public street in front of witnesses.

Before the murder Alice had planned to impersonate a man so she and Freda could marry, move away, and live together as a couple. When their plan was discovered their families forbade them from any interaction, but Alice was obsessed. Freda seemed uninterested in restoring their relationship, appearing to be in love with several men, causing Alice to become extremely jealous and determined that no one could have Freda if she couldn’t be the one to marry her.

What made this crime so sensational was that lesbianism was not socially acceptable in 1892, and the social mores of the time dictated Alice would have had to be insane to entertain such impure thoughts towards another woman.

Using an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, Coe uses Alice and Freda’s love letters, newspaper accounts of the day, and other sources to walk readers through their disastrous love story. The events leading up to Freda’s murder, and Alice’s insanity trial are also thoroughly investigated.

Coe’s historical research allows readers to “see” the Memphis of 1892 including its civil rights violations, crooked politics, amazingly inaccurate medical theories and the ways in which Alice’s case was decided by the media rather than the courts. The turmoil faced by Alice and Freda for their love over 100 years ago will long resound with her readers.

Recommended for ages 18 and older.