Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: THE BODY IN THE WOODS by @aprilhenrybooks #NewRelease

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series, The Body in the Woods is full of riveting suspense, putting readers right in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

I found the premise of this book incredibly interesting. I love the idea of a young adult mystery series centered on Search and Rescue volunteers. Honestly, I didn’t know much about this organization when I started reading, and now I kind of want to volunteer. (Except for the small problem of I hate the outdoors... Maybe they have an S&R division that focuses on shopping malls.) The book is the first in a planned series, and I can see so many plot ideas that could come out of this idea. Not to mention, the story is set in Portland, Oregon, which is one of my favorite cites.

The story revolves view points between four characters: the three S&R volunteers and the killer. As a general rule, I don’t like it when the killer gets a view point because it usually gives too much away, as it did here. The killer only had a couple of POV scenes, and I really think the story would have been stronger if they were left out. The details and info those scenes provided could have been worked in another way.

Which brings us to the three teenage sleuths: Alexis, Nick and Ruby. Each of the characters was well-developed and flawed (which I like). In real life, Nick and Ruby would have driven me nuts. The character I identified with the most was the frustrated Detective who obviously regretting giving his cell number to these kids. But if you put aside my curmudgeon ways, these characters were well-drawn and believable. I’m interested in where they will go in the rest of the series.

Overall, I give The Body in the Woods...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 4 1/2 bookmarks

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - A younger, blond Laura Prepon (Alexis), Jaden Smith (Nick - mostly because they both annoy me), Molly Quinn (Ruby) 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE by @JuliannRich1 #Amreading #LGBT

Two boys at Bible camp; one forbidden love.

That is the dilemma sixteen-year-old Jonathan Cooper faces when he goes away to Spirit Lake Bible Camp, an oasis for teen believers situated along Minnesota's rugged north shore. He is expecting a summer of mosquito bites, bonfires with S'mores, and photography classes with Simon, his favorite counselor, who always helps Jonathan see his life in perfect focus.

What he isn't expecting is Ian McGuire, a new camper who openly argues against phrases like pray the gay away. Ian is certain of many things, including what could happen between them if only Jonathan could surrender to his feelings. Jonathan, however, tosses in a storm of indecision between his belief in God and his inability to stay away from Ian. When a real storm hits and Ian is lost in it, Jonathan is forced to make a public decision that changes his life.

It’s hard to think of a more awkward setting for a gay love story, but I love it! The pray-the-gay-away people completely creep me out. I can’t imagine being a young man, just figuring out who he is, and be subjected to these people. That said, a huge positive about this book is the author didn’t vilify religion or God. She offered a very balanced view, giving different interpretations of biblical arguments for and against homosexuality. Jonathan is able to find a way to be comfortable with himself inside his faith. That’s a difficult and powerful thing.

The relationship between Jonathan and Ian was a little fast, but very typical of teenagers. It wasn’t “insta-love” at least. There was also good, realistic chemistry between them. Being the only two gay boys in the camp, you might think they gravitated to each other out of convenience, but I never got that feeling here.

My only problem with the book is there were a few times I wanted to smack Jonathan upside the head for the way he treated Ian. I get it that he was conflicted and scared, but he should have talked to Ian about it rather than pushing him away. Though this too is probably typical of a teenage boy. I also didn’t really buy the characters of Dawn and Simon. They almost seemed too understanding and perfect.


Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 4 bookmarks
Love Story - 5 bookmarks (I like how it ended. Not a HEA or HFN, but realistic.)
Handling of Sensitive Subjects - 5 bookmarks!

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Dylan O’Brien (Jonathan), A younger Prince Harry - my go-to for HAWT redheads (Ian), Peter Dinkledge (Simon), Alexander Ludwig (Jake), Jeanette McCurdy (Bethany)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: STRANGER ON THE SHORE by Josh Lanyon #Mystery #Amreading

Twenty years ago, little Brian Arlington was kidnapped from his family's Long Island estate and was never seen again. The trail went cold, but investigative journalist Griff Hadley has always thought there was more to the story—much more. When the Arlingtons' patriarch invites him to stay at their estate to research his true crime book, Griff can't say no. It's the story of a lifetime.

But not everyone is happy about Griff's presence. Relatives and staff alike regard him coldly, including Pierce Mather, the Arlingtons' attractive lawyer, who is more than a little wary of Griff's motives.

When a stranger shows up claiming to be the long-lost Brian, Griff and Pierce are united in their suspicions. Startled to have found an ally in the buttoned-up lawyer, Griff soon realizes it's hard to keep a professional distance. Even in the midst of a groundbreaking investigation, even in the face of a shocking family secret…

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I love the concept. Cold case mystery involving a missing child and one of America’s most wealthy families? Cool! Unfortunately, the execution of mystery fell short for me. The clues were so painfully obvious right from the beginning that I spent most of the time pissed off at the characters for not figuring it out. Rather than creating tension, I wanted to throw my Kindle against the wall. I kept hoping there would be some twist at the end to prove me wrong, some big pay-off to wow me...but the end was just sort of meh. Coincidence as a plot point just doesn’t do it for me.

I also thought the romance lagged. The attraction between Griff and Pierce wasn’t believable. I feel like there needs to be more than, “Oh, you’re gay too? Let’s go!” Pierce was a jerk to Griff even after they hooked up. And Griff taking it from him made him seem weak. If you are going to have a highhanded Alpha male, you need someone to put him in his place.

I don’t want you to think I hated this book. It was okay. The prose was strong, and like I said, I loved the concept. I guess I just expected more from Josh Lanyon.

Overall, I give Stranger on the Shore...

Plot - 2 1/2 bookmarks
Character Development - 3 bookmarks
Romance - 3 bookmarks

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Jamie Bell (Griff), Armie Hammer (Pierce)