Category Archives: mystery

This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

where-the-world-endsMicah and Janie have been best friends since elementary school… Not that anyone would ever suspect, though, because their friendship has been one of their best-kept secrets.  After all, Janie is one of the popular girls and Micah is a bit of a social outcast.  They seem to be opposites in every way, but it “works” for them.  I found it strange to see how confident Micah was that Janie would always be there for him even though he knew better than to even try to talk to her at school.  Ack!  Talk about a terrible friendship.  I will say, though, that there are probably plenty of so-called friendships like this, since adolescents are often willing to compromise their own feelings and integrity for the sake of fitting in and/or feeling wanted.  The biggest problem with this arrangement, nevertheless, was when Micah woke up in the hospital with no recollection of how or why Janie went missing.  All he seemed to remember was a big party and a bonfire… But where did Janie go, and why won’t she even answer his texts?

I recommend this story to readers who enjoyed the Jennifer Hubbard’s The Secret Year, John Green’s Paper Towns, and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars.  Though these stories are all unique, there is just a little something about Zhang’s characters, plot, and/or storytelling methodology that reminded me of these books.

Happy Reading!

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

unfoldingJonah has a terrible case of scoliosis.  He was supposed to have surgery to have his back straightened when he was a kid, but things never got that far.  He should have known better than to even take the trip out for the surgery, since Stormi warned them not to go and her premonitions always seem to come true.  It was just too tempting to think about being “normal,” though, so he went.  And while he sat in a group therapy session for kids like him who were scheduled to have surgeries at that hospital, he experienced his first seizure.  He and his father decided to head back home right away, since they didn’t want to take any more chances going against Stormi’s warning.  Ever since, both his back and his epileptic seizures have gotten progressively worse.  But he doesn’t blame Stormi.  He knows that she doesn’t make things happen; she just predicts them.  Gullary is a small town where everyone seems to know everyone and everything, so most people listen when Stormi gives a warning.  When one of those warnings is followed by the death of a classmate, nevertheless, some of the townspeople turn on her.  Jonah and Stormi run away, fall in love, and [very slowly] discover the dark secret the people of Gullary have been hiding for many years.  Though I enjoyed this unique paranormal mystery, I found that it was just a little slower to unfold than I would have liked.

Happy Reading!

Grand & Humble by Brent Hartinger

Grand & HumbleHarlan and Manny don’t have much in common.  Harlan is a popular jock whose parents are wealthy, well known, and politically connected.  Manny is a poor geek whose father keeps mostly to himself and is very secretive, even where Manny is concerned.  The one thing that links them together, though, is an accident that happened when they were both three years old.   Neither of them really remembers the accident or knows that the other exists — but Harlan has been having strange panic attacks that seem to hold premonitions, and Manny has been having horrible nightmares that might just have flashes of real memories.  I can’t say much more without spoiling the twist at the end, but I will say that I nearly started the book over again when the ending revealed the truths behind those panic attacks and nightmares…  And y’all know I never re-read anything!  LOL

Happy Reading!

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker

delphi-effectAnna Morgan is able to communicate with the dead.  Or, to be more accurate, the dead are able to communicate with Anna Morgan.  This communication doesn’t require fancy summoning rituals like a séance or anything; the spirits of the dead can be found nearly everywhere and many of them compete for her attention on a regular basis.  Why?  Because they are hoping she will be able to help them complete some final task before they move on.  These mental hitchhikers have been accosting Anna since she was a small child.  In fact, when she was only a toddler, Anna was abandoned in a food court with a note — “This child is possessed.” — pinned to her clothing.  Anna has spent most of her life being shuffled between foster homes and psychiatric institutions because people just don’t know what to make of her.  But, luckily, she has found two people she can count on — her best friend, Deo, and her therapist, Dr. Kelsey.  Deo is the closest thing Anna has to family, and the two of them look out for one another no matter what.  Dr. Kelsey, on the other hand, has helped Anna to deal with her gift and to erect mental walls to contain or keep out spirits as necessary.  Talk about an invaluable skill!

Occasionally, Anna lets down her guard to help a spirit in need and Molly is one such case.  Anna doesn’t know the entire story, but she knows that Molly was a murder victim who wants Anna’s help bringing her killer to justice.  First, though, they need to get in touch with Molly’s grandfather and convince him that Anna is not just a scam artist looking for a payday.  Since he has contacts in law enforcement, he is the best possible person to contact… but he is also very skeptical, so Anna has her work cut out for her.  This book is a wild ride with plenty of action and mystery throughout, and it even has a dash of conspiracy theories thrown into the mix.  With some fairly graphic descriptions of violence, though, I feel compelled to forewarn anyone who might be squeamish.  If you enjoy murder mysteries like The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, though, you should definitely check this one out.

Happy Reading!

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

moon-over-manifestAbilene Tucker’s father, Gideon, sent her to live with an old friend for the summer, while he worked on the railroad.  While she understood that life on the railroad was not suitable for a “young lady,” she knew she would miss her father terribly.  Upon arrival, she was further disappointed to find that the town of Manifest was so dull.  After growing up hearing so many stories about her father’s time in Manifest, she had expected it to be a grander and more exciting place.  When Abilene found a hidden cigar box full of mementos, though, she found some of the adventure she had been hoping for.  After all, there were even a few letters in the box that referenced a spy called “the Rattler.”  When Abilene shared the letters with her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, they decided to work together to figure out who had been the Rattler… and then they received an anonymous note telling them to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”  Yeah.  Whoever wrote that note certainly didn’t understand that the surest way to get tween girls to work hard at solving a mystery was to basically forbid them to do so!

I liked the way Vanderpool wove together the stories of Abilene and her friends with the boys, Ned and Jinx, to whom the mementos in the box had belonged.  It was very clever to reveal the past through both newspaper articles and “readings” of the mementos by the diviner, Miss Sadie.  Not only did Miss Sadie’s storytelling help to provide details about Ned and Jinx that the girls could never have pieced together on their own, but it added a further layer of mystique as Abilene tried to figure out if Miss Sadie was truly “reading” the items or simply making up a story.  I found it a bit painful to watch Abilene struggling to find any hint of Gideon’s existence in both Manifest and the stories Miss Sadie told, I liked the fact that readers are able to look back at the end of the story to see how the various story threads all truly came together.  People who enjoy learning about the early 20th century will love the rich, historically accurate details.  (Abilene came to Manifest in the 1930s and the stories of Ned and Jinx were from 1917-1918.)

Happy Reading!

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

100-liesHawthorn Creely is a bit of an outsider.  She doesn’t really have a lot of friends, and most people consider her to be a bit strange.  Her older brother, Rush, though, is a part of the popular crowd and even used to date the seemingly-perfect Lizzie Lovett.  When Lizzie disappears, nevertheless, it is Hawthorne who becomes obsessed with figuring out what happened.  How obsessed?  Well… She kinda decides to go and apply for a job at the diner where Lizzie worked — they *obviously* have an opening! — and to try and get close to Lizzie’s boyfriend, whom many people suspect of foul play.  After all, her boyfriend was the last person to see her when they went camping together.  Maybe if she spends enough time around the same people and places as Lizzie, she will be able to uncover some clue everyone else is missing.  The thing is, though, Hawthorn has a completely crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie…  I’m talking, I think she needs some serious mental help.  But she is utterly convinced that she is right and that by spending enough time living like Lizzie, she will be able to prove that she is right.  If you like mysteries and enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you should get this book when it comes out.  [It is slated for a January 3, 2017, publication.]

Happy Reading!

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

bone-gapThe O’Sullivan brothers lived alone and did their best to get by, but it was tough having a dead father and an absentee mom (she took off with an orthodontist who didn’t seem to keen on having teen-aged step-sons).  Sean had to put his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold to take care of his younger brother Finn; he worked as an EMT instead.  Finn was an awkward boy whom the townspeople all seemed to talk/worry about, and Sean’s resentment was fairly evident.  Then, one day, Finn found a girl in their barn.  Roza was badly hurt, but she refused to go to the hospital, so Sean took her inside their house and did his best to mend her injuries.  They decided to give Roza the keys to the unused apartment in the back of their house, and her presence seemed to help all three of them thrive… until the day Roza disappeared from Bone Gap.

Sean was heart-broken and Finn was devastated because he largely blamed himself.  He swore that there was a man who took Roza away, but he couldn’t really describe the man other than the strange way he moved through the cornfields.  He felt that if he could just do a better job at describing the man, he could save her.  People in town had always called Finn names like “space man” because of he always seemed to lack focus and didn’t really look people in the eye.  He also seemed to have a hard time recognizing people, though his vision was technically fine.  The only person Finn seemed to get along with was a girl named Petey, whom most of the townspeople teased for being “ugly.”  Petey believed Finn when he said that a man took Roza away, and she was determined to help him solve the mystery, but she was so self-conscious she couldn’t help but wonder if Finn was just pretending to like her.

I’m gonna be perfectly honest and admit that I actually had to start listening to this audiobook over again because I was about half way through and all sorts of confused. The book changes perspectives between Finn and Roza — as he looks for her and she deals with having been taken — and also goes back in time a bit, at times, to explain how everything came to be.  I mean, I was doing chores like mowing the lawn and folding laundry, so it’s not like I was focused on something terribly exciting that took my attention away…  But it was confusing enough that I really couldn’t go on without starting over.  I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I just figured it was worth mentioning in case any of y’all start to read/listen to this book and end up feeling confused, too.  It was totally worth starting over again, in my opinion, so I would recommend doing the same if you also feel lost.  Now that I “got” it, it was pretty awesome.  If you like books with a touch of magical realism, like Belzhar, you should check this one out.

Happy Reading!