Category Archives: YA Mystery/Thriller

Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack


Today, I’m posting over on Tynga’s Reviews. Click on the image above to follow the link.

To help you get ready for some haunted mansions like the one in Sanctuary, here’s a few I thought were particularly lovely to keep in mind.

P.S. Just for fun, I have actually visited a haunted mansion. Pictured below is the Sorrel-Weed house in Savannah, GA where my husband and I unintentionally caught an EVP on our honeymoon.


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Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

18713071.jpgScarlett Undercover

Orphaned and living with her older sister working as a nursing student, fifteen-year-old amateur private detective Scarlett takes a case from Gemma Archer, who is convinced her older brother killed his best friend. However, the media reported that Quinn Johnson killed himself. While keeping an eye on Gemma for her safety since her parents are frequently absent, Scarlett finds Gemma’s brother Oliver to be as creepy as he sounds, embroiled within a secret cult. During her investigating, she discovers the cult has roots that link to her own family, and she might be in a lot of danger.

Part of an effort to include more diversity in YA literature, Jennifer Latham wrote this exciting novel about a young Muslim American, including references to cultural myths, magic, and language. Having been compared to that hit teen detective of the 2000’s Veronica Mars, Scarlett comes with elements of sassy attitude, independence, and determination. Despite saying she’s 15, her voice actually seems younger and less capable, perhaps because to the reader, she’s not yet established her credibility as a detective. Additionally, Scarlett’s romantic relationship with Decker felt the most flat along with a few minor side characters. Otherwise, this murder mystery is unique, unpredictable, engaging, and best for older middle grades/younger high school teens, especially reluctant readers who are searching for books that reflect cultural diversity.


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Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

23358109Black Widow: Forever Red

The mysterious beloved Avengers heroine comes to novel form as Natasha Romanov confronts her past as an agent of Red Room, a secret Russian assassin agency led by Ivan Somodorov or “Ivan the Strange”, while on a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. Ivan’s just as dangerous as she remembers, finding a girl and her mother trapped in one of his experiments. Natasha is able to rescue the girl, Ava, and bring her back to the US, where Ava is protected by S.H.I.E.L.D. However, Natasha promises to be there for her, and as eight years go by, there’s no trace of her. Ava, fed up with her captivity, escaped from her protective prison two years ago and has been living homeless ever since. Something odd has been happening to her for the last few years as she has been dreaming of a boy named Alex, or Alexie as she calls him. When Ava and her best friend Oksana decide to compete in a fencing tournament, dreams and reality collide as Alex is there too, and then Natasha shows up, shortly followed by assassins. Ivan is not dead like they thought, and together they must stop his plans, even if they are somehow part of it. Can Natasha finally embrace and accept her past, and love, before she loses a last connection she never knew she had?

Juxtaposes Natasha Romanov (whose voice is spot-on) with teen Ava, who has a past very similar to Romanov’s yet seems to have something weird happening to her. Together they attempt to thwart a mutual villain, joined by Alex, a similarly gifted teen who has his own secrets and a fate entwined with their own. All three are confused about their identities and have a quick time crunch before a long-reaching plot is set in motion. You know Natasha; she seems to work and think best on her feet!

Fans of the Avengers and particularly middle grade readers will like this book, but older readers may not find as much appeal due to the priority of pacing over credibility for plot/characters.

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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in YA Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult/Teen


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Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, 3) by Ransom Riggs

Library-of-Souls-by-Ransom-RiggsLibrary of Souls

In this thrilling conclusion to the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy, Jacob Portman, Emma Bloom, and their other peculiar friends, along with the last remaining free ymbryne, Miss Wren, have been captured by wights and are on their way to the wight’s stronghold. In a twist of fate, Addison, the peculiar dog, manages to rescue at least Jacob and Emma. With the future existence of peculiardom resting on their shoulders, not to mention their friends’ lives, Jacob, Emma, and Addison enlist the help of the mysterious Sharon to take them on a journey through loops to a horrible time in London’s history, that of Devil’s Acre, the worst Victorian slum. Filled with addicted peculiars, wights, hollowgast and the empty soulless faces of the loop inhabitants, Devil’s Acre holds the worst things in peculiar history, where peculiars are sold as slaves, driven to madness, and even killed. There, their little group lands, not without some trouble, at the house of Mr. Bentham, who wants to help them succeed against the wights and their leader Caul. As the final battle commences, Jacob must wield his peculiar power to its utmost and what follows is a heart-stopping revelation of friendship, love, and betrayal that will have readers feverishly addicted until its satisfyingly sweet end.

This is one of those series that will make you want to be friends with the characters #bookbffs. All of the peculiar children are so vividly real and the world so interesting that you can’t help but want to be a part of it in some way. I just love, love, loved that last chapter or two, and do not want to spoil it for readers, so I am afraid I can’t say more. However, this is one series I will be pushing, and am pretty confident there will be more than the one movie coming in December!


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Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

51R8i55EtAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBone Gap

In this stand-alone coming-of-age mystery, the town of Bone Gap, Illinois has mostly small town charm, but a few residents think it is a little unusual. Perhaps it isn’t just the town but the people too? Finn O’Sullivan has never been “quite right,” as the rumor goes. After his father died and his mother left town for a new life and husband, the only family he had left was his older brother, Sean, whose college plans changed to a career as an EMT. Neither Sean nor Finn is prepared when they find a girl, dirty and much abused, hiding in their barn. They offer her a home, however temporary, and it’s like she belongs to them, and they to her, or perhaps they’ve found each other at just the right time.

Roza and Finn are close friends, while Roza and Sean slip slowly into love and Sean is preparing to ask her to marry him. Suddenly, Roza disappears and leaves everyone stunned and mourning, even the townsfolk of Bone Gap. No one believes poor Finn when he swears she was kidnapped by a dangerous man, not even his brother; in fact, the townsfolk might even believe Finn O’Sullivan did something to Roza. While Finn tries to process her disappearance and his brother’s reluctance to go after her, he discovers another surprise in the barn, a mare that seems magical. Through his and the mare’s wanderings, Finn becomes closer to Priscilla, “Petey” Willis, the beekeeper’s unusual spitfire daughter. Petey brings out the best in Finn and as their relationship blooms, Finn finds new courage but learns of secrets that change his self-perception. This new awareness enables him to find out what happened to Roza in a wild attempt to save what is left of his family.

*Winner of the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and a National Book Award finalist.

My summary fails to capture the ethereal magic and captivating use of language that characterizes this novel. I loved how the reader really can’t trust the characters and also cannot predict the plot. Author Ruby presents various viewpoints in the novel to juxtapose with the main narrator, Finn, thereby revealing that our perception of Finn is vastly different from the opinion others have of him. This use of characterization is most excellently well done, as each character credibly feels like a real person with a unique voice, strong feelings, and perspective. Then, add in the mysterious setting, the disappeared but strongly present Roza, and underlying themes of love, truth, and acceptance, and this novel won’t stop surprising you. While this book may appeal to more literary or older teens, the overall quality and dearth of details speak to the hard-won praise and mark a story that will stay with any age of reader, teen or adult.

Notes: Themes of violence and sexual abuse are noted only in subtext of story.


Posted by on February 2, 2016 in YA Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult/Teen


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