Tag Archives: thriller

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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Quick Reads for Teen/Tween Girls

Disclaimer: Not exclusively for girls by any means, but these will draw more readership and appeal for girls.

22571275 All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter

After three years’ absence, Grace Blakely is coming back to live with her grandfather, the U.S. ambassador to Adria, on Embassy Row. The last few years have left her searching for her mother’s killer, a man with a scarred face, in every person. Upon arriving back in Adria, Grace can’t help but notice the tiny details that remind her of her mother, and the girl that left Adria couldn’t be more different than the girl that returned. Grace’s old friends find her distant, and Grace makes new friends who accept the half-wild, manic daredevil that she is now. On her crusade to find her mother’s murderer, Grace experiences a transforming journey for herself as well as coming closer to finding justice for her mother, but since this is Embassy Row, one undiplomatic move could mean an international incident, possibly even war.

If you’re used to Ally’s other novels, this one is more intense and exposes the traumas of PTSD.

Personally, I didn’t like this one as much as I have some of her other books…perhaps the confusion of the PTSD was hard as a reader to follow the action and that may draw away from it’s appeal for teens.
22465605  Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins

In this second book of the Rebel Belle series, Harper Price is balancing her romance with David and her duties as David’s Paladin, not to mention working alongside her ex, Ryan, who is David’s Mage. At the end of the last book, Harper’s best friend Bee had been taken by the Ephors, a mystical group who wanted to kill David. However, as Harper and Ryan manage to secretly block the terrifying visions of a more powerful David, David is lured to a meeting with Alexander, the spokesperson of the Ephors, who surprises them all with another challenge. Harper is not a true Paladin yet, as she must complete the Peirasmos, a month long ordeal to come into her potential, but if she fails, she dies and it is her best friend Bee who is her reluctant Paladin backup. Harper tries to keep everything together, but things are just too complicated. Ultimately, the strain of the Paladin/Oracle relationship breaks David and Harper’s romance. Harper’s involvement causes a meltdown for Ryan and his girlfriend Mary Beth. Bee struggles to overcome the forgetting spell Ryan had placed on everyone when she went missing. David discovers how he will change and is burdened by the knowledge. All of this occurs as Harper and Bee compete in a prestigious pageant and attempt to responsibly fulfill their duties for school. Despite Harper’s relentlessly hopeful ‘can do’ attitude, she is utterly blind to the possibility that she can’t control everything.

Though I was mildly intrigued by Rebel Belle, this second one becomes rather annoyingly complex in character relationships and is bogged down by the jargon and drama-inducing fluff conversation. Fans of the series will like it, probably middle grade girls, but older or more advanced readers won’t be drawn in as easily. I really may have to convince myself to read more, though I liked her other series.

17134589 The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Avery West has spent her whole life moving from place to place with her mother, and her mom has just told her they’ll be moving again because of the mysterious “mandate”, which Avery thinks is some sort of military decree. Normally, she’s always against making friends, joining clubs, etc. because the pain of leaving is inevitable. However, since it’s basically her last two days there and it conveniently happens to be junior year prom, something Avery doesn’t much care about, she decides to live a little and go, just this once, nevermind that her mom said no as she’s going out of town for a bit. Jack, her new boy crush who invited her, is there, as is a mysterious new older boy, Stellan. Suddenly Avery’s unconventional but fairly normal life turns upside down.

Jack and Stellan belong to two families of the Circle of Twelve, a secret elite group of families who basically run the world, though they’re opposed by the Order, another secret society who doesn’t believe in their purpose. Avery, who has never known her father, suddenly is somehow part of one of these families and must submit to their wishes, flying halfway across the world to Paris and then to Istanbul in a serious of crazy adventures. But her life is in great danger, as she could be part of a secret prophecy and either the families will use her for their own gain or the Order will have her assassinated. You won’t want to miss every bit of the twists and turns that this book reveals and make sure you suspend your belief, otherwise you’ll be sure there’s a secret family living in the Louvre and the next President was set up by his/her family ties…

Out of all three of these books, this last is undoubtedly my favorite. I am absolutely on board to read book 2! Despite the premise that sounds outlandish (I know, my little summary just couldn’t do it justice and I didn’t even include how many possible spoilers and intricate plot revelations), Maggie Hall seems to pull it all off! The love triangle seems unintended and yet believable while Avery herself is instantly likeable to teens as she is so normal but determined to survive and come out on top despite the impossible odds. Forgive my caricatures, but Avery is a compellingly untrained heroine with Jack as the forbidden classic boy-next-door and Stellan as the chip-on-his-shoulder mysterious bad boy, and she needs all of them to work together if they are going to survive both the power of the Circle and the murderous intent of the Order. The one thing that I don’t like about this book is that it draws into the “just another girl in a pretty dress” vibe that is trending with YA right now, and this book clearly is more than that. Teenage fans of The Da Vinci Code and fans of Ally Carter will absolutely love this book, and any new readers who love action thrillers, royal/court intrigue, or “Chosen One” novels will be hard pressed not to feverishly read.


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Asylum & Sanctum by Madeleine Roux

A creepy mind-twisting murder mystery that melds psychology and the mania of an old mental hospital and teases the story accompanied by hauntingly eerie photographs.

asylum-cover  Asylum

Dan Crawford has just arrived at college-sponsored camp for gifted high schoolers where the students have been moved to the oldest dorm Brookline, previously a mental hospital, because the others are being remodeled. A former foster kid, he’s pretty self-aware and independent. Immediately, he makes two friends: Jordan, a brilliant mathematician with a religious family who is also secretly gay, and Abby, a creative art geek whose family has ties to the asylum. Dan also has a roommate, Felix, an odd nerdy boy who is awkward and suddenly becomes obsessed with working out. When Dan first arrives at the asylum, he discovers an old photograph of a man with his eyes scratched out. Seeking a thrill, Dan, Jordan and Abby go exploring and find old records and other disturbing photographs in the depths of the old asylum. Suddenly, Dan is getting odd notes and having nightmares, dreaming and communicating with the disturbed man known as the warden, also named Daniel Crawford. Is this really happening or is Dan losing his mind? When the body count starts to rise, Dan knows he has to solve the mystery of Brookline or worse, he must suspect himself of the most horrible of crimes.

19346471 Sanctum

When Dan left Brookline, he thought all the episodes would be over. When he still is having nightmares, also shared by friends Abby and Jordan, Dan decides the asylum isn’t through with him. Worse, he’s been asked to visit Felix who has been under constant watch in a real mental facility. A deranged Felix connects the dots that send him, Abby, and Jordan back to college searching for clues behind , their nightmares, creepy antique carnival photographs, and four mysterious addresses. Pretending to be prospective college students, they are stuck with student mentors and discover that the carnival tradition has just returned after a long hiatus. New Hampshire College and Camford, the town, are hiding something awful, and Dan, Abby, and Jordan are determined to find out what and rid themselves of the horrors of Brookline forever. With Dan seeing visions and Abby hearing voices and people attacking them, will they succeed before they die or do they belong to this carnival of madness?

Though this series has been compared as a Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children read-a-like, all that it really has in common is the genre and possessing photographs. The overall feel and draw of this series is unlike Miss Peregrine in my mind. I think it is sufficient to read but not fantastic. It needs more depth, creepiness, and a more clear progression of events. That is to say, it shouldn’t be an easy mystery, but I can’t figure out if being mentally confusing was the purpose of the novel or just a side-effect. I liked Sanctum overall much better than I liked the first, but I liked the atmosphere of Asylum better than Sanctum. I think the character development wasn’t fully fleshed out, and the pace seemed somewhat slow for a creepy book. Still, if you like horror and you enjoy a bump-in-the-night read with quirk, you won’t be disappointed.

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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Horror, YA Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult/Teen


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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

cover Cruel Beauty

An adventurous romance with an intricate twist of fairy tale and Greek myth.

The island of Arcadia is under a spell and ruled by the Gentle Lord, a demon who lives in a castle atop the hill. The Gentle Lord makes deals with his desperate citizens, but usually there is a hefty price to pay. Nyx Triskelion was one of those bargains. When her mother could not have a baby, her father asked the Gentle Lord for children. He was given twin girls, Nyx and her sister Astraia. In exchange for this boon, one of the girls was to become the Gentle Lord’s wife while the other lived her days out happily and peacefully. Nyx was the chosen daughter. As she wrestles with the burden of her fate, that she must be the Gentle Lord’s wife but also be the agent of his destruction for the entire island, she comes to find her new husband, Ignifex, is not at all what she had anticipated. Her sacrificial destiny is not her undoing but rather a blessing in disguise. While growing to know her new husband, his powers, and his labyrinth of a house, she discovers she is not a pawn in her father’s game, and that she deserves the love she was never afforded.

After all the comparisons of this book to the tale of Beauty and the Beast, the novel caught me much by surprise in that it only very loosely has ties to Beauty and the Beast. Rather, it takes another spin on Greek mythology, one that is not much written about either. With that being said, a video game about this book would probably be really fun, but the book had to gloss over a lot of the setting (which you’re very glad of, as you would’ve gotten lost!). As Nyx grows more familiar with Ignifex and his ways, as well as the mysteries of his house, her perceptions are changed and what she originally believes is no longer true. It’s a wonderful story of how blind prejudice or hatred can be overcome in closer proximity. It will pull you into such a mind-bending romantic mystery that you almost can’t predict what will happen!

Note: Graphic topics and sexual circumstances.


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