Review: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

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Title: To Catch a Killer
Author: Sheryl Scarborough
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

It’s been a while since I’ve read a thriller, but when I first saw To Catch a Killer, I knew I had to pick it up. This is a fast-paced mystery about a young girl who attempts to solve two murders that are connected. I absolutely adored the use of forensics to crack the case and the main character’s intelligence. I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it, even to those who aren’t big mystery fans.

This book is an action-packed mystery about a girl trying to find the person who killed both her mother and her teacher. I enjoyed the main character’s approach and her group of friends who are able to assist her in solving the murders. There are many diversions and different suspects to keep the reader guessing, even if I did find the ending to be pretty predictable. The novel has everything I hope for in a thriller, and fans of the mystery genre will definitely adore this book as well.

One of the aspects I found to be the most interesting in this story is the use of forensics. I have never seen this before in YA and after reading this, I would love to see more. It is clear that the author really knows her stuff since the techniques that the characters use are described in a way that is so easy to understand. The fact that the main character hunts for evidence to analyze instead of just running around town looking for some sort of vague clue made me enjoy the story so much more. Forensic science has always intrigued me, which is probably why I loved To Catch a Killer so much.

I really enjoyed the main character, Erin. She is so resourceful and uses the tips in her uncle’s book to teach herself how to analyze DNA. Erin has such a captivating voice, and her cleverness makes her so likeable. She also has a very complex backstory which makes her such a developed character. Erin has her moments and makes some questionable decisions, but she is still an engaging character overall.

To Catch a Killer is an epic cliffhanger that features the use of forensics to solve two linked murders. The main character is so likeable and very talented. This story is a perfect mystery, even if it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Friday Reads #14: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Friday Reads

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

Summary (from Goodreads): 

29939266Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

Goodreads | Amazon

It’s been a while since I picked up a good mystery and this one has definitely got me guessing. I also love the characters, which makes this book easy to read. The concept is very intriguing and I am probably going to have a hard time putting this one down today!

Book Beginning:

I soothe my forehead against the icy car window and breathe out a path of fog. If I squint one eye, the neon splashed across the rain-slicked street forms a wide, cruel mouth.

 

Friday 56:

He stares into my eyes, long and hard, a twisted scowl marring his face. The crowd, hungry for confrontation, closes in. I flinch as he brings up his fist and flings something right at me.

Waiting on Wednesday #111: The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

34091699Title: The Victoria in My Head
Author: Janelle Milanes
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 19, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

From debut author Janelle Milanes comes a hilarious and heartfelt tale of the spectacular things that can happen when you go after what you really want.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thoughts:

This book just sounds adorable! I love that it has a musical theme and a character that doesn’t fit the description of your typical rock star. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Friday Reads #13: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Friday Reads

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

Summary (from Goodreads): 

34754118All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming.  She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics.  It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed.  And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

No one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year.  First up? Making out with a guy.  And Levi could be the perfect candidate.  After all, they already spend a lot of time together.  But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

Goodreads | Amazon

I am not too far into this one yet, but I have always enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s books, so I have high hopes for this one. It is definitely a perfect book for summer with its pool/swimming theme. Summer and contemporaries go hand-in-hand, don’t you think?

Book Beginning:

Wake up at 4:15 a.m.

Swim
Eat Breakfast
Shower
Second Breakfast
School
Snack between classes
Lunch
More Class
Swim
Swim
Swim some more
Snack
Eat dinner
Homework
Sleep
Dream about swimming (and eating). When I’m not in the pool, I’m counting the minutes until I can dive back in, so most of the time my bushy, light-brown hair is wet and reeks of chlorine.

Friday 56:

I was pretty jealous when he talked to that other girl earlier, but if I tell him that, it could make things awkward between us, and that’s the last thing I need. I want us to stay normal.

Waiting on Wednesday #110: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

33275690Title: Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: December 26, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Thoughts:

Foolish Hearts looks like just my kind of book. I am always up for an acting story, and I love a good rivalry. The Shakespearian aspects also intrigue me, and I am eager to see how this will work out. This will probably be my first book by Emma Mills, although I have had her other two books on my TBR for a while now.

ARC Review: Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds

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Title: Amish Guys Don’t Call
Author: Debby Dodds
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):  Samantha is already facing scrutiny and anxiety at the start of her junior year, as she’s finally been accepted into the popular girls’ clique called “The Sherpas.” But when she realizes that her new boyfriend Zach was raised Amish, Sam must tackle a whole new set of challenges. Zach has chosen not to end his Rumspringa, instigating a potential shunning from his family. Not only that, but Sam’s new friends can’t miss this opportunity to tease and torment her.

Sam has never really come to terms with her parents’ divorce, so when her world crashes down on her in the form of cyberbullying and Zach’s apparent return to the Amish community, she reverts to old, illegal habits. Does Sam even want friends like these? And, will her cross-cultural love with Zach find a way?

Goodreads | Amazon

There is something intriguing about a culture that lives among us, yet is different in so many ways. Amish Guys Don’t Call is a powerful story that explores the Amish way of life, however, it also shows the reader that deep down there is a similar desire in all of us to be accepted by our friends and family. As well, the characters are well-developed and relatable, making this book an enjoyable read.

Having lived near a Mennonite community my whole life, I have an idea of the small town setting of this book from my own experiences. Dodds really takes the time to educate her readers on many aspects of the Amish and their beliefs. The differences between the Amish and Mennonites that are also described surprised me, and I have a new appreciation for the people that I see in horse and buggy on a daily basis.

The budding relationship between Sam and Zach is so sweet. Zach is quite old-fashioned and treats Sam with so much respect. Both of these characters are dealing with feelings of not being accepted by their friends and family. It is so interesting how Dodds shows two different worlds and how they both have this similar issue. It is the forgiveness that is so important in the Amish culture that seems to pulse throughout the novel, and makes it one to learn from.

Sam is a character that is easy to identify with. She has some flaws, yet is also a head strong and intelligent teen that simply wants to fit into this new town she is living in. When things start to go wrong, she discovers that there are many people that she can lean on. This book is truly inspiring for anyone who has dealt with any form of bullying.

Amish Guys Don’t Call is a unique book that explores different cultures and shares it similarities. There are interesting and relatable characters that make the book enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone wanting to read a contemporary that is a little bit different in concept.

Waiting on Wednesday #109: Piper by Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

34272550Title: Piper
Authors: Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October 31, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): #1 New York Times bestselling author Jay Asher and co-author Jessica Freeburg brilliantly reimagine the classic Pied Piper legend as a powerful graphic novel about loneliness, love, and vengeance. Fans of Neil Gaiman and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll will devour this eerie, atmospheric retelling.

Long ago, in a small village in the middle of a deep, dark forest, there lived a lonely, deaf girl named Maggie. Shunned by her village because of her disability, her only comfort comes from her vivid imagination. Maggie has a gift for inventing stories and dreams of one day finding her fairy-tale love.

When Maggie meets the mysterious Piper, it seems that all her wishes are coming true. Spellbound, Maggie falls hard for him and plunges headfirst into his magical world. But as she grows closer to the Piper, Maggie discovers that he has a dark side.

The boy of Maggie’s dreams might just turn out to be her worst nightmare…

With striking illustrations from Eisner-nominated artist Jeff Stokely, Piper is an exciting new departure for Jay Asher that deftly touches on the same themes of truth, guilt, and redemption that made Thirteen Reasons Why a beloved bestseller.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Thoughts:

I am so excited for this Pied Piper retelling! I love Jay Asher’s books, and I have very high hopes for this one. I am interested in Piper’s secret dark side and the mystery that I’m sure will surround his character. This is also a graphic novel, which I don’t read too often, so this is a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of style. I can’t wait for this book to come out this fall, and I’m sure that I will be impressed.

ARC Review: Internet Famous by Danika Stone

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Internet Famous
Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Since Internet Famous is the second book I have read by Danika Stone, I had an idea of what to expect. I definitely wasn’t disappointed in this story of a blogger who is struggling with an internet troll. The main character is warmhearted and relatable, and there are actually serious topics discussed in the story. This is a cute and quick read that is perfect for the summer.

This book is all about the life a teen blogger who a huge fanbase. She makes online friends who later become real life friends, but her fame isn’t all sunshine. Madi finds herself getting harassed by an internet troll who is capable of ruining her life, online and offline. Throughout the book, there are text messages, Tumblr posts, tweets, and Snapchats, which I found to be so entertaining. If you are a fan of fandom and internet books, especially Dankia Stone’s previous book, All the Feels, you will definitely enjoy Internet Famous.

I really enjoyed Madi’s character. She is a diligent blogger, a strong online student. and just so relatable. Madi is so caring towards her dad and her autistic sister, and is able to handle a situation when things go wrong. I loved her awkwardness and compassion, and she seemed so real to me. One of my favourite things about Madi is the fact that she actually acts like a teenager. I hate it when a YA character sounds like an old lady, so I’m glad that this book avoided that.

While Internet Famous seems like a light and fluffy read, there are actually serious topics discussed in the book. Cyberbullying plays a big part in this story, and it is so important to understand how to deal with an internet troll when it gets serious. Also, the main character’s sister has autism, and I feel like this book does a good job of portraying the importance of routine and what it is like if drastic changes occur. This book has the perfect balance of sweet and significant content, which I absolutely adored.

Internet Famous is the story of a teen blogger who is awkward and caring. It perfectly balances fluff and important topics, which I admired. I would recommend this to those looking for a good, current read this summer.

Friday Reads #11: The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

Friday

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

32875348Summary (from Goodreads): Five teens embark on a summer of vigilante good samaritanism in a novel that’s part The Breakfast Club, part The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and utterly captivating.

Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.

Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie’s summer changes for the better when she’s introduced to other “hometown heroes.” These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact?

This rich and thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, and wisdom.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

I have just started this one, but I am loving how positive it is! It tells the story of a group of heroes who team up to do good deeds. I can already tell that I am going to enjoy this book. I can’t wait to keep reading and see who The Unlikelies save next!

Book Beginning:

A few minutes after the incident, I noticed a tuft of dune grass stuck to a discarded strawberry crate.

Friday 56:

We tried to agree on a movie. But that never happened. So we went back to troll-slamming. It was addicting.

ARC Review: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

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I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Once and for All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

I have only recently discovered Sarah Dessen’s books, but I have enjoyed each one that I have picked up. I had high hopes for this one, and I can safely say that I was not let down. This book tells the story of a wedding planner’s daughter and contains a main character who is a real thinker. There are many flashbacks throughout the book, which add a lot of anticipation. Once and for All is a cutesy yet serious book that I am sure will appeal to everyone.

One of the main things that drew me to this book is the originality. The main character is the daughter of a wedding planner, but doesn’t believe in true love herself. I found all the behind-the-scenes wedding aspects to be so fascinating, and I learned that I would never be able to handle the stress of a job like this. The plot thickens as an arrogant rich boy is recruited to work for the wedding company, and I loved the comedic conversations he and the main character have. The way that the staff always predict how long the newlyweds’ marriage will last was also very entertaining. This book is cute and amusing, perfect for the beach.

Louna is a character with such a complex backstory that I wasn’t expecting when the book first began. She is so developed, and I really enjoyed how she is always up for a challenge. Louna is respectful, hardworking, and a great problem-solver, which comes in handy when brides freak out. I found her character to be the perfect narrator for a book like this, and she brought a lot of heart to the book.

I really enjoyed the use of flashbacks in this book. It’s kind of hard to describe without spoiling, but the bit of suspense added to the story really gripped me. This book is a bit slow-paced, so it takes a while to get to the big reveal, so it does kind of lose its thunder. However, I still liked being transported back to Louna’s past for an explanation of her actions.

Once and for All is an adorable contemporary with wedding planning aspects and a logical main character. I loved the use of flashbacks and the suspense that came with them. Whether you are a new or longtime Dessen fan, this book will not disappoint!