Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Midnight Jewel
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: The Glittering Court (Book 2)
Publication: Razorbill (June 27, 2017)

Description: Mira is not like the other Glittering Court girls. She is a war refugee, cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where she has learned to fight against the many injustices around her. For some, the Glittering Court offers a chance at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. But for Mira, it’s simply a means to an end. In the new world, she plans to earn off her marriage contract price, and finally be free.

Mira pitches herself as an asset to one of the passengers on board the ship: the sardonic and aloof Grant Elliot, whom she’s discovered is a spy for the prestigious McGraw Agency—and her ticket to buying her freedom. His cover blown, Grant has little choice but to take her on. Mira applies herself by day, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity. By night, she dons a mask and slips into the city, fighting injustice and corruption on her own terms—and impressing Grant with her extraordinary abilities and insights into a brewing rebellion. But the rebellion isn’t all they’re fighting…

Neither of them can ignore the attraction burning between them—an attraction so powerful, it threatens to unravel everything Mira’s worked so hard for. With freedom finally within her grasp, can Mira risk it all for love?

My Thoughts: Mira has a good reason for joining the Glittering Court. It is not only for a chance of a good marriage like most of the other girls. As a refugee cast out of her home country and facing prejudice in her new, travel to a new land would give her a chance for a new beginning. It would also give her a chance to find and free her brother who was sold into bondage. However, marriage looks like it is the only way that she will ever earn enough money to accomplish her goals.

She notices one of the men on board the ship with her. She recognizes him as a man she has seen hanging around the school. She learns that he is good at disguises and works as an agent for the prestigious McGraw Agency who is investigating a complicated conspiracy in the new world. She pitches her ability to go where he can't and to spy for him in exchange for some of the gold she needs. But she also finds Grant Elliott to a be fascinating, though very annoying, man who threatens to ruin her plans for a loveless but lucrative marriage.

When she arrives, she continues spying for Grant but she also connects with Tom Shortsleeves who is a land pirate in the new world. He also offers her gold for her assistance with is plans. She is conflicted but sees that him as a sort of Robin Hood who steals from the rich and helps the poor in the new lawless colony where she lives.

This was an engaging fantasy romance. It is the companion to The Glittering Court which tells the same story from the viewpoint of one of the other girls who traveled as part of the Glittering Court. I am hoping that there is a third story focusing on the third of the girls who were roommates at the Glittering Court because Tamsin was an important character in each of the first two books.

Fans of fantasy, adventure and romance will enjoy this series.

Favorite Quote:
What would she say if she knew that I'd been breaking into the home of a respected citizen last night? That I'd kissed a man inside a tavern of ill repute? That said man was a spy with a dangerous past and an infuriating personality?
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

ARC Review: Stolen Secrets by L. B. Schulman

Stolen Secrets
Author: L. B. Schulman
Publication: Boyds Mills Press (September 19, 2017)

Description: After an abrupt move across the country to San Francisco, sixteen-year-old Livvy is shocked to find that her mother has lied to her. Instead of looking for work at a bakery, her mom is taking care of Adelle, Livvy’s grandmother, who Livvy thought was long dead. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, Adelle shouts out startling details, mistakes her own name, and seems to relive moments that may have taken place in a concentration camp. When Livvy and her new friend Franklin D. find journal entries from the Holocaust in Adelle’s home, Livvy begins to suspect that her grandmother may have a shocking link to a notable figure -- Anne Frank.

My Thoughts: This is a contemporary story filled with family secrets. Livvy is just about to start her junior year in Vermont with her friends when her mother packs them up and heads off to San Francisco. Her mom has told her that she was laid off and is going to get a job as a pastry chef in San Francisco. But Livvy learns that she is really going to be taking care of her mother who has Alzheimer's. Livvy had been told that her grandmother was dead.

Livvy's mother Gretchen hadn't seen her mother since she was in college. She hates her mother and wouldn't be taking care of her now except that she wants an inheritance from her mother. Gretchen is an alcoholic who has been sober for five years but the stress of caring for her mother Adelle has caused her to begin drinking again. Livvy wants to get to know her grandmother but Alzheimer's makes it difficult.

Livvy makes a new friend at school named Franklin D. He is the one who is persistent about making her his friend since she is still hoping that she'll be able to resume her life in Vermont in a short time. Franklin D. is an interesting character who is Jewish, has a great relationship with his parents, is bright, and has no filter between things going through his brain and then out his mouth. Livvy needs that kind of person in her life.

The story gains more complications when some of the things Adelle says lead Livvy and Franklin D. to believe that she was in Bergen-Belsen and might have known Anne Frank. The Anne Frank connection is also of interest to Vickie who is Adelle's other caretaker and who has primary responsibility for her while Gretchen is back in Vermont for another try at rehab.

This was an interesting and engaging story about how secrets can be hard on relationships. I disliked Gretchen because her alcoholism has made Livvy an adult before she should have had to become one. I liked that Franklin D. helped her become more comfortable with herself and with her own quirks.

Favorite Quote:
He frowned. "I lay it all on the line so everyone knows who I really am."

"I'm sorry. I have no idea why I said that. I guess I'm not used to talking so much about personal stuff."

"You should try it more often. It takes the guesswork out of communication." His face smoothed out into a smile.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

ARC Review: A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

A Poison Dark and Drowning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire (Book 2)
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 19, 2017)

Description: The magicians want her to lead.
The sorcerers want her to lie.
The demons want her blood.
Henrietta wants to save the one she loves.
But will his dark magic be her undoing?

In this seductive and explosive second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, Jessica Cluess delivers her signature mix of magic, passion, and teen warriors fighting for survival. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him as he begins to master dark powers of his own. So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and discover that some old wounds are still full of poison.

My Thoughts: This is the middle book in a trilogy. Henrietta has been confirmed as a sorcerer but is still studying magic on the side. She knows that she isn't the prophesied Chosen who will finally defeat the Ancients but it is being kept secret from most of the sorcerers. When they learn of a cache of weapons that may defeat the Ancients who are trying to conquer Britain, she goes to find them along with Blackwood, Magnus and other of her colleagues. They are forced to make a deal with Mab, the faerie queen, to travel there. There they also meet Maria who is hiding the fact that she is a powerful witch.

Things are getting dire. Rook is losing his battle to stay human and is being consumed by shadows. Henrietta learns a secret about Rh'lem who is the leader of the Ancients and she learns more about the past that involved her father, Blackwood's father, and her magician teacher Mickelmas.

Henrietta is a boy magnet and her various relationships play in the plot of this story. She loves Rook who was her childhood friend and has promised to marry him despite their very different social classes and that he is unclean because he was bitten by a familiar. But she is in danger of losing him to his injuries as he turns into an evil shadow creature. Her fellow sorcerer Magnus has fallen for her but she rebuffed him which has altered their friendship. And Blackwood has fallen in love with her and shared his family secrets.

It will be interesting to see how the story plays out in the final book of the trilogy.

Favorite Quote:
I didn't argue. He was the Imperator, after all. I would train, and I would fight. But no one could stop what I read in my spare time. And if I happened to find something useful? Well, better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

Making trouble was becoming a regular habit, it seemed.
I received this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ARC Review: Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Author: Kelly Jones
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 19, 2017)

Description: Fans of Patrice Kindl’s Keeping the Castle or Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia will adore this funny Regency-era mystery about a determined young woman with a magical trick up her sleeve . . .

The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?

My Thoughts: I like historical mysteries, the Regency time period, and magic which made this book a no-brainer choice for me. The story begins when 16-year-old Annis Whitworth learns that her father has died in France. When her father's man of business arrives to tell Annis and her Aunt Cassia about the death, he also tells them that her father died penniless. Annis and Aunt Cassia are looking at a major life change!

Her aunt is determined that the two look for work as governesses or companions but Annis has a different plan: she wants to be a spy for England. After all, she has figured out that her father was one and she has deciphered some clues that were in his effects that the War Office needs to know. However, the War Office doesn't need a teenage lady to work for them.

Annis falls back on her plan two. While remaking ready-made mourning clothes for herself and her aunt, she discovers that she is a glamour mage who is able to change the appearance of things by sewing them. Besides making clothing more fashionable and flattering, she can also make clothes that disguise the wearer as someone else. She is certain that that skill will be useful to the War Office but she is rebuffed again.

She and her aunt, along with their new maid Millicent O'Leary, move to a small town where Annis disguises herself as a French widow Madame Martine who is an extraordinary fashionable dressmaker. Annis is determined to earn enough for them all to resume their fashionable and upper class lives.

Annis and Millicent face a number of dangers. There are the men wearing navy boots who are pursuing them. There is the upper class villain who attempted to rape Millicent and whose sister took his side losing Millicent her job.

This was an engaging story. I liked Annis despite the fact that she was more than a little naive. She had plenty of determination. Fans of historical mysteries with some magic will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
Perhaps the War Office recruited young gentlemen whose families had such abrupt changes in fortune. Why had they not yet thought to recruit young ladies? I filed it away under a listing titled Arguments to Have with Mr. Smith, as Soon as Convenient.
I received this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 11, 2017

ARC Review: The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner

The Exact Location of Home
Author: Kate Messner
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (September 12, 2017)

Description: Kirby "Zig" Zigonski lives for the world of simple circuits, light bulbs, buzzers, and motors. Electronics are, after all, much more predictable than most people--especially his father, who he hasn't seen in over a year. When his dad's latest visit is canceled with no explanation and his mom seems to be hiding something, Zig turns to his best friend Gianna and a new gizmo--a garage sale GPS unit--for help. Convinced that his dad is leaving clues around town to explain his absence, Zig sets out to find him. Following one clue after another, logging mile after mile, Zig soon discovers that people aren't always what they seem . . . and sometimes, there's more than one set of coordinates for home.

An important story of love and hope that will capture readers' hearts, The Exact Location of Home is another must read from beloved author Kate Messner.

My Thoughts: Zig is an eighth grader and science nerd. He lives with his mother who is studying to become a nurse and always looks forward to visits from his father. His father always has interesting surprises but his father is also very unreliable. He keeps getting Zig's hopes up and cancelling on him.

Things are not going well for Zig and his mom since his dad has also stopped sending child support. They are a couple of months behind on their rent and are going to be evicted. Zig can't understand why his mother won't contact his dad for help. He feels certain that she is keeping secrets from him.

Zig has a couple of good friends Ruby and Gianna. They spend time together going to rummage sales. Zig is always looking for electronics. He hits the jackpot at one sale when a widow is selling some of her husbands projects which include a GPS unit. The kids know about geocaching because they learned about it in science class. When they decide to give geocaching a try, Zip discovers a cacher named Senior Searcher and become convinced that it is his father who is Senior Searcher.

Zig decides to find Senior Searcher and convinces his friends to help him. They have a number of adventures finding the caches. Zig becomes sort of obsessed with the search as the rest of his life falls apart. He and his mom are evicted and find themselves living in a shelter after a couple of days living in their car. There he meets another woman and her son Scoop who are also homeless after fleeing an abusive husband and father.

His obsession with finding his father and his lack of home are causing problems at school. It is hard to do his homework in the shelter and he often doesn't have school supplies. Seeing the different ways teachers helped or hindered him was interesting. His social studies teacher was big on doing community service to help the "unfortunate" but she didn't seem to realize that she could have some homeless kids sitting in the desks in front of her. Meanwhile, the librarian just quietly helped by leaving pencils and paper out for Zig to use without asking if he needed them.

I also really liked the references to LIBRARY LION by Michelle Knutson. It was Scoop's favorite book and he often begged to have it read to him. It is one of my favorite books too. I always loved reading it to my students. I liked the lessons that both Zig and Scoop got from the book: sometimes people do change as Mr. McBee did and sometimes home isn't exactly what you might think it is.

This was an excellent, engaging story.

Favorite Quote:
"It's good. Do you want a big ending that ties everything together?"

"I have that," he says. He looks at his paper again. "Friends help." He looks up a me. "Don't you think that's big?"

"Actually, yeah." I guess I do.
I received this one for review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin

Refuge for Masterminds 
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Series: Stranje House (Book 3)
Publication: Tor Teen (May 23, 2017)

Description: It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war….

Napoleon’s invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Janefor, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind.

Jane doesn’t consider herself a mastermind. It’s just that she tends to grasp the facts of a situation quickly, and by so doing, she’s able to devise and implement a sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Fans of genre-blending, romance, and action will love this Regency-era alternate history novel filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and dastardly villains―the third in the Stranje House series. Don’t miss the first two books: A School for Unusual Girls and Exile for Dreamers.

My Thoughts: This is Lady Jane's story. Lady Jane was sent to Stranje house by her older brothers after her parents' deaths. She thinks of herself as plain and average and can't figure out why her friends love her. However, she is being groomed to be a mastermind since she has a strong ability to plan and think three or four steps ahead of everyone. This comes in quite handy since the young ladies of Stranje House and the patronesses of British society are all spies trying to keep Napoleon from conquering England in this alternate history story.

Lady Jane also has a secret that she has been keeping since just before her parents died. This secret makes her believe that she needs to stay away from London and society or face changes she doesn't want in her life.

Lady Jane is also falling in love with inventor Alexander Sinclair who is a brash American who has developed a working steam boat which could alter the course of the war but only if they can get the prototype to London and the Navy before it is captured by the evil Lady Daneska and her partner the Ghost.

The banter between Jane and Alexander was entertaining as the two sparred. I liked the relationships between the girls at Stranje House. They have become the family that Jane never had since hers were dissolute gamesters who never valued her.

Fans of alternate history and intrepid young women will enjoy this third book in the Stranje House series.

Favorite Quote:
Lady Castlereagh laces her hands across her broad middle and taps one finger. "I suppose you think it's a trifle too soon?"

"I thought it best you meet her first." Miss Stranje joins them as they close ranks around me, speaking of me as if I'm not staring straight into their faces.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

ARC Review: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Author: Scott Reintgen
Series: Nyxia Triad
Publication: Crown Books for Young Readers (September 12, 2017)

Description: Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. This is the first in a new three-book series called the Nyxia Triad that will take a group of broken teens to the far reaches of the universe and force them to decide what they’re willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune.

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

My Thoughts: NYXIA is the first book in an epic space adventure. Emmett Atwater is one of ten poor kids from Earth who are given the chance to compete for a place on the team that will be going to Eden. He's black and from Detroit where he lives with his factory worker dad and sick mother who is in need of a kidney transplant. Winning a place on the team that goes down to the planet to mine nyxia will make his family financially set for life and will cure his mother. He has every incentive to do well. But so do all the other candidates...

The book tells of the many competitions that the kids need to win and tells about the rivalries and alliances that form between them. They are taught to fight and taught to manipulate nyxia. Emmett's best friend is Kaya who is a strategic genius. She encourages him to explore the spaceship with her because both kids are sure that secrets are being kept about the goals of the mission and other things too. When tragedy strikes, Emmett has to focus even more on making the team and getting down to Eden. The competitions all seem to be manipulating the kids to mold them into what the corporation wants and Emmett struggles to maintain his own values.

The competition gets even more tense when they learn that there is another team also competing for a place on the trip down to Eden and that only fifteen of the 20 kids will get to go. Because Emmett had been sidelined with an injury for a while and hasn't found a way to make up the points, he is on the bubble. He knows that in order for him to win a place a good friend and good person on his team will have to lose.

This was an entertaining story that was filled with action and lots of moral dilemmas too. I am eager to read the next books to find out what happens when the teams reach Eden.

Favorite Quote:
I learned our history in parables, stories of warning. My great-grandfather's restaurant got railroaded by a new interstate project. The government took the land out of his clenched fists and gave him just enough money to try to fail in a neighboring county. My own gramps gave up his scholarship to Michigan after his mother died. He could have been All-American, but he got a factory job and looked after his brothers and sisters instead. In every branch of our family tree, someone's brushed shoulders with real freedom. But there's always a catch in life. There's always some fine print that snatched dreams just before they were real enough to hold in our hands.
I received this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 4, 2017

ARC Review: The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Series: Great Shelby Holmes (Book 2)
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (September 12, 2017)

Description: The Great Shelby Holmes may have finally met her match in this humorous sequel to Elizabeth Eulberg's fresh twist on Sherlock Holmes.

Being friends with a super sleuth isn't easy, especially when she's nine years old and four feet tall, and full of attitude. But for eleven-year-old aspiring writer John Watson, being friends with Shelby Holmes is just the adventure he's looking for.

In the few weeks since moving to Harlem with his mom, Shelby has been training John in the art of observation-a skill that comes in handy on the first day of school. John's new teacher, Mr. Crosby, is acting suspiciously, and Shelby knows this is a mystery worth investigating. But as Shelby and John dig deeper, they discover that there may be someone unexpected involved--someone who may have Shelby beat.

My Thoughts: In this retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story, Sherlock is Shelby, a nine-year-old genius who has been skipped two grades. Dr. Watson is John Watson her eleven-year-old sidekick. both attend a school for the arts in Harlem where John is focusing on writing. Like Dr. Watson, John tells the stories of Shelby's adventures but his medium is an online journal that is also a requirement of his creative writing class.

Shelby and John met only recently when he and his mother moved into the apartment house were the Holmes family lives. Shelby was John's first New York friend. Even though Shelby doesn't feel that she needs friends, John is a good friend to her. He helps her connect with other kids who tend to avoid her otherwise.

This case has to do with a suspicious new science teacher at their school. Shelby's investigations lead her to the conclusion that he has lost his grandfather's watch. Following the clues leads to the school that heavily recruited first grader Shelby and was the school where the teacher worked previously. There John and Shelby run into this story's Moriarty in the person of Moira who is jealous of the attention paid to Shelby and who is determined to outsmart her.

The story has appropriate danger for a middle grade mystery that is made more timely by the fact that John is a diabetic. One plot point has them locked in a boiler room and John suffering a blood sugar crash.

I found Shelby as annoying as most of the people around her do and appreciated John's attempts to socialize her. I liked the friendship that the two of them develop. I am eager to read more adventures for Shelby and John.

Favorite Quote:
Shelby pointed her finger at me. "There's something off about him. He looks at me in a weird way."

WHO DOESN'T? I wanted to ask, but I bit my tongue. But seriously? I'd seen nothing but weird looks for Shelby from kids and teachers today.
I received this review copy from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Book Review: The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye
Author: Nancy Springer
Series: Enola Holmes (Book 6)
Publication: Puffin Books (May 8, 2010)

Description: As Enola searches for the missing Lady Blanchefleur del Campo, she discovers that her brother Sherlock is just as diligently searching for Enola herself -- and this time he really needs to catch her! He is in possession of a most peculiar package, a message from their long-lost mother that only Enola can decipher. Sherlock, along with their brother Mycroft, must follow Enola into the reeking tunnels of London's dark underbelly as they solve a triple mystery: What has happened to their mother? And to Lady Blanchefleur? And what does either have to do with Mycroft, who holds Enola's future in his ever so-proper hands?

No one, not even Sherlock, is left unchanged or unsurprised in this brilliant conclusion to the Enola Holmes mystery series.

My Thoughts: This final Enola Holmes mystery finally answers the question that has been hovering beneath all the other stories: where is Enola's mother? It also has Enola looking for Lady Blanchefleur del Campo who disappeared one day into London's new underground.

Sherlock is also looking for Enola but, this time, it is because a strange package has been delivered to their family home for her. Sherlock has moderated his goal for Enola too. After being educated by Florence Nightingale in the previous book about the horrors of proper boarding schools, he is rethinking his plans for Enola's future. However, Mycroft is the one with legal authority over Enola and his thinking about her future hasn't changed.

Again this book has a cipher that has to be decoded, disguises aplenty, and lots of adventure in Victorian England. It also has a maturing Enola and a new relationship for her with her much older brothers.

This was a satisfying conclusion to an excellent historical mystery series.

Favorite Quote:
"Ye gods with bunions!" I exploded, suddenly furious, although not at the unfortunate lady. I glared across her supine, shorn, and deformed body at my brothers. "I am sure she was sent to the very best boarding schools, Mycroft!"

"What on Earth --"

"Her poor waist, compressed to the extent that her personage has..." I could not remember the word atrophied, and this made me even angrier. "All her strength given up to fashion, so that now she cannot sit, stand, or walk unless unless she is encased in one of those infernal devices of torture!"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

State of the Stack (September 1, 2017)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on or near the first of the month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet I list them in publication order and sort them by month. I can quickly see how many books I have for each date. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books. Check my spreadsheet to find out where I got each book.

I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full.

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit.

My Review Pile

Osiris by Eric C. Anderson (Sept. 12)
Her Last Goodbye by Melinda Leigh (Sept. 26)
 Satellite by Nick Lake (Oct. 3)
Ally by Anna Banks (Oct. 3)
Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush (Oct. 3)
 The Wicked Billionaire by Jackie Ashenden (Oct. 3)
The Breathless by Tara Goedjen (Oct. 10)
Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Oct. 10)
 Death Overdue by Allison Brook (Oct. 10)
A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron (Oct. 10)
The Innocence Treatment by Ari Goelman (Oct. 17)
Mind Game by Iris Johansen (Oct. 24)
The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (Oct. 31)

 Unholy City by Carrie Smith (Nov. 7)
Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan (Nov. 7)
City of Lies by Victoria Thompson (Nov. 7)
Death at the Emerald by R. J. Koreto (Nov. 7)
A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford (Nov. 7)
Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda (Nov. 14)

 Rugged Texas Cowboy by Lora Leigh (Dec. 5)
Bury the Past by James L'Etoile (Dec. 12)
A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert (Dec. 12)
A Case of Syrah, Syrah by Nancy J. Parra (Dec. 12)

Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley (Jan. 2)
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner (Jan. 9)
A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (Jan. 16)

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg (Sept. 4)
  2. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee (August 8)
  3. Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (Sept. 6)
  4. Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany (Sept. 7) 
  5. All the Secret Places by Anna Carlisle (Sept. 9) 
  6. The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner (Sept. 11)
  7. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (Sept. 13) 
  8. The Last Move by Mary Burton (Sept. 13) 
  9. Archangel's Viper by Nalini Singh (Sept. 21) 
  10. A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess (Sept. 15) 
  11. Stolen Secrets by L. B. Schulman (Sept. 18) 
  12. Find Me by Tiffany Snow (Sept. 20)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody (August 2) 
  2. Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima (August 3) 
  3. Dead Man's Bridge by Robert J. Mrazek (August 5) 
  4. Among the Dead by J. R. Backlund (August 10)
  5. Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis (August 24)
  6. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (August 25) 
  7. A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas (August 26)
  8. The Bronze Skies by Catherine Asaro (August 30)
  9. On the Chase by Katie Ruggle (August 31)
  10. Her Dark Half by Paige Tyler (Sept. 2)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses.
  1. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee (August 8)
  2. Her Last Goodbye by Melinda Leigh (Sept. 26)
  3. Find Me by Tiffany Snow (Sept. 19)
  4. The Last Move by Mary Burton (Sept. 19)
  5. Osiris by Eric C. Anderson (Sept. 12)
  6. Rugged Texas Cowboy by Lora Leigh (Dec. 5)
  7. Bury the Past by James L'Etoile (Dec. 12) 
  8. A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert (Dec. 12)
  9. A Case of Syrah, Syrah by Nancy J. Parra (Dec. 12)
  10. Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda (Nov. 14)
Next Month's Plan

I am keeping about 3 - 4 weeks ahead reading, reviewing, and scheduling my review posts. I try to read my review books first each month and then fit books from my TBR mountain in the remaining spaces. Some months (like October) don't have a lot of open spaces even though I do between 4 and 6 reviews a week. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Traitor to the Throne
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands (Book 2)
Publication: Viking Books for Young Readers (March 7, 2017)

Description: Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she's fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan's palace—she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she's a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she's been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

Rebel of the Sands was a New York Times bestseller, published in fifteen countries and the recipient of four starred reviews and multiple accolades, with film rights optioned by Willow Smith. And its sequel is even better.

My Thoughts: This book follows REBEL OF THE SANDS and ramps up the excitement to an even higher pitch than the first book. Amani is a Demdji - half immortal djinni - and a revolutionary. After leaving her dead end town she took up with a couple of rebel princes who were trying to overthrow their tyrannical father.

Demadji have powers as a result of their djinni fathers. Amani can control the desert sands. She is also an exceptional marksman and goes by the name of the Blue-Eyed Bandit. When she is kidnapped by her aunt and sold to the Sultan, she finds herself even deeper in the plots and politics of the kingdom.

Confined to the harem and cut off from her magic, Amani needs to find another way to survive and escape. But as she gets to know the Sultan, she begins to wonder if she is on the correct side of this revolution.

This story has wonderful characters and is set in an intriguing magical world. There is romance, friendship, and betrayals aplenty in this exciting story. I liked the chapters that were written like stories that told of these characters as long-ago heroes while the other chapters had the characters in all their humanity and faults actually doing what the story chapters romanticized and sanitized.

Amani is a wonderful character. She is loyal, courageous and more than a little reckless. I liked her romance with Jin which went through its ups and downs in this book since they kept losing each other.

I can't wait for HERO AT THE FALL to find out how everything works out for Amani and her friends.

Favorite Quote:
I had a plan. Well, plan might be a strong word. Shazad was the plan maker between the two of us. This was more like the beginning of an idea that I was hoping wouldn't get me killed. Which was more my style.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
Author: Nancy Springer
Series: Enola Holmes (Book 5)
Publication: Puffin Books (February 21, 2009)

Description: Enola's landlady, Mrs. Tupper, is the closest thing Enola has to family these days, besides her occasional run-ins with her brother Sherlock. Even though Mrs. Tupper is nearly deaf and can barely cook, she's an endearing presence as Enola longs for her absent mother. So imagine her horror when Enola comes home to find Mrs. Tupper kidnapped! Who would take her, and why? And what does Florence Nightingale have to do with it?

From the master of mystery Nancy Springer, here's another absorbing adventure for our award-winning, unstoppable heroine, Enola Holmes.

My Thoughts: Enola finds herself in the middle of a new case when her landlady is kidnapped. Mrs. Tupper is deaf and is a horrible cook but she is the nearest thing Enola has in the way of family now that her mother has disappeared and her brothers are too eager to plan her life for her to want to have anything to do with them.

The seeds of this mystery were sown during the Crimean War when Mrs. Tupper was there with her husband who was selling things to the soldiers. Her husband caught one of the many illnesses rampant in the area and was in a hospital where Florence Nightingale was nursing. After her husband's death, Miss Nightingale arranged for Mrs. Tupper to return to England.

Now someone is quite interested in something that Mrs. Tupper inadvertently carried back home with her. Enola has to discover what Mrs. Tupper had, contact Florence Nightingale, discover her missing landlady and stay away from her brother Sherlock who is also on the case.

This was another excellent middle grade mystery with codes, disguises, daring deeds and all sorts of adventure set in Victorian England.

Favorite Quote:
A shock of revelation appropriately electric in nature coursed through me, jolting me to a halt. "Ye gods in holy stockings,"I cried out loud. "Morse code."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 25, 2017

ARC Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Publication: Sourcebooks Fire (August 29, 2017)

Description: Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

My Thoughts: Sallet Leon is an orphan and one of the few survivors of her people. Sal makes a living as a thief but when the opportunity arises to try out for a position on the Queen's Left Hand, Sal sees an opportunity to finally get revenge on those who let the shadows loose in her country.

Becoming one of the Queen's Left Hand isn't an easy task. Since Sal was not invited to the competition, it is necessary to prove competence. Sal does that by assassinating the man who is the boss in the gang of thieves. Sal then carries his hand to the city as proof of competence. Sal is chosen as the twenty-third competitor. Now all that has to happen is that all the others die. They prove their worth by killing each other and not falling under suspicion of doing so.

Sal has a couple of allies. Maud is the attendant assigned to take care of Sal. Maud is ambitious. If Sal wins, she will get an advanced position and the she will have enough money to buy her younger siblings from an orphanage before they are sold off to be servants. Sal's other ally is Elise who is a member of the Erland -- those who Sal blames for the death of his/her people. But Elise helps Sal learn to read and write and they flirt and fall in love.

The descriptions of the training and things Sal does to finally get to the position of Opal are somewhat graphic. The story is filled with action. It is also interesting to watch Sal's growth from someone who worships the Queen because she defeated the mages and shadows that killed Sal's home to someone who recognizes that the Queen is human and as prone to error as anyone else.

One of the most intriguing things about this story is that Sal is gender fluid. Sal wants to be addressed by the pronoun that matches his/her appearance. She/he respects those who realize that and has disdain for those who don't.

This was an entertaining fantasy with an intriguing main character. The world building was interesting and the political intrigue nicely twisty.

Favorite Quote:
"Address me however I look." I was both. I was neither. I was everything, but that wasn't exactly a friendly conversation between strangers trying to kill each other. Least he asked nicely. "Why are you talking about me?"
I received this one for review from . You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Book Review: The Pearl Wars by Nick James

The Pearl Wars
Author: Nick James
Series: Skyship Academy, Book 1
Publication: Flux; Original edition (September 8, 2011)

Description: A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers -- political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere -- and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable -- and dangerous -- abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.

Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

My Thoughts: This story is a science fiction dystopia. It features a corrupt earth government, Skyships of rebels, and aliens. In this future when the United States has been devastated by something and retaliated by nuking any perceived enemies, surface dwellers are divided into fringers and the residents of some protected cities. These cities are powered by pearls that fall from the sky and have enough energy to keep the cities going.

The main characters are Jesse Fisher who has been raised on one of the skyships and is supposed to be training as one of the agents who are spies and soldiers. He's more interested in going to one of the other cities as soon as he turns eighteen. The other main character is Cassius Stevenson who has been raised on Earth under the control of the mysterious Madame who goal is to bring down the skyships.

The boys first meet on earth in one of the abandoned cities when both are looking for a fallen pearl. When they touch each other something strange happens to each of them. Jesse develops the ability to call the pearls to him and to cause them to explode. Cassius gains the ability to explode spewing fire all around him. Cassius has no control over this ability but Madame says that she has the cure if only he goes to skyship academy and brings her Jesse.

Jesse has plans of his own and wants to get to Seattle to find out about his mysterious past. This story is filled with action as both boys find themselves on Earth and making their way to Seattle. This is the first book in a series. I'll be reading more to find out more about Jesse and Cassius.

Favorite Quote:
I bow my head, getting lost in the Pearl energy, and try to convince myself the everything's fine. But I can't ignore the cruisers back in Lenbrg, or Cassius's grim determination to fine me. This isn't just some fancy scavenger hunt amidst the ruins. There are weapons involved. Armies.

I should be worried. I should be mass worried.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan
Author: Nancy Springer
Series: Enola Holmes (Book 4)
Publication: Puffin Books (September 18, 2008)

Description: Enola is thrown into a tailspin when she receives a desperate message from her old friend, Lady Cecily. Enola knows she must help her friend before it's too late - but she doesn't know how! This complicated case has Enola hunting down clues all over London until she finally discovers the awful truth: Lady Cecily is being held prisoner! Enola must risk her own freedom and join forces with her brother, the famed Sherlock Holmes, to free Cecily. Can Enola trust her brother, and can they save Cecily in time?

My Thoughts: Enola stumbles onto Lady Cecily in a public lady's restroom and sees that she is in distress. Lady Cecily uses her pink fan - which doesn't at all match her trendy outfit - to send Enola a plea for help. However, before Enola can follow her, she runs into her brother Mycroft - literally, runs into him. She manages to escape him but loses track of Lady Cecily and is at a loss as to how to find her and help her.

Lady Cecily has managed to leave the fan with Enola who deciphers a clue written in code and with invisible ink but the clue is cut short and doesn't give Enola enough information. However, the fan itself does once she tracks down the source of it.

While doing investigating, she stumbles on and rescues her brother Sherlock who has been put on the case by Lady Cecily's mother. They agree to a truce: she'll help him if he doesn't try to catch her and send her to a proper boarding school to be turned into a proper young lady.

The story was exciting and filled with codes, disguises, and various villains who want to force Lady Cecily into an arranged marriage. It takes Sherlock and Enola working together to rescue Cecily. I liked that Sherlock seems to be on her side at the end of this one rather than Mycroft's. I also liked that she is coming to betters terms with the way her mother abandoned her.

Fans of the series won't want to miss this episode but it wouldn't be a good place for a beginner to enter the series. I would recommend starting at the beginning to really get to know Enola and follow her adventures.

Favorite Quote:
"Enola, come here! I'll not leave without you."

He quite meant it, I could tell, as indeed I should have realized all along, for Sherlock Holmes was a true gentleman -- that is to say, incapable of sensible behaviour under such circumstances.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: The Case of the Bizarre Boquets by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
Author: Nancy Springer
Series: Enola Holmes (Book 3)
Publication: Puffin Books (January 31, 2008)

Description: Everyone knows Dr. Watson is Sherlock Holmes's right-hand man -- so when he goes missing, it's a shock. Even Sherlock hasn't the slightest clue as to where he could be. Enola is intrigued but wary; she's still hiding from her older brothers, and getting involved could prove to be disastrous. But Enola can't help but investigate, especially when she learns that a bizarre bouquet -- with flowers all symbolizing death -- has been delivered to the Watson residence. Enola knows she must act quickly, but can she find Dr. Watson in time?

My Thoughts: In this third Enola Holmes middle grade mystery, Enola is hunting for a missing Dr. Watson. Of course, she also has to keep herself hidden from her older brothers Mycroft and Sherlock so that they won't be able to force her into the mold of a proper Victorian young lady.

This mystery plays into Enola's strengths as she gets one major clue in the form of a bouquet of flowers delivered to Mrs. Watson in the aftermath of Dr. Watson's disappearance. The language of flowers is one that many young women of her social class are quite familiar with. In fact, she and her mother sometimes communicate in it when sending messages to each other via the Personals columns of London newspapers. But it is a language that is completely foreign to confirmed bachelors like Sherlock and Mycroft.

This story gives a really good look at the way London was in 1898 with the vast gulf between the rich and the poor. It also says a lot about the lack of rights for women at the time when it was easier for a man to have his wife committed to an insane asylum than it was to divorce her.

The story has exciting bits as Enola has to elude both her brothers and the villains and winds up climbing over London rooftops. It also has bits where Enola comes to terms with the mother who has abandoned her. Despite her intelligence and independence, I can't help but feel sorry for Enola who longs for a family and people to care about her and who has only an absent mother and brothers with preconceived notions of what would be good for her to fill the gap.

I am eager to read more of Enola's adventures.

Favorite Quote:
Neither of my brothers could accept or understand a woman unattached to some man as wife, daughter or sister.

Both of them dismissed women as beyond the comprehension of logical thought. Neither of them could imaginatively enter the mind of any woman.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
Author: Nancy Springer
Series: An Enola Holmes Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (May 15, 2008)

Description: Sherlock Holmes's sister, Enola, is back on another case!

Enola Holmes is being hunted by the world's most famous detective -- her own brother, Sherlock Holmes. But while she is on the run in the world's biggest, darkest, dirtiest city, she discovers a hidden cache of charcoal drawings and feels as if she is a soul mate to the girl who drew them. But that girl, Lady Cecily, has disappeared without a trace. Braving the midnight streets, Enola must unravel the clues to find this left-handed lady, but in order to save her, Enola risks revealing more than she should. Will she be able to keep her identity a secret and find Lady Cecily, or will the one thing she is trying to save -- her freedom -- be lost forever?

My Thoughts: The Enola Holmes series are wonderful historical mysteries. Enola is the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft and has run away to London to avoid the fate of gently-bred young women in Victorian times. She has no desire to be an ornament to some deserving man and spend her day doing feminine things. She was raised by her mother to be independent and now at age fourteen is on her own in London.

Enola's second case has her looking into the disappearance of another gently-bred young woman. Lady Cecily has disappeared from her home. Her mother and father suspect that she has eloped with a very unsuitable young man who is a clerk in a department store.

Enola looks into Lady Cecily's life and discovers that she has a secret life too. Despite the outward appearance of a perfect Victorian young lady, Enola discovers some hidden charcoal drawings that show Cecily is quite interested in social justice. Enola seeks out Lady Cecily's clerk to see if he knows where she is. Meanwhile, her brother Sherlock is doing his own search for the missing Enola.

The story has wonderful descriptions of Victorian London and the life demanded of a young woman of Enola's class. It also has codes, a mystery, and a heroine who is determined to make her own choices but still filled with an aching loneliness and sense of abandonment. 

Favorite Quote:
When the urge to sketch seized me, I could have drawn Ivy Meshle if I wanted to, or Mum, or Sherlock or Mycroft, or just about anyone I knew except Enola Holmes. My true self I could not quite capture on paper. Odd.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Heart of the Storm by Michael Buckley

Heart of the Storm
Author: Michael Buckley
Series: The Undertow Trilogy (Book 3)
Publication: HMH Books for Young Readers (February 7, 2017)

Description: After seven months as a captive of Minerva, the insane Alpha queen, Lyric Walker has escaped to the surface. Her only goal is to warn the world about the Great Abyss. When she finally arrives back in Coney Island, she discovers a world she never expected, one where humans and Alpha are finally working hand in hand to rebuild the country. But she soon discovers that an old enemy allied with an old friend may kill them all before the monsters get their turn.

Where will Lyric’s loyalties, and her heart, lead her? With nail-biting action and romance, Michael Buckley’s epic trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

My Thoughts: The Undertow Trilogy comes to an amazing conclusion in The Heart of the Storm. Lyric has returned to land after being held captive by the insane Prime Minerva until she managed to kill her and become a very reluctant Prime herself. She gathers some very unlikely allies and encounters a brand new enemy who might just be enough to wipe out everyone if she can do the unthinkable and turn enemies into allies.

Lyric has gone through a major change during the course of this series. From a carefree, live-for-today kind of kid to someone who has to make decisions that will cost and save millions of lives. Luckily, she has her friends especially Bex and a variety of allies. She also has her parents while so many of the other hybrids have lost theirs.

There was a bit of romance in this one but there wasn't time for much between the gathering allies and fighting invaders. Lyric makes the decision that is right for her about her love triangle.

Readers will enjoy this fascinating science fiction/dystopia trilogy and enjoy getting to know Lyric and all the various kinds of beings who come from the sea.

Favorite Quote:
"Yeah, still waiting on that upgrade you promised," I snarl. "Three months late."

"Is that what you think?"

"It's what I know. Oh, wait! It's one of those bogus powers little girls get in movies, you know, the kind where they learn the greatest magic of all is family, or friendship, or was in their hearts all along."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

To Catch a Killer
Author: Sheryl Scarborough
Series: Erin Blake Series (Book 1)
Publication: Tor Teen (February 7, 2017)

Description: Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that 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.

My Thoughts: TO CATCH A KILLER was an entertaining mystery. Erin Blake has an interest in forensics. She has a personal reason for her interest. When she was a toddler, her mother was killed by an unknown assailant leaving Erin to spend three days with her mother's body. She was taken in by her mother's best friend Rachel who has raised her since. But Rachel doesn't want to share any information about Erin's mother and Erin's past and Erin has lots of questions.

Erin's high school biology teacher also has an interest in forensics and agrees to help Erin answer some of her many questions about her past. When Erin drops off some objects to do DNA tests on late one evening, she find her teacher Miss Peters dead in a way that is like her mother's death. She also sees her high school crush Journey running away from the scene.

She pairs up with Journey and her two best friends Lysa and Spam to investigate but she is keeping lots of secrets from them. Her friends are concerned that she might be too obsessive about solving hr mother's and her teacher's deaths.

I liked that each chapter begins with a quotation from Miss Peters or from Erin's uncle Vincent Flemming who is with the FBI and is an expert on forensics. I liked that she finally gets to meet and spend time with her uncle during her investigation.

There was all sorts of interesting information about forensics and collecting evidence to solve crimes. Teens with an interest in crime fighting will enjoy this mystery. I'm hoping that Erin and her friends have more adventures.

Favorite Quote:
I'm pretty sure my interest in Journey is not the same as everyone else's. I'm oblivious to the way the sunlight plays off the caramel streaks in his hair. And I hardly even notice how his thin, white T-shirt clings to his athletic abs.

Okay, that's a lie. I appreciate both of those things. It just that that's not all there is for me. What intrigues me most is how he moves through all those people. He almost makes it look smooth, as though he's completely comfortable in his skin. Almost. But I'm convinced his cool-kid moves are a lie.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.