Doll Bones by Holly Black

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Instead of playing video games or hanging out at the mall, Zach, Poppy, and Alice immerse themselves in an intricate fantasy adventure game that they play using dolls. As Zach gets older, though, his father believes that he should be focusing more on sports and friends than on imaginary games. When Zach finds the entire cast of his game is thrown away, he is distraught, but can’t bring himself to tell his friends the truth. Instead, he tells them that he’s “too old” to play. But, just as Zach believes he is leaving the game behind forever, mysterious messages from the game’s queen, a china doll locked in a glass cabinet, begin to emerge. Suddenly, the trio finds themselves wrapped up in a mystery/adventure that haunted by supernatural forces.

This one has some serious creep-factor when it comes to that doll. Very spooky. It’s also an excellent story of how friendships change as you get older, as well as the pain of growing out of your childhood activities. Though this may sound like a weird book about kids who play with dolls (and it is), it’s also an entertaining adventure read with a surprising twist at the end. Is the doll even real? It’s up to you to decide.

*Newbery Honor, 2014

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Forget Me by K.A. Harrington

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Heartbroken over the accidental death of her boyfriend, Flynn, Morgan attempts to move on from the tragedy by making a memorial post on social media. But, when she uploads a picture of Flynn onto the site, face recognition software attempts to tag Flynn as someone else — someone who looks exactly like Flynn and who is still alive. Now, Morgan has a deadly mystery on her hands. Is this other person Flynn? If so, why did he fake his death? In getting her answers, Morgan uncovers wrenching truths that shatter her perception of reality.

This one can be a bit cheesy at times, but it is an entertaining read — especially if you like mystery/thrillers. Unfortunately, Morgan is YET another character who involves herself in a bad relationship because she believes she can change the other person. Sigh. BUT, her character does evolve and there is enough suspense to keep the story going. If you’re looking for an easy read with some excitement, give this one a try.

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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While Illuminae followed the plight of Kady after her escape from a deadly attack on her home planet, Gemina picks up with Hannah, the daughter of the captain of Hypatia. Though Hypatia may seem to Kady to be a refuge, its status as such quickly deteriorates as BioTech realizes Kady may be headed to the ship to tell her story. In response, BioTech sends an elite team of assassins to “neutralize” the threat Hypatia poses, as well as any possible witnesses. In what was supposed to be a boring weekend of public appearances, Hannah now finds herself swept up in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the ship’s intruders. With the help of unlikely friends, she must find a way to stop BioTech’s squad before the truth is erased forever.

Wow!! This one is so good!! I have to be honest, it took me an arguably embarrassingly long time to figure everything out in Illuminae (the first book in this series). There were just so many moving parts, so to speak. In this one, though, the plot picks up fast and moves even faster. Think Die Hard in space. It’s great. The best part is that, if you haven’t read Illuminae, you can still probably follow what’s going on in this book. You will, however, want to read it after you’re done. Don’t miss this one if you liked the first one, or if you’re in the mood for a techie, sci-fi, action thriller!

Rating: 5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

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In the second installment of the Lockwood and Co. series, George, Lockwood, and Lucy are enjoying the success of their venture with the Screaming Staircase. However, though they have a steady number of contracts, the trio still isn’t taken seriously by the rest of the ghost-hunting world. When the team stumbles upon a mysterious grave and artifact at a haunting site, George’s curiosity is peaked. But, in his investigation, George awakens a malevolent spirit bent on revenge. Before the spirit completes its mission, the Lockwood team must stop the phantom and uncover the real mystery of the haunting.

I can’t lie — I expected a lot more from the second Lockwood book. The first one was just so good! And, this one isn’t bad, it just didn’t live up to my hopes. To me, the plot read rather weakly, and I wanted much more from the mystery. However, while the story itself was lacking, there were some bright spots. Many of the characters are great — I especially liked Flo and the Whispering Skull. There are also plenty of scary/suspenseful scenes. If you liked the first Lockwood, give this one a try. You may love it!

Rating: 3/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

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Upon surviving the attack on the cruise liner she is travelling on, Frances is rescued after days at sea. Her best friend, Libby, though she, too, survived, doesn’t make it. In an attempt to protect Frances from the ship’s attackers, Libby’s father asks her to assume his late daughter’s identity. He also asks her to forget the tragedy aboard the Persephone. But, now with wealth and power at her fingertips, Frances can’t leave the mystery of the attack alone. The only other survivors claim the “attack” was a rogue wave that sunk the ship. Frances knows they’re lying and must find out why before she exacts her revenge.

If you like revenge stories, you’ll like this book. In fact, there’s something to be said about how closely this book resembles the ABC TV show, Revenge. But…that’s for other people to decide. The plot is fast-paced, the mystery intense, and the ending pretty good. The plot is a bit predictable, but that doesn’t mean the book isn’t enjoyable. Definitely give this book a try if you like thrillers, mysteries (duh), or revenge.

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.