With multiple allusions to film noir and with some genre blending, Katie Henry writes a humorous story—Gideon Green in Black and White—about Gideon’s serious approach to being a detective and solving mysteries. Dressing the part, sixteen-year-old Gideon wears a trench coat and a fedora and lives his life in the shadows. Using his difference to put distance between himself and others, Gideon makes his life mission one of truth-telling: “That’s a detective’s job. Telling the world what’s real, even if people don’t want to hear it” (12). For him, life is black and white and facts are facts. However, as time goes on, Gideon realizesRead More →

Message Not Found by Dante Medema is a romantic mystery that keeps the reader intrigued with every turn of the page. Medema tells the story of two “ride or die” friends: Vanessa Carson and Bailey Pierce. A lover of Disney princesses and blue raspberry flavored Pop Rocks, Vanessa dreams of being a writer someday. Bailey, on the other hand, hopes to follow in her parents’ footsteps to work in computer coding and artificial intelligence. One night, the girls trade Pop Rocks therapy for champagne drinking and ice cream eating as they share secrets and commiserate about boys and Bailey’s breakup. When Vanessa receives a textRead More →

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson is a fascinating book about two sisters: Myra, a seventeen-year-old painter with dreams of securing a full-ride scholarship to the Conservatory for Music and the Arts; and Lucy, a thirteen-year-old aspiring biologist who hopes to improve the environment, save endangered animals, and change the world with her discoveries. With the sudden disappearance of both their mother and father, Myra’s whole world unravels. Abandoned and without resources, the two Whitlock girls can scarcely afford food and rent, let alone the medical care Lucy needs as her illness worsens. A prisoner of guilt and loneliness, Myra doesn’t know howRead More →

With its first line: “The prison is always quiet but never still,” I suspected The River Has Teeth would be suspenseful and riveting. Erica Waters did not disappoint.  Her novel joins the ranks of good psychological crime thrillers like Silence of the Lambs or the television series Criminal Minds. Besides the main plot thread of girls going missing in The Bend and the mystery of who is murdering them, the book carries several other threads to keep the reader engaged. One thread follows Della Lloyd and her family’s magic, murders, and infinite crimes in brewing potions for customers with vengeful thoughts. The Lloyds live inRead More →

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley gets a major update with The Block by Ben Oliver. In Oliver’s second book in The Loop Trilogy targeted for young adults, readers will experience a video game vibe, like that achieved in The Matrix. Along with the characters, they will wonder what is real and what is simulated. In this new dystopian world, everybody’s happy because Happy—an artificial intelligence—rules the world.  Galen Rye is in charge, and he decides who suffers as a battery—without hopes, dreams, and ambitions as they power the world with their energy harvested from pain, fear, and anger.  He decides who should be brainwashed intoRead More →

Seventeen-year-old Ambrose Cusk and another spacefarer, Kodiak Celius, are aboard the Coordinated Endeavor, a spaceship bound for Saturn’s moon Titan to rescue Ambrose’s sister, Minerva Cusk. Earth’s two remaining countries, Fédération and Dimokratía have combined their forces to accomplish this mission. Brought together by a crisis, each young man brings his expertise and biases to the mission. Ambrose’s skills include playing the violin, programming AIs, translating computer code, and having a high awareness of his feelings.  Kodiak’s gifts are piloting, mechanical engineering, survivalism, and hand-to-hand combat. The Dimokratía space program selects its spacefarers by testing millions of children in its orphanages and determining those whichRead More →

Dragonfly Girl by Marti Leimbach is a fast-paced thriller.  Although the plot is somewhat disjointed and ends rather abruptly, Leimbach’s novel kept me intrigued with its science fiction elements, espionage-like features, and shady criminal types. I’m guessing a sequel will follow. Set in California, Sweden, and Russia, the novel features seventeen-year-old Kira Adams whose mother is sick and requires constant medical care that draws down the household’s monetary resources. Given that Kira’s preternaturally gifted father turned to alcohol to cope in a world that didn’t understand him and eventually “catches a stray bullet,” Cyril Adams is not in the picture. Therefore, Kira enters science contestsRead More →

Since I had recently watched an episode of Dr. Phil in which an individual was being treated for the condition which forms the underlying conflict in Remedy by Eireann Corrigan, I guessed the mysterious illness early on. Because Corrigan’s protagonist, Cara Jean Wakely couldn’t exactly articulate her current ailment and stated that she and her mother Shaylene moved around a lot, those details tipped me off. However, the reader doesn’t learn the secret until much later when Cara’s friend Xavier Barnes (aka Science Kid) plants the idea in her brain. Xavier, who lectures and sometimes drones and laughs at his own jokes, loves gathering dataRead More →

Ember Williams leads an active life at Heller High. She covets a 4.0 GPA, runs track, and captains the debate team. On the surface, she looks like a high-achieving teenager with a bright future. But there are secrets at Heller High. Secrets that Ember wants to uncover and force into the light. The Red Court is a rumor, smoke vanishing into nothing under the fluorescent lighting of Heller High’s hallways. It’s rumored to be a secret society made up of female students, led by a mysterious ‘Queen of Hearts.’ They say the Red Court grants wishes. Desperate students can stuff a note in an unclaimedRead More →