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Review, Young Adult / June 27, 2016
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer DonnellyThese Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date: 2015
496 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery
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Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

I don’t read historical fiction very much, which may seem funny as I study history at University, but I tend to stick to fantasy and contemporary. I picked up These Shallow Graves after mulling it over for several weeks after spotting it in my local Waterstones. There was just something about the cover, synopsis and the fact that it was set in early 1900s New York that I could not shake. I ended up buying it finally and I do not regret it one bit. The book was written well, the plot was well thought out, the characters were very interesting to read about.

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By: Vicky
Review, Young Adult / September 21, 2015
I Am Her Revenge by Meredith MooreI Am Her Revenge
Author: Meredith moore
Publisher: Razorbill
Date: April 2015
336 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
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She can be anyone you want her to be.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.

And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.

Anyone…except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.

In I Am Her Revenge, Vivian is our heroine that has been honed into a killing machine by her mother, a woman wronged. The reader learns pretty early on that Vivian has been brainwashed and trained by her mother to enact a revenge that the mother has lived with all her life. Vivian’s mission takes her to a boarding school in England. Her mission, and she cannot fail, is to win the affection of a young man on campus, who is the target.

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By: Sara
Review, Young Adult / July 13, 2015
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja MillayThe Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books, Simon & Schuster
Date: November 2012
434 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
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I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.

All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a slow-building, character-driven romance about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

Please Note: This book contains mature content including profanity, drug/alcohol use, and sexual situations/language.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been in quite a contemporary rut! I tend to stay away from storylines that I know will have me ugly crying through the entire novel. When I’ve picked up a contemporary in the past, I’ve remained disconnected from the characters. I read the book at arms length through a fear of being emotionally unprepared. However, I know I’ve missed out on an abundance of beautiful stories, so I need to get out of this rut! Since many people hold The Sea of Tranquility as one of their favourite contemporary novels, I thought it would be a good place to start.

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By: Sarah
Middle Grade, Review / August 29, 2013
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Staircase
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #1
Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers
Date: August 2013
440 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal
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When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

In trying to articulate my excitement for wonder that is The Screaming Staircase, I was going to write my shortest ever review and leave it at that, because it summarises the book so well: freaking brilliant. (Well, freaky and brilliant, really).

Then I thought it might help to elaborate. My expectations were set extremely high when I first heard about this book at the Random House Children’s Publishers blogger brunch. It ticked all the right boxes for me—great author, alternative London setting, a cavalier hero, smart female narrator. Plus, actually having Jonathan Stroud there demonstrating how to fight ghosts with a rapier, salt, chains and a teapot was pretty perfect.

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By: Daphne
Review, Young Adult / November 2, 2012
Slide by Jill HathawaySlide
Author: Jill Hathaway
Series: Slide #1
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Date: March 2012
257 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal
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Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth--her sister's friend Sophie didn't kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn't actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else's mind and experiences the world through that person's eyes. She's slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed "friend" when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie's slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she's been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

I’ll be honest. I totally wasn’t expecting to like this one. Its not my usual genre and there isn’t much ‘paranormal/fantasy’ involved. However I was pleasently surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The protagonist, Vee, suffers from narcolepsy, but every time she falls asleep she slides into someone elses mind for a few minutes and sees what they see. Vee’s condition is a burden to her. She isn’t believed by her father or doctors and so she resorts to taking caffine tablets to try to stay awake. She would do anything to be normal. However, when she slips into the mind of someone standing over the dead body of a cheer leader from Vee’s school, Vee’s power becomes very important in finding out who the killer is.

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By: Alison