With Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Genres: Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
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It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.
As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
Imagine waking up in the hospital with having no recollection of how you got there and realizing you don’t remember the last six weeks of your life. Now imagine finding out that you and your best friend were in a car accident and she was killed…and then you find out that you are suspected of murdering her! Jill and Simone go on the trip of a lifetime to Italy, but Simone never comes back.
The book is written from Jill’s point of view and is interspersed with police interviews as well as blog posts and comments that provide different perspectives on the events that transpired before the accident. Did Jill intentionally kill her best friend? The police, media and blog comments seem to point to her guilt but will Jill’s memory ever return so she will know what happened? As in real life, the media and news play a big part in public opinion and we see how that impacts Jill’s case and her recovery. Her therapist helps Jill come to terms with the fact that even if her memory of the events does return she will never be sure if those memories are real or false memories because of the way the brain functions and heals.
This is a gripping story that reminded me of the Amanda Knox case. A handsome Italian guy, two best friends, the police mishandling of evidence as well as the media frenzy that ensued, parallel the Amanda Knox case and make for an intense read, I kept turning the pages hoping Jill’s memories would return and wanting to find out what really happened. But will we ever truly know the real stories in either case?
Envy by Gregg Olsen
Published by Splinter on 2011
Genres: Computers, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
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Murder is such a dirty word… New York Times bestselling adult true crime author Gregg Olsen makes his YA debut with Empty Coffin, a gripping new fiction series for teens based on ripped-from-the-headlines stories…with a paranormal touch. Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits. Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined. Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge--and push you right over.
My Thoughts: Gregg Olsen expertly weaves a mystery with a touch of paranormal that keeps you hanging on every word. I have always loved a good mystery and I definitely did not want to put this one down!
“Whoever had done this to Katelyn, whoever had resigned the teenager to a casket the color of a bakery box, was there… among them.” p. 124
When Katelyn is found dead in a bathtub on Christmas day, the twins Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out the truth. Was Katelyn’s death an accident, a suicide or murder? As twins they have an uncanny ability to connect with each other as well as an ability that is even more unique, but they are also sister’s with jealousies and typical sibling issues. Olsen did an excellent job of creating characters that were believable and that I connected with. From the mystery author dad of the twins to the grieving mother and the very hateable Starla, former best friend of Katelyn. Why had Starla abandoned Katelyn as her best friend and did it have something to do with her death? What secrets were people hiding? What was the twins secret?
“No one, certainly no teenager, was normal or felt they were. Everyone wore a kind of mask that keep people from really seing what – or who – was inside. Katelyn did. Starla did. And as she walked to her own back porch, Hayley Ryan knew that she and her sister kept things secret too.” p. 171
The book is based on a true crime and I don’t want to give too much away but if you love a good mystery, I highly recommend this one and I can’t wait for the next one in the series!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Published by Simon and Schuster on October 23rd 2012
Genres: Dating & Sex, Family, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Paranormal, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Mara Dyer doesn’t know if she is crazy or haunted—all she knows is that everyone around her is dying in this suspenseful and “strong, inventive tale” (Kirkus Reviews).Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed. There is. She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong. After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous. This fast-paced psychological—or is it paranormal?—thriller will leave you breathless for its sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer.
My thoughts: I absolutely loved Michelle Hodkins debut novel! I loved the characters, I loved the mystery and the ending left me eagerly anticipating the next book!
Mara is struggling to remember the accident that killed her best friend and boyfriend but she also wants to escape all the memories that surround her so she and her family uproot and move to Florida. But dealing with survivors guilt is hard enough without having to deal with the ins and outs of a new new school and she’s not off to the best start by attracting the attention of the hottest guy on campus, Noah. Mara has no interest in Noah…at first. I loved Mara’s attitude and her snarky remarks to him, but Noah doesn’t give up and slowly Mara begins to warm to his affections and see the true inner Noah. As their relationship develops and as she slowly begins to remember the accident, Mara begins to trust him with her past and the strange things that have been happening to her and as the mystery deepens Noah has a mystery of his own. The plot is well developed, fast paced and the ending leaves the reader wanting more.
“The trees, sidewalk and the flashing lights spun around me as I felt it: the first unmistakable snarl in the delicate fabric of my sanity.” p. 81