Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Little white lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Sawyer Taft has lived her whole life knowing that her grandmother threw her pregnant teenage mother out of the family home, and it has just been Sawyer and her mother ever since.  She's fine with it though, over the years they have found a rhythm that works for them - even though most of the time it seems like Sawyer is the grown up and not her mother.  When her mother disappears to spend quality time with a man she met at the bar she works in, the last person Sawyer expected to see was her estranged grandmother, and she definitely wasn't expecting an offer she couldn't refuse.  Her estranged grandmother will give Sawyer enough money to see her through college and a good start in life, and all she wants from Sawyer is her participation in the debutante season.

Sawyer soon discovers that debutantes are not sweet little girls, they are as manipulative and cunning as they are polished and poised.  While taking part in debutante season gives her the chance to get to know her family and please her grandmother, it is also a chance to solve the one big mystery of her life - who her father is.  As Sawyer gets to know her fellow debs she comes to realise that every family has it's secrets, and that everyone has something they can use against someone else.  As Sawyer chases potential clues and learns more about her grandmother and mother, she grows closer to the truth and closer to danger.  

Jennifer Lynn Barnes has a knack for writing characters that are easy to connect with, and who go through trials and challenges that shape them into something new - and Sawyer is no exception.  At the start she seems like a totally tough and no nonsense character, but it soon becomes clear that there is a lot more to her than meets the eye, and a lot more to her story that we are yet to discover.  The debutantes are interesting characters in their own rights, as are the family members and friends who revolve around them. 

The rich background of the deb season with all the mysteries, traditions, tensions, and possibilities for things to go wrong just act to make the story more engaging and exciting.  The way the story moves from the past to the present and back builds the tension without revealing too many secrets too quickly, and creates moments where you can try and puzzle out what is coming next.  

If you like this book then try:
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • Acceleration by Graham McNamee
  • Hate list by Jennifer Brown
  • Guy Langman, crime scene procrastinator by Josh Berk
  • A girl named Digit by Annabel Monahgan
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • Nickel plated by Aric Davis
  • Dead to you by Lisa McMann
  • Crime seen by Jenny Pausacker
  • Burning blue by Paul Griffin
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Such a pretty girl by Laura Wiess
  • Living dead girl by Elizabeth Scott

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, January 7, 2019

Not even bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

For Nita and her mother the 'family business' is selling parts of supernatural beings on the black market.  Over the years they have developed a rhythm, a pattern where Nita's mother brings home the remains of supernatural beings and Nita slowly dissects them to make the most of the remains - skin, nails, blood, and bone are all valuable if you have the right buyer.  It is a routine that brings Nita a certain amount of peace and routine, and she dreams about attending university one day and becoming a well known expert on the supernatural.  All that changes when Nita's mother brings home a live teenage boy and expects Nita to help her carve him up piece by piece.  Confronted with a living, breathing person instead of a corpse Nita does the unthinkable and defies her mother - setting the boy loose and helping him on his way.

Nita knew she was taking a risk, the last time her mother punished her severely for disobeying her, but the last thing Nita expected was to end up on the wrong side of the bars.  Reeling from the shock of being captured and imprisoned, Nita can only conclude that her mother kept her promise to punish her the next time she disobeyed and has sold her into the black market she once supplied.  Being a prisoner is a shock, especially when she learns that people want to eat her piece by piece because Nita isn't just a supernatural processor - she is a supernatural herself.  Desperate to escape torture and then death, Nita desperately tries to escape from her prison, but she is not their first prisoner and it will take some serious skill to escape.  Will Nita be able to pull off the impossible escape?

Not even bones is one of those books that is aimed at teenagers, but was thoroughly enjoyable for adult readers as well.  Right from the start it was easy to connect with Nita and get a sense of her world view which made the story very readable right from the start, and made her much more human.  The book is descried in reviews as "Dexter meets the Savage song" and in some ways this does the book a disservice because it is a fresh and original idea that defies being pigeon holed into one category or another.  This is an exciting new world set in our own, and like the best stories it makes you think that there really could be these supernatural beings walking around because they are so well formed and just seem so real.  Rebecca Schaeffer has obviously thought about the mythology behind the creatures, and has created creatures with strengths and weaknesses.

This is the first book in a trilogy and excitement that the next title in the series is called Only ashes remain and has a cover was quickly dampened by the knowledge that we have to wait until at least the end of the 2019 for the next book.  If you enjoy reading supernatural series with strong characters and a strong mythology anchoring everything together then this is plenty to like about this series.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla