Tag Archives: ya mystery

Fly by Night by Tara O’Connor Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl must return to her old hometown after her twin sister goes missing, and while clues begin to point towards a supernatural entity being the culprit, a much more sinister threat looms in the shadows in author Tara O’Connor’s “Fly by Night”.

The Synopsis 

In this environmental-thriller graphic novel with a supernatural twist, Dee must find out what happened to her missing twin. An amazing mystery filled with strange creatures, high school drama, and family, this darkly illustrated book shows us that monsters are all around us.

There are monsters in the woods.

While out searching desperately for her missing sister, Dee discovers something isn’t quite right in the woods. She is soon in a battle to save the pinelands, and she is finding more questions than answers. 

As time goes on, the only thing Dee knows for sure is that there are monsters among us. But they aren’t who we should be afraid of…

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The Review

This was such a moving and entertaining read. Equal parts mythology and crime thriller, this graphic novel really did a great job of finding a natural balance between the supernatural elements of the story and the more emotional and heartbreaking realities of the disappearance of a loved one. As an avid fan and admirer of cryptozoology and cryptids overall, it was so interesting to see the author’s take on the Jersey Devil lore and to reshape it into showing the subtle nature of what “monsters” really are in this world.

The emotional character study that this graphic novel makes is so the core of the theme and narrative of this graphic novel. Dee’s struggles as she pursues answers to the disappearance of the twin sister she regrets not talking to more and delving into her struggles with her parent’s divorce, the environmental fight she takes on, and the grim reality of what happened to her sister overall, will immediately draw the reader in and what I think the author does so beautifully here is create a story that finds representation for so many different readers out there.

The Verdict

An original, engaging, and heartfelt read, author Tara O’Connor’s “Fly by Night” is a must-read graphic novel of 2021. The stark nature of the story’s narrative and the amazing artwork somehow drawing a fantastic contrast to the unknowable nature of the universe as a whole made this story shine brightly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tara is a cartoonist currently residing in the New Jersey wilderness. When she’s not drawing comics, she’s teaching them. She drinks way too much tea and coffee, and on any given day there’s a 90% chance that every meal she had was cereal. 

http://www.taraocomics.com/

This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two students from very different walks of life find themselves working together after they discover the body of a young teen girl floating off the coast of their small town, and discover students from both the local prep school and reform school all have secrets to hide in author Gabriella Lepore’s “This is Why We Lie”. 

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The Synopsis

Riverdale meets One of Us Is Lying in This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, a standalone thriller following two teens who discover a body off the coast of their seaside town. As they search for the killer, they will learn the students of both the local prep school and the nearby reform school will do anything to protect their secrets.

Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.

When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.

Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.

As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.

As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.

The Review

A truly gripping and engaging thriller for YA and murder-mystery fans, author Gabriella Lepore has crafted a mind-bending tale of suspense and secrets that readers will not be able to help to fall into. The twists and turns that this novel takes both for the characters and the narrative itself are truly captivating, and the author does a fantastic job of setting up solid pacing to peel back the layers of this mystery one by one. 

The growth of the characters was what drew me into the narrative, to begin with. The emotional depth that both protagonists have gone through in their pasts, and how these two young people who have had to learn to trust only themselves and have experienced hard family lives make their way to one another in the midst of great tragedy was so enthralling and mesmerizing to see unfold and really tugged at the heartstrings as well. This in turn really balanced out the emotional beats with the suspense and drama of this murder mystery and small-town life. 

The Verdict

Pretty Little Liars meets Riverdale, author Gabriella Lepore’s “This Is Why We Lie” is a must-read YA Mystery of 2021! Perfectly crafted and shocking as the final reveal of the killer is shown, this novel delivers powerful characters that readers might be able to relate to, and a great exploration of both the contrast and similarities people from different walks of life can truly have. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from South Wales in the United Kingdom. She lives in the countryside with her husband James and daughter Sophia. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline. She enjoys cups of tea, bookstore coffee shops, stormy beaches, and autumn days.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/this-is-why-we-lie/9781335418609 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-is-why-we-lie-gabriella-lepore/1138317761 

Powells: https://www.powells.com/book/this-is-why-we-lie-9781335418609 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/This-Why-Lie-Gabriella-Lepore/dp/1335418601

Target: https://www.target.com/p/this-is-why-we-lie-by-gabriella-lepore-hardcover/-/A-82007842 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gabriella_Lepore_This_Is_Why_We_Lie?id=eqsJEAAAQBAJ

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/author/gabriella-lepore/id1153311848

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/this-is-why-we-lie 

SOCIAL LINKS: 

Twitter: @GabriellaBooks 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gabriella-Lepore-Books-240139339377522/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellalepore_books/?hl=en 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4814169.Gabriella_Lepore 

Here is an Excerpt from “This Is Why We Lie”

JENNA

Gardiners Bay at dawn is my secret. There’s a moment, right before the day starts, when the ocean is bathed in amber light. That first golden breath of morning. Everything is still, apart from the pelicans gathering near the water, their plump bodies shuffling along the shoreline. Sometimes I sit on the promenade for hours with my legs suspended over the pebble beach below, just watching the night turn to day. Watching the darkness turn to light.

It’s often like this, just me and the birds. The only other people I tend to cross paths with at this hour are fishermen wearing heavy-duty gear and hugging their thermoses. They sit on the benches and swig their hot drinks while skimming the daily newspaper. Then they leave. A little while later, their boats drift out onto the water.

Today, though, I’m the only one here.

I raise my camera and adjust the focus, capturing the new light as it spills over the ocean. In the muted daylight, the silver tide is a murky, dull gray and frothing as it slaps against the shore.

“Help! I need help!”

My eyes dart across the shoreline. There’s a boy on the stretch of beach at the foot of Rookwood Cliff. He’s kneedeep in the water, fully dressed.

He shouts again.

I spring to my feet and run along the promenade. Ducking beneath the boardwalk railings, I jump down to the pebbled cove.

The soles of my feet sting at the impact of the stones beneath my Converse. I scramble toward him, my footing slipping on the damp pebbles.

It’s then that I recognize him.

Adam.

His jeans are soaked to the thigh. He’s wading through the shallows, his legs tangled in fishing net and seaweed. And a body lies limp in his arms. A girl. She’s swollen, her skin has turned purple, and one arm is swinging downward with the momentum of Adam’s labored movements.

I press my hand to my mouth.

“Call an ambulance,” he shouts.

But all I can do is stand there, paralyzed by the sight. He lowers the girl onto the sand and begins CPR, breathing into her mouth.

It’s too late, I want to tell him.

She’s already dead.

Excerpted from This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, Copyright © 2021 by Gabriella Lepore. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes #7) by Nancy Springer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Literary heroine Enola Holmes and her iconic brother Sherlock join forces when a young woman believes her sister has mistakenly been identified as deceased, and the hunt to learn what has happened to the young woman’s twin takes them to shocking depths in author Nancy Springer’s “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche”, the seventh novel in the Enola Holmes series.

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The Synopsis

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

The Review

This was such an engrossing and thought-provoking read. The author does an incredible job of capturing the tone and dialect of not only the era but the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels following Sherlock Holmes. Yet despite the large shadow that Sherlock casts, Enola does an incredible job of outshining her brother and standing on her own as a remarkable literary heroine. 

The mystery aspect of the narrative and the setting really did steal the show on this novel. The gripping tale of a twin sister seeking the truth about her other half after rumors of her death fell off was a great hook to grab the readers, and Enola’s, attention. The clash of culture between the high society atmosphere of the missing woman’s estate and the seedy underbelly of London and its countryside as they hunt for the location of the missing woman was interesting to see play out here and really made the narrative feel alive in the reader’s mind.

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and engaging novel, author Nancy Springer’s “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche” is a must-read novel of 2021. A great springboard for the heroine to return after finding cinematic success on Netflix thanks to the highly talented Millie Bobbie Brown, the balance of character growth and the mystery was amazing to see, and what felt great was that this novel, while a continuation overall of the character’s personal arcs, was strong enough to stand alone for newcomers like me to the series to get engaged in the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

NANCY SPRINGER is the author of the nationally bestselling Enola Holmes novels, including The Case of the Missing Marquess, which was made into the hit Netflix movie, Enola Holmes. She is the author of more than 50 other books for children and adults. She has won many awards, including two Edgar Awards, and has been published in more than thirty countries. She lives in Florida.

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Here is an Excerpt From “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche”

“Is she fainted?” 

Indignant, I wanted to sit up and say I was not so easily killed and I never fainted, but to my surprise my body would not obey me. I merely stirred and murmured. 

“She’s moving.” 

I saw the clodhopper boots of common men surrounding me and smelled alcohol on the breath of those leaning over me. 

“Let’s get ’er inside.” 

“Somebody go fer the doctor.” 

Strong hands, not ungentle, seized me by the feet and shoulders. I could have kicked and yelled—I felt strong enough now—but my mind had started to function, realizing that I was about to be carried into a pub, for only in a public house, or pub, would workmen be drinking in the daytime. And normally no woman of good repute would enter a pub, or if she did, she would be jeered at until she retreated. But, my avid brain realized, fate in the form of Jezebel had given me opportunity to spend some time inside a pub—no, in the pub, most likely the only pub in Threefinches! So I closed my eyes and pretended to be rather more helpless than I was as the men hauled me inside and laid me down on a high-backed bench by the hearth. 

Someone brought something pungent in lieu of smelling salts, but I shook my head, pushed the malodourous hand away, opened my eyes, and sat up, acting as if it were a great effort for me to do so. A burly, bearded man in an apron, undoubtedly the publican who kept the place, came running with a pillow for my back, and I thanked him with a gracious smile. 

“Will ye have a nip of brandy, lydy?” 

“No, thank you. Water, please.” 

“Jack! Water for the lydy!” he bellowed to some underling, and he remained nearby as I managed, with hands that genuinely trembled, to remove my gloves. Their thin kidskin leather was ruined by the mauling it had taken from Jezebel’s reins, and my hands were red and sore; doubtless they would bruise. Grateful for the cool glass, I held it in both hands and sipped, looking around me. Half of the denizens of the place, like the owner, stood in a semicircle staring at me not unpleasantly, while the rest did the same from seats at the rustic tables—all but one. A tall man with beard stubble on his chin and quite a shock of coarse brownish-grey hair hiding his forehead had withdrawn to a table by the wall, where he devoted his attention to his mug of ale, or stout, or whatever noxious brew he might fancy. I said brightly to the tavern-keeper, “I believe I would like to stand up.” 

“Now, why not wait for the doctor, lydy—” 

But taking hold of his arm, as he stood within my reach, I got to my feet with reasonable steadiness. There were muted cheers from the onlookers. Nodding and simpering at the men all around me, I lilted, “Thank you so much. Do you suppose anyone could go out and fetch my bag, and my hat and parasol? I believe they fell along the—” 

Already half a dozen would-be heroes were stampeding towards the door. Yet, if I had walked in here under my own power, any request for help would have been met with deepest suspicion. Such is life: odd.

One of the Good Ones by Maika and Maritza Moulite Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two sisters work to honor the life of their fallen sister in the hopes that not only will she be remembered not for what people perceived her to be but who she was completely, but to showcase that everyone deserves to be remembered, not just the “good ones”, in authors Maika and Maritza Moulite’s “One of the Good Ones”.

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The Synopsis

A shockingly powerful exploration of the lasting impact of prejudice and the indomitable spirit of sisterhood that will have readers questioning what it truly means to be an ally, from sister-writer duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?

When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.

The Review

This was such an emotional and impactful read. The authors did an incredible job of not only world-building and character growth, but of really infusing a much-needed theme into the narrative while also keeping an air of mystery. Immediately the story hits an emotional chord, focusing on the impact the loss of a family member to senseless violence and police brutality has on their loved ones. The narrative also takes unique and important steps to establish multiple-perspective chapters, not only for the various members of the family but the several others who have had to endure prejudice, racism, and violence as well over the course of several decades.

The authors pack a lot of genres and themes into this one narrative, and yet it never feels over-complicated or mishandled. Instead, the narrative feels layered and engaging, exploring themes of racism, violence, sexuality, family, and in many ways a mystery. The book will leave readers shocked and on the edge of their seat, as the narrative takes a massive turn towards the climax of the narrative that they won’t see coming.

The Verdict

A memorable, heartbreaking, and valuable YA contemporary mystery and thriller, authors Maika and Maritza Moulite’s “One of the Good Ones” is a must-read novel of 2021. The authors have created a book that will leave readers talking long after they’ve turned the final page, and the important messages the authors convey about relevant topics in 2021 throughout the narrative make this a true must-read novel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

MAIKA MOULITE is a Miami native and the daughter of Haitian immigrants. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami. When she’s not using her digital prowess to help nonprofits and major organizations tell their stories online, she’s sharpening her skills as a PhD student at Howard University’s Communication, Culture and Media Studies program. Her research focuses on representation in media and its impact on marginalized groups. She’s the eldest of four sisters and loves young adult novels, fierce female leads, and laughing.

MARITZA MOULITE graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in women’s studies and the University of Southern California with a master’s in journalism. She’s worked in various capacities for NBC News, CNN, and USA TODAY. Maritza is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania exploring ways to improve literacy in under-resourced communities after being inspired to study education from her time as a literacy tutor and pre-k teacher assistant. Her favorite song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.maikaandmaritza.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maikamoulite

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maikamoulite/ 

https://www.instagram.com/maritzamoulite/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maikaandmaritza 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/46189861-one-of-the-good-ones 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17790105.Maika_Moulite

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17790106.Maritza_Moulite

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/One-Good-Ones-Maika-Moulite/dp/133514580X 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-of-the-good-ones-maika-moulite/1137186269 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335145802 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/One-Good-Ones/Maika-Moulite/Q889553084?id=7863851088953 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/one-of-the-good-ones/id1518801789 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/One_of_the_Good_Ones?id=AQAAAEDsWWUZmM&hl=en_US 

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An Exclusive Excerpt From “One of the Good Ones”

chapter two

Kezi

Monday, April 16—1 Day Before the Arrest Los Angeles, California

I must have died and gone to hell.

Right?

Because why else would I have heard that outrageous bleat- ing from my alarm at 5:30 (in the morning!) and chosen to wake up? It was mid-April of twelfth grade. I should have been suffering from a severe case of senioritis that could be cured only by sleeping in. But there I was, doing my Mon- day morning countdown to study.

“Eight…seven…six…five…four…four…four…three… why, oh, why…two… ONE!”

I yanked the covers shielding my head down to my waist and leapt out of bed before the just-right firmness of my mat-

24 MAIKA MOULITE AND MARITZA MOULITE

tress and perfectly f luffed pillows could lure me back into their warm nest.

Bang bang bang.

Couldn’t even blame her. I dragged my feet over to the wall I shared with my baby sister, Happi, and knocked twice. Two syllables. Sor-ry. (For counting so loudly that I woke you up while I was trying to wake myself up.)

Silence.

I slipped on cozy padded knee socks and plodded to my desk, where my notes were spread neatly across my laptop, right where I’d left them the night before. Mr. Bamhauer, my AP US History teacher and the miserable Miss Trunchbull to my precocious Matilda, was a stickler for the “old way” of doing things and insisted our notes be handwritten on wide- ruled paper so that the letters were big enough for him to see without his glasses while grading.

I skimmed over the major moments of the Civil Rights Movement that I knew the Advanced Placement test makers were likely to ask about when I sat for the exam in less than a month: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Emmett Till. The March on Washington. The Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Voting Rights Act of 1965. Each bullet point was like a twist unscrew- ing the faucet of my brain, f looding my skull with facts. To me, Brown v. Board of Education wasn’t just some case. It was the rebuttal to Plessy v. Ferguson, the racist court decision that dictated the “separate but equal” ideology. It was one of many nails in the giant coffin of Jim Crow laws and had ushered in the legacy of the Little Rock Nine. But before the Nine, we’d had students like Linda Brown, the Topeka One. Mr. Bamhauer lectured about the past, of course…but he made it stale and removed. To him, the people involved in all this

ONE OF THE GOOD ONES 25

world-changing were just names and dates in a book. Noth- ing more. They hadn’t had souls. Or dreams.

Brown v. Board of Education propelled my thoughts directly to that little girl. I envisioned how Linda Brown must have felt when she’d learned at nine years old that she couldn’t go to the school down the road, the one her white friends in the neighborhood attended, just because of her skin color. I felt her heart hammering when she saw how shaken up her daddy was on the walk home after his talk with the school principal. I imagined the hushed conversations Oliver and Leola Brown had over the kitchen table when they decided to move for- ward with the case, knowing what it would mean. I thought of all the parents hunched over in exasperation, fear, and de- termination, the folks in Delaware, Washington DC, South Carolina, and Virginia, who decided they could no longer accept segregation either.

I drank in American history, in all its problematic glory, like water. It was mine after all. My dad’s grandmother Eve- lyn had embarked on the Great Migration to California after her husband was killed overseas in World War II. He died for a country that didn’t think he deserved to call it home. My mom’s grandfather Joseph had been killed right here in America’s Jim Crow South. And their tales were just the fam- ily history that had been passed down.

I wasn’t much of a morning person, but once I rubbed the crust out of my eyes, I couldn’t close them again. Not with all these stories of individuals insisting they be remembered calling out to me at once. I had to listen to them.

After almost an hour of studying, my alarm rang again to drag me out of my bubble. I walked back over to my and Happi’s shared wall and knocked out another syllabic mes- sage: Hap-pi! Wake! Up! Her groan was loud and miserable. I

26 MAIKA MOULITE AND MARITZA MOULITE

chuckled. The only human being on earth less of a morning person than me? Her.

As I waited to shower, I checked the email account I used for my YouTube page, marking off the usual spam, replying to short messages, and noting the invitations and requests I had to think on more and get back to.

But then. I paused.

Oh Kezi. I was reading this ridiculous article about parasocial relationships. It was describing those pathetic people who feel like they know media personalities but don’t. You know, those freaks who get excited when they catch a glimpse of a celeb- rity’s baby or read every interview to see what brand of sham- poo they use. Like that would make them closer. I thought it was fine. But I stayed up all night. All night. All night wondering if you would see me that way too. Like some random weirdo on the internet.

But I told myself over and over, she’s much too good, way too smart, to not realize that some of her subscribers are more special than others. And I’m more than a subscriber. I’m a sup- porter. A lifeline. We get each other. No one understands the struggle and what you’re fighting for like I do. But all night I thought of this. Going insane. Running in circles in my mind until I tripped on something that made me stop. It was some- thing you said, actually.

I tried to swallow but couldn’t get past the sand in my throat. Nausea washed over me in waves, and I clutched my stomach to steady myself.

You said: We’re in this together. You remember that don’t you? It was that youth panel you spoke on two weeks ago at

ONE OF THE GOOD ONES 27

city hall and you made this beautiful, beautiful comment on how to have hope in the face of hopelessness. You promised that “even in the darkest moments, when you feel completely alone, like you’re the only one who cares, just remember that I care. Our community cares. And the people who came be- fore us and behind us and the ones who come up beside us care too. So long as we keep caring and trying, there is hope.” I cried when your words came to me. And I’m going to sleep well tonight knowing that I’m not alone. I’m not hopeless. I

have you.

There was a video attached to the email, sent from an ad- dress named mr.no.struggle.no.progress. My eyes widened and my pulse pounded against my ears when I registered whose face was in the thumbnail. Mine. I clicked on the preview button with a shaky hand and watched myself at the event the email sender mentioned. There I was, speaking animatedly and pro- nouncing the very words this stranger had taken the time to transcribe. The camera panned slowly across the room as my voice continued in the background.

I remembered that day. I almost hadn’t made it in time, be- cause Happi’s audition for our school’s Shakespeare play had gone longer than planned. Instead of taking my sister home after her tryout, I had dragged her with me straight to the panel. There she was in the video, seated between Derek and Ximena, who’d also come to show their support. The cus- tomary sounds of an audience wove in and out of the audio, a fussy baby babbling merrily, a chorus of a dozen sheets of paper rustling, a sniff ly man’s sneezes punctuating every few sentences.

The camera continued its survey of the room, and I noticed a group of people standing along the back wall. The space had

28 MAIKA MOULITE AND MARITZA MOULITE

been remarkably packed for a city hall meeting, and I recalled that quite a few members of the audience had come because they were subscribers to my YouTube channel, generationkeZi. When the meeting was adjourned, more than half in atten- dance had made a beeline to where I was seated, to chat. I’d greeted a lot of people, but others had stood on the sidelines and watched from afar, never approaching.

Who was the person who had sent this message? A fan I hadn’t gotten to speak with? The cameraperson? A local citi- zen who was feeling particularly inspired?

The slow creak of the bedroom door opening diverted my attention. I spun in my chair, not even sure when I’d grabbed the silver plaque I’d received from YouTube for reaching one hundred thousand subscribers, noting the instinct I had to hold it in the air menacingly.

“Bathroom’s all yours,” Happi said, pausing midyawn to look at me strangely.

“Thanks, I’ll be right in,” I replied to the back of her head as she stumbled to her room.

Instead, I gripped the plaque in my lap and sat there, frozen. Him again.

Excerpted from One of the Good Ones Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite © 2021 by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, used with permission by Inkyard Press/HarperCollins. 

Ashes to Ashes by Valerie Thomas | REVIEW

A mysterious note leads one young teenage girl on a journey of discovery in the YA novel Ashes to Ashes by Valerie Thomas. Exploring the themes of social interactions amongst teens and the unpredictability of the future, this novel sets the stage for a YA series that asks the question: can we prevent the future? Check out the synopsis:

From tragedy came power. And from mishandled power came mystery.

After moving into a new gated community with her family, Natalie is ready to begin a peaceful year at Emerson High. A year complete with boy troubles, school dances, new friends… everything an average girl could expect.

Then she starts receiving notes warning her not to go to school November first. Notes in her day planner, on a piece of homework, on a homecoming ticket… The more notes she receives the more details she uncovers, and the clearer it becomes: words like peaceful and average are about the worst ones anyone could use to describe the year she’s about to have. Crazy? Maybe. Violent? Definitely. Heart-wrenching, mind-blowing, life-changing?

Well, that remains to be seen. All Natalie knows from the start is that she shouldn’t go to school on November first. And maybe you shouldn’t either.

 

SPOILER ALERT

Trigger Warning: As is the case with some books I read, I feel compelled to disclose that there are some story lines that might be triggering for some readers out there. Story lines involving suicide and a possible large scale tragedy are referenced in this book. Although I’m reluctant to get into specifics, I felt it pertinent to at least mention this before going further.

This book starts off with a lot of action right from the first page. Introducing us to Natalie, we already get a glimpse into the social hierarchy of high school, showing the dividing lines amongst the students and how kids view one another. Exploring the nerves that go into attending a new school, starting freshman year of high school and trying to make new friends, Natalie finds her life complicated even more when these mysterious notes teasing November 1st start arriving. Who’s behind the notes, and what are they trying to prevent?

The story itself was strong, indicating a large-scale series that can span three or four novels easily. Delving into a thriller/mystery realm, this YA drama focuses strongly on the bonds we make in our teenage years and the importance those relationships have on us in the long run. The characters were what really drew me into the story however. The complicated relationships Natalie has with those around her kept the mystery of the story in constant shadows, and her story often felt personal, as if anyone who’d ever been a struggling teen could identify with it.

Now I will say the novel took a little more time than maybe it needed to in order to get into a rhythm thematically, I will say the writing was overall precise and delivered a strong thriller. While it touched on the emotional aspects of Natalie’s various relationships with family, friends and others towards the end of the book, I’d love to dive more into the emotional side of Natalie’s tale in future stories.

Overall I liked this book a lot. With a huge cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting to learn more about Natalie’s story, this was a strong entry in a new YA Drama series that deserves to be explored. While I will reiterate there are some pretty strong story lines that should be handled with care in future installments and should be read with care by you readers out there, I do think this was a great book and I hope guys will check
it out!

Rating: 7/10