‘Problem Child’ by Victoria Helen Stone is a thrilling, chilling continuation of the series about Jane Doe, sociopath, lawyer, and righter of wrongs

Both “Jane Doe” and the sequel, “Problem Child,” by Victoria Helen Stone are chilling novels. Chilling but also thrilling and — ironically — touching. Because while the main character Jane admits she’s a sociopath and doesn’t have the emotions and feelings that “normal” people have, in both books she’s out there doing good things and righting wrongs.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s also having a great time screwing over the associate lawyer she works with and having lots of sex and eating scrumptious food, but the associate lawyer deserves everything he gets. She also gets the benefit of kinky sex with her boyfriend Luke.

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‘The Hand on the Wall’ is the last novel in the ‘Truly Devious’ trilogy by the truly devious Maureen Johnson

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“The Hand on the Wall” is the last book in the trilogy of “Truly Devious” novels by Maureen Johnson. Once begun, this series of mysteries is addictive. The setting, a prep school in the mountains of Vermont, is perfect for a murder mystery, and in this brilliant trilogy, there are multiple murders taking place over almost a century.

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‘Aurora Rising’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a thrilling and entertaining YA scifi adventure

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In “Aurora Rising,” authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff take readers into the future, the year 2380, and into an adventure that spans centuries. From the first chapter, readers know that Tyler, one of the main characters, is a worthy leader. He rescues Aurora from a ship that has lain rotting for two centuries and takes her to safety. Unfortunately, by doing so, he has jeopardized his number one standing as a cadet and forfeited his first draft choice for his team. Instead, he gets the leftovers whom nobody wanted in addition to his twin sister Scarlett and their best friend, Cat.

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‘The Athena Protocol’ by Shamim Sarif is pure thriller for YA readers

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With “The Athena Protocol,” author Shamim Sarif creates a female version of James Bond, except that instead of working for British Intelligence, Jessie Archer works for a non-govermental, private, female group bent on saving women and children around the world who are in need of help, but whom the governments of the world are ignoring. At the start of the book, we watch this elite team in action while they save a group of 50 girls kidnapped by a terrorist militia and held in servitude. While they wait for night to fall, they are forced to watch what the young men and boys do to their female prisoners while they pass the time.  The leader has two hostages, and when he shoots one of them in cold blood, Jessie loses control. Before they leave with the prisoners, Ahmed, the evil leader, is dead. Jessie is kicked out of Athena.

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‘A Heart so Fierce and Broken’ by Brigid Kemmerer is everything YA fantasy should be

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“A Heart So Fierce and Broken” is Brigid Kemmerer’s second book, following “A Curse So Dark and Lonely,” a tale of Beauty and the Beast reimagined with lots of violence and a heartstopping ending. It was the story of Rhen, the prince cursed to turn into a beast, and Harper, the tough young girl who is determined to save Rhen and his kingdom, Emberfall. Grey is the loyal Guardsman who risks his life repeatedly to save them.

In this second story, Grey becomes the pivotal character with a new character, Lia Mara, the daughter of the cruel queen of Syhl Shallow, Karis Luran. Lia Mara is not destined to be queen; her sister is. Her sister can be cruel and harsh while Lia Mara prefers to use intellect and persuasion instead of brute strength and fear to create alliances.

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‘Blind Search; A Mercy Carr mystery’ by Paula Munier is the second in this delightful dog-filled mystery series

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With her “Marcy Carr” series, including the new “Blind Search,” Paula Munier checks all the boxes as to what makes a successful, gripping mystery. First and foremost, the main character, Mercy, and the former military working dog, Elvis, are likable and realistic. Elvis was her fiancee’s military working dog, and when he was killed, both his fiancé and his dog suffered greatly. Mercy is far from perfect, and she admits that the issue preventing her and Elvis from becoming search and rescue dogs is that they both sometimes  lack warmth when dealing with people. Continue reading

‘The Beast: A Darkdeep Novel’ by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs is the second in this middle grade horror novel

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The series began with “The Darkdeep,” a horror story by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs, and now the stories of the monsters and the mystery behind the appearance of “The Beast” might just be solved. In the first book, we learn about the quiet town of Timber in the Pacific Northwest, and about several of its teenage residents.

Nico is the son of an environmentalist, and with his friends Opal, Emma, and Tyler, and another teen, Logan, the son of the richest businessman in town, all happen upon a houseboat in the middle of an unnamed island. Strange things happen both in the houseboat and in the waters around it, but in this second book, they learn that the fate of the world may be on their teenage shoulders.

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‘A Sudden Death in Cyprus’ by Michael Grant is about “What ifs” and the power of believing

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Michael Grant’s first adult novel, “A Sudden Death in Cyprus,” is a convincing demonstration of his unique skill in creating prose fiction of virtually any genre or targeted age group.

In this novel, Grant creates a protagonist who is very much like the author himself. Like Grant, David Mitre (just one of his aliases) dropped out of high school, started a life of crime, and met that perfect woman in the window. Like Mitre, Grant was a fugitive from the law — perhaps that’s why he took a pseudonym as an author. Regarding the Grant/Mitre oneness, Grant explained to me, “Frankly I thought Mitre might be insufferable, so I’m relieved people don’t seem to hate him (me). The Mitre ‘voice’ is a pretty faithful representation of what goes on inside my head.” So it’s not “just” a mystery, it’s also a character study — of the author and what he might have become had he not chosen well in terms of a life partner. Continue reading

‘Dachshund Through the Snow’ by David Rosenfelt is a doggone sweet thriller with plenty of four-legged love to go around

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Fans of the “Andy Carpenter” series are going to be thrilled. New readers will be charmed. With “Dachshund Through the Snow,” author David Rosenfelt has added a new canine to the regulars. There’s Tara, namesake of the late real Tara much beloved by Rosenfelt and his wife, for whom they began to rescue many, many senior dogs. Then there’s the basset hound Sebastian, whose gait is tortoise-slow. Now there’s Simon, retired (thanks to Andy Carpenter’s brilliance and his handler’s love) K9. He and his handler, Corey Douglas, will be making return appearances. Continue reading

‘The Fire Keeper’ is the second ‘Storm Runner’ middle grade fantasy action novel by J.C. Cervantes

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Fans of Rick Riordan’s many fantasy series, like the Percy Jackson series (The Lightning Thief) are sure to love many of the series in the “Rick Riordan Presents” imprint. The “Storm Runner” series takes the idea of young heroes who are the offspring of gods and mortals and moves it to New Mexico, where the gods are Mayan. 

In “The Fire Keeper,” the second in the series, Zane Obispo (don’t you just love the name?) has met his father, the fire god Hurakan, and received a special walking cane/spear/staff from him. While Zane’s limp has always been a source of embarrassment to him, it turns out that the apparent handicap is because of his god blood and is an indication of his power. Zane can control fire — albeit to a very limited degree. He and his family live on a secluded tropical island that is protected by magic from notice of the other Mayan gods, who think he is dead. And that’s the way they prefer it..  Continue reading

‘The Last Dragon’ by James Riley is the second book in “The Revenge of Magic” middle grade series

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“The Last Dragon” by James Riley begins shortly after the end of the first book in the series “The Revenge of Magic.” In the first book, Fort Fitzgerald watches helplessly as his father is grabbed by a monster and dragged underground during an attack when they were visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Sure that his father is dead, Fort is determined to get revenge on the creatures who killed him.

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‘The Tyrant’s Tomb’ by Rick Riordan is the 4th book in ‘The Trials of Apollo’ series

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In “The Tyrant’s Tomb,” master of middle grade fantasy Rick Riordan continues “The Trials of Apollo” series, the story of Apollo, brought low to earth by his father for a transgression, and made into a very human figure.

As Lester Papadopoulos, acne-ridden and with a waist that is far less than Apollo’s trim figure, Apollo must deal with injury, lack of magic, and insolence. Not to mention mortality. He has come far since the first book in the series on his journey to save the world from a triad of evil Roman emperors, but there’s still a long, dangerous road to travel on this quest.

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