The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

Bibliographic Citation:
Donlea, Charlie. (2017). The Girl Who Was Taken. New York, NY: Kensington. 978-1496701008.

thegirlwhowastakenSynopsis:
Dr. Livia Cutty, a medical examiner fellow, is on a search for answers about her sister, Nicole, who disappeared one summer. The same day Nicole went missing, so did another girl, Megan. However, after two weeks she returned, but Nicole never did. Together, Livia and Megan begin to piece together what really happened the night the two went missing.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
I really enjoyed this book. I like how it alternated timelines and voices. We see the present mainly through the point of view of Livia, a medical examiner. We see the past mainly through Nicole’s eyes, Livia’s missing sister. Nicole’s chapters really feel like a YA novel, but it was a nice way to break up Livia’s narration, which at times is very scientific and technical.

I do feel like this book was slightly predictable. I love it when I don’t see things coming, but that wasn’t the case with this book. I had it mostly figured out, except for the the identity of who kept Megan. It was a good read, a quick one too. If you like suspense, consider reading this book. There was this really awful typo at the end, and it bugged me (they said Livia Jennings instead of Elizabeth Jennings). I just couldn’t imagine how they missed that in editing, but oh well.

I liked both Megan and Livia’s characters. For many readers, it is important to feel like characters are easy to identify with or relate to in some way. Nicole felt like an authentic teenage girl on a rebellious streak, to the point where I was surprised to realize the author was male and not female. I particularly enjoyed the forensics aspect of the story. At times it was gruesome, but it felt original. In novels you are often introduced to the detective side of things, so the medical examiner part was a fresh and intriguing. I generally read YA novels, and like children’s fiction, they are typically packaged all nice and neat at the end. Literature for youth needs a sense of happiness and closure, I guess. This wasn’t like that and I was glad . Once I got to the point where Megan knew who her captor was, when she knew the sound, I couldn’t stop reading.

Overall I would give this book 4/5 stars.

Check it out.

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Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil

Bibliographic Citation:
Denzil, Sarah A. (2017). Silent Child.  978-1542722827.

silent childSynopsis:
Emma Price lost her six-year-old son, Aiden, during a record breaking flood in their small town, and her world falls apart. Fast forward ten years and she is finally moving on with her life. She’s happily married and expecting a baby. The suddenly, Aiden returns. But now he is mute and won’t tell anyone where he’s been.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
So I’m just going to come right out and say it, this is my favorite adult fiction book that I have ever read. Friday of last week my coworker told me to download it on Audible because she was really into it. She was on Chapter 7, and gave me a bit of a rundown of it. I was hooked. On my lunch break I listened to a sample, and then I downloaded it. By the end of the day I was past Chapter 7 and itching for more. This book consumed my weekend. I listened to it while I cooked, while I ironed my hair, while I played on my computer, while I laid in bed, while I drove. Monday morning on my way to school I finished the 45 chapters, and I was speechless. I felt myself needing to call everyone I knew and tell them to get this book. I think I ended up only telling 3 or 4 people, but seriously, READ THIS BOOK. Or listen to it, whatever.

The story takes place in England so the narrator has that wonderful accent, if you go the audiobook route, like I did. I was never really a huge audiobook fan, but this book may have changed that. Or at least this narrator. I could honestly listen to her say anything. The entire time I am imagining these characters in my head. How would they really look? Who would play them if there were to be a movie adaptation? (Please let there be one eventually!) It is suspenseful and enthralling. It is beautifully written and the story it tells draws you in, breaks your heart, boils your blood, and makes you want to hug your children a little tighter.

Read this book.
You must.

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry

Bibliographic Citation:
Henry, A. (2016). The Girl I Used to Be. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1627793322.

april henry

(Image from Amazon.com)

Plot Summary:
Olivia aka Ariel’s mother was murdered when she was almost too young to remember. Most people thought her father did it and then disappeared. Fast forward fourteen years when some new evidence now shows that her father and mother were likely killed at the same time. Now Olivia works to uncover the truth. But can she piece it together before the killer finds her?

Analysis & Personal Opinion:
If you know me, you know crime is my thing. Murder? Yep, I’m interested. Okay, that sounds weird but still true. I’m not sure how this book sucked me in, but it did. I read it pretty fast because curiosity and suspense were taking over. I really liked it too, and I’ve recommended it to several of my students who are fans of crime and mystery.

Olivia/Ariel is your average character. I didn’t think she was too far fetched in her actions usually, and if I was in a similar situation then I might’ve acted the same way she did. Sometimes I felt like she asked too many questions and was either making herself look suspicious or obvious, but nonetheless it made for a good story. I haven’t read any other April Henry novels — I know, I know — where have I been — but now I want to! One of my coworkers today said, “Something terrible always happens to a kid in all of her books!” So now I’m curious.

Read if you like: suspense, crime, murder, mystery

Awards and Honors:

  • The ILA (International Literacy Association’s) Choice List
  • Edgar Award finalist
  • Anthony Award finalist
  • South Dakota high school award finalist
  • The Texas Lone Star reading list
  • The Banks Street Best Books list
  • Winner, Oregon Spirit Book Award
  • Best books of 2016 by Multnomah County Library.

Author Info:

April Henry is a New York Times-bestselling author of 21 mysteries for teens and adults. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.

23 Minutes by Vivian Vande Velde

Bibliographic Citation:
Velde, Vivian Vande. (2016). 23 Minutes. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. 978-1629794419.

Plot Summary:
Zoe is a teenage girl with a complicated past and an ability to sort-of time travel. She can relive events she wants to change, but only 23 minutes of them & it rarely changes things for the better. One day Zoe happens upon a bank robbery and knows she has to do whatever she can to help.

23minutes

Image from Amazon.com

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
I am a lover of realistic fiction. You generally won’t find me with my nose in a fantasy or science fiction book. No wizards or vampires for me. But this book, though far from realistic, sucked me in. True crime is perhaps my favorite genre of all time, so it is likely that the crime scene tape reflected in the eye of the person on the cover is what got me, but nonetheless I read AND enjoyed the book. It sat on my desk for well over a month before I picked it up and then I read it cover to cover in about 2 hours. I genuinely liked both Zoe & Daniel, the main characters in the story. Zoe is a little bit different, but you like it probably because the story is told from her point of view. I don’t know if it is possible to hate a main character in a YA novel because you’re inside their heads basically, but moving on. Daniel is likable because he is just so darn nice, and always wants to help. They’re both heroes in this story for their unwavering desire to put other people before themselves. Zoe has the ability to walk away, and just can’t do it. She puts herself in harms way over and over again to try to save Daniel. She could’ve played it back that one time and just left it at that, but she didn’t. Daniel trusts a total stranger who sounds like a lunatic, and in a way sacrifices himself and his own safety for these other people. It would’ve been easy for both of them to just distance themselves from it all, and they can’t just do it. It is noble of them. Stupid at times, but admirable. The only thing I didn’t like was that I felt like the ending was a little cheesy. I don’t think Daniel would’ve bought Zoe a phone in real life, maybe a watch but not a prepaid phone. But then again, this isn’t real life because there aren’t 23 minute time travelers just popping in and out of certain events. Or are there?

Nominations:

  • Young Adult Library Services (YALSA) Quick Picks
  • 2016 Cybil (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) — Young Adult Speculative Fiction division

Author Info:

Vivian Vande Velde is the author of over 30 books ranging from picture books to books for adults. Her work has won several awards including School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (Never Trust a Dead Man), the Edgar for best young adult mystery (Never Trust a Dead Man) and the Anne Spencer Linbergh Prize for fantasy ( Heir Apparent).