The Forgotten Headline by McCaid Paul

fullsizeoutput_150fGenre: Middle Grade Thriller/ Mystery
Pages: Print 187
Release Date: November 19, 2017
Author: McCaid Paul
Rating: ★★★★.5

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is a finished print copy.

Goodreads Synopsis 

NO ONE KNOWS what their last normal day will be like. For Mick Smith, the day that he goes hunting with his dad, turns out to be his. After a deer that his dad shoots runs on their neighbor’s property, he decides to retrieve it–without the neighbor, Mr. Welch, finding out.

But once they cross the property line, Mr. Welch fires shots at them, making them leave the deer behind. Mick’s dad warns him it’s too dangerous to go back and get the deer but Mick doesn’t listen. Later the same day, he finds himself crossing the neighbor’s property line once again. And what he finds there WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING.

Deciding not to tell his dad about his discovery, Mick makes up his mind to investigate on his own. Only with the help of his best friend Billie, will he set out to solve the mystery, unearthing secrets about his discovery, his family, and one shocking secret about himself that threatens to destroy everything he’s ever known.
Some secrets are dangerous, and should stay forgotten.

Final Thoughts

This middle grade fiction novel written by a young author takes you on a journey through secrets of one town. The books starts off with a thrilling set of events that made me not want to put it down. The beginning definitely set the tone for the rest of the book as the author worked to unravel components of each character and events. It is prevalent that the author spent time on developing each character in this book. I would have liked more development of Billie, Mick’s best friend, but her story may come out in the next book. As a librarian, I especially enjoyed the two friends interaction at the local library. I liked that the author added realistic pieces into the book and showcased a bit of the importance of the libraries. The library is seen in this story as motivation and the match that lit the fire of the investigation. It is also seen as a pathway to the past as the two discover secrets of their own and as their curiosity is fueled by what they have discovered.

Overall, this is a great read! I enjoyed the interaction between characters and the climax of the book. I felt the ending could have used a bit more pizazz but it definitely had me reaching for my wallet to purchase the next in this series. This is merely the first book and if you are interested in a thriller that focuses on family, secrets, and friendship, then pick this one up. Also, this book definitely takes you on an emotional rollercoaster toward the end as secrets start to unravel and both Billie and Mick find their voices. Imagine if you had to stand up to someone you trusted, do you think you would live to tell the tale?

This book is great for middle school aged and upper elementary students depending on the reading level. There are scenes that involve hunting and shooting in this book. It may be mature for younger ages.

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Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

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ARC Review: Sneaking Out

img_2534Title: Sneaking Out 
Author: Chuck Vance
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Pages: Print 384
Release Date: March 3,2018
Rating: ★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from Dunemere Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

Could you sleep next to a murderer?

Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.

Favorite Quotes:

“You refuse to acknowledge your  heroics. Now you can’t deny them. You can now know that you are truly special.” 

“Ever since he had been in captivity he had learned to play game where he had tried to pick up on small clues from the small things people said about themselves. Sort of like honing his powers of inference, Sherlock Holmes style. He had started it because he never wanted to be surprised by people he thought he knew.”

Final Thoughts:

First off, Chuck Vance did a great job capturing my attention this entire novel. This young adult fiction book provides a thrilling mystery between these pages. The begins with a group of four students at a boarding school all deciding to sneak out one evening. They have no idea what awaits them in the woods on that starry night. Luke, Oscar, Kelsey, and Pippa all decide they want to take a break from the dorms and head into the woods for a midnight stroll. Luke is hoping to get closer to Pippa, the new student from England with a hard personality. The story begins to unravel when the students hear a noise out in the woods hoping they are alone they remain quiet while Oscar ventures out to investigate. Luke hears Mrs. Heckler arguing with a man in the woods but who is that man? Everyone assumes that Luke is paranoid because of the things that occurred in his past. The four start to head back towards their dorms hoping not to get caught and put the chilling night behind them. The following day the entire school gets word that Mrs. Heckler was found murdered in the woods the same night those four were out there. Luke, Oscar, Kelsey, and Pippa must decide to either share the information about that night and risk expulsion or try to solve the mystery on their own. Luke must decide who to trust as he watches his roommate and best friend get framed for murder. Everyone has something to hide including Oscar, Kelsey, and Pippa. As Luke starts investigating her begins to uncover many secrets about his friends, his teachers, and even the late Mrs. Heckler.  Can the Kidnapped Kid use his survival skills to locate the real murderer?

This book is well written, and the plot twist was fantastic. The entire novel I thought one character killed Mrs. Heckler, but in the end, it was someone else. I was extremely confident in my detective skills, and I was on the edge of my seat. I prevented myself from looks to the end of the book to ease the pressure of finding out who did it. In this “whodunit” novel it is hard not to love the writing style and the cliffhanger at the end. Sneaking Out is book one of the Chased Series, so I am curious to see what other things Chuck Vance has up his sleeves. I recommend this book to any young adult or adult looking for a great mystery novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield

img_2051Title: The Book of Storms
Author: Ruth Hatfield
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: Print 357
Rating: ★★★★.5

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I purchased a copy of this book on my own from book outlet. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher.

This Middle-Grade fantasy fiction novel follows the life of Danny. He awakes one morning to find out that his parents are missing after a harsh storm that occurred the night prior. Danny searches outside in hopes of locating his parents and discovers the sycamore tree in his yard has been struck by lightning. As he examines the tree more closely, gazing upon the charcoal color, he finds a piece of the tree that looks different. Danny reaches to pick up the stick, and from that moment on he can hear the sounds of the earth. This startles him, and he takes the stick places it in his pocket and heads to school assuming his parents will be home when he returns. Danny returns home and realizes his parents are indeed missing. He must journey to find his parents and uncover their secrets. While searching his parent’s room for clues, he stumbles upon a journal that explains that his parents were storm chasers. With the help of the neighborhood cat, Mitzy, Danny journeys to the home of Abel Korsakof in hopes of discovering what the Book of Storms is. Danny must learn who to trust and who not to trust. He must also find his parents, the Book of Storms, and try not to be killed by Sammael. Will Danny see his parents or will he be killed?

Favorite Quotes:

“What would you do if you woke up and your mum was missing?”

Danny said this line to his cousin Tom after arriving at his Aunt’s farm.

“He waited for an uncountable time in the hop of seeing the earth re-form and rise up into the shape of the great gray dog he had loved, but there was nothing there.”

This was one of the saddest parts for me. Even though I know Sammael is the villain in this story, he still had a heart for his dog. I am assuming Sammael will seek vengeance for the death of his dog and still continue to try to control the storms.

Final Thoughts:

I thought this was a great story. I liked the way this book was written and felt the same feelings Danny felt. Danny was in complete shock at the beginning of the book, not realizing his parents were indeed missing. He struggled to come to terms with the fact that he had to journey alone to find them but continued to seek out help from others such as Mitzy and the creatures of the earth. I did not wholly understand the power that Sammael had or the importance of his dog, other than being a companion. I also did not understand the concept of a Lurcher and felt that could have been explained more in the book. Overall, I thought this book did a great job of capturing my attention and had me on the edge of my seat a good portion of the time. I recommend this book for anyone in middle school interested in a fantasy novel that focuses on the importance of working together. I assume the overall lesson in this book is not to give up and to seek out help when needed. It is also important to be careful who you trust because Tom made a mistake in this book towards the end and I am curious as to how his error will affect everyone else.

What would you do if you came home and your parents were missing?

A Cactus in the Valley by Olivia Bennett

img_2026Title: A Cactus in the Valley 
Author: Olivia J. Bennett 
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic
Pages: Print 387
Rating: ★★★★★

Author Q& A Below: Check out her inspiration for this novel!

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was given a copy of this book from the author Olivia Bennett, in exchange for my honest review. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author.

This contemporary novel follows the journey of the two main characters, Terra and Wyatt. This book is written well and focuses on the lives of both the main characters. Each is struggling with their demons and are forced to face them head on or not survive. The book This novel begins from the perspective of Terra waking up from a terrible plane crash. She comes to her senses realizing that something terrible has happened. We then are shifted to the point of view of Wyatt and his view of waking from the plane crash. In the beginning, both experience grief, strength, awareness, and physical pain all before we get to the first 50 pages. The author spent time explaining each character’s past, using foreshadowing as a method to do so. The reader gains an understanding of the moments leading up to the day of the crash and the moments both characters face to survive. They are both stranded in a desolate area hoping to survive long enough to make it to their families. Terra and Wyatt must decide what they are living for, they must not lose hope, and they must rely heavily on each other. We watch as these two spring into action, noting their survival instincts, rooting for them to survive, mourning their losses, and crying for their pain. A Cactus in the Valley is an incredibly captivating novel, and I recommend this to anyone. The author did a fantastic job capturing the attention of the reader throughout the entire story.

Favorite Quotes

“Take chances, Terra. Make mistakes, because nothing is so terribly messed up that it can’t be fixed.” -Abigail, Terra’s Grandmother

” But eventually, I would get doused with cold water, putting out the flames of rejection and betrayal, downing out the perpetual grief, and overflowing the void left by my parting grandmother. But, I guess that’s a story for another day.” – Terra

In these quotes, I feel Terra’s pain for the loss of the only person in her life that cared for her. There are many quotes like this throughout the novel showcasing the challenges Terra faced in her life before the crash.

” Before long, I was sobbing at the kindness of the truth before me. And that night, I, Wyatt Hartman, came to know the truth.” -Wyatt after a night of partying

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is novel one of my favorite novels. I loved the writing style throughout the entire book and enjoyed the style diary chapters. I was captivated by the dates in each section and the point of view from both of the main characters. These two found each other in a time of grief and let their faith continue to inspire them to have hope. There is a hint of religious influence in this novel, but it is not overbearing. I could tell that the author has a bit of power on this part. The secret that Terra shared at the beginning of the novel was jarring, but it emphasized the hardships she faced and her inner battle. Wyatt is sometimes demanding and other moments loving. These two find solace in each other’s presence and there is a short period in the novel where a natural force separates them. During these moments, each character fights to face the past that continues to hold them captive.  The moments leading up to the crash explained in detail from the perspective of both characters, and we finally get the full details of the accident closer to the ending of the novel. I say that was strategically placed at the end because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. These two characters are developed so well that you have no choice but to get tangled up in this story.

Question and Answer with the AUTHOR:

1.What was your inspiration for the novel?

I don’t think I had a direct inspiration for A Cactus In the Valley, but I was inspired by other survival stories, both real and fictional. I saw that there was potential for a good story in the heightened emotions and desperation that came with the territory. But overall, I wanted to create an allegory of my own experience becoming a young adult, finding oneself, and overcoming the past.

2.Is there any other novels in the works?

There is! I’m actually in the process of editing the companion novella to A Cactus In the Valley. It centers around Harper, Lilly, and Nick as they grapple with the loss of Terra and Wyatt. It kind of tells the story of what goes on behind the scenes. I’m planning on publishing it this summer!
3. I saw a bit of a religious aspect in this novel, is this stemmed from you have a religious background? 

I am a Christian, but I also know that life isn’t all sunshine and roses, so why should I write that way? This novel does stem from my religious background of being nondenominational/charismatic Christian.

Because of my circumstances, I find myself around people (and Christians) who don’t conform to the squeaky-clean Christian stereotype. I ultimately saw a need for gritty, real fiction for broken teens. I hope to bridge the gap and create a new genre of fiction that’s too secular to be Christian but too Christian to be secular.
Special thanks to the author for agreeing to answer my questions and for sending me a copy of this book!