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.

Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at

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!

Mystery Date by Amber Nadine

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**I was contacted by the author give an honest review of this book!** Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Mystery Date by Amber Nadine is a two hundred page suspenseful romance that falls under Young Adult Fiction. This book focuses on the main character Rayn. She is an up and coming twenty-two-year-old editor running a company on her own. Rayn is facing a bit of a slump after her boyfriend of two years dumped her. She forces herself to work long hours and makes no time for friends, except to hang out with her best friend, Ollie. Ollie recommended she sign up for an online dating website to meet new guys. Rayn still has not gotten over her breakup with Adam a year later. Rayn signs up and stumbles on Adam’s profile. She still can’t believe he broke up with her; they were so in love. She comes up with a plan to win back Adam by setting up her profile name as Taylor and messaging Adam on the site. She plans on revealing herself to him later, in hopes of them getting back together. She has no idea what kind of trouble she has gotten herself into. Mystery Date is a thrilling, suspenseful novel that touches on the dangers of online dating. Be weary of what others put online and do not be quick to trust online dating sites.

This book has a lot of a lot of twists and turns towards the ending. There was a lot of surprise at the end that I liked. I liked how the author explained at the end of the novel why she chose to keep certain aspects in the book. I especially loved the plot twist but would have liked for a little more at the ending. I wanted to know more about the story of William and Rayn. I wanted to know how William knew that Rayn was in danger. I also wanted to know why Ollie did not want Rayn messaging William online. I loved how the author provided a bit of family drama relating Rayn and a background of Ollie. I cannot believe Ollie turned out the way he did at the end. I especially loved finding out about Jessica, Ollie’s “girlfriend.” I was on the edge of my seat for this part, holding my breath, and waiting to see what would happen. Be mindful; this book has its fill with romance and moments where you are on the edge of your seat.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars based on personal preference and gaps in the story that I felt needed to replaced with more information. I like a little bit more information on characters and personally wanted to know about Williams connection to Ollie. The last two sentences were a great way to end the novel. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, suspenseful romance that has a pretty exciting/thrilling plot twist.


The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

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The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti is a Young Adult romance/ mystery novel. The book released at the beginning of this year. This book follows the journey of Hawthorn Creely as she searches for the missing Lizzie Lovett and in the process she finds herself. Hawthorn is an eccentric character who faces the typical woes of a high school student who stands out. She tends to create elaborate stories and theories regarding people. Hawthorn once thought a teacher was a terrorist and turned him when she saw a student getting out of his car. Instead of calling the police, she called the girls mother and turned out the student, and the teacher had an inappropriate relationship. Her best friend Emily seems to go along with her schemes the entire story until she starts fixating on Lizzie Lovett. Hawthorn wants to be Lizzie that she takes her job at the diner, begins searching for her with Lizzie’s ex-boyfriend Lorenzo, and even dates Lorenzo. The entire novel you wonder if Lizzie is even alive or if she was attacked in the woods and died. The search seems to stop; people move on until something happens. All the while, Hawthorn continues to remain fixated on the life of Lizzie Lovett. As you read, you watch Hawthorn’s life unravel, and she discovers who she is and where she fits in.

I thought this story was a bit weird. There were a few times I felt uncomfortable and wanted to stop reading. I get that way with books that involve high school bullying and missing people. The whole story was a mystery that was unraveling from the beginning. I liked that it had a bit of romance and I loved that Hawthorn was an outcast trying to find her way in. She worked so hard to ignore everyone when she just wanted to fit in and be invited to things. The author did a great job telling this story. I felt real emotions while reading this book. I felt sad for Hawthorn and her lack of popularity but also proud of her for being honest with everyone. Ironically, she was never truly honest with herself, and she was entirely selfish. Hawthorn put Lizzie Lovett on a pedestal the entire story, and in the end, it was her brother who made her realize that not everything is at it seems on the outside.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. There were a few areas that could be improved. I wanted to know what happened to Lorenzo after he discovered the news of what happened to Lizzie. I also wanted to know more about why Hawthorn’s arch nemesis existed. These are all personal preferences. This book was definitely out of my realm of books that I read. I try to steer clear of mystery’s, but I found this one to be fascinating.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliot

court of fives
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Court of Fives by Kate Elliot is a Fantasy, Romance Young Adult Fiction novel that is set in a different period. The general problem of this story is that Jessamy wants to participate in the Court of Fives, which is a series of complex challenges with one overall winner. The top winner is seen as the best competitor and moves on to more higher ranks in the Fives. Jessamy is birthed into a family with a mother who is a Commoner and a father who is a Patron in the army. This type of relationship is frowned upon due to the Father’s class. Jessamy has three other siblings, but she is not the attractive sibling. Her father is not aware she has been secretly training for the Fives and planned to compete. He arrives home from the war and invites them all to the competition, which is uncommon since the family is of a lower-class. Jess sneaks out of the watch party, competes in the tournament, and purposely loses. Kalliarkos is the competitor who she let win. She runs into him when she returns to the watch party, and he asks about her skills and why she threw the competition. Jessamy has made a friend that will become both her lover and her competitor. She must choose between getting her dream or letting Kalliarkos getting his.

I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator has a British accent that was fitting with the book. This book was an intriguing read for me. I enjoyed a lot of the content and the romance.  I would have liked more information about the setting about the land they live in and how they got there. It is very intriguing how the author described Jessamy and her family as well as their traditions. There are a lot of myths and tales that are similar to old wives tales told to me as a child. The world is not filled with fairies, but there are a few unexplained instances that occur. Like shadows swallowing people whole, sparks dancing on the walls, and a baby who was given life after being declared dead. There is a lot of suspense throughout the entire book. I was on the edge of my seat, biting my fingernails, and waiting for the moment in the book when they are all safe. This book takes you on a thriller ride through love, family, honor, class, strength, and freedom. Jessamy is a sharp, witty, and smart main character of this novel serves as a role model to all of her sisters. Even though she gets teased and treated differently for her lack of beauty she still excels and manages to showcase strength instead. I would recommend this book to others who are looking for a book that has a medieval romance feel to it with young and older characters.

I rate this book a 4 out of 5 due to the lack of more background information. There were a few instances in the book where I was a bit confused. I will likely read the remaining items in the series but at a later date.