To Die For by Betsy Haynes

To Die For by Betsy Haynes
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (102 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Larkin Quinn can’t wait until her heart transplant surgery is over so she can awaken to the beautiful and fun life she’s desired. But from the moment she opens her eyes, her world is dominated by terrifying nightmares where she is trapped underwater and blocked from reaching the surface. She wakes up each time screaming and drenched in sweat.

She needs to understand what these dreams mean. Are they messages from her heart donor? She fears he is demanding his life back in exchange for hers and wants revenge. Even more frustrating is that no one believes her about the nightmares. Why won’t anyone, not even her boyfriend Paul, help her? Larkin has to figure out what is going on with her new heart before it kills her.

She has someone else’s heart. Does she also have a few of his memories now?

Larkin was a sweetheart. Her anxiety over all of the strange things her body started doing after her heart transplant only made me like her more than I already did. Seeing her panic over every little twinge made her feel relatable to me. It was such a normal reaction to a serious surgery that I couldn’t help but to hope she would find a way to relax a little bit soon while also understanding why it was so hard for her to stop worrying.

There were a few mild pacing issues. I would have preferred to see a little more time spent on the main character’s attempts to figure out the identity of her donor and why he died so young. While I really liked seeing Larkin slowly recover after her surgery, those scenes did take up a large section of the storyline. It would have been the perfect introduction for a novel, but it was a bit disproportionate for a short story. This was the only thing holding this book back from a much higher rating as I enjoyed everything else about it.

By far my favorite part of the plot was the mystery of what happened to Larkin’s heart donor. She had so many clues about his fate, but they weren’t easy to figure out due to all of the hospital rules about what she could and couldn’t be told about his identity. I couldn’t wait to find out if she’d discover how it all fit together or why she kept dreaming about scary things that had never actually happened to her.

To Die For kept me on the edge of my seat. I’d recommend it to anyone who would like a science fiction story about something that a few transplant patients in real life have actually experienced.

If I’d Never Heard of Me Would I Read My Book? by Teymour Shahabi – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Teymour Shahabi will be awarding a print copy of “The Secret Billionaire” with a personal message (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If I’d Never Heard of Me Would I Read my Book?

I studied both comparative literature and math in college—please forgive me if I seem to start on the wrong side here. One of the mathematical concepts that have inspired me the most (by which I mean, outside the realm of homework) is proof by induction. It’s used to prove that a certain statement holds true for all natural numbers. You start by proving that, if the statement is true for a given value n, then it’s true for the next natural number, n + 1. Then you prove that the statement is true for the number 1. Based on the first proof, if the statement is true for 1, then it must also be true for the number 2. Which means it must also be true for the number 3. And so on and so on, showing that the statement is true for all the natural numbers. (Aren’t you picturing glass dominoes knocking one another down into infinity? If only life were as clean as math…)

This principle of proof by induction perfectly encapsulates, in my mind, what a book should do. (And I promise I’m not just trying to justify my college degree as more than randomness and indecision.) In a good book, if you pick up the story on any given page—let’s call it page n—you should feel compelled to turn over to page n + 1. Different authors may compel you with different tricks: with a gripping mystery, with snappy dialogue, with a mesmerizing character, with the beauty of the writing… What matters is that any page you read will make you want to read another. Now, ideally, this statement holds true for page 1 of the book—or even page 0: anyone who sees the book cover and the description on the back should feel the urge to turn open the first page.

Therefore, I measure my own book by the answer to this question: if someone sees the book, glances at the book cover (designed by the brilliant Kelly Ellis), and reads the description, would that person then want to start reading—and go all the way to the end? Success, for me, would be to answer the question with a confident yes.

And so, if I’ve done my job correctly, then, if I’d never heard of me, I wholeheartedly wish to believe that I’d still read The Secret Billionaire.

March 24. Billionaire Lyndon Surway takes off in his private plane and never returns.

His will leaves the entirety of his wealth—one of the largest fortunes in history—to his “dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. And the fortune itself is nowhere to be found.

Andrew Day knows nothing of wealth and privilege, but he won a scholarship to study at the most exclusive school in the country, in the town where the mystery, decades later, remains unsolved. There he discovers friendship and danger with the aristocratic Cameron and the beautiful Olivia. But watchful eyes follow him everywhere… Until, one night, he comes across a secret that will change his life. As he begins to unravel what really happened to the Surway fortune, the question remains: who is Lucian Baker?

Winner: Northern California Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016
Winner: Great Midwest Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016
Winner: Florida Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016

Enjoy an Excerpt

THE METROPOLITAN TIMES
June 24, 196…

At nine o’clock yesterday morning, following ninety days of fruitless searching, billionaire industrialist and businessman Lyndon Surway was officially pronounced dead. Mr. Surway was last seen by members of his staff departing from the main airplane hangar of his estate a few minutes past eight in the morning, flying alone aboard one of his aircraft. His last recorded words to the command center crew of his hangar were: “Clear skies and mild winds. Perfect visibility, or as perfect as I could hope, for as long as I can tell. Gentlemen, I wish you a thorough enjoyment of this fine day.” Nothing unusual was noted in his language or behavior.

The late Mr. Surway often took his plane out with no stated destination. But this time, he failed to return at the customary hour of six in the evening. As no word had been received from him, the kitchens were advised that he would likely dine outside.

At ten o’clock on the following morning, when there was still no news of Mr. Surway or his aircraft, the Steward of the House alerted the municipal, state, and federal authorities, and a search began for the missing magnate. But no airport, hotel, hospital or inn within fuel’s range of the estate could provide any information. Dozens of interviews bore no result. Countless journalists and detectives rushed in from every corner of the country, but none of them could unearth a single clue regarding Mr. Surway’s whereabouts. Not even the Steward could guess where Mr. Surway had gone. On the morning of his disappearance, Mr. Surway had only told him: “My day is free and so am I.”

Fifteen infantry troops were dispatched, with over a hundred hound dogs, across more than two hundred miles of hills and valleys surrounding the town of Spring Forge, where Mr. Surway lived. The infantry and the dogs found nothing. The Air Force then loaned eighteen jet-powered aircraft to continue the search. The Navy joined the effort with five ships, sixteen helicopters, and four submarines to scour the coastal regions, islands, and ocean floor within flying range of the Eastern Seaboard. Again nothing was found. Finally then, a large-scale search was conducted through the grounds and the buildings of Surway House itself, led by seven hundred volunteers from Spring Forge and other towns throughout the valley. Still they found nothing. Yesterday marked three months since Mr. Surway’s disappearance. The aircraft was legally declared lost, and its owner deceased. Mr. Surway, estimated for each of the past twelve years to be the wealthiest man in the Western Hemisphere, leaves behind no known relatives.

About the Author: Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris of Persian parents in 1985. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He lives in New York City where he’s spent the last few years among serious professionals, many of whom probably prefer to read nonfiction. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.

You can watch him try to figure out writing and life at Facebook.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Buy the book at Amazon.

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February Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (253 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Aloe

BoM LASR YA copy

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first installment of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (253 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Aloe

BoM LASR YA copy

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first installment of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

She’s been flying since she was a baby so she thinks nothing of taking off in her plane to study humpback whales. She wrote a convincing enough project she got funded. She has friends to stay with. All she needs to do is follow the whales, mark their routes, and take photos. That does not include snooping around a campsite of strangers…

Mr. Reading offers you a look at the past and the present. She’s in an area close to the gold rush days of Alaska. He ties that into the story very successfully and the facts are good. Having read Yukon gold history in the past, what he offers is true look at how awful the conditions were everyone was trying to get there first.

Since Kitty has met several new friends in Alaska and she hears the tale of the boat that burned, blew up and sunk near an island. It was supposed to have a load of gold on it and many people are still trying to find that. When she sees men near the area, she wonders if they are looking for the gold. She should have left well enough alone.

This story flows well, Kitty is a good strong young lady who need all her skills and judgement to get out of the situation she’s in. As she travels with the band of brothers who captured her, she learns about Jack London and other Alaskan gold miners.

It kept my attention and made me wonder what the author would share with us next. It was a very good read and he gives you more reference information at the end of the story. If you haven’t heard of all this history, it should lead you to reading more. That’s a good thing. All in all, the story won’t bore you.

January Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Just Another Quiet Little City by J.S. Frankel


Just Another Quiet Little City by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (234 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

Magic is in the air, and it makes the rules. Teenagers Gabe Common and his girlfriend, Millie Themmes, have settled in Angels Camp, California. As a high school dropout with little education and no future job prospects, Gabe is forced to work as a sideshow attraction with Millie at his side. They spend their days taking people on airborne excursions, and Gabe longs for some stability in his life.

However, all things have to change, and change they do when the magic returns with a vengeance. As with Chumsville, their former residence, most of the citizenry of Angels Camp disappear with no rhyme or reason, leaving only fifteen survivors behind. And the changes from human to something else happen once more, this time with frightening speed.

An old friend, Gil Perkins from the FBI arrives as a liaison, and then the army takes over. However, they have another plan in mind, and they imprison Gabe and the other survivors and use them as guinea pigs, trying to copy their powers.

Gabe needs answers, and the answers lie in Chumsville, a small community in South Dakota. He and his friends stage a breakout and make a perilous journey back to where it all started. Once there, Gabe and Millie learn the secret of why the magic happened and have to fight for their very survival.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen


The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical (1950s), Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full (294 pgs)
Age recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Stephanotis

FACT: Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, she’s in over her head.

PROOF: After hearing a scream and catching a glimpse of a mysterious man carrying a body beneath the flickering streetlights in the cemetery behind her house, Tessie adds solving a murder case to her already quite full to-do list.

Tessie has elected herself president of the crime-stopping Mutual Admiration Society—as if dealing with her “sad madness” over the tragic drowning of her beloved father; showering tender loving care on her “sweet but weird” younger sister, Birdie; and staying on the good side of their hard-edged mother weren’t enough. With partner in crime Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield, Tessie and Birdie will need to dodge the gossips in their 1950s blue-collar neighborhood—particularly their evil next-door neighbor, Gert Klement, who’d like nothing better than to send the sisters to “homes.” And, of course, there’s the problem of steering clear of the kidnapping murderer if they have any hope of solving the mystery of all mysteries: the mystery of life.

A rich and charming tour de force, The Mutual Admiration Society showcases Lesley Kagen’s marvelous storytelling talents. Laced with heartwarming humor and heartbreaking grief, this novel is nothing short of magical.

How can I categorize this novel? I don’t think I can because it’s part Nancy Drew-like mystery, part family drama, and yes, it’s lots of fun to read.

The first thing I liked about this book was its main character and narrator Tessie Finley. She’s a likeable young girl who’s lost her father, doesn’t have the best relationship with her mother but along with her sister, Birdie, she’s making the most of it. She’s quirky, funny, sometimes adorable and when she thinks she’s seen a murder, she turns amateur detective. Along with her sister they set out to solve the crime, form the Mutual Admiration Society, and that’s when the fun really begins.

The book is set in 1959 which I think was perfect for the story and setting. I loved Tessie’s use of lists and the fact and proof entries as she tries to solve the crime. Her voice comes across strong in this story and some of the dialogue has you laughing out loud.

I’d say that not only will young adults enjoy this story but adults too. I haven’t read anything else written by this author but this first introduction to her work has made me want to check out some other titles. If you’re looking for a quirky mystery with some family drama thrown in, this is probably one you’d enjoy.

Running on Empty by R.M. Clark


Running on Empty by R.M. Clark
Publisher: Indigo Sea Press
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (151 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

After getting a video camera for her fourteenth birthday, Kasey Madrid enters film contest and chooses her town’s 300th anniversary celebration as a subject. All is well until the town’s time capsule is unearthed empty, prompting Kasey to investigate. Things get even stranger when she begins to see someone in her camera no one else can see. That “someone” turns out to be Marion Gibson, the town’s former historian, who went into a coma-like state when the time capsule was buried and whose memories are now trapped in time. Kasey researches the town historians and reveals their 300 year-old secret: a wooden chest that gives them the ability to see other people’s memories and visit the past. She also finds that Marion’s successor, the real town historian, is missing. Using her film footage, Kasey discovers the chest is passed on to each new historian every generation through time capsules. When the chest is stolen, Kasey and her camera go back to save Marion, find the identity of the next historian and solve the mystery of the empty time capsule.

Everyone has been waiting 30 years to find out what the previous generation wanted to share with them about life in the 1980s. Sadly, their wait isn’t over quite yet.

My favorite sections of this book were the ones that described who the town historians were and how they travelled through time. Marion’s strange illness made me wonder what happened to her and what she would have told Kasey about the time capsule if she were able to speak. It was also interesting to find out how new historians are chosen in this community. All of these details helped me to imagine what it would be like to live in Chepstow as I was reading.

I would have liked to see more clues about the mystery of what happened to the missing items in the time capsule. It look a while for Kasey to find the first one, and the rest of the clues lagged behind that one as well. This made the pacing of the story feel much slower than it actually was because of how long it took to find out anything about what was going on with the main part of the plot.

Kasey and Paula were such a great team. It was cool to see how well they worked together on this case. They were such good friends that they could often guess what the other one was thinking without having to speak their thoughts out loud. Not only did this show how just close they were to each other, it also made it easy for them to keep going when they reached points in the storyline where there wasn’t a lot of room for conversation.

Running on Empty is a good choice for anyone who is in the mood for a slow-burning mystery.

Discord by Katy Haye


Discord by Katy Haye
Echoes of Earth Book 1

Publisher: Self
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full (360 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by Orchid

Beth forgot her past. What if there’s nothing to remember?

Seventeen-year-old Beth has brain damage. That’s why she lives in a hospital in the middle of the English countryside filled with therapeutic music and medical tests. Some days she feels well enough to go home, but other days – the days filled with shadows and ghosts, and a strong sense of déjà vu – she fears she’ll never get better.

Toby’s arrival signals a turning point. Beth faces her fears instead of hiding from them. But even with Toby’s help, is she strong enough to face a truth that is stranger than anything Beth could imagine?

Steptoe House is a convalescent home for teenagers who are recovering from accidents to the head. The main therapy is music and the teenagers are expected to take part in concerts. Most of the patients have vague memories of their past, but Beth doesn’t. Her time before Steptoe House is blank. Several of the teenagers have paired off, and when a new boy, Toby, arrives Beth’s life takes a turn for the better emotionally.

The characters in this book are exceptionally well crafted, each with a personality which fits their place in the story. The setting with doctors, a teacher and country surroundings are exactly what I would expect of a convalescent home for teenagers. Although budding romance took place, it was only a sideline to the main plot and didn’t detract from the mystery and suspense areas. My only query originally was why the number of patients was restricted to a small amount, but this was revealed in the latter part of the book.

I did feel the story dragged out a bit, maybe a bit too long for the concept, but the final part was well thought out, making me want to read more about Beth and her friends.

December Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Gargoyle Redemption by Isabel Castruita

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Gargoyle Redemption by Isabel Castruita
Gargoyle Redemption Trilogy – Book 1
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (163 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

18 year old, Shinka Fox moved to California to pursue her music career, her mother Bru Fox is a famous artist traveling the world. Infatuated with a boy named Abel Lapis at her new school Shinka is surprised when the young man always seems to be around when she’s in trouble. A group called the Hunters is out to kill Shinka. But Abel has a secret, he’s a gargoyle. Will Abel rescue Shinka in time or will the Hunters reach her first?

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Hunt for the Horsemen by Gita V. Reddy


Hunt for the Horsemen by Gita V. Reddy
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Middle Grade, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (101 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

An Indian Palace full of secret chambers and hidey-holes.

A Treasure Hunt game more than a century old.

And a family gathering of one hundred and fifty people!

Twelve- year- old Sandy, who has always lived in the U.S., is visiting Amrita Mahal, the family palace. She joins the other children of the erstwhile royal family in the Hunt for the Horseman, a game like none other because it involves looking for an ivory toy- the Horseman- in secret compartments and hidey-holes.

Dangerous criminals are out to grab the palace. This could be the last chance the children may have to find the elusive horseman. Meantime, as the court hearing nears, the thugs start dangerous games.

When it looks like everything is lost, the Horseman saves the palace……

Read for a rollercoaster ride of fun, thrill, adventure, mystery, and more.

There’s never been a family reunion more adventurous than this one.

My favourite part of this book were the descriptions of all of the delicious things that Sandy and her family members ate during their visit. Every dish sounded incredible, and I liked the fact that the narrator spent so much time talking about what kinds of food were in them. This made it easy to imagine what it would be like to have a vacation in that castle because of how much time the characters spent thinking about their next meal or looking forward to a favorite treat.

The big thing holding this story back from receiving a higher rating was how many characters it had. So many of them were introduced that I had a tough time remembering who everyone was, especially when it came to people who only showed up for a few of the scenes. It would have been nice to have a smaller number of Sandy’s relatives to focus on so that I could get to know them and her better than I did.

The search for the Horseman was so exciting. There seemed like there could only be a certain number of places to hide something like that in a palace, so I was curious to find out why no one has found this toy yet. I had a few different theories about where it might have been stashed away. It was fun to compare them to what the main character found as she and her cousins moved from room to room.

Hunt for the Horseman should be read by anyone who is in the mood for a playful mystery.