Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Review: Lost Girls

Last night, 16-year-old Rachel went to bed listening to music and worrying about her geometry test. She wakes up in a ditch, bloody and bruised, and can’t remember what happened to her. When she is reunited with her family, she discovers she has been missing for two weeks. The police tell Rachel that other girls have gone missing, too, but she is the only one to return home.

To make matters worse, she learns an entire year has passed but she has no memory of it. She is now 17. She is shocked to see that her room is a goth haven and all her clothes are black. This is not the person she remembers herself being.

Technically a Young Adult novel, this debut book by Merrie Destefano is suspenseful enough to keep adults riveted as Rachel sets out to discover what happened to her during that missing year. The more she investigates, the more her memories return.

Destefano kept me on the edge of my seat as Rachel’s investigations lead her into the dark and seedy side of life. While what she discovers could get her killed, she ignores her fear and continues to push forward.

Despite the excellent writing, plotline, and spine-tingling suspense, Lost Girls suffers from a problem that seems to plague most indie books: the lack of a professional edit. Its numerous grammar and punctuation errors and repetitious words detract from its quality. Still, if readers can overlook these issues, they will be in for an exciting read.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Book Review: The Wrong Child

What do you do when you take your eleven-year-old to the doctor only to discover that she is not your biological child?

This is the dilemma facing Abbie Bernard, and she wrestles with the idea of contacting the other family. Once she decides that she has to know her birth daughter, Abbie’s fate is sealed.

USA Today best-selling author and writing teacher Patricia Kay explores the complexity of family dynamics and the stress that results when such a tragic discovery is made.

While the plot kept me turning the pages, a major flaw exists at the end: There is no character arc on the part of the person who had the most problems dealing with this situation. The character changes from being completely oppositional to totally accepting without explanation. Because it seemed that an entire chunk of chapters was missing, this spoiled what is otherwise an engrossing plot.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review: The Game You Played

The Game You Played is the debut novel of author Anni Taylor. Phoebe Baskos, a young wife, mother, and former actress, turns her attention away from her two-year-old son for just a moment at an inner-city playground. When she looks back, Tommy is gone. After an exhaustive search, the authorities presume he was kidnapped.

Then, six months later, Phoebe and her husband Luke begin receiving rhymed messages about Tommy and suspect they are from the kidnapper. Set in Sydney, Australia, near the author’s home, this psychological thriller takes readers on a roller-coaster ride as Phoebe searches for the truth behind her son’s disappearance.  Who took Tommy? And why?

This gripping novel has complex characters and spine-tingling suspense. Told from two viewpoints, Phoebe’s and Luke’s, the story kept me on the edge of my seat as one person, then another, was a possible suspect in the crime.

Taylor gets deep into Phoebe’s and Luke’s psyches and motivation. While the issues of mental illness and substance abuse play important roles, the plot was not predictable and kept me guessing.

The book should have been given one more edit to catch nitpicker grammar and missing punctuation errors, however. The problem is not one of British English versus American English. I lived in England for three years and am familiar with the differences between the two forms of the language. Perhaps it’s my editor’s eye. These errors concern missing punctuation and words and use of lower-case letters that should be capitals and vice-versa.

I hasten to add that these problems don’t detract from what is otherwise a very powerful page-turner. I look forward to reading—and reviewing—Taylor’s second novel, The Six.