The Lost Causes novel

The Lost Causes: Not Cliche, Super-powered Teens

The Lost Causes by Jessica Koosed Etting & Alyssa Embree Schwartz

Published by Kids Can Press, expected September 2017

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 344

The Lost Causes has so many of my favorite tropes wrapped up in one book. I’m such a sucker for ensemble casts, like three or more main characters and I’m in. I love teen powers as long as it’s not “This one kid is the chosen one!” And I love friendship stories, especially unlikely friendships! This book doesn’t disappoint.

 

The Lost Causes Novel

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

They’re the kids that no one knows — or no one wants to know. The rich depressive, the OCD chick, the hypochondriac, the drug abuser, the athlete with anger management issues. All chosen for intensive group therapy because they’re out of other options. They’re lost causes, the therapist tells them. She promises this support group will help them heal. 

There’s only one problem. She’s not a therapist. And that water she offers? It contains a dangerous serum that gives each of the kids a psychic power. 

Suddenly, they can think clearly, speak to ghosts, see the past, even move objects with their mind. Their earlier problems have vanished, but their new freedom comes with a price. 
Sabrina, Gabby, Z, Justin and Andrew are to help the FBI solve the grisly murder that has rocked their small town. Their new powers will help them uncover clues and follow leads that have eluded the authorities. Their outsider status gives them the perfect cover. 

But the same traits that make them top investigators also make them vulnerable. As they close in on the murderer, they expose a much larger conspiracy that puts them directly in harm’s way and makes them wonder who — if anyone — they can trust.

The Lost Causes nvel

Are so fun! This to me has a Heroes vibe (before the show became unbearable), or even more accurately, Misfits (also before it became unbearable). I LOVED Misfits, and this is like a book version of that! So cute.

I also think the powers given to the kids are cool. I was surprised by one being able to see ghosts, for example. It seems almost out of place, even for a story about kids with powers. But I think it works really, really well here.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Are so great. I love them all. Each of the five self-titled “Lost Causes” has their own distinct background and reason for being a kid whose parents have given up on them.

I thought the kids would blend together, or become too much like set archetypes, but they all broke the mold pretty quickly! I knew their names/backstories/powers within the first few chapters, which for me says a lot because I have trouble keeping it straight with ensemble casts unless everyone is really different.

The teens feel so realistic. They often behave in annoying but so teenager-y ways and I love it.

I rooted for both romances in the story, even squealing out loud when one came to fruition.

I LOVE stories about friendship, and I especially adore stories about unlikely friendships. It’s my favorite thing about shows like Misfits, and it was what saved One Of Us Is Lying for me. Here, I really enjoyed watching the kids get to know each other. There isn’t cattiness or jealousy among the girls, because they’ve wanted a friend so badly and now they have each other. I love it.

Also worth noting, especially the farther we go along, we get a humanization of the villains, and I always find that so spectacular. I love having an antagonist I simultaneously hate and feel bad for.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

The pacing is spot on. I started the book this morning and finished this afternoon, taking breaks here and there to play with my dog and talk to my kiddo, but the book was never far away, and I would have been truly disappointed if I’d had to walk away from it for any prolonged time today. The kids really draw you in, and the plot unfolding holds interest.

I think the powers are written really well, especially the ghost scenes which are nice and creepy! I would have been freaked out if I’d been reading at night, and that’s really all I want from a ghost scene.

The end was tied up a little too neatly for me, but then the last few sentences are a cliffhanger so yay! I would love to read another in this series.

The Lost Causes novel

Is really cool, I didn’t see it coming. Really, it’s a series of twists and turns and it’s so delightfully unsettling. I love not knowing who to trust, and I love that for the last third or so of the book, I was totally out of my element with no idea what to expect!

And the cliffhanger especially, oh boy. I am so stoked for whatever is coming.

Is that considering I didn’t know what to expect (books like this can really, really go either way), I really enjoyed this! I read it more-or-less in one sitting.

Also, it’s not important to me, but it may be to you, this is a decently clean read for a YA about misfits. No cursing, no sex. There is some reference to drug use, but only very early on.

The Lost Causes novel

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/balloon animal artist. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.



 

13 novels to read in one sitting

13 Novels to Read in One Sitting

You know the feeling: it’s late, you should be sleeping. Instead, your bedside lamp is on and you are cozy af, with a good book in your arms long after you ought to have gone to bed.

I love that feeling. I live for that feeling.

To that end, I have gathered thirteen novels (in several genres) to keep you up at night. Novels you will read compulsively. Novels you won’t want to put down.

Without further ado, in no particular order:

Science Fiction

Archetype by M.D. Waters

Archetype Novel by M.D. Waters

I was lucky enough to have bought this as an impulse purchase at the Dollar Tree! They seriously have amazing books for just $1 just because they’re a few years old.

So Archetype is about a woman who wakes up and can’t remember her past, and almost anything else about the plot is a spoiler, unfortunately. But it’s science-y and written beautifully and so worth your time. I stayed up until one in the morning, after having read Archetype in one sitting.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Why everyone needs to read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter explores a fun idea in physics that’s been floating around for a while now, but in a way I hadn’t yet seen! It’s also about love and regret and is just totally, beautifully heartbreaking. I read it in one sitting for my 27th birthday.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

Consider novel by Kristy Acevedo

Consider is newest to my list! About holograms/portals that show up all over the world, telling the people of earth that they are there to save them from impending doom. SO good. So original. Written gorgeously.

Also, lots of nerdy sci-fi references to Dr. Who and Star Trek. Fun stuff.

 

Romance

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein

I don’t know that I’ve ever read another romance that kept me up reading at night, but Shuffle, Repeat definitely did! About two kids forced to ride to school together, who bond over their hatred of each other’s music.

The characters are so hilarious and you’re rooting for them so hard and there is a compulsive need to turn page after page.

 

Fantasy

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

Fantasy is a little difficult for this because it tends to run so long, which is what makes The Spirit Thief perfect! About wizards that can speak to the spirits inside of objects, not to reduce it too much.

It’s a short, quick, uber entertaining read. I laughed out loud on the very first page, got to love that!

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I saw this a few years ago and had to buy it. What a funny idea! Dorothy has become a tyrant in Oz, Glenda the good witch is creepy af, and the munchkins curse and have tattoos.

I love re-tellings, and I loved the idea that our beloved childhood characters could be so broken. Dorothy Must Die is delightfully morbid.

 

Mystery

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying novel by Karen M. McManus

I had mixed feelings about One Of Us Is Lying, but ultimately, I did read it in one sitting (as did many others, from the reviews I read). About five kids who go to detention, but only four make it out, as the fifth has died in the room.

It is an exciting journey with these four kids, and my mind was genuinely blown by the twist.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

The beauty of this book is in its simplicity, and in its singularity. A kid finds his neighbor’s dog dead, and tries to solve the mystery of who killed him.

The narrator is a teenage boy with autism (the author had worked with children with autism, so it’s very, very realistic). I have a soft spot for any and all things autism, as my dad has Asperger’s. Reading a mystery from such a POV is so completely fun.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

This one genuinely surprised me! About a guy named Odd Thomas who sees dead people and tries to help them move on. He has a premonition that something bad with massive casualties is going to come to town, and tries to stop it.

I had never been a fan of Dean Koontz, and I’m still really not, yet Odd Thomas remains one of my favorite books of all time. Because it moves through a period of one day, it’s so easy to keep reading and reading until the devastating, gorgeous end.

 

Children’s

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game by Ellen Raikin

I had to throw some children’s books in, because they’re my favorites. This is about a millionaire who dies, and in his will is a mysterious game that sixteen strangers have to play to see who wins his fortune.

I read The Westing Game in school, in sixth grade. I re-read it as an adult to see if I was romanticizing it, sure it couldn’t be as brilliant as I remembered. But oh my god. It is a hilarious, mind-bending game, and whether you have kids or not, you should read it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I still haven’t watched the movie, because I’m nervous about how well this could have been adapted. The Giver is a gorgeous masterpiece, and it should be required reading for every single person.

 

Thriller

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Heart Sick by Chelsea Cain

I don’t read a lot of thrillers, it’s probably the one area I avoid most. They have to be really particular for me to enjoy them. I read Heartsick because Chuck Palahniuk, who is one of my favorite authors, said the female serial killer in this was amazing. A recommendation from Chuck P plus a female serial killer? I was in, and Heartsick doesn’t disappoint. The series did get a little meh after this one, but the first book is so worth it.

 

Horror

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

I hesitate to even call Diary horror, but it’s probably the closest genre we’re going to get. It’s written in the form of, get this, a diary. A woman writes to her husband who is in a coma, and whom she occasionally stabs with pins because she hates him. It is weird and disgusting and so, utterly fantastic.

***

What about you?

What books have you read in one sitting?

 

 



one of us is lying by karen mcmanus

One Of Us Is Lying: Less Breakfast Club, More Gossip Girl

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Published by Delacorte Press in 2017

Genre: YA Mystery

Pages: 360

One Of Us Is Lying is probably the book I was most excited for this year. So it makes me a little sad to say I have mixed feelings about it. I will say that overall it is a quick, enjoyable read, and one I would recommend to others.

one of us is lying book novel mcmanus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Is what had me so completely and immediately intrigued. I had heard the pitch that many people had: that One Of Us Is Lying is The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. I was ecstatic. Beyond ecstatic. I adore The Breakfast Club; it has been one of my favorite movies for around fifteen years. And while I’ve fallen off a little, I enjoyed the shit out of Pretty Little Liars for around five seasons. So needless to say I was pumped about this book.

For me, though, it wasn’t really like either of these. What it did have was a distinct Gossip Girl vibe, and I think that distinction is an important one.

When I heard the premise, I guess I had a different vision. The Breakfast Club is the comparison you can’t escape, it’s everywhere. But TBC is entirely set in the school, almost entirely in one room. So what I didn’t expect was the detention in this story to be over so quickly. Simon dies in the first couple pages, and while it sets everything in motion, the detention is just less of the story than I was expecting. I don’t know why that’s so important to me. Maybe because everyone is so determined to compare this to TBC, and the beauty of TBC is that these kids are forced to be together, in one room, with no way out. The kids in One Of Us Is Lying don’t even interact that much for a good portion of the book.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I had thought that I would really hate the tropes. The bad boy, the good girl, the jock, the homecoming queen. We’ve seen these. We know these. (This, btw, is I think why it keeps getting compared to TBC, even though these stereotypical characters can be found in 90% of YA Lit.) Thankfully, the stereotypes are truly turned on their heads.

The Bayview Four kids are awesome. Truly. Wonderful characters, each with their own distinct personality, story arc, and agency. I adored them all by the big twist, and was horrified by the prospect of any of them having committed the murder. The secondary characters are also believable and incredibly likable; the siblings of the accused are phenomenal and even have their own shit to deal with.

I will say that one of the reasons this gave me a Gossip Girl vibe is that that is how the kids act. While they are being investigated as possible murderers, they are considerably more concerned with the seeming inevitability that their secrets could get out. I can’t imagine any scenario in which I or anyone I know would say “I know I’m being investigated for murder, but my boyfriend is going to find out…” Now, I’m a mother, and a decade away from having been a teenager, but still. I don’t remember being quite that irrational.

Is good. The slow release of information Is spot on for a fast-paced, easy-to-read story. It is less twisty than I expected, though. It all follows a pretty natural progression, and I didn’t have to keep reading until about the last 100 pages.

Now, I fancy myself a smarty-pants, but I didn’t see the twist coming until right before it happened. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed, and I LOVED how it worked out and everything that followed the reveal. I did see a lot of reviewers saying they figured it out pretty early on though, so keep that in mind

Is that this is a fun, exciting, quick and easy read that, at the very least, doesn’t disappoint in any major ways. I think it brings up a ton of great points about mental health and wellness, and a lot of the terrible shit that goes down in high school that we don’t give teenagers enough credit for dealing with.



The Wildling sisters by Eve Chase

The Wildling Sisters: Not What I Expected

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

The Wildling Sisters reminds me of old school V.C. Andrews novels meets Pretty Little Liars? Maybe not in the best way. Like Andrews, Chase uses beautiful words to describe ugly events. I thought I would like it, I really did. It started off with a bang, after all. Unfortunately, most of the story fell a little flat for me.

 

The Goodreads Description

Four sisters. One summer. A lifetime of secrets.

When fifteen-year-old Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote Manor in June 1959, they expect a quiet English country summer. Instead, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. As the sisters become divided by new tensions when two handsome neighbors drop by, Margot finds herself drawn into the life Audrey left behind. When the summer takes a deadly turn, the girls must unite behind an unthinkable choice or find themselves torn apart forever.

Fifty years later, Jesse is desperate to move her family out of their London home, where signs of her widower husband’s previous wife are around every corner. Gorgeous Applecote Manor, nestled in the English countryside, seems the perfect solution. But Jesse finds herself increasingly isolated in their new sprawling home, at odds with her fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and haunted by the strange rumors that surround the manor.

Rich with the heat and angst of love both young and old, The Wildling Sisters is a gorgeous and breathtaking journey into the bonds that unite a family and the darkest secrets of the human heart.

 

The Writing

So The Wildling Sisters has alternate timelines.

One from the fifties, involving the four Wilde sisters. This is in first-person, present-tense, with Margot, the second youngest, as our narrator. This writing was quick and felt authentic, while still being believable for how a kid would speak in the fifties/sixties.

The other was present day, yet somehow felt antiquated. The writing was slower, drawn-out. This is personal preference, but I do not need six paragraphs to describe a garden. I felt myself being removed from the story fairly often during times of over-explanation (there was NONE of this in the alternate timeline). Also personal preference, this portion is written in third-person present-tense, which I have expressed my distaste for in the past. It is just uncomfortable for me to read.

The alternating is fairly hard to pull off, and I felt it missed the mark in this case. At the beginning, I enjoyed the story of the Wilde sisters far more than the more modern timeline, which made it easy for me to walk away at the end of chapters.

 

The Characters

Are very believable, which is one thing I really enjoyed about this. They definitely don’t act in ways we like, but at least for most of the story, they act how people in their situation would. Which is to say that a lot of the time, they do terrible things. Just like people would, were they actually missing a daughter or cousin or former friend.

The modern story had unpleasant family dynamics, which just had me further realizing that it didn’t have enough to do, in my opinion, with the story we really want, the mystery involved with the Wilde family.

Unfortunately, several of the characters seemed to rest on stereotypes. Even the sisters, who we love as a unit, don’t all have believable arcs and personal agency.

 

The Pacing

Had some issues. It starts off, immediately, with the Wilde sisters, in the fifties, dragging a body. Super interesting. I immediately felt drawn in. Unfortunately, after two pages of this, the story slows drastically in both the modern family and the original, and it takes more than half the book to pick back up. When it does pick back up, things get weird.

 

The Plot

Is strange. There isn’t a lot I can say, because spoilers, but wow. What starts off as normal progression through teenage summer and the loss of a loved one gets straight bizarre. 3/4 of the way in, the four young girls we’ve come to know feel and act incredibly irrationally, both within their close-knit group and out of it.

 

My Final Thoughts

Are that I would really, really love to see young women who don’t act insane around boys, and jealousy of a prettier woman is a pretty significant plot point, and I’d love to see less of this also.

 

Thanks to Penguin’s First to Read Program for giving me advance access to this book in exchange for an honest review!