To Catch a Killer REVIEW

To Catch a Killer
by Sheryl Scarborough

Available in Print.

Erin’s mother was murdered. And Erin was there when it happened. She was just a toddler and was left in the house for days while her mother’s body lay on the floor in a puddle of her own blood. But Erin survived.

Erin was raised by her mother’s best friend, Rachel, who has always been overly protective. Rachel will not discuss Erin’s mother or what happened. But it doesn’t stop Rachel from wondering. Erin is drawn to forensics like her Uncle Victor whom she has never met. He works for the FBI and has written about his experiences in books that Erin has practically memorized.

Ultimately, Erin wants to solve her mom’s murder, but she can only do so much as a student. She is fortunate to have an encouraging biology teacher, Miss Peters, who helps her dabble in forensic science. Erin was delivering some important materials to Miss P’s house the night she finds her lying dead on the floor. Two dead bodies is too much for one lifetime.

That night Erin saw Journey Michaels near Miss P’s house, too. Erin has been fascinated by Journey for a while, but what if he killed her favorite teacher? Her best friends Spam and Lysa have never understood Erin’s attraction to Journey. They also worry about Erin’s obsession with her mom’s murder case.

So many questions to answer about the two murders with Erin the only obvious connection. There is much to keep the reader guessing, but it is well worth it.


All Fall Down REVIEW

All Fall Down
(Embassy Row #1)
By Ally Carter

Available in Print, Audio, eBook & eAudio.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

  1. She is not crazy.
  2. Her mother was murdered.
  3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

This book was our first book club pick for the teen book club I run at my branch. It seemed fitting to pick a political thriller for January 2017 considering our current political climate. This book was a fun read. It’s fast paced and full of action. The characters are intriguing and all have their own quirks. There’s an underlying mystery to the first book that leads way to a bigger mystery to be solved for the whole series.

My book club and I enjoyed the book. It was a fast read that I devoured in just a few days. Carter keeps the dialogue moving and doles out clues in small doses. There’s a bit of a shocker at the end that will leave your head spinning. I will definitely be picking up the rest of the books in this series. To date, there are two more books in the series.

If you enjoy thrillers, mysteries and a quick, fun read, give this series a look!

And if you are interested in joining our Teen Book Club, we meet on the second Tuesday of the month, 5PM at the Warren Branch.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch


It’s Not Me, It’s You REVIEW

It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Available in Print & eAudio.

What a fun story. The premise is one used before – a person tracks down ex’s to find out what went wrong. In this case, the person is Avery Dennis. Just before prom, she is dumped by Luke Murphy. Even though she is the head of the senior prom committee, Avery decides she will go without a date; in fact, she is done with dating.

In her history class, Avery is assigned to do an oral history project about a historic event. What could be a better subject than her own dating experiences? Her teacher thinks there are many, but Avery is persistent.

Avery’s story is told through her assignment using the input of her, her best friend Coco, other students (like that annoying Bizzy Stanhope), teachers, coaches, and, of course, the former boyfriends. Avery also enlists Hutch, her lab partner since freshman year, to help analyze the findings.

Avery starts with her first boyfriend from kindergarten and works her way through summer camp romances, vacation flings, and more than a few boyfriends outside her social circle. Avery is smart and funny and obviously not a stuck up stereotypical popular girl. She is willing to see her flaws and defends herself when needed. Can she really discover why she can’t keep a boyfriend? With Avery’s determination, anything’s possible.


This is Our Story REVIEW (Second Opinion!)

This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

Available in Print.

Five young men, close friends, enter the woods after a night of partying to go hunting, but only four come out alive. Grant, the prankster, is left lying on the ground with a gunshot wound. Which one of the four took the shot? None will admit to it. Grant was killed with his own Remington rifle, the only one in the group. Who grabbed the rifle that morning?  While standing over Grant’s body, they all agree not to say anything.

While the five River Point Boys go to an expensive private school, Kate Marino attends the public school. As a senior, she has a paid internship at the district attorney’s office. Her job is mostly filing for Mr. Stone, a lawyer who is close to retiring. Bowing to the pressure of the boys’ fathers (who are highly influential in the community), the DA assigns the River Point Boys case to Stone with instructions to go easy with it. Mr. Stone and Kate agree that determining the shooter should be a priority.

Under normal circumstances, Kate would have no involvement with a case. Mr. Stone’s vision is deteriorating and Kate is a photographer with a keen eye for detail, so he asks Kate to help him interpret evidence. She watches taped interviews, examines photographs and even visits the crime scene.

Things get complicated when the four accused boys are expelled from school and start attending Kate’s school. She is told not to interact with them. Although Kate knows the importance of the case and her potential conflicts due to working for the prosecuting attorney, she can’t completely avoid the boys. Of course, she never told Mr. Stone or her mom (who works in the same office) that she had been texting Grant in the weeks leading up to his death – including the night before he was shot.

It is a compelling story with enough nail biting moments to keep you guessing to the end.


What We Saw REVIEW

What We Saw
By Aaron Hartzler

Available in Print & eBook.

Trigger Words: sexual assault, rape

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

I had picked this book up from the library shelf eons ago. I finally grabbed it from my toppling pile of books and read it almost straight through in two days. The story resonated with me for many reasons. It’s a story about sexual assault on a minor that’s witnessed by many classmates at a party. The volatile world of rape culture has been at the foremost of people’s news lately. Last summer, the shocking lenient sentence was issued to the Stanford swimmer who dragged an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and raped her. Our own elected leader has claims against him for sexual assault, which he paid to have ‘go away’. Every time I turn around, I feel like I’m hearing another story of a poor victim trying to fight the system to gain themselves some justice. And so many times, the system lets them down.

Hartzler dives right into the main issue with rape culture, the sense of compliance. Too often, people dismiss the abusive and degrading things men say and do as ‘boys will be boys’ and that’s at the heart of ‘What We Saw’. Kate, the protagonist, grapples with uncertainty about the events of what happened the night it all went down. She wasn’t there when it happened but she knew everyone that was. She struggles with understanding how her school, the administration and fellow peers could so easily accept that the boys in question are innocent and the girl is lying. We see that too often in the world today. Ultimately, Kate can not stand aside and just ‘be alright’ with everything. She seeks out the truth, knowing full well that she might not like what she finds.

It’s a difficult subject to read about and you know in the end, relationships will be tested, trust will be lost and hearts will be broken. But it’s an important topic that needs to stay in the light and be talked about. Hartzler’s writing makes the story flow along well. Even though I was going to end the story with a heavy heart, I was still caught up in the feelings and thoughts of the characters. Bravo to Aaron Hartzler for tackling a tough subject.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch