Estelle: Dead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw WolfDead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf ( website | twitter )
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 352
Target audience:  Young adult / thriller
Keywords: murder investigation, friendship, gangs
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)
Other books reviewed by Jennifer Shaw Wolf: Breaking Beautiful

Summary: After not speaking for six months, Jaycee is shocked to see a foreboding text from her ex-best friend, Rachel, on her phone. In the company of a new boy, Jaycee decides to ignore the texts. The next morning Jaycee gets the terrible news that Rachel is dead. Could she have stopped it from happening?

You know that feeling when you are reading a book and you keep giving yourself a cut off to go to sleep but then you just keep flipping the pages and it’s suddenly past midnight?

This is exactly what happened while I was reading Dead Girls Don’t Lie.

Rachel and Jaycee were inseparable friends growing up (they even did a blood oath) but scary circumstances shake up their friendship and nothing is the same after that. When Jaycee surprisingly receives text messages from Rachel, she opts to ignore them and spend time with Skyler instead. A few hours later, Jaycee’s dad delivers the bad news: Rachel has been killed. Obvious guilt plagues Jaycee. She’s always the good girl, always the rule follower, and the one night, the one night, she decides not to do the right thing, her friend dies.

Jaycee has a lot going on. Not only is she mourning her friendship (again), combating pressure from her overprotective dad to be squeakly clean, and feeling out her first relationship, but she feels obligated to find out why Rachel was killed and who did it. This is the second time their small town has been hit with such a horrendous crime, and most are quick to blame it on gangs and Mexican migrant workers. But that last text, in addition to a dreaded secret the two share, Jaycee is just not so sure what to think anymore.

She was not the only one. Wolf has created such an intriciate story, peppering the plot with quite a few characters who could be to blame for Rachel’s death. I had no idea how all the loose ends would tie up, how Jaycee would come to her final conclusions, and, most importantly, who she would choose to trust. Law enforcement? Her father? Skyler? Though the writing could be a little choppy and I wasn’t in love with Jaycee’s “friends”, I was definitely hooked to the max once the pacing picked up a few chapters in.

I was a huge fan of Wolf’s debut Breaking Beautiful last year, and I read a review last week that wondered how readers who experienced both would compare the two. While my emotional connection to the characters in Breaking Beautiful was definitely stronger (maybe because it had an emphasis on romance), Wolf proves she can create just as riveting a story when the focus is on friendship and the intricacies of a small town. As far as YA thrillers go, I’m still partial to Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, which was more well-rounded from all aspects, but Dead Girls Don’t Lie certainly threw me for many scary scary loops.

Wolf is definitely an author who keeps me coming back for more.

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Estelle: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (website | twitter)
UPCOMING Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Walker Children’s
Pages: 354
Target audience: Mature young adult
Format read: Netgalley eBook

Summary:  Tripp and Allie seemed like the perfect couple to the whole world but there was another layer to their relationship that no one knew about. When Tripp dies in a car accident (one that Allie is also injured in), she hopes to keep all her bad memories with Tripp buried. But his presence just seems to get stronger and stronger, especially after she starts getting notes in her locker in his handwriting. Will she ever be able to let go?

I don’t remember the last time I stayed up past my bedtime to finish a book. It was probably five years ago when I was still in college. At least. So the fact that I stayed up way past midnight on a weeknight to finish Breaking Beautiful (on the same day I started it) should mean something. It should mean a lot. (Because as if that wasn’t enough, it kept me up for another half hour thinking about it.)

A book with this kind of premise could easily turn into a Lifetime movie, soaking in cliché. In fact, after reading other reviews, this was my fear. Getting hooked on a book was one thing but I wanted it to be because the story was actually good, not because it was like a train wreck I couldn’t peel my eyes away from.

I’m happy to say it did not cross into the realm of Lifetime television but did a solid job of exploring some tough themes without much sugar coating or fairy tale endings.

Who knows? Maybe I’ve had the pleasure of knowing people who are repeatedly dealt blows by life but I had no problem believing Allie could have experienced all of these hardships in real life: an abusive relationship, bullying, a car accident that killed her boyfriend (a night she has totally blocked out of her memory), and a disabled twin brother – sure, it’s a lot. But Allie’s reactions to all of these situations were reasonable and realistic. She had good things in her life too – an old friend named Blake and a super close relationship with her brother, Andrew. It’s no surprise that her “hidden life” has clouded those good things. She is constantly questioning her own worth and who wouldn’t after the boyfriend you loved (and you believed loved you back) treated you with such cruelty?

As a reader, it is so frustrating to watch as Allie lies, covers up, avoids, and hides when she could be telling the truth. That frustration we feel means that the author is doing a killer job at making us feeling exactly what Allie is going through, and most importantly, those around her who care just want her to get better and be happy again.

One of the book’s main themes is control. Tripp’s parents are rich and have a lot of clout (too much) on the small town. So there’s that and Allie’s desperation to take control of her life, the lack of physical control her brother may have, and the power Tripp’s ghost and their memories have on Allie as she attempts to move on. Control is a funny thing. Everyone wants it and when they get it, there is no telling what might happen. Some may even surprise you.

In a way, this book is part mystery. We discover the events of the accident along with Allie as she is able to remember and confront more of her demons. Until the end, I did not find the revealed events to be predictable at all. The author did a commendable job of weaving memories with the present day and also keeping the suspense and tension high. (And this is why I needed a caffeine drip the morning after I finished it.)

I’m not going to lie. Many of the events in this book are terrifying. The helplessness that Allie feels, her mom’s allegiance to Tripp’s family and her legacy to the town, the utter desperation so many of these characters feel. Even once I hit the last page, that desperation and fear felt like it was haunting me. Breaking Beautiful reveals the bleakest depths of the human spirit and the not so pretty process it takes to get back to feeling like you. And we can’t go around ignoring that the bad exists.

I hope Shaw is busy at work on her next book, because after reading Breaking Beautiful, it will certainly make its way on my list.

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April 2012 Young Adult Book Releases

There are so many awesome books coming out in the next couple of months. I wanted to take some time to spotlight some of the April 2012 Young Adult book releases that Estelle and I have on our TBR lists! If one (or both) of us has read it, I linked our reviews, too, so you could see what we thought. Several of these I am hovering over the pre-order button on Amazon because I can’t wait to own a copy.

take a bow april 2012 young adult book release, elizabeth eulberg book reviewTake a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Magan’s Review
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

From the fantastic author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice comes a story of all the drama and comedy of four friends who grow into themselves at a performing arts high school.

Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it’s been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn’t sure how to admit that he’d rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.

 

Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers
Publisher:
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Estelle and Magan’s Joint Book Review
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

In Dying to Know You, award-winning author Aidan Chambers has created an indelible portrait of a young man discovering his own voice in the world, and has constructed a love story that is as much about the mind as it is the heart.

In this contemporary love story, a teenage boy named Karl enlists a famous writer to help him impress his girlfriend, Fiorella. She has asked him to write her a letter in which he reveals his true self. But Karl isn’t convinced he’s good enough with words, so he tracks down Fiorella’s favorite author and begs him to take up the task. The writer reluctantly assents, on the condition that Karl agree to a series of interviews, so that the letter will be based on an authentic portrait of Karl. The letter, though effective, has unexpected consequences for Karl, Fiorella, and the writer.

 

book release by marley gibson april 2012, yellow book cover with cheerleader, book release about teenage cheerleader with cancerRadiate by Marley Gibson
Publisher: Graphia
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

Hayley Matthews is determined to be the best cheerleader she can. She works hard and pushes herself 110% all the time. Then Hayley finds a lump on her leg. The diagnosis is cancer. The prognosis is
unclear. She could lose her leg. Or maybe her life. At first Haley is scared, terrified. In an instant, everything she’s worked for seems out of reach. But Haley is strong. She’s going to fight this disease. She will not let it take her life or her dreams.

 

Belles by Jen Calonita
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever.

 

Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.

In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty.

 

april 2012 road trip young adult book releaseThou Shalt Not Road Trip by Anthony John
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: April 12, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Luke Dorsey is sent on a cross-country tour to promote his bestselling spiritual self-help guide accompanied by his agnostic older brother and former girlfriend, Fran, from whom he learns some things about salvation.

 

 

The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

A new novel about love, life, and everything in-between… from fan-favorite and award-winner Deb Caletti.

Cricket’s on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend, trying to figure out whether she’s in it for the right reasons. But this is a bad week to try to figure it all out. After ditching two previous husbands-to-be at the airport, Cricket’s mother Daisy is finally getting married, to Dan Jax. Cricket loves Dan, but as the families and friends start to arrive for Wedding Week at the beautiful guest house on Bishop Rock, run by old hippies Ted and Rebecca Rose and their sweet, sexy son Ash, things start getting complicated.

There’s no airport on Bishop Rock, as far as anyone knows, but Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, and Cricket’s own desires have chosen now to have a mind of their own. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her….

 

bachelor meets dystopia book young adultThe Selection by Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

 

Purity by Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

A novel about love, loss, and sex — but not necessarily in that order.

Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby’s father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives — in other words, no “bad behavior,” no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.

Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision — to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.

 

Zero by Tom Leveen
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.

 

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

 

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilledÂ…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLCÂ….

 

sequel to bumped by megan mccaffertyThumped by Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day!

Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances.

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants.

The girls’ every move is analyzed by millions of fans eagerly counting down to “Double Double Due Date.” They’re two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and they could do only one thing to make them even more famous:

Tell the truth.

 

Clearly there’s a hot release date coming up. Mark your calendars for April 24th and warn your banks of the imminent spending spree. I can’t wait to get my hands on several of these… though the husband would probably prefer that didn’t happen all at once.

What are you most looking forward to? Is there something amazing I’ve left off the list? Leave a comment below and I’ll head directly to Goodreads!