There is nothing like a good mystery or a pyschological suspenseful drama. These books leave you on the edge of the seat, making you wonder about what is going to happen next.

Looking for JJ – Anne Cassidy

How well do you know the people around you?  How do you know they are not hiding a huge secret like their past? This is the second book I’ve read recently that casts light on how murderers who are children fit into society after serving time for their crime. Anne Cassidy’s new book, “Looking for JJ” will keep your interest until the very end. Not only does she give details about what happened but she lays the framework to possible causes of why it happened because that is just as important.  I actually found myself feeling sorry for Jennifer, wishing it didn’t happen to her.

Michele Livingstone is dead.  She died 6 years ago at the hands of her friend JJ. Jennifer Jones has paid for what happened to Michele. There is no denying that Jennifer is responsible for Michele’s death but while reading the book I came to the conclusion that she wasn’t the only one to blame.  Is there one thing that controls when and how aggressive someone becomes?  I really believe that genetic factors may contribute but if a child is engaging in delinquent behavior it is probably due to peer influences and lapses in parenting. Jen’s home life while growing up wasn’t exactly the “Leave it to Beaver” atmosphere.  Her mom certainly won’t win any parenting awards and from an early age Jen learned how to get by on her own, alone. Craving love, it is understandable that Jennifer had anger issues.  The question is can people change?  Can violent deeds of the past be forgiven with the passage of time?  

Jennifer is about to be released from jail and the press has made it front page news once again.  Is JJ still a danger to other children?  Where is she going to live now?  Will the family of the dead girl try to get revenge?  Alice Tully like everyone else follows the stories in the paper with keen interest.  The only thing is that Alice knows something no one else does.  She knows where Jennifer Jones is.  Only three other people know her whereabouts.  What is the connection between Alice Tully and Jennifer Jones? Why does Alice live in constant fear? Who is Alice Tully exactly?  Read the book to find out…..

Rules of Survival – Nancy Werlin

Nancy Werlin knows how to tell a story, especially a mystery. She first caught my attention with Double Helix and continued to keep my attention with Killer’s Cousin. This story while it does have elements of being a mystery is more suspenseful then anything else. The book is narrated by Matthew the oldest of 3 siblings. He is writing a letter to his youngest sister Emma who was too young at the time to understand why their mom finally left them. Basically Matthew has spent his entire life protecting his siblings from the abuse of their mother Nikki. If you looked at Nikki you would never know – she seems normal, very attractive, and smart but she is also manipulative and cruel. Nothing is easy for them. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. A page turner to the end.

Right Behind You – Gail Giles 

“On the afternoon of his seventh birthday, I set Bobby Clarke on fire. I was nine.  It was all about Bobby’s birthday present. A baseball glove.”       

 I remember the physical shudder that went through me when I read those lines.  I read them again just to be sure that that I was reading it right.  I was.  All I can think of was that a child murdered another child.  Circumstances be damned.  Society does that especially when it comes to violence of children.  I was horrified and was judging him before I knew the whole story. If I was doing that, imagine what the people in his town did after the incident. Gail Giles’s books are definitely not sappy happy books. They instead are edgy psychological thrillers that grab you from the first sentence.  I knew after reading that first page that Right Behind You would be no different.  I finished it within a couple of hours – I just couldn’t put it down. 

The death of Bobby happened four years ago.  Kip and his father were about to do a controlled burn in the field be his when his aunt came over.  His father went in to talk to her leaving the gasoline and the lighter by Kip never thinking, and that was the problem, that something would happen.  Bobby had come over to Kip’s house to show him his new baseball glove given to him by his mother for his birthday.   Kip’s mother wasn’t able to do that – she was dying of cancer.  In a fit of jealous rage, Kip splashed a bucket of gasoline on him and flicked the wheel of the lighter and pitched it at Bobby’s glove.  Kip doesn’t remember the details of what happened. He was in a catatonic state for five months afterwards and because of his age and the state he was in, committed to a mental hospital for dangerous juvenile offenders.  Life during that time went on without him.  During that time, his mother died and the townsfolk ran his father out of town burning down the cabin that they lived in.  It wasn’t exactly and eye for an eye but it was a start.       

Now four years later, Kip is about to be released. He can’t go back to where he used to live.  He can’t even be who he used to be.  He has to be someone else in order to start over so he becomes Wade.  Wade, his dad and new step mom decide to try anew in Indiana.  The first weeks are rough on him but things are going well. A few years go by and they are happy or at least close to it as they will get with this lurking in the shadows.  His shrink before he was released told him that he needs to careful about feeding the ghosts and sure enough it happens one day.  The life that they built in Indiana is no more as they are forced out of their home once again.     

On to Texas and another try at normalcy.  Wade punishes himself everyday for what he did.  He feels guilty when his dad blames himself for what happened.  He feels guilty that his dad deserves to be happy.  He feels that he deserves no respect or forgiveness. His guilt was destroying himself and all those around him. His shrink hit the proverbial nail on the head when he said that Wade needs to look back for a minute instead of forward at the people that had his back and treated him decently despite what happened.  It all comes to a head with this girl he meets while living in Texas.  After what happened in Indiana he wasn’t about to get close to anyone.  There is something different about her and despite the baggage she brings to the table, Wade is drawn to her even though he doesn’t want to be.  After all it will only lead to more hurting.  She shares her baggage with him.  He doesn’t hold it against her.  Can he trust her with his?  Can he tell her who he really is and what happened to him without losing her?  Read the book Right Behind You and you will find out. 

What Happened to Cass McBride? – Gail Giles     

Someone has to pay for David’s death, his brother thinks. He was supposed to be David’s protector from their verbally abusive mother. Though more than one person played a role in David’s death, Kyle hell bent on vengeance takes out his revenge on one of David’s classmates, Cass McBride, a girl who turned David down when he asked her for a date. He kidnaps her, places her in a box and buries her alive torturing her with cruel words. Cass however has never had trouble using words and she uses them to draw Kyle into a dialogue. But will that be enough to save Cass’s life? You will have to read the book to find out. Long after you finish, I will tell you that you may still be chilled from reading this story thinking about issues of responsibility and scapegoat. This book is better suited for mature readers being that there is violence and obscenities throughout the story.

Harmless – Dana Reinhardt     

Is there ever a time a lie should not be condemned? Have you ever lied? Did you get away with a lie or were there repercussions to reap from the fib you told? Emma, Mariah and Anna in Harmless know what happens when you spin a web of deceit. Anna and Emma have been best friends since third grade. Anna and Emma. Emma and Anna. Where there was one, usually the other was there. You never had to worry about those two girls. Mariah enters the picture when Emma and she have to practice together for the play, Romeo and Juliet. Mariah brings something exciting to the table. She is outspoken, a bit cynical, experienced with the guys. Emma is the moody one, quiet and bottles up all her emotions. Anna on the other hand is totally insecure and will ride on any one’s coat-tails if they let her. It was no wonder that Anna and Emma jumped at a chance to be friends with Mariah. Mariah invites Emma and Anna to party with her boyfriend and a few of his friends. Anna and Emma both knew that their parents would never let them do such a thing so they told a little white lie saying that they were somewhere else. The first lie was easy. The second lie started their world spiraling in direction they never thought would ever happen. They weren’t lying to be malicious; they lied to keep themselves out of trouble but that only led them into deeper pile of you know what. At first no harm, no foul but then an innocent person gets punished for their actions, for a crime he didn’t commit. Is it too late to tell the truth now? If they only told the truth to begin with….

 

Rules of Survival – Nancy Werlin

Nancy Werlin knows how to tell a story, especially a mystery. She first caught my attention with Double Helix and continued to keep my attention with Killer’s Cousin. This story while it does have elements of being a mystery is more suspenseful then anything else. The book is narrated by Matthew the oldest of 3 siblings. He is writing a letter to his youngest sister Emma who was too young at the time to understand why their mom finally left them. Basically Matthew has spent his entire life protecting his siblings from the abuse of their mother Nikki. If you looked at Nikki you would never know – she seems normal, very attractive, and smart but she is also manipulative and cruel. Nothing is easy for them. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. A page turner to the end.

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