Review: The Night She Disappeared

the-night-she-disappeared-cover

Hi bookies (personal book collectors)!

I recently read a pair of books by a new (to me) author. April Henry. She has written great books from what I can tell. I don’t usually read this type of book, but let me explain what I’m talking about.

Title: The Night She Disappeared

Author: April Henry

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Crime Fiction

# of pages: 229

As always, here’s the blurb:

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete's Pizza. One night, Kayla-another delivery girl-goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can't move beyond the fact that Kayla's fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete's. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn't dead-and to find her before she is.

Has it gotten your attention yet? It got mine when I pulled it off a shelf. It’s basically one of those middle school, who-is-the-criminal type of books. But I was surprised when I did a bit more research to learn that this book is based off of a real-life crime. April Henry got the idea from an old newstory about…well, let me just let her explain it:

The Night She Disappeared was inspired by a real-life case that happened nearly 30 years ago. A man ordered some pizzas to be delivered to what turned out to be a false address. He asked if “the girl in the orange Volkswagen” was working delivery that night and was told a different girl was. That girl’s car was later found with the keys in the ignition and the pizzas and her hat on the ground. Her body was never found.

The parents hired a psychic, who zeroed in on a young man who owned a truck similar to one that had been seen in the vicinity. Right after that man talked to the psychic, he killed himself, never revealing where he had left the delivery girl’s body. For years, the case was considered closed — until another man, already in prison, confessed to the murder. The man who committed suicide had nothing to do with it. I was always fascinated by this twist, and decided to write a book with a better outcome than the real story. I also wondered how it would feel to know that you were the girl the killer asked for first. In high school, I worked at Pietros Pizza, so I was able to draw on that experience for real-life details.

I have to say, that does sound like an interesting news story that would spark ideas. But now back to the review. Well, it was a quick read. I finished this book in a few hours. It wasn’t so easy that I got bored. That was good. It is written in pretty simple language so it works well for kids. The point of view switches between Gabie, Drew, Kayla, and a tiny bit of the abductor’s and a few minor characters.

Now, while I’m sure kids will understand the story and language, I’m not so sure that 6th grade age level kids and below should read this. It’s not hard to understand, but there are a few parts that get a little dark. The main character, Gabie, becomes obsessed with understanding what might have happened to her workmate and how she must have felt when she was kidnapped. So she tries to copy some ‘scenes’ she imagines happened and has some disturbing thoughts due to her guilty conscience. Take a look at this example:

“And why the rock? Did she cut her hand falling? Or was it something worse? Had the bad things happened yet, or was it just the beginning? Or- my heart quickens here- maybe Kayla was the one who hefted the rock. Maybe she hit him in the head and then fled the quickest way she could, by jumping into the river. But how could she survive a nighttime swim in swift-moving water?

And that’s when I kick off my shoes.”

Clearly, these questions are not very good ones to get obsessed with. Younger children would probably not benefit from these type of questions. So I would recommend this book for those 13 and older.

For those of you that meet this requirement, this book isn’t that scary. The story is mostly focused on Gabie and how she is feeling, her relationship with Drew. You’re trying to figure out who the bad guy is and what his motivations are. Honestly, the book doesn’t really say. I guess this can be seen as realistic, because in real life, you don’t always get a reason or why people do bad things to others.

In contrast to the realism, the end is a mostly happy ending with the main problem reaching its conclusion and the relationships that were damaged were repaired. The end focuses mostly on the budding romance between Drew and Gabie, which you could see coming from a mile away. So there’s nothing shocking or too descriptive (it is for kids after all), but it was enjoyable to just chill out to.

As for my rating… I will give it a 3/5. It does well for the audience it is focused on, but it can give more details. It jumps straight into the romance between Drew and Gabie without giving it enough time to develop. The abductor mostly remains as a sort of ‘shadowy figure’ even when you uncover who it is. I would have liked for the author to explain more about the abductor to make it more realistic or have more of an impact.

What about you bookies? Does this rating seem fair to you? What would you rate it? What was the first book to ‘traumatize’ you?

Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

the pages of the mind

Hi bookies (all those who pour their hearts and souls into books by reading them),

I have set a goal for myself. That is, to try to post one book review per week. It’s a little ambitious for the schedule I have. But hopefully, if I am not able to post a book review at least I will try to publish one post of another sort.

This  week, I have met my goal (barely). I have read two books actually. I will post a review for one of those books this week. The next one will be done by next week.

These are the facts:

Title: The Pages of the Mind

Author: Jeffe Kennedy

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: May 31, 2016

*I received this ARC copy of The Pages of the Mind from Kensington Books in exchange for a honest review. It in no way affects, compromises, or guarantees a positive review.

Now here is the book’s self-description:

AN ORPHAN’S THRONE

Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The population is beset by shapeshifters and portents, landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos.

Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer—she’s a librarian. But the High Queen trusts Dafne’s ability with languages, her way of winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades under the thumb of a tyrant taught her.

Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the arms of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but that of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable pawn. Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she is to save herself and her country, she will have to learn to read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…

First of all, I’d like to say that this book is part of a series. I had no idea when I first picked it up, since I had never heard of these books nor of this author. However, it isn’t like you start off in the middle of a series if you start with this book. As far as I can tell, this author has written and is in the process of writing 3 series which are interconnected. This book is the first book of “The Uncharted Realms” series. It makes a great stand-alone book, but it definitely got me interested in the previous series. I thinking having read them before reading this one would have enriched the reading experience.

That being said… I really enjoyed this book! More than anything, I really liked the main character, Dafne (and the queen she is loyal to). She is a librarian-turned-scribe who is used to being a side character. She has low self-esteem, considering herself a plain looking old maid who has few redeeming qualities. As is revealed later in the book, she also feels some deep guilt towards others who suffered under tyrants, since she protected herself by keeping her head down, so to speak.

However, Dafne is definitely underestimating herself. She is a “demon on documents”, has an affinity for learning languages, and can read people very well. So well, in fact, that she can fade to the background or intimidate kings and queens at will. She is considered beautiful in the eyes of others and although it is true that she is no warrior, her knowledge, intellect, and willingness to learn new things get her out of the stickiest situations. Though, maybe, that’s also what got her into the main problem in this book.

Dafne is only an unofficial adviser, librarian, and scribe for the new queen of the 13 kingdoms. Dafne has a deep admiration, respect, and love for her queen, as well as an unparalleled loyalty for her. Fortunately, the queen feels similarly towards Dafne, to the point that anyone threatening Dafne will have to deal with the all of the queen’s wrath, resources, and willingness to go to war over her. Trusting in Dafne’s skills more than Dafne would ever believe in herself, the queen sends her on a diplomatic mission to meet with King Nakoa KauPo and discuss merging kingdoms after which, she will continue on to Dasnaria and spy on their enemies before returning to the queen’s side.

Seeing the logic in the queen’s plans and wanting (for once) to be part of the story rather than documenting someone else’s, Dafne accepts the mission with trepidation. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and Dafne is unable to continue with her mission after meeting King Nakoa KauPo. Why? Because she inadvertently ends up married to the king, who isn’t willing to let his new wife leave.

zooey deschanel it's possible i'm still in shock

Accepting the current helplessness of her situation, Dafne makes contingency plans so that others can continue to accomplish her queen’s objectives while she waits for help and gets to know the natives’ language. Alone, Dafne must avoid consummating her marriage to a man she is strangely attracted to while establishing diplomatic relations to the king and his people. Along the way, she saves the king’s life, learns a new language, figures out the answers to questions plaguing her queen, and communicates with a mythical creature. In doing doing so she proves her personal motto true: “This is why it’s perilous to ignore a librarian.” I’ll leave you to read the book and see how it all plays out.

Frankly, the only things I didn’t like about this book is the partially insta-love attraction between Dafne and the “leading man” as well as the rather explicit romantic details of that particular relationship. However, I still greatly enjoyed the book and will definitely be checking out the previous series. I give this book a 4/5. It was a great read, it just felt a little rushed in some small parts. I would have liked a longer, more detailed, book.

I received this ARC copy of The Pages of the Mind from Kensington Books in exchange for a honest review. It in no way affects, compromises, or guarantees a positive review.What about you, bookies. How do you feel about this author’s previous books? Have you been introduced to Dafne before?

Thank you to Kensington Books & Goodreads for this ARC of The Pages of the Mind.