Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

I don't read a lot of YA, but Queen of the Tiles combines murder and Scrabble and how could I pass that up? The Queen of the Tiles, Trina Low, is dead. She died a year ago during a championship Scrabble game, but someone has resurrected her Instagram account and is implying that she was murdered. This was just such an entertaining book. It was well-thought-out and just full of wonderful words. The characters were diverse and, while they had the typical teenage jealousies and overreactions, they weren't annoying. I was surprised by who the "bad guy" was and happy with the solution, especially because it wasn't the typical direction a murder mystery heads. I listened to the audio, which was a good choice. The narrator did a good job with the voices and the teenage emotions. I'm also not sure I could have pronounced some of the Scrabble words without help. Those kids had a massive vocabulary. Complicated female friendshipsScrabble and wordplayExploration...
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We Were Kings by Court Stevens

We Were Kings by Court Stevens

We Were Kings is one of those stories that you just want to keep listening to, even if you should be doing something else. With the passage of the accelerated death penalty, time is running out for Frankie, convicted of murdering her best friend Cora King 20 years ago. There was little evidence then and no new clues have surfaced since. Frankie’s other best friend Beth insists she’s innocent. Beth's daughter Nyla wants to know the truth, so heads back to the island where it all happened, where her mom grew up. Nyla is a good character, determined and caring. I liked her friendship with Sam and her relationship with her mom. Some of the other characters were one-dimensional, but quite honestly that worked for the story. We don't need everyone to be fully fleshed out. From Nyla's point of view, all of them are suspicious and capable of murder and/or attempting to intimidate her — that's the...
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Spotlight on After Lucas by Tudor Robins

Read an excerpt: Chapter One A gaggle of little girls wearing jodhpurs, with their long braids tied with bows, clusters around the car next to our trailer. A man with a big voice and hearty laugh is frying an egg on the hood. “Who wants sunny side up?” he asks. A round of giggles, and one girl says, “Over easy for me!” Those hair bows – triple layered, in shades of pink, purple and turquoise, some with gems in the middle – make them look so sweet, but I know what those girls grow up to be like. “Mavis!” Laney snaps her fingers at me. “Please tell me you didn’t just snap at me,” I say. I’m used to riding coaches being tough, but those are top-notch coaches with full barns and waiting lists. Not you-weren’t-even-here-a-year-ago coaches trying to turn an old-school Western barn into a show stable. Laney, though, hasn’t received the memo that she shouldn’t look a gift horse like mine in the mouth. That the...
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The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

To be honest, I don't really have much to say about this one. I enjoyed the first in the series, maybe partly because of the novelty but also because it was fun for the most part. This time around the Watson and Holmes were both a little more annoying and we didn't get to spend much time with the characters I liked. Maybe overall is was a little too full of YA drama for a mystery for me. Yes, you're angry and jealous and whiny - I'm tired of hearing about it. Yes, you have a variety of issues, few of which are your fault, but you should definitely see a therapist. Can we get back to the mystery? But then the mystery's a bit disappointing. And I hated the ending. The thing is, I really want to like this series. Since it's only a trilogy, I'll probably borrow the last from the library when it comes out and hope it makes up for...
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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

I have a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes, so when someone (I forget who) said they enjoyed this take on the characters, I had to put it on my to-read list. Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are descendants of the famous duo and they "just happen" to meet at boarding school. In Connecticut. But don't worry, the story will get to that. Coincidences are never really coincidences in a Holmes world. Charlotte is pure Sherlock, complete with drug problems, brilliant deductions, and violin-playing, which comes off a little differently in a 16-year-old girl. She can be tough to like, but we're seeing her through Watson's eyes, and he's either falling in love with her or is obsessed with her or both. When a student they both hates ends up dead, everything points at them, so of course they have to solve the mystery. What else could a Holmes and Watson do? The mystery was clever, with plenty of connections to the original Holmes...
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Arena by Holly Jennings

If you're here for the A to Z Challenge, scroll down to the next post. Thanks! Arena is totally outside of my usual reading zone. It's YA and science fiction- neither of which I read. I'm not even much of a video game player, but something about the description grabbed my attention, maybe the hint of  "dark secrets" or just the quote in the blurb: She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier... Whatever the reason, I picked it up, and wow, am I glad I did. It's not a perfect book, but I really enjoyed it. The Rage tournament is a virtual gaming event, kinda of like capture the flag, expect each team has a tower they're defending. It's televised each week and is really violent and graphic. The gamers are truly athletes, they have to train in real life to be able to do all the figthing in the virtual world. They are celebrities, catered to but also tied to their...
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