YA Review: Double Cross

Title: Double Cross
Author: Bruce A Hanson
Edition:
Kindle
Rating:
5/5

This was a fun read. Three Canadian teenagers on a winter break discover a valuable historical artefact on a snowmobile outing. Excited by their find, the friends soon discover that they are not the only people interested in its history – or its value. Their investigations lead them into unexpected danger as they are forced to decide who they can trust, and who might be hiding a deadly secret.

Double Cross might be a short book, but I was hooked from the first page. The teenage characters are beautifully written – I knew within a couple of pages who they were and what to expect from each of them. As the story progressed, and the three of them faced fear and danger, their personalities shone through. I loved their friendly banter, and the way they could joke with each other even when they found themselves in mortal danger.

The adult characters are similarly well crafted. I particularly loved Aunt Irene, fearless investigative reporter and host to the friends on their holiday. She came alive on the page, providing both energetic adventures and a grown-up grounding – making sure everyone remembered to eat, and asking the right questions at the right times.

As a Brit who has worked and studied in Canada, I enjoyed the specifically Canadian details. The descriptions of the winter landscape were gorgeous, showcasing the cold, crisp beauty of winter woods in snow. The snowmobile sequences and details of the Hudson’s Bay blanket made me smile, along with the historical references in the story.

It’s a quick read, but with its sparkling characters and exciting plot, Double Cross will drag you in, heart pounding, and keep you guessing until the end.

Double Cross will be published on July 29th.

Have you read Double Cross? What did you think of the story? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: The Stranded

Title: The Stranded
Author: Sarah Daniels
Edition:
Kindle
Rating:
5/5

Refugees from a war-ravaged Europe have been stuck at sea for more than forty years, confined to the cruise ships that were supposed to bring them to safety. A fractured US refuses permission for them to come ashore, fearful of the weaponised virus that might lie dormant in the bloodstream of everyone on board. On the Arcadia, desperate passengers live their lives in the ruins of ballrooms, crew areas, restaurants, and empty swimming pools. Rival gangs maintain a fragile truce, overseen by a sadistic administrator from the Federated States, and the current captain of the ship. Passengers fall in love, start families, and educate their children within sight of the shore, with no hope of reaching land. It’s a brilliant dystopian premise, and a gripping read.

The story follows Esther and Alex, teenage passengers who were born on the Arcadia, as they train to be medics. The top students in their class will be allowed to go ashore to complete their training and begin new lives. Esther and Alex are planning to marry on board and leave together, finally completing their families’ journeys across the Atlantic.

Esther’s older sister, May, is working towards her own escape, as a member of the military cadets. If she keeps out of trouble, she will be recruited into the on-shore military, and given the chance to make her own new life on land. But her friend Nik is part of the resistance, and while May tries hard to protect her family, it is only a matter of time until Esther and Alex find themselves tangled in gang rivalries and rebel plots – everything they need to avoid if they are going to make it off the boat.

Narration is shared between Esther, Nik, and Hadley – the deliciously nasty administrator who is desperate to impress his superiors enough to earn a placement on land. As Esther’s experiences develop her understanding of the politics of the Arcadia, the reader learns along with her, and the complexity and fragility of her position in shipboard society become dangerously clear.

As the story progresses and the plot twists kick in, we follow the narrators through acts of friendship and bravery, heartbreak, betrayal, and adventure. The action sequences are tightly written and exciting, and there are no guarantees of safety for any of the characters. Esther and Alex are respected for their medical knowledge, and it doesn’t take long for their skills to be in demand.

I loved everything about this book – the excellent dystopian premise, the characters and their relationships, and their adventures as they try to make sense of the events of the story. Hadley’s narration is deliciously nasty, Esther struggles with the path she must follow in order to leave ship life behind, and Nik is doing his best to maintain his precarious position on board while protecting the people he loves. The ending is a cliffhanger, and I’m looking forward to the next book. I’m hooked!

The Stranded will be published on July 21st.

Have you read The Stranded? What did you think of the dystopian setting? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: You Can Trust Me

Title: You Can Trust Me
Author: Gina Blaxill
Edition:
Paperback
Rating:
5/5

Foul is Fair meets A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder in this gripping read, as featured in the April Paper Orange YA Book Box.

Alana is the new girl – at her school and in the small town she’s moved to with her mother and brother. A New Year party seems like a great place to meet people, but not everyone is there to make new friends. When her childhood best friend is found unconscious, Alana realises that the attacker is at the party – and that she was supposed to be the target.

It’s a great setup for a story full of plot twists, surprises, and dangerous amateur sleuthing. The starting point is an attempted sexual assault, and Alana must decide which of the local rugby club boys she can trust as she tries to piece together the events of the party. Everyone has secrets, everyone holds a piece of the puzzle, and there’s a history of suicides and murders in the spot where her friend was found.

Alana finds herself dismissed by the police investigating the attack, and frustrated by their lack of progress. Investigating the crime herself feels like the only solution, and she quickly discovers that someone involved doesn’t appreciate the attention. Figuring out who is behind the threats, lies, and rumours throws Alana into danger, and the reader into the heart of the story.

I couldn’t put this book down. I read more than half in one sitting, and I couldn’t wait to come back and read the rest. It’s a clever mix of detective-style interpretation of evidence, networking with Alana’s new friends to pick up on gossip and rumours, and a very human process of uncovering the people behind the gossip. Reputations matter, but as Alana follows the clues to track down the attacker, she discovers that not all reputations are deserved.

Is she trusting the right people, and can she believe what they tell her? I highly recommend diving in and finding out!

Have you read You Can Trust Me? What did you think of Alana’s story? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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