Dangerous Girls

Title: Dangerous Girls

Author: Abigail Haas. This is a pen name for Abby MacDonald, the author of several YA novels, including Getting Over Garrett Delaney.

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

Readers: Teacher Ninian, prosecutor Rochelle, project manager Andrea, higher ed professional Renee and stay-at-home mom Colleen B.

Summary: It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Our Take: A serious thrill ride of a book, a dark and fast read that will take you for a ride. Mature material may not make it ideal for younger teens. Great for grown-ups. Read if you liked Gone GirlPretty Little Liars and other stories about girls gone bad.

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Murder for Choir

Title: Murder for Choir

Author: Joelle Charbonneau. She is the author of several books for adults and young adults. This is the first in her Glee Club Mystery series.

Genre: Mystery

Readers: Lawyer Abby R., policy wonk BakingSuit and teacher Ninian.

Summary: Even as a struggling opera singer, Paige Marshall has never seen anything like the cutthroat competition of the Prospect Glen High School show choir. Coaching these championship-hungry students may be her toughest gig yet…

Especially when her best young male singer is suspected of killing the arrogant coach of Prospect Glen’s fiercest rival. To clear his name, Paige will have to sort through a chorus of suspects, and go note-for-note with a killer who wants her out of the spotlight for good.

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Hour of the Rat

Title: Hour of the Rat

Author: Lisa Brackmann. She is the author of two previous thrillers, including a previous book following Ellie McEnroe, Rock Paper Tiger.

Genre:  Thriller

Readers: Stay at home moms Krysta and Sarah L., teacher Ninian and accountant Gina aka Slappy.

Summary: Iraq War vet Ellie McEnroe has a pretty good life in Beijing, representing the work of controversial dissident Chinese artist Zhang Jianli. Even though Zhang’s mysterious disappearance of over a year ago has attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities. Even though her Born-Again mother has come for a visit and shows no signs of leaving.

But things really get complicated when Ellie’s search for an Army buddy’s missing brother entangles her in a conspiracy that may or may not involve a sinister biotech company, eco-terrorists, and art-obsessed Chinese billionaire, and lots of cats—a conspiracy that will take her on a wild chase through some of China’s most beautiful and most surreal places.

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Abandoned Ship

Title: Abandoned Ship: An Intimate Account of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck

Author: Benji Smith. This is his first book.

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Readers: Consultant Alila, prosecutor Rochelle, teacher Ninian and policy wonk BakingSuit

Summary: On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia — a thousand foot long luxury cruise ship, twice the size of the Titanic — ventured into shallow water and smashed into the rocks of a tiny island off the coast of Italy, throwing the four thousand passengers and crew members into a state of chaos. The captain and officers all abandoned ship, leaving the few remaining castaways to fend for themselves as the boat toppled onto its side and water flooded into the passenger decks.

In the wee hours of the night, newlyweds Benji Smith and Emily Lau feared for their lives, desparate and terrified after a malfunctioning lifeboat left them stranded on the sinking ship. By this point, the other lifeboats had all gone. They had been left behind.

This thoughtful memoir — hailed by The Daily Telegraph as “a compelling, minute-by-minute account of the chaotic evacuation” — tells the remarkable story of the couple’s harrowing escape, as they clung to a rope and rapelled down the hull of the doomed vessel.

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The Burn Palace

Title: The Burn Palace

Author: Stephen Dobyns, author of several previous psychological mysteries, including The Church of Dead Girls.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Literary Fiction

Readers: Retiree Nancy, stay-at-home mom Krysta, and teachers madriscoll and Ninian.

Summary: At two-thirty in the morning at the local hospital in the small town of Brewster, Rhode Island, Alice Alessio — also known as Nurse Spandex — is given the surprise of her life. Coming back from a secret tryst with a doctor, she peeks in to check on the newborn baby she was supposed to be watching, and finds a huge, writhing red-and-yellow snake in the bassinet instead. So begins the series of strange and disturbing events that start to plague this sleepy little community and confound the police. Woody Potter, the detective on the case, simply can’t put it all together — what is the thread that ties a missing baby, a dead insurance investigator, and a local Wiccan sect together? Why do all roads seem to lead to the town yoga center (known to all as the You-You)? And what exactly is going on with Carl Krause, the local man who works at the funeral home, who has taken to growling at his neighbors?

An epic, twisted portrait of small-town America, The Burn Palace captivates with dozens of richly rendered multidimensional characters and a plot that keeps you guessing all the way to the end. It is the literary equivalent of Richard Russo crossed with Stephen King.

Should You Read It?: Our readers all enjoyed this thrill ride filled with eerie atmosphere. But as Krysta notes, this may not be for the faint of heart. A fun read for literature lovers who don’t normally read genre fiction. A strong choice for genre-lovers, too.

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