Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











cover32563-mediumFrom Goodreads: When Elle’s father, a single parent and a big shot in corporate insurance, moves her to yet another boarding school for senior year, Elle is disgusted when nothing changes. Her night terrors don’t go away, and, soon, despite her father’s caring calls and visits, Elle starts to believe she’s losing her mind. She knows she’s being followed; a ribbon is tied around her doorknob, and there are those cigarette butts that keep turning up on the doormat, in violation of a strict smoking ban on campus. Then there’s Bryan, an intriguing boy Elle meets at a flea market and later finds out is a student at her school. Yet on campus, he pretends he doesn’t recognize her – until the day he divulges just how much danger she’s in. In her search for an answer to all the madness, Elle unravels the truth about her dad’s real identity, why someone has lied to her all her life, and the terrifying truth that she may be the only one who can save her from the one who’s following her now.

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While the overall archetypes of a story set in a boarding school haven’t really changed in this novel, with the brooding yet protective hero, the shy and needy heroine, the distant parent, and the lackluster staff, Lindsey still adds her own twist to an age old story, bringing in a serial killer with a vendetta, the secret police, and pure, nice, caring friends for our heroine, Elle.

I won’t lie, it’s hard not to compare Lindsey’s novels with the vast majority that have been written using the same setting. If you read the synopsis, you might just think it’s going to be like all the others out there, but in truth, it’s really not. In the beginning, yes, I very much thought that this novel was just like others I’ve read. However, like I said previously, Lindsey adds in her own elements that help give the story a kick, like the fact that there really aren’t any “mean girls/boys” on campus. That was an added relief. In fact, our heroine, Elle, though shy, has great friends that rally around her and try to include her in everything, which was an awesome change from some of the books I’ve previously read where the hero/heroine is hated by the “fabulous” rich students all around him/her.

On top of that, the school isn’t exactly strict, and the students are able to move about more freely, going into town, owning cars, and interacting with the real world, which isn’t something I often see in novels dealing with boarding school. It actually made the characters seem more like college students with this added freedom, and I liked this aspect a lot, though sometimes it was confusing to me because I’m still trying to figure out the living arrangements.  The girls seemed to have their own apartment, complete with a kitchen, and they bought their own groceries, so that was a little weird for me, but not a deal breaker by any means.

The addition of a serial killer running around added a sense of fear to the entire novel as well. Though, on occasion, I wanted to smack Elle upside the head because she doesn’t seem very street smart. If I woke up every morning and there were tons of cigarette butts all over my doormat every day, I’d be worried of a stalker AND I’d tell authorities. It wouldn’t be something I just chalk up to chance. Likewise, I feel like most people recognize a cigarette’s glow in the evening, so it surprised me that Elle didn’t recognize what it was when she saw it stalking her, but… then again, she is really naive, so… it happens.

I figured out much of the plot before the constant reveals and revelations of the characters’ roles, but the one aspect I couldn’t figure out for a while was the “why” behind the serial killer’s choice. But, once that was explained, everything fit nicely into place, and the end definitely left me with a pounding heart for multiple reasons. Overall, this is a decent read with a twist, and if you’ve enjoyed any of the novels you’ve previously read set in boarding schools, then I suggest you give this one a try.  Three stars.

3 stars

F+W/Adams Media has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on September 18, 2013.

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16431540From Goodreads: Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.

But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.

As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.

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This is the story of a young man so wrought with grief that he’s given up living, so set in his own delusion that he wanders everywhere barefoot in hopes of finding a thin space to connect with the dead. For the longest time, I thought I knew what happened that night that Austin died. There are so many instances when Marsh begins to tell the story, only to stop, giving enough snippets to connect all the dots, except for the biggest one of them all that some readers may catch, but I certainly didn’t. This, in and of itself, blew the whole story out of the water, and pushed what I thought to be just a decent read into a higher category for me. I love when I’m floored by the events in books, and this novel definitely left my jaw hanging. Of course, looking back on it, there are so, so many clues throughout, and Marsh even basically admits it at one point, but it went right over my head. Epic.

Basically, what seems to be reality in this novel is just the opposite, and I loved that Casella threw in a little bit of paranormal near the end, because I really thought the story itself was depressing and I was worried for Marsh. Since the accident that killed his twin and left Marsh scarred both inside and out, he’s become an introvert, wishing he could trade places, so sorry for the events and fight prior to the car accident that claimed Austin’s life. He’s lost all his friends, though not for lack of trying on their part; he’s despondent and zones out on many an occasion, and at multiple points in the novel, as he deals with his grief, the reader cannot help but wonder if, perhaps, he’s just crazy.

I really liked that Maddie latched on to Marsh to help him through this extremely difficult time. She has her own dark past as well, though, and watching the two come to trust and help each other was really nice.

Overall, this is a good read. Just remember, not everything is what it seems. Four stars.
4 stars

Beyond Words Publishing has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 10, 2013.

 



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