Choker

I didn’t really have grand expectations going into Choker. I thought it was going to be a generic paranormal romance: girl gets picked on at school, beautiful popular guy falls for her, but he has a secret… and is a vampire/werewolf/angel. Bo-ring. However, every time I thought I had this book figured out, it threw me something new. I was seriously impressed by this creepy horror story.

Choker begins with Cara, who is socially inept and plagued with anxiety. She doesn’t really have any friends and she gets teased at school because she’s such a loner. One day at lunch she chokes on her food and gorgeous jock Ethan gives her the Heimlich maneuver, saving her. Predictably, Cara totally falls for him. But then Ethan’s girlfriend Alexis and head of her mean girl clique, Sydney, begin taunting Cara about the incident and calling her “choker”. Cara feels like a complete outcast at school, and when she’s feeling the most alone, all of a sudden her best friend from her childhood shows up! Zoe says she’s run away from home, where her dad abuses her, and she wants to hide out in Cara’s bedroom because she’s afraid of being sent back home. Cara is naturally overjoyed to have her best friend back, and she thinks everything will be okay. Except that night, Sydney turns up dead.

I really can’t explain the things I liked so much about this book without discussing the big revelation at the end, so read on with caution, because there will be spoilers. If you stop reading here, know that there is a great plot twist at the end, and that I recommend this book for fans of classic horror and psychological thrillers.

Big spoilers under the cut!

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Cryer’s Cross

Cryer’s Cross is a paranormal mystery that takes place in a small rural town. Our protagonist is Kendall, a high school senior who has OCD and commitment issues. She can’t tell her best friend/boyfriend Nico how she feels about him, which she regrets later when he becomes the next victim in a string of disappearing teenagers. And of course, there’s a new kid in town: dark, mysterious, handsome Jaci├ín Obregon, who Kendall inexplicably hates and then even more inexplicably falls for.

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Sisters Red

You know those books that you don’t expect much from, but you think, “Oh, this will be a fun, quick read” and then you’re totally sucked in and blown away? This was one of those books. Sisters Red was published a few months ago and I can’t believe I haven’t heard more buzz about it, because I loved it! What I thought was going to be just another werewolf story turned out to be a surprisingly layered and touching story about two sisters and their love for each other. Pearce has a unique take on werewolves, which are called Fenris in her book, and the monsters lust after young, frivolous women. It’s not just a new spin on werewolves, but also a play on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and THAT is my absolute favorite thing on this book. Because while Scarlett and Rosie March must rely on their curvy bodies and act like giggly, weak, helpless girls in order to lure the Fenris, they’re actually totally badass Hunters who don’t need to be rescued by anybody. It’s a great twist on the old trope of the young woman being preyed on by a man/monster who disguises himself as someone friendly. In this book, the March sisters disguise themselves as easy prey, and then turn on the Fenris, who are the real prey.

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Across The Universe

Across The Universe, Beth Revis’ debut book, is a fascinating journey through time and space. It begins on Earth, with Amy and her parents being cryogenically frozen to prepare for a 300-year journey to colonize a new earth-like planet. Except when Amy is unfrozen and wakes up, she’s told that they haven’t reached Centauri-Earth, and it’s only been 250 years since they left! The book is told from alternating points of view, switching between Amy and Elder, a teenage boy aboard Godspeed who is meant to be the future leader of the ship. Ever since the legendary Plague that decimated the population of the ship, it’s been run by a figurehead called Eldest (rather than on a military model, as it was before the Plague). But Elder soon discovers that everything is not as it seems and that Godspeed has a dark history. Why has Amy been woken up early, and what secrets are Eldest hiding from Elder?

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The Bermudez Triangle

File this one in the “WHY HAVE I NEVER READ THIS BEFORE” category. Maureen Johnson’s The Bermudez Triangle is not a new book. It was published in 2004, when I was a senior in high school. You’ve probably seen it at your local bookstore or library. I’ve seen it around for years, but I think I was always put off by the cutesy-looking hearts on the cover. I’m not a huge fan of romance novels, but while Bermudez does feature a few romances, it’s more about three best friends than anything else.

Oh, and did I mention it features a lesbian romance without being a cliche? With depth and nuance, even? It was swoonworthy, much moreso than the hetero romance was.

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