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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Who killed Brooke Donovan? It’s the biggest mystery of the summer, and everyone in Castle Cove thinks it’s the wrong guy. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and Riverdale can’t miss this page-turning who-done-it that’s sure to be the next must read Young Adult thriller! Last summer, Alice Ogilvie’s basketball-star boyfriend Steve dumped her. Then she disappeared for five days. She's not talking, so where she went and what happened to her is the biggest mystery in Castle Cove. Or it was, at least. But now, another one of Steve’s girlfriends has vanished: Brooke Donovan, Alice’s ex–best friend. And it doesn’t look like Brooke will be coming back. . . Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. Iris has her own reasons for wanting to disappear, though unlike Alice, she doesn’t have the money or the means. That could be changed by the hefty reward Brooke’s grandmother is offering to anyone who can share information about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. The police are convinced Steve is the culprit, b…

The Agathas

by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

Overall Book Review:

Castle Cove is the perfect place to escape to for a while, though if you’re looking to enjoy a nice, quiet book with a cute storyline, you’d better look elsewhere! The Agathas is one of my new favorite YA books, and though it’s fictional and entertaining, there are some pretty realistic and sometimes gritty scenes that occur. 

The book begins with a chapter depicting Alice Ogilvie returning to school after a brief stint of house arrest, which she earned after she found out her boyfriend dumped her and she disappeared for several days. Since she’s been out of school for a while, her grades aren’t great and her guidance counselor pairs her up with Iris Adams, a nobody, as a homework tutor and since this is a story, of course they become besties.

Okay, maybe not quite besties, especially since Iris is definitely not in the same friend group as Alice. Of course, Iris has heard rumors around school and is curious about Alice’s legendary disappearance which means they both find it strange when one of Alice’s friends, Brooke, goes missing.

Despite the fact that Alice isn’t quite as close with Brooke as she once was, it just so happens that Iris was the last person to see Brooke before she disappeared. Despite the fact that the police think they have to things figured out, Alice and Iris have found inconsistencies with what is being reported and what really happened.  At this point in the book, I was pretty hooked and getting A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder vibes and loving it. There are multiple chapter narratives that occur over the course of this book, including text messages between characters, which was difficult for me to follow at first, but once I got into the story and had sorted out who was who I found that the different perspectives made for a thrilling reading experience! 

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy from Random House Children’s Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 44 religious exclamations; 37 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 12 derogatory names; 11 scatological words; 10 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 8 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore: Bullying and threats sent via text and written online are reported to occur several times throughout the book; a brief description is given of the act of dissecting a frog; a reference is made to reasons why girls disappear, mentioning men being the cause; a minor is mentioned to have a rough home life and sustains some bruises and an injured arm from one of her parents abusing her; a brief fight occurs between a group of minors, shoving and hitting is involved; a reference is made to missing persons and where their bodies might be found; a missing girl is found dead by her friends in a brief scene; a conversation is had about the girl that was found deceased, she may have been killed or perhaps was drunk and fell, causing her to die; a report is made of how the minor girl is suspected to have died, wounds to her hands show that they were stomped on, and as she was found over the edge of an embankment, it is speculated that her killer stomped on her hands, causing her to lose her grip and fall from a height, head wounds are also mentioned; a brief scene occurs where a minor trips a man to prevent him from injuring her; a minor and her mother are verbally and physically threatened by a man in a brief scene, one of them uses a lamp to hit him over the head in self-defense; a brief scene occurs where a girl is hit from behind with a heavy object and blacks out; a car crash is described to occur with the driver running into a tree and sustaining some injuries, some blood is mentioned; an object is mentioned to have blood on it and it is later revealed that it was used to hit someone over the head.

Sex/Nudity: Cheating on a spouse is referenced a few times; a boy kisses a girl on the cheek in a brief scene; a brief conversation occurs where a video of two minors is shown with them reportedly having sex; a boy is referred to as hot; a coach is rumored to be creepy around women, specifically teachers; a picture of a bare chested woman is mentioned to be found in the previously mentioned coach’s desk as well as condoms; a picture is mentioned to be found of a teacher wearing only a bra; sexual assault is mentioned; a sex tape is referenced; a girl mentions that she is a virgin.

Mature Subject Matter:

Embezzlement; death; missing persons; domestic abuse.

Alcohol/Drug Use:

Minors are depicted drinking multiple times; a minor is described as drunk; drugs and drug testing are mentioned; drugging a drink is mentioned; nicotine gum is used by adults; a minor mentions smoking weed; substance abuse is referred to; a minor mentions being high to their friends.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.