Books: Edge of Your Seat Awesomeness

TW: two of the following books contain violence.

I’m a book slut: I have a lot of different desires, tastes and passions, ever-changing according to my mood. Lately, I’ve been gravitating toward suspenseful reads that have me scooting forward on my tiny el train seat, frantically clicking the Forward button on my Nook until the satisfying end.

Here are a couple of my recent favorites (and one yawner to avoid):

The Girl in the Wall – Daphne Benedis-Grab

Cover of The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

This contemporary YA novel packs a punch. Using alternating perspectives – one of my favorite devices! – Benedis-Grab weaves a compelling, scary tale of one fateful night in the lives of two former best friends. Sera is forced into outcastville after betraying rich girl Ariel’s trust, and only reluctantly attends Ariel’s lavish birthday sleepover hoping to get a glimpse of the guest of honor, music superstar Hudson Winters. But when shots are fired and the guests are taken hostage, Sera must fight for her life and those of her classmates – while Ariel moves around the house via hidden passageway, trying to figure out what exactly is happening, why her father is now dead and where things went wrong with Sera. Though some of the plot twists and reveals are a bit far-fetched, Ariel and Sera’s voices are clear and distinctive and the story’s a page-turner. Also, it’s gratifying to see teenage girl characters kicking butt while also patching up their friendship.

The Girl in the Wall is now available in stores and online (Amazon, Barnes and Noble). (Note: it is not available for Nook at this time.)

The Uninvited – Liz Jensen

Cover of The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

Fair warning: The Uninvited is extremely disturbing. I mean, any book that begins with a little girl putting a nail gun to her grandma’s neck isn’t exactly light reading. It’s worth it, though: Jensen’s a beautiful writer, her dialogue crisp and her plotting spectacular. Anthropologist Hesketh Lock – who makes his living reading patterns in human behavior – begins to investigate a worldwide phenomenon where adults are possessed to sabotage and children are, literally, going wild. And it gets personal when one of said children is Hesketh’s former stepson. Though it didn’t end exactly how I thought, I tore through The Uninvited. I had to know who would mess up next, why these once-innocent kids were doing such horrible deeds, and what clue Hesketh would uncover next. The best part of the book? Hesketh himself. He’s no average hero: he has Asperger’s Syndrome. And far from some after-school special or stereotype, he’s a real person whose obsessive focus and attention to detail make him extremely good at his job, and just the right person to unlock this mystery.

The Uninvited will be released January 8, but is available for preorder (Amazon, Barnes and Noble).

DO NOT READ (I’M SERIOUS): Thoughtless – S.C. Stephens

Cover of Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

I was so excited for Thoughtless, as it has all the story elements I like: college! moving to a new place! roommate drama! rock and roll! love triangle! Except in this case, the heroine is a nattering twit with no discernible personality (can this “literary” trend end already?), there are beaucoup problematic language and consent issues (news flash: if she tells you not to kiss her, DON’T KISS HER), and the whole thing reads like a NaNoWriMo first draft. I’m fairly sure S.C. Stephens has never: a) had a roommate, b) been to a bar, much less waitressed at one, c) heard rock music, or d) viewed pornography. All well and good, but don’t have your characters see/do these things! I couldn’t even finish this book, and am dismayed to know it’s not only being released in paperback, but there’s also a sequel! Hopefully in it, the heroine stops jerking two men around like a jerky jerk and discovers some opinions and interests along the way. (Oh and while I’m at it, thanks for misrepresenting Midwesterners, Stephens. This lifelong Illinoisan is not amused.)

In case you’re really curious and are too impatient for the library, Thoughtless is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Note: I received all of these books digitally through NetGalley, free of charge with no obligation to review.

What are you reading? Anything edge-of-your-seat awesome? Leave a comment!

By The Unprofessional Critic

Lauren Whalen is a freelance writer living in Chicago. She reviews plays for Chicago Theater Beat ( and talks about movies on The Film Yap ( Lauren's young adult novel is represented by Chalberg & Sussman Literary Agency. Say hi to her at maybeimamazed02(at)gmail(dot)com. (Photo by Greg Inda)

2 replies on “Books: Edge of Your Seat Awesomeness”

Yeah, it’s pretty scary. I was reassured because the girl in question has a SUPER RICH AND PROMINENT dad and I’m pretty sure no one would go looking to take my broke ass hostage. Very good book though!

Now, I WOULD like to fall in love with a sensitive rock star like in Thoughtless…grrr, I wish that book were better written!

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