Good Girls Lie by JT Ellison

If you know me, you know I love mysteries set in boarding schools. They are generally off the mark of what boarding schools are actually like, but they are the kind of thing I imagined them to be when I was a teen. Everyone is so rich and nasty to each other and then, boom, murder!

This was a fast-paced story that kept me guessing and actually did a good job of actually portraying private school life.

Thank you for my ARC, Net Galley and Harlequin! It’s YA fodder that is good for my soul! I will share this with my 16 year old, too (with her own copy).


J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new psychological thriller examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to in order to protect their secrets.

Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond.

But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder.

When a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

Don’t miss this fast-paced suspense story from New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison!

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Description via NG

Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal

Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina.

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

I loved reading this touching and memorable story about plucky Merci and her family. The portrayal of family and culture were so moving, and Merci’s navigating of her private school world should be required reading for many private school classrooms. If I had one less than positive thing to say, it is that the story felt a bit long for children. I loved it – but I’m a reader and I regularly read 300 page novels when I was a middle-schooler. This story deserves to be read by all children, not just those that will stick with it for the whole 300 pages.

Thank you so much for my review copy via Net Galley!

Quick YA Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

I received “New Girl” through Net Galley last week. It was a quick YA read with a plot to entice your average teen: our heroine, Callie, is admitted to the prestigious “Manderly Academy” in NH where she takes the place (literally) of missing student “Becca Normandy”, struggling to make new friends and dealing with major romance issues are secondary to the overall anxiety of Becca possibly returning (alive or from the dead).

Here’s the thing: I would have LOVED this book as a teenager. Ghosts? Dead roommates? Social issues? Teen sex? Attractive rich students off at boarding school with few if any adults in sight? I would have lapped this up, similar to my obsession in middle school with the “Flowers in the Attic” series.

As an adult, though, I had some major issues. Having worked in independent schools for over 20 years I found the fact that the main character’s parents “got her in” unbeknownst to her as incredulous. I found the amount of time the students were off partying and unattended, etc., incredulous. I found the fact that this poor girl was moved in mid-year to the same dorm room where the missing girl lived and the missing girl’s personal belongings were still all there and in place incredulous. I was also bothered by the Manderly/Becca/Rebecca association, which was intentional as a “retelling”, but wondered if most teens would recognize the DuMaurier reference or if I was just dating myself. Finally, I felt that I was reading the writing of a young person. I had no idea who this author was, besides assuming it was a woman, and felt this could be her first novel (it is not) or that she was young and still developing as a writer (she was 20 when she wrote it). Don’t get me wrong, the writing is fine. I just have read a lot of writing in my years as a teacher and college professor and it felt along the same lines. But the bottom line is I read it, and kept reading until the end.

So – I’d be interested in feedback when this comes out (it can be pre-ordered at the moment). I’d like to look forward to more from Paige Harbison, too. Due to the drugs/sex/rape/murder references, in my opinion it’s for older YA readers.

thanks Net Galley and Harlequin Teen for my freebie!