Top 8

Top 8 (Top 8 #1) by Katie Finn

So, I loooooved this book when I was a teen.

Rereading the book, I still think it is good and holds up even though it is 12 years later. The author incorporated a lot of social media and kind of fused Facebook and Myspace together (Myspace is where the term “Top 8” comes from) which helps as it becomes a fusion of the two and is still relevant to today. There are still some terms that today’s teens won’t know like “top 8”, a razor (cellphone), etc. They are constantly on social media but videos aren’t really a thing so its not as topical but I think teens could still get into it.

I also liked the use of the pictures and objects for profile pics, how we meet our characters through their profile, the IMs (now would be texts or group chats) as I think it really captured teen style and life. Although looking at the profile pics it makes me wonder what these people are doing now.

Plot Summary:

So the book starts off with relatively popular Madison MacDonald getting ready to head to the Galapagos Islands for Spring break.

Madison does well in school, is pretty, has the lead in the musical Dane (a modern adaption of Hamlet set in rural Kansas), loves to read, is on prom committee, just won school secretary, has a great group of friends, a new boyfriend, and just had her pink laptop fixed.

Life seems pretty great for Madison, and she returns from the vacation all rested, happy, but missing social media, especially Friendverse which she is always on. There was a distraction ob the boat, a cute guy, but she didn’t spend as much time with him as she is taken. 

But when she comes back her whole world collapses. Most of her friends will not speak to her, she’s been unfollowed and blocked by her friends, her profile is completely changed with lots of spelling mistakes, her profile says she likes weird things, she dumped her boyfriend Justin on a post, shared a bunch of pics from a friend’s party (getting him grounded), reveals the story of her friend Schuyler getting a nose job, revealed that her two couple friends cheated on each other, propositioned one of her best friend, Lissa’s, boyfriend, propositioned another guy, said a lot of bad things about the drama kids, was mean to all her friends, insulted the head of the prom committee, and more.

WHAT!

Obviously someone is framing her and trying to destroy her reputation But who? And why?

She meets up with her friends: Schuyler (the one she revealed about the sailing accident/nose job), Ruth (her best friend), and Lissa (her french loving friend who’s boyfriend the fake Madison hit on). She convinces them she didn’t do it, and they decide to help her root out who did this. First, she has to deal with the fallout: try to mend things with people, and then starts a list of who would want to destroy her…

Suspect 1) Kittson Pearson

Kittson is the most popular and beautiful girl in Putnam High. She is head of the prom committee, can get anything she wants, and is now dating Justin, Madison’s ex? Could she have done this to Madison to engineer their breakup? She may look like a blonde bimbo, but she is cunning, talented, and a whiz with computers-making a pretty professional looking prom website.

Hmm…

Suspect 2) Conner Atkinson

Conner Atkinson wanted to be secretary on student government and was beat by Madison, demanding a recount. He also asked her out but was rejected as Madison was dating Justin. Could he have done this to get rid of her and take over her student government spot? Did he break up her and Justin as he wants to be with her? He is the school’s Internet Liaison and could have found a way to get into her profile.

Suspect 3) Travis MacDonald

Travis is Madison’s annoying little brother who likes to do all he can to make her life hard. Her “Q” isn’t working (I feel you Madison, my E is having issues unless I hit it hard) and her parents let her use her brother’s computer to write her report on Queen Victoria. When she goes in his room she sees a note of her brother’s-him trying to figure out her password. Could he have figured it out and hacked her profile? When they were in Galapagos they had to pay an arm and a leg to go online-something Madison wasn’t going to do, but Travis spent a large portion of his time online. Is he the one who messed up her Friendverse Account.

Hmmm…

Suspect 4) Sarah Donner

Sarah Donner and Madison have been competing for the leads in plays their whole high school lives. She had beat Sarah out for several leads in he past but Sara really wanted this one. Sarah has been campaigning for her to be moved from understudy since day one-Madison is too tall, she doesn’t look farm girl enough, she’s not off book, she’s too pitchy, etc. Could she have done this to freak Madison out so she doesn’t want to do it? Try to get her kicked out of the play for her against school rules profile?

Hmmm…?

Madison was intent on winning Justin back, but she ends up spending more and more time with Jonathan “Nate” Ellis, the guy she met on the Galapogas Islands, and has a lot of fun with him. He tries to help her find out who her mystery hacker is-but mostly is just what most 2008 teen girls dreamed in a guy.

Madison and her friends investigate but it turns out Kittson is actually pretty nice and fun, the two becoming close friends-she even gives Madison a quick makeover and tries to help her win Nate. Conner is revealed to be a great guy and Madison matches him up with her friend Schuleyer (they are adorable together). And Travis just has a crush on a girl and was trying to email her (adorable). Sarah was just extra jealous and Madison and her work out their problems.

With that, Madison has no one left on her list? Who could hate her so much they want to hurt her so badly?

Thoughts After Reading:

I love this book!

I love how Madison learned a lot from what happened and reformed her character, no longer gossiping or talking bad about others. But also how she wasn’t the best judge if character, Justin? Really, this brainless caveman? Or how Kittson is her nemesis, but after one afternoon with her she realizes she was wrong about her and they become good friends.

The mystery is good- I knew half of the answer but I didn’t see the rest of it coming. I love it and recommend it.

For more Young Adult mysteries, go to Ruby in the Smoke

Death Dines Out

Death Dines Out (Hemlock Falls Mystery #5) by Claudia Bishop

The Quilliam sisters are thrilled to take a vacation from the Inn for a week in Palm Beach, Florida-but of course we know it won’t be a “real” vacation.

In exchange for first class tickets the pair are helping Tiffany Taylor, wealthy socialite, with a week long charity function for phobic women. The two are going to stay at the luxury condo, Combers Beach Club, Quill will give one lecture on inn keeping, and Meg three cooking classes. They are really going for Meg in the hopes she can win back her third star from L’ Aperitif.

The whole thing is basically a ruse,

Tiffany just wants to get back at her ex-husband. The two keep one-upping each other and one ends up dead…a case of murder!

Thoughts After Reading:

This was awful.

Ugh!

It was boring, made no sense and just absolutely horrible. Whatever charm attracted me to this series in the first place is gone and I never want to read another one.

But you know me, ugh I have to finish the series. Bleh!

For more Hemlock Falls mysteries, go to Murder Well Done

For more Claudia Bishop, go to A Pinch of Poison

For more mysteries taking place in Palm Beach, go to Spring Breakdown

Christina’s Ghost

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 Christina’s Ghost by Betty Ren Wright

Christina and her sister are supposed to be spending time with Grandma while their parents are off vacationing in Alaska, but it turns out the trip won’t work as Grandma is in surgery. Aunt Grace takes Christina’s sister, while Christine is forced to go with her Uncle Ralph.

Ralph is an unmarried, workaholic, who only cares about himself. He doesn’t like children, especially those who don’t look or act like how girls are supposed to. Yes, Christine has short hair, wears baggy boyish clothing, and is a tomboy.

Seriously!

Ralph is really weird just ignoring her, while expecting her to entertain herself in a house that is far from everything.

However, Christine gets more entertainment than she bargained for when she finds a ghost boy. There is something not right with the house, a murder occurred there years earlier. Is the boy trying to warn them or was he the instigator of the crimes?

At first Ralph thinks that Christine is making it up, but he soon becomes a chief officer in the ghost hunt.

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was an okay story. It wasn’t super developed and the mystery was pretty boring and bad.

But I did like how the relationship with the uncle and niece grew.

For more by Betty Ren Wright, go to The Dollhouse Murders

For more ghosts, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more young adult mysteries, go to Beyond the Grave: A Choose Your Own Ending Mystery Adventure

For more supernatural mysteries, go to Dracula (Graphic Novel)

For more mysteries not in a series, go to Weak Flesh