March 7, 2015

Dead to Me Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Dead to Me
Author: Mary McCoy
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Mystery/Thriller 
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Rating: 4.5 Stars


LA Confidential for the YA audience. This alluring noir YA mystery with a Golden Age Hollywood backdrop will keep you guessing until the last page.

"Don't believe anything they say."

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her--and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn't a kid anymore, and this time she won't let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets--and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie's attacker behind bars--if Alice can find her first. And she isn't the only one looking.

Evoking classic film noir, debut novelist Mary McCoy brings the dangerous glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age to life, where the most decadent parties can be the deadliest, and no drive into the sunset can erase the crimes of past.
Dead to Me is a gripping young adult historical mystery/thriller based in Hollywood during the late 1940s. The story revolves around our main character, Alice, as she digs into her sister's life for the past four years - since she left home without a trace. Now, Annie is in a coma and fighting for her life after being nearly beat to death one night. The hospital called Alice after finding her picture and phone number in Annie's shoe, and Alice can't believe that she's found her sister after all these years - and is more determined than ever to find out the truth of why Annie left home and never reached out to her. Alice also knows that her parents are lying to her about something big - and she has a hunch that it has to do with Annie and why she left. She's not about to lose her big sister again, so Alice feels it's up to her to find out what Annie's being doing since she left and who could want her dead? She'll have to go through the shady underbelly of Hollywood -  with all of the dirty and nasty secrets that are hidden there - in order to save her sister and to answer the questions that have burdened her for years. What she finds will shock her to the core and she'll have to rethink everything she thought she knew about Hollywood, the so-called glamorous life of actors, and even her own life.

I love a good mystery or thriller and never pass up a chance to read one that sounds promising. I'm usually complaining that the YA genre doesn't have enough good thrillers out there, which I'm happy to say is starting to change, and this novel can definitely be added to that list. The plot of the book really isn't anything terribly original - a teen girl runs away from home after a big fight with her parents and isn't heard from again - until she turns up in a hospital, leaving nothing but more questions. The fact that the story is set in Hollywood during the late 1940s makes it much more fascinating. A lot goes on during the story, especially as Alice digs through her sister's past to figure out what happened to her. There are tons of smaller stories that are brought up during this time in the book - and all of them somehow tie in together to create the backbone of the central plot. These smaller story lines are detailed and intricate, which I feel only adds depth to the book as a whole. It's like a puzzle - all of these smaller stories and characters that Alice discovers are the pieces, and when put together in the right way, they show the entire picture of what happened to Annie and why. 

I always try to figure out the mystery in the book before the main character does, but I wasn't really able to pin it down with this one. I kept building up theories in my mind, only to have a big twist in the story knock me back to where I started. When I can't figure out a mystery of any sort before the character, I consider it a strong indication of the writer's talent and ability. I loved the author's writing style throughout the book - all of the various elements were each done precisely and in great detail. After putting all of the different parts of the story together, the big picture behind it all is revealed in striking detail. When I found out that this is the author's debut novel, I could hardly believe it. The book is written with the skill and grace of a seasoned author and showcases the incredible talent the writer possesses. Part of the reason I loved the writing so much was the author's use of first person point of view - that of Alice. By using this technique, the reader gets a much deeper and intimate understanding of what happens during the book, sometimes actually feeling as if we've been transported to that specific place and time. With this novel, I felt as if I had stepped back in time and was experiencing the glamorous Hollywood of the 1940s, as well as the dirty underside that is kept hidden from the world. We experience everything as Alice does and are privy to her personal thoughts, fears, dreams, hopes, and emotions - among several other things. This style also allows the reader to connect with the character in a whole new level than would be possible using a different technique. The reader is almost immediately connected to Alice and can easily identify with her from the start of the book. I love being inside the main character's mind during a story - experiencing everything from their standpoint. Emotions, inner thoughts and dialogues, and other sensory information is vividly detailed and described from the character's viewpoint - which makes the reader feel as if they are inside the story itself and experiencing everything that happens alongside the character. This is a huge benefit of using first person point of view, in my opinion, and I believe it makes a book and it's characters all the more realistic.

Each part of the story - from the setting and scenery to the secondary characters and the events that unfold - is described in fantastic detail with lots of description and vivid imagery. It feels so realistic that the reader will get lost inside the pages, forgetting about the outside world, until they have finished the book - which is another sign for me that an author has true talent. Overall, I found this novel to be an exceptionally well written story with an imaginative plot and a mystery full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. I very highly recommend this book to fans of mysteries, suspense, and thrillers - along with those looking for magnificent writing and a twisting narrative that will have you reading as fast as you can to find out the truth and who's behind it all. I'll most definitely be following this author and eagerly awaiting her next release!

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Mary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles's notorious past. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and studied at Rhodes College and the University of Wisconsin. Mary now lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Her debut novel, Dead To Me, is a YA mystery set in the glamorous, treacherous world of 1940s Hollywood.

Win (1) hardcopy of DEAD TO ME by Mary McCoy (US Only)

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