Ashley Elston | This is Our Story & 10 Blind Dates

Ashley Elston has to be one of the good surprises that 2020 has given me as a reader. She is a hybrid author, which it’s something I will always appreciate and respect in a writer. I read two of her books and both of them were brilliant, through very different in tone.

“This is our story” came out first, in 2016, and was picked up by Leda Publishing in 2019. I feel like everyone has been sleeping on this book, me included. Also, for the longest time I was convinced that it was some kind of fantasy story and I blame that on all the stag infused fantasy cover. Far from a fantasy novel, “This is our Story” gives the lead to Kate Marino, a high school senor interning at a district attorney’s office. Endless filling is forgotten when her boss is the one to take over one of the biggest cases in their small little town.

Five boys went into the woods hunting for deer (now I see the stag symbolism), but only four of them came out alive. Now everyone knows who John Michael, Henry, Logan and Shep are. Everyone is watching them, wondering who did it, but the boys made a deal before walking away from Grant’s body. They all have the same story and everyone knows they are lying. Even if she is very much aware she should stay away, Kate is pulled into the case, but how much of it it’s really for the work she is doing for the DA?

This book is told in a really creative way. We have Kate’s POV and the lead of our story, the POV of our enigmatic murderer which keeps you guessing (to a point), text messages between Kate and one of the boys as well as interrogation transcripts that Kate is helping out with. Every little piece fits with the other, creating an intriguing story of murder and teen detective work.

It did remind me at times of old Veronica Mars episodes, if Veronica was less jaded and a little more naïve. Kate is still a teen, not yet out of high school, that is something I kept remind myself when some of her decisions didn’t agree with me. It also gave me a vibe of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why Season 3, but in reverse as funny boy Grant is exposed more after death than in life.

These are two things I love anyway and I flew through the book in just a few hours, keeping my fingers crossed that I could anticipate the plot twists. I may have guessed one or two important ones.

Now, to talk about a complete change of tone and theme, Ashley Elston releases “10 Blind Dates” in October 2019, picked up by TREI Publishing at the beginning of 2020. There is no murder, there are many cute boys, a lot of relatives and a lot more fluff.

“10 Blind Dates” is the story of Sophie who breaks up with her boyfriend right before Christmas. She is now stuck for the next week with her whole family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, while her parents are away to care for her older pregnant sister. In a feat of family camaraderie, all of them unite forces and set up Sophie on blind dates to mend her broken heart.

Each date is more ridiculous or amazing than other and Sophie’s week quickly turns into a carnival of shenanigans. Griffin may realize he made a mistake, but will she be the same girl after Christmas and ten crazy dates?  Each date has its own chapter and bets from the family members cheering Sophie on, which is also the thing I loved most about this book: the family aspect.

“This is our Story” did is as well through Kate and her mother, who were very close and had no problems communicating even in the middle of uncovering a murder mystery.  Both books show a healthy non-problematic relationship between the teens and their families, which is something I need more in YA books. Let’s leave the misunderstood teen that does not communicate in 2009 please.

I am glad I got to pick these two books and I can’t wait to get my hands on “The Lying Woods”. After the fluffy YA love with a semi cold Christmas in Texas, read on a hot summer day, I am ready for another thriller to keep me flexing the little grey cells.

*Cronică realizată de Măriuca Alexandra Munteanu.

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