Angela Sherrill picks Three Thrillers for Teens and Adults

I'm glad to welcome Angela Sherrill back to the pixels & pages of my3books, writing in with new perspectives on children's publishing & bookselling from her new job.

There are many readers out there who are in for the thrill of it.  As children they may have read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys or any variety of adventure stories.  As these readers age, many make their way into mysteries and crime fiction (or romance), where they can get lost in the breadth of their preferred genre. Here are three contemporary favorites perfect for the thrill seeker in all of us, no matter our preferred genre.


Blink & Caution
by Tim Wynne-Jones
Candlewick Press | 9780763639839 | $16.99 | March 2011

How had I missed this guy?  He's got a slew of awards for his books. He penned sixteen rockin' Fraggle songs. You know, like the ones about Doozer flooping in the episode “Doozer is as Doozer Does”. 

My excuse? Like many others, I assumed he was I some way related to the fantasy queen Diana Wynne Jones.  My evil brain then created a narrative in which he got his book contracts based on his “wife's” reputation.  Therefore, the contents were likely rubbish.  I even made up an excuse why his name was hyphenated and not hers!

When I was told otherwise, I quietly dismissed the truths that did not fit my narrative. After hearing about the Winter Institute buzz over Blink & Caution and seeing a trusted GoodReads pal dive in, I gently set my carefully crafted narrative aside and picked up the book. 

What I discovered was a contemporary, literary thriller that pleases. Two young urban characters who foolishly chase trouble while fleeing from their own inner-demons win your support as you root for them to stop the cycle of self-deprecation. I was wrapped up in the story, but I was entranced by the writing. Often poetic, yet always on the move, my mind played a tug-of-war wanting to re-read and slowly swallow lines while at the same time find out what happens next.  You, too, will be wrapped-up and entranced.  With a stylish cover lacking in cliché teen images, you can proudly carry this one around with you on the train, plane, or beach. No one has to know it's intended for teens. 

Check out Elizabeth Bluemle's Shelftaker post for more TWJ (as you too will soon be referring to him) fan-fare. 


by Martyn Bedford
Wendy Lamb Books | 9780385739900 | $15 | April 2011

Here's an except from my early-read notes on the FLIP manuscript. Wendy Lamb was kind enough to let me  read the manuscript almost a year ago as she was brushing it up for publication.  I gave her a page full of glowing remarks.  Her practiced hand edited my most absurd comment, which I will paste here for my own amusement:

“If Annie Wilkes was holding Margaret Peterson Haddix hostage and forcing her to rewrite Todd Strasser's HELP, I'M TRAPPED series, you might end up with something almost as good as Martyn Bedford's FLIP.”

And, here's an excerpt from what The Guardian's Snork Maiden so deftly says about FLIP – in case you're the sort who likes a concise sensible review:

“This book is extremely gripping. It is fast-paced but still keeps you guessing and the plot is clever and unique, throwing you straight into the action right from the beginning. It's all about a normal boy who suddenly finds himself in an impossible situation, and has to find a way to get out of it pretty much on his own. Martyn Bedford is an excellent writer and captures the life of a teenage schoolboy brilliantly, with his writing style and dialogue. Alex appreciates the life he had so much more when it is suddenly snatched away from him. Every little thing he took for granted before, he longs for now. The book has an underlying message telling us to be grateful for the life we have because maybe it doesn't always seem that great, but at least it's ours.”

Ditto The Snork Maiden.


by Grahame McNamee
Laurel Leaf/Dell | 9780440238362 | $6.99 | May 2005

For a long time, I thought I didn't like thrillers. I liked emotional YA and magical middle readers.  I could do without criminal elements and murder mysteries.  The Edgar Awards were not on the top of my reading list. And then, I read this.  I was blown away and thought, “I do like thrillers, after all!”

Duncan works at the Toronto subway system's lost and found department over the summer.  One day, he comes upon an abandoned notebook only to discover the collected scraps and intentions of a psychopath.  He decides it is up to him to track down said disturbed person and save the unsuspecting victims.  I know it sounds unoriginal, but you'll be hanging on the whole time. If you've got $7 and a couple of hours you can't go wrong with this one. Tucked inside this mass market paperback is a real gem. 



Angela K Sherrill is the Collection Development Manager for Children's Plus Inc., a children's book binder and distributer located just south of Chicago. She spent 8 years managing children's book at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park and continues to coordinate the annual 57th Street Children's Book Fair, a street festival that celebrates the love of reading and the joys of childhood.