Synopsis from Goodreads: Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.
My take: Atmospheric and suspenseful, The May Queen Murders is a tale of madness and murder in an isolated town in the Ozarks. It's also not for the squeamish (which would kind of be ... me). There's animal cruelty and a fair amount of violence in this story, if that sways you one way or the other. I liked the book's setting a lot. It takes places in a small community that eschews technology, makes their own clothes, keeps mostly to themselves. In this way the book reminded me a little of The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, with a blend of the small insular community and the horror. The May Queen Murders was partly a friendship story between Ivy and her cousin Heather, and partly a double romance (not a triangle, though it seemed that way at one point) but to me all the carnage sort of got in the way of the human interest part of the story. I read to the end, but in all honesty this one was a little bit too gory for me.
by E. K. Johnston
Published on May 15, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads: Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next. But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined: Victim. Survivor. That raped girl. Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.
My take: Thanks to the bloggers (Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit and Rashika @ The Social Potato) who raved about this book and got me to read it. Based on the title and cover, I assumed this was some kind of outdoor adventure story. (Clearly, I have not read Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, which this book is loosely based upon. The title comes from a stage direction during the play.) Actually, at the synopsis indicates, this is a book about a rape.
Exit, Pursued by A Bear is a book about how terrible, unfair things sometimes happen without warning. How it is possible to get through something unimaginably awful. (Preferably with a friend like Polly, who is the epitome of what a best friend should be, by your side.) About refusing to be ashamed or to lose your sense of self, your dignity, your power. I liked that this book (and Hermione herself) just flat-out rejects all the secrecy, the shame, the self-blame that often goes along with stories like this. Maybe that isn't always reality, but the book seems to argue that it's the way things ought to be.