Review + Giveaway: Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

Posted September 9, 2016 by Kara in blog tour, book review, Giveaway, Kara / 4 Comments

Review + Giveaway: Pasadena by Sherri L. SmithPasadena by Sherri L. Smith
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 13th 2016
Genres: young adult, contemporary, mystery-thriller
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
Buy on Amazon

Award-winning author Sherri L. Smith returns with a riveting, noir-style thriller, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart
Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.
When Jude's best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.
Now everyone is a suspect--family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that's the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude's got a few skeletons of her own.
In a homage to the great noir stories of Los Angeles, award-winning author Sherri L. Smith's Pasadena is a tale of love, damage and salvation set against the backdrop of California's City of Roses.
“Beautiful clothes, bad habits, ugly secrets . . . [a] page-turning California noir.” —E. Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars
“Smith’s novel had me leaning forward in my seat trying to remember to breathe.” —Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming


Stay tuned at the bottom for a giveaway of a finished copy of Pasadena!

There are very few authors that have the kind of versatility Sherri L. Smith does. Pasadena is the third book of hers that I have read, and it was just as enjoyable as the other two while being in a completely different genre. There was Orleans, which was a young adult post-apocalyptic, The Toymaker’s Apprentice, which was a middle grade retelling of The Nutcracker, and this–Pasadena, which was a contemporary young adult mystery about a teen girl who is found dead in her swimming pool.

Very few authors excel in writing across genres like this, but there is something about Sherri L. Smith’s writing that really speaks to me. It flows well, the descriptions and sensory language truly brought Pasadena and Southern California to life. Her characters are flawed but truly unique, though I did find the character of Maggie to be a little bit hard to believe. Maggie is the girl who died, and she comes off as a complete Hollywood stereotype of how you would imagine a teen living in LA would behave. She wears vintage clothing, gets herself into trouble, is obsessed with old Hollywood films, lives in her family’s pool house, etc. I still really liked her, but her character was a little unrealistic. Then again, maybe that was intended. I’m always up for exaggerated characters. The protagonist Jude was a little hard to like because she was such a bitch, but she had her reasons, and she was hurting so her habit of lashing out, though a bit irritating, was an authentic response to loss and not being able to cope well.

I did think this book was going to be a little bit lighter than it was–it was actually super depressing, but hey, I really liked it anyway which is a rare thing for me when my expectations aren’t met. I don’t know why I thought this would be more of a thriller, but I did. It was definitely a mystery, but the end was anything but typical. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I know that overall I really liked this book. I read it quickly, I didn’t want to put it down, and it kept my attention the entire time I was reading.

The other thing I want to mention is that it touches on some very serious topics that I wasn’t expecting, like sexual abuse, suicide, drug use, stalking, but I loved the way the storytelling worked it all into the plot. The serious topics were also handled incredibly well.  The book was a little on the shallow side, but in the end I really enjoyed it. It just goes to show how well this author can write across genres. Most authors that would try something like this would probably not be very successful, but Sherri L. Smith continues to be one of my favorites.


Thanks to the publisher, I have a finished copy of Pasadena up for grabs. US only, please.

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4 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

  1. Thanks for putting this one on my radar! Pasadena is in my neck of the woods so I find that appealing, plus the mystery aspect sounds good too.

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