Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Instinct by Mattie Dunman (Book Review)

Title: Instinct
Author: Mattie Dunman
YA Paranormal Suspense

About the book: To tell the truth...it doesn’t really matter if you lie.

It’s impossible to lie to Derry MacKenna. For as long as she can remember, Derry has been plagued by the extraordinary ability to hear, see, and feel the truth. But when Derry and her erratic, self-centered mother move to historic Harper's Ferry, she discovers she is not the only one with hidden talents. 
As the newest reporter on the school newspaper, Derry learns of a high school student’s unexpected suicide and recognizes that the truth behind her death may still be hidden. When tragedy strikes, Derry is drawn into a deadly battle of wits with the only person whom her abilities don’t affect. 
Driven by guilt and an obsession with bringing the killer to justice, Derry finds herself in danger from a vindictive murderer, a sadistic deviant who preys on the weak, and trapped in the middle of a treacherous triangle of attraction between two brothers whose abilities rival her own. Derry must trust her instincts to guide her to the truth and bring her enemies to justice even as she fights for her own survival.
INSTINCT focuses on a gifted, intelligent, and loyal heroine who must contend not only with the inherent dangers of high school bullying and backstabbing, but with loss, grief, and guilt. Against issues of sexual abuse, teenage suicide, and destructive relationships, the heroine learns to cherish the strength of real friendship, understand accountability, and experiences the healing touch of first love.

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My thoughts: I like those books where you know within the first few pages that this is going to be one you will enjoy - and this is one of those.  I was immediately caught up in the story.  We meet Derry as she is helping her mom deal with a potential business associate.  With Derry's unique ability to ferret out lies, she lets her mom know that this man is not tellling the whole truth.  But her ability isn't just when she meets someone, it is also with printed words - books, newspaper articles, store signs.  She sees what is meant behind the words (tends to take the joy out of shopping!) 

Her mom has home schooled her since Kindergarten because of her "talent" and an unfortunate incident that happened when she spoke the truth at an open house.  Derry is now seventeen, and though she has already passed her high school equivalency exams, she wants to know what it means to be a teenager in high school. 
For this reason she is attending high school for the first time as a senior.  Remember, if you will, what it is like to be in high school and imagine all the things she "hears" when she meets these kids for the first time.  Even with an innocent 'hello' she hears what they are feeling or thinking at the time. 

Before she has even acclimated to the high school environment, she finds herself questioning why she wanted to do this.  Being the stubborn girl that she is though, she pushes on and begins to make friends.  On one hand it is easy for her to find real friends, because she knows who is being truthful when they speak to her.  Well - except for Phillip.  For some reason she does not 'hear' anything different when he speaks to her.  She does 'feel' that he is lying to her though, but can't quite figure him out.  

Let's get to the big mystery - a high school girl, Miranda, has apparently committed suicide by jumping off the local bridge.  Her best friend, Nicole, (Derry's first real friend at school) is adamant that she wouldn't have killed herself.  Stumbling upon a newspaper article regarding the girl's death, Derry starts to feel that way as well. 

I like the way that Derry and Nicole's friendship develops and how Derry is able to get the mean girls to stop targeting Nicole so that she comes back out of her shell.  Derry also gets close very quickly with two brothers, Cole and Jack.  She discovers that they have unique talents as she does and she is drawn (and at times frightened) by both.  

There are characters in this book that made my skin crawl and characters that made my heart pound.  I felt like I was right in the action with Derry and was cheering her on with every new discovery she made.  She didn't always make the smartest decisions though, and seems to be a friend of near-death incidents. 

I feel that there is more to this story though, and hope that Mattie is going to take us there in another book, as it will definitely be on my TBR list! You can read the first chapter by visiting Mattie's website.

~I received a complimentary ecopy of Instinct from Reading Addiction Blog Tours in exchange for my unbiased review.~

There are a few grumbles as everyone shifts to greet their partners. My pulse picks up and I put a pleasant smile on my face as I turn to meet a clear green gaze. I feel my smile widen as I take in the boy I’m paired with. With dusty blond hair that grazes his cheeks and falls into moss-colored eyes, high cheekbones and a strong jaw, he is the living, breathing embodiment of the high school hero I’ve read about and watched on TV. I wonder if he’s the captain of the football or basketball team.
“Hi, I’m Phillip Bennett. You’re new here, right?” the hero asks, his voice low and pleasant. But I don’t notice that.
I don’t hear the truth.
I stare at him for a moment, baffled, resisting an urge to touch my ears and make sure that they’re still attached. He watches me attentively and I struggle to find my way back to normalcy and answer.
“Um, hi. Yeah, today’s my first day,” I reply, absently clicking my jaw to try and pop my ears. “Oh, and my name is Derry.”
He smiles and I flinch slightly at the dazzling gleam of teeth. He could be in an ad for toothpaste with that grin.
“Derry, that’s an unusual name,” he says, tilting his head slightly and letting his eyes travel over me.
My heart is pounding furiously and my skin itches. What’s wrong with me? I always hear the truth when someone first speaks to me, always. I try to focus, not wanting to seem weird.
“Yeah, it was my grandmother’s maiden name.” My fingers are clenching and unclenching at my side and my stomach twists uncomfortably.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Derry. Has anyone shown you around yet?”
I force myself to concentrate. I will figure out what’s wrong with me later. “I had a tour when I registered a couple weeks ago,” I answer.
Phillip gives me a pitying look. “With Mrs. Hayworth, right?” I nod. “Well, I’d be happy to give you a tour. One from a student’s perspective,” he offers, blinding me with that smile again.
My pulse picks up for an entirely different reason. “Yeah, that’d be great.” Up front Ms. Sullivan calls the class to attention again.
“I’ll show you to your next class,” he whispers and I give him a quick smile and turn around, not really sure how I feel about that. It’s odd. Earlier I would have been thrilled about a cute boy offering to walk me to class; it fits in perfectly with my daydreams. But I am completely off-balance. For as long as I can remember, the first thing anyone says to me is a hidden truth. I always have to ask people to repeat themselves, or guess at what they might have said. I’ve never heard just a regular introduction.
I rub my arms absently and then stop. The low-level buzz under my skin, like feathery wings beating against my veins, is fading, but it is unmistakable now that I’m paying attention. It’s the buzzing that warns me when someone is lying, and it was sounding alarms the entire time I was talking to Phillip.
I look over my shoulder at him. He is reading the syllabus, tapping his fingers on the desk in a light, repetitive drumming. Sensing my scrutiny, he glances up and the corners of his mouth turn up slightly, but the smile doesn’t reach his eyes. I turn around hurriedly and stare down at my hands. Something is wrong. First the boy outside the school looks at me and I feel like I’m dying and now I can’t hear Phillip’s truth, but my entire body screams that he’s lying. I take a deep breath and try to slow my pulse. After a moment the hum under my skin is gone and I can focus.

About the author: Mattie Dunman is a lifelong resident of "Wild & Wonderful" West Virginia, and has dreamed of being a writer since she first held a pen in hand.

Mattie has pursued several useless degrees to support this dream, and presently enjoys teaching (or tormenting, as the case may be) college students the dying art of public speaking. She spends most of her free time writing, but also indulges in reading and traveling.

She is the proud owner of an adorably insane American Eskimo named Finn, and a tyrant cat named Bella, who take up more of her attention than they probably should.

Author Links:
Website / Goodreads /

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