Thursday, January 12, 2017

"The Life Group" by Maura Jortner

The Life Group
by Maura Jortner

The Life Group by Maura Jortner is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

One missing girl. One radical church. One day.
Every day since her sister vanished, Rachel has visited the radical church where Leah was last seen. There are still no suspects or leads, but Rachel’s positive clues lie in that church somewhere.
Thirteen days on from Leah's disappearance, the pastor introduces Rachel to Tim, a devout worshiper of his Lord. To avoid dealing with his own demons, he agrees to spend the day helping Rachel search for her sister.
It’s Saturday, March 14. Maybe today will be the day. Maybe today Rachel will be reunited with Leah. Or maybe today will change Rachel’s life forever.
For fans of Gone Girl, this gripping Young Adult thriller will keep you guessing until its explosive climax.

Book Video

The house is a two-story nestled into the side of a hill. The lake shines in the distance between the trees and the tall grass. The sun reflects brightly off the calm water, making the sliver of blue look like it’s covered with golden jewels.
“I’ll scout around the property. Why don’t you try whatever tricks you have to get inside?” I say.
Tim throws me a smile and something like a wink. He jaunts off.
I circle the house, looking for clues, hoping to spot something of Leah’s. What could Mason have been staring at that night? He gawked out the window every time Kaylee mentioned Leah, that’s what Kaylee said. So what was he looking at? There’s nothing suspicious in the back or the front, nothing of hers. Maybe a grave? I should search for newly turned earth. An open question: If I were to bury someone, would I dig the hole on my property or someone else’s? My first impulse would be to plant the evidence far away from me—to throw the cops off my trail. But what if the neighbors saw me? I’m digging up my own lawn, they’d leave me alone. If I’m messing up someone else’s ... or worse, theirs? Then they’d bother me for sure, and if I’m a murderer, that’s the last thing I’d want.
I decide I need to look harder, to comb the property, to find the hidden, secret places. I’m on my hands and knees crawling under a bush when Tim finds me.
“Won’t you join me inside, or are you doing something really important under there?”
I clamber out and stand. “You got in?”
“I did.” He leans close, conspiratorially. “Although it would seem ill-advised, they left the back door unlocked.”
I’m not sure if I believe him.
With his dark eyes shining with mystery, he says, “Come see what I found.”
My heart does a kind of jump that’s almost painful. “What?” I say with a sharp inhale. “What is it?” I can’t breathe. Did he find a bloody knife or a hammer? Leah’s body?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"The Life Group is an intense thriller that keeps you eagerly turning the pages, dying to find out all the answers. Teens and adults alike will devour this rollercoaster story with a shocking ending that makes you question everything you thought you believed." ~ Emily Bleeker, author of Wreckage and When I’m Gone
"With The Life Group, Maura Jortner saves us from the same old YA whodunit formula with a truly original storyline and taut pacing that pulls the reader relentlessly toward the devastating conclusion. The Life Group’s topical details and themes are sure to resonate with thriller lovers of all ages, and the characters will stay with you long after the last page is turned." ~ USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Stormes Hawker
"Maura Jortner is impossibly talented." ~ Lakewater Press
"Jornter beautifully captures the determination and intensity of youth through her characters, all who are driven to take action rather than let fate take its course in their lives. Readers experience Rachel’s fierce loyalty, her longing, and her desperation as she lives out one life-altering day. When I reached the last page, I wasn’t ready to let the story go. The Life Group is a great new addition to my list of books to read over again." ~ Liz Cassidy

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Ever since Leah went missing, her sister Rachel has been looking for answers. Leah was last seen at the Salvation Day church, but what was she doing there? During one of her visits to the church, Rachel meets Tim, who lost his brother Andrew in a car crash exactly one year ago. Tim has an appointment at 4.36pm, but he offers to help Rachel look for Leah until then. Throughout the course of the day, Rachel meets plenty of people who might have something to do with Leah's disappearance: the creepy Sisters of the Cross, Pastor James, Leah's ex-boyfriend Mason, Leah's roommate Kaylee ... and what about Tim? Is he too good to be true? Can he be trusted? The story of Rachel's search is interspersed with snippets of a YouTube video with rapidly increasing views. But just how is this video related to Leah's disappearance?
As the clock slowing ticks forward to 4.36pm, the suspense builds to a fever pitch. This is an intriguing mystery that will keep readers of all ages hooked to the very end. While I did guess some aspects of plot, this book nevertheless kept me up way past my bedtime!
Warnings: coarse language, infidelity, suicide.

About the Author
Maura Jortner grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in Waco, Texas with her patient husband, two amazing daughters, and one unruly cat. She teaches literature and writing classes at Baylor University. A lifetime ago, she used to direct plays and put on puppet shows for kids, which led to a Ph.D. in Theatre History. Currently, when Maura’s not writing, she’s spending her time like every native-born Texan: worrying about how many chiggers might be hidden in the grass outside her house or if she put enough sunscreen on her kids.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes.