Blog Tour: Untraceable Review + Author Interview

Hi, everyone! Welcome to one of the official stops on the Untraceable blog tour. We're very happy to be a part of this tour and hope you enjoy our review. Untraceable hits shelves on November 29 and should be available at most retail and eBook outlets. Our review is below, followed by an interview with author Shelli Johannes-Wells. Enjoy!

Untraceable (The State of Grace #1) by S.R. Johannes
Publication date: 29 November 2011 by Coleman & Stott

Category: Young Adult Mystery Thriller
Keywords: Mystery, thriller, wilderness, survival, missing persons
Format: Paperback, ebook, Kindle (e-ARC received from the author for review)

Thuy's synopsis: 

Sixteen-year-old Grace is a tomboy, reared in the wilderness by her father, who taught her how to track and survive in the wild. Three months ago, Grace’s dad, a wildlife officer, disappears. The evidence suggests that he fell into the river and drowned but Grace isn’t buying it. She doesn’t believe that the river could so easily take a man who knew the land like the back of his hand. While everyone else has given up, Grace has made it her mission and obsession to find out what happened to him. She spends her days deep in the woods looking for any small sign of her father. Her investigation leads her to discoveries that will alter her life and the lives of those around her forever.

Thuy's review:

I admit that I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I started reading what had been dubbed a “wilderness novel.” However, a few pages in I understood what that meant. The woods and land that Grace explores is a big part of this novel, almost becoming a character of its own. All of the sounds, textures and creatures of the woods come alive on the page and I could almost imagine myself there. Grace knows how to survive in these woods and I was very impressed by her knowledge of tracking, fishing, hiking and other survival skills.

A fast paced thriller, Untraceable grabbed me from the get go. Grace’s investigation had unexpected twists and turns and kept me guessing. Grace is a pretty kick-ass heroine. I admire her determination in finding out what happened to her father. She’s smart and capable and reminded me a bit of Nancy Drew, if Nancy could scale a steep rock face, ride a motorcycle, face down grown wild bears, and actually made out with Ned Nickerson. Though mature beyond her years, there were times when Grace made very rash and/or just plain dumb decisions. I am not sure if we’re supposed to chalk this up to her young age or what, but I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into her a couple of times.

But now, we get to the ending of the book. The end of this book just killed me. I think I stared at my Kindle for a moment going, “Noooooo.” I’m not going to give it away but there’s one part about the ending that just didn’t mesh with what I, personally, wanted to happen. Part of me likes the fact that Johannes didn’t do what was expected but the other part of me is very frustrated. This is just my opinion though and I am interested to hear what others think of the ending.

Untraceable is an exciting new YA suspense thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. With a great story, well developed characters, a love triangle, and an action packed mystery, it has something for everyone. I can’t wait to see what the sequel, Unstoppable, brings.

"Grace is a spunky, independent, nature girl who doesn't need a boy to save her. With wilderness survival, a juicy love triangle, and more twists and turns than a roller coaster, this fast-paced novel had me holding my breath until the very last page—and still begging for more!"
-Kimberly Derting, author of the The Body Finder series (Harper Teen) and The
Pledge series (S&S)

For more information and to see the other stops on the tour, please check out the full schedule here.


Shelli was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and the book for the blog. Thank you, Shelli, and welcome.

You really captured that small town feeling well in Untraceable. Is the town where the story is set based on a real place/is it a real place?
Yes and No.

Cherokee is a real place. It is in NC and it is one of the only working Indian reservations in this part of the US. But her actual town with Tommy’s fishing shop and her mom’s diner is fictional. It is based on all the small towns you drive through in the mountains though.

Grace knows a lot about the wilderness and how to survive in it. Are you a wilderness buff as well or did you have to do a lot of research?
I love nature and animals. My hubby is really into the wilderness. He goes fishing and camping in the deep mountains all alone. Me? Not so much. I can be nature girl but I’m not like Grace. I like to be comfortable and the deep woods kind of scare me. They are so isolated and unknown.

Between my hubby, our trips to the mountains, and research – I was able to capture the setting.

Your story talks about poaching – something Grace’s father fights in his job. Was this a topic you were familiar with before you wrote the book? Some of the descriptions are quite graphic and I imagine that they are real. Were you hoping to bring awareness to this issue or is it just a positive by-product of the story?
Everything in this story is from articles. I made nothing up. I hate all kinds of hunting but there is a difference in hunting for food and hunting for fun.

What's the one survival skill that Grace would recommend learning in case I'm ever lost in the forest (which could totally happen)?
If you think you will get lost – don’t go. She would say plan everything first – know where you are going, tell people, understand what you need, and have a rescue plan in place. If you don’t come back in a set time, have your friends and family contact somewhere.

Even my hubby goes to very remote places where there is no cell phone coverage and streets. He hikes in a couple miles. But he always leaves me a map and gives me a time when he will be in cell phone range. We have a 4-hour window around that. I know what I need to do if I don’t hear from him within that time.

A few random questions:

What's your favorite wilderness activity?
I do like hiking and I do like to flyfish with my hubby. But I like to go in and out. Spending a night in the forest is not something that calls to me.

Do you have any pets?
Do kids count? Kidding. I have a goldendoodle who is smarter than me

If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Have faith that you will end up where you are supposed to be.

Cake or pie and what kind?
Grace would say, Moon pies. 
For me, I would say both. I love a good pecan pie but enjoy cheesecake and birthday cake.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Shelli! 

Find Shelli online:
S.R. Johannes on Facebook
S.R. Johannes on Goodreads
Untraceable on Goodreads
Author Blog:
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