Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 227
Harper is running away from a difficult home life after her father’s divorce and decides to join a volunteer group working to rebuild a home in Tennessee destroyed by a tornado. The story switches between Harper meeting new people and helping to rebuild the house in the present and then flashing back to what happened with her dad and why she feels so isolated after her stepmom and two stepsisters moved out. In addition to this, Harper is trying to avoid her former best friend whom she thought was starting to show romantic interest in her when she caught him with another girl at a party. While she is in Tennessee she begins to grow closer to the teenage boy of the family they are building the house for, Teddy. As hard as the work is, the distraction is great to ease her mind on all of her problems at home and she comes to have very strong feelings for Teddy. Can she face her life after the house is built and the summer is over?
This is a title that has been on my reading list for awhile because of its unique focus on service. The flashbacks to what happened to Harper are interesting and well paced, but in general the book has less substance than I was expecting. Teens who have suffered through a parents’ divorce will resonate with Harper’s internal struggle of who she should remain faithful to and wanting the truth. Harper’s summer activities are not explained in as much detail as her past and the teens she is volunteering with are not developed enough for the reader to easily keep them straight. Fans of teen romances will like this title.
Genre: Science Fiction
# of Pages: 374
Lilac is the famous daughter of a prestigious businessman who owns the amazing spaceship, Icarus, that she is currently traveling on. Tarver is a decorated war hero also traveling on the luxury spaceship, but his experience is much different. When he tries to speak to Lilac in public she makes it very clear that he is beneath her in every way, but shortly after their public altercation the ship is suddenly pulled out of hyperspace. They both end up in the same escape pod and it’s Lilac’s quick mechanical skills that free their pod before the ship crashes. They land on what appears to be an uninhabited planet. In order to survive they must trek across the planet in search of food, people, or a means to communicate. The two are very different and do not get along well at first, but over time they must come together for the goal of survival. Eventually, they start to get close and wonder if they even want to leave their own private planet, but then mysterious things start happening. They hear voices and see hallucinations, among other things. What is this place and can it in fact hurt them?
This sci/fi adventure is very exciting with many twists in the plot. The characters and setting are well developed and interesting, but the ending may confuse some readers. The pacing seems uneven at times too, with parts moving slowly and then a lot happening at once. Fans of this genre will enjoy, but most others will pass on this one.
# of Pages: 354
Sarah has lived in one exotic location after another her entire life since her parents are both scientists and often move to where they can conduct research. After the recent passing of Sarah’s mother, they are still grieving but decide to carry on with a previously scheduled educational safari so that they can earn some extra money. Shortly after the five teenagers arrive, Sarah’s dad is called away to stop some poachers and she is left to entertain them in the middle of a semi-desert. Hours go by and Sarah’s dad does not return and finally she receives a very panicked call over the radio from a frantic man who sounds like her father claiming it was a setup and he was being chased. The call cuts out with the sound of gunshots. Sarah and the other five teenagers are alone, with little food, and no transportation. They decide to go looking for help and must rely on Sarah’s survival skills in order to survive. They eventually find a silver lion who tries to attack them and Sarah knows something unnatural is going on and more than likely whomever created that monstrosity would do anything to keep it quiet. Can Sarah get the others to safety? Will she ever find out what happened to her dad? Where did the silver lion come from and is there some illegal experimenting going on?
Fans of survival books will enjoy this title. There are multiple scenes in which one or more of the teens is in serious danger due to some natural wildlife threat, like snakes. However, once they uncover the silver lion they face many dangers from humans as well as the people behind the altered animal want desperately to contain the situation at all costs. The characters are sympathetic and relatable as they truly just try to just survive this very unexpected situation and in the process must face the many reasons they all wanted to escape to the Kalahari in the first place.
# of Pages: 386
Nearly lives in a crappy trailer with her mother who works as an exotic dancer. She is trying desperately to keep her head down, work hard, and hopefully earn a special science scholarship. She reads the missed connections ads every Friday in the hopes of finding a message from her father who abandoned her years ago. Nearly has an unusual talent where she can feel what people are feeling simply by touching them, so she tries not to touch anyone ever. One day she sees a mysterious ad in the missed connections section and doesn’t think much of it until a cheerleader, whom Nearly tutored, from her school is taken and attacked at an away basketball game. After the attack, the clues in the ad suddenly make sense. She goes to the police, but they do not believe her story and instead decide to follow her and see if she had anything to do with the attack. Each week a new ad with clues come out and each week there is a new attack of someone that Nearly tutors. Can she find who is doing this before it is too late? Who could be capable of such crimes and what do the numbers written on the bodies mean?
This mystery combines several elements to make a fairly complicated story. There are many characters and sometimes they can be a bit confusing, but in the end they are all fairly memorable. Nearly has many things going on besides the attacks in her life which makes it unclear which part of her life is actually behind trying to frame her for these terrible crimes. Most readers will not put together the final resolution, but the pieces do indeed fit together. Mystery fans will be satisfied.
# of Pages: 327
Maddie has been able to see numbers on everyone’s foreheads since she was a little girl, but it isn’t until her father dies suddenly that she realizes what they are: deathdates. After her father’s death her mother struggles with sobriety and stability and Maddie must become the caretaker and even the breadwinner when her mother strongly encourages her to give “readings” in which she tells people their death dates for money. Maddie hates doing this because it often causes pain, but she does not know how else to help her mother cope. After a reading with a wealthy woman asking about her sick daughter, Maddie is horrified to have to tell her that it is in fact the woman’s young son who has a quickly approaching death date. The woman does not take Maddie’s advice and feels she is threatening her young son. Maddie’s best friend even calls to warn her to keep a close eye on him in the hopes that his death date can change. Instead, Maddie and her best friend become prime suspects when that little boy goes missing after school one day. Things continue to get worse for Maddie and her best friend as more people linked to Maddie start disappearing. Is someone trying to frame her? Could it be someone who is close to her and knows what she can do? How can she stop anyone else from dying?
This premise is executed really well as you see how problematic and troubling this gift has been for Maddie and her family. Her uncle, a big shot attorney, tries his best to keep her out of jail for the suspicious disappearances that she seems to be predicting, but the evidence just keeps mounting against her. The reader cannot help but feel connected to Maddie and feels her fear as what is left of her meager world comes crashing down around her. The mystery itself comes to a very satisfying conclusion that will leave readers wanting more. Recommended for fans of mystery.
# of Pages: 310
Grace knows she saw a man with a scar on his face standing over her mother’s dead body three years ago. Yet, everyone tells her that her mom died of an accidental fire in her antique shop. For three years, Grace has seen countless doctors and retold her story to many well meaning people who think she’s simply going crazy from the trauma of losing her mother. Grace’s father has been stationed overseas and so she is forced to go live with her grandfather where he works as the U.S. ambassador to the tiny country, Adria. Returning to her mother’s childhood home brings back many feelings and fears for Grace, none of which are helped when she sees the man with the scar she saw that fateful night. Will anyone believe her story now? Can she prove her mother’s death wasn’t an accident and prove her sanity?
Fans of Ally Carter books will like this new series as well. It’s fun, unique, and has some clever plot twists. The characters are interesting, but will get more engaging with each installment. Grace’s post traumatic stress is described vividly and helps the reader understand why everyone around her feels she’s an unreliable witness. Recommended to readers looking for a quick read.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
# of Pages: 225
Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat called themselves the liars every summer they spent together on the elite Sinclair island. The Sinclair family was wealthy, beautiful, and envied everywhere they went. Cady, the narrator, explains how her grandparents built a house for all three of their daughters on this island so that they could all spend every summer together. Cady, Mirren, and Johnny were cousins, while Gat was the nephew of their aunt’s boyfriend. Two years ago something terrible happened that no one will tell Cady about. All she knows is that she was found in her underwear on the beach with no memory of how she came to be there or what happened. Her family has decided to shield her from whatever harsh truth she has chosen to block out and even refused to let her come to the island the following summer. When she finally returns the summer of her 18th year she finally gets to see all of her fellow liars again and they seem exactly the same, but even they won’t tell her what happened that fateful night when everything went black for Cady. How can she learn the truth if no one will help her? What could have happened that would cause all of this chaos?
Cady is a very unique character who is desperately trying to find out what happened to her two full years ago that her mind simply can’t handle. The ending of this one is amazing in that not only does it completely fit with the rest of the story, but no one will see it coming. The characters are well developed and all help Cady remember that traumatic day, but ultimately it’s Cady who needs to put the pieces together. Recommended for everyone, but especially reluctant readers.