Archive for the 'Mystery' Category

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Barnes


Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  375

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Naturals, all the main characters are back and still reeling from the very scary encounter Cassie had with a serial killer in the first book.  It isn’t long before another case draws in the naturals even though the FBI has sworn to leave them out of any active cases in the future.  A young college student’s body appears on the lawn of the campus, but the method mimics that of Dean’s father and that immediately complicates things.  Dean’s father will only answer questions for Dean so he has to come face to face with his dad for the first time since he was arrested for heinous crimes.  Meanwhile, Cassie, Michael, Lia, and Sloane all try to help but everything they try seems to get them in more and more trouble with the FBI.  On top of all that, a new FBI agent has been brought in to oversee the naturals programs and she seems determined to end the program one way or another.  Can they find out who is copying Dean’s father and how that person is getting information?  Can Cassie and her friends prove how valuable the program is so that it doesn’t get cut by the FBI?  Will Cassie ever choose between Dean and Michael?

This is a solid followup to the first book.  The mystery itself is engaging and is more complicated than most readers will think at first which will keep them guessing until the end.  The characters grow and develop more in this book and makes the naturals program seem more useful and interesting than before.  The love triangle between Dean, Michael, and Cassie finally gets resolved, but will most likely be revisited in the next installment.  Fans looking for a fun mystery series will enjoy this.

The Taking by Kimberly Derting


Genre:  Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  357

RAC:  Yes

Kyra gets into a fight with her father on the way home from the softball championships and forces him to stop the car on the highway so she can get out and walk away.  Kyra storms out of the car and sees a blinding light before everything goes black.  She wakes up behind the dumpster of the local gas station and is still wearing her softball uniform.  She walks home only to learn that five years have passed since she disappeared.  Her parents are now divorced and her mom has a new husband and child, her father has become consumed with finding out what happened to her that night, and her boyfriend went to college and started dating her best friend.  Everything has changed except Kyra.  She begins to form a relationship with the boy next door, but then the NSA comes looking for her and she has to run for her safety.  What do they want with her?  What do they think she’s capable of?  Will it be possible to be a normal teenager ever again?

This story has a really interesting premise.  What would any of us do if we woke up and the world had moved on without us?  As Kyra’s questions start getting answered readers will be intrigued by what she discovers about her disappearance, but the story does lag a bit in certain places.  The relationship between Kyra and Tyler develops extremely quickly and very little detail is given as to how that is.  For the most part readers will be able to identify with Kyra and want to see what happens to her, but a lot is left unanswered with an ending clearly set up for a sequel.

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix

full ride

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of page:  322

RAC:  Yes

Becca Jones and her mother just want anonymity after Becca’s father is sentenced to ten years in prison for multiple counts of conning people out of their life savings so that his family could live a very privileged life.  Becca is about to start high school and completely humiliated by her father’s actions.  Becca and her mother flee Georgia and run to a small town in Ohio where they live very humble, simple lives trying to avoid anyone knowing who they really are.  Three years later Becca is an A student and ready to apply to colleges.  She has tried tirelessly to prove how hard she is willing to work for her future and that she’s not a cheater like her father.  Yet, when she asks her mother for help on financial aide forms her mother gets paranoid and says it won’t be safe for her to do anything online where someone could find them.  Eventually, Becca learns that her mother is harboring a terrible secret about the real reason they fled Georgia in the first place.

This book is written in a way that any young adult girl reading can truly identify with Becca and how she must feel learning about her father’s transgressions and being forced to deal with that humiliation.  Becca and her mother are written very well and have multiple dimensions and motivations for all of their actions.  Becca’s friends start a little flat, but eventually they start to have some real personalities and genuinely seem to care for Becca.  The plot definitely has some twists and turns that readers might not be expecting, but the ending is handled very quickly and neatly.  Overall, an exciting read that reluctant readers will enjoy.

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

dear killer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  359

RAC:  Yes

Kit has been trained to be a killer since she was a small girl by her mother.  Kit’s mother felt called to kill, but eventually felt like she was getting too close to getting caught so she retired and trained her daughter to believe she was merely performing a service.  Kit truly believes killing is neither right nor wrong, but just is.  By day she is the chipper private school girl who blends in everywhere and yet has no close friends.  Once every few months, however, she visits a local coffee shop where there is a secret drop box in the bathroom wall where people deposit letters and cash to have the “perfect killer” dispose of their unwanted family and friends.  She reads the letters and chooses which victims she feels most comfortable with and takes care of it in a way  that no clues, DNA, or fingerprints are ever found.  She leaves the letters at the crime scene so that the police know it was her.  One day her mother invites the lead detective on the perfect killer case over for dinner and they strike up a friendship so that Kit can know where they are on the investigation, which is nowhere.  Can she keep up this facade forever?  Will the job ever bother her or have lingering effects?

This book is dark and yet written in a light way so that it appears like Kit is a very normal and sympathetic girl.  The more you get to know the character, however, the more disturbing she really is.  She is able to kill perfect strangers for money without feeling any remorse or blame in any way.  What’s worse is it almost seems like a game to her.  Fans of mystery books might enjoy the thrill of living vicariously through someone who truly does what she wants when she wants, but eventually it gets a bit old as you discover how scary someone like this actually is.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

graduation day

Genre:  Futuristic fiction

# of Pages:  291

RAC:  Yes

In this third installment in the Testing series, Cia is faced with the reality that she must help bring The Testing to an end, but she does not know whom she can trust.  She is given a list of names by the president and ordered to kill those people in order to overthrow the people in charge of the Testing.  Meanwhile, Cia starts to enlist the help of people she thinks she can trust through various tests she creates herself.  When one of her tests goes wrong she must move on her bigger plans quicker than she expected.  Can Cia and Tomas really bring an end to the Testing?  If so, can they survive to enjoy it?

Fans of the series will find this installment quick, action packed, and full of intrigue.  Cia is right not to trust people blindly in this community where most people are simply out for themselves.   She knows the difficult road she has ahead of her, but feels she must do it for the upcoming students who might be spared the horrible actions of The Testing should she succeed.  The motivations of the government are clear and understandable, but Cia proves there is no easy way to determine who a leader really is.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

dangerous girls

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  388 p.

RAC:  Yes

On a spring break trip to Aruba a group of high school seniors think they will have a carefree time full of beaches and parties, but instead end up finding one of their own, Elise, stabbed to death in their beach house.  Surprisingly, police turn suspicion onto their group rather than following clues that might suggest an outside intruder.  Within a few days, Anna, Elise’s best friend, is arrested and charged with the crime.  Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, is originally considered until his father’s expensive lawyers convince Aruba to let him go in exchange for testifying against Anna.  Anna feels shocked, sad, vulnerable, and betrayed as she awaits her trial in jail.  As her friends return to school, college, etc. she is forced to face the realization that she may spend the majority of her life in a foreign prison.  Will Anna be convicted?  Did she know anything about this terrible crime?

Fans of Pretty Little Liars and similar series will enjoy this title that packs emotion, suspense, and surprise throughout the entire story.  Readers come to feel like they know what it would be like to be in Anna’s shoes.  There are some passages with heavy language and sexual references that do ring true for how teens often talk and act to each other but may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Taken by Erin Bowman


Genre:  Futuristic, Mystery

# of Pages:  360

RAC:  Yes

In the town of Claysoot all men are taken at midnight on the night they turn eighteen while the entire town watches.  This has been happening since the beginning of the town’s existence, but no one knows what happens to these teens or who is behind it.  After watching his brother Blaine get taken, Gray learns they are in fact twins.  Therefore, he knows whomever is taking these teens did not know this or else he would’ve been taken too.  He decided to take the deadly trip to climb over the wall that surrounds the town in order to find out exactly what is going on and who is controlling all of them.  Emma, his childhood friend, follows him and climbs the wall too.  What will they find on the other side of the wall?  Will they live long enough to find out?

Another offering in the rapidly growing dystopian genre, this book will easily find an audience.  The details of the rustic town they live in give the reader an idea of what life was like growing up in Claysoot.  For example, Emma and her mother work as the town’s only healers.  Many of their priorities and rituals seems a bit shocking, but this town is trying to survive without any adult men so simple ideas of getting married and having families suddenly become an impossibility.  The characters that are introduced are colorful, multi-dimensional, and full of a desire to learn the truth no matter what the cost.  My high schoolers are waiting in line for this title.


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