# of Pages: 440
RAC Book: Yes
John came here when his planet was destroyed. Eight others came with him and were separated to keep them safe. There was a spell placed on them so that they must die in a particular order, but John knows that the three before him have been found and killed. Therefore, he must move with his guardian to a new place, with a new identity, and extra precautions. He is the next one to be targeted by those who wish to destroy his people. At his new school he meets Sarah who seems different than other girls he has ever met. Can he risk getting too close to her when his life is in jeopardy and his future on this planet is uncertain? Can he act like a normal teenager when so much is at stake?
This fast paced novel keeps the reader interested from the first page. There are some lighter parts as well as more action packed sections that balance the story and make it seem plausible in some way. The characters are engaging and their actions are believable. Fans of fantasy will enjoy the threat from other worlds, but realistic readers will enjoy the action and suspense. Overall, a fun read.
# of Pages: 346
2011-2012 High School Award Winner
High school student Charlie West wakes up in a prison cell where he is being tortured for information. Charlie has a difficult time understanding why he is in this situation because he cannot remember anything since he went to bed in his own house. As he begins to put the pieces together he realizes that there is a lot of stuff he does not remember, but he does know he is currently in danger. Can he escape in order to find out where the last year of his life went? Can he find out why he is being tortured?
This story is full of action and suspense right from page one. Any reader will not be able to help getting pulled into the story because the story is so compelling right from the beginning. Where is Charlie? What do they want from him? Who can he go to for help? The plot twists are surprising and yet believable. Fans of espionage novels such as the Bourne trilogy, the Cherub series, or the Sleeper Code will love this book.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
# of Pages: 310
RAC Book: Yes
Abby has always looked out for her sister, Maya, but one day when Abby is running and finds the murdered body of Maya’s boyfriend things get a little complicated. Abby is especially disturbed to find Maya’s cell phone near the body. She immediately begins thinking of ways that she can either find the real killer or cover it up so that her sister does not get into trouble. The more she investigates into her wild sister’s life of running away, drug use, and relationships with shady characters, the more Abby realizes that everyone will believe Maya committed this crime. Does she believe Maya committed this crime? Can she find a way to keep her sister out of jail?
This mystery will keep a lot of readers guessing all the way until the true killer is revealed. Abby’s actions often go above and beyond to try and find ways to help Maya, and some readers might question what she is truly willing to do in order to protect her sister. The family dynamic of the two girls and their parents is complicated and difficult, which makes this tragedy harder for them to deal with and comprehend. There are some hard truths in this mystery and none of the characters are angels by any means, which makes it difficult for the reader to decide who they are rooting for. The story is intriguing and will keep mystery lovers reading to the very final reveal.
# of Pages: 389
Max Gordon is attacked by an assassin one day at his private school and barely escapes with his life. Then, he finds out his father has gone missing where he is working in Africa. Max feels his father may have discovered something in his work that has put both of them in danger so he sets out to rescue him. Along the way, he meets with further danger, both man made and nature made. He is greeted in Africa by a young pilot who helped get him the last known message from his father. She introduces him to a young bushman who wants to help him see his journey through. Can Max survive such difficult terrain and exterior threats to learn the truth about his father’s disappearance?
This story is fast paced, energetic, and unpredictable. Max’s journey has so many obstacles and dangers that it almost seems impossible that he could ever survive. The plot is very intricate and takes some unusual turns that readers will not have seen before. The introduction of the bushmen culture was done very well and will help inform young readers about this group of people. This is one that sat on my “to read” list for awhile and I wish I had gotten to it sooner because many readers will enjoy this, but especially boys. Readers who enjoy espionage books or adventure stories like Klass’s Firestorm will devour this book and want more.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Spy Novel
# of Pages: 308
RAC Book: Yes
James is back in this sequel as a twelve year old secret agent in CHERUB. He begins the story by failing a training exercise and must face some rigorous training in order to earn some respect back from his fellow agents. When he is asked to join a mission with three other teens he is eager and ready to go again. Their mission is to befriend the children of a notorious drug dealer. He ends up making friends with Junior, the boy his own age, pretty quickly and becomes one of the best inside informants. As the others try to find information on the drug ring itself, James is offered the chance to deliver cocaine for cash. He takes the opportunity to try and learn more about the inner workings of the organization, but quickly wonders if he has gotten in over his head. Can James and his friends escape this mission unscathed?
This sequel is every bit as fun and exciting as the first. James’ mission is dangerous, exciting, and believable as an important mission for any country to be focusing so many prime resources on. The book is fast paced and the facts are revealed in a timely manner. Fans of spy books such as The Sleeper Code will enjoy this title.
Published January 25, 2011
Mystery , RAC
Tags: art, heat, infidelity, murder, theft
# of Pages: 198
RAC Book: Yes
Nikki Heat is an NYPD detective investigating a murder of a man dropped from a six story balcony. She is less than thrilled when she is forced to allow a writer to shadow her for background research, despite his obvious enthusiasm for her work. Jameson Rook travels with her to crime scenes, interrogations, and autopsies so that he can gain enough insight into Nikki’s squad that he can write an article about them. He always promises to stay out of the way, but has a knack for finding his way into trouble. As Nikki tries to solve the murder further incidents try to distract her from her mission including a personal attack in her home, an attack on a witness, and a major theft. Can Nikki sort through the many clues to find the truth about what happened? Can she do it while Rook is standing by her side?
This book is based on the character’s of ABC hit series Castle. The book closely resembles the characters in the show they are meant to be based on and make it a fun read for fans of the show. The mystery itself is complex, but not convoluted. The clues reveal themselves in a timely manner and the outcome is satisfying. The backdrop of NYC in the midst of a heat wave is an interesting setting for the story and the extreme heat does affect their investigation from time to time. All in all, a fun mystery story for fans of writers like Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie.
Genre: Adventure/Futuristic Fiction
# of Pages: 360
RAC Book: Yes
In this sequel to The Maze Runner, Thomas and his friends are hoping their trials are over. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of another round of trials. They must face scorching heat, disease, and even opponents with weapons. Plus, a lot of their actions seem to be predetermined somehow. A lot is revealed about Thomas’s past and the reasons behind the trials, but these answers simply bring up more questions. Will Thomas and his friends survive to find out why they are being forced into such terrible tests? Will they ever know whom they can truly trust in this crazy experiment?
The sequel does not provide as interesting of a backdrop as the maze did, but the twists and turns of the plot will keep fans interested. The characters become more endearing throughout this story also because we know how far they have come and realize they still have a long ways to go to enjoy freedom. Many new characters are introduced and their motives are murky at best, which keeps the characters and the reader guessing. All in all, it is not as enticing as the first one, but will definitely keep young readers interested.
Published November 9, 2010
Mystery , RAC , Realistic Fiction
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
# of Pages: 274
RAC Book: Yes
Cally is horrified when she finds her best friend’s body bloody and unresponsive at a party. She tries to find signs of life, but only comes to the shocking realization that she has been stabbed to death. To make matters worse, some other students see her with the body and take her picture holding the murder weapon. Feeling like she has no other choice, Cally runs for her life and hopes she can find some evidence that can prove her innocence.
Todd Strasser has written many books that students can identify with and this one is no exception. Touching on themes such as bullying, dating, domestic violence, and deployment this book faces several tough issues head on. At the same time, Cally is trying to piece together what actually happened that fateful night and wonders how she can escape the same terrible fate that befell her brother. A very exciting read.
Genre: Sports Fiction
# of Pages: 298
Mitch True is a reporter at his high school and is extremely unhappy when he is assigned the sports columns. Mitch dreams of one day being a star investigative reporter who breaks open huge stories, like Watergate. He really wants to work on the school paper, though, so he dutifully goes to the football and volleyball games. At one of the football practices he notices a new kid, Angel, off to the side with an amazing throw. When he asks the coach about Angel he is brushed off. When the season starts he sees that Angel is hardly ever played despite his obvious skills. The more Mitch investigates this student’s past the more confused he gets and he starts to wonder if this is his big story. Can Mitch find out why Angel’s trying to downplay his skills to everyone, including possible talent scouts?
Carl Deuker is a master of writing sports fiction high school boys love to read, but this might be his best yet. The football action is written in an exciting and easy to follow manner, but the mystery behind Angel’s past is almost more engaging. Even reluctant readers will struggle to put this mesmerizing sports mystery down. Highly recommended.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 25
RAC Book: Yes
Chris and his best friend, Win, decide to go on a cross country bike ride the summer after graduation. In the fall, only Chris returns to begin college. Win’s parents enlist the FBI to find out what happened to their son. Chris claims he has no idea, but worries he may have to face the events of that summer one way or another once the FBI starts threatening his family. Can Chris face the events that led up to their separation?
This book delves into best friend relationships, parental relationships, growing up, and even choosing future goals. The story is told in alternating chapters between Chris in the present getting harassed by the FBI and Chris and Win’s adventures on that summer trip. Readers will become engaged in the story from the beginning and will want to know where Win is. The story is fast paced and the characters are well-written. Highly recommended.
Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 384
RAC Book: Yes
Flavia de Luce lives in England in the 1950s. Her mother died when she was a baby and her father is a recluse in their country manor. She has two older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia, who enjoy tormenting her. Flavia loves to work in her own chemistry lab and is always asking questions, to the annoyance of her sisters.
One evening she is awakened when she hears someone arguing with her father in his study, but the gardener catches her listening at the door and sends her to bed. In the morning, Flavia finds a dying man in their garden and calls the police. Unfortunately, they arrest her father for the murder and Flavia is not completely sure of his innocence since this is the man who was arguing with her father the night before. Nevertheless, Flavia decides to go after the truth and begins investigating herself. Can she piece together the facts to find out what happened to the mysterious stranger from the garden? Can she clear her father’s name?
This story is a fun mystery story with very colorful and interesting characters. The tone of the book and style of the mystery is reminiscent of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer. There are many details of the story that the reader needs to remember in order to crack the case, which is reminiscent of The Westing Game. Finally, the main character is captivating, clever, and a strong female character, reminiscent of Down the Rabbit Hole. The story has all of the ingredients to be a lasting mystery for this age level for many years to come.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/ Mystery
# of Pages: 371 p.
RAC Book: Yes
2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner
Scat begins with Nick and Marta in their biology class cringing that they will be called on by Mrs. Starch, who is the meanest teacher in the school. Instead, she calls on Duane and assigns him a major paper when he admits he failed to do the assignment. Duane (who’s nickname is Smoke because he has started a few fires in the past) storms out of class and everyone wonders if there will be any repercussions for Mrs. Starch singling him out in class. The following day, the class takes a field trip to a nearby swampy area. Around lunchtime they are evacuated due to a small wildfire, but Mrs. Starch sends the bus ahead so that she can return to find an inhaler that a student dropped. She never returned to school and no one can find her. Nick and Marta decide to investigate further in order to see if something terrible happened to her when she returned into the swamp. Meanwhile, Nick’s father returns from Iraq injured and the entire family must come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever be the same again.
Carl Hiaasen has once again created a story in which the characters are interesting and colorful and an environmental issue is discussed. In this book, Hiaasen addresses some of the endangered animals in the Florida area and the lengths the government and other protection agencies are going to in order to protect these creatures. The pacing of the story seems natural and the story is revealed in a timely and appropriate manner. Nick’s father serving in Iraq is something many students can relate to and while there is always hope for his prognosis, he does not return from war unscathed. Any fan of Hiaasen’s previous books will enjoy this one.
Genre: Mystery/Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 14 and up
# of Pages: 229
RAC Book: yes
Carli is an actress who has just landed a role as a tough boarding school girl, which is a problem because she considers herself a “nerd.” Her agent sends her to The Winchester School, which is the boarding school where all the students who were rejected from other boarding schools go. They are called the “dirty laundry.” Her agent’s son, FUN, is supposed to be Carli’s assistant and help her keep her undercover identity of Sheila Smith. On the first day of school a girl named Darcy goes missing and no one seems that worried about it. Carli and FUN decide to do some investigating on their own and start to worry about some of the people around them. Could some of their friends be possible kidnappers or even murderers? Or is someone setting others up to take the fall for their crimes?
This is a very lighthearted mystery in which there is a sinister plot going on, but it is very subtle and not always the focus of the story. The perspective changes from Carli to FUN throughout the story. Both of them focus a lot on themselves and their own situations and observations of what is going on around them. Some students will feel it drags in the middle, but if they make it, will enjoy the ending. A fast and enjoyable, but fortgettable read.