Genre: Realistic Fiction/Adventure
# of Pages: 368
Colt Shore grew up attending an elite private school where he was trained in many skills required of a spy, but he always intended to enter the profession as an information person and never as a field agent. He also grew up believing his parents had him after their first beloved child died, which always left him feeling left out. He is quite surprised to learn that who he believes to be his parents are actually his grandparents and his dad was actually a spy killed in the line of duty. His mother is still an active agent and introduces him to spy headquarters. When he is asked to help out with a mission, his mother argues against it, but does not stand in his way. He finds that the mission is simply too good to resist, but once he gets in the field he must learn quickly how to make decisions as the mission morphs into something much bigger than he signed on for.
The evolution of this mission is done so in a way that seems logical, although there does tend to be a lack of fear on the part of Colt and the person he is trying to protect. The action sequences are well written and adequately describe how Colt manages to get from one tough situation to another. He does have luck on his side in a few instances but not in an unbelievable way. Colt’s personality engages the reader from the beginning and many will want to follow his adventures for many books to come. Highly recommended for fans of spy novels and reluctant readers.
# of Pages: 540
Jamie Carpenter witnessed his father’s murder a few years before the story begins and ever since he and his mother have believed that his father had been a traitor to the country. On the night his father died, he witnessed some strange phenomena outside his house, but had since convinced himself he was hallucinating. That changes when he is attacked by a vampire and barely escapes only to find his mother has been taken by one of the most powerful vampires in the world. Then, he learns of a secret organization called Department Nineteen that takes care of creatures most people do not believe exist. Despite the fact that many people believe his father is a traitor, he is welcomed in and allowed to train briefly in order to go after his mother. Does he have what it takes to fight vampires for his government?
This book has been named an Iowa Award Winner for 2013-2014 and it is easy to see why. Fans of fantasy enjoy the back story of this book as well as the truly colorful characters (Frankenstein is an actual employee at Department 19). There are many twists and turns in the story and the action is almost continual. This book sets up the possibility for many more to come. Recommended.
Published April 29, 2013
Adventure , Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction
Tags: battle, betrayal, dating, friendship, futuristic, secrets, trust
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 305
RAC Book: Yes
In this futuristic story, Day is a rebel who hides in the shadows and pulls pranks on authorities. He is the number one wanted criminal. June is a girl living in the Republic whose brother is a soldier for a high ranking official. She is considered a prodigy because she is the first and only person to earn a perfect score on the training test given to every ten-year-old in the Republic. After an attempt to obtain medicine from a hospital leaves June’s brother murdered she is led to believe Day was the culprit responsible. June goes undercover to find and apprehend the biggest criminal standing in the way of the Republic’s goals so she can avenge her brother. Day ends up being much more than she bargained for, however, and she finds the more questions she answers the more that arise. Whom can she trust in this government? Can she believe anything she was told over her entire childhood?
This exciting story will interest readers who like books such as The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. The setting is reminiscent of Divergent, but focuses much more on the goals of the Republic and not the little sectors that make up the people. The chapters alternate between Day and June so that you see each of the sides of this battle and why they see each other as the enemy. Many secrets unravel quickly, but it’s obvious there are many more where that came from. There is currently one sequel out and there will probably be more.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 318
RAC Book: Yes
Augustus “Gus” and Hazel meet at a Cancer support group. Hazel has thyroid cancer that forces her to use oxygen 24/7 and despite a new miracle drug, has always been given a short life expectancy. She has adjusted to her relatively simple life, but that changes when she meets Gus, who lost a leg to Cancer, but has been Cancer free ever since. They begin talking and exchanging favorite books. Gus makes a huge gesture for Hazel so that a dream of hers can come true. It isn’t until afterward that Hazel realizes how much he really gave to give her that experience. As these two begin to fall in love they cannot help but wonder how long they really have and what they should do to make every day count.
This story is well-written and engaging. Hazel and Gus’s story will resonate with young readers because of their sheer honesty and willingness to never give up. The issues they have to deal with seem so heavy compared with other love stories, but it comes across as uplifting and life affirming instead of depressing. Highly recommended.
Published April 3, 2013
Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction , Uncategorized
Tags: dating, divorce, domestic abuse, friendship, physical abuse, siblings, trust
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 328
RAC Book: Yes
Tennyson and Bronte are siblings whose parents are English professors. Tennyson feels very protective of his sister, Bronte, which is why he is upset when he learns she is dating Brewster who is known as Bruiser around their high school. Tennyson tries intimidating Brewster and even follows him to try and get him to leave his sister alone, but what he ends up finding is that Brewster is covered in bruises and other injuries. This leads Tennyson to believe that Brewster is being abused at home, but upon further inspection he realizes that Brewster’s situation is a whole lot more complicated than that. Brewster, through no effort on his part, takes on the pain of anyone he cares about. As Tennyson and Bronte start to get to know him they start to like having him around and vow never to tell Brewster’s secret. The problem is that this unusual power is killing Brewster and he does not know if he can stop it before it’s too late. What will he have to give to protect those he loves?
This story is very different and unique which is why it is so captivating and engaging. Shusterman creates a set of characters that any reader can empathize with. The chapters alternate between Bronte, Brewster, and Tennyson, which also helps the reader to see the situation through multiple perspectives. This book is recommended for everyone, but could be especially useful with reluctant readers.
# of Pages: 322
RAC Book: Yes
Gwyneth lives in a large house with her extended family who are anxiously awaiting the first time travel episode by her cousin, Charlotte. Their family has a long history of time traveling and it was predicted that Charlotte would be the next in the line so she has spent much of her childhood getting prepared. Gwyneth is therefore very surprised when she is transported into an unknown time period instead. This causes quite a bit of turmoil in the household as they scramble to help Gwyneth in her new mission and understand how the mistake came to be. With each time travel, Gwyneth comes to find more questions than answers about the true mission of her and her cousin, Gideon, who is also a time traveler. Whom should they trust? Who wants to help them and who is merely selfishly using them for their own personal gain?
This book has been on my “to read” list for awhile and I wish I would have read it sooner. It was exciting, charming, mysterious, and entertaining. Despite having quite a few characters they are all easily identified due to their detailed characterization. The mystery behind the mission is somewhat discussed, but it’s obvious there is much more for Gwyneth to learn. Fans of romantic fantasy will absolutely love this and move on to the sequel quickly.
# of Pages: 309
RAC Book: Yes
Scott James is an LAPD cop who got caught in the middle of a shoot out on a deserted street in the middle of the night. His partner was killed and he was badly injured and left for dead. Despite being encouraged to take a medical discharge, Scott pushes to remain in the department and gets moved to the K9 unit. The dog he chooses, Maggie, was in a terrible shootout as well in Iraq in which her carrier was killed and she was injured trying to protect him. They both have some post traumatic stress and scar tissue to work with. Scott learns some new cops have taken over his case and they want to discuss it with him. Can he finally get to the bottom of what happened? Will he ever avenge his partner and come to grips with the guilt he has for surviving when she didn’t? Will Maggie ever trust a new carrier?
Fans of mystery writers such as Harlan Coben will enjoy this title. It moves quickly and has a lot of suspense and drama. The actual ending seems a bit quick, but the resolution is satisfying. The progression of details keeps the reader interested and the inclusion of the dog to the case helps Scott more than once. Recommended for mystery fans.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 296
On a normal school day, Dean gets on the bus for school when all of a sudden giant hail beats down on the bus. The bus crashes and catches on fire, but another school bus who was behind it drives into a giant superstore and returns to save those who are uninjured. Dean is pulled from the wreckage moments before it explodes. Inside the superstore, they learn that only 6 high school, 2 junior high, and 6 elementary school kids survived the hail and the bus crash. They tend to the wounded and the bus driver leaves in the hopes of finding help. Meanwhile, they are shaken up by an earthquake and toxic gas that is poured into the air due to a leak caused by these natural disasters. They are safe in the superstore, but do not know how long they will need to survive there. Is anyone coming to rescue them?
This survival story is incredibly realistic and forthcoming about what life would be like after several natural disasters. The kids all have different strengths and annoyances as they strive to find the best way to live together. Some of their solutions for how to make the store more efficient and inhabitable are very clever. Other actions are not as clever, but reveal that they are in fact just kids trying to survive. The story moves at a quick pace and packs a lot of interesting plot developments. Readers may be disappointed by the abrupt ending, but most likely a sequel will be on the way.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 261
Maggie and her boyfriend climbed a gorge in order to jump hand in hand into the water below, but something went terribly wrong and Maggie woke up at the top with no memory of what happened. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, Joey, floated in the water below dead. Afterward, Maggie and her friends must face life without Joey, while also overcoming the guilt they feel for having gone to that place at all. Adam, one of their best friends, seems to be holding something back and has been steadily withdrawing since the accident. Is there something Maggie doesn’t know about Joey? Will she ever remember what happened at the top of that gorge?
Fans of realistic fiction will enjoy this title. This story is engaging right from the beginning and the individual characteristics of the group are detailed well so that the reader can truly distinguish between each member. There are a few key elements that the reader will pick up on before Maggie, but the big reveal seems satisfying nonetheless. The book deals with grief, the aftermath of death, and even the ability to see the flaws as well as the strengths in someone who is gone in a manner that anyone can relate to who has experience with losing a loved one.
# of Pages: 292
Miranda and her brother, Rob, are in a terrible car accident that kills Miranda’s best friend. After the fact, Rob has some serious fears about riding in cars and claustrophobia, while Miranda is mourning her friend. Her parents have professional reasons for visiting York, England and decide it is a perfect time for the family to get away. Upon arrival, Miranda realizes she can now see ghosts, but is most intrigued by the one across the street that she can see in the attic of a boarded up house. She meets a troubled young man, Nick, who can also see ghosts and invites her to some mysterious places in order to interact with them. The more time she spends with Nick the more she suspects he is planning something big and mysterious. Can she save him from making a terrible mistake that will change his entire future?
This story includes a lot of folklore about York which ties into the story well. The characters are well developed, especially Miranda’s family, despite being in the story rather infrequently. The mystery moves a tad slow at the beginning, but eventually takes off and it’s obvious that the groundwork for solving it has been laid from the beginning. Fans of ghost and/or mystery stories will enjoy this title.
Genre: Romance/Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 356
In this sequel to The Belles, the secret about the true relationship of Isabelle to the Monroes is out and threatening to take down Bill Monroe’s campaign for Senator. Multiple stories keep coming out about the Monroe’s and everyone is bothered by the fact that there seems to be a mole in their midst selling information to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, Isabelle and Mirabelle are preparing to become debutantes at their cotillion. This involves prep classes, dress shopping, and even a hazing ritual. Isabelle does surprisingly well, but Mirabelle is struggling due to the fact that her former best friend, Savannah, has turned everyone against her and she feels all alone. Can Mirabelle find a way to stand on her own without trying to please the most popular girls in school? Can Isabelle survive cotillion training? Will either girl let their father walk her into the cotillion after the way he lied to them?
This follow up is satisfying picking up right where the last one left off. The characters are properly growing and developing and we are learning more about the periphery characters as well. The cotillion preparation was actually fun and interesting as the girls struggle to make it to the big event. Fans of the series will be eager to see more.
Published January 18, 2013
RAC , Romance
Tags: cure, family, love, Romance, virus
# of Pages: 441
Lena lives in a place where they believe love to be a virus that encourages people to do terrible things they would not normally do. They have created a cure that everyone receives at the age of 18. Lena’s mother ended up dying due to the virus and her sister was affected by it as well, so Lena cannot wait to get the cure. That is until she meets someone and falls in love. Even though she knows she is coming down with the virus she does not care and wishes to do whatever it takes to stop herself from getting that cure.
The idea of this story is very interesting, but the actual romance seems a little slow and boring at times. It makes it hard to want to keep reading about these two when they are just uninteresting. The ending is fairly fast paced and exciting, but abruptly ends. Girls who like romances and dystopian societies will make the best audience for this series.
# of Pages: 352
RAC Book: Yes
Isabelle has lived with her mother and her grandmother her entire life and when her mother died in a car accident her grandmother became her guardian. Despite all of Isabelle’s efforts, her grandmother is placed in a nursing home by a social worker and she is whisked away to the house of long lost family she has never heard of. The Monroe’s welcome Isabelle, but their teenage daughter, Mirabelle, struggles to befriend Isabelle at school as well as keep in the good graces of the queen bee, Savannah, who does not want Isabelle included in any school events. Meanwhile, Isabelle is stunned to learn that the great guy she met surfing at the beach all summer is the boyfriend of Savannah, who seems to make it her life’s mission to torture Isabelle. Will Isabelle and Mirabelle ever get along? Will Isabelle ever feel like she fits in in this new school, home, and family? What will happen when a huge family secret is revealed?
This story is full of teenage drama, but somehow manages to suck the reader in and want to know what will happen to these people. Despite the stress of always trying to keep up appearances, the Monroes do come off as normal and well adjusted. Savannah is a good villain that everyone wants to see go down, but can unfortunately also identify with as most people know a “Savannah.” Recommended for girls who like romance and lighter stories.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 512
In the final installment of the series, Cassia is back with the Society working as a sorter when the Rising takes control and produces a cure for a mysterious plague that the Society was trying to keep quiet within city limits. Xander is working in the clinic as a physhic and was well aware of the plague and is thrilled when the Rising takes over simply because he was always on their side and now they can cure these people. Ky, meanwhile, is working as a pilot for the Rising and his job is to deliver the cure to different locations. They all end up coming together, but the virus mutates and threatens to wipe out the entire civilization. Will Cassia choose Xander or Ky? Will they all even survive the plague? How will the Rising govern better than the Society did?
This ending was satisfying, but slow and a bit underwhelming. The first book in this series was so interesting and raised so many questions about society in general and what is considered “normal.” It seems like the second two books in the series lost their way a bit and struggled to recapture that spark the first one had. It’s not bad, but just not as good as Matched. Die hard fans will enjoy seeing what happens, but many readers will find this book tedious and cumbersome. There are still some unanswered questions as well and the ending, although satisfying, is definitely realistic which hopefully readers will appreciate.