Archive for the 'Realistic Fiction' Category

The Cipher by John C. Ford


Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  374

RAC:  Yes

Robert “Smiles” Smylie is the son of a very wealthy and important man who began a computer software company when Smiles was a baby.  Smiles has always felt like a disappointment to his father since he is not a math genius.  His mother ran out on him when he was a baby and his loving stepmother died suddenly in a car accident shortly before the story begins.  He is struggling to find his place when his quiet neighbor, Ben, asks for his help getting to an encryption conference.  Once there, Ben cracks a previously thought to be uncrackable code that if sold could breach the top secrets of every organization while also bankrupting his father’s company.  Ben creates an elaborate plan to protect the code but still get him and Ben some of the profits from discovering such a code.  Is this his shot at greatness?  Can he and Ben pull off such a big plan and get away with it?

This title reads like a heist movie in that there are lots of aspects to their plan and there are many players in the game who have plans of their own.  Smiles learns a lot about his dad’s past and the truth about the beginning of his company and why his mother really left him.  There are many surprises and plot twists, but the story definitely has some slower moments as well.  Recommended for fans of heist movies.

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

divided we fall

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  374

Iowa High School Award Winner 2015-16

RAC:  Yes

Daniel Wright enlisted in the Idaho National Guard as soon as he was eligible, which means he is still a senior in high school.  He lives with his very needy mother, plays football, and has a girlfriend.  The national guard is only supposed to be one weekend a month until he graduates from high school, but then a law is passed that many people do not agree with including the governor of Idaho.  When he refuses to comply with the law he calls in the national guard to combat any possible rioters and Daniel Wright is one of those soldiers called in to defend the capital.  Unfortunately, his gun accidentally fires and it begins a terrible riot that results in some civilian casualties.  In the aftermath, the President of the U.S. demands the governor of Idaho reveal the names and whereabouts of all involved soldiers so they can face possible criminal charges.  The governor refuses and Idaho faces the very real possibility that they could go to war with the United States of America.  Can Daniel fight other U.S. soldiers?  Will Daniel go to jail if he is caught by the U.S. military?  Will his liberal girlfriend understand the circumstances that led him to this point?

This exciting adventure story shows how plausible it really is that a state could go to war with the U.S.  All of the characters are written in a way that you can understand their motivations, feelings, and actions.  There’s a lot of soldier terminology used to describe Daniel and his squad’s orders, but it is explained well for readers who do not normally read about soldiers.  The story is very exciting as Daniel is thwarted at every move and the ending will definitely leave readers wanting more.  Strongly recommended for high school boys.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

saint anything

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  417

RAC:  Yes

Sydney was always the overlooked younger sibling to Peyton, her charismatic lovable older brother.  When Peyton is arrested and sent to jail for paralyzing a teenager while driving his car drunk things shift even more in his direction as their parents struggle to help him in any way they can.  Sydney begins to feel unsafe in her own home as Peyton’s overly friendly friend, Ames, begins to frequent her house more and more.  By chance, she meets the Chatham family and with it a new best friend and potential boyfriend.  The Chathams are everything her family is not and Sydney feels noticed and listened to in a way her family hasn’t for a long time.  Eventually, her two worlds collide and she must make some big decisions about where to go from here.  Can she forgive her brother for destroying her family?  Can she date a boy her family deems unworthy?  Will her parents ever give her the attention she deserves as the only remaining child in the home?

Sarah Dessen once again creates a story full of wonderful and engaging characters that make you want to know more about them.  Sydney’s family obviously has some very serious issues with Peyton’s predicament, but yet that does not change the fact that they still have a child who needs their attention as well.  Meanwhile, the Chathams have had some terrible disappointments too as their mother is very ill.  The two families handle conflict in their own ways and Sydney finds strength from both of them in different ways.  The romance between Sydney and Mac is sweet, but does not take over the story where Sydney is the main focus.  Recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han novels.

The Heir by Kiera Cass


Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of pages:  346

RAC:  yes

It has been twenty years since America Singer won the selection and married Prince Maxon.  Their first born, by seven minutes, is Eadlyn.  Due to the change in law, she is the next in line for the throne and not her younger twin brother.  Eadlyn has felt enormous pressure her entire life because she knows that someday she will rule, but she never realized how much her parents have been shielding her from.  King Maxon abolished the caste system almost immediately after he became king, but all these years later there is still discrimination and unrest going on.  Eadlyn’s parents decide a Selection might shift the focus away from the unrest and onto happier, more exciting things.  Eadlyn is not thrilled by the idea of a Selection and vows to fight it at every turn.  There are several interesting suitors who are chosen and she begins to enjoy herself a bit, but as with any Selection there is a fair share of drama.  Will she find true love?

This follow-up series to the original is fun in that it is from a female perspective and therefore she is unable to get away with stuff her father did simply because he was a man and viewed differently by the public.  Eadlyn takes her responsibilities seriously, but often comes out unlikable because of her brusque attitude.  It’s obvious that she and her siblings know very little about the selection that brought their parents together and that is surprising considering a lot of important events transpired that still effect relations within the castle today.  The ending brought many shocks and surprises which is what fans will be looking for…along with the next book!

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt

how to build a house

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  227

RAC:  Yes

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.

Kalahari by Jessica Khoury


Genre:  Adventure/Survival

# of Pages:  354

RAC:  Yes

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.

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

all fall down

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  310

RAC:  Yes

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.


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