Archive for the 'Realistic Fiction' Category

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.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

we were liars

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  225

RAC:  Yes

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.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

girl on train

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller

# of Pages: 323

RAC:  Yes

Rachel is a recently divorced alcoholic, who travels to the city everyday on the train pretending to her roommate that she still has a job.  Every day she passes the house she used to live in with her husband, who still lives there with his new wife and baby.  A few doors down from that house she starts noticing another young couple that she comes to identify with.  She makes up names and stories for them to help her feel like she really knows them.  What she doesn’t know is that their lives are not nearly as perfect as she thinks they are.  One day as the train drives by she sees something unusual that confuses her.  The next day she sees on the news that the woman she has been watching everyday from the train has gone missing.  Should she go to the police?  Will anyone believe her with her history of erratic behavior and alcoholism?

Fans of thrilling mysteries will love this title.  The mystery is well crafted and keeps you in suspense for most of the book.  Several important characters are discussed who all seem like they could possibly be the culprit at one time or another.  The ending is exciting, thrilling, and a bit surprising.  Readers looking for a psychological mystery won’t be disappointed.

Dust Lands: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

dust lands

Genre:  Adventure/Futuristic/Survival

# of Pages:  459

RAC:  Yes

Saba lives with her twin brother, father, and little sister in the middle of a desserted, dry place.  Lugh, her twin, begins to worry about their survival with the lake drying up and their overall lack of food.  Her father has never been the same since Saba’s mother died giving birth to her sister, Emmi.  Unexpectedly one day, four men in long robes riding horses kidnap Lugh and kill her father who tries to stop them.  Saba and Emmi then begin a long journey to try and find Lugh, but before they get far they are captured and Saba is forced to cage fight daily for her life in a brutal coliseum type entertainment venue where people come to watch young girls die.  While incarcerated, Saba begins to make a few friends and learns a few things about Lugh’s whereabouts, but the more she hears the worse it sounds.  How will she get free so that she no longer has to fight for her life for other’s entertainment?  Will she ever be able to find and rescue her brother and sister?  Can she trust anyone she meets?

This futuristic survival tale will be riveting for anyone who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Maze Runner.  It’s very raw and gritty and leaves the reader truly pulling for Saba who has an unbelievable amount of obstacles in front of her.  Everything that happens to Saba and her friends is brutal, but very realistic and believable unlike some of the other futuristic series out there.  Saba is a flawed and interesting character that makes you wonder what will ultimately happen to her, but the characters around her are also flawed and somehow they all work together to bring forth the best version of themselves.   Recommended

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.

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.



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