Archive Page 2

The Naturals by Jennifer Barnes

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Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  308

RAC: Yes

Cassie has relied on her ability to read people since the mysterious disappearance of her mother five years ago.  She is surprised, however, when she is recruited to join an elite team in the FBI made up of teens with similar special abilities called The Naturals.  Cassie will be trained as a profiler for the FBI to use on cold cases.  She feels it is important for her to do this since her mother’s disappearance and presumed murder is still unsolved.  Once she starts training, however, she is pulled into an ongoing serial murder investigation in which the killer seems to be taunting the teens in the naturals.  More alarmingly, the case seems to be connected to her mother’s case.  Can they solve the murders or will Cassie become the next victim?

Fans of mysteries will love this new title as it combines an intriguing mystery story with tons of great, albeit mysterious characters so that Cassie does not know whom she can really trust.  The ending is very satisfying and will surprise most of the readers no matter how diligently they have followed the clues leading up to the exciting climax.  The book sets itself up well to become a series which is good because readers will want to see more of these naturals.  Recommended.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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Genre:  Realistic fiction/Futuristic fiction

# of pages:  327

RAC:  Yes

America Singer is a 5 on a caste system where 1 is the royal family, 2s and 3s are the wealthy and powerful, and 5s are the artists of the world.  She is secretly meeting with Aspen, the neighbor boy who is  a 6.  Girls almost never marry below their station because they then become that station.  One day the palace announces that Prince Maxon is ready to marry and begins The Selection.  Any girl between the ages of 16 and 20 in any province can fill out an application to be entered into a random drawing for The Testing.  One girl from each of the 35 provinces will be chosen to move to the palace in order to be considered as the country’s next princess.  America does not want to do this because she plans to marry Aspen, but when she tells him that her mother is pressuring her he encourages it so that he will never feel responsible for her missing out on something great.  To everyone’s shock, America is chosen and must move to the palace.  Does she try to become a princess where she might be able to make some real changes that could benefit people lower on the caste?  Does she refuse to go and announce she is marrying Aspen?

This book crosses The Hunger Games with The Bachelor.  America is a fun, modern girl with goals and aspirations that have nothing to do with her two suitors, but they are fun as well.  There is a lot of political turmoil that she is not expecting and the relationship she begins with Maxon is very different from anyone else’s.  The cast of characters is very intriguing and vibrant and despite the number you really do get to know several of these girls as people.  As part of a trilogy, the story holds up well through to the end and America never compromises herself for a man or a crown.  Recommended.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

i am the messenger

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  357

RAC:  Yes

Ed Kennedy has zero goals or aspirations for life.  He works as a cab driver, lives with an old dog, and plays card games with his three underachieving friends.  After witnessing the worst bank robbery he’s ever seen, Ed manages to help catch the robber sheerly by luck.  Afterward, he is given quite a bit of notoriety, but more importantly he receives a playing card with three names on it.  He quickly realizes that he needs to find ways to help the people named on the card and some are much more difficult than others.  Each person changes Ed a little bit and he begins to wonder how many names there will be.  He has evidence that someone is watching him to see if he is completing his tasks, but who?  What is the purpose of these little missions?

This powerful story makes you think about the choices you make everyday.  Ed never planned on making much of himself simply because he didn’t think he had any real potential or skills.  These missions help him to learn that he can indeed make a difference in many ways.  What is he meant to do?  His friends are no more motivated than he is, but as he continues his journey he begins to discover that they all have secrets of their own.  There is some sexual references and mild language, but the story will leave you thinking about the character and the message for days to come.

The List by Vivian Siohban

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

333 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

2014-2015 Iowa High School Award Winner

Every year a list is posted the Monday before Homecoming listing the four prettiest and four ugliest girls, one for each grade respectively.  Each chapter follows one of the eight girls and how they cope with the existence of this list.  Danielle, the ugliest freshmen, must deal with the fallout of how her boyfriend handles the news that she was voted on this list.  Meanwhile, Abby, the prettiest freshmen faces possibly not being allowed to go to the dance at all due to grades.  The “ugliest” sophomore is actually a cute, but very mean girl who is deemed “ugliest” on the inside.  The “prettiest” sophomore girl is a girl who has been home-schooled for her entire life and is trying to find independence from her mom with great difficulty.  The prettiest junior, Bridget, feels pressured into an eating disorder in order to maintain her image while the ugliest junior reacts quite strongly and refuses to shower or change her clothes for the entire week after the list comes out.  The ugliest senior is the first ever to earn that particular honor for all four years of high school and she pretends she is totally fine with it.  The prettiest senior feels the pressure to follow in her sister’s footsteps who was the prettiest senior the year before and seemed to fall apart afterward.  Each chapter follows a different girl as she navigates through this very difficult week.

This book has earned many awards for good reason.  This book delves into many serious issues for high school girls including insecurity, the fear of being excluded, worrying about what others think, eating disorders, dating problems, academic trouble, lying, and problems at home.  No one on the list finds happiness no matter which side of the list she is on.  While the circumstances around the list may seem unbelievable, the issues surrounding it are completely believable and exist at every high school.  A great book to recommend to high school girls, especially ones who are having trouble adjusting.

Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  328

RAC:  Yes

Dane is a bully who is a mere few strikes away from expulsion, but he still can’t seem to keep his fists under control.  One day he notices a boy with Down Syndrome following him to school and he decides to put him in his place, but surprisingly the boy immediately has an effect on him.  His name is Billy D and he is Dane’s new neighbor.  Billy D wants Dane to teach him how to fight and find his father and in return he will tell the Warden at school how much Dane is helping him navigate the new building and protecting him from other bullies.  As Dane walks Billy D to and from school everyday they start to become friends and Dane helps Billy D solve the clues his father left for him in an old atlas.  Billy D is sure that the clues will lead to his father’s location, but Dane is starting to grow concerned that this path to Billy’s father might end with him getting hurt in some way.  Can Dane help Billy D long enough to avoid expulsion?  Can Billy D solve the clues and do those clues lead to his father?  What is the reason why he does not know where his father is?

Dane and Billy’s unlikely friendship pulls readers in as they try to follow the clues left by Billy’s dad.  You can’t help but want to know about Billy’s backstory and all the things he doesn’t want to tell Dane about.  Meanwhile, Dane is dealing with a single mom, an absent dad, and unexplainable rage issues.  Can these two find a way to help each other grow?  The characters are incredibly complex and sympathetic which fuels the entire story.  Recommended for reluctant readers.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  391

RAC:  Yes

Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road for five years as he worked for a trucking company, but he has decided to return to his home town so that she can go to a normal school.  Unfortunately, Andy suffers from severe PTSD following his tours in Iraq.  Due to this condition, Hayley is constantly watching out for Andy to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else as he often uses recreational drugs to try and cope.  Hayley refers to betrayals in her past that lead her away from trusting anyone now with knowing their troubles.  When she meets Finn she realizes that there might be people out there who also have struggles at home and whom she might be able to confide in.  Can she ever be a normal teenager who worries about boys and schoolwork or will she forever be the parent in her house?  Can she open up to Finn and let him know the horrors she potentially faces each time she goes home?

Fans of Anderson’s titles Twisted and Speak will love this title.  It is very current and relatable while also revealing characters with personality and depth.  Many tough issues are discussed in this book such as domestic violence, drug use, suicide, and death, but they are all introduced in a way that does not feel forced.  The ending may or may not satisfy some readers, but in life things don’t always end perfectly and Anderson’s ending rings true in that respect.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

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Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  372

RAC:  Yes

Lina is a lawyer at a high profile firm in New York City.  She is assigned a bizarre slavery reparations case in which she is challenged to find a modern day descendant of a slave who can claim damages today.  She ends up coming across a story about a famous artist, Lu Anne Bell who was credited with wonderful paintings of the slaves on her plantation before her death in 1852.  Some recent criticism has come up in which experts are speculating the artist was actually the young slave girl, Josephine.  Can Lina prove that Josephine was the artist instead of Lu Anne?  Can she find a descendant of Josephine when there is no evidence of what happened to her after Lu Anne’s death?  Can she do it in time for the unimaginable deadline that her boss has set for her?

No one denies that many injustices occurred while slavery was still legal in the U.S., but this book reminds us that there are still many stories to tell.  Although, this is a fictional story it does remind us that each slave had a name and a story and people are interested in learning those.  The way the story is told pulls the reader in through old letters and documents.  It seems impossible to right the wrongs that occurred back then, but there are still truths that can overcome the lies that have pervaded history.  Fans of Sarah’s Key and Between Shades of Gray will enjoy this title as another book that sheds a different light on a big piece of history.



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