# 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.
# 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: Romance/Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 549
Ismae was born with terrible scars on her back because her father is Death and her mother tried to have her killed before she was born. Later, Ismae’s stepfather sells her into a terrible arranged marriage. Once her new husband sees her scars he believes Ismae to be cursed and starts to beat her. She is rescued and sent to a convent where everyone works for Death. Ismae comes to find she has talents for working as an assassin whenever Death shows her the mark that someone should die. She is sent on a mission to help a man named Gavriel to protect a young girl who has recently taken power over a big nation. Ismae knows there is a traitor amongst the duchess’s advisors, but is not as prepared for the task as she thought she would be. Can Ismae find the traitor who threatens to put an entire kingdom in jeopardy before it is overtaken by enemies? Can she trust Gavriel as her convent believes or is he in fact hiding any secrets of his own?
This book is getting a lot of attention because it is engaging right from the beginning. Any reader naturally wants to know more about Ismae’s skills as well as who is betraying the young duchess. The characters are all memorable, which is important in a book with so many characters any of which could be the traitor. The ending is satisfying and readers will want to see more of this character to find out what she is capable of. Fans of Graceling and Star Crossed will enjoy this title as well.
# of Pages: 323
RAC Book: Yes
Hope has a tough home life, but she never fails to look after her mute, autistic brother, Jeremy. Her life turns upside down when Jeremy is accused of murdering the high school baseball coach with his bat. She has T.J., her best friend, and Chase, the sheriff’s son she secretly has a crush on, to help her prove Jeremy’s innocence. The evidence against Jeremy is overwhelming and he is not speaking to help explain what happened. Meanwhile, their neglectful mother obviously believes her son is guilty. Can Hope prove her brother is innocent without pushing everyone away? Can she come to terms with the situation if he is in fact guilty?
This mystery has many great elements that will keep readers interested. First of all, there are many surprising plot developments revealed as Hope investigates what happened that fateful morning. The empty jars Jeremy collects provide a unique and interesting way of understanding Jeremy and of helping Hope learn what really happened to the coach. There are also many great characters with multiple dimensions and motivations including Jeremy’s lawyer, Chase, TJ, and Jeremy. The truth is in front of the reader the whole time, but Hope has to put the pieces together. Overall, a good mystery.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 248
RAC Book: Yes
Willa hasn’t seen her dad in so long that she does not even remember what he looks like. Her and her mom moved away long ago and her mother remarried. Willa loves her stepdad, but he did come with two kids of his own and since their mother is wealthy they tend to get some perks in life that she simply does not get. Their lives are completely shaken when Willa comes home one day to find frantic messages from a friend of her mother’s back home. She doesn’t understand any of them so she tried to contact her mother and becomes panicked when she is unable to. She calls her stepdad and he assures her that everything will be fine. When they finally locate her mother she learns that her estranged father was missing with one of his daughters and his other two daughters and new wife were all found stabbed to death. The police believe he might be on his way to find her so they are all moved into police protection. Will this news tear her family apart or force truths to come out that they have all been avoiding? Can she ever shake the reputation of being the girl whose father killed his family in a violent rage?
This story moves quickly as Willa tries to uncover the truth behind her father’s actions as well as what he was like. She meets the half brother she never knew she had and mourns the loss of her half sisters. The idea of family becomes a big issue as she is not quite sure which is stronger: blood or situation. She has always been told her mom’s new husband was her family, but as she examines the situation she is not so sure she has really been treated as family. There is also some growing resentment toward her mother for keeping so much about her father’s life a secret. As horrific as the situation with her father is, it also forces her to really examine her life and reevaluate how she wants to continue from here. Teenage readers will enjoy the story and even reluctant readers will struggle to put it down.
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.
Genre: Historical Fiction
This WWII story follows Sarah in 1942 and Julia in 2002. Sarah’s family is rounded up by the French police and sent to a detention center, but her little brother refused to go and hid in a small closet in their room. Sarah locked him in and kept the key promising to come back later in the day for him. She did not think they would actually be detained since it was the French police and not the Germans rounding them up. When she realized she would not be going back to her home her and her father tried to leave to get her brother, but the police would not allow them out. She held onto the key for weeks praying to find a way back to him. In 2002 Julia is a reporter who is assigned an article on the roundup of Jewish families by French police. She is shocked to find that many people living in Paris had no idea such a thing took place. As she comes across Sarah’s story she becomes determined to find out what happened to the little girl.
This is a different angle on a topic that has been covered in numerous ways. As the story moves between Sarah and Julia you cannot help but get immersed in finding out what happened to Sarah and her family. Sarah’s journey is truly amazing and realistic as she is forced to face adult issues as a child. The characters are written incredibly well in a complex, multi-faceted way. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading about this era.
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.
Published January 4, 2011
Fantasy , RAC
Tags: child abuse, divorce, ghost, murder
# of Pages: 248
RAC Book: Yes
Krystal has recently moved to a new town due to her parent’s divorce and she is having trouble adjusting to her new life. She has not made any friends, has stopped eating, and now has begun seeing ghosts. Specifically, one ghost named Ricky has been following her. He was a student at her school, but was shot and killed before she arrived. Now he wants to find who really killed him so that he can cross over. As Krystal copes with this difficult situation she meets two other students who mysteriously have the same birthmark as her. They quickly realize that they all have special gifts and they plan to work together to find out what happened to Ricky. They call themselves the Mystyx. Despite Krystal’s hesitance to let others in on her secret, she finds relief when she can talk to her new friends about her supernatural visions. Her relief is short lived, however, when she realizes that someone wants to hurt her for helping Ricky and the reasons behind his murder go deeper than she expected.
The plot of this story is interesting as Krystal tries to piece together what happened to Ricky. The characters are interesting and well developed. The writing style is a little simple and might turn off some young adult readers. The beginning feels a bit slow and predictable, but once she meets her fellow mystyx things pick up quickly. Fans of supernatural mysteries will enjoy this title, but it is not the best one out there right now. Recommended to supplement a thriving fantasy collection.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Fantasy
# of Pages: 376
RAC Book: No
Micah admits that she is a compulsive liar and would like to tell her story straight through with no lies. Her boyfriend is found murdered in Central Park and several people suspect her involvement simply because she was his “secret” girlfriend. She denies any knowledge of his murder and tries her best to avoid the stares and gossip. She has difficulty getting along with her parents due to her lying and they want to send her upstate to live with relatives even though Micah is vehemently against this. As the story goes on it becomes obvious that Micah has lied for so long that she has difficulty actually telling the straight truth, even when she wants to. Can she ever set the record straight and tell what actually happened to her boyfriend?
While this book stays true to its title throughout the story, it does take a bizarre fantasy twist in the middle. The twist will be liked by some, but disliked by many who thought the book was going to be more of a realistic fiction novel. The ending is a bit quick and some teen readers may find it confusing or unsatisfying. The story is interesting, but will leave many readers unsure about how they feel about it.
Genre: Historical fiction
# of Pages: 412
RAC Book: Yes
Iowa Teen Award Winner 2010
Conor Broekhart is born in a hot air balloon at the world’s fair in 1878 and he is obsessed with flying forever after. He grows up on the Saltee Islands off the coast of Ireland where his father heads the king’s security. King Nicholas is very forward thinking and supportive of science and flying, so he enlists a friend of his to come and tutor Conor and his daughter, Isabella. Conor greatly enjoys his time with Victor as they practice fencing, scientific experiments, and air exploration. All of this changes when the King and Victor are assassinated by an evil member of the king’s advisors. Conor is blamed for the conspiracy against the king and is sent to work underground in diamond mines, but he fails to give up and plans to one day fly again.
This is a very different story than most readers will be used to from this author, but it is adventurous and engaging from the first page. Conor’s strength, intelligence, and perseverance take a hopeless situation and find some light. The plot twists are compelling and detailed to keep the story moving and all of the characters are well developed, even if they are not in the story that much. Anyone would enjoy this read, but it will be especially interesting to teenage boys.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of pages: 245 p.
RAC Book: Yes
Madison wakes up in a strange reality she calls “is” because there’s no way to describe it. She believes she is dead because she can’t feel a body, but she does see objects in the space around her. If she touches an object she is brought back to her life through a memory of when she lost that item. She quickly realizes that she does not have memories past the age of 17 and knows she died young, but cannot remember how. As she tries to navigate through the memories of her life she realizes she is not the only spirit lingering in those memories. Will she ever be able to talk to anyone from her life? Will she ever find out how she died? Can she ever move past this place of “is” to the everafter?
This book was engaging, unique, and interesting. As Madison moves through the memories of her life the reader cannot help but think about how she will meet her untimely demise. Despite the fact that the reason behind her death is set up throughout the story, it will be a shock to most readers the way it actually happens. Madison’s friendships and family relationships are easy to identify with and it’s hard to imagine how they must cope with her death. Madison, however, believes that everyone dies when they are supposed to go and it’s okay, but she would like to know how it happens. She feels no regret about how she lived or died. This is a very interesting read that will leave the reader thinking about life and death long after the final page.
# of Pages: 391
RAC Book: Yes
In this sequel to The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have returned home to district 12 but life is not as easy or calm as Katniss hoped it would be if she survived the games. Their previous fears of starving or failing to feed their families have been relieved as they now have plenty of food and money due to their winnings, but there is an uneasiness as Katniss realizes she may be in trouble with the Capitol for breaking the rules and managing to have two survivors of the vicious games. Her fears are turned into reality when she receives a surprise visit from the president of the Capitol. He warns her that if her and Peeta do not convince everyone that they are in fact in love, then the lives of their family and friends may be in danger. Katniss was surprised to learn that her act of defiance that allowed her and Peeta to survive the games was seen as a first step of revolt to some of the districts. Since then they have followed suit and established uprisings that the Capitol does not approve of. As Katniss tries to squelch the uprisings by acting more in love with Peeta than she could imagine, she can’t help but wonder what will happen if she fails and the Capitol blames her for the beginnings of a revolution? What’s worse, she starts to wonder if she really wants to squelch the uprisings at all or if she would be willing to give her life in order to make life better for those who come after her.
This sequel delivers all the action, surprise, suspense, and passion as the first one. The year following Katniss’s triumph in the games is full of heartache and worry as she wonders who is watching her and what they will do to her family if she angers them. Her life is completely changed, but not necessarily in a better way. As she tries to help those around her she is in no way prepared for the role that will be thrust upon her in the next hunger games. Anyone who liked the first installment of this series will devour this one and will have a difficult time waiting for the release of the next one.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 14 and up
# of Pages: 522
CeeCee Wilkes is a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother died when she was twelve. Now she is a high school graduate and living on her own trying to support herself as a waitress. She hopes to save enough money to go to college one day. Her favorite regular customer, Timothy Gleason, is rich and handsome, so she is thrilled when he shows some interest in her. Soon they are dating and she feels she is in love with him and finally has a place to belong. When he tells her his sister is on death row for a murder that was self defense, CeeCee finds herself helping in a scheme to get her freed. Timothy and his brother plan to kidnap the governor’s wife in order to get him to release their sister. Meanwhile, CeeCee is supposed to watch the hostage while the negotiations go down. What CeeCee doesn’t count on is the fact that the governor’s wife is 8 months pregnant with a high risk pregnancy. When the stress of the situation leads her to go into labor early, CeeCee does not know what to do or where to go and the situaiton quickly escalates out of control. Once the baby is born, CeeCee is unable to stop the bleeding and the woman dies. CeeCee knows that her life will never be the same again and she has some very difficult decisions to make. Will she ever see Timothy again? Will she have to change her name? Will she have to go to jail for her role in this crime? What will happen to the baby?
For readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, or similar authors this would be a good story. It delves into the emotions and motivations of the characters while following an interesting story. Readers will come to care about what happens to CeeCee and the baby despite the terrible circumstances that bring them together. The ideas of taking responsibility for one’s actions and second chances are pronounced throughout the story. The plot will keep readers thinking about justice long after finishing the book.