Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

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357 p.

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

Louna works for her mother’s successful wedding planning business, but after having her heart broken a year prior she is not sure there is such a thing as a happy ever after.  Her mother and her mother’s business partner, William, also feel this way and Louna worries they are getting too pessimistic and jaded.  Then, they meet Ambrose who is the crazy optimistic little brother of a bride and nothing ever seems to get him down.  At first Louna sees this as simply shirking responsibility and not caring about his future, but after he lands a summer job working alongside her, she begins to see he is just hopelessly helpful and always hopeful that everything will work out positively.  Eventually, Louna realizes she wants to be more like that, but will that mean officially “getting over” the terrible thing that happened in her past relationship?  Will she ever really have a chance at another true love?

Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this new title, but the characters don’t quite stick with the reader the way they do in some of her other books such as The Truth About Forever.  The way Louna’s previous relationship ended definitely adds a unique twist that will surprise readers.  Overall, a fun, fast story for readers who love romances.

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The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages: 328

Megan Brown recently lost her brother in a horrific car accident and she’s struggling to cope with it.  Tyler was always there to protect her and still be the life of the party and she doesn’t know how their family will cope without them.  Shortly after his death the police announce he died of a heroin overdose and that he was planning to defer college, both of which come as a huge shock to her family as it seems they didn’t know him at all.  Meanwhile, Megan has also started noticing that when she touches objects that belonged to him she gets visions of memories of Tyler’s.  Is it possible that if she keeps touching Tyler’s things she can actually find out what happened to him?  Unfortunately, just as Megan discovers this power she realizes that some of the objects Tyler had on him when he died have gone missing which means someone came into their home to go through his things.  Is she getting in over her head?  Can she handle the truth if she uncovers it?

The premise of this story is interesting and the conclusion doesn’t disappoint.  It takes awhile for the pieces to begin coming together but the resolution is exciting.  Fans of mystery such as The Naturals and When will enjoy a mystery title about a character who has an unusual ability.  The backdrop of Abraham Lincoln gives the story an unusual twist that makes it more memorable and unique.

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  403

Anna was born into an elite Luminate British family, which means her family has access to magic, which is strictly restricted from anyone not in the Luminates.  There is an uprising building up to break the binding spell that restricts magic away from anyone considered unworthy and Anna is shocked to learn her own father is a sympathizer.  He believes the binding is in place merely to keep the wealthy in power and not to protect those who simply do not know how to use magic and could hurt themselves or someone else.  When Anna comes of age, however, her ceremony to practice magic goes poorly and she is believed to be barren, which means she’ll never really be accepted by the Luminates or those outside the Luminates.  One power she does seem to have is to break other people’s spells, which is why her family forbid her from coming to her sister’s coming out party.  She sneaks in anyway and accidentally ruins her sister’s coming out.  Partly as punishment, partly as protection from those who wish to study Anna’s unusual capability of breaking other people’s spells, she is sent away with her grandmother to Hungary.  Upon arrival, Anna meets some interesting people and begins to see that those who possess magical tendencies but at outside the Luminates are treated abominably in order to keep them in their place.  She begins to wonder if she should use her one power to break the binding so that magic would be available to anyone who wishes to use it.  Is she powerful enough?  Would it cause chaos and catastrophe like the Luminates predict?

Fans of fantasy stories will enjoy this title.  The truth about Anna’s condition eventually comes out, but it may confuse some younger readers.  The story meanders a bit when Anna first goes to Hungary, but once the new characters are properly introduced the story picks up again for a satisfying ending.  Recommended for students who have already found other fantasy series they enjoy.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Genre:  Mystery Thriller

# of Pages:  340

Lo suffered a terrible shock when someone broke into her home while she was asleep.  Luckily, she only suffered a bruised cheek before he left, but she’s very shaken up.  Unfortunately, she’s scheduled to go on an elite cruise the next day for her job as a travel journalist.  She considers this her big break and does not want to mess it up.  The first night on board the small, but elegant boat she meets a young woman in the cabin next to hers who loans her some mascara.  Later that night she hears a scream and a big splash as if someone was thrown overboard.  She immediately inquires, but not only does no one believe that someone was thrown overboard, but she learns there is no one staying in the cabin next to hers.  After demanding to meet the entire staff she realizes that no one fits that woman’s description.  She does not believe she made it all up, though, despite their efforts to blame her post traumatic stress and the alcohol she consumed.  Then, when she falls asleep during a required trip to the spa she wakes up to find the shower has been turned on to create a foggy bathroom where someone wrote “stop digging” in the mirror.  Can she really ignore that a crime happened right next to her?  Will she be next if she keeps “digging?”

This mystery was exciting and suspenseful, especially since Lo is basically on an island where no communication is working to reach any land and the only suspects must be on board with her.  She only met these people the previous evening and therefore has no idea who she can really trust.  Mystery fans will be intrigued and they won’t be disappointed with the ultimate resolution.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Genre:  Mystery Thriller

# of Pages: 308

Anne and Marco were horrified to come home and find their infant daughter missing from her crib.  When the police arrive they are surprised to learn that the couple had left their daughter alone while they went to a birthday party next door.  Anne and Marco had fought about what to do when the sitter canceled last minute, but Marco had argued that they would take the baby monitor and check on their baby every half hour.  Anne eventually relented since their neighbor, Cynthia, had made it very clear that Baby Cora was not invited.  They checked on Cora every half hour until after midnight, but when they eventually returned home they discovered the front door open and their baby gone.  Who could’ve known exactly when to strike? Could it be someone they know?  Will the kidnappers want a ransom?

This mystery thriller grabs the reader right from the beginning because Anne and Marco are so easy to identify with.  What happened to them appears to be so terrible and unexpected yet eventually the pieces start fitting together and it becomes obvious that they both have secrets.  Fans of The Girl on the Train and Harlan Coben novels will enjoy this exciting tale right until the end.

Gutless by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  329

Brock Ripley has always considered himself gutless because he tends to shy away from aggressive plays in all sports.  He’s even considering quitting soccer for next season because he feels responsible for losing the championship game for his team.  Then, he’s asked to play with Hunter Gates in the local park because he needs to practice throwing the football to someone.  He’s nervous, but Hunter is the kind of guy you do not say no to and you desperately try not to get on his bad side.  Brock is fast and has an eye for the ball, but is terrified of getting tackles in a real football setting.  Hunter’s dad tries to convince Brock to try out for football because they think the two of them could be a good pair.  Brock’s parents need some serious convincing to let him even try out, but as a freshmen who has never played before he ends up on the freshmen team and even on that he is not a superstar.  Meanwhile, he befriends an outgoing, silly, nerdy, Asian kid named Richie who immediately becomes a target for bullying from Hunter and his friends.  As Brock tries to be friends with Richie and play on the football team he finds himself ignoring the harsh treatment that Richie keeps getting from the older, bigger players.  Eventually things escalate and Brock must decide whose side he’s going to be on.

Fans of sports fiction will once again enjoy this new addition by Carl Deuker.  He includes both football and soccer action that sports fans will love, but also includes a lot on the topic of bullying that is so timely today.  The foreshadowing will instantly put the reader on alert with a sense of foreboding, but the characters are engaging enough that you have to keep reading to find out what happens.

The Pledge Series by Kimberly Derting

Genre:  Futuristic

# of Pages:  323

First in a trilogy

Charlaina of “Charlie” lives in a society where every caste has its own language. Englaise is the universal language everyone speaks, but her family belongs to the serving class and they have a language.  The elites has a language as well.  If anyone is in the presence of someone speaking a language they do not know they are required by law to drop their eyes out of respect.  Charlie has been able to read, write, and understand all languages since she can remember and her parents are very fearful due to this ability.  If it were ever discovered she could understand all of these languages it could be considered treason and their queen has publicly hanged people for much less.  She has kept her secret hidden from even her best friends until one day she accidentally looks at someone in a dance club speaking a language she has never heard before.  He begins to suspect she is “the one” the queen is looking for and starts tracking her movements.  Can Charlie trust him?  Can she trust anyone?  Why is the queen looking desperately looking for the next female relative in her otherwise male dominated bloodline?

Fans of futuristic series such as Divergent, Cinder, and Red Queen will enjoy this trilogy.  The use of languages to represent status is a new detail in this story and makes it an unusual but interesting talent for Charlie to have.  The queen is every bit as evil as many of the villains of other futuristic stories, but her purpose for seeking Charlie out is very different than readers will have seen before.  Her friends, family, and allies make for interesting and well developed characters to help Charlie navigate her role in her country’s future.