Striking Terror by Denis Lipman

striking-terror

Genre:  Mystery/Adventure

# of Pages:  310

The author of this book, Denis Lipman, is a former magician and therefore has the tools to create a unique and exciting story for young adults.  It’s about a young magician named Micah who is sent to live in Israel and ends up unknowingly befriending a terrorist, Shireen.  When Shireen begins to rethink her plans both she and Micah are forced to go on the run and use Micah’s techniques of illusion to escape capture.  All of this action builds to a very exciting and satisfying ending.

This story describes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that no other young adult book does, which makes it interesting to young readers who do not know much about this event.  At the same time, the use of magic and illusion is fun and fresh and engages reluctant readers right away.  The inclusion of magic in the plot is done so in a completely believable and understandable way, which goes toward Lipman’s experience with magic and illusion.  Highly recommended for students who enjoy a lot of action and plot development.

Parallel by Lauren Miller

parallel

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  423

Abby Barnes wakes up one day to find that everything she thought was true about the last year of her life had been changed dramatically.  Instead of taking a drama class and eventually earning a role in a movie, she ended up taking an astronomy class and ended up attending Yale.  Her relationships with her best friend and two possible boyfriends were also affected with this switch.  Her best friend, who’s also a science genius, traces the change to the day that a major worldwide earthquake occurred and believes her life has been blurred with that of a parallel life.  Abby struggles to learn what that in fact means and if this disturbance  can keep affecting her life.  Every morning she wakes up to assess if her parallel has done anything to change her current present.   Meanwhile, she tries to keep her “double life” a secret so that no one knows just how crazy she believes she is.  Will this ever get fixed or will she be doomed to live this challenging life forever?

The idea of parallel lives is complicated and challenging, but Lauren Miller writes the story in a way that is absolutely understandable and even intriguing without being confusing.  There are many characters and while some feature more heavily than others they all impact Abby’s overall story.  The story gains momentum near the end and readers will want to see what ultimately happens to Abby and if she ever gains control of her life back.

Royal Chase by Sariah Wilson

royal-chase

Genre: Romance

# of Pages:  274

The second in the Montlake Romance series, Lemon is unexpectedly placed on a reality dating show similar to the bachelor after two other contestants are forced to resign and filming is about to start.  The “bachelor” is her PR client and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the show successful, even if it means pretending to be a contestant despite being recently engaged herself.  Throughout the filming of the series, Dante tries his hardest to woo Lemon into giving them a chance.  While Lemon is not entirely sure about her fiancee, Sterling, she also believes Dante is a womanizer who only wants her because he can’t have her.  As the competition goes on, however, things begin to intensify and Lemon isn’t sure what to do.  Does she give true love a chance with Dante even if he could break her heart?  Or, does she play it safe and return home to her fiancee who doesn’t seem to care very much that she’s been gone for weeks filming?

This is a fun romance series that romance readers will enjoy.  In particular, fans of The Selection would like it although there is not any rebellion action.  The stories feel modern and fresh while also incorporating all the romantic qualities that readers enjoy.  It would be best to read this in order, but each one is enjoyable on its own.

Fifteen Seconds of Normal by Alex Marestaing

fifteen-seconds-of-normal

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages 292

**special review**

Kaeya is a recent transfer who is hiding the fact that she has Tourette’s from her classmates.  She wants people to accept her for who she is and not the disease she deals with daily.  Thatcher learns that his father has left his mother when he finds his mother crying inconsolably and he has to take his sister to school without even taking the time to shower or comb his hair.  Unfortunately, it is picture day at school and he takes the worst photo of his life.  Even more unfortunate for him is that a classmate makes a meme out of the picture and it goes viral.  As Kaeya desperately tries to fit in and earn a date with her crush, Thatcher wonders if he’ll ever survive this humiliation.  Through unexpected circumstances they come together and begin getting to know each other.  Could they be exactly what the other person needs?  Could this be the beginning of something special?

This book tackles issues that many other books don’t, such as the influence of social media on teenagers and Tourette’s, which is a syndrome many teens probably do not know much of anything about.  Yet, the focus of the book is not on hate, judgment, or humiliation but instead on love, patience, and kindness.  Kaeya and Thatcher are extremely engaging characters and their thoughts and emotions are carefully crafted so that the reader wants to know more about each of them and how their relationship will continue to develop.  This is a really engaging, unique story that will take teens by surprise.  Recommended.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

emmy-and-oliver

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  343

Emmy and Oliver were best friends as young children because they lived next door to each other.  Then, one day Oliver’s dad kidnapped him after school and life was never the same for either of them.  Oliver moved around quite a bit with his father and was led to believe his mother did not want him anymore.  Emmy’s parents responded by becoming very overprotective and barely letting her out of their sight.  At the beginning of Emmy’s senior year she hears the news she has both wanted and dreaded:  Oliver has been found.  What will he be like?  Will he remember her?  Will they still be friends?  How will this change everything yet again?

This book was very enjoyable and properly explores the difficulties for both Emmy and Oliver surviving an ordeal like this.  Oliver’s emotional health is probably not discussed in as much length as would be realistic, but it is also told through Emmy’s perspective so she wouldn’t necessarily know everything he’s going through.  The events of the story eventually build to a head and are resolved very acceptably.  The story has an interesting concept, but does not rely on that and instead relies on the fulfilling development of the characters to truly carry the story.  Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this title.

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

zeroes

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  546

A group of teens who all have unexplained talents have found each other one by one and formed a group they call the Zeroes.  They all have different ideas for how to handle their bizarre powers, however.  Bellweather can take the energy of a group and focus it on one goal and he believes they should stick together and try to do important things with their powers.  Flicker is blind, but can see using other people’s eyes.  Scam has a mysterious voice that will say whatever it takes to get him what he wants and often has disastrous results.  Crash has the ability to crash electrical devices and because of that has struggled to find a place where her powers are anything but destructive.  Anonymous can disappear and be forgotten in any situation, which has led to a lonely life.  Finally, Mob can change the energy of a crowd to feel whatever she wants it to.  Scam had previously distanced himself from the rest of the zeroes when they had a disagreement, but it forced to call on them for help when a video of him using his voice goes viral and he is hauled in by cops for answers about a local bank robbery.  Can the zeroes come together to help one of their own or will the situation just get worse as they try to con their way out of it?  Will the situation bring them together or drive them further apart?

This has been on my reading list for awhile and it took a little bit to get into the characters, but eventually the story really takes off and readers enjoy a lot of adventure and action.  The talents of the characters take a lot of explaining as some are more complicated and require examples to fully understand.  All in all, fans of fantasy adventures such as the Michael Vey series or Blackout will enjoy the first in this series.

The Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler

infinite-in-between

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  462 p.

This novel focuses on five students (Mia, Jake, Whitney, Gregor, and Zoe) who are all placed together in a freshmen orientation group.  They all have to have a bonding experience so they end up deciding to write letters to their future selves, hide them in the school, and then promise to meet in four years to open them.  The rest of the book shows how each of their high school experiences go and how even though they are not best friends their lives all touch at times throughout high school. Zoe is living with her aunt since her movie star mother is in rehab.  Jake is dealing with the fallout from admitting he’s gay.  Whitney is struggling to understand why her popular friends act like they do while also navigating her parents’ divorce.  Mia is struggling to find her identity vs. what everyone wants her to be.  Gregor is a band nerd who desperately wants to find the courage to talk to Whitney.  Eventually, their lives all intersect again at graduation.

For readers looking for truthful, engaging writing that does not hold back from issues that many teens do deal with in high school this would be a great pick.  It does not go into detail on many life changing events for its characters, but the purpose of the story is not to spend too much time on any one character but instead to show how people from all groups and cliques in a high school still connect in different ways throughout their four years.