Archive for September, 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  435

RAC Book:  Yes

Clara knows she is part angel, but she is still startled when she begins getting visions for her calling or mission.  The mission requires her family to move from California to a remote town in the mountains.  She believes her purpose is to save a teenage boy from a forest fire, but she has a lot of training to do in order to succeed with her mission. She also finds herself growing closer to someone who does not have anything to do with her purpose and her mother hints that she could be in a lot of trouble if she loses focus and fails to prepare for her calling.  What will happen if she cannot find her inner strength to complete the duties she must as a quarter angel?

This story has caught a lot of attention in my media center and high school girls are loving it.  The story does grab the reader’s attention at the beginning and the buildup to Clara’s calling is appropriate and well paced.  The ending leaves a lot of questions and in some ways does not measure up to the buildup, but readers will want the next one that much more.  Recommended for fans of The Fallen.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  341

RAC Book:  Yes

Ellen is a reporter who is shocked to see a picture of her son’s face on a missing child flier.  She had adopted him two years ago when he was a very sick one year old.  The adoption papers appeared to be legal, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.  After doing some investigating, Ellen begins to see that the pieces of her child’s past simply do not fit.  However, she has no proof that her son was unlawfully taken from his birth parents.  Does she keep quiet for fear of losing her son?  Can she live without knowing the truth about her son’s true lineage?

This thrilling mystery moves quickly from the first page, but the last third of the book really keeps the reader engaged.  Ellen’s actions are understandable and justified as she tries to find answers.  The author wrote Ellen’s emotional turmoil at the thought of losing her son in a way that anyone can understand, but especially parents.  There are a few twists and turns that make this story different from other child abduction mysteries.  Fans of mystery writers such as Harlan Coben and Mary Higgins Clark will love this story.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  458

RAC:  Yes

Benny has grown up in a world where there is a constant threat of zombies.  When he was very small his mother and father were killed by zombies and in his eyes his older brother, Tom, did nothing to save them.  Tom has now become a famous zombie hunter, but Benny thinks he is a coward who ran away from danger when he should have stepped up.  Benny is of age to find a job and cannot seem to find his niche.  He is forced to work with Tom in order to earn his food rations and what he sees on Tom’s hunts surprise and horrify him.  The world of zombies is not as simple as he once believed.  Can Benny make peace with his brother and find his own way in this world of fear and survival?

Fans of zombie books will devour this story.  It has the thrill and excitement of the zombie attacks, but also the heart and truth of life under these conditions.  The characters are multi-dimensional and easy to identify with while this difficult society batters them in more ways than one.  The relationship of Tom and Benny is especially special as the two of them begin to move forward while also facing the past that initially tore them apart.  Highly recommended for fantasy lovers.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  390

RAC:  Yes

When a plane crashes into a remote island carrying the fifty contestants of the Teen Dream Pageant complete chaos ensues.  Several contestants do not survive the crash, but those that do seem to be confused as to their priorities.  Some feel like they are still being judged for the pageant and choose to use their time practicing their talent routines and question answering skills.  Others choose to spend that time looking for food or possible means off the island.  What they do not know is that there is a sinister presence on the island that does not feel too happy about the sudden appearance of these perky girls.

This story is funny, unique, and unexpected in many ways.  The girls each have unique voices and motivations for entering the pageant and each reveal a variety of flaws and strengths that they can either help or hinder their situation.  The relationships between the girls as well as the outside threat from the island presence make the novel a quick and fun read that many teenage girls will enjoy.

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  290

RAC book:  No

Anna and Frankie have been best friends forever and Frankie’s older brother, Matt, was also close with both girls.  When Matt suddenly dies of an unknown heart condition it affects both girls in very different ways.  As they try to cling to their friendship, Anna begins to realize that she does not know Frankie as well as she thought she did.  Frankie suggests dating twenty boys on their summer vacation so that they can find their first official romances.  Will Anna go along with Frankie’s crazy plan to date twenty boys in twenty days?  Will Frankie forgive Anna for keeping a huge secret about Matt?

This story about friendship and romance starts off with a very interesting and engaging premise, but loses its way a bit in the middle.  Some girls will enjoy following how the characters open up to each other on their summer vacation, but many will question their motivations and the casual path the story takes.  The premise that two best friends would keep such big secrets from each other is hard to accept, especially considering the loss they have endured.  It seems unlikely the relationship will continue much after the book has ended.  This will be a hard sell to most high school students.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  276

RAC:  Yes

Belly spends every summer with her family at her mother’s best friend’s (Susannah) beach house.  This includes Susannah’s two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad.  Belly has had a crush on Conrad for a long time, but he has always been unavailable in some way and she believes she has gotten over him.  When she returns to the summer house this year things get complicated when suddenly both boys notice Belly and the young beauty she has become.  Belly is unsure how to handle all of this attention and decides to date a nearby local boy in order to sort out what she wants from a relationship.  Meanwhile, the brothers are struggling with family issues in their own ways.  Can they let Belly in on their secrets or will they treat her as an outsider like they have her entire life?  Can Belly make peace with the kind of relationship she hopes to find one day?

This book is simple and realistic in its pacing and storyline.  Many high school girls will be able to connect with Belly and the issues she is facing such as physical changes, family dynamic changes, feelings of insecurity, and even dating issues.  The problems addressed in the story include some serious issues like divorce, death, and growing up.  Fans of Dessen and Colasanti will definitely like the writing style and characterization of Belly.