Archive for the 'Award Winners' Category



Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  563

RAC:  Yes

Ethan lives in a small town in the south that still holds very rigid beliefs about who should belong in the community and who should be shunned.  Lena is the new girl in school and the niece of the most notorious shut in in town.  Therefore, she is an outcast before she even begins school.  Ethan is immediately intrigued with Lena, and finds himself crossing paths with her often.  They begin to strike up a romance and learn they can communicate with each other simply using their minds.  Lena comes from a family of Casters and on her upcoming birthday she will either go Light or Dark.  She is terrified she will go Dark like her cousin, Ridley.  Ethan does not fully understand Lena and her family, partly because they keep a lot of secrets, but he knows he will do whatever it takes to keep Lena safe.

Fans of fantasy romance will enjoy this title because it has many interesting characters and plot revelations.  It is also very slow moving at times.  The book is over 500 pages and not all of it feels strictly necessary.  The length may scare away some reluctant readers who struggle to get through some of those slower moments.  The ending feels a bit rushed considering the overall length of the story and some readers may be confused by the outcome.  Fantasy lovers will enjoy, but others may struggle to care about these characters.

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The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

name of the star

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  372

RAC: Yes

Rory goes to England with her parents for her senior year of high school and enrolls in a private boarding school in London.  She hits it off with her roommate and finds that she fits in pretty well with their different classes and overall school schedules.  Shortly after she arrives, however, a terrible murder is committed mimicking Jack the Ripper’s first murder that occurred many years prior to this on the same date.  Despite London having over a million cameras throughout the city there is a shocking lack of evidence.  Rory and her new friends live close to where all of these murders occurred and therefore get caught up in the fear that sweeps over London.  Can they find the Jack the Ripper impersonator?  Will the murders continue and everyone be helpless to stop it?

This book was highly suspenseful, entertaining, and unique.  The idea itself captures most people’s interest as Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous unidentified serial killers and the hysteria that sweeps the public is completely believable.  The actual revelation of who is committing the murders is unique and yet plausible.  The characters are all likable and the ending sets up the series for many more titles to come.  This book was named an Iowa Teen Award winner for this year and is highly recommended.

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

lying game

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  307

RAC:  Yes

Emma is a foster child who was abandoned by her mother at a young age.  Sutton is Emma’s long lost twin sister she didn’t know she had until Sutton had already mysteriously vanished.  Emma is lured to Sutton’s town thinking she is going to meet Sutton and instead she is threatened and told if she doesn’t pretend to be Sutton she will die.  As Sutton begins to learn more about the kind of person Sutton is she wonders if this is some kind of elaborate prank or if something terrible really has happened to her twin.  Whom can she trust among Sutton’s friends and family?  Would one of them hurt her and threaten her twin into taking her place?

Fans of Sara Shepard will enjoy this title as much as her others.  The story is intriguing, there are many characters who have reason to hate Sutton, and the plot constantly twists and turns.  The only thing readers might not like it waiting for the next one in the series!  Recommended for high school girls.

Department Nineteen by Will Hill

department-19

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  540

RAC:  Yes

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.

The Agency: a spy in the house by Y.S. Lee

a spy in the house

Genre:  Mystery/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  335

RAC:  Yes

This title was recently named to the Iowa High School Award Winners for 2013-2014.  The first in this series, Mary is rescued from a death sentence for stealing in 1853 by a woman who runs a special school for young girls.  After many years of schooling, Mary is taken into a special program designed to turn young women into spies.  Her first assignment is to be the paid companion of a wealthy teenage girl who is ungrateful for the company at best.  As Mary enters the house she is supposed to keep her ears open for information about the family business and whether or not they are really suffering from as many lost ships as they claim, but in the end she overhears much more than that.  She also meets another spy trying to dig up information on this family.  Will he be a threat or an ally?  Can Mary perfect her spying skills in order to become a permanent fixture in this alliance?

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this title because it is set in a unique time period while also including intrigue and mystery.  The story moves fairly quickly and the ending is exciting.  The final revelation of who is behind the lost ships is surprising, but also a bit confusing in the details for some young readers.  Mary’s background is touched on, but readers will look for more to be revealed in the future sequels.

Legend by Marie Lu

legend

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  305

RAC Book:  Yes

In this futuristic story, Day is a rebel who hides in the shadows and pulls pranks on authorities.  He is the number one wanted criminal.  June is a girl living in the Republic whose brother is a soldier for a high ranking official.  She is considered a prodigy because she is the first and only person to earn a perfect score on the training test given to every ten-year-old in the Republic.  After an attempt to obtain medicine from a hospital leaves June’s brother murdered she is led to believe Day was the culprit responsible.  June goes undercover to find and apprehend the biggest criminal standing in the way of the Republic’s goals so she can avenge her brother.  Day ends up being much more than she bargained for, however, and she finds the more questions she answers the more that arise.  Whom can she trust in this government?  Can she believe anything she was told over her entire childhood?

This exciting story will interest readers who like books such as The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games.  The setting is reminiscent of Divergent, but focuses much more on the goals of the Republic and not the little sectors that make up the people.  The chapters alternate between Day and June so that you see each of the sides of this battle and why they see each other as the enemy.  Many secrets unravel quickly, but it’s obvious there are many more where that came from.  There is currently one sequel out and there will probably be more.

What The Night Knows by Dean Koontz

dean_koontz_what_the_night_knows1

Genre:  Suspense/Mystery/Fantasy

# of Pages:  442

RAC:  Yes

Many years before the book starts, a terrible serial killer named Alton Turner Blackwood murdered four families within mere weeks.  He was only stopped because he was killed by the final survivor in the final family who was a fourteen-year-old boy.  Years later that boy grew up to be a detective and he has a family of his own.  Now, he feels very strongly that a recent murder resembles the first murder by Blackwood all those years ago.  He is not the detective on the case, but the more he looks around the more the resemblance is uncanny.  If he is right, other families will be murdered very quickly and his will be the final as the killer’s unfinished business.  The question he struggles with is how this is happening as the original killer was murdered and many of the facts in the case were sealed.  Is it a copycat or has Blackwood somehow returned to finish the job he started?

Fans or mystery and suspense will enjoy this very intriguing story.  Early on, all of the family members feel something is wrong and question their safety.  It’s unusual they do not discuss these fears with each other, however.  The ending is very satisfying and exciting as everything comes together quickly.  This title has been named an Iowa Award winner for 2013-2014.


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