Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 335
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.
Published April 29, 2013
Adventure , Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction
Tags: battle, betrayal, dating, friendship, futuristic, secrets, trust
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.
# of Pages: 442
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.
Published April 19, 2013
Adventure , Award Winners , Fantasy , RAC
Tags: evil, friendship, kingdom, magic, mind control, plot, revenge
# of Pages: 461
In this companion to Graceling, Fire is half human and half monster. She is amazingly beautiful and has the ability to control people’s minds, but due to the horrible things her father had done she chooses not to use her abilities and often covers her multi-colored hair. She lives in a remote area with her best friend, Archer. The Kingdom Fire lives in is in great turmoil as other kings are trying to take control of King Nash’s land. After offering a warning Fire sensed to Nash’s mother he extends an invitation for her to come to the castle and help him identify other possible threats. Fire chooses to go to the castle even though she is terrified of how people will react to her after the heinous deeds her father committed because she believes she must help save the kingdom she has grown to love. As time goes on, however, it appears that whoever is out to get the king also wants her. Can she save them all from certain destruction?
Fans of Graceling have enjoyed this title since its release and it has been named an Iowa Award Winner for 2013-2014. Fire’s story is compelling as she struggles against a reputation she did not earn simply because of who her father is. She is surrounded by strong, open minded people who yearn to overcome their bias of her, which is refreshing. The plot is fast paced and involved an elaborate plot that most readers will not figure out too early. The ending is very satisfying. Recommended.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 318
RAC Book: Yes
Augustus “Gus” and Hazel meet at a Cancer support group. Hazel has thyroid cancer that forces her to use oxygen 24/7 and despite a new miracle drug, has always been given a short life expectancy. She has adjusted to her relatively simple life, but that changes when she meets Gus, who lost a leg to Cancer, but has been Cancer free ever since. They begin talking and exchanging favorite books. Gus makes a huge gesture for Hazel so that a dream of hers can come true. It isn’t until afterward that Hazel realizes how much he really gave to give her that experience. As these two begin to fall in love they cannot help but wonder how long they really have and what they should do to make every day count.
This story is well-written and engaging. Hazel and Gus’s story will resonate with young readers because of their sheer honesty and willingness to never give up. The issues they have to deal with seem so heavy compared with other love stories, but it comes across as uplifting and life affirming instead of depressing. Highly recommended.
Published April 3, 2013
Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction , Uncategorized
Tags: dating, divorce, domestic abuse, friendship, physical abuse, siblings, trust
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 328
RAC Book: Yes
Tennyson and Bronte are siblings whose parents are English professors. Tennyson feels very protective of his sister, Bronte, which is why he is upset when he learns she is dating Brewster who is known as Bruiser around their high school. Tennyson tries intimidating Brewster and even follows him to try and get him to leave his sister alone, but what he ends up finding is that Brewster is covered in bruises and other injuries. This leads Tennyson to believe that Brewster is being abused at home, but upon further inspection he realizes that Brewster’s situation is a whole lot more complicated than that. Brewster, through no effort on his part, takes on the pain of anyone he cares about. As Tennyson and Bronte start to get to know him they start to like having him around and vow never to tell Brewster’s secret. The problem is that this unusual power is killing Brewster and he does not know if he can stop it before it’s too late. What will he have to give to protect those he loves?
This story is very different and unique which is why it is so captivating and engaging. Shusterman creates a set of characters that any reader can empathize with. The chapters alternate between Bronte, Brewster, and Tennyson, which also helps the reader to see the situation through multiple perspectives. This book is recommended for everyone, but could be especially useful with reluctant readers.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 276
Iowa Teen Award Winner
Rosemary has struggled with her weight for a long time, but whenever she gets upset she turns to food. Her aunt constantly reminds her to lose weight, which doesn’t seem to help inspire her either. One New Year’s she decides she is ready to take control of her life and begins dieting and exercising, not always in the best manner. As she begins to lose weight she finds more confidence than she ever knew she had before. It isn’t long before she has a new best friend, a boyfriend, and overall happiness. That all comes crashing down when she learns that her mother is battling Cancer. Her mother is not the best at opening up and sharing her feelings, which makes it all the more difficult for Rosemary to discuss the matter with her. Can she help her mother cope with this devastating disease? Can she do it without falling back into her bad eating habits?
Rosemary’s story is something any teenager could relate to because she has many insecurities and things she would like to change about herself. She reaches the point where she is mature enough to realize she has the power to take control and make changes to her life if she wishes, but is not ready to deal with truly tough issues yet. Rosemary’s romance is sweet because her boyfriend likes her for herself and not what size she wears. There are references to his family that shed light on his endearing personality. Rosemary goes from wishing she could stop eating sweets to finding ways to help her mother during this difficult time. It is a coming of age story that readers will enjoy.