Archive for the 'Mystery' Category



Killer Instinct by Jennifer Barnes

killerinstinct

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  375

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Naturals, all the main characters are back and still reeling from the very scary encounter Cassie had with a serial killer in the first book.  It isn’t long before another case draws in the naturals even though the FBI has sworn to leave them out of any active cases in the future.  A young college student’s body appears on the lawn of the campus, but the method mimics that of Dean’s father and that immediately complicates things.  Dean’s father will only answer questions for Dean so he has to come face to face with his dad for the first time since he was arrested for heinous crimes.  Meanwhile, Cassie, Michael, Lia, and Sloane all try to help but everything they try seems to get them in more and more trouble with the FBI.  On top of all that, a new FBI agent has been brought in to oversee the naturals programs and she seems determined to end the program one way or another.  Can they find out who is copying Dean’s father and how that person is getting information?  Can Cassie and her friends prove how valuable the program is so that it doesn’t get cut by the FBI?  Will Cassie ever choose between Dean and Michael?

This is a solid followup to the first book.  The mystery itself is engaging and is more complicated than most readers will think at first which will keep them guessing until the end.  The characters grow and develop more in this book and makes the naturals program seem more useful and interesting than before.  The love triangle between Dean, Michael, and Cassie finally gets resolved, but will most likely be revisited in the next installment.  Fans looking for a fun mystery series will enjoy this.

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

the-taking

Genre:  Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  357

RAC:  Yes

Kyra gets into a fight with her father on the way home from the softball championships and forces him to stop the car on the highway so she can get out and walk away.  Kyra storms out of the car and sees a blinding light before everything goes black.  She wakes up behind the dumpster of the local gas station and is still wearing her softball uniform.  She walks home only to learn that five years have passed since she disappeared.  Her parents are now divorced and her mom has a new husband and child, her father has become consumed with finding out what happened to her that night, and her boyfriend went to college and started dating her best friend.  Everything has changed except Kyra.  She begins to form a relationship with the boy next door, but then the NSA comes looking for her and she has to run for her safety.  What do they want with her?  What do they think she’s capable of?  Will it be possible to be a normal teenager ever again?

This story has a really interesting premise.  What would any of us do if we woke up and the world had moved on without us?  As Kyra’s questions start getting answered readers will be intrigued by what she discovers about her disappearance, but the story does lag a bit in certain places.  The relationship between Kyra and Tyler develops extremely quickly and very little detail is given as to how that is.  For the most part readers will be able to identify with Kyra and want to see what happens to her, but a lot is left unanswered with an ending clearly set up for a sequel.

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix

full ride

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of page:  322

RAC:  Yes

Becca Jones and her mother just want anonymity after Becca’s father is sentenced to ten years in prison for multiple counts of conning people out of their life savings so that his family could live a very privileged life.  Becca is about to start high school and completely humiliated by her father’s actions.  Becca and her mother flee Georgia and run to a small town in Ohio where they live very humble, simple lives trying to avoid anyone knowing who they really are.  Three years later Becca is an A student and ready to apply to colleges.  She has tried tirelessly to prove how hard she is willing to work for her future and that she’s not a cheater like her father.  Yet, when she asks her mother for help on financial aide forms her mother gets paranoid and says it won’t be safe for her to do anything online where someone could find them.  Eventually, Becca learns that her mother is harboring a terrible secret about the real reason they fled Georgia in the first place.

This book is written in a way that any young adult girl reading can truly identify with Becca and how she must feel learning about her father’s transgressions and being forced to deal with that humiliation.  Becca and her mother are written very well and have multiple dimensions and motivations for all of their actions.  Becca’s friends start a little flat, but eventually they start to have some real personalities and genuinely seem to care for Becca.  The plot definitely has some twists and turns that readers might not be expecting, but the ending is handled very quickly and neatly.  Overall, an exciting read that reluctant readers will enjoy.

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

dear killer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  359

RAC:  Yes

Kit has been trained to be a killer since she was a small girl by her mother.  Kit’s mother felt called to kill, but eventually felt like she was getting too close to getting caught so she retired and trained her daughter to believe she was merely performing a service.  Kit truly believes killing is neither right nor wrong, but just is.  By day she is the chipper private school girl who blends in everywhere and yet has no close friends.  Once every few months, however, she visits a local coffee shop where there is a secret drop box in the bathroom wall where people deposit letters and cash to have the “perfect killer” dispose of their unwanted family and friends.  She reads the letters and chooses which victims she feels most comfortable with and takes care of it in a way  that no clues, DNA, or fingerprints are ever found.  She leaves the letters at the crime scene so that the police know it was her.  One day her mother invites the lead detective on the perfect killer case over for dinner and they strike up a friendship so that Kit can know where they are on the investigation, which is nowhere.  Can she keep up this facade forever?  Will the job ever bother her or have lingering effects?

This book is dark and yet written in a light way so that it appears like Kit is a very normal and sympathetic girl.  The more you get to know the character, however, the more disturbing she really is.  She is able to kill perfect strangers for money without feeling any remorse or blame in any way.  What’s worse is it almost seems like a game to her.  Fans of mystery books might enjoy the thrill of living vicariously through someone who truly does what she wants when she wants, but eventually it gets a bit old as you discover how scary someone like this actually is.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

graduation day

Genre:  Futuristic fiction

# of Pages:  291

RAC:  Yes

In this third installment in the Testing series, Cia is faced with the reality that she must help bring The Testing to an end, but she does not know whom she can trust.  She is given a list of names by the president and ordered to kill those people in order to overthrow the people in charge of the Testing.  Meanwhile, Cia starts to enlist the help of people she thinks she can trust through various tests she creates herself.  When one of her tests goes wrong she must move on her bigger plans quicker than she expected.  Can Cia and Tomas really bring an end to the Testing?  If so, can they survive to enjoy it?

Fans of the series will find this installment quick, action packed, and full of intrigue.  Cia is right not to trust people blindly in this community where most people are simply out for themselves.   She knows the difficult road she has ahead of her, but feels she must do it for the upcoming students who might be spared the horrible actions of The Testing should she succeed.  The motivations of the government are clear and understandable, but Cia proves there is no easy way to determine who a leader really is.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

dangerous girls

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  388 p.

RAC:  Yes

On a spring break trip to Aruba a group of high school seniors think they will have a carefree time full of beaches and parties, but instead end up finding one of their own, Elise, stabbed to death in their beach house.  Surprisingly, police turn suspicion onto their group rather than following clues that might suggest an outside intruder.  Within a few days, Anna, Elise’s best friend, is arrested and charged with the crime.  Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, is originally considered until his father’s expensive lawyers convince Aruba to let him go in exchange for testifying against Anna.  Anna feels shocked, sad, vulnerable, and betrayed as she awaits her trial in jail.  As her friends return to school, college, etc. she is forced to face the realization that she may spend the majority of her life in a foreign prison.  Will Anna be convicted?  Did she know anything about this terrible crime?

Fans of Pretty Little Liars and similar series will enjoy this title that packs emotion, suspense, and surprise throughout the entire story.  Readers come to feel like they know what it would be like to be in Anna’s shoes.  There are some passages with heavy language and sexual references that do ring true for how teens often talk and act to each other but may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Taken by Erin Bowman

taken

Genre:  Futuristic, Mystery

# of Pages:  360

RAC:  Yes

In the town of Claysoot all men are taken at midnight on the night they turn eighteen while the entire town watches.  This has been happening since the beginning of the town’s existence, but no one knows what happens to these teens or who is behind it.  After watching his brother Blaine get taken, Gray learns they are in fact twins.  Therefore, he knows whomever is taking these teens did not know this or else he would’ve been taken too.  He decided to take the deadly trip to climb over the wall that surrounds the town in order to find out exactly what is going on and who is controlling all of them.  Emma, his childhood friend, follows him and climbs the wall too.  What will they find on the other side of the wall?  Will they live long enough to find out?

Another offering in the rapidly growing dystopian genre, this book will easily find an audience.  The details of the rustic town they live in give the reader an idea of what life was like growing up in Claysoot.  For example, Emma and her mother work as the town’s only healers.  Many of their priorities and rituals seems a bit shocking, but this town is trying to survive without any adult men so simple ideas of getting married and having families suddenly become an impossibility.  The characters that are introduced are colorful, multi-dimensional, and full of a desire to learn the truth no matter what the cost.  My high schoolers are waiting in line for this title.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

golden

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  277

RAC:  Yes

Parker is a high school senior who has always followed the rules and done what she was supposed to, which is why she is currently a finalist for a prestigious scholarship that would give her a full ride scholarship to her dream school.  Her best friend, however, feels she needs to break a few rules before graduation.  The opportunity surprisingly arises when she is asked by a teacher to mail out notebooks full of wishes and goals written by a group of high school seniors ten years prior.  As she gathers the notebooks to send out to these graduated seniors from ten years ago she comes across one for a Julianna.  This is a big deal because Julianna died in a car accident with her high school sweetheart shortly after graduation.  They have since been immortalized in the town as the “golden couple” who were meant to be together forever.  Parker decides to open the notebook and read what Julianna’s last thoughts were in those weeks leading up to her death.  What were her aspirations?  Her dreams?  When Parker starts reading the notebook, however, she is very surprised by Julianna’s words and it makes her question everything the town promotes about this girl.  Was there more to that fateful night that led to the horrific car accident?  Parker decides to investigate.

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Nicholas Sparks will devour this title.  It is full of colorful characters, including Parker who is always pushed for greatness by her mother but deep down she doesn’t really know what she wants for her future.  Meanwhile, Julianna’s notebook opens a flood of feelings and fears leading up to graduation that anyone could identify with.  Plus, there is the added intrigue of finding out what exactly happened to Julianna and her boyfriend.  It’s a fun romance story that will be popular with many young adult teens.

Blackout by Robison Wells

blackout

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  426

RAC:  Yes

This futuristic novel depicts the U.S. suffering from multiple terrorist attacks at the hands of U.S. teenagers.  The army begins gathering up all teens to have them tested for a particular virus they believe is causing special powers in these young adults.  Every teen seems to manifest different powers, but they are all extraordinary such as manipulating minds and turning invisible.  Alec and Laura belong to  one of the terrorist groups trying to destroy national landmarks and industrial buildings.  Meanwhile, Aubrey and Jack are merely two teens at a high school dance when they are apprehended and tested for the virus.  Aubrey knows she has a special power, but Jack is shocked to learn he tested positive for the virus.  Through exciting circumstances all of these characters will come into contact with each other and try to survive this deadly situation.  Unfortunately, some want to make the chaos and destruction stop while others want to be the cause.

Fans of futuristic novels such as Divergent will enjoy this title.  There’s even a super hero feel to this as the teens learn of their different and amazing abilities.  The story moves at a steady pace and the characters are portrayed in a way that really lets the reader know who they are and what they want.  However, there are a lot of unanswered questions and unexplained potential that most definitely will be used in future books so readers need to be prepared to end this book with a lot of questions.  All young adults will enjoy the title, but boys and reluctant readers will especially enjoy it.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

madness underneath

Genre: Fantasy

# of Pages:  290

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Name of the Star Rory is recovering from her near fatal encounter with a deadly ghost in Bristol with her parents.  After a few weeks, her therapist surprisingly advises she return to school in London to resume her schoolwork and begin to move forward.  Rory is thrilled at the idea of returning to school, but she is very far behind on her schoolwork and has no idea how she can make it up.  Meanwhile, Stephen and the other shades are trying to solve an unusual murder that occurred very close to where Rory’s attack was.  Are they connected? Did her encounter somehow trigger other supernatural attacks in the immediate area of the school where all of her friends go?

This sequel moves very quickly and has a very exciting ending.  Fans of the first novel will enjoy this title as the Shades are detailed a little more and the challenges of their group’s existence are explained in a bit more detail.  Rory’s future in London seems very unsure at this point, but there are possibilities for how she will proceed laid out that could come into play in future books.   The supporting characters from the school are still just as colorful as ever, but are not featured as much as they were in the first book.  Overall, it’s a good sequel, but a tad fast and fans will be eager to see another one sooner rather than later.

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

The Rules for Disappearing

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  312

RAC:  Yes

Meg and her sister, Mary, have been moved from one location to another multiple times over the past year since their family was placed in witness protection.  Each time they must change their names and backstories so that no one has any idea where they came from.  They do not know why they are in witness protection and Meg blames her father for whatever he did that landed them in this hellish situation.  Mary has begun withdrawing and their mother has started drinking heavily.  The reason for why they have to be moved so many times is elusive to them too and Meg has about had it with being ignorant about their own situation.  When they move this time she vows to remain neutral and distant so that she does not become attached to anyone or anything, but that becomes very difficult when she meets Ethan…  Can she stand to lose him if they get moved in the middle of the night again?  How can she ever make him understand why she acts the way she does?

This book is highly exciting and engaging as you learn the reason for why Meg and her family are in witness protection in the first place.  People are obviously looking for them and Meg often feels as if people are watching her.  At the same time, she is beginning to feel angry and bitter about spending her senior year going from school to school, working an after school job to keep her family financially afloat, and taking care of her family emotionally.  Once the reality of their situation is revealed, Meg feels responsible to fix their situation even if it means putting herself in danger to do so.  The ending is very dramatic, but a tad quick.  Most readers will be satisfied by the resolution at the end of the story.  Recommended for everyone, but reluctant readers will enjoy.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Image

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  344

RAC:  Yes

Cia Vale lives in a very small farming community on the outskirts of their civilization.  The civilization was once ravaged by the Seven Stages War and everyone left behind is simply trying to survive.  Every year when the local school graduates a class of students everyone secretly hopes that someone from the government will arrive to invite someone to the Testing.  The Testing is a super secret test that only the best and brightest are invited to.  No one really knows what it entails, but if you do well you get to go on to higher education.  Cia’s father underwent the testing in his youth and is a very accomplished scientist, but he does not remember much about the test and seems leery of wanting his children to have this same great opportunity.  No one from Cia’s community has been chosen for years, which is why it’s so surprising when four are invited, including Cia.  As Cia begins her journey she is warned to trust no one.  What has she gotten herself in to?  Will she ever return from the Testing?

This book is definitely similar to The Hunger Games and Divergent, but for readers who enjoy that type of novel it is still very engaging.  Despite some of the similarities to other stories out right now many readers will care about the characters in this book and wonder what will happen to them through the course of this testing.  The book does have a fair amount of violence, betrayal, and overall treachery so readers who prefer lighter novels should keep looking.  Recommended for reluctant readers.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

emerald green

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# Of Pages:  447

RAC:  Yes

In the third novel of the Ruby Red Trilogy, Gwen is still fuming over her treatment by Gideon in the last book.  She feels betrayed and like she cannot trust anyone.  She is also convinced that there is more to the story of her ancestors, Lucy and Paul.  She does not believe they would simply steal the chronograph for their own gain.  She does not trust the Count, but has no way of knowing how to protect herself from anyone because she does not know who to trust.  Then, she discovers something hidden in her own house by her late grandfather and she uses it as a means for communicating with him back when he was still alive.  Can he help her to decipher the prophesy enough to know what her role in this is supposed to be and manage to keep everyone safe?

This trilogy has been engaging from the beginning, but there were always unanswered questions and this book puts many of those to rest.  The final resolution regarding the Count, Lucy and Paul, and even Gwen and Gideon are all interesting and exciting.  Gwen’s interactions with her grandfather are also enlightening concerning the overall story.  The book has a satisfying ending to the trilogy, but still leaves a little room for more in the future.  Recommended for fans of fantasy romances.

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.


Archives