Genre: Futuristic Fiction
# of Pages: 358
Violet was pulled away from her family three years prior to the beginning of the story because she tested positive for a specific gene that made her desirable in their community. After completing three years of training she is to be sent to auction to be sold to a rich and powerful royal family to be a surrogate for a royal child. Violet would rather return home to her family, who resides in the marsh, in order to live in poverty than to be a plaything for the royals whilst living in true luxury. Once Violet is purchased she does not know what to make of her new owner, her owner’s ungrateful son, or her owner’s absent husband. Plus, she begins to discover there are lots of secrets in the Jewel, where the royal live. She finds herself struggling not to rebel against those around her, but they really do have all the power over her. Can she keep her beliefs intact while everyone around her views her as an object to be owned and manipulated?
Fans of The Selection and Divergent will enjoy the first in this series. Violet is tough and smart, but there is so much she does not know that the reader gets to find out the true nature of her situation along with her. There are some very intriguing supporting characters including the man who helped her prepare for her auction, her best friend who went to auction at the same time as her, and the royal women who scheme and gossip behind each other’s backs. All in all, an intriguing premise that will hold your interest until the surprising last page.
2016-17 Iowa High School Award Winner
Sam Hopkins is the son of a preacher so he is often not treated the same as other kids, but he is not immune to bullies either and on one particular day while running he inadvertently draws the attention of three of the biggest bullies in school. He refuses to back down to them and ends up joining their gang for a short while and they teach him how to steal cars. Eventually he comes to his senses and realizes that he could get himself into real danger, but just as he’s telling them he won’t steal actual cars with them he sees them pick on Jennifer, who is an unusual girl in school who often speaks of demons and other strange things. The bullies are about to go after her when Sam steps in and allows her to escape while he himself takes a terrible beating. Afterward, everyone praises him for saving “poor, crazy” Jennifer and Sam begins to realize that all of her “premonitions” might in fact be real. Can he convince anyone that she might really be telling the truth about her visions? Will he continue to get into more trouble if he keeps staying involved with her?
This story is difficult to describe without giving the heart of the story away. Sam is confused by Jennifer and her condition, which makes the reader confused as well. Meanwhile, everything that happens to Sam does eventually come together to make an interesting and complete story, but for a long time several of the pieces do not seem to go together at all. Sam is a well crafted, complex character who is easy to identify with even if the reader has nothing in common with him. For those who stick with the story past the beginning they will be pleasantly surprised by the action and fast paced resolution.
# of Pages: 337
Iowa High School Award Winner 2016-17
Fans of sweet teen romances will love this title that follows Lucy and Owen who meet unexpectedly during a city wide blackout in New York City. They are trapped in an elevator when the blackout strikes and by the time they are freed decide to spend the evening together enjoying the city without the usual overpowering city lights. After the blackout reality sets in as Owen’s dad loses his job and they must leave the city to find where they belong and Lucy’s dad gets a new job that transports her to Europe. Throughout their travels, they send postcards to each other as well as exchange a few emails, but since they only had one night together neither one knows how hard they should try to stay in contact. Meanwhile, Owen and his dad are dealing with the loss of his mother and Lucy is handling the new found family life she has found in Europe. Can they find their way back to each other or are they simply too far apart?
Owen and Lucy lead interesting lives in this story as they completely move around the world for very different reasons, but there is still something that keeps drawing them together. This book does not have a lot of supporting character development and the focus is always on Lucy and Owen. Despite the fact that there are not a lot of major plot developments readers stay engaged with these two because their story is so relatable. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will enjoy this title.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 322
2016 Iowa High School Award Winner
“A” wakes up in a different body every day and has gotten used to this type of life. When A wakes up in Justin’s body one day everything changes since Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, and A enjoy a very special day that neither of them can forget. Eventually, A breaks down and tells Rhiannon about his unusual lifestyle and she’s cautiously supportive. However, A notices that she does seem to have more trouble accepting A on days when A occupies a female body. As time goes on, A uses any excuse to go see Rhiannon and in the process alerts one of the hosts, Nathan, to A’s existence. Nathan decides to go public and announce to everyone that he was inhabited by the devil and A’s life begins to get complicated. Meanwhile, Rhiannon isn’t sure how much longevity their relationship could really have. Is there a way for them to stay together when there is absolutely no way to predict whose body A will inhabit from day to day?
This award winning book is unique and asks the reader to think about many issues such as how important appearances are and how important gender is. A doesn’t care about gender, sexual preference, or appearance because to A it is fluid and doesn’t reflect the person inside. To others, however, A quickly discovers just how important these things can be. The book also shows how difficult it would be to not have lasting relationships and cohesive memories. All in all, a very engaging read recommended for those who like unique romances such as The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor and Park.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 338
Kaylee is desperately trying to find a kidney donor for her brother who is very sick. Her and her mother have been tested and are not matches so she really wants to find her father who ran off shortly after DJ’s diagnosis. Her best friend, Nate, then introduces her to a new social media site called Need. Need members can only join by invitation and once you are in you can choose something to ask for that you think you “need.” In exchange the program will ask you to do something in order to earn whatever you asked for. Kaylee distrusts this site, but is desperate and asks for a kidney for her brother. Meanwhile, her classmates are receiving new cell phones, computers, etc. and all for doing tasks they consider innocent. When a boy is asked to deliver a box of cookies to a classmates’ door he does not think anything of it until the next day when that classmate is in the hospital due to a severe peanut allergy. Did he cause her death? What about the other mysterious happenings all over the neighborhood? Are these high school students to blame or are they innocent bystanders?
Morality and responsibility for ones own actions are strong themes in this book. We live in a very media based materialistic society and many teens feel they deserve or “need” all the cool things their friends seem to have. This book asks the question of what would you do if you could get your every wish fulfilled? The eventual outcome of who is behind Need is very believable and satisfying, if not a bit scary in its realistic nature. Fans of The Testing will enjoy this new book from the same author.
Published February 3, 2016
Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction , Romance
Tags: accident, dating, family, football, friendship, tragedy, trust
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of Pages: 327
Iowa Teen Award Winner 2016-17
Lauren has recently moved in with her aunt and uncle for reasons she would rather not discuss. Being the new girl in the small football-obsessed town for her senior year can be difficult, however, because everyone automatically speculates about her background. Meanwhile, Colby is also beginning his senior year as the star football player of their team who hopes to make it all the way to state this year. The problem is that Colby would rather not play football in college, despite his father’s fervent hope that he will accept one of the scholarships he’s been offered. Lauren and Colby meet unexpectedly one day and find they really like each other, but after a tragedy shakes Colby to the core he wonders if dating is such a good idea at this time in his life. Lauren definitely wants to see more of Colby, but she’s also dealing with the demons of her past. Will their timing ever be right? Will they ever find the chance to get to know each other better or is it not meant to be?
This story is told in alternating chapters with Lauren’s being written in poetry format making her thoughts mirror her mixed emotions at living with her aunt and uncle instead of with her mom. Colby’s story is told in prose which also reflects his thoughts and feelings as he walks the line between what he wants in life and what everyone else wants for him. Recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.
Published December 10, 2015
RAC , Realistic Fiction , Romance
Tags: blended families, college, family life, friendship, life choices, siblings, teenage dating, trust
# of pages: 265
Jane takes a job as a nanny for three small girls one summer because she doesn’t want to take the unpaid internship her mother found for her. The little girls happen to have an older half brother, Teo. Teo does not know Jane very well because she and his best friend do not get along for some unknown reason. As they start seeing each other more often and getting to know each other they start to form a strong attraction. Meanwhile, Jane discovers that Teo has been secretly looking for his father whom he has no recollection of ever seeing. Jane decides to try and help find Teo’s father thinking she is doing him a favor, but things do not go as planned. Will these two every overcome all the obstacles standing in their way to find true love? Will Teo ever find his dad? Will Jane ever decide what she wants to do after high school?
This book is a sweet, light teenage romance for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han. The supporting characters are fairly one-dimensional but very entertaining and Jane and Teo have a sweet relationship that young readers will want to know more about. Many ideas are mentioned, but not stressed in too great of detail such as bisexuality, death of a parent, and choosing options other than college after high school. The characters will be relatable to many readers without becoming too preachy or insufferable regarding their feelings and beliefs. Recommended for fans of teen romance books.