Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Genre: Mystery

Napoleon “Nap” Dumas has never gotten over the fact that his twin brother, Leo, and Leo’s girlfriend, Diana, were found dead after apparently getting hit by a train their senior year. It was ruled an accident, but it never sat right with Nap and he’s never been able to move on. The same night his brother died his girlfriend, Maura, ran away and was never heard from again. Nap grew up to become a detective after Diana’s dad, Augie, the police chief took him under his wing and became his mentor. He also became very close to a classmate named Ellie after the deaths and she’s still his best friend to this day. He has tried to move on, but there’s always a part of him that will wonder what happened that night. Then, Maura’s prints turn up at a crime scene where another classmate of theirs is mysteriously gunned down. Nap can’t help but wonder if it’s connected. How many of their classmates are going to die under strange circumstances? Why did Maura show up again after all of these years? Is it possible to really find out the truth about what happened that night? Does he really want to know?

Fans of Harlan Coben will enjoy this suspense mystery. There are many layers to the mystery as Nap is trying to find out how his brother and his brother’s girlfriend died all those years ago as well as finding out why friends of theirs seem to be targeted now all these years later. There are many supporting characters who contribute to the story, but not so many that you can’t keep them straight. The ending will satisfy those who love an exciting resolution.

Rainbow in the Dark by Sean McGinty

Genre: Fantasy

Rainbow wakes up in a place she doesn’t recognize with no knowledge of who she is or where she’s from. There is a mysterious box that gives her memories when she presses a button, but she still has a lot of questions. Then, a boy named Chad01 comes along and says he was sent to journey with her on a quest to help them get out of this place. He’s been doing this a long time so he knows how to survive and play the game. He is a little frustrated that he’s been paired with a “nobody” or beginner player. Soon they meet up with a set of twins, Lark, and Owlsy, who are also supposed to complete the quest with them. If they succeed they believe they will be able to go home. There are many dangerous obstacles in their way, however, and Rainbow worries they might not make it. Plus, the more memories she is given the more she starts to realize that her home life was far from perfect. She was struggling in school, her brother was shutting her out, and her mom was struggling after the divorce. Is there a life to return to? Can she contribute to the group to help them find a way out? How did she get in this place to begin with?

This book has a similar feel to The Eye of Minds or Otherworld. The characters are not inside a videogame, but it works very similarly. They have to gather items, follow clues, and complete challenges in order to get rewarded. It starts to become apparent what is actually going on with Rainbow, but the journey will definitely keep the reader engaged. Recommended for struggling or reluctant readers because the set up and action will keep them engaged through to the end.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction and 495 pages

Set in 1957 Madrid, Ana is working at the newly opened American hotel and Daniel has traveled to Madrid with his parents from Texas. Daniel’s mother is Spanish and always wanted to travel there with him, but under Francisco Franco’s rule Americans were not welcome for many years and tourism has only recently opened up. Ana’s family is struggling to pay bills and she is very grateful for the job she has at the hotel, but her and Daniel immediately feel a connection and begin spending time together despite everyone telling them it can only end badly. Daniel aspires to be a photojournalist and takes his fancy camera everywhere, even though the Italian soldiers have tried to intimidate him into not taking any photos of the “real Madrid.” Daniel feels fairly confident that nothing bad will happen to him since he is an American with a powerful father, but Ana knows that the Italian police can make her and her family’s life very hard so she tries to keep her head down and do what is expected of her. Meanwhile, Ana’s cousin and brother have noticed some unusual occurrences at their places of work. Puri, Ana’s cousin, works at an orphanage and begins to suspect that not all of the babies brought to her are actually orphans. Rafa, Ana’s brother, works as a grave digger and he begins to notice that many of the infant coffins that arrive from the local hospital are actually empty. What is happening to the babies in Italy and why is their reported infant mortality rate so high? Is it something Daniel could investigate on his road to hopefully becoming a photojournalist or is it too dangerous? Is there any way for Daniel and Ana to be together or do they just come from too many different backgrounds to make it work?

Once again, Ruta Sepetys has highlighted a time and a place in history that many people do not know much about and put a human face on it. Many aspects of this time period in Madrid are discussed and readers will want to know more about all of the characters. Even some of the less likable characters have understandable reasons for why they act the way they do. The environment has bred fear and want among the Italians and they aren’t sure if it will ever get any better since it’s already pretty far after the war. The characters are all so engaging that readers will find they simply do not want to stop reading about them, but the setting is also unique and thought provoking on its own. Recommended for fans of historical fiction.

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

Genre: Realistic Fiction and 327 pages

Alex Rufus has had the ability to see into the future ever since his parents died. Every time he touches any item or person he sees what will happen to that person or thing in the near or distant future. For example, he knows the ice cream shop he works at will one day be owned by someone else because he can see it when he touches the ice cream scoop at work. He learned long ago that there is no changing the future he sees, no matter what he does, so he tries to avoid touching anything he doesn’t want to know the future to. Having this ability has made him more closed off with his girlfriend and his brother, Isaiah, but he doesn’t know how to change it since so much of his time is spent dealing with the many visions he sees. Then, one day he sees a vision of himself at Isaiah’s funeral in the not so distant future and he knows he needs to act fast. He needs to reconnect with Isaiah and see if there is any way to change this terrible vision he sees. Is there a way to save Isaiah? Is there a way to ever rid himself of this terrible condition so he can truly just enjoy life as it comes at him? Will the community he lives ever see him as anything but a young, black man?

This story really paints of picture of not only how terrible having the ability to see the future would be, but also how difficult growing up black in America can truly be (even in affluent neighborhoods). Alex struggles to communicate with those around him because he fears no one will be able to understand what he is going through, but along the way they show him that they are there for him no matter what. He also learns that by not sharing his thoughts and feelings with others he has also been missing out on what is going on with them. He and his brother have drifted since their parents’ untimely death and while he understands how it happened he also realizes how precious life really is. The ending is satisfying, but does give the reader a lot to think about long after the book is over. Recommended.

The Project by Courtney Summers

Genre: Realistic Fiction

After a terrible accident kills her parents, Bea is willing to do anything to save her sister, Lo. When Lev Warren approaches her in the hospital he claims he can save Lo as long as Bea commits to his religious community, The Unity Project. Bea agrees, but doesn’t know exactly what that means until she’s expected to give up her sister and everything else she’s ever known and move to the Unity Project. Lo, meanwhile, grows up and believes the Unity Project is a cult who stole her sister. Every time she’s tried to reach out to her, she is blocked by members who claim Bea wants nothing to do with her. Now, as an adult, Lo works for a news publication and longs for the day she can write an article herself. When the opportunity presents itself to investigate the Unity Project she jumps at the chance to expose them, but is it what she thinks it is? Lo finds there are many surprises in store for her at the Unity Project, but can she get to the truth and not just what everyone wants her to see? Can Lo find a way to reunite with Bea or is it too late for them?

This book is for those looking for a more serious read. Bea and Lo both struggle with the loss of their parents and the fact that Lo almost died as well. It has changed the way they see the world, but in different ways. In trying to find truth, both have taken very different paths in life, but Lo very much wants to find a way to have a sister again and she’s willing to do almost anything to get it. The characters are very well developed and it’s easy for the reader to see how everyone came to make the decisions they did. This book has action, suspense, and so much more, but it does tackle some serious topics, such as death and abuse so anyone looking for a light read will want to pass on this one.

Game Change by Joseph Monninger

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Zeb Holloway is the backup quarterback for a team who has never needed him due to the fact that they have an amazing quarterback who is destined for bigger things. To everyone’s surprise, the star quarterback breaks his leg in the game just before the state championship. Now Zeb has seven days to come to terms with the fact that he will be leading the team in the state championship. He knows he has a good arm, but he’s not had that much experience and he knows many around him doubt his ability to pull this off. He lives in a trailer with his mom who works as many hours waitressing as she can. They live on his uncle’s property ever since his dad walked out. His life has never been easy, but he’s always been content and knew that he would be able to get by if he just worked hard and didn’t expect too much. Now, he’s beginning to wonder if there is a life for him outside of this small town.

The book is set over seven days as Zeb prepares for the big game, but you also get to see who he is through the characters around him. He knows the town is hoping for a big victory, but he’s realistic enough to know that it will be a challenge after the star who led them to this moment is whisked away without so much as a goodbye. Athletes will be able to identify with both the fame and the pressure that come from playing sports and the different degrees to how much people in the community care about the outcome. Sports fans will enjoy this title, but there is more to Zeb Holloway than just football.

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Genre: Romance and # of Pages: 313

Mia was accepted into an elite ballet program in Paris for the summer and she very much wants to make the most of this opportunity, but along the way she really wants to immerse herself in the culture as well. Unfortunately, shortly after she arrives she learns that her rival back home was also accepted to the program and she must face her ridicule all summer. She also meets a very cute boy on the steps of her dorm and he helps her out of a tough situation early on which endears him to her all the more. Mia’s also curious about a family legend in which it is believed her ancestor was a famous ballerina. Some believe the legend wholeheartedly while others claim it is a myth. Her new Parisian friend offers to help her find out if the story is true. As they spend more time together she begins to wish she never had to go back home, but then her romance is exposed and she is shamed for having a summer romance when her focus should be entirely on ballet. She is heartbroken and embarrassed, but she can’t help but wonder how her romance was exposed. Was it her ballet rival? Was it someone else who wanted her spot in the final showcase? Is it possible to work hard and still have a little fun this summer?

This fun romance offers quite a setting with both the ballet school and Paris and readers will want to know as much as possible about Mia’s amazing opportunity, both inside and outside the classroom. Mia is thrilled to be in Paris and truly wants to enjoy the food, sights, museums, and friendships along the way. The ballet school is depicted as being difficult, but she seems to manage the stress with ease as she balances work and fun. She also easily makes friends with the other ballerinas and there isn’t a huge sense of competition among them. Still, the story is fun and you can’t help but pull for her to get everything she wants. This story has a little bit of everything to impress fans of romance novels.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Genre: Realistic Fiction and # of Pages: 288

Nora has grown so unhappy with her life that she has decided that if she ended it no one would miss her. One night she decides to take a lot of pills to end it all and instead of dying she goes to the Midnight Library, which is a place in between life and death. The Midnight Library has infinite books that all depict her life had she made different decisions. She is able to go into each life to see which one would have made her the happiest. In one life, she goes through with her engagement and finds herself married and owning a bar in a small town. In another life she is an Olympic swimmer who now gives motivational speeches. There are many choices she has made throughout her life, some big and some small, so there are many possible outcomes she can now experience to see which one leads her to the most fulfillment. In each life once she feels a sense of disappointment she leaves that life and returns to the Midnight Library. Can she find a life where she is happy before it’s too late? Will she ever find what she’s looking for?

Anyone can relate to Nora in this story as she struggles to find out where she belongs and what she should do with her life. Everyone has decisions in which they ask “what if” and in this book Nora is able to truly see what her life would be like if she had made different choices. The changes in each life chosen are often staggering and affect everyone else around her as well. Sometimes even if her life appears to be better she finds herself wishing for more. This story gives readers a lot to think about regarding how best to make the most of the life we are given and not focus on what we wish were different.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery and # of Pages 383

Stevie and her friends, head to a summer camp as camp counselors, but really they are there to try and solve the unsolved case of four teenage camp counselors who were murdered at that same camp in the 1970s. What happened to them has become legend over time and the new camp owner would like to have the case solved so the town can move on and try to start forgetting the terrible tragedy. Stevie soon learns that back in the seventies four teenagers snuck into the woods late one night and were not seen alive again. One of the boys was found on the path to the woods as if he’d been running for help when he was struck down and the other three were stacked neatly in a box in the woods. Stevie finds that while the case was several decades ago, the biggest challenge is that many people still remember it vividly and are having trouble with yet another person digging it all up again so she makes it her mission to solve it this time. Shortly after they arrive there is another murder and Stevie knows that someone out there definitely knows more than they are sharing. Can she find who killed those teens back in the 70s and learn why? Can she solve the murder of the recently discovered victim?

Fans of the Truly Devious series will enjoy this title since it features many of the same characters and it’s all wrapped up in one book this time. The story has a campy Halloween horror movie feel for readers, which many readers will enjoy. The town is full of colorful characters who all bring something to the solving of this case. This is a fun, suspenseful mystery for mystery lovers. Hopefully we will see more of Stevie and her friends in future mystery stories.

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Genre: Realistic Fiction/ 386 p.

Based loosely on Yusef Salaam’s real life, Amal and his friends, who are all black, get into a fight with a group of all white teens. Amal and his friends all go to jail, with Amal’s being the worst sentence, while the white teens are not charged with anything. Amal maintains that he just threw a single punch and is not responsible for the damage they say he inflicted, but no one is listening. His family is struggling with his conviction as they always feared something like this would happen to him based on where they live and how he looks. They are trying to be supportive, but his situation seems almost hopeless. Amal is a talented artist and poet, however, and that seems to get him through the tough days of prison. He struggles to convey his emotions because he is angry, but showing anger seems to make him a target for further ridicule and abuse around him. Is there any hope to finding out the truth of what happened that fateful night? Does he have any chance of a future now that this has happened to him?

Written in verse, this powerful story is the product of a passionate author and a man who’s real life situation inspired this story. Many readers will identify with Amal because he feels trapped not only in the prison system, but in his situation in life. He fears that no matter what he did with his life he was destined to end up right here. He has dreams and goals, but is almost afraid to think about them because they seem so unrealistic for someone like him. This story will get people talking, in a good way. Recommended especially for reluctant readers.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Genre: Sports Fiction

Number of Pages: 445

Gene Luen Yang has always been fascinated by comics and as an adult loves to draw his own in addition to being a high school teacher. He never got why so many people liked sports, however. He wasn’t very good at any sports and often got hurt in some way while trying to participate in them. Eventually he gave up on sports altogether. That all changes when he starts hearing about the basketball team at his Catholic High School, called the Dragons, and their wish to become the California State Basketball Champions. Once he starts digging into this story he learns that it has been many decades in the making, which is partly why the school is so revved up for this season. He decides to write a graphic novel explaining not only the school’s history but also documenting what they are hoping will be a monumental season. He even writes about his struggle to properly depict some of the more difficult incidents from the Dragons’ past that have led to this moment. Can the Dragons finally make it all the way to the end?

This graphic novel is unique, compelling, and enthralling whether a reader likes sports or not. It’s easy to see how Gene Luen Yang got caught up in the excitement of a school desperately wanting that state championship, but like many sports stories he discovers there is a lot of history with this team. A lot of people can relate to this story for one reason or another, but in the end it’s easy to want a team like this to succeed. Highly recommended, but especially for sports readers and reluctant readers.

The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Barnes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of pages: 326

Kira was left to fend for herself in the woods as a child until Cady Bennett and one of her search and rescue dogs found her. Cady is well known for being an exceptional search and rescue person and she has trained her two kids, Kira and Jude, and the neighbor, Free. When Cady’s father suddenly turns up and asks for her help in finding a missing girl they all pack up to drive several hours to help locate her. It’s strange for the three teens, however, because up until now they had never seen Cady’s dad. They know there was a falling out, but that is all they know. As they all begin searching for the little girl it becomes obvious that some family secrets will start to spill out, as well as some old memories of living in the woods for Kira. Can they rescue the little girl who they believe might have been taken? Can they reconcile as a family? Can Kira deal with the demons of her past?

Many people do not know much about search and rescue dogs and handler training, which makes this story unique and interesting right from the start. Then, there is the mystery of what happened to the little girl, but as the book goes on there are several other exciting plot twists. The characters all have their own baggage and it takes awhile for all of them to help each other face it. The ending has some dramatic, unexpected surprises that will thrill both mystery fans and fans of survival fiction. Recommended for reluctant readers.

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Barnes

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 258

In this sequel to the Inheritance Games, Avery is still navigating her new life as an heiress. When rumors begin spreading that Tobias Hawthorne’s son, Toby, is still alive Avery and her cousins begin trying to find out where he is and why he ran away from the family in the first place. Meanwhile, there are definitely people trying to steal Avery’s money and they don’t care who they have to hurt to get it. For example, creepy things have been left in her room despite her having 24/hr security. She’s also noticed that the longtime Hawthorne employees definitely do not feel like she belongs at the manor and go out of their way to treat her as such. Plus, Avery’s long lost father has returned and is threatening to try and get custody of her, and by extension, her billions. Who can Avery really trust? Is Toby really alive and if so why doesn’t he want his inheritance? What are Grayson and Jameson’s intentions toward her?

This book was really a continuation of the first and was just as much fun with several twists and turns along the way. Avery and the Hawthorne’s definitely keep things interesting as they try to find new clues left behind by Tobias, the patriarch. No one living seems to know all of the Hawthorne secrets and even people who think they know everything get surprised at one point or another in this book. Despite the many changes that Avery has experienced in a short amount of time, she is always so curious to find out what happens that she doesn’t seem to worry too much about her own personal safety. She is definitely unsure of how to handle the potential affections of the Hawthorne Brothers. Fans will want to see more from this fun, fast paced mystery story and its lively characters.

The Eyes of the Forest by April Henry

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Number of Pages: 258

Bridget and her mom were both huge fans of RM Haldon’s fantasy series. They were frequently read it together before her mom died. After her mom’s death, Bridget corrected something Haldon said at a book signing and he asked her to be his assistant to help him keep track of the many details embedded in the books. She created a big database to keep track of characters, weapons, etc. They mostly corresponded through email, but then one day the emails change and become more cryptic. She begins to suspect Haldon is in danger, but no one believes she works for him or even knows him. He is a known recluse and the police think she is just a crazed fan. Can she crack the code of his emails in order to find the truth? Can she find anyone to believe her before it’s too late?

Fans of April Henry and Stephen King will enjoy this title because it brings all the suspense and drama that Henry usually brings with a little bit of Misery for a more modern audience. The story moves quickly between Haldon and Bridget as the story unfolds. The ending is satisfying as there isn’t a quick, neat ending, but instead is messy and believable. Recommended for reluctant readers who want a quick, fast paced mystery.

In the Study with the Wrench by Diana Peterfreund

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 327

Still reeling from the murder of their Headmaster in the first book of this series, Orchid, Vaughan, Scarlet, Mustard, Peacock, and Plum have all returned despite the fact that they are now referred to on campus as the “murder crew.” All of them have their own reasons for wanting to return, but are not expecting it when another staff member is murdered. They also start getting mysterious notes that seem to just be targeting the six of them. There is also a new student who has been keeping an annoyingly close eye on the group and some of them don’t believe she’s a regular student. The school administration is trying desperately to keep things afloat after all this tragedy and do not want the students snooping around or making anything worse, but they feel they have a real need to find out what’s going on because they seem to be targets for whomever is behind these terrible events. Can they find out who is behind this new murder without getting hurt themselves? Is this murder unrelated to the murder in the first book? Can they trust each other or will their secrets get in the way?

This sequel to In the Hall with the Knife is a natural continuation of the first story and fans will want to keep going with these characters. In the first book, the reader learned how many secrets each character has and those were fleshed out a bit more in this one. The characters are all interesting and developed and it will be fun to see how they develop even more in the next one. Readers looking for a fun, lighter mystery will enjoy this title.


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