Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category



Remember Me Gone by Stacy Stokes

Genre: Mystery/Fantasy

Lucy was born and raised in Tumble Tree Texas where her father has continued his family legacy of being able to take people’s sad memories away from them. People come from all over to have their memories taken and put into jars so that they can feel unburdened and Lucy was raised to believe this was a good thing her father does. Lucy has always harbored a desire to travel like her mother, but ever since her mother died those plans have been put on pause. It’s only when Lucy runs into the mayor’s nephew that she begins to realize that she thinks her memories of him are mysteriously gone. Something about him is familiar, but she can’t put her finger on it like the memory has been wiped away. Is it possible that her father would take her memories without her permission? Why would he want her to forget a classmate? Or were they more than that? Also, why does her father sneak out at night to go to the nearby mines? What is the mayor hiding about the mines that employ most of the town and how is her father involved? Can she ever recover what she lost? Will she ever really leave this town or is she trapped?

This unique story follows a girl who is trying to decide who she is and what her family does. The idea of memories is especially interesting because there are so many things tied up in memories that even though it might sound like a good idea to have things that are painful removed, it is never really that easy. It also does a nice job of showing how people with too much power and ulterior motives can absolutely influence a large number of people into doing their bidding. The story starts slow as it sets the scene, but is well worth the intricate plot and surprising twists as the story really takes off. The ending is very satisfying and believable, which is impressive with so much to resolve.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Teddy Crutcher is an English teacher at an elite prep school where money talks and appearances definitely matter. Whenever he feels a student is spoiled or entitled he often tries to find a way to take him or her down a peg and in his mind he is actually helping the student to learn that not everything in life can be bought. Enter Zach Ward, a rich and entitled student with very demanding parents who cannot handle their son not getting straight As in order to set up his entire future. Zach isn’t as worried about his grades as his parents are, but he definitely isn’t used to teachers not liking him and believing every word he says so he starts to keep a closer eye on Mr. Crutcher. Then, during a party at the school a very overbearing mom suddenly drops dead during the speeches. Everyone is shocked to learn that she was actually poisoned, but was it murder or an accident? Was she even the intended target? Soon, everyone at school is alarmed and the growing chaos leads to more gossip and false leads. Sadly, it also leads to more unfortunate incidents at the school that leaves everyone, including police, reeling and struggling to make sense of it. Who is trying to hurt people at this school and is it random or calculated?

In a place where everyone has secrets it can be hard to expose others without your own getting revealed. This story follows several different characters who all have connections to the Belmont Academy and their motivations are quickly revealed, as well as how far they will go to get what they want. The students and staff all feel superior to others in their own way and believe they deserve everything they want. Many are truly surprised when things do not work out as planned. The set up of this school is incredibly believable as students are more competitive than ever to get into prestigious colleges so they can enter enviable careers. It’s not hard to imagine how much tension there can be in an environment where everyone has such lofty goals. Teddy’s motivations are revealed quickly, but several other characters are concealing shady secrets of their own to the point that it’s hard to know who to root for. Fans of crime fiction and true crime podcasts will enjoy this title as it creates an eerie but realistic vibe.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction

Cristian is a seventeen-year-old boy living in Communist Romania with his entire family, including his elderly grandpa, in a tiny apartment. His Grandpa Bunu is very vocal about his displeasure for the Communist leader and how Bucharest has changed in recent years and Cristian’s mother is worried his opinions will get them all in trouble. Cristian goes to school 6 days a week while the rest of his family works ridiculous hours, and they still do not have the essentials they need such as proper food or clothing. They take turns waiting for hours in lines to get rations that still do not keep them nourished, and they know that there are spies and listening devices all over so they never feel they can speak freely. Cristian is shocked when he is approached at school to become an informer on an American diplomat’s son he recently met through his mother’s employment. He refuses at first, but then it becomes apparent they have been watching him and know exactly how to make him do exactly what they want. He hates himself for agreeing to spy, but it also makes him realize that if he can be blackmailed who knows who else around him is spying for the government as well. At one time or another he suspects most of those around him. Slowly they start to hear rumblings about a revolution and despite his mother’s warnings to keep his head down and stay safe, Cristian knows that if given the chance he would fight for a better Romania for its citizens. Will Cristian be able to outwit his handler or will he always be a step ahead? Will Cristian ever find out who he can trust among his family and friends? Will Cristian live long enough to see real change in his country?

Once again, Sepetys has highlighted a time in history that many people know very little, if anything about. The life Cristian, his family, and his school mates lead is unbelievably bleak, especially when you consider the final insult that they all suspect there are listening devices planted in their homes. The way the story is written it becomes easy for the reader to truly feel what it would be like to live this type of restricted, depraved existence, which is terrifying. Cristian is easy to identify with, but it still feels like he’s living in a no-win situation that can only end horribly. Recommended.

Castles In Their Bones by Laura Sebastian

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Beatriz, Sophronia, and Daphne are princesses and triplets who were raised for the sole purpose of marrying the three nearby princes so that their mother could secretly find weaknesses that would allow her to invade and someday rule all of the land. They understood their purpose and endured a lifetime of training in poisons, code breaking, fighting, seductions, and so much more. Yet, once they are all sent to their new kingdoms things are not as simple as they first appeared and they start to realize there is more at play than they originally thought. Daphne arrives to find that her situation has changed irrevocably just prior to her arrival and is scrambling to re-strategize. Beatriz really likes her prince, but there is a problem that neither of them can ignore regarding their relationship. Sophronia, considered by their mother to be the weakest, starts to notice discrepancies in the way the kingdom collects and spends taxpayer dollars and starts to believe her and her new husband could potentially be really good rulers…if she doesn’t let her mother’s plotting get in the way. Can the three sisters who are so far from each other work together to untangle all the betrayals and secrets? How will they know who they can truly trust?

This exciting plot twists and turns from the beginning right up to the end. Fans of Grace and Fury and The Ash Princess series will devour this book and clamor for more. The three main characters are all placed in very different yet equally precarious situations that they must figure out largely on their own. All of them uncover betrayals and secrets that leave them shocked, which is saying something considering they were all raised with the sole purpose of overthrowing kingdoms. Their mother, while not a big character, is felt throughout the story and clearly has more power than even they could have predicted. The ending reveals some answers, but there are still many more to be had. Recommended.

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Genre: Romance

Yvette’s world shatters when her parents announce they are getting divorced and her belief is true love is put to the test. She does not react well to the news that her mother, her sister, and her must move out of their family home and into a smaller apartment and decides it is time to downsize her belongings as well. She takes all of her favorite romance books to donate to a free library. When she is there a mysterious woman convinces her to take a book in return for her donation and she grabs the book titled Instructions for Dancing. After receiving this book, Yvette notices that every time she sees a couple kiss she see flashes of their entire relationship from beginning to end, and they always end. This only cements her belief that love never lasts and she decides if she gets rid of the book she might not see these premonitions anymore. She notices that there is an address inside for a local dance studio and goes to return the book, but the instructor sees something in her and convinces her to practice for a big ballroom dancing competition. Yvette does not know why, but she feels drawn to the dance floor and her magnaminous partner, X. Can she really get involved with someone when she is so down on romance at the moment? Will she ever be able to reconcile with her father after he tore their family apart?

Fans of Nicola Yoon will not be disappointed with this story about two very thought out characters and their struggle to find their way in a complicated world. There are also many interesting side characters that prove nothing is ever as cut and dried as it first appears. Not all young adult readers enjoy reading romances, but this one truly has something for everyone if they are willing to give it a chance. The characters are all going through very relatable issues and most everyone can find something they can identify with. Highly recommended.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Genre: Mystery

Hannah has been married for over a year and it has been going relatively well except for the fact that her husband’s teenage daughter does not care for her. She’s still hoping that things will get better when she receives a note from her husband, delivered by a stranger, asking Hannah to protect his daughter. That is the moment that Hannah learns her husband has gone on the run and she has no idea why. His daughter, Bailey, is equally confused and hurt once she discovers that he left her a bag full of cash and no further instructions. Hannah and Bailey reluctantly work together to find out the truth about Owen, but the more they learn the more they discover they didn’t know about him. First of all, his name was not actually Owen and he is not from New England like he had said. It’s not a coincidence that Owen went on the run after his company was highly publicized for fraud and other charges, but Hannah isn’t convinced that is the issue he’s running from. She thinks there’s something from his past that he is terrified will find his daughter, but the question is what and will they ever see him again? Can Bailey ever trust her enough to find out the truth together?

Fans of The Woman in Cabin 10 and the Woman in the Window will enjoy this title, but it is not as dark as those. As Hannah begins to find answers, the reader will most likely be surprised at why Owen ran and the difficult choices Hannah feels she needs to make going forward. Recommended for readers looking for a fun, fast paced mystery or for a book club looking for an engaging mystery.

Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Angel was forced by her mother to move across the country to live in New York with her Uncle and start a new life. She misses her siblings terribly, but if she’s honest with herself she doesn’t blame her mother for trying to get her out of a challenging situation. Her Uncle is very kind to her and tries to help her get settled at her new school. She has a seminar class called H.E.R. which stands for Her Excellence in Resilience and Honoring Everyone’s Roots where she and her classmates are free to share and learn about each other. Angel becomes immersed in her lit. class where she has access to all kinds of amazing authors she previously never had time for since she was helping to raise her younger siblings. Reading these stories by authors such as Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston gives her some time to reflect on her own situation and the choices she had made at her old school. Can she overcome her past to heal both inside and out? Can she focus on herself instead of worrying about everyone around her? Can she make new, authentic friends and find a way to shine at this new school?

This book is hard to put down until the very end. Angel is such a dynamic character and even though readers do not know for awhile what situation she is running from, it is obvious she is trying to heal in multiple ways from some terrible event. The way the author weaves in her poetry is also really engaging because it helps shine a light on Angel’s feelings in a way that prose can’t. The characters are all really interesting too, considering many of them only appear a handful of times yet are so memorable the reader welcomes them back each time. Recommended for readers looking for something that will make them think, because this book will lead readers to thinking about a variety of things long after the last page has been read.

You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Ivy, Cal, and Mateo used to be close in junior high after they all skipped school one day and had “the best day ever” and were never caught. They have drifted apart in high school, but one day fate brings them together and they all decide to skip again in the hopes of rekindling that magical day. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned and they end up witnessing the aftermath of the murder of a classmate. They know they had no business being there and it looks very bad so they run. As they try to figure out what happened on their own, it becomes clear they are all dealing with some pretty difficult secrets that they must trust each other with in order to be able to move on. Can they clear their names even as rumors start swirling that they know what happened to their classmate and could have been involved? Will they ever be as close as they once were? Is there anyone out there they can trust?

This story engages readers right from the beginning, because you naturally feel for all of them in one way or another. It is really easy to identify with all of their struggles and yet you can see how they all came to make the choices that they did. Without giving too much away, the ending is very exciting and dramatic and leaves room for more in a potential sequel. Readers who enjoyed One of Us is Lying will enjoy this title.

The End of Her by Shari Lapena

Genre: Mystery

Stephanie and Patrick are struggling to care for their new twins who have colic and never stop crying for hours on end. Stephanie is exhausted and barely keeping it together, while Patrick has been reprimanded at work for his work product lately due in part to his exhuastion. They are still relatively happy, though, until someone from Patrick’s past begins coming around and alleging that he killed his first wife. Stephanie knew his first wife had died, but she didn’t know the specifics. At first, she is skeptical of Erica and a little afraid of what she might do if they don’t pay her the money she wants, but ultimately Stephanie refuses to give some of the trust she got from her parents to pay a blackmailer. Now Erica is threatening to go to the police and Patrick is scared they will reopen the case. Could he be hiding something? Should Stephanie be afraid of the father of her children?

This suspenseful novel takes you on an adventure from the beginning. It is difficult to know the truth when everyone seems to be telling a different story. The characters are all well developed and it’s easy to see why they act the way they do. The ending is very exciting and readers will be both stunned and surprised. Fans of books such as the Girl on the Train and the Woman in the Window will enjoy this.

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson

Genre: Romane/Realistic Fiction

Nala Robertson is a very typical teenager who enjoys relaxing and having fun, so when she has go to an open mic night for an activist group for her cousin’s birthday she isn’t too excited. However, the emcee for the event, Tye, immediately catches Nala’s eye and she finds a way to talk to him after the show. He is funny, charismatic, and passionate, which Nala loves, but he is also a very serious activist for causes he cares about. Nala is worried he won’t like her since she doesn’t have any strong causes that she supports, so she lies and tells him she volunteers at her grandmother’s assisted living home, amongst other things. She knows she will be in trouble if Tye or anyone else finds out about her lies, but she’s so afraid he won’t like her if he knew the real Nala. Can she ever face the truth of who she is and will that be enough for Tye? Will she begin to change like those around her to find things she cares about and is willing to dedicate all her time and energy to?

This engaging story tackles serious issues such as finding ways to love yourself and mother/daughter issues, but does so in a way that feels light and fun. Many readers will be able to identify with Nala and her fear of not being accepted, sometimes even by herself, for who she truly is. At the same time, she must realize that people are constantly changing and growing and it’s absolutely possible to change yourself at any stage of life. Several of the supporting characters are fun, such as Nala’s grandmother and all of her friends at the assisted living home. There are many examples of love in this story and it’s through all these different relationships that Nala begins to understand how love is present in her life and how she contributes love to those around her. Recommended for fans of romances, but also for people who enjoy real stories about unique people.

The Last Beautiful Girl by Nina Laurin

Genre: Fantasy/Suspense

When Isabella Brixton is forced to move away from her home, friends, and starring role in her school play she is sure her life is ruined. Her parents have been offered jobs they simply cannot turn down, but the university they work for is going to allow them to stay in a gorgeous mansion that used to be owned by a famous artistic muse who died many years ago. When Isa starts at her new school she meets Alexa, a talented photographer who wants to photograph Isa inside the famous mansion wearing the clothes the former occupant left behind. At first, they have a lot of fun with this because the pictures turn out absolutely stunning every single time. They create an Instagram account to share with the world and they soon go viral. Eventually, Isa and everyone who comes in contact with this house begins to change, however, and not for the better. Isa begins acting strangely and even sleepwalks where she finds hidden things in the mansion she shouldn’t know about. She’s also pretty sure there’s an unnatural spirit in the house that has startled her on occasion. Her mother starts to become obsessed with cleaning and often acts out of character, such as forgetting to pick up Isa from school and then claiming she did. Things that used to matter to Isa no longer do as her hunger for power and fame grows. Can Isa get out of this house before it’s too late? Will others get hurt along the way? What is causing the bizarre phenomena in this house?

This story definitely has some suspenseful and frightening scenes as people try to help Isa escape this house, so it is not for those looking for a light-hearted read. The transition that occurs as more people enter the house and interact within it is gradual and very believable as the overall atmosphere begins to change. The characters themselves are affected in believable ways, but it is unclear why some are changed more than others. Overall, a very unique story that will hook readers from early on as it becomes clear that there is something amiss with this house. It also offers an interesting commentary on the dangers of social media and fame. Recommended for those who enjoy suspense mixed with fantasy.

All This Time by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott

Genre: Romance

From the same authors as Five Feet Apart, this romance story begins with Kyle learning that his longtime girlfriend is actually not going to go to the same college as he is on their graduation night. There is a terrible storm and as they fight about their future together they get into a terrible accident where Kyle is seriously injured and Kimberly dies. He struggles for months to heal and get up every morning knowing that Kimberly is gone. He shuts out friends, puts college on hold, and generally fails to progress in any way. Then, he meets Marley and everything starts to change. Marley has also lost someone close to her and the two of them begin to work through their grief together, but as they begin to find happiness they feel overwhelming guilt that they are here and those they lost are not. Both of them harbor guilt about how their loved one died as well. Kyle can’t help shake the feeling that something will come along to disrupt his happiness because he doesn’t think he deserves it, and something definitely does but it’s something you won’t see coming. Can he fight for what he had with Marley or is it just not the right time?

This story definitely keeps the reader guessing as the plot takes some serious twists. Kyle’s relationship with Kimberly has kept him from truly living his best life and he’s starting to realize that, but also feels terrible about the fact that Kimberly is not there anymore. Marley, meanwhile, has faced some terrible things as well and because of that struggles to truly open up and believe in happy endings and forgiveness. Recommended for fans who enjoy unique romance stories such as The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park.

The Buried by Melissa Grey

Adventure/Survival/Realistic Fiction

Sash and her family have lived in an underground bunker for 10 years, along with a few other families, after tragedy struck and the sunlight on the surface became toxic to them. They have been forced to abide by the very strict rules of Dr. Moran, who claims to know a lot about this above ground phenomena that has struck their town. She has requested they never touch, including family, and must always do as she says or else they could be placed in isolation as punishment. They are starting to run out of food and the bunker is starting to fall apart, which has Sash and her two friends, Gabe and Yuna, very worried. They end up finding a secret entrance to the bunker and want to go up to see for themselves what the world above is really like after ten long years, but if they are caught or if they stumble into an aboveground apocalypse they are not sure they can handle the repercussions. On the other hand, can they afford not to try?

Fans of survival stories will enjoy this title as the three teens struggle to find their place in this very small world that has been created for them in this underground bunker. It does not have the hope that some survival stories have, but at the same time does truly help the reader to feel what it would really be like to be in this position. There are some surprising plot twists as the three debate on what to do about their current situation and readers should be impressed with the attention to detail as they start to put the pieces together near the end.

Open Mic Night At Westminster Cemetary by Mary Amato

Genre: Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Lacy Brink is shocked and disheartened to find herself buried in Westminster Cemetary with no memory of how she died. Things quickly get worse when she meets Mrs. Steele, who is set on enforcing all the archaic graveside rules from many years ago. These rules include no cursing, no staying out past sunrise, and performing the job assigned to you without complaint. After a rocky start, Lacy learns that if you break the rules you get a strike and once you have three strikes you are no longer allowed to get out of your graves at night, which sounds terrible. Everyone is very eager to meet Lacy because there haven’t been any new residents in many years. Sam, for example, was buried a hundred years earlier and immediately feels a connection with Lacy, but he doesn’t know if she feels the same. Edgar Allan Poe is buried in this cemetary as well, but apparently he earned his strikes pretty quickly and is no longer allowed out of his grave. Lacy’s job is the entertainment director and she announces she would like to have an open mic night. This is a new concept to the ghosts, but many are eager for something new to happen. In order for it to be successful, Lacy feels she needs to get Mrs. Steele out of the picture so everyone will feel comfortable performing. Also, it would give her a chance to open up the event to all people, even those who have earned 3 strikes. To add to her stress, Lacy’s sister has begun coming to the cemetary to try and deal with her guilt over Lacy’s death. How did Lacy die and will she be able to survive in this bizarre cemetary with its very strict rules? Will the other ghosts perform at the open mic night? Even after all this time, what have the ghosts not shared with each other about how they lived?

This unique story is set in the cemetary where Edgar Allan Poe is buried and so there are some fun interactions with him, his wife, and his mother. It becomes obvious that many of the people in this cemetary have no concept of what modern times are like and are very intrigued by this new resident. It is written using stage directions, which definitely sets the scene for this story, but may be difficult for some reluctant readers. Once the rules of the cemetary are established, the story really takes off as Lacy struggles to find her way in a place that hasn’t changed much in decades. Fans of light fantasy will enjoy this clever tale.

This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lapore

Genre: Mystery

Jenna likes to take photos at sunrise and usually finds the beach peaceful and quiet, but on this particular morning she sees Adam, a boy from the local reform school, struggling to get a body out of the water. Soon, she discovers that the body belongs to a girl she goes to school with. Both Adam and Jenna are pretty shaken that someone their age could be murdered in their sleepy little town. Jenna lives with her aunt, who is a police detective, and even though she never shares details of the case Jenna can definitely tell they are struggling to find who did this. Meanwhile, Jenna’s friends are pretty upset by the loss of their friend. Adam, on the other hand, finds that he and his friends are being questioned over and over again because they are seen as troublemakers due to their pasts. Jenna and Adam decide to start investigating on their own to not only clear their own names, but to save those around them from a similar fate. However, they quickly learn that everyone is hiding something and nothing anyone says can be trusted. Can they get to the truth without finding their way in the crosshairs of the killer?

This fast paced mystery thrilled will be popular with readers who like the April Henry books. There are many characters, which adds a layer of mystery as there are many red herrings, but there aren’t so many characters that it’s impossible to keep them all straight. The conclusion of the story is both exciting and satisfying and there are many plot twists along the way that will keep readers guessing until the end. Recommended for mystery fans.


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