Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category



Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  398

There is an island that is almost totally cut off from the rest of the world where a set of triplets are born every generation.  The queen immediately knows what power each of the girls will have and when they are a few years old they are separated so that they can hone their craft.  When they come of age they must compete in a bizarre set of rituals in which only the last one alive can become the next queen.  Katherine is a poisoner, but she while she has become adept at administering poisons she has not yet become immune to them herself.  Arsinoe, the naturalist, has not yet found her familiar, which is like her animal soul mate, but she has been very happy growing up alongside her best friend, Jules, who is a very talented naturalist.  Finally, Mirabella, the elementalist, is very gifted and can easily manipulate water and fire.  It is expected she will easily take the crown over her weaker sisters, but once the games begin everyone has a few surprises in store for the waiting spectators.  Who will end up with the crown?  Whom can the sisters really trust in this process?  Who will get hurt along the way?

This series has received a lot of attention from my students, but it did take me awhile to get into the story and the characters.  Once I did become immersed in the characters I not only wanted to finish the first one right away but wanted to read the second one as well.  It’s definitely a unique story that does not rely on plot details seen in other fantasy series.  There is still a lot that needs to be revealed about these characters, their motivations, and the ultimate outcome which will keep readers engaged for a long time to come.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

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Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  343

Emmy and Oliver were best friends as young children because they lived next door to each other.  Then, one day Oliver’s dad kidnapped him after school and life was never the same for either of them.  Oliver moved around quite a bit with his father and was led to believe his mother did not want him anymore.  Emmy’s parents responded by becoming very overprotective and barely letting her out of their sight.  At the beginning of Emmy’s senior year she hears the news she has both wanted and dreaded:  Oliver has been found.  What will he be like?  Will he remember her?  Will they still be friends?  How will this change everything yet again?

This book was very enjoyable and properly explores the difficulties for both Emmy and Oliver surviving an ordeal like this.  Oliver’s emotional health is probably not discussed in as much length as would be realistic, but it is also told through Emmy’s perspective so she wouldn’t necessarily know everything he’s going through.  The events of the story eventually build to a head and are resolved very acceptably.  The story has an interesting concept, but does not rely on that and instead relies on the fulfilling development of the characters to truly carry the story.  Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this title.

Deep Green by Trisha Haddad

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** New Release Excerpt **

Genre: Adventure/Contemporary Romance

Format: e-book and print

Tagline: They fight for survival, but their secrets could ruin everything.

 

About the book

Leah Taylor prefers the quiet adventure and romance of books, but during a cruise with her parents, a terrorist attack leaves her adrift in a lifeboat with strangers.

University student, Blue McCree impresses her immediately with his knowledge of literature and philosophy. Equally thrilling is strong, quiet Musir. While he is slow to speak, translating his thoughts from Arabic to English, his chivalry and wisdom capture Leah’s curiosity.

Together they face danger after danger as they fight for survival. Leah also struggles with the growing attention from the men she’s stranded with, and her mixed emotions toward them.

When Leah learns the dark secrets her fellow survivors hold, the truth will blow apart any semblance of civility and test Leah’s preconceived notions of just how far dedication can go before it crosses over into fanaticism.

 Excerpt

I could have sworn it was silent all over the ship in that moment. The ocean stood still, the wind slowed, and the other passengers walked silently. It must have been so. I certainly couldn’t register a sound. It was as though the world awaited his voice and words.

Then I began to feel awkward when they did not come. Here I was, staring like a love-struck fool into the eyes of a guy I never met before.

I tended to fall in love with characters in books. Most guys I went to school with were far too interested in sports or video games. How could they ever hope to hold a candle to Mister Darcy’s intensity, Tom Joad’s ethics, Martin Eden’s passion, Caleb Trask’s struggle for goodness, or Edmond Dantes’ cunning intellect? No real boy ever sparked in me the passion these fictional characters did; until now.

Yet, I didn’t know a thing about him. Did he have a strong sense of justice? Did he thirst for knowledge? Was he a romantic to the core? Did art touch his very soul? I had no idea. All I knew was that his gaze bore into the essence of me. I could read in it something deeper than I saw before in anyone’s eyes. It was a sort of sadness, like he carried with him all the sorrows of the world.

I had to know if there was more than his beauty. Surely I couldn’t feel how I did if he weren’t passionate, if he lacked depth? It simply wasn’t possible.

 

Find out more: www.TrishaHaddad.com

 

Six Years by Harlan Coben

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Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  351

RAC:  Yes

Jake Fisher thought he met the girl of his dreams while he was away trying to write his dissertation.  They had a wonderful summer together and he believed they would spend their lives together.  Then, one day she announces that she is going back to her old boyfriend and a few days later Jake receives a wedding invitation to her wedding.  He cannot believe this is happening and has to see it with his own eyes.  When he goes to the wedding she makes him promise not to bother her or her husband ever again.  He promises and does nothing for six years, but then one day he sees the obituary for the man he saw Natalie marry.  He decides to go to the funeral and does not see Natalie as the grieving widow, but instead sees a woman who has been married to this man for many years and they have two teenage kids together.  Where is Natalie?  Why was her husband married to someone else?

Coben has done it again with this exciting mystery.  Jake’s journey takes off immediately after learning that Natalie’s husband is dead.  The more he investigates and looks for her, however, the more dead ends and questions he has.  No one seems to know where Natalie is and some people do not seem to believe she existed in the first place.  The story twists and turns like all of Coben’s best mysteries do and the ending is full of surprises that will satisfy mystery fans.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

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Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 435

RAC:  Yes

Emaline is working for her family’s rental company the summer before she goes to college.  She is very close to her mother, stepfather, and stepsisters, but has never felt close to the father who walked out on her.  She is still bristling from an argument with her biological father that led to him ignoring her graduation completely.  She isn’t sure how she feels when  he calls to say he is in town and wants to meet with her.  Meanwhile, she meets a documentary filmmaker and her assistant, Theo, who have rented one of the biggest properties for the entire summer.  The filmmaker often has crazy demands, but the assistant seems interesting in a different sort of way.  Is Emaline ready to give up the boyfriend she’s had for four years for this intriguing boy from the big city?  Is Emaline ready to face the father she barely knows in order to confront how seriously he hurt her?  Is Emaline ready to go away to college and leave her family and friends behind?

Sarah Dessen fans will enjoy the characters in this one as well.  Emaline is easygoing, but also very hardworking, smart, and driven.  She is not afraid to step outside of her comfort zone in order to fight for what she wants.  Her relationship with her boyfriend, Luke, is hardly established when things go south so it’s hard to feel too strongly about him one way or the other.  Theo, is portrayed differently than most of the rebound boyfriends in Dessen’s novels and this change is a bit refreshing.  The ending lacked a bit of the punch that others such as The Truth About Forever had and was a tad predictable, but Dessen fans will enjoy it anyway.

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

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Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  278

RAC:  Yes

When Mia is possessed by an evil spirit, it takes three exorcisms and relatives from Milan to free her from the terrible demon.  Afterwards, the long lost relatives whom she has never met convince her to come to Milan with them for her own safety.  Mia must quickly study both Italian and the history of the Italian people in order to prepare herself for a life of demon hunting.  Her relatives believe she is talented and can be a great asset to them as they constantly strive to free people from demon or ghost possessions.  Mia has some trouble fitting in because she does not know the language, the people she is living with, or the work that they do.  Slowly, her family begins to explain to her about their long history and why this particular demon wants Mia at all costs.  Her frustration with being chaperoned at every turn makes Mia wish she could break away even for a few hours to explore the city.  After all, how much danger can she really be in?

Mia’s story is definitely unique to the young adult market today.  She is physically possessed by a demon and that demon wants to come back to finish the job after her exorcism.  This book is not graphic or scary, but sheds a modern light on an ancient issue.  The characters are interesting, but there are many Italian relatives that can get confusing at times.  While the premise is indeed intriguing, the story does lag a bit at times and the ending isn’t quite as dramatic as many readers might hope for.  Still, the story itself is different enough to recommend to fantasy lovers.

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  278

RAC:  Yes

Mia is doing homework in her bedroom when she is inhabited by an evil demon and the family has to bring in three different exorcists in order to help her.  Afterward, she learns that she has a lot of family residing in Italy who are very accomplished demon catchers and they want her to come back to Milan so that they can protect her from anymore attacks and educate her on the art of exorcism.  Moving to Milan to stay with family she has never met is quite a challenge and Mia begins to feel bored and homesick, but she does know that the demon who inhabited her is still lurking and waiting to do so again so she tries hard to study whatever she needs to to be prepared.  After witnessing some attacks on other people she learns that she may have a real talent for this and feels she may have been drawn back to her family’s roots in Milan for a reason.  Will she ever be able to walk alone and not fear the demon coming back for her?  Will she ever feel strong enough to help partake in an exorcism?

This story was interesting, but not as engaging as the reviews made it out to be.  While the characters and plot are developed and unique, it felt like the story moved without any resolution in sight.  Even the ending just seemed like a stopping point in Mia’s story and not in a way that makes you want to breathlessly reach for the next one.  It lacks action and moves at a leisurely pace which will deter some young readers.  The details about the Italian family and their lifestyle versus a typical American lifestyle is interesting.

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

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Genre;  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  350

RAC:  Yes

Nicole is popular, beautiful, and participates in local beauty pageants.  Then one day she is walking down the halls of her high school and someone throws acid into her face burning half of it.  She is horrified and doesn’t know how to continue since everyone has seen her as beautiful her entire life and it has become a part of her identity.  Jay, an outcast who also suffered a terrifying incident at the high school two years earlier, was in the hall during the attack but failed to see who actually threw the acid.  When Nicole and Jay meet in the counselor’s waiting room they begin to start a relationship and Jay becomes obsessed with finding out who attacked Nicole.  He tries not to show it at school, but Jay is actually an accomplished hacker and he begins to investigate who would want to hurt her and the list of suspects is way too long.  Is Nicole safe from any further attack?  Can he help make the perpetrator have to face the punishment he or she deserves?

This is a powerful story that audiences who enjoyed Whatever Happened to Cass McBride or Thirteen Reasons Why would enjoy.  The attack itself was so brutal and personal, but Nicole’s reaction to it is very understandable and almost painful for those around her to watch.  There are many suspects and false leads in the mystery to finding the culprit and the ultimate resolution is both surprising and satisfying, albeit in a sad way.  Issues such as beauty, identity, trust, and even self worth are all discussed in ways that anyone can identify with.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Genre:  Fantasy/Science Fiction

# of Pages:  390

RAC:  Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2013-2014

Cinder is a cyborg living in squalor with her stepmother and two stepsisters.  She works everyday as a mechanic while her family does nothing and spends all the money.  A terrible plague is striking their kingdom and Prince Kai is trying desperately to find a cure.  He has lost his mother to this disease and now his father has contracted it.  When Prince Kai comes to Cinder for help with his broken cyborg she conceals the fact that she is a cyborg because many people look down on cyborgs as less than human.  The plague soon strikes Cinder’s house and she is blamed for bringing it to the family.  Her stepmother sends her away to “volunteer” to be a test subject in the royal labs in order to find a cure.  When Cinder arrives at the testing facility they end up learning much more about her past than she could even imagine.  Who is she?  Who were her parents?  How did she come to be a cyborg?  

This retelling of Cinderella is new and fresh as Cinder has a robotic foot which causes her stress throughout the story.  The kingdom is in peril both from the plague and from an evil outside ruler trying to take over during their time of need.  Fans of futuristic novels, such as Divergent, will enjoy this title for its unique twist on an old tale and will eagerly grab the sequel to see what happens next. 

Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  190

RAC:  Yes

Perry is constantly pressured by his parents to get into an Ivy League School and become successful.  They even make him work after school at his dad’s law firm in the hopes of acquiring a letter of recommendation from one of the partners.  Perry does everything they ask without too much complaint, which is why he’s so upset when he is ordered to take their weird foreign exchange student to the prom instead of going to the important gig his band had set up.  Ever since Gobi had come to stay with them she had been distant, cold, and just plain strange.  When they actually head out to prom, Perry is in for a surprise when he learns she is actually an assassin who has been training for this night where she plans to kill multiple people and use him as the getaway driver.  Can Perry stop her or at least come out unscathed?

This fun novel reads like a movie.  Perry is upset with having to take Gobi to the prom and becomes shocked when she suddenly transforms into this sexy assassin with her sights set on killing very powerful people in the city.  The novel twists and turns as facts surrounding her plans are revealed and the ending is very satisfying.  Recommended for people looking for a fun, short, and exciting read.

Crazy by Han Nolan

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  348

RAC:  Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2013-2014

Jason tries to blend in at school and not draw anyone’s notice because he doesn’t want anyone to know how bad his home life is.  His father has always had some mental issues, but when his mother suddenly dies he finds it is up to him to take care of his father and everything else.  When he tries to rebel against some of the rules in class, however, he ends up having to meet with other troubled teens in a counseling session every week.  Soon, he comes to find that others have difficult issues to deal with as well and begins to open up a bit.  Will his new friends help him keep his secret even after they see his deplorable living conditions and the fact that he is solely responsible for his father’s survival?

This is a powerful story about a group of young kids who deal with more than most students can probably imagine in a single day.  Loss of parents, illness, infidelity, divorce, mental illness, and substance abuse are all discussed as these high school students try to help each other cope.  The counseling sessions do help Jason come to terms with the fact that he is not alone and he can reach out to people.  Reading this book could help high school students to be more understanding of each other and hopefully not as superficial.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

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Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  298

RAC:  Yes

Iowa High School Award Winner 2013-2014

In this prequel to Frankenstein, Victor desperately tries to find a cure for his twin, Konrad, when he mysteriously falls ill.  They had always had a spirited rivalry in everything in life, including their mutual interest in the young girl who lives with their family, but despite all the competition Victor simply cannot imagine life without Konrad.  He decides to seek the help of an eccentric scientist in the area who believes he can find the Elixir of Life.  There are many tasks to complete in order to acquire the ingredients for this mixture and Victor must make many difficult decisions in order to try and save his brother.  What is Victor willing to give up in order to save Konrad?

The tasks Victor must complete in order to gather the materials for Konrad’s cure are exciting, dangerous, and in many cases frightening.  Readers will enjoy the journey as Victor tries to save his brother, while also harboring feelings for Konrad’s girlfriend.  The ending is exciting and leads into a sequel.  This title is a hard sell for students who do not like historical fiction, but once they start it they find it is a wild adventure they want to take.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

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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.

You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  289

RAC:  Yes

     Luna and her family are struggling to deal with the unexpected death of her mother.  A year after she was hit and killed by a taxi, Luna goes to her mother’s studio and finds her cell phone with seven unheard messages.  As Luna slowly listens to the messages she begins to learn things she never suspected about her mother.  Could it be possible that her mother’s death was not an accident?  Is there information her father is not sharing with her?

     The book lives up to its title in that there is information to be learned from the seven messages, but Luna does not linger too long on them and instead moves on to finding out more.  The relationship with her neighbor seems a bit tiresome at times, but Luna’s relationship with her father and brother are rich and help establish their home life before their mother’s death.  The ending is satisfying, but there is no surprise that the reader won’t predict early on.  Fans of Lipstick Apology will enjoy this title.

Artichoke’s Heart by Suzanne Supplee

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  276

RAC:  Yes

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.


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