Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 391
In this companion to Between Shades of Gray, a group of individual refugees are trying to escape the final dangers of war as the Russians close in. Joana, Emilia, Florian, and a few others end up coming together to try and escape the final horrors of this war. They endure many difficulties on their journey (and they all have their secrets), but eventually make it to the ship called the Wilhelm Gustloff and are granted passage to freedom. The ship is meant to carry 1500 passengers and instead thousands of women, children, and wounded soldiers fill every corridor of this luxury liner. Unfortunately, tragedy and heartache are not behind them quite yet.
The characters in this book are all different and yet interesting in their own way. They’re all escaping something and wish to forget their pasts yet for various reasons they cannot. The story of the Wilhelm Gustloff is in itself very interesting because it was a bigger tragedy than the Titanic, but yet very few people even know about it. Sepetys always finds a way to tell the stories of those people and events that were not properly told in history books. Students at my school have greatly enjoyed learning about Stalin’s regime in Between Shades of Gray and I think they will also enjoy this title and its unique perspective on this terrible war.
Genre: Historical fiction
# of Pages: 405
This title has been on my list to read for awhile and it was worth the wait. Hannah and her mother have never been close, but when her mother dies of Cancer she finds herself lashing out at those around her as if she’s struggling more than she expected. After going through her mother’s things she realizes that not only was her mother German, not Austrian like she’d always been told, but she still had a living grandfather in Germany. She decides to go see him and try to learn why her mother was the way she was. Meanwhile, the story keeps flashing back to Hannah’s mother, Lieselotte as a girl growing up with the ever growing Nazi presence. Lieselotte’s father and brother become completely engaged in the Nazi party, but she finds herself horrified by the injustices she’s seeing around her. She works with a family who was very kind to her mother as she lay dying of Cancer, to aid those being chased from their homes. Hannah slowly uncovers what happened to her mother and why she never told her about her past or her grandfather.
This is a fresh take on WWII fiction in that it really depicts what it was like growing up in Germany during this time no matter where your loyalties laid. At the same time it depicts the lingering affects of WWII and the Nazi mentality. Since Hannah was born and raised in the U.S. she has a hard time understanding why there are still so many hard feelings until it is explained to her just how bad things got for Jews during this time. The story unfolds nicely and it’s easy to see why Lieselotte ended up feeling bitter and betrayed. Highly recommended.
# of Pages: 473
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
Iowa High School Award Winner 2016
Rory is thrilled when she gets accepted into the prestigious Theden Academy, an all expense paid prep school with an excellent reputation. Shortly before she leaves, she learns that her mother, who died in childbirth, also attended Theden and left her a symbolic necklace. This story is set in the future where everyone is dependent on their smart phones and uses an app called Lux that makes literally every decision for them from what to major in to what to eat for breakfast. As Rory settles in she meets a young barista at a nearby coffee shop and he helps her see what a disadvantage it is to always have an app make decisions for you. She begins using Lux less and less and in the process notices more around her, including the shady practices of her new school. Is someone out to get her? What really happened to her mother and did she actually die during childbirth?
This is a fun, fast paced story that fans of futuristic fiction will enjoy. The story is detailed and has many revelations that unfold in a timely way. The characters are all well developed and it’s easy for the reader to see each of their motivations. Despite there being quite a market for futuristic dystopian-esque books this one is unique enough to stand out and will keep readers engaged.
# of pages: 277
Jillian does not believe in paranormal activity, but yet she works running her father’s paranormal investigation firm ever since he left her to fend for herself and her dying mother. She tells clients what they want to hear in order to earn money to pay the electric bill, but that does not stop her from judging those who do believe in the paranormal. When a high school classmate offers to pay big money for her to find her missing boyfriend, Jillian jumps at the chance until the mysterious new student, Sky, inserts himself into the investigation claiming that there is supernatural activity at work here. As Jillian and Sky work the case she faces the possibility that supernatural occurrences might actually exist.
Fans of mysteries and fantasy will enjoy this light, fun story about a teenage girl trying to do it all. There is a lot about Jillian’s backstory that has not been uncovered yet, including a mysterious obituary she finds of herself dated six months in the future listing a sister among her family whom she’s never heard of. There’s plenty more stories Jillian can and probably will tell in future volumes.
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 25, 2016
RAC , Romance
Tags: friendship, promise, Romance, trust
# of Pages: 327
Kahlen was turned into a siren when she was a teenager after witnessing her entire family’s demise at the hands of the sirens that preceded her. Kahlen finds the life very sad and struggles to forget the faces of the people they drown with their songs in the Ocean in order to appease Her. At the same time, she loves the Ocean and believes she cares about her too. One day she meets a young man in a library and despite the fact she cannot speak around him he finds her interesting anyway. They spend very little time together before she realizes she is falling for him and makes the decision to stay away because she still has 20 years on her sentence as a siren. Months later, after a devastating event, she finds herself running back to him and they have an amazing day together. Can they find a way to be together? Is being together safe for either one of them?
Once again Keira Cass has created an interesting tale of two people who have an instant connection and yet are not able to be together due to her situation as a siren. The fact that the ocean is a character is unique and Cass finds a way to make that work so that you both like and hate the ocean at the same time. Readers will appreciate that Kahlan and Akinli’s story finishes in one book. The story is captivating, but it would have lost something if it was stretched out for any longer than one novel. Fans of the Selection will enjoy this title.
** Special Review**
Genre: Futuristic Sci/Fi Thriller
# of Pages: 259
Avalon wakes up in her cryochamber and learns that she has been frozen for 100 years. She also remembers that when her father predicted that a meteor would strike earth, and completely decimate life as they knew it, only 5000 people were allowed into the underground habitat that was created to sustain life until humans could return to the surface again. Since such a limited number of people were allowed into the habitat only younger people were allowed and Avalon was forced to say goodbye to her beloved father. Upon reawakening, Avalon notices some strange happenings in the habitat including that some people seem to be getting deathly ill when they are supposed to be immune from such diseases due to a vaccine everyone receives once they come out of the cryochamber. Who could be behind this? Whom can she trust in this new place surrounded by people she does not know? Should she speak up and ask questions or simply take the safer route and follow the rules?
Fans of futuristic novels such as The Testing, Alive, Across the Universe, or Red Rising will enjoy this title. The plot moves quickly and the characters are interesting and engaging. There is some resolution, but the ending definitely leaves room for a sequel. While some aspects in the story can be found in other similar titles, there is enough originality here to draw readers in and make them want to know what’s going on in this strange habitat controlled by a few people. Recommended.