Posts Tagged 'betrayal'

The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer

Genre: Romance

Number of pages: 280

Ellie Agresti was blindsided when her boyfriend of 8 months dumped her on the first day of senior year. Ellie had been a semester transfer the year before and therefore hadn’t made many friends of her own once she met Hunter and she joined his group of friends. Now, she is facing a horrible reality of starting school alone yet again. To make matters worse, she is in Home Ec with Hunter and his new girlfriend, Brynn, and they seem to make it a mission to rub their relationship in her face. She ends up with a bizarre group of students for her home ec group, but as time goes on Ellie begins to realize they all have their strengths. Slowly, her home ec group starts to work together and fight to be the champion group by the end of the semester. One member of the group, Luke, started out really annoying Ellie but she grows to find him funny, smart, and helpful. The only problem is that Luke has been dating a girl for awhile and she is determined to never do to anyone else what happened to her. Can her and Luke find a way to be together where it doesn’t feel like she broke them up? Can her home ec group master the skills required for life and beating the other home ec groups in her class? Can Ellie find a way to be happy in this new school on her own, without the help of a boyfriend to tell her what to do or who to hang out with?

This book is fun and funny as Ellie struggles with very relatable high school issues such as dating and group projects. She definitely has a lot to juggle and often mistakes are made, which many readers will be able to identify with. She is quick to apologize if she is wrong and willing to take responsibility for her actions, even when provoked. The romance between Luke and Ellie is slow building and exciting as they truly get to know each other and find ways to support each other in their own ways. Fans of romances by authors such as Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will enjoy this title.

Baby and Solo by Lisabeth Posthuma

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance

Number of Pages: 406

Joel has had some difficult struggles in his life and he is hoping for a fresh start when he gets a part time job at a video rental place (this book is set in the 90s). Everyone at the store adopts movie names and he becomes Solo. His first day on the job he meets Baby and he is immediately intrigued by her. She asks him to help her with a huge favor, and he realizes that everyone has stuff they are dealing with. As their friendship develops, Baby starts to get frustrated that he knows so much about her and she doesn’t know anything about him, but he is afraid she’ll never look at him the same way again if she knew about his past. He knows, eventually, everyone will find out about “the bad thing that happened” but until that time comes he wants to just be Solo and enjoy having friends and a normal life for once, especially as things at home deteriorate even further than they already had. Can he ever move on from the terrible events in his past? Will his friends stand by him if they knew everything he has been through?

This book has a fun 90s nostalgia being set in a video store. Even readers too young to remember traditional video stores will be able to clearly see why they were so popular and why a group of teenagers would have so much fun working here. Baby and Solo both have some serious issues they are dealing with and often they lash out either verbally or physically as a means to cope with what is happening. The side characters are all well developed too and it’s easy to see why they would both be more comfortable at times with the employees at the video store than with their parents at home. Readers will find themselves drawn in by the characters and trying to find out Solo’s secrets before Baby does. Fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park will enjoy this story about two people meeting under the wrong circumstances who still manage to be there for each other during tough times.

Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Genre: Mystery

Rachel Krall has a murder podcast that has gained her some notoriety, but she is used to being fairly anonymous which is why she’s so stunned when she starts receiving letters on her car, in her hotel room, and other places that no one should know about. The letters are from the sister of a girl, Jenny Stills, who died 25 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Officially, the death was ruled a drowning, but as Rachel starts investigating it does seem like the facts don’t add up. In the meantime, the reason Rachel is in this small town is to report on a rape trial going on that has divided the town. Everyone has an opinion about the two people involved in this case and feels like they should have a say in what happens. The boy is a promising swimmer and many believe that he shouldn’t have his reputation sullied by a girl they believe simply changed her mind. The girl’s parents, however, say she hasn’t been the same since that fateful day and they know it was indeed rape. Can Rachel report on this case in a way that portrays both sides equally and fairly while holding off the growing hostility of the people in the town? Can she get to the bottom of what happened to Jenny Still all those years ago and bring peace to Jenny’s sister?

This story is engaging from the beginning as both the ongoing trial and the mystery from the past have many twists and turns in them. The fact she runs a podcast is also interesting because more and more people have been enjoying crime podcasts lately. Rachel’s character seems fleshed out and you can definitely see how motivated she is to make her podcast relevant, but also factual. The eventual resolution is satisfying and doesn’t feel too rushed as the pieces start to come together. Fans of The Escape Room, The Woman in Cabin 10, and the Woman in the Window will enjoy this title.

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Enchanted Jones dreams of one day becoming a professional singer, which is why she sneaks off to an audition she knows her parents would say no to. Even though she is not cast for the role she auditioned for, she is noticed by one of the judges, R&B singer Korey Fields. She is immediately swept up in his attention and believes he really wants to help her make a record and improve her singing talent. Korey even convinces her parents to let her travel with him on tour, but things quickly turn sour when Enchanted realizes Korey is not the man he claims to be. At this point, she isn’t sure how to break away from him, though. She’s given up so much for this life and he has convinced her she deserves to be treated the way he treats her. Is there anyone out there who can help her get away from this terrible situation? Anyone who would believe the truth about Korey Fields?

This powerful, timely story is relatable to so many young girls who have had their dreams cast aside by powerful men who believe they can take what they want in life. This book does not shy away from difficult topics such as abuse and rape, but it is done in a way that seems respectful to the main character being forced to go through this. This is a story that will be hard for some readers, but it’s important to have this kind of book available so students are aware of different ways grown ups can take advantage of kids. Fans of The Hate U Give, or similar titles that delve into tough topical issues, will enjoy this title.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Genre: Fantasy

Number of Pages: 418

Deka has been dreading her purity ceremony for her entire life since she has always felt like an outsider. A purity ceremony is when a village tests the blood of all girls who have turned 16 to see what color it is. If a girl’s blood turns red, she is welcomed into the community, but if it doesn’t she is considered unnatural and put to death. On the fateful day, some monsters attack the villagers at the ceremony and Deka steps up to help, but in doing so shows that she has the ability to communicate with them. One of her friends, horrified by what he saw, stabs her to see what color her blood is and it runs gold. She is then tortured for weeks while they figure out what to do with her, but then a mysterious woman comes and offers her the chance to come with her and fight with girls just like her against a powerful foe of the kingdom. This may be her only chance to escape a life of torture and regret. Does she have the strength to fight for a people that would hate her based on the color of her blood? Can she find a way to get to the truth of who she really is?

Deka’s story is engaging from the beginning as it is so easy to identify with a girl who just wants to fit in and make her father proud. Unfortunately, things are not that easy and instead she faces pain, both physical and emotional, as she watches everyone she ever loved turn against her. The history of these magical people, or Alaki, takes awhile to be revealed, but in the process Deka learns a lot about the many girls who came before her and the sacrifices they made. The ending is especially satisfying as it is revealed who she can really trust and who has betrayed her. Fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Grace and Fury will enjoy this title.

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

Genre: Fantasy

Number of Pages: 325

Isda was rescued from a well at birth after being cast aside by her mother for being a gravoir. A gravoir is someone who can maniupulate other people’s memories when they sing and it is illegal to raise a gravoir, which is why her mother tried to kill her. Cyril, the owner of the opera house, kept her in the shadows her entire life so she could manipulate the memories of the opera guests in a way they would remember the shows more fondly and want to buy more tickets. She always felt like Cyril did his best toward her and even cared for her, until she met a new janitor by the name of Emeric. Not only was Emeric’s voice mesmerizing, but when he sang his memories were vibrant and colorful and Isda was immediately drawn to him. She knew he had potential to be an amazing opera star with a little training and she convinces him to let her train him so that she can have a hand at putting someone on the stage, even if it can’t be her. As they grow closer, Isda knows that if Cyril or anyone else finds out her entire existence could be put into jeopardy. Plus, she begins to think there are skills she may have that Cyril has not told her about. Is she capable of more? Who can she really trust: Cyril or Emeric? How much trouble would she really be in if she were discovered?

Fans of musicals and the stage will be captivated by this tale of an outcast simply wanting to fulfill her dreams, including finding a friend. As the story develops, the action really takes off and you can’t help but root for the main characters to find truth and happiness. The rules for this world are fully developed and explained as the story goes on, which is why some aspects of the ending are so powerful. There are many plot twists in this creative setting and fans will want to see more from this world. Highly recommended for fantasy readers.

Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

Genre: Mystery

Signal Deere was convicted of murdering her best friend, Rose, but even though Signal woke up covered in Rose’s blood she knows she’s innocent. It does not help that she has been classified as a Class A, which is the most dangerous kind of criminal. Therefore, when she is approached about joining a new secret program where they take teenage Class A criminals and train them to be assassins she knows this is her only way out of jail for the rest of her life. The obvious problem here is that Signal is not a killer and has difficulty from the start with the trainings they make her do. The counselor in charge of them seems to be trying to make life particularly difficult for Signal. She quickly realizes that the other teens in the program do not have any issue with killing. Erik, in particular, notices right away that Signal really doesn’t belong there, but in order to survive she must try her best to succeed in the tasks before her. Things get more complicated when a man wearing a mask infiltrates their camp and the counselors won’t tell anyone who he is or what he wants. Can Signal survive a place where they are trying to make her a killer surrounded by other killers? Can she trust anyone around her? Will she ever be able to clear her name and find out who really killed Rose?

This book really takes off once Signal gets to the camp and meets the other teenage criminals. It becomes obvious that you can’t really classify people into nice, easy categories and Signal helps each of them to see that there is more to them than their past actions. She becomes increasingly aware of the dangers surrounding her in this place where she doesn’t know how to defend herself. Once it becomes clear they are in danger, the teens band together, but in the end they are not the ones in charge and things go sideways pretty quickly as they try to rebel. Signal’s backstory is explored, but readers will want to know more about what happened to Rose and how her death came to be. Readers will also be eager to see more after the exciting ending that leaves the future of these teens in question. Hopefully, there will be a sequel to continue Signal’s story. Recommended for fans of forensic mysteries.

I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 326

Ruthie grew up in Anchorage, but moved away with her mom three years ago. After her mom’s sudden death she is set to return to live with her dad, whom she hasn’t seen since he got sober, and his new wife and stepsister. Ruthie is very excited to see her best friend, Zahra, whom she hasn’t seen since she moved away, but when she texts her to let her know she’s moving back she is surprised not to get a response. When she arrives she goes immediately to Zahra’s house in order to see her, but learns she hasn’t returned home from a big party on Friday night. By Monday morning the entire high school is buzzing with the news that Zahra is missing and Ruthie thinks it’s her job to find her, even if that means skipping school, ditching her step sister, and going against her father’s wishes. As she tries to unravel the mystery of what happened to Zahra, Ruthie begins to learn that the girl she remembers has changed a lot and she isn’t sure why. Has Zahra really changed that much or does Ruthie remember her differently than she actually was? Will she be able to find Zahra before it is too late and what secrets will she stumble across along the way?

This psychological thriller will keep you guessing until the shocking conclusion. The pieces of the puzzle are all there, but it takes awhile to put them together as Ruthie goes on her quest to find Zahra at all costs, no matter who she has to step on in the process. Along the way, Ruthie encounters a variety of interesting characters who all know a little about who Zahra really is and what might have happened to her. Fans of mysteries will be satisfied with the exciting ending.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Number of Pages: 313

Nannerl Mozart, Wolfgang’s real life sister, was also a very talented musician and composer, but due to her gender history would not remember her. In this fantasy retelling, she is desperate to get credit for her work and to be remembered for it. She strikes a deal with a fantastical princeling named Hyacinth from a strange land who promises her everything she wants in life, but first she must complete a few tasks for him in what she comes to know as the kingdom of back. The land is scary and mysterious, but she feels like she must do as Hyacinth says in order to get the life she knows is not possible for her under her father’s watchful eye. She starts to wonder, however, what this deal will truly cost her and her beloved younger brother she affectionately calls Wolferl. Can she complete the dangerous tasks Hyacinth has laid out for her? What are the repercussions for following Hyacinth’s instructions? Will she be able to truly share her gift with the world or forever be lost in Wolfgan’s shadow?

This retelling is fun, exciting, adventurous, and educational as many of the facts about the Mozart family are true. Nannerl is struggling to find her place in a world and a family where she has no voice. Nevertheless, as much as she envies the life her younger brother has before him she knows she would do anything to protect him. The many uncertainties of being a young lady during this time are very accurately portrayed and give the reader an idea of just how serious poverty, illness, and public opinion could be. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

No Exit by Taylor Adams

Genre: Thriller Mystery

Number of Pages: 307

Darby is trying to get home to her sick mother before she goes in for emergency surgery, but is forced to stop at a rest stop in a blizzard with four strangers. They are resigned to the fact that they will be stuck there for the night, but when Darby tries to get a cell phone signal outside she inadvertently discovers that one of the cars parked outside the rest stop has a little girl trapped in a cage. She knows it is up to her to rescue this little girl from whichever of the strangers inside has her trapped. She has no idea who she can trust, however. With no cell service or any way to get help she must find a way to rescue the girl on her own. Can she save the girl and escape the blizzard without tipping off the person who took her? Can she get to her mother before it’s too late?

This thriller mystery packs several twists and turns as Darby tries to find out what the story behind the kidnapped little girl is. At first, she thinks it’s pretty straight forward, but nothing is ever as simple as it first appears and she must make some tough decisions if she wants to truly save the girl and hopefully herself. The ending is satisfying, but by no means tidy. Recommended for fans who like a little grit in their mysteries and aren’t afraid of a bit of violence.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Genre: Historical Fiction

Number of Pages: 451

The first in a series, Dread Nation follows Jane McKeene in an alternate post Civil War where a mysterious plague has swept the nation and the dead have begun to rise as zombies. Jane was taken from her home to study at Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls where she has been training to take on zombies for over a year. Jane has not heard from her mother in almost a year and is worried their home has been overrun, but until she knows for sure she dutifully keeps writing to her. Meanwhile, Jane is struggling in her studies. She’s an excellent combat fighter, but her etiquette skills leave something to be desired and one teacher in particular has taken a dislike to her, which isn’t helping. If she can graduate from this institution she is hopeful she can get a good job where she can dedicate her time to fighting these zombies, but if she gets expelled before that she won’t be able to find work anywhere. When a local family vanishes overnight a local friend asks Jane to help find out what happened to them, but the more Jane investigates the more questions she has. Worst of all, as she begins to uncover inconsistencies all around her she realizes she does not know whom she can trust. Can Jane survive long enough to get out of this place and find out what happened to her family? Can Jane help her friend find out what happened to the missing neighbors?

This alternative historical fiction book delves into several pertinent issues such as pandemics, politics, and race and gender equality that could be applied to today’s world. Jane is a complicated character who never promises to be perfect or totally truthful with her secrets. Nevertheless, she is quick on her feet and loyal to those she wants to protect. She knows she has a hard lot in life and she does not waste time feeling sorry for herself, but instead tries to do the best she can with the opportunities she has. Readers will be drawn into this exciting, fast paced story as Jane deals with a variety of injustices around her, least of all the zombies trying to attack her all the time. Highly Recommended.

The Dreamsinger by Edward Myers

Genre: Fantasy

Number of Pages: 201

This unique fantasy story revolves around a world where music contains power and is therefore controlled by the Masters. Allu is musically talented, however, and is invited by the Masters to train on how to properly yield its power. Allu meets a young man named Ned and everything changes as she realizes just how unjust their society is and how little control most people have over their own lives. Together, they begin a dangerous adventure in order to try and free everyone from the confines the Masters have set for them. Can they succeed in freeing the power of Music from the Masters? Will they be able to flee the long grasp the Masters have on the region?

This story is fun and exciting right from the beginning and readers will enjoy the interesting take on music being the source of all power. Allu and Ned are properly fleshed out so that it is obvious to see what their motivations and weaknesses are as they embark on such a dangerous mission and readers will want to know what happens to them on this journey. Recommended for male and female readers as well as fans of fantasy, adventure, and reluctant readers.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 420

Ellingham Academy was founded in the 1930s by Albert Ellingham who wanted to created a school for talented young people. It was made famous in 1936 when Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and ransomed. After Ellingham paid the ransom, however, they still were not returned. The whereabouts in particular of little Alice Ellingham has been a mystery ever since. In present day, Stevie Bell has been admitted to Ellingham Academy and she cannot wait to try to solve this decades old case. She wants to be a detective when she grows up and she feels she has learned enough about the case and sleuthing techniques to be able to solve this case once she is able to get onto campus. Shortly, after the school year begins, a fellow student is found dead in a recently unearthed tunnel. Was it an accident or was it murder? Stevie begins to grow convinced that the present day mystery is connected to the 1936 mystery and is determined to prove it. If there is a murderer on campus, though, will she be next?

This is the first in a three part mystery series and each one provides clues and shocking twists to the eventual reveal of both the 1936 mystery and the present day events. The cast of characters that Stevie meets at Ellingham Academy are interesting and colorful, but most importantly they are all supportive of each other’s interests and strengths. The story flips between Stevie in the present tense and then events and news clippings from the 1930s to help the reader piece together the mystery at the same time as Stevie. Fans of mystery stories will enjoy this series because since it take place over three books and therefore has the ability to truly develop at a natural pace while also fleshing out the unique culture of Ellingham Academy.

How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkhoff

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 310

Amina has struggled since her Jewish mosque was attacked several months before. Her anxiety has grown to the point that she has nightmares and her parents have decided a change of scenery might be helpful. So, she is going to the prestigious Gardner Academy on scholarship. Amina is a little annoyed her family is sending her away, but she quickly meets a group of friends who all share anxieties of their own and they form their own club where they prepare for different survival skills and scenarios. Along the way, Amina realizes that there have been bad things that have happened to all of the members of the group, except one. Everyone thought they were pranks or unfortunate occurrences, but Amina is starting to wonder if there is a more sinister plan at hand and wonders if their survival group is a target. Could it be Jo, the only member who hasn’t been harassed? Could it be someone else who is trying to hurt their circle of friends and if so, then why? Can Amina find a way to keep them all together so that they can face their anxieties together without turning on each other?

There is a fair amount of discussion on different forms of survival skills and possible hardships that could happen at any time from natural disasters to global warming to terrorist attacks. The focus of the book, however, is definitely the relationships between the characters. They are all totally different and yet they are able to form a cohesive club and each of them has unique relationships between them as well. The struggles Amina faces with her new friends, her family, and even her roommate will resonate with any teenager because everyone can identify with the challenges of maintaining several different relationships at once. At the same time, if you don’t put in the work, then the relationships are much less valuable as well. Recommended for students looking for a thought provoking novel that will resonate with them long after they have finished.

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

Genre: Romance/Realistic Fiction

Number of pages: 390

Prudence always tries her best in everything she does, which is why she has no tolerance for those around her that she sees as lazy or unmotivated. The worst offender of this is her lab partner: Quint. He is always late, frequently does not do things he is supposed to, and never follows her instructions. One day, Prudence slips and falls hitting her head. When she wakes up she appears to have the ability to instantly reward or punish people for bad behavior. She calls this her ability to give instant karma, however, it does not seem to work on Quint. After a disastrous final presentation they are given the chance to redo it if they are willing to work together over the summer. Prudence desperately wants to improve her grade, but Quint has had enough of her condescending comments and eye rolls and is fine taking the grade as it stands. In order to try and convince Quint she goes to the local wildlife refuge where he works and finds herself getting pulled in to volunteering for the summer. She can’t help but notice how special this place is and the work they do for injured sea animals so she tries to help with fundraising efforts, but it’s hard for her to convince Quint her intentions are pure when her reasons for volunteering were to get him to redo the project. Can Prudence convince Quint to redo the project? Can Prudence figure out a way to improve the fundraising efforts of the refuge in order to help them succeed long term? Will Prudence and Quint ever see past their differences and possibly find something more?

This engaging story discusses many interesting topics including conservation, environmental issues, and even the economy and it’s effect on fundraising and small businesses. The characters are all very interesting and just memorable enough that the reader cannot help getting pulled in when Prudence’s integrity is questioned. Despite the title, instant karma is not the focus of the story, but readers who choose this title because of the karma premise will enjoy the dynamic between the characters and the overall story enough to keep reading.


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