Posts Tagged 'betrayal'

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

The Betrayed by Kiera Cass

Genre: Romance

Number of Pages: 292

In this sequel to The Betrothed, Hollis has been forced to flee her home country after her husband and parents were brutally murdered. All she has left is her new mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have chosen to return to their homeland, but they are unsure if they will be welcome as the Isoltan King has made it clear he does not trust their family. Her husband’s cousin, Etan, has come to help them on the long journey but he has made it very clear that he does not care for Hollis and feels she has put his family in unnecessary danger. Hollis finds that she must prove herself to everyone she meets in this new kingdom because so few people trust Coroans. As she tries time and again to prove her loyalty to the family, Etan begins to come around and eventually the two grow close. They can’t help but feel guilty about their new infatuation after the recent demise of Hollis’s husband, who was Etan’s cousin. When they are summoned for a wedding of the Prince of Isolte, the King is very surprised to hear that Hollis’s husband and his family were brutally murdered. Hollis finds this interesting because she had assumed he was the one who ordered the attack. If the King of Isolte did not order her husband’s death then who did? Is she still in danger from this person? Why would someone want to murder her entire family on her wedding day? Is there any way for her and Etan to be together without feeling terrible guilt?

This book has a lot more action and drama than the first one did. The Betrothed ended in a really exciting way, but The Betrayed has more action and plot twists throughout the entire story. Hollis is a much stronger character than she first appears, but that could be because she finds along the way that there are things she truly cares about. In the beginning she simply went along with whatever people asked her to do, but by the end she is a force and will not be silenced. The ending has a few convenient developments that readers might find to be too easy, but nonetheless they will be satisfied with the ending of the story. The characters grow and develop throughout this series and readers will care what happens to them in the end.

Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu

Genre: Fantasy

Number of Pages: 296

The princesses of Ever were all cursed by a witch, Regan, five years ago. On their 13th birthday, each of them has lost something. Jane, the oldest, lost the ability to eat. Although she has not died she has withered away and become very weak and feeble. Meanwhile, her sisters lost the ability to sleep, love, remember, and hope, respectively. At the same time they were cursed their mother was frozen into a glass box overlooking the kingdom. The witch who cast the curse did so in a fit of rage and didn’t properly think through the repercussions. The king seems unperturbed by his family getting cursed and still seems happy and well adjusted, despite his wife and daughters’ suffering. Also, the princesses must break the curse before the Regan’s 18th birthday…which is in five days. As the princesses and Regan work together to try and break the curse they realize they may not be as different as they previously thought. They also begin to uncover a lot of secrets the kingdom has been hiding. Is it too late to save everyone? Can they bring back happiness to EVERYONE in the kingdom and not just the royalty? Can royalty and witches come together in harmony without fighting for power?

This fantasy story is unique, which fantasy fans will enjoy. The characters are all well developed and the plot has several twists and turns that will surprise the reader, but are completely supported by the set up of the story. The female characters are all strong and brave in their own way and they begin to see they have been deceived by the king, the most powerful man in the kingdom. The ending is very exciting and satisfying, which will leave readers wanting more. Recommended for fantasy fans.

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.


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