Posts Tagged 'faith'

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Genre:  Fantasy

Holly Chase was a wealthy, beautiful, egotistical daughter of a movie director who lived to judge others.  Therefore, it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise when she was visited on Christmas Eve by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.  Yet, Holly chose not to take this experience seriously and laughed it off as a joke despite the ghosts’ warnings that she would die soon if she didn’t change her ways.  Shortly after her disastrous Scrooge experience she is hit by a car and dies.  She wakes up in the office of the company who choose the “Scrooge” each year and she is now required to work here to prepare for each Christmas Eve, but then must also act the role of Christmas past.  She thinks she’ll be stuck in this existence forever until one year her Scrooge is a teenager just like her, and unfortunately, she can see the similarities between herself and her new Scrooge and for the first time she begins to feel bad about the kind of person she really was when she was alive.  Can she save him from the same fate even if she has to break a few rules?

Anyone looking for a fun Christmas read should check this one out.  Holly is brash, bratty, insensitive, and sympathetic all at once.  She’s trying to do better, but doesn’t really know how.  The supporting characters are all fun and colorful, but the focus is definitely on Holly and most of the other characters are not as developed.  The story itself is fun and the reader wants to root for Holly despite her difficult personality.  Recommended.

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Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan

crazy dangerous

Genre:  Mystery

328 p.

2016-17 Iowa High School Award Winner

Sam Hopkins is the son of a preacher so he is often not treated the same as other kids, but he is not immune to bullies either and on one particular day while running he inadvertently draws the attention of three of the biggest bullies in school.  He refuses to back down to them and ends up joining their gang for a short while and they teach him how to steal cars.  Eventually he comes to his senses and realizes that he could get himself into real danger, but just as he’s telling them he won’t steal actual cars with them he sees them pick on Jennifer, who is an unusual girl in school who often speaks of demons and other strange things.  The bullies are about to go after her when Sam steps in and allows her to escape while he himself takes a terrible beating.  Afterward, everyone praises him for saving “poor, crazy” Jennifer and Sam begins to realize that all of  her “premonitions” might in fact be real.  Can he convince anyone that she might really be telling the truth about her visions?  Will he continue to get into more trouble if he keeps staying involved with her?

This story is difficult to describe without giving the heart of the story away.  Sam is confused by Jennifer and her condition, which makes the reader confused as well.  Meanwhile, everything that happens to Sam does eventually come together to make an interesting and complete story, but for a long time several of the pieces do not seem to go together at all.  Sam is a well crafted, complex character who is easy to identify with even if the reader has nothing in common with him.  For those who stick with the story past the beginning they will be pleasantly surprised by the action and fast paced resolution.

Every day by David Levithan

every day

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  322

RAC:  Yes

2016 Iowa High School Award Winner

“A” wakes up in a different body every day and has gotten used to this type of life.  When A wakes up in Justin’s body one day everything changes since Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, and A enjoy a very special day that neither of them can forget.  Eventually, A breaks down and tells Rhiannon about his unusual lifestyle and she’s cautiously supportive.  However, A notices that she does seem to have more trouble accepting A on days when A occupies a female body.  As time goes on, A uses any excuse to go see Rhiannon and in the process alerts one of the hosts, Nathan, to A’s existence.  Nathan decides to go public and announce to everyone that he was inhabited by the devil and A’s life begins to get complicated.  Meanwhile, Rhiannon isn’t sure how much longevity their relationship could really have.  Is there a way for them to stay together when there is absolutely no way to predict whose body A will inhabit from day to day?

This award winning book is unique and asks the reader to think about many issues such as how important appearances are and how important gender is.  A doesn’t care about gender, sexual preference, or appearance because to A it is fluid and doesn’t reflect the person inside.  To others, however, A quickly discovers just how important these things can be.  The book also shows how difficult it would be to not have lasting relationships and cohesive memories.  All in all, a very engaging read recommended for those who like unique romances such as The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor and Park.

The Heir by Kiera Cass

The-Heir_612x925

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of pages:  346

RAC:  yes

It has been twenty years since America Singer won the selection and married Prince Maxon.  Their first born, by seven minutes, is Eadlyn.  Due to the change in law, she is the next in line for the throne and not her younger twin brother.  Eadlyn has felt enormous pressure her entire life because she knows that someday she will rule, but she never realized how much her parents have been shielding her from.  King Maxon abolished the caste system almost immediately after he became king, but all these years later there is still discrimination and unrest going on.  Eadlyn’s parents decide a Selection might shift the focus away from the unrest and onto happier, more exciting things.  Eadlyn is not thrilled by the idea of a Selection and vows to fight it at every turn.  There are several interesting suitors who are chosen and she begins to enjoy herself a bit, but as with any Selection there is a fair share of drama.  Will she find true love?

This follow-up series to the original is fun in that it is from a female perspective and therefore she is unable to get away with stuff her father did simply because he was a man and viewed differently by the public.  Eadlyn takes her responsibilities seriously, but often comes out unlikable because of her brusque attitude.  It’s obvious that she and her siblings know very little about the selection that brought their parents together and that is surprising considering a lot of important events transpired that still effect relations within the castle today.  The ending brought many shocks and surprises which is what fans will be looking for…along with the next book!

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.


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