Posts Tagged 'family'

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: Fantasy

Seven families in Ilvernath fight every generation for access to the high magick. Each family puts forth a competitor and they fight until the death and the winner/survivor’s family gets to control the high magick until the next Blood Moon determines it’s time for a new battle. Up until now this has been a secret arrangement, but an anonymous author recently wrote a tell-all book telling the world all about the bloody battle and suddenly the small town of Ilvernath has been flooded with reporters and tourists trying to see who will be chosen to represent the seven families. Each candidate has their reasons for wanting to represent their family and many have plans for how to outmaneuver the other contestants, but at what cost? What are they willing to sacrifice in order to secure that power for their families? Is there any way to bring this terrible curse to an end?

Each chapter focuses on a different candidate so that you can really see each of their perspectives. Alastair is a Lowe and they have historically won the most times and therefore he feels like he is expected to bring home that win even though he does not feel like his family is particularly supportive of him. Isobel was thrust into the spotlight first and as such seems to have a target on her back from everyone else. Gavin is from the Grieve family who not only rarely wins, but is believed to be the family behind the infamous book. Each character can agree that he or she does not want to die, but in the end they know that some must in order for them to survive. This is a dark tale with a new spin on magical abilities. Fans of Three Dark Crowns and other darker fantasy stories will be eager to see the second installment of this tale.

All This Time by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott

Genre: Romance

From the same authors as Five Feet Apart, this romance story begins with Kyle learning that his longtime girlfriend is actually not going to go to the same college as he is on their graduation night. There is a terrible storm and as they fight about their future together they get into a terrible accident where Kyle is seriously injured and Kimberly dies. He struggles for months to heal and get up every morning knowing that Kimberly is gone. He shuts out friends, puts college on hold, and generally fails to progress in any way. Then, he meets Marley and everything starts to change. Marley has also lost someone close to her and the two of them begin to work through their grief together, but as they begin to find happiness they feel overwhelming guilt that they are here and those they lost are not. Both of them harbor guilt about how their loved one died as well. Kyle can’t help shake the feeling that something will come along to disrupt his happiness because he doesn’t think he deserves it, and something definitely does but it’s something you won’t see coming. Can he fight for what he had with Marley or is it just not the right time?

This story definitely keeps the reader guessing as the plot takes some serious twists. Kyle’s relationship with Kimberly has kept him from truly living his best life and he’s starting to realize that, but also feels terrible about the fact that Kimberly is not there anymore. Marley, meanwhile, has faced some terrible things as well and because of that struggles to truly open up and believe in happy endings and forgiveness. Recommended for fans who enjoy unique romance stories such as The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park.

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.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction and 495 pages

Set in 1957 Madrid, Ana is working at the newly opened American hotel and Daniel has traveled to Madrid with his parents from Texas. Daniel’s mother is Spanish and always wanted to travel there with him, but under Francisco Franco’s rule Americans were not welcome for many years and tourism has only recently opened up. Ana’s family is struggling to pay bills and she is very grateful for the job she has at the hotel, but her and Daniel immediately feel a connection and begin spending time together despite everyone telling them it can only end badly. Daniel aspires to be a photojournalist and takes his fancy camera everywhere, even though the Italian soldiers have tried to intimidate him into not taking any photos of the “real Madrid.” Daniel feels fairly confident that nothing bad will happen to him since he is an American with a powerful father, but Ana knows that the Italian police can make her and her family’s life very hard so she tries to keep her head down and do what is expected of her. Meanwhile, Ana’s cousin and brother have noticed some unusual occurrences at their places of work. Puri, Ana’s cousin, works at an orphanage and begins to suspect that not all of the babies brought to her are actually orphans. Rafa, Ana’s brother, works as a grave digger and he begins to notice that many of the infant coffins that arrive from the local hospital are actually empty. What is happening to the babies in Italy and why is their reported infant mortality rate so high? Is it something Daniel could investigate on his road to hopefully becoming a photojournalist or is it too dangerous? Is there any way for Daniel and Ana to be together or do they just come from too many different backgrounds to make it work?

Once again, Ruta Sepetys has highlighted a time and a place in history that many people do not know much about and put a human face on it. Many aspects of this time period in Madrid are discussed and readers will want to know more about all of the characters. Even some of the less likable characters have understandable reasons for why they act the way they do. The environment has bred fear and want among the Italians and they aren’t sure if it will ever get any better since it’s already pretty far after the war. The characters are all so engaging that readers will find they simply do not want to stop reading about them, but the setting is also unique and thought provoking on its own. Recommended for fans of historical fiction.

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

Genre: Realistic Fiction and 327 pages

Alex Rufus has had the ability to see into the future ever since his parents died. Every time he touches any item or person he sees what will happen to that person or thing in the near or distant future. For example, he knows the ice cream shop he works at will one day be owned by someone else because he can see it when he touches the ice cream scoop at work. He learned long ago that there is no changing the future he sees, no matter what he does, so he tries to avoid touching anything he doesn’t want to know the future to. Having this ability has made him more closed off with his girlfriend and his brother, Isaiah, but he doesn’t know how to change it since so much of his time is spent dealing with the many visions he sees. Then, one day he sees a vision of himself at Isaiah’s funeral in the not so distant future and he knows he needs to act fast. He needs to reconnect with Isaiah and see if there is any way to change this terrible vision he sees. Is there a way to save Isaiah? Is there a way to ever rid himself of this terrible condition so he can truly just enjoy life as it comes at him? Will the community he lives ever see him as anything but a young, black man?

This story really paints of picture of not only how terrible having the ability to see the future would be, but also how difficult growing up black in America can truly be (even in affluent neighborhoods). Alex struggles to communicate with those around him because he fears no one will be able to understand what he is going through, but along the way they show him that they are there for him no matter what. He also learns that by not sharing his thoughts and feelings with others he has also been missing out on what is going on with them. He and his brother have drifted since their parents’ untimely death and while he understands how it happened he also realizes how precious life really is. The ending is satisfying, but does give the reader a lot to think about long after the book is over. Recommended.

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 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.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Genre: Sci/Fi

Number of Pages: 303

Klara is an artificial friend who loves looking out the window at her store hoping that one day she’ll find a family to go home with. Klara is very observant and notices a lot about the people and places around her. This is why she catches the eye of Josie, a young girl who has a stilted walk who comes to the city once in awhile and talks to Josie through the window. She knows she is meant to take Klara home, but it takes her awhile to convince her mother. When Josie finally gets to take Klara home she is blessed to become part of the family, even if Josie does get sick from time to time which causes great stress to the household. Klara feels it is her responsibility to look after everyone and truly wants the best for everyone around her. As Josie’s health deteriorates, Klara feels it is up to her to try and find a way to make her well, but what does she know about such things? Her never-ending hope begins to rub off on those around her and they begin to think that Josie may have a happy ending after all. Can Klara help heal Josie? If Josie grows up what will become of Klara?

This unique story follows an observant, but neutral narrator who truly tells it like she sees it as she doesn’t have any feelings clouding her judgment. It takes awhile to a clear picture to come out about the world this is set in and what tough decisions humans have to face regarding new technology. The characters are all interesting, but the reader only knows as much as Klara can observe so they are not always well developed. Fans of futuristic stories will enjoy this title and find it truly different than other novels.

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.

Hey Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

Genre: Graphic Novel/Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 294

This book tells the compelling story of how the author was raised by his grandparents due to his mother’s struggle with addiction. His grandparents were not perfect either and he had some unusual family interactions growing up, but they were always there for him and wanted him to succeed in life. The special aspect of this book is that it is written as a graphic novel so the reader truly gets to see how the author remembers people and events from his childhood. He also isn’t afraid to discuss troubling issues that he had to deal with including family addiction, family fighting, and even a lack of faith in his own artistic abilities to carry him into adult life. The author’s attention to detail make it especially memorable because the drawings and dialogue really help the reader to understand the family that raised him when his mother no longer could. This coming of age story reflects that even though his childhood wasn’t typical, it was still important and worth telling and made him the person he is today. Highly recommended, especially for reluctant readers or students who are debating on an art or design career.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 388

Emoni Santiago’s life has been difficult since she got pregnant as a freshmen in high school. Now, as a senior she is busy going to school, raising her two year old (with help from her grandmother whom she lives with), working, and honing her gift of cooking. She doesn’t know what the future will hold, but just wants to focus on getting through senior year. That is until she learns there is a new elective in culinary studies that includes a spring break trip to Spain to actually work with Spanish chefs. Even though Emoni has a lot on her plate she cannot resist the opportunity to work with a real chef. Unfortunately, she learns quickly that not everyone is as interested in her unique blend of spices that makes her food so special and she is penalized for not following recipes to the letter. She briefly even considers dropping the course, but something pulls her back and she learns that this could be a real career path for her if she works at it. Can she raise the money for her trip to Spain? Can she find a way to juggle school, parenthood, a job, and college applications? Or would it be better for her daughter if she just started working full time after high school?

Emoni’s story is so relatable to anyone who feels like they are being pulled in different directions by their obligations and their dreams. She often feels weighted down by the pressures on her and even though she is fortunate to have people who care for her and want to help her fulfill her dreams she knows a lot of these responsibilities fall on her. The focus on what it takes to become a chef is refreshing as well. This is not a topic you see in a lot of young adult books, but it is a great example of a very valid career path that many students do not think of. Recommended.

Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 321

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah are the only three grandchildren to the wealthy and influential Mildred Story. They have never met her, though, because before they were born their parents all received a letter from their mother saying she was cutting off all contact with them because “they knew what they did.” They all claim that don’t know what they did and they tried for years to reconcile, but to no avail. Then, all three cousins receive a letter from their grandmother inviting them to come to her vacation island to work for the summer at her resort. They all have their reservations about this, but their parents are so eager to mend fences and get back in the will that they all agree to go. When they arrive it becomes very clear that their grandmother did not invite them and has no interest in getting to know them, which disappoints their parents. The three cousins are enjoying getting to know each other, though, and refuse to leave the island when Mildred’s business manager tries to get rid of them. Can they find out what happened between their grandmother and their parents? Can they get to know their grandmother at all while they are here?

This exciting story follows a wealthy family who has a lot of secrets they do not want to get out. As Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah try to find out what went wrong between their parents and their grandmother all those years ago they find that some of the facts just simply do not add up. Can they uncover the truth before they are forced off the island? Will secrets of their own be revealed along the process? Fans of We Were Liars and other suspenseful mysteries will struggle to put this one down for even a second! Highly recommended.

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Genre: Fantasy

Number of Pages: 376 p.

Anouk was created by a witch who uses her as a maid and refuses to let her outside the house they live in. She calls her a “beastie” because Anouk was originally an animal. She is not the only “beastie”, however, as the witch has also created several others who perform other functions around the house. Anouk has always been relatively happy, even though she is severely punished whenever she makes the witch mad, but she knows her fellow beasties are not so happy. When Anouk discovers the witch murdered in her bedroom she knows she and the others will be blamed so they go on a quest to try and find another spell to keep them human, but they only have three days before the original spell fades and they become animals once again. Can they find a way to stay human? Can they find out who killed their master?

This fantasy story is full of suspense and adventure as Anouk and her siblings strive to clear their names and stay human. Along the way they meet several interesting creatures, but not all of their intentions are pure and it’s difficult for them to know who they can trust. The author does a nice job of introducing the reader to this fantasy world and it’s easy to see this is only the beginning. The first in a series, this is recommended for fans of the Cassandra Clare novels.

Come Find Me by Megan Miranda

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Number of Pages: 326

Kennedy Jones survived a horrible family tragedy, but desperately wants to keep her brother’s science equipment functioning now that he’s gone since it was so important to him. Then, one day his radio telescope starts recording some unusual activity. Meanwhile, in a neighboring county Nolan is struggling to find out what really happened when his older brother and family dog went on a dog and never returned. After an eerie dream, he picks up some ghost tracking equipment to see if his brother is trying to contact him in any way and he ends up picking up some odd signals coming from his brother’s room. Kennedy and Nolan eventually meet up to compare notes on these crazy signals they are finding, but the more they dig the more it feels like the two tragedies are somehow connected. Can they find out what really happened to both of their families that has left them both feeling utterly helpless and alone?

This mystery has a bit of a science fiction feel to it since they are following radio signals, but the heart of what really happened lies with the people who were there when both tragedies occurred. Both Kennedy and Nolan have struggled to deal with their lives in the last few months and haven’t always been the easiest to get along with, even to those people trying to help them. Nolan must even face the hardship that the police think he may have been involved in his brother’s disappearance. It really does show just how complicated family tragedy can be, unlike many procedural mystery shows. Mystery fans will enjoy this title, but the setup takes a little longer than some.


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