Posts Tagged 'family'



Red Rising by Pierce Brown

red rising

Genre:  Science Fiction/Fantasy

# of Pages:  400

RAC:  Yes

Darrow is a “red” in a caste society where reds work below the surface of Mars trying to terraform the planet for other life forms to eventually come live on the surface.  The work is hard and thankless and they are compensated with hardly any food and poor living conditions.  Darrow’s wife, Eo, believes there is more than the “golds” are telling them and thinks they should revolt in order to get to the truth.  Darrow lost his father when he peacefully protested their work conditions and does not want to lose anyone else.  When Eo defies the golds anyway, she is publicly hanged and Darrow refuses to let this go.  He eventually gets a makeover to make him look like a gold so that he can infiltrate the golds to take them down from the inside.  He learns that the golds have been hiding a lot about the actual development of the planet Mars in order to keep them in a lowly position.  He vows revenge for his entire family who are starving and slaving so that others can grow fat and rich.  Will they discover he is not truly a gold?  Will he find any compassion for the golds he has come to despise?

Fans of futuristic fiction will enjoy this title because there is a lot of violence and colorful characters.  The story eventually evolves into a competition similar to the Hunger Games that will keep even reluctant readers’ attention.  Many questions are left unanswered and there is currently one sequel already.  While it is similar to other titles out there it is unique enough that it is finding an audience of supporters who desperately want to know what will happen to Darrow.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

universe

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  407

RAC:  Yes

Alex Woods has had a very interesting life.  He lives with his single mother who owns and operates a fortune teller business and when he was ten he was hit by a meteorite that actually plummeted through his bathroom ceiling.  Since his accident he’s had trouble with seizures and unfortunately, bullies.  On one such occasion when he was running from bullies he ended up getting blamed for an act of vandalism on a elderly man’s home.  His punishment was to go to Mr. Petersen’s house every Saturday to help him out.  All of this leads up to the story that begins with Alex getting arrested by border patrol because he has marijuana in his glove compartment and Mr. Petersen’s ashes in the seat next to him.  What happened that led to this moment?

This story is quirky and weird in a way that makes the reader want to know more.  The last 100 pages are especially compelling as the facts all start to come together and it becomes obvious what Alex and Mr. Petersen are going to do.  Fans of John Green novels will like this title because the characters are smart and unique and the story seems unbelievable and yet believable at the same time.

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!

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

all fall down

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  310

RAC:  Yes

Grace knows she saw a man with a scar on his face standing over her mother’s dead body three years ago.  Yet, everyone tells her that her mom died of an accidental fire in her antique shop.  For three years, Grace has seen countless doctors and retold her story to many well meaning people who think she’s simply going crazy from the trauma of losing her mother.  Grace’s father has been stationed overseas and so she is forced to go live with her grandfather where he works as the U.S. ambassador to the tiny country, Adria.  Returning to her mother’s childhood home brings back many feelings and fears for Grace, none of which are helped when she sees the man with the scar she saw that fateful night.  Will anyone believe her story now?  Can she prove her mother’s death wasn’t an accident and prove her sanity?

Fans of Ally Carter books will like this new series as well.  It’s fun, unique, and has some clever plot twists.  The characters are interesting, but will get more engaging with each installment.  Grace’s post traumatic stress is described vividly and helps the reader understand why everyone around her feels she’s an unreliable witness.  Recommended to readers looking for a quick read.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

we were liars

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  225

RAC:  Yes

Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat called themselves the liars every summer they spent together on the elite Sinclair island.  The Sinclair family was wealthy, beautiful, and envied everywhere they went.  Cady, the narrator, explains how her grandparents built a house for all three of their daughters on this island so that they could all spend every summer together.  Cady, Mirren, and Johnny were cousins, while Gat was the nephew of their aunt’s boyfriend.  Two years ago something terrible happened that no one will tell Cady about.  All she knows is that she was found in her underwear on the beach with no memory of how she came to be there or what happened.  Her family has decided to shield her from whatever harsh truth she has chosen to block out and even refused to let her come to the island the following summer.  When she finally returns the summer of her 18th year she finally gets to see all of her fellow liars again and they seem exactly the same, but even they won’t tell her what happened that fateful night when everything went black for Cady.  How can she learn the truth if no one will help her?  What could have happened that would cause all of this chaos?

Cady is a very unique character who is desperately trying to find out what happened to her two full years ago that her mind simply can’t handle.  The ending of this one is amazing in that not only does it completely fit with the rest of the story, but no one will see it coming.  The characters are well developed and all help Cady remember that traumatic day, but ultimately it’s Cady who needs to put the pieces together.  Recommended for everyone, but especially reluctant readers.

Atlantia by Ally Condie

atlantia

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  298

RAC:  Yes

Rio and her twin, Bay, were born in the underwater town of Atlantia and it is now their chosen time to decide if they wish to stay below or go up to the surface for the rest of their lives.  People in the underwater city believe that life above ground is dangerous, labor intensive, and fairly short while residents of Atlantia are believed to have an easy life where most people live a very long time.  Unfortunately, their mother, Oceana, was recently found dead and many suspect foul play.  Rio has always dreamed of going above, but now that their mother is gone she has promised Bay she will stay with her down below.  All decisions are final in this ceremony and there is no going back and forth allowed.  Rio is shocked when Bay ends up leaving her and choosing to live above the water, but she is ushered away before Rio has a chance to ask her why.  She does have time to utter one word that alerts those near to her of what she truly is, which is a siren.  Her mother has trained her to keep that truth a secret for reasons unbeknownst to Rio.  Can Rio survive in the one place she has wanted to leave her entire life without her mother or sister?  Why would her sister choose to leave after making her promise they would stay together forever?  Is it possible to bridge the two societies together?

This novel is fresh and interesting right from the beginning.  It feels like yet another futuristic story, but the setting and characters quickly help you to forget all of that as you cannot help but get immersed in the story.  Rio has many plot details to figure out in order to find out the truth of her family and Atlantia itself.  While many great characters are introduced, it does take Rio awhile to discern whom she can and cannot trust which makes the journey more interesting for the reader.  It also appears that this is going to be a stand alone novel which is refreshing in a world where every book seems to have three sequels.  Recommended for students who enjoy fantasy.

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

otherwesmoore

Genre:  Non-fiction

# of pages:  239

RAC:  Yes

Wes Moore was born in a tough neighborhood in Baltimore and eventually ended up in military school where he went on to become a very successful Rhodes Scholar.  Meanwhile, another Wes Moore, born in the same neighborhood mere months apart from Wes ended up in jail for life for murder.  These two Wes Moore’s do not meet until adulthood when their lives and futures are already set, but when the author of this book learned of the other Wes Moore’s existence he felt compelled to visit him in prison and get to know him better.  He writes this book to ask what factors sent one Wes Moore down one path and the other Wes Moore down another.  Family support?  Opportunities?  Personal choices?

This story follows both Wes Moore’s lives as they make decisions to ultimately change their paths in two very different directions despite many similarities in the circumstances they were born into.  Both Wes’s grew up without a father, but for very different reasons.  Both Wes’s had chances to escape the life of crime and drugs their surroundings provided.  Both had hard working mothers who tried their best to raise them alone.  How then did one end up a war hero while the other ended up in jail for life?  This book asks difficult questions at a time when too many headlines focus on terrible things that have happened to kids from tough neighborhoods and home lives.  The story can get a bit confusing at times as many characters are introduced quickly, but the plot is interesting and many students will enjoy the honesty present in the text and subject matter.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

youngelites

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  355

RAC:  Yes

Adelina survived a terrible “blood fever” that killed many throughout the land she lives in with her father, mother, and sister.  Her mother, in fact, does not survive the fever.  Adelina is not left unscathed and loses an eye in the process of fighting the terrible disease.  Her father now views her as tainted and damaged.  He blames her for his business losing money and him not being able to sell her off to a rich husband.  Upon overhearing that he plans to instead sell her to a dishonest man looking for a young mistress she decides to flee, but her father catches her and in her anger she brings forth a power she did not know she possessed.  He is trampled and killed in the process.  Adelina is sentenced to death, but the famous and yet elusive “young elites” come and save her.  The “young elites” are made up of scarred survivors of the blood fever who have also acquired special powers and skills.  They agree to train Adelina in her new found skills, but if she fails to learn to control them they will have to dispose of her.  Does Adelina have what it takes to be a “young elite.”

By the same author as the Legend series, this series will interest fans of fantasy fiction such as Rick Riordan and James Dashner.  The story itself follows a similar plot progression as others we have seen, but remains unique enough that the reader will care what happens to Adelina and her sister.  The characters are well written, but their motivations and actions are sometimes unclear.  The ending has a proper buildup and anticipation and comes through with excess action and a dramatic conclusion.  This is a solid beginning to an interesting new series.

Dust Lands: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

dust lands

Genre:  Adventure/Futuristic/Survival

# of Pages:  459

RAC:  Yes

Saba lives with her twin brother, father, and little sister in the middle of a desserted, dry place.  Lugh, her twin, begins to worry about their survival with the lake drying up and their overall lack of food.  Her father has never been the same since Saba’s mother died giving birth to her sister, Emmi.  Unexpectedly one day, four men in long robes riding horses kidnap Lugh and kill her father who tries to stop them.  Saba and Emmi then begin a long journey to try and find Lugh, but before they get far they are captured and Saba is forced to cage fight daily for her life in a brutal coliseum type entertainment venue where people come to watch young girls die.  While incarcerated, Saba begins to make a few friends and learns a few things about Lugh’s whereabouts, but the more she hears the worse it sounds.  How will she get free so that she no longer has to fight for her life for other’s entertainment?  Will she ever be able to find and rescue her brother and sister?  Can she trust anyone she meets?

This futuristic survival tale will be riveting for anyone who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Maze Runner.  It’s very raw and gritty and leaves the reader truly pulling for Saba who has an unbelievable amount of obstacles in front of her.  Everything that happens to Saba and her friends is brutal, but very realistic and believable unlike some of the other futuristic series out there.  Saba is a flawed and interesting character that makes you wonder what will ultimately happen to her, but the characters around her are also flawed and somehow they all work together to bring forth the best version of themselves.   Recommended

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix

full ride

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of page:  322

RAC:  Yes

Becca Jones and her mother just want anonymity after Becca’s father is sentenced to ten years in prison for multiple counts of conning people out of their life savings so that his family could live a very privileged life.  Becca is about to start high school and completely humiliated by her father’s actions.  Becca and her mother flee Georgia and run to a small town in Ohio where they live very humble, simple lives trying to avoid anyone knowing who they really are.  Three years later Becca is an A student and ready to apply to colleges.  She has tried tirelessly to prove how hard she is willing to work for her future and that she’s not a cheater like her father.  Yet, when she asks her mother for help on financial aide forms her mother gets paranoid and says it won’t be safe for her to do anything online where someone could find them.  Eventually, Becca learns that her mother is harboring a terrible secret about the real reason they fled Georgia in the first place.

This book is written in a way that any young adult girl reading can truly identify with Becca and how she must feel learning about her father’s transgressions and being forced to deal with that humiliation.  Becca and her mother are written very well and have multiple dimensions and motivations for all of their actions.  Becca’s friends start a little flat, but eventually they start to have some real personalities and genuinely seem to care for Becca.  The plot definitely has some twists and turns that readers might not be expecting, but the ending is handled very quickly and neatly.  Overall, an exciting read that reluctant readers will enjoy.

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

avalon

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  418

RAC:  Yes

Jeth and his sister have been working for the evil crime lord, Hammer, ever since their parents were executed for treason and their uncle gambled away their parent’s beloved spaceship, Avalon.  Jeth and his friends work by stealing spaceships to give to Hammer that are then chopped up and sold for pieces.  They are hoping to save enough to buy Avalon back so they can escape for good.  On a routine job, a government official comes to Jeth and claims that his next job will include going to a dangerous part of space to retrieve a lost ship.  He wants Jeth to return the ship to him instead of Hammer and in return promises Jeth full ownership of Avalon as well as the truth about his parents.  Jeth is tempted, but Hammer is not someone people generally cross.  Can he trust this government official?  Does he have a choice?

This space adventure is full of action and twists and turns that keep the reader guessing.  Jeth’s crazy crew all have fun personalities that make them likable and interesting.  The villains are truly terrible people who do unbelievably terrible things.  The plot feels refreshing and unique, unlike some new series out there.  Recommended for fans of Glow, Salvage, and even the Michael Vey series.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

i am the messenger

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  357

RAC:  Yes

Ed Kennedy has zero goals or aspirations for life.  He works as a cab driver, lives with an old dog, and plays card games with his three underachieving friends.  After witnessing the worst bank robbery he’s ever seen, Ed manages to help catch the robber sheerly by luck.  Afterward, he is given quite a bit of notoriety, but more importantly he receives a playing card with three names on it.  He quickly realizes that he needs to find ways to help the people named on the card and some are much more difficult than others.  Each person changes Ed a little bit and he begins to wonder how many names there will be.  He has evidence that someone is watching him to see if he is completing his tasks, but who?  What is the purpose of these little missions?

This powerful story makes you think about the choices you make everyday.  Ed never planned on making much of himself simply because he didn’t think he had any real potential or skills.  These missions help him to learn that he can indeed make a difference in many ways.  What is he meant to do?  His friends are no more motivated than he is, but as he continues his journey he begins to discover that they all have secrets of their own.  There is some sexual references and mild language, but the story will leave you thinking about the character and the message for days to come.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossibleknife

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  391

RAC:  Yes

Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road for five years as he worked for a trucking company, but he has decided to return to his home town so that she can go to a normal school.  Unfortunately, Andy suffers from severe PTSD following his tours in Iraq.  Due to this condition, Hayley is constantly watching out for Andy to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else as he often uses recreational drugs to try and cope.  Hayley refers to betrayals in her past that lead her away from trusting anyone now with knowing their troubles.  When she meets Finn she realizes that there might be people out there who also have struggles at home and whom she might be able to confide in.  Can she ever be a normal teenager who worries about boys and schoolwork or will she forever be the parent in her house?  Can she open up to Finn and let him know the horrors she potentially faces each time she goes home?

Fans of Anderson’s titles Twisted and Speak will love this title.  It is very current and relatable while also revealing characters with personality and depth.  Many tough issues are discussed in this book such as domestic violence, drug use, suicide, and death, but they are all introduced in a way that does not feel forced.  The ending may or may not satisfy some readers, but in life things don’t always end perfectly and Anderson’s ending rings true in that respect.

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

distance

Genre:  Biography

# of Pages:  322

RAC:  Yes

Reyna Grande was born in Mexico and when she was very young her father left for the U.S. in the hopes of making his dreams come true and providing a better life for his family.  A few years later, he sent for their mother and Reyna and her siblings were heartbroken to be left behind.  Over the years they endured neglect and abuse at the hands of family.  Eventually, their father returned and agreed to sneak them across the border.  Reyna was only in 5th grade at this time and had a tough time keeping up, but they were able to get across and begin school.  By now her parents had split up and she was living with the father she hardly knew and his new woman.  Life was still not perfect as she struggled to make her father proud and nothing she did ever seemed to bring any reaction except harsh criticism or beatings.  Will she ever manage to achieve her goal of going to college and becoming a writer or are there too many environmental roadblocks in her way?

This true story is very powerful and accurate depicting the lives of many immigrants to the U.S.  and their families who are often separated for years at a time while they are trying to immigrate.  The description of life in Mexico also helps readers understand why so many people were immigrating to the U. S. and leaving families behind.  There are many disappointments for Reyna and her siblings, but she never loses hope and never lets go of her dreams.

Running For My Life by Lopez Lomong

running for my life

Genre:  Biography

# of Pages:  229

RAC:   Yes

This is the true story of Lopez Lomong and how he was kidnapped from church as a six-year-old and taken to be a child soldier.  He later escaped and was taken to a refugee camp where he lived for ten years.  When he was finally taken to the United States, it was through a program in which a number of “lost boys” were brought to the U.S.  He was taken in by a loving family who introduced him to the modern conveniences of life such as light switches and beds.  Ever since watching Michael Johnson race in the Olympics Lopez has hoped to achieve this goal someday.  Will he have what it takes to make his dream come true?  Will he be able to adjust to life in the U.S.?

This powerful story truly captures the plight of these “lost boys” from Sudan.  Many were forced to be child soldiers and were treated terribly in the process.  Even the ones like Lopez who managed to escape had difficult lives and very little education.  Lopez outlines how family, support, education, and faith helped him to become the man he is today and now he’s dedicated his life to helping others out of the same situation.  Recommended for reluctant readers and runners.


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