Posts Tagged 'friendship'

Mere Mortals by Erin Jade Lange

Genre: Fantasy

Charlotte (Charlie) and her brother Reg have been immortal vampires for over 100 years, but a recent unfortunate incident has led to them being severely punished… by becoming human again. They have no memories of their lives before they became vampires, so life as a human teenager is all new to them. They are taken to live with a former slayer who agrees to watch over them as they get acclimated to life as a high school student, but they are not interested in staying human. They desperately want to think of a way to get their status reversed, but in the meantime they are forced to attend school in Nowhere, Iowa. Charlie feels like Reg is adjusting easier than her because he has joined clubs and made friends, but he never wavers whenever she voices her desire to return to the vampire life. She worries that when or if they get that chance that he might choose to stay human. Meanwhile, she’s slowly adjusting as well. She’s on the Halloween Hoopla committee and enjoying time with new friends as well, but she believes that if given the chance she would do anything to become a vampire again…but that choice might be harder than she thinks. Can Charlie and Reg really leave their new life as humans and all the human memories behind? Will they ever adjust to life in Nowhere, Iowa or is it just not the life for them?

This fun fantasy starts a little slow with the pair adjusting to life as humans after a 100 years as vampires, but soon the characters develop and it’s easy to get pulled into their lives. The ending in particular is fun and exciting as several questions are answered regarding the vampire life and how it coexists with the humans. It is not predictable and the end will leave you wanting to know more about all of the characters in this climactic ending. Recommended for fantasy fans who do want too much suspense or gore.

That Weekend by Kara Thomas

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Claire wakes up alone and covered in blood on a hiking trail with no memory of the previous 24 hours. She remembers going to her best friend Kat’s cabin with Kat and Kat’s boyfriend, Jesse, on Friday, but it is now Sunday and she can’t remember anything that happened on Saturday. What’s worse is that Kat and Jesse are nowhere to be found and everyone is looking to her for answers. Claire is badly injured and must spend some time in the hospital while others comb the mountain looking for Kat and Jesse and Claire feels utterly helpless in every way. Meanwhile, she can’t decide if the police working the case believe that she has lost her memory or if they consider her a suspect in their disappearance. As a few days go by, Claire and her parents begin to feel like there is no one around they can trust and they decide to go home, but the chaos follows them and Claire begins to feel anxious all the time. Will she ever know what happened to her friends? Will she ever be able to accept that she might not get her memory back and move on?

This story moves between the past and present and allows the reader to follow Claire on her journey as she tries to make sense of what has happened. Kat’s parents are justifiably upset and worried, but it’s easy to see how their behavior starts to make Claire uncomfortable after awhile as if they blame her for being found while Kat was not. Kat definitely feels guilt that she is safe while they are not and struggles to make sense of this tragedy. There are several dramatic twists in the story that will keep readers wanting more. Fans of suspenseful mysteries with very surprising endings will thoroughly enjoy this title.

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Genre: Fantasy/Realistic Fiction

Margaret Moore and her friends all go to Marshall Naval School every summer and proudly represent Deck Five. The previous summer, however, things were cut short because sometime bad happened. Margaret and her three best friends are determined to make up for it this year by showing everyone how strong Deck Five is in all of their competitions. Margaret notices that several girls failed to return this year, however, and she doesn’t know why. She also knows that something happened to one of the boy campers as well, but she doesn’t understand why the gossip mill keeps blaming her for every bad thing that happened. She does know that if she had been honest with her friends about what was going on with her the previous summer then some of this drama may have been avoided. Is it too late to tell them everything? Will they be able to help her or is it too late?

This story is told through chapters that alternate between the two important summers. The language used is very flowery and poetic, which helps to tell the story in a very unique way, but may be difficult for some readers to follow. The major revelations of the story come out slowly and not always in order, forcing readers to pay attention and put the pieces together, but the payout is worth it as the ending of the story is powerful and satisfying. Fans of We Were Liars will enjoy this title. Recommended for higher level readers looking for something that will challenge them.

The Seclusion by Jaqui Castle

Genre: Futuristic Fiction

While out on a routine task for their jobs, Patricia “Patch” and her friend Rexx come across a van with contraband from before the seclusion, such as printed books and empty pop cans. Ever since the seclusion the U.S. has been separated from all other countries and every aspect of their lives is controlled by The Board, including where they live and what they do for a living. Patch has always found happiness in the fact that she enjoys her job at a laboratory as well as her first floor apartment that allows her a small garden. The only information they are given is routinely provided from The Board in mandatory news reports that everyone must stop and watch no matter where they are. There are also cameras in every place imaginable, even bathrooms, so privacy is something no one expects to have. When they find this mysterious van that is clearly from the “before” time, both Patch and Rexx find themselves very curious about what kinds of things were available in the old U.S. That curiosity gets them into trouble, however, and they must decide if they will just bow down to the Board who controls everything or if they will fight for answers.

This futuristic book combines similar aspects as books such as Matched, The Hunger Games, and The Testing. The main characters are struggling to learn what is real and what they have been taught is real. Every time they think they are getting ahead of the Board they are slapped back into reality and learn just how controlling the Board really is. This is the first in a two book series. Fans of futuristic stories will get pulled into this adventure as Patch tries to help her country who doesn’t even know they need help.

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

Genre: Mystery

Olivia Winters goes to Claflin Academy, a fancy prep school, for her senior year and is somehow befriended by the elite clique known as the Ivies. The Ivies are all from wealthy families and their goal is to all get into Ivy League Schools. They actively sabotage classmates in order to increase their own chances of getting in where they want to go. The only hitch is that they believe only two people are usually accepted into any Ivy League from a particular school. So, because queen bee Avery wants to go to Harvard, Olivia is instructed to choose another school. She secretly applies anyway and is unsure how to feel when she gets in. She’s thrilled to have gotten in, but worries how her friends will react and how she will pay for it. When Avery finds out she didn’t get accepted she goes ballistic and demands the other Ivies find out who did get in so she can “kill them.” When a murder does indeed occur Olivia is more terrified than ever to announce her new accepted status and for the first time realizes how under handed some of their schemes have been this year in order to keep others down. Are her friends really looking out for her or were they using her to get what they wanted? What would they do if someone got in their way?

This mystery story is unique in that it dives deep into the college application process for elite schools. The pressure to succeed and be the best is so prevalent in this school that you can almost see how these girls got to be so cutthroat in their path to success. Olivia is a sympathetic character who really seems to want to get the truth and due to her financial status is one of the few characters who truly has a lot to lose. The ending is satisfying and exciting. Recommended for mystery fans!

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.

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.

Game Change by Joseph Monninger

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Zeb Holloway is the backup quarterback for a team who has never needed him due to the fact that they have an amazing quarterback who is destined for bigger things. To everyone’s surprise, the star quarterback breaks his leg in the game just before the state championship. Now Zeb has seven days to come to terms with the fact that he will be leading the team in the state championship. He knows he has a good arm, but he’s not had that much experience and he knows many around him doubt his ability to pull this off. He lives in a trailer with his mom who works as many hours waitressing as she can. They live on his uncle’s property ever since his dad walked out. His life has never been easy, but he’s always been content and knew that he would be able to get by if he just worked hard and didn’t expect too much. Now, he’s beginning to wonder if there is a life for him outside of this small town.

The book is set over seven days as Zeb prepares for the big game, but you also get to see who he is through the characters around him. He knows the town is hoping for a big victory, but he’s realistic enough to know that it will be a challenge after the star who led them to this moment is whisked away without so much as a goodbye. Athletes will be able to identify with both the fame and the pressure that come from playing sports and the different degrees to how much people in the community care about the outcome. Sports fans will enjoy this title, but there is more to Zeb Holloway than just football.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery and # of Pages 383

Stevie and her friends, head to a summer camp as camp counselors, but really they are there to try and solve the unsolved case of four teenage camp counselors who were murdered at that same camp in the 1970s. What happened to them has become legend over time and the new camp owner would like to have the case solved so the town can move on and try to start forgetting the terrible tragedy. Stevie soon learns that back in the seventies four teenagers snuck into the woods late one night and were not seen alive again. One of the boys was found on the path to the woods as if he’d been running for help when he was struck down and the other three were stacked neatly in a box in the woods. Stevie finds that while the case was several decades ago, the biggest challenge is that many people still remember it vividly and are having trouble with yet another person digging it all up again so she makes it her mission to solve it this time. Shortly after they arrive there is another murder and Stevie knows that someone out there definitely knows more than they are sharing. Can she find who killed those teens back in the 70s and learn why? Can she solve the murder of the recently discovered victim?

Fans of the Truly Devious series will enjoy this title since it features many of the same characters and it’s all wrapped up in one book this time. The story has a campy Halloween horror movie feel for readers, which many readers will enjoy. The town is full of colorful characters who all bring something to the solving of this case. This is a fun, suspenseful mystery for mystery lovers. Hopefully we will see more of Stevie and her friends in future mystery stories.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Genre: Sports Fiction

Number of Pages: 445

Gene Luen Yang has always been fascinated by comics and as an adult loves to draw his own in addition to being a high school teacher. He never got why so many people liked sports, however. He wasn’t very good at any sports and often got hurt in some way while trying to participate in them. Eventually he gave up on sports altogether. That all changes when he starts hearing about the basketball team at his Catholic High School, called the Dragons, and their wish to become the California State Basketball Champions. Once he starts digging into this story he learns that it has been many decades in the making, which is partly why the school is so revved up for this season. He decides to write a graphic novel explaining not only the school’s history but also documenting what they are hoping will be a monumental season. He even writes about his struggle to properly depict some of the more difficult incidents from the Dragons’ past that have led to this moment. Can the Dragons finally make it all the way to the end?

This graphic novel is unique, compelling, and enthralling whether a reader likes sports or not. It’s easy to see how Gene Luen Yang got caught up in the excitement of a school desperately wanting that state championship, but like many sports stories he discovers there is a lot of history with this team. A lot of people can relate to this story for one reason or another, but in the end it’s easy to want a team like this to succeed. Highly recommended, but especially for sports readers and reluctant readers.

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.

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.

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 387 p.

Ash is a typical football player in his high school when one day he takes a big hit and wakes up to a changed world. The changes aren’t big at first, stop signs are now blue and no one but him remembers them ever being red, etc. As he tries to make sense of these changes, though, he knows that with each big hit he could potentially see bigger changes, which is exactly what happens. He quickly learns that there are infinite possibilities for what his world could become and in a lot of ways he just wants to go back to where he started, but isn’t sure how to do that. Meanwhile, his best friend suffers some devastating losses in the new realities and he desperately wants to help him. Can he find a way to fix the world that has become so fragmented? Can he find out why this is happening?

Each reality brings major changes to Ash’s world and several big issues are discussed such as wealth, race, gender, and abuse. Ash’s character is remarkably open and mature to the changes he sees every time he takes a big hit and he seems determined to try and make his world a better place. His shock every time someone tries to intimidate him into doing something against his moral compass is not surprising. The ending will satisfy readers and leave them thinking a lot about different realities in their own world.


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