Posts Tagged 'lies'

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.

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson

Genre: Romane/Realistic Fiction

Nala Robertson is a very typical teenager who enjoys relaxing and having fun, so when she has go to an open mic night for an activist group for her cousin’s birthday she isn’t too excited. However, the emcee for the event, Tye, immediately catches Nala’s eye and she finds a way to talk to him after the show. He is funny, charismatic, and passionate, which Nala loves, but he is also a very serious activist for causes he cares about. Nala is worried he won’t like her since she doesn’t have any strong causes that she supports, so she lies and tells him she volunteers at her grandmother’s assisted living home, amongst other things. She knows she will be in trouble if Tye or anyone else finds out about her lies, but she’s so afraid he won’t like her if he knew the real Nala. Can she ever face the truth of who she is and will that be enough for Tye? Will she begin to change like those around her to find things she cares about and is willing to dedicate all her time and energy to?

This engaging story tackles serious issues such as finding ways to love yourself and mother/daughter issues, but does so in a way that feels light and fun. Many readers will be able to identify with Nala and her fear of not being accepted, sometimes even by herself, for who she truly is. At the same time, she must realize that people are constantly changing and growing and it’s absolutely possible to change yourself at any stage of life. Several of the supporting characters are fun, such as Nala’s grandmother and all of her friends at the assisted living home. There are many examples of love in this story and it’s through all these different relationships that Nala begins to understand how love is present in her life and how she contributes love to those around her. Recommended for fans of romances, but also for people who enjoy real stories about unique people.

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.

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 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.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 420

Ellingham Academy was founded in the 1930s by Albert Ellingham who wanted to created a school for talented young people. It was made famous in 1936 when Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and ransomed. After Ellingham paid the ransom, however, they still were not returned. The whereabouts in particular of little Alice Ellingham has been a mystery ever since. In present day, Stevie Bell has been admitted to Ellingham Academy and she cannot wait to try to solve this decades old case. She wants to be a detective when she grows up and she feels she has learned enough about the case and sleuthing techniques to be able to solve this case once she is able to get onto campus. Shortly, after the school year begins, a fellow student is found dead in a recently unearthed tunnel. Was it an accident or was it murder? Stevie begins to grow convinced that the present day mystery is connected to the 1936 mystery and is determined to prove it. If there is a murderer on campus, though, will she be next?

This is the first in a three part mystery series and each one provides clues and shocking twists to the eventual reveal of both the 1936 mystery and the present day events. The cast of characters that Stevie meets at Ellingham Academy are interesting and colorful, but most importantly they are all supportive of each other’s interests and strengths. The story flips between Stevie in the present tense and then events and news clippings from the 1930s to help the reader piece together the mystery at the same time as Stevie. Fans of mystery stories will enjoy this series because since it take place over three books and therefore has the ability to truly develop at a natural pace while also fleshing out the unique culture of Ellingham Academy.

Deepfake by Sarah Darer Littman

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 336

Dara and Will are best friends, fighting for valedictorian at their high school, and secretly dating. There is a mysterious website at their school called “Rumor Has It” that reveals all the secrets and gossip of their high school. They are a bit thrown when the site reveals their secret relationship and Will in particular is worried his best friend MJ will be upset that he didn’t tell her. Shortly after the gossip site revealed their secret relationship, a video is posted to the site in which Dara accuses Will of paying someone to take the SATs for him. Will is really hurt she would say something like that about him knowing how hard he prepared for the SATs, but the video appears irrefutable. Dara swears she did not say those things and does not know how that video could possibly exist if it didn’t happen. To make matters worse, Will has been accepted to Stanford and now his entire future is in jeopardy. Who is behind the “Rumor Has It” website and where did they get the video? Can Dara and Will’s relationship remain strong throughout the scandal or will it tear them apart?

This book reminds us all that we have to be careful with things we post because those things could be used against us later. Several lives are disrupted with the release of this video, not to mention friendships destroyed. It is very difficult to always tell what is true and what isn’t, but as a society we need to try a little harder to find truth instead of reveling in the gossip. Recommended for readers who like current topics.

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.

One by One by Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 372

When a small tech company brings it’s shareholders to a fancy French ski chalet they are expecting to have a relaxing, fun vacation where they discuss the future of the company. Erin is one of the two employees who are supposed to make the retreat a dream for their guests and Liz is the outcast of the group since she is a shareholder, but she no longer works at the company. Shortly after the group arrives one of the CEO’s mysteriously goes missing, but before they can start a search party there is a terrible avalanche that traps them and knocks out the power. As they wait for help mysterious things start to happen to the guests one by one. Told in alternating chapters between Erin and Liz it becomes obvious that there is something sinister going on, but it isn’t clear who is doing this and why. Can they get help before it’s too late?

This mystery is engaging and draws the reader in right from the beginning. It’s made clear that everyone has something to hide and no one really knows who they can trust. The climax is exciting and worth the build up as it is revealed what is really going on at this ski chalet. Fans of books like And Then There Were None will enjoy this thrilling tale set in a fun setting.

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 390 p.

Sawyer was raised by a single mother because her mother’s wealthy family disowned her when she announced her pregnancy at 17.  Due to the estrangement, Sawyer has not ever met her mother’s family and is shocked when her grandmother shows up unexpectedly one day to offer her college tuition in exchange for living with her for a year and participating in the debutante season.  Sawyer doesn’t have a lot of options at the moment to go to college so she agrees to go and secretly hopes she might be able to figure out who her father is.  Shortly after arriving, Sawyer learns that her cousin is being blackmailed by another debutante and she agrees to help, but little does she know that is just the beginning of the crazy debutante season!

This book balances a little mystery with Sawyer discovering who her mother’s family is and sorting out everything she thought she knew about them.  Fans of Barnes’s other titles will enjoy this one as well.  The story is engaging and the characters are fun.  There are several red herrings in the hunt for Sawyer’s father, but there’s so much going on it’s best to just enjoy the ride through the debutante year.  There is a sequel available for those who want to know more about these debutantes.  Recommended for those looking for a light, fun read.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Genre: Realistic Fiction

372 p

2019 Iowa High School Book Award

Dill Early, Jr. is struggling in his town where he is now famous for being the son of the preacher who was convicted of having child pornography on his computer.  He and his mom are struggling under all the legal bills and he doesn’t see how he can ever really get out of this small town.  Lydia, his sarcastic friend, is also a bit of an outcast because she refuses to conform to traditional norms.  She has a fashion blog where she showcases unique stores all around their area and encourages everyone to be themselves at all costs. Their other friend, Travis, is a large red haired senior who loves a fantasy book series and often carries a staff with him.  The three of them are often ridiculed in their community and if they didn’t have each other to lean on their lives would be truly miserable.  Lydia, at least, has very supportive parents at home who are not living hand to mouth and can afford to spoil her a bit.  Dill and Travis, on the other hand, have parents who do not seem to like who they are very much and keep trying to change them.  All three of them have aspirations for after high school but do they have the courage to go for them? Do they have the strength to break away from the expectations that have been set for them?

This powerful story gets more and more powerful as it goes on.  The character development is so well done that the reader really feels like he or she knows these people and is living alongside them.  There are many issues these teenagers are dealing with that seem especially unfair for people so young, but these situations exist all over America and it’s time we all start addressing it.  Travis and Dill feel like they are trapped and have no way out of the life set for them by their parents, while Lydia is counting down the days until she can leave this town far behind. In the end, they all must find the courage to do what they need to in order to not only survive, but thrive in their own lives.

 

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

# of Pages:  403

2019 Iowa High School Award Winner

Canaan is meant to be a perfect city in which people live in peace and harmony without the distraction of technology, money, or competition.  Every twelve years the town breaks into chaos and then their memories are erased.  The only way they know who they are is by reading the book that is tied to them at all times.  Nadia did not forget her memories during the last forgetting and therefore knows some of the things people chose not to include in their books, including people, they hoped to forget.  She has no idea why she didn’t forget her memories, but it definitely didn’t make her life any easier since her mother and sister treat her like she doesn’t belong in their family.  Meanwhile, Nadia has begun slipping over the walls of the town in search of food, answers, and adventure.  She is caught by the glassmaker’s son and he demands she take him with her.  As they explore outside the walls they learn there are many things about how their town was set up that no one ever passed down, despite her suspicions that not everyone is losing their memories every twelve years.  Will anyone ever believe them about their discoveries?  Will it be enough to save them from this terrible fate of forgetting who you are every twelve years?

This story has a dystopian feel similar to The Giver, The Testing, and Matched.  It takes awhile to fully invest in Nadia and her quest to find answers about her town.  Once she begins finding answers the book’s pace picks up and takes off while many obstacles rise up to try and stop her from sharing the truth of their existence with others.  The main characters are well developed and everyone’s motivations and actions are adequately explained by the end.  Readers who enjoy these dystopian books will be curious for more, but it isn’t quite as engaging as some of the other titles in this genre.

The Girl I Used To Be by April Henry

Genre:  Suspense/Mystery

229 pages

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2018-19

Olivia was born with the name Ariel, but it was changed after her mother was murdered in the forest while their family was looking for a Christmas tree.  Olivia was only three at the time and everyone believed her father killed her mother and then dropped her off at a Walmart and disappeared.  She’s never been able to remember anything about the attack, but life has not been easy as she was passed around to foster homes and even suffered a failed adoption before deciding to emancipate herself.  Everyone is shocked when it is discovered that her father actually died the same day as her mother.  So who killed them and why did they release Ariel?  Could they still be out there waiting to finish her off if she starts asking questions?

April Henry does it again with a fast, suspenseful mystery story where Olivia tries to find out what happened to her parents all those years ago.  Coming back to her home town is overwhelming at first and she decides she doesn’t want anyone to know her true identity, but eventually she finds that it’s really nice to reconnect with her roots.  There are many characters to keep track of that are not particularly developed, but could all be potential suspects.  Olivia is very strong, motivated, and independent which makes her a good protagonist.  Reluctant readers and mystery readers will enjoy this title.

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

free to fall

# of Pages:  473

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

RAC:  Yes

Iowa High School Award Winner 2016

Rory is thrilled when she gets accepted into the prestigious Theden Academy, an all expense paid prep school with an excellent reputation.  Shortly before she leaves, she learns that her mother, who died in childbirth, also attended Theden and left her a symbolic necklace.  This story is set in the future where everyone is dependent on their smart phones and uses an app called Lux that makes literally every decision for them from what to major in to what to eat for breakfast.  As Rory settles in she meets a young barista at a nearby coffee shop and he helps her see what a disadvantage it is to always have an app make decisions for you.  She begins using Lux less and less and in the process notices more around her, including the shady practices of her new school.  Is someone out to get her?  What really happened to her mother and did she actually die during childbirth?

This is a fun, fast paced story that fans of futuristic fiction will enjoy.  The story is detailed and has many revelations that unfold in a timely way.  The characters are all well developed and it’s easy for the reader to see each of their motivations.  Despite there being quite a market for futuristic dystopian-esque books this one is unique enough to stand out and will keep readers engaged.


Archives