Posts Tagged 'London'

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

geography of you and me

Genre:  Romance

# of Pages:  337

Iowa High School Award Winner 2016-17

Fans of sweet teen romances will love this title that follows Lucy and Owen who meet unexpectedly during a city wide blackout in New York City. They are trapped in an elevator when the blackout strikes and by the time they are freed decide to spend the evening together enjoying the city without the usual overpowering city lights.  After the blackout reality sets in as Owen’s dad loses his job and they must leave the city to find where they belong and Lucy’s dad gets a new job that transports her to Europe.  Throughout their travels, they send postcards to each other as well as exchange a few emails, but since they only had one night together neither one knows how hard they should try to stay in contact.  Meanwhile, Owen and his dad are dealing with the loss of his mother and Lucy is handling the new found family life she has found in Europe.  Can they find their way back to each other or are they simply too far apart?

Owen and Lucy lead interesting lives in this story as they completely move around the world for very different reasons, but there is still something that keeps drawing them together.  This book does not have a lot of supporting character development and the focus is always on Lucy and Owen.  Despite the fact that there are not a lot of major plot developments readers stay engaged with these two because their story is so relatable.  Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will enjoy this title.

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The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

madness underneath

Genre: Fantasy

# of Pages:  290

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Name of the Star Rory is recovering from her near fatal encounter with a deadly ghost in Bristol with her parents.  After a few weeks, her therapist surprisingly advises she return to school in London to resume her schoolwork and begin to move forward.  Rory is thrilled at the idea of returning to school, but she is very far behind on her schoolwork and has no idea how she can make it up.  Meanwhile, Stephen and the other shades are trying to solve an unusual murder that occurred very close to where Rory’s attack was.  Are they connected? Did her encounter somehow trigger other supernatural attacks in the immediate area of the school where all of her friends go?

This sequel moves very quickly and has a very exciting ending.  Fans of the first novel will enjoy this title as the Shades are detailed a little more and the challenges of their group’s existence are explained in a bit more detail.  Rory’s future in London seems very unsure at this point, but there are possibilities for how she will proceed laid out that could come into play in future books.   The supporting characters from the school are still just as colorful as ever, but are not featured as much as they were in the first book.  Overall, it’s a good sequel, but a tad fast and fans will be eager to see another one sooner rather than later.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

name of the star

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  372

RAC: Yes

Rory goes to England with her parents for her senior year of high school and enrolls in a private boarding school in London.  She hits it off with her roommate and finds that she fits in pretty well with their different classes and overall school schedules.  Shortly after she arrives, however, a terrible murder is committed mimicking Jack the Ripper’s first murder that occurred many years prior to this on the same date.  Despite London having over a million cameras throughout the city there is a shocking lack of evidence.  Rory and her new friends live close to where all of these murders occurred and therefore get caught up in the fear that sweeps over London.  Can they find the Jack the Ripper impersonator?  Will the murders continue and everyone be helpless to stop it?

This book was highly suspenseful, entertaining, and unique.  The idea itself captures most people’s interest as Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous unidentified serial killers and the hysteria that sweeps the public is completely believable.  The actual revelation of who is committing the murders is unique and yet plausible.  The characters are all likable and the ending sets up the series for many more titles to come.  This book was named an Iowa Teen Award winner for this year and is highly recommended.

The Agency: a spy in the house by Y.S. Lee

a spy in the house

Genre:  Mystery/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  335

RAC:  Yes

This title was recently named to the Iowa High School Award Winners for 2013-2014.  The first in this series, Mary is rescued from a death sentence for stealing in 1853 by a woman who runs a special school for young girls.  After many years of schooling, Mary is taken into a special program designed to turn young women into spies.  Her first assignment is to be the paid companion of a wealthy teenage girl who is ungrateful for the company at best.  As Mary enters the house she is supposed to keep her ears open for information about the family business and whether or not they are really suffering from as many lost ships as they claim, but in the end she overhears much more than that.  She also meets another spy trying to dig up information on this family.  Will he be a threat or an ally?  Can Mary perfect her spying skills in order to become a permanent fixture in this alliance?

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this title because it is set in a unique time period while also including intrigue and mystery.  The story moves fairly quickly and the ending is exciting.  The final revelation of who is behind the lost ships is surprising, but also a bit confusing in the details for some young readers.  Mary’s background is touched on, but readers will look for more to be revealed in the future sequels.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

ruby red

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  322

RAC Book:  Yes

Gwyneth lives in a large house with her extended family who are anxiously awaiting the first time travel episode by her cousin, Charlotte.  Their family has a long history of time traveling and it was predicted that Charlotte would be the next in the line so she has spent much of her childhood getting prepared.  Gwyneth is therefore very surprised when she is transported into an unknown time period instead.  This causes quite a bit of turmoil in the household as they scramble to help Gwyneth in her new mission and understand how the mistake came to be.  With each time travel, Gwyneth comes to find more questions than answers about the true mission of her and her cousin, Gideon, who is also a time traveler.  Whom should they trust?  Who wants to help them and who is merely selfishly using them for their own personal gain?

This book has been on my “to read” list for awhile and I wish I would have read it sooner.  It was exciting, charming, mysterious, and entertaining.  Despite having quite a few characters they are all easily identified due to their detailed characterization.  The mystery behind the mission is somewhat discussed, but it’s obvious there is much more for Gwyneth to learn.  Fans of romantic fantasy will absolutely love this and move on to the sequel quickly.

Past World by Ian Beck

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  353

RAC Book:  Yes

Pastworld is a theme park designed to look exactly like 1880’s London.  In this historically accurate world, anyone who comes to visit must abide by the dress, laws, language, and even technology found at this time.  Some people were born in Pastworld and do not realize it is merely a tourist attraction utilized mainly by the wealthy.  Others, like Caleb, travel to the old London in order to see what life was like back then.  The problem is that crime definitely existed in the 1880s and has crept up again in this new city.  Law officials are forbidden from using any technology not found during the 1880s to solve crimes.  When a Jack the Ripper type serial killer starts killing innocent people there seems to be no way of stopping him.  Meanwhile, Caleb is blamed for a crime he did not commit and must go on the run or risk spending the rest of his life in a historically accurate prison with an archaic judicial system.

The idea behind this story is very intriguing and sets itself up with lots of details and interesting characters.  The Fantom, or serial killer, is an interesting idea but the character ends the story feeling unfinished and undeveloped.  Readers who enjoy fantasy or historical fiction will enjoy the idea of this interesting tourist attraction, but may find the ending a bit abrupt and unsatisfying.


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