Posts Tagged 'loss'

Shutter by Courtney Alameda

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Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  372

RAC:  Yes

Micheline is the youngest descendant in the Helsing blood line.  Her and her friends work catching ghosts and other supernatural beings.  They each have special talents that allow them to track down and properly extinguish these harmful beings.  At the beginning of the story they are called to a particularly heinous scene where a ghost has killed people in a hospital.  They are supposed to wait for backup, but Micheline decides to go in alone and her team is forced to follow.  They are attacked by this being and contract a rare disease known as soulchain.  Soulchain will kill them if they do not kill the creature that infected them in seven days time.  Their parents wish them to lay low while they hunt the dangerous ghost, but Micheline and her team know it is them who must hunt it down to save their lives.

The plot is much more intriguing here than most readers will expect.  There is a lot of backstory on Micheline’s family and how her and her father came to be so estranged.  There is a fair amount of suspense and plot twists that keep the story active and fast paced.  The characters are interesting as their talents and personalities are revealed.  Plus, in this world no one is really ever safe, which makes the suspense all the more real.  Recommended for fans of science fiction and suspense.

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The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  340

RAC:  Yes

Riley witnessed the couple she was babysitting for get murdered and has never been the same since.  She blames herself for not doing more to help them.  She has tried multiple counselors and the latest one has suggested she come to a weekend-long retreat with other troubled teens.  They are not there very long, however, when masked men come in and declare they are holding them hostage until a wealthy teen’s dad pays a hefty ransom for them.  Things begin to go wrong almost immediately and it quickly becomes obvious that they may not leave alive. Riley is now getting her chance to see if she were in a life threatening situation again if she would run or stand and fight.

Fans of mystery thrillers will enjoy this title because it is a lot more than it first appears.  The beginning even lags a bit as they struggle to find a way to defeat their kidnappers, but then things take a turn when everything Riley thought was happening is completely turned on its head.  For the most part any inconsistencies in the motivations of the characters are explained away and the resolution is exciting and captivating.  Fans of mystery books and shows should check out this title.

Kalahari by Jessica Khoury

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Genre:  Adventure/Survival

# of Pages:  354

RAC:  Yes

Sarah has lived in one exotic location after another her entire life since her parents are both scientists and often move to where they can conduct research.  After the recent passing of Sarah’s mother, they are still grieving but decide to carry on with a previously scheduled educational safari so that they can earn some extra money.  Shortly after the five teenagers arrive, Sarah’s dad is called away to stop some poachers and she is left to entertain them in the middle of a semi-desert.  Hours go by and Sarah’s dad does not return and finally she receives a very panicked call over the radio from a frantic man who sounds like her father claiming it was a setup and he was being chased.  The call cuts out with the sound of gunshots.  Sarah and the other five teenagers are alone, with little food, and no transportation.  They decide to go looking for help and must rely on Sarah’s survival skills in order to survive.  They eventually find a silver lion who tries to attack them and Sarah knows something unnatural is going on and more than likely whomever created that monstrosity would do anything to keep it quiet.  Can Sarah get the others to safety?  Will she ever find out what happened to her dad?  Where did the silver lion come from and is there some illegal experimenting going on?

Fans of survival books will enjoy this title.  There are multiple scenes in which one or more of the teens is in serious danger due to some natural wildlife threat, like snakes.  However, once they uncover the silver lion they face many dangers from humans as well as the people behind the altered animal want desperately to contain the situation at all costs.  The characters are sympathetic and relatable as they truly just try to just survive this very unexpected situation and in the process must face the many reasons they all wanted to escape to the Kalahari in the first place.

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

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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.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Genre:  Fantasy/Science Fiction

# of Pages:  390

RAC:  Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2013-2014

Cinder is a cyborg living in squalor with her stepmother and two stepsisters.  She works everyday as a mechanic while her family does nothing and spends all the money.  A terrible plague is striking their kingdom and Prince Kai is trying desperately to find a cure.  He has lost his mother to this disease and now his father has contracted it.  When Prince Kai comes to Cinder for help with his broken cyborg she conceals the fact that she is a cyborg because many people look down on cyborgs as less than human.  The plague soon strikes Cinder’s house and she is blamed for bringing it to the family.  Her stepmother sends her away to “volunteer” to be a test subject in the royal labs in order to find a cure.  When Cinder arrives at the testing facility they end up learning much more about her past than she could even imagine.  Who is she?  Who were her parents?  How did she come to be a cyborg?  

This retelling of Cinderella is new and fresh as Cinder has a robotic foot which causes her stress throughout the story.  The kingdom is in peril both from the plague and from an evil outside ruler trying to take over during their time of need.  Fans of futuristic novels, such as Divergent, will enjoy this title for its unique twist on an old tale and will eagerly grab the sequel to see what happens next. 

Crazy by Han Nolan

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  348

RAC:  Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2013-2014

Jason tries to blend in at school and not draw anyone’s notice because he doesn’t want anyone to know how bad his home life is.  His father has always had some mental issues, but when his mother suddenly dies he finds it is up to him to take care of his father and everything else.  When he tries to rebel against some of the rules in class, however, he ends up having to meet with other troubled teens in a counseling session every week.  Soon, he comes to find that others have difficult issues to deal with as well and begins to open up a bit.  Will his new friends help him keep his secret even after they see his deplorable living conditions and the fact that he is solely responsible for his father’s survival?

This is a powerful story about a group of young kids who deal with more than most students can probably imagine in a single day.  Loss of parents, illness, infidelity, divorce, mental illness, and substance abuse are all discussed as these high school students try to help each other cope.  The counseling sessions do help Jason come to terms with the fact that he is not alone and he can reach out to people.  Reading this book could help high school students to be more understanding of each other and hopefully not as superficial.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  318

RAC Book:  Yes

Augustus “Gus” and Hazel meet at a Cancer support group.  Hazel has thyroid cancer that forces her to use oxygen 24/7 and despite a new miracle drug, has always been given a short life expectancy.  She has adjusted to her relatively simple life, but that changes when she meets Gus, who lost a leg to Cancer, but has been Cancer free ever since.  They begin talking and exchanging favorite books.  Gus makes a huge gesture for Hazel so that a dream of hers can come true.  It isn’t until afterward that Hazel realizes how much he really gave to give her that experience.  As these two begin to fall in love they cannot help but wonder how long they really have and what they should do to make every day count.

This story is well-written and engaging.  Hazel and Gus’s story will resonate with young readers because of their sheer honesty and willingness to never give up.  The issues they have to deal with seem so heavy compared with other love stories, but it comes across as uplifting and life affirming instead of depressing.  Highly recommended.