Posts Tagged 'murder'



The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

fixer

Genre:  Realistic fiction/mystery

# of Pages:  372 p.

Tess has lived with her grandfather ever since her parents died in a car accident when she was small.  Her older sister, Ivy, went away to college and never really came back so Tess knew things were about to unravel when Ivy showed up at her grandfather’s ranch.  Despite her best efforts, Tess could no longer hide her grandfather’s dementia from the world and Ivy had come to put him in a treatment center while Tess was forced to pack her bags and come to D.C. to live with the sister she hardly knew.  Only after she gets to D.C. does she realize what her sister actually does for a living:  she’s a fixer for wealthy and powerful people who have serious problems. Tess is expected to be a fixer like her sister when she starts her new school by the children of wealthy and powerful people who attend, but Tess is not interested in following after her sister’s example.  Then, a supreme court justice suddenly dies and a girl at her school confides to Tess that she does not think it was an accident.  Can Tess find out what’s really going on in D.C. without alerting her sister or anyone involved?  Will Tell and Ivy ever mend their relationship?

This is a fun novel for mystery or spy fans (fans of Ally Carter will enjoy this title).  The characters are fun and getting more developed all the time and no doubt will continue to do so as the series continues.  The mystery was exciting and provided a satisfying ending.  The idea of “fixers” has only started getting discussed in the last five years or so and it’s fun to see a young adult series focused around such an interesting career.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

i hunt killers

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  360

2016 Iowa High School Award winner

RAC:  yes

Jazz is the only son of a notorious serial killer named Billy.  Billy reportedly murdered over 200 people and Jazz is struggling with the doubts that he could end up just like him.  He does not want to become a killer, but he worries it’s already inside him waiting to come out.  When he hears of a murder in his small town he goes to the scene to help out since he “knows how serial killers work.”  The police reject his help, but eventually come back to him when it’s discovered this new murder is mimicking one of Billy’s early murders.  Who would be recreating his father’s grisly murders and why?  Can Jazz help the police before more people lose their lives?  Can Jazz prove to everyone and even himself that he is not going to follow in his father’s footsteps?

Fans of mystery books will enjoy this title because it has a good amount of plot twists, suspense, and colorful characters.  Jazz is truly battling with himself because he will always be the son of the infamous Billy Dent and he needs to figure out what that means for the rest of his life.  He does not want to be like his father, but having been raised by him he sometimes does not see life situations the same way that others do.  Luckily, he has a small but powerful support system that is helping him realize that he is capable of valuing human life.  There is a bit of gore in this title, but nothing worse than an episode of CSI or Criminal Minds.

Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

until we meet again

Genre:  Romance/Fantasy

# of pages:  322

RAC:  Yes

Cassandra is living in a beach house for the summer that her mom and stepdad rented and is finding a hard time filling her time.  One day she wanders down to the private beach and meets a young man there who is very polite and friendly.  They get to know each other and eventually discover that they both believe they are residing in the same house, but Lawrence is in 1925 and Cass is in 2015.  Cass decides to do some research and discovers Lawrence was murdered on that very beach in two weeks from the time they are at now and she believes they can see each other so that she can help save him.  Can they save Lawrence from his early demise?  Who is the person trying to kill him?  How will Cass explain her strange behavior to her family?

This is a very sweet romance story that successfully places characters in two different time periods.  The supporting characters are well established to help readers visualize these characters in their own times as well as together.  The ending is very satisfying and believable, which is an incredible feat for a story based on people meeting across 100 years.  Fans of romance novels or the Ruby Red series will enjoy this title.

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty

lock and mori

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  248

RAC: Yes

Miss James “Mori” Moriarty has been living a tough existence since her mother died several months before.  Her father has become a heavy drinker and often takes his frustrations out physically on her and her three brothers.  She knows she needs to do something to protect her brothers but she isn’t sure what at this time.  Meanwhile, she becomes friendly with a strange boy at her school, Sherlock Holmes.  They encounter a murder in the nearby park and are shocked to see the police are severely inept and make terrible and lazy assumptions.  They decide to investigate on their own in order to find the true killer and are horrified to discover this was merely one amongst several similar murders.  There is a serial killer out there the police aren’t even looking for!  Can Mori find the killer and save her family from an increasingly bad home life?

This is a fun mystery story for fans of mystery fiction and TV shows.  Sherlock Holmes is impressive in his deductions and observations as always and it’s refreshing to see a different take on the character of Moriarty.  There is a bit of violence in it and Mori’s father is definitely a force to contend with in her life, but Lock and Mori try very hard to never lose hope that they can in fact prevail as long as their intentions and resolve are strong enough.

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

masked truth

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.

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

seeker

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages: 429

RAC:  Yes

John, Quin, and Shinobu have been training together for years in order to one day take their oath and become Seekers.  When the final test comes, however, John stumbles and is cast out by the master Briac.  He is devastated at being kept from what he sees as his birthright and concocts a plan to get what he believes is rightfully his.  Meanwhile, Quin and Shinobu take the oath but are horrified to learn what becoming a Seeker actually entails.  When John and his soldiers arrive on the estate to destroy everything on it, Quin and Shinobu must make some fateful decisions about their future as Seekers.  Can they abandon their oath and the training they have spent their whole lives learning?  Will John ever be able to let his quest for justice for his ancestors go?

This fantasy story introduces three very interesting main characters as well as supporting characters.  The history of the Seekers is engaging, but there is still a lot to learn about the past and how it came to shape the present they are dealing with now.  Despite the length it doesn’t feel like the story develops as much as it should in this first installment and leaves quite a bit unanswered.  Die hard fantasy fans will enjoy this series.

Utopia, Iowa by Brian Yansky

utopia

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  323

RAC:  Yes

Set in fictional Utopia, Iowa where the life expectancy is longer than usual and many people are believed to have “gifts,”  Jack Bell lives with his mother, father, and sister.  Jack, his mother, and his sister can all see ghosts, but they have taken extra precautions to make sure they cannot enter their home.  When Jack’s sister, Amanda, claims to see a ghost on Jack’s bed they are all naturally alarmed because more than likely it would take a much stronger spirit to enter their house than a usual ghost.  Then, a young college student is pushed from a dorm window to her death and she seeks Jack’s help in finding what happened to her.  She does not remember her death, which is unusual for ghosts, but she knows her boyfriend didn’t kill her despite his confession.  The police detective starts to become concerned that Jack is somehow connected to this case because he seems to know details he should not know, and he is not a believer in the town “gifts.”  Can Jack help this spirit find her way and clear his name?  Can he protect himself from the growing number of threats people keep prophesying about him?

This light fantasy story provides an usual spin on the ghost genre in that the reason behind the threats and mysterious deaths actually connect to an ancient story that is slowly explained throughout the book.  Jack comes in contact with several different types of gifted people who all try to help in their own ways as he deals with the ghosts that keep seeking his advice as well as the mounting danger he keeps getting warned about.  The ending is exciting and satisfying, but it’s not a story that the reader will think much about once it is over.  Recommended for fans looking for a fun fantasy.

When by Victoria Laurie

when

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

# of Pages:  327

RAC:  Yes

Maddie has been able to see numbers on everyone’s foreheads since she was a little girl, but it isn’t until her father dies suddenly that she realizes what they are:  deathdates.  After her father’s death her mother struggles with sobriety and stability and Maddie must become the caretaker and even the breadwinner when her mother strongly encourages her to give “readings” in which she tells people their death dates for money.  Maddie hates doing this because it often causes pain, but she does not know how else to help her mother cope.  After a reading with a wealthy woman asking about her sick daughter, Maddie is horrified to have to tell her that it is in fact the woman’s young son who has a quickly approaching death date.  The woman does not take Maddie’s advice and feels she is threatening her young son.  Maddie’s best friend even calls to warn her to keep a close eye on him in the hopes that his death date can change.  Instead, Maddie and her best friend become prime suspects when that little boy goes missing after school one day.  Things continue to get worse for Maddie and her best friend as more people linked to Maddie start disappearing.  Is someone trying to frame her?  Could it be someone who is close to her and knows what she can do?  How can she stop anyone else from dying?

This premise is executed really well as you see how problematic and troubling this gift has been for Maddie and her family.  Her uncle, a big shot attorney, tries his best to keep her out of jail for the suspicious disappearances that she seems to be predicting, but the evidence just keeps mounting against her.  The reader cannot help but feel connected to Maddie and feels her fear as what is left of her meager world comes crashing down around her.  The mystery itself comes to a very satisfying conclusion that will leave readers wanting more.  Recommended for fans of mystery.

 

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.

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.

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

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

dear killer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  359

RAC:  Yes

Kit has been trained to be a killer since she was a small girl by her mother.  Kit’s mother felt called to kill, but eventually felt like she was getting too close to getting caught so she retired and trained her daughter to believe she was merely performing a service.  Kit truly believes killing is neither right nor wrong, but just is.  By day she is the chipper private school girl who blends in everywhere and yet has no close friends.  Once every few months, however, she visits a local coffee shop where there is a secret drop box in the bathroom wall where people deposit letters and cash to have the “perfect killer” dispose of their unwanted family and friends.  She reads the letters and chooses which victims she feels most comfortable with and takes care of it in a way  that no clues, DNA, or fingerprints are ever found.  She leaves the letters at the crime scene so that the police know it was her.  One day her mother invites the lead detective on the perfect killer case over for dinner and they strike up a friendship so that Kit can know where they are on the investigation, which is nowhere.  Can she keep up this facade forever?  Will the job ever bother her or have lingering effects?

This book is dark and yet written in a light way so that it appears like Kit is a very normal and sympathetic girl.  The more you get to know the character, however, the more disturbing she really is.  She is able to kill perfect strangers for money without feeling any remorse or blame in any way.  What’s worse is it almost seems like a game to her.  Fans of mystery books might enjoy the thrill of living vicariously through someone who truly does what she wants when she wants, but eventually it gets a bit old as you discover how scary someone like this actually is.

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.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

dangerous girls

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  388 p.

RAC:  Yes

On a spring break trip to Aruba a group of high school seniors think they will have a carefree time full of beaches and parties, but instead end up finding one of their own, Elise, stabbed to death in their beach house.  Surprisingly, police turn suspicion onto their group rather than following clues that might suggest an outside intruder.  Within a few days, Anna, Elise’s best friend, is arrested and charged with the crime.  Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, is originally considered until his father’s expensive lawyers convince Aruba to let him go in exchange for testifying against Anna.  Anna feels shocked, sad, vulnerable, and betrayed as she awaits her trial in jail.  As her friends return to school, college, etc. she is forced to face the realization that she may spend the majority of her life in a foreign prison.  Will Anna be convicted?  Did she know anything about this terrible crime?

Fans of Pretty Little Liars and similar series will enjoy this title that packs emotion, suspense, and surprise throughout the entire story.  Readers come to feel like they know what it would be like to be in Anna’s shoes.  There are some passages with heavy language and sexual references that do ring true for how teens often talk and act to each other but may not be appropriate for younger readers.

The Naturals by Jennifer Barnes

the-naturals

 

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  308

RAC: Yes

Cassie has relied on her ability to read people since the mysterious disappearance of her mother five years ago.  She is surprised, however, when she is recruited to join an elite team in the FBI made up of teens with similar special abilities called The Naturals.  Cassie will be trained as a profiler for the FBI to use on cold cases.  She feels it is important for her to do this since her mother’s disappearance and presumed murder is still unsolved.  Once she starts training, however, she is pulled into an ongoing serial murder investigation in which the killer seems to be taunting the teens in the naturals.  More alarmingly, the case seems to be connected to her mother’s case.  Can they solve the murders or will Cassie become the next victim?

Fans of mysteries will love this new title as it combines an intriguing mystery story with tons of great, albeit mysterious characters so that Cassie does not know whom she can really trust.  The ending is very satisfying and will surprise most of the readers no matter how diligently they have followed the clues leading up to the exciting climax.  The book sets itself up well to become a series which is good because readers will want to see more of these naturals.  Recommended.


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