Posts Tagged 'murder'

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  323

RAC Book:  Yes

Hope has a tough home life, but she never fails to look after her mute, autistic brother, Jeremy.  Her life turns upside down when Jeremy is accused of murdering the high school baseball coach with his bat.  She has T.J., her best friend, and Chase, the sheriff’s son she secretly has a crush on, to help her prove Jeremy’s innocence.  The evidence against Jeremy is overwhelming and he is not speaking to help explain what happened. Meanwhile, their neglectful mother obviously believes her son is guilty.   Can Hope prove her brother is innocent without pushing everyone away? Can she come to terms with the situation if he is in fact guilty?

This mystery has many great elements that will keep readers interested. First of all, there are many surprising plot developments revealed as Hope investigates what happened that fateful morning. The empty jars Jeremy collects provide a unique and interesting way of understanding Jeremy and of helping Hope learn what really happened to the coach. There are also many great characters with multiple dimensions and motivations including Jeremy’s lawyer, Chase, TJ, and Jeremy.   The truth is in front of the reader the whole time, but Hope has to put the pieces together. Overall, a good mystery.

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

Willa hasn’t seen her dad in so long that she does not even remember what he looks like.  Her and her mom moved away long ago and her mother remarried.  Willa loves her stepdad, but he did come with two kids of his own and since their mother is wealthy they tend to get some perks in life that she simply does not get.  Their lives are completely shaken when Willa comes home one day to find frantic messages from a friend of her mother’s back home.  She doesn’t understand any of them so she tried to contact her mother and becomes panicked when she is unable to.  She calls her stepdad and he assures her that everything will be fine.  When they finally locate her mother she learns that her estranged father was missing with one of his daughters and his other two daughters and new wife were all found stabbed to death.  The police believe he might be on his way to find her so they are all moved into police protection.  Will this news tear her family apart or force truths to come out that they have all been avoiding?  Can she ever shake the reputation of being the girl whose father killed his family in a violent rage?

This story moves quickly as Willa tries to uncover the truth behind her father’s actions as well as what he was like.  She meets the half brother she never knew she had and mourns the loss of her half sisters.  The idea of family becomes a big issue as she is not quite sure which is stronger: blood or situation.  She has always been told her mom’s new husband was her family, but as she examines the situation she is not so sure she has really been treated as family.  There is also some growing resentment toward her mother for keeping so much about her father’s life a secret.  As horrific as the situation with her father is, it also forces her to really examine her life and reevaluate how she wants to continue from here.  Teenage readers will enjoy the story and even reluctant readers will struggle to put it down.

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  310

RAC Book:  Yes

Abby has always looked out for her sister, Maya, but one day when Abby is running and finds the murdered body of Maya’s boyfriend things get a little complicated.  Abby is especially disturbed to find Maya’s cell phone near the body.  She immediately begins thinking of ways that she can either find the real killer or cover it up so that her sister does not get into trouble.  The more she investigates into her wild sister’s life of running away, drug use, and relationships with shady characters, the more Abby realizes that everyone will believe Maya committed this crime.  Does she believe Maya committed this crime?  Can she find a way to keep her sister out of jail?

This mystery will keep a lot of readers guessing all the way until the true killer is revealed.  Abby’s actions often go above and beyond to try and find ways to help Maya, and some readers might question what she is truly willing to do in order to protect her sister.  The family dynamic of the two girls and their parents is complicated and difficult, which makes this tragedy harder for them to deal with and comprehend.  There are some hard truths in this mystery and none of the characters are angels by any means, which makes it difficult for the reader to decide who they are rooting for.  The story is intriguing and will keep mystery lovers reading to the very final reveal.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Genre:  Historical Fiction

RAC:  Yes

This WWII story follows Sarah in 1942 and Julia in 2002.  Sarah’s family is rounded up by the French police and sent to a detention center, but her little brother refused to go and hid in a small closet in their room.  Sarah locked him in and kept the key promising to come back later in the day for him.  She did not think they would actually be detained since it was the French police and not the Germans rounding them up. When she realized she would not be going back to her home her and her father tried to leave to get her brother, but the police would not allow them out.  She held onto the key for weeks praying to find a way back to him.  In 2002 Julia is a reporter who is assigned an article on the roundup of Jewish families by French police.  She is shocked to find that many people living in Paris had no idea such a thing took place.  As she comes across Sarah’s story she becomes determined to find out what happened to the little girl.

This is a different angle on a topic that has been covered in numerous ways.  As the story moves between Sarah and Julia you cannot help but get immersed in finding out what happened to Sarah and her family.  Sarah’s journey is truly amazing and realistic as she is forced to face adult issues as a child.  The characters are written incredibly well in a complex, multi-faceted way.  Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading about this era.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  198

RAC Book:  Yes

Nikki Heat is an NYPD detective investigating a murder of a man dropped from a six story balcony.  She is less than thrilled when she is forced to allow a writer to shadow her for background research, despite his obvious enthusiasm for her work.  Jameson Rook travels with her to crime scenes, interrogations, and autopsies so that he can gain enough insight into Nikki’s squad that he can write an article about them.  He always promises to stay out of the way, but has a knack for finding his way into trouble.  As Nikki tries to solve the murder further incidents try to distract her from her mission including a personal attack in her home, an attack on a witness, and a major theft.  Can Nikki sort through the many clues to find the truth about what happened?  Can she do it while Rook is standing by her side?

This book is based on the character’s of ABC hit series Castle. The book closely resembles the characters in the show they are meant to be based on and make it a fun read for fans of the show.  The mystery itself is complex, but not convoluted.  The clues reveal themselves in a timely manner and the outcome is satisfying.  The backdrop of NYC in the midst of a heat wave is an interesting setting for the story and the extreme heat does affect their investigation from time to time.  All in all, a fun mystery story for fans of writers like Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie.

Manifest by Artist Arthur

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

Krystal has recently moved to a new town due to her parent’s divorce and she is having trouble adjusting to her new life.  She has not made any friends, has stopped eating, and now has begun seeing ghosts.  Specifically, one ghost named Ricky has been following her.  He was a student at her school, but was shot and killed before she arrived.  Now he wants to find who really killed him so that he can cross over.  As Krystal copes with this difficult situation she meets two other students who mysteriously have the same birthmark as her.  They quickly realize that they all have special gifts and they plan to work together to find out what happened to Ricky.  They call themselves the Mystyx.  Despite Krystal’s hesitance to let others in on her secret, she finds relief when she can talk to her new friends about her supernatural visions.  Her relief is short lived, however, when she realizes that someone wants to hurt her for helping Ricky and the reasons behind his murder go deeper than she expected.

The plot of this story is interesting as Krystal tries to piece together what happened to Ricky.  The characters are interesting and well developed.  The writing style is a little simple and might turn off some young adult readers.  The beginning feels a bit slow and predictable, but once she meets her fellow mystyx things pick up quickly.  Fans of supernatural mysteries will enjoy this title, but it is not the best one out there right now.  Recommended to supplement a thriving fantasy collection.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Fantasy

# of Pages:  376

RAC Book:  No

Micah admits that she is a compulsive liar and would like to tell her story straight through with no lies.  Her boyfriend is found murdered in Central Park and several people suspect her involvement simply because she was his “secret” girlfriend.  She denies any knowledge of his murder and tries her best to avoid the stares and gossip.  She has difficulty getting along with her parents due to her lying and they want to send her upstate to live with relatives even though Micah is vehemently against this.  As the story goes on it becomes obvious that Micah has lied for so long that she has difficulty actually telling the straight truth, even when she wants to.  Can she ever set the record straight and tell what actually happened to her boyfriend?

While this book stays true to its title throughout the story, it does take a bizarre fantasy twist in the middle.  The twist will be liked by some, but disliked by many who thought the book was going to be more of a realistic fiction novel.  The ending is a bit quick and some teen readers may find it confusing or unsatisfying.  The story is interesting, but will leave many readers unsure about how they feel about it.

Airman by Eoin Colfer

Genre: Historical fiction

# of Pages:  412

RAC Book:  Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2010

Conor Broekhart is born in a hot air balloon at the world’s fair in 1878 and he is obsessed with flying forever after.  He grows up on the Saltee Islands off the coast of Ireland where his father heads the king’s security.  King Nicholas is very forward thinking and supportive of science and flying, so he enlists a friend of his to come and tutor Conor and his daughter, Isabella.  Conor greatly enjoys his time with Victor as they practice fencing, scientific experiments, and air exploration.  All of this changes when the King and Victor are assassinated by an evil member of the king’s advisors.  Conor is blamed for the conspiracy against the king and is sent to work underground in diamond mines, but he fails to give up and plans to one day fly again.

This is a very different story than most readers will be used to from this author, but it is adventurous and engaging from the first page.  Conor’s strength, intelligence, and perseverance take a hopeless situation and find some light.  The plot twists are compelling and detailed to keep the story moving and all of the characters are well developed, even if they are not in the story that much.  Anyone would enjoy this read, but it will be especially interesting to teenage boys.

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of pages:  245 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Madison wakes up in a strange reality she calls “is” because there’s no way to describe it.  She believes she is dead because she can’t feel a body, but she does see objects in the space around her.  If she touches an object she is brought back to her life through a memory of when she lost that item.  She quickly realizes that she does not have memories past the age of 17 and knows she died young, but cannot remember how.  As she tries to navigate through the memories of her life she realizes she is not the only spirit lingering in those memories.  Will she ever be able to talk to anyone from her life?  Will she ever find out how she died?  Can she ever move past this place of “is” to the everafter?

This book was engaging, unique, and interesting.  As Madison moves through the memories of her life the reader cannot help but think about how she will meet her untimely demise.  Despite the fact that the reason behind her death is set up throughout the story, it will be a shock to most readers the way it actually happens.  Madison’s friendships and family relationships are easy to identify with and it’s hard to imagine how they must cope with her death.  Madison, however, believes that everyone dies when they are supposed to go and it’s okay, but she would like to know how it happens.  She feels no regret about how she lived or died.  This is a very interesting read that will leave the reader thinking about life and death long after the final page.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  391

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel to The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have returned home to district 12 but life is not as easy or calm as Katniss hoped it would be if she survived the games.  Their previous fears of starving or failing to feed their families have been relieved as they now have plenty of food and money due to their winnings, but there is an uneasiness as Katniss realizes she may be in trouble with the Capitol for breaking the rules and managing to have two survivors of the vicious games.  Her fears are turned into reality when she receives a surprise visit from the president of the Capitol.  He warns her that if her and Peeta do not convince everyone that they are in fact in love, then the lives of their family and friends may be in danger.  Katniss was surprised to learn that her act of defiance that allowed her and Peeta to survive the games was seen as a first step of revolt to some of the districts.  Since then they have followed suit and established uprisings that the Capitol does not approve of.   As Katniss tries to squelch the uprisings by acting more in love with Peeta than she could imagine, she can’t help but wonder what will happen if she fails and the Capitol blames her for the beginnings of a revolution?  What’s worse, she starts to wonder if she really wants to squelch the uprisings at all or if she would be willing to give her life in order to make life better for those who come after her.

This sequel delivers all the action, surprise, suspense, and passion as the first one.  The year following Katniss’s triumph in the games is full of heartache and worry as she wonders who is watching her and what they will do to her family if she angers them.  Her life is completely changed, but not necessarily in a better way.  As she tries to help those around her she is in no way prepared for the role that will be thrust upon her in the next hunger games.  Anyone who liked the first installment of this series will devour this one and will have a difficult time waiting for the release of the next one.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  522

RAC:  Yes

CeeCee Wilkes is a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother died when she was twelve.  Now she is a high school graduate and living on her own trying to support herself as a waitress.  She hopes to save enough money to go to college one day.  Her favorite regular customer, Timothy Gleason, is rich and handsome, so she is thrilled when he shows some interest in her.  Soon they are dating and she feels she is in love with him and finally has a place to belong.  When he tells her his sister is on death row for a murder that was self defense, CeeCee finds herself helping in a scheme to get her freed.  Timothy and his brother plan to kidnap the governor’s wife in order to get him to release their sister.  Meanwhile, CeeCee is supposed to watch the hostage while the negotiations go down.  What CeeCee doesn’t count on is the fact that the governor’s wife is 8 months pregnant with a high risk pregnancy.  When the stress of the situation leads her to go into labor early, CeeCee does not know what to do or where to go and the situaiton quickly escalates out of control.  Once the baby is born, CeeCee is unable to stop the bleeding and the woman dies.   CeeCee knows that her life will never be the same again and she has some very difficult decisions to make.  Will she ever see Timothy again?  Will she have to change her name?  Will she have to go to jail for her role in this crime?  What will happen to the baby?

For readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, or similar authors this would be a good story.  It delves into the emotions and motivations of the characters while following an interesting story.  Readers will come to care about what happens to CeeCee and the baby despite the terrible circumstances that bring them together.  The ideas of taking responsibility for one’s actions and second chances are pronounced throughout the story.  The plot will keep readers thinking about justice long after finishing the book.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher


Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  15 and up

# of Pages: 322

Storm Front is not a new release, but has recently come to my attention.   Fantasy fans should be aware of this series that follows a wizard names Harry Dresden.  He lives a difficult life in which he tries to make a living as a wizard while constantly being monitored by the wizarding counsel who are looking for any excuse to destroy him.  In this first installment, Harry becomes involved in two cases at the same time.  One is a housewife simply looking for her husband who has gone missing, but Harry soon finds that there may be some magic involved in this disappearance.  There have also been some gruesome murders involving magic and everyone automatically assumes that he is to blame since he is the only self proclaimed wizard around.  As he tries to clear his name he becomes aware that he is now the killer’s next target.  How can he compete with someone he has yet to identify?

This story is a lot of fun and includes a basic private investigator theme with magic and fantasy creatures.  There are some sophisticated topics and adult language, which readers should be aware of, but most fantasy readers will enjoy it nonetheless for its intricate plot and carefully integrated details.  It is easy to see why this has been a popular series and I’m glad I was introduced to it.

Dead Connection by Alafair Burke

Genre:  Mystery

Age Level:  15 and up

# of Pages:  319 p.

RAC:  Yes

Ellie Hatcher is a detective in the NYPD who has been a media favorite in the past due to her police officer father’s untimely death when she was a child.  Now she has been unexpectedly called up to help in a murder investigation that the lead detective believes might be involved with an online dating company called First Date.  Two female members of First Date have been murdered and they believe that maybe someone is stalking women he meets on this service.  The CEO of First Date refuses to cooperate with any valid names and IDs unless they have more information than just a hunch, which leaves them without a way of finding any information on any of the men these women were in contact with.

This exciting mystery has many twists and turns in it and keeps readers guessing all the way up until the end.  The mystery itself gets more complicated before anything starts to get resolved, which might frustrate some readers, but the last third of the book is very exciting and action packed as the details start to fall into place.  All of the elements needed for a good mystery are present and the clues for the end result are present throughout the story.  Fans of murder mystery stories will enjoy this book.


Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz

Genre: Fantasy

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 264 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Revelations is the third in this Blue Bloods series. This book follows closely where Masquerade ended, with Schuyler now living with the Force family and hating every minute. She tries to contact her grandfather, Lawrence, whenever possible, but this becomes more and more difficult as he must travel away to Rio de Janeiro in order to deal with a possible threat from the Blue Bloods’ biggest enemy: the Silver Bloods. Meanwhile, Schuyler and Jack force become involved, which causes problems because he is meant to be with Mimi for all eternity and she is not about to let him break their bond. Bliss is dealing with her hurt feelings from when Dylan abandoned her and she must decide how to help him when he returns in a serious mental state.

Although much too short, this book is just as thrilling as the previous two. The characters seem to grow and develop more with each book, which helps the reader to understand all points of view as this story unfolds. This story has action, betrayal, lover’s trysts, murder, friendship, and even shocking plot twists. For fans of the first two novels or any type of fantasy or vampire fiction they will devour this book and finish it wanting more.

Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber

Genre: Mystery

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 384 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Lena Dawson is a fingerprint analyst who is known for being very thorough and a bit of a loner. She is famous for cracking some difficult cases in the past and is therefore not surprised when a distraught mother approaches her about the unusual circumstances surrounding her infant son’s death. His case is one of several in the past few months that was ruled a SIDS death. Lena begins to get suspicious, but isn’t sure if she wants to delve into this complicated and difficult case. Many of her co-workers believe the only reason it is coming to light now is because the last victim’s family has connections to some major political officials. At the same time, Lena is dealing with a difficult marriage separation and the realization that she has been pushing people away for some time. This case stirs some uneasy feelings about her own past before she came to be adopted, but she feels she must solve the case in order to move past her own issues.

Mystery lovers will enjoy the story about the infant deaths because it continues to evolve and develop right up until the end. Lena’s own hidden past seems a little too contrived and unbelievable. Once she discovers the truth it seems unlikely that it would have been kept from her in the first place due to the fact that not knowing led her imagination to create unimaginable memories that she came to accept as real. The character of Lena and her co-workers seem flat and uninteresting at times. If the characters had been more interesting the story may have moved along more quickly. Mystery readers will enjoy, but will find it slow.