Posts Tagged 'secret'

Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  323

Adam lives in Blackwater where jobs, food, and everything else are scarce and life is hard.  He lives with his disabled brother and harbors a secret crush on Sadie Blood, the girl who runs the bike repair shop.  Every year there is a brutal bike race and the winner gets to go to Sky-Base, the amazing city where there is plenty of everything including food and opportunities.  Adam would love to abandon this hard life for the easy one in Sky-Base, but he always worries about leaving his brother and Sadie behind.  Also, there is a group of thugs who enjoy terrorizing everyone around Blackwater and Adam isn’t sure he has what it takes to beat them.  Then, tragedy strikes and Adam knows that his only shot is to race and win.  Does he have what it takes?

This book is action packed and full of suspense as Adam navigates this dangerous track and competition.  Fans of The Maze Runner series will really enjoy this title as it has similar exciting plot twists and dangerous actions.  It’s easy to get engaged with the characters as they fight for their lives on an hourly basis in this tough town.  The ending will leave readers wanting more.   Recommended for reluctant readers.

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.

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

divided we fall

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  374

Iowa High School Award Winner 2015-16

RAC:  Yes

Daniel Wright enlisted in the Idaho National Guard as soon as he was eligible, which means he is still a senior in high school.  He lives with his very needy mother, plays football, and has a girlfriend.  The national guard is only supposed to be one weekend a month until he graduates from high school, but then a law is passed that many people do not agree with including the governor of Idaho.  When he refuses to comply with the law he calls in the national guard to combat any possible rioters and Daniel Wright is one of those soldiers called in to defend the capital.  Unfortunately, his gun accidentally fires and it begins a terrible riot that results in some civilian casualties.  In the aftermath, the President of the U.S. demands the governor of Idaho reveal the names and whereabouts of all involved soldiers so they can face possible criminal charges.  The governor refuses and Idaho faces the very real possibility that they could go to war with the United States of America.  Can Daniel fight other U.S. soldiers?  Will Daniel go to jail if he is caught by the U.S. military?  Will his liberal girlfriend understand the circumstances that led him to this point?

This exciting adventure story shows how plausible it really is that a state could go to war with the U.S.  All of the characters are written in a way that you can understand their motivations, feelings, and actions.  There’s a lot of soldier terminology used to describe Daniel and his squad’s orders, but it is explained well for readers who do not normally read about soldiers.  The story is very exciting as Daniel is thwarted at every move and the ending will definitely leave readers wanting more.  Strongly recommended for high school boys.

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

The Rules for Disappearing

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  312

RAC:  Yes

Meg and her sister, Mary, have been moved from one location to another multiple times over the past year since their family was placed in witness protection.  Each time they must change their names and backstories so that no one has any idea where they came from.  They do not know why they are in witness protection and Meg blames her father for whatever he did that landed them in this hellish situation.  Mary has begun withdrawing and their mother has started drinking heavily.  The reason for why they have to be moved so many times is elusive to them too and Meg has about had it with being ignorant about their own situation.  When they move this time she vows to remain neutral and distant so that she does not become attached to anyone or anything, but that becomes very difficult when she meets Ethan…  Can she stand to lose him if they get moved in the middle of the night again?  How can she ever make him understand why she acts the way she does?

This book is highly exciting and engaging as you learn the reason for why Meg and her family are in witness protection in the first place.  People are obviously looking for them and Meg often feels as if people are watching her.  At the same time, she is beginning to feel angry and bitter about spending her senior year going from school to school, working an after school job to keep her family financially afloat, and taking care of her family emotionally.  Once the reality of their situation is revealed, Meg feels responsible to fix their situation even if it means putting herself in danger to do so.  The ending is very dramatic, but a tad quick.  Most readers will be satisfied by the resolution at the end of the story.  Recommended for everyone, but reluctant readers will enjoy.

Agent Colt Shore by Axel Avian

About Agent Colt Shore Domino 29

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Adventure

# of Pages:  368

RAC:  Yes

Colt Shore grew up attending an elite private school where he was trained in many skills required of a spy, but he always intended to enter the profession as an information person and never as a field agent.  He also grew up believing his parents had him after their first beloved child died, which always left him feeling left out.  He is quite surprised to learn that who he believes to be his parents are actually his grandparents and his dad was actually a spy killed in the line of duty.  His mother is still an active agent and introduces him to spy headquarters.  When he is asked to help out with a mission, his mother argues against it, but does not stand in his way.  He finds that the mission is simply too good to resist, but once he gets in the field he must learn quickly how to make decisions as the mission morphs into something much bigger than he signed on for.

The evolution of this mission is done so in a way that seems logical, although there does tend to be a lack of fear on the part of Colt and the person he is trying to protect.  The action sequences are well written and adequately describe how Colt manages to get from one tough situation to another.  He does have luck on his side in a few instances but not in an unbelievable way.  Colt’s personality engages the reader from the beginning and many will want to follow his adventures for many books to come.  Highly recommended for fans of spy novels and reluctant readers.

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.

Belles by Jen Calonita

Belles by Jen Calonita

Genre:  Romance

# of Pages:  352

RAC Book:  Yes

Isabelle has lived with her mother and her grandmother her entire life and when her mother died in a car accident her grandmother became her guardian.  Despite all of Isabelle’s efforts, her grandmother is placed in a nursing home by a social worker and she is whisked away to the house of long lost family she has never heard of.  The Monroe’s welcome Isabelle, but their teenage daughter, Mirabelle, struggles to befriend Isabelle at school as well as keep in the good graces of the queen bee, Savannah, who does not want Isabelle included in any school events.  Meanwhile, Isabelle is stunned to learn that the great guy she met surfing at the beach all summer is the boyfriend of Savannah, who seems to make it her life’s mission to torture Isabelle.  Will Isabelle and Mirabelle ever get along?  Will Isabelle ever feel like she fits in in this new school, home, and family?  What will happen when a huge family secret is revealed?

This story is full of teenage drama, but somehow manages to suck the reader in and want to know what will happen to these people.  Despite the stress of always trying to keep up appearances, the Monroes do come off as normal and well adjusted.  Savannah is a good villain that everyone wants to see go down, but can unfortunately also identify with as most people know a “Savannah.”  Recommended for girls who like romance and lighter stories.

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  306

RAC:  Yes

Alison wakes up in a psychiatric facility with no memory of how she got there.  She has always had the special ability to see colors and taste words, but her mother always told her to hide this for fear of mental illness.  A new doctor tells Alison he believes she has synesthesia, which means she has a heightened sense of all five senses and is considered a real medical condition.  She learns she confessed to killing a friend, but the body has not been recovered and she has no recollection of actually killing her.  As her new doctor tries to help her, Alison comes to find out there is a lot she does not know about him.  Can she ever find out what happened to her friend?  Can she ever prove she is not a danger to society so that she can be free again?

The beginning of this story grabs the reader right from page one.  The story takes many unexpected twists and turns and the eventual explanation of what happened to Alison’s friend will take many readers by surprise.  The synesthesia is an unusual condition that will intrigue readers since it is a real condition that does not signify mental illness.  Fans of mystery, fantasy, and realistic fiction will all find themselves engrossed in this captivating story.

Starcrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  359

RAC Book:  Yes

Digger lives as a thief and a spy, but when her partner is killed by the King’s police she must go into hiding so that she does not meet the same fate.  She becomes Celyn, a lady-in-waiting, to a family that is going to a remote castle for the winter.  Digger believes this will be the perfect getaway from the city, but when she gets there finds that one of the guests, Lord Daul, knows her true identity and threatens to reveal it unless she becomes a spy for him.  As Celyn begins snooping around the castle looking for clues she finds much more than she expected and must decide whom she should trust.

Starcrossed begins a bit slow and will frustrate some fantasy readers because fantasy elements are not as prominent as they are in some other books.  However, the plot in this story carries many twists and turns that will keep readers wanting to know more about the people who have come together in this castle for the winter.  Celyn, Lady Merista, and many other characters continue to grow and develop until it seems like the reader actually knows them.  Fans of Graceling will want to check this one out.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Genre:  Adventure/Futuristic Fiction

# of Pages:  360

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel to The Maze Runner, Thomas and his friends are hoping their trials are over.  Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of another round of trials.  They must face scorching heat, disease, and even opponents with weapons.  Plus, a lot of their actions seem to be predetermined somehow.  A lot is revealed about Thomas’s past and the reasons behind the trials, but these answers simply bring up more questions.  Will Thomas and his friends survive to find out why they are being forced into such terrible tests?  Will they ever know whom they can truly trust in this crazy experiment?

The sequel does not provide as interesting of a backdrop as the maze did, but the twists and turns of the plot will keep fans interested.  The characters become more endearing throughout this story also because we know how far they have come and realize they still have a long ways to go to enjoy freedom.  Many new characters are introduced and their motives are murky at best, which keeps the characters and the reader guessing.  All in all, it is not as enticing as the first one, but will definitely keep young readers interested.

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  265

RAC Book:  Yes

In this fourth installment of the Gallagher Girls series, Cammie Morgan is heavily protected by secret agents because the evil spy organization, the Circle, is trying to find her.  No one knows why Cammie is so important to the Circle, but several security measures are taken at Gallagher Academy to ensure that she is safe at all times.  Meanwhile, on her winter break Cammie is startled to learn that someone she was very close to has been accused of working with the Circle.  Can she trust anyone again?  Can Cammie and her friends find out why the Circle is after her?

This book picks up right where the third one left off and makes for an exciting and fast paced story.  The plot has many surprises and many questions are raised, but for the first time readers get a few answers too.  The characters and dialogue are just as fun as ever and fans of the first three Gallagher Girls books will devour this one too.

The Fake Boyfriend by Kate Brian

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of pages: 262 p.

RAC book: Yes

Lane and Vivi feel that their other best friend, Isabelle, allows her loser boyfriend to walk all over her. When he cheats on her in a very public place they decide to act before she decides to take him back again. They start chatting with her online as a fake boyfriend. They set up the profile online and encourage Lane’s brother to chat with her so that it sounds like a boy. As you can imagine, craziness breaks out when Isabelle decides she wants to ask her mystery man to prom. Lane and Vivi have to scramble to find someone who can play their made up man.  Who they end up finding only causes more problems.

While this story has many predictable factors, there is also something sweet about the lengths these two girls will go to in order to protect their friend from someone they think intentionally hurts and uses her. The ending is a bit more complicated than expected based on the simplicity of the story thus far and packs a few unexpected twists. Girls who enjoy reading Meg Cabot books will be a fan of this one as well. The characters are well-developed and the ending is impossibly happy. Readers who like a little edge in their stories should avoid this one.


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