Posts Tagged 'secrets'

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Genre: Fantasy

# of Pages: 286

Tavia has known she is a siren for awhile, but in a world where it is not safe to admit being a siren she must keep her voice quiet at all times.  She’s even gone so far as to explain her silence with a rare medical condition and learn sign language so she can communicate even when she knows it isn’t safe to speak.  In this world, all sirens are black girls which makes Tavia’s plight even more difficult because she is already facing sexism and racism on a daily basis.  Effie has lived with Tavia for awhile and they have come to think of themselves as sisters.  Effie’s mother died and her grandparents thought it would be better if she lived with Tavia’s family, but did not disclose the reason(s) why.  Effie is not a siren, but she knows there is something strange going on because recently she has faced many unusual physical changes, including extremely dry  and flaky skin, exhaustion, and sometimes even blackouts. It scares her that she doesn’t know what is happening, but she’s hopeful that maybe it will get better with time.  They know they always have each other to lean on, but they are both shaken when a murder trial becomes national news only because the murder victim is accused of being a siren.  Does simply being a siren mean someone can kill you and get away with it? What would happen if anyone were to find out Tavia is a siren?  Can they protect each other from the terrible things destined to come for both of them?

There are not a lot of fantasy novels that feature two black teenagers as the main characters and the author does a nice job of showing why life would be even more difficult as a supernatural being if you were already dealing with people not granting you basic rights due to physical features beyond your control.  Both of these girls know the adults in their life are trying to protect them, but in the end it just feels like they are withholding important information.  The fantasy details of the story is unique, inspiring, and revealed in a satisfying way.  Fans looking for a very thought provoking, modern fantasy story will enjoy.

The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

Genre: Science Fiction

# of Pages: 399

Emma is still shaken from her best friend, Oliver’s, sudden suicide when she has to return for a new term at her elite boarding school.  Her school has been all over the news recently because it has been revealed that a mad scientist created six clones from stolen cord blood sixteen years ago and has raised them secretly on a private island.  The clones have said they prefer to be called similars rather than clones.  The identities of the similars have not been released yet, but everyone knows they are cloned from students at Emma’s school.  In a surprising move, the headmaster has offered for the similars to come go to school with the very students they were cloned after.  It isn’t until the welcome assembly when Emma comes face to face with Oliver’s clone, Levi, that she even entertains the thought that he could have a clone.  She struggles to look at Oliver’s face on another person, but at the same time feels clones should be offered basic human rights and fights for them as debates arise.  The highest honor at Emma’s school is to be a member of the “ten” which includes the top five seniors and top five juniors in the class who form a committee for advising the student body.  Emma is shocked when she captures an elusive spot in the ten, but so do three of the similars which enrages students who have gone to that school for two years already. To make matters worse, Emma’s roommate is viciously attacked and left comatose shortly after school begins and no one has any ideas who it could be, which of course leads some to believe it was a similar.  Can Emma begin to accept Levi even as she still grieves for Oliver?  Is there something sinister behind the headmaster inviting the similars to join the student body?   Who could have attacked Emma’s roommate and why?

The first installment in this series offers a lot of drama as the issue of clones is discussed from a variety of angles.  The main character does a nice job of trying to separate out her own feelings about Oliver having a clone and her feelings about how clones should be treated in general. She knows that it’s irrational to feel one way about a group of people but so differently when considered for a single person in that group, but acknowledges that sometimes you have to just work through your feelings whatever they may be.  There are many roadblocks that keep Emma and the similars from having an event free year, but they keep trying to make the best of their senior year. The end is exciting and satisfying, but leaves many questions unanswered that will keep readers wanting to read the sequel, The Pretenders.

Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Genre: Fantasy

# of Pages: 392

Aina lived on the streets after witnessing her parents terrible murder in Diamond City, where she lives.  Then, one day she was taken in by Kohl, a notorious crime leader, and was trained to be a vicious assassin.  As a young adult she is given an assignment that seems impossible, but if she succeeds all of her dreams will come true.  The only problem is that if she does not succeed, everything she has worked so hard for will come crashing down.  As she begins to investigate this crime she learns there’s a lot that doesn’t make any sense and she wonders if she’s uncovering a secret plot by someone to completely take over Diamond City.  Does she follow orders like she always does or does she think for herself and potentially take a different, albeit riskier path?

Fans of Six of Crows will like this title.  Aina is a well developed character that you immediately root for even though she works as an assassin.  She has a motley crew of characters around her, but it’s easy to see this world she lives in and the many complications she faces daily just to survive.  There are many twists and turns to the plot and spy-esque plans that fans of spy novels will appreciate even if the setting is more of a fantasy one.  The story stands on its own, but is reminiscent of popular series right now.

Verify by Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 307

Meri lives in a world where everyone lives harmoniously in a beautiful city where there is no waste since people do everything digitally.  In fact, her mother was an artist who worked on the city beautification projects all around the city.  Meri and her father are still reeling from her mother’s tragic death and Meri thinks her mother left a message in her unfinished paintings in her studio.  Meri stares at the paintings for weeks trying to figure out what her mother was trying to tell her.  Then, one day she sees someone get arrested for having a piece of paper and she can’t stop thinking about it.  She starts investigating and learns there are a lot of things the government has done in order to ensure peace and beauty, including eliminating any form of protest or uncertainty in the community.  Is it possible that her government has taken the ability or desire to find truth or to substantiate facts? Will Meri be okay knowing that her rights have been violated or will she find a way to do something about it?

This book has been compared to Fahrenheit 451 because it deals with government restrictions on information.  The book itself, though, has a fresh and new take on what seems to be a very possible future if people do not try to safeguard choice and truth.  It is very believable that people could be persuaded to let these things go when promised with safety, beauty, and stability.  Recommended.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

# of Pages: 556

Genre: Fantasy

2019 Iowa High School Award Winner

Nova lives in a world where some people have a super power that they were either both with or acquired at some point.  When she was young the Anarchists were superheroes trying to protect the rights of other superheroes by overthrowing the government that was oppressing them.  This led to chaos and another group of superheroes called the Renegades then rose up to fight the Anarchists.  Nova and her dad both had super powers and her dad believed that if they ever needed help the Renegades would come to their aide. However, when an assassin comes to their door Nova is forced to watch as he kills her mother, father, and baby sister.  The only reason she survives is because she’s able to put people to sleep when she touches them.  She ends up joining the Anarchists since the Renegades were nowhere to be found when she needed them.  She believes they have grown too powerful and need to be taken down, which is why she joins them when she’s old enough in order to learn what their weaknesses are.  As she begins working with her team, however, she realizes that you cannot blame an entire group for the sins of a few.  Should she remain loyal to the Anarchists who took her in when she had no one or truly become a Renegade who vows to protect the city at all costs?

The first in a series, this story is unique and engaging and puts a fresh spin on the idea of super heroes. Nova and her team captain, Adrian, both have secrets and desires to help the city improve, but they go about it in different ways that if found out could get them in big trouble.  The secondary characters are all developed and memorable so that the reader can truly differentiate between all of the superheroes and their many different, unique powers.  Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good adventure story.

The Girl I Used To Be by April Henry

Genre:  Suspense/Mystery

229 pages

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2018-19

Olivia was born with the name Ariel, but it was changed after her mother was murdered in the forest while their family was looking for a Christmas tree.  Olivia was only three at the time and everyone believed her father killed her mother and then dropped her off at a Walmart and disappeared.  She’s never been able to remember anything about the attack, but life has not been easy as she was passed around to foster homes and even suffered a failed adoption before deciding to emancipate herself.  Everyone is shocked when it is discovered that her father actually died the same day as her mother.  So who killed them and why did they release Ariel?  Could they still be out there waiting to finish her off if she starts asking questions?

April Henry does it again with a fast, suspenseful mystery story where Olivia tries to find out what happened to her parents all those years ago.  Coming back to her home town is overwhelming at first and she decides she doesn’t want anyone to know her true identity, but eventually she finds that it’s really nice to reconnect with her roots.  There are many characters to keep track of that are not particularly developed, but could all be potential suspects.  Olivia is very strong, motivated, and independent which makes her a good protagonist.  Reluctant readers and mystery readers will enjoy this title.

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.

The Heir by Kiera Cass

The-Heir_612x925

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of pages:  346

RAC:  yes

It has been twenty years since America Singer won the selection and married Prince Maxon.  Their first born, by seven minutes, is Eadlyn.  Due to the change in law, she is the next in line for the throne and not her younger twin brother.  Eadlyn has felt enormous pressure her entire life because she knows that someday she will rule, but she never realized how much her parents have been shielding her from.  King Maxon abolished the caste system almost immediately after he became king, but all these years later there is still discrimination and unrest going on.  Eadlyn’s parents decide a Selection might shift the focus away from the unrest and onto happier, more exciting things.  Eadlyn is not thrilled by the idea of a Selection and vows to fight it at every turn.  There are several interesting suitors who are chosen and she begins to enjoy herself a bit, but as with any Selection there is a fair share of drama.  Will she find true love?

This follow-up series to the original is fun in that it is from a female perspective and therefore she is unable to get away with stuff her father did simply because he was a man and viewed differently by the public.  Eadlyn takes her responsibilities seriously, but often comes out unlikable because of her brusque attitude.  It’s obvious that she and her siblings know very little about the selection that brought their parents together and that is surprising considering a lot of important events transpired that still effect relations within the castle today.  The ending brought many shocks and surprises which is what fans will be looking for…along with the next book!

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt

how to build a house

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  227

RAC:  Yes

Harper is running away from a difficult home life after her father’s divorce and decides to join a volunteer group working to rebuild a home in Tennessee destroyed by a tornado.  The story switches between Harper meeting new people and helping to rebuild the house in the present and then flashing back to what happened with her dad and why she feels so isolated after her stepmom and two stepsisters moved out.  In addition to this, Harper is trying to avoid her former best friend whom she thought was starting to show romantic interest in her when she caught him with another girl at a party.  While she is in Tennessee she begins to grow closer to the teenage boy of the family they are building the house for, Teddy.  As hard as the work is, the distraction is great to ease her mind on all of her problems at home and she comes to have very strong feelings for Teddy.  Can she face her life after the house is built and the summer is over?

This is a title that has been on my reading list for awhile because of its unique focus on service.  The flashbacks to what happened to Harper are interesting and well paced, but in general the book has less substance than I was expecting.  Teens who have suffered through a parents’ divorce will resonate with Harper’s internal struggle of who she should remain faithful to and wanting the truth.  Harper’s summer activities are not explained in as much detail as her past and the teens she is volunteering with are not developed enough for the reader to easily keep them straight.  Fans of teen romances will like this title.

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.

Perfect Ruin by Lauren Destefano

perfect ruin

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  356

RAC:  Yes

Morgan lives on  a city that is floating in the sky.  The legend is that the gods of land believed the humans to be greedy and wasteful and were going to exterminate them and begin a new race when the god of sky decided to save them.  Therefore, their floating city is suspended in the sky and anyone who attempts to look at or jump to the earth either dies or is seriously injured.  Morgan’s brother was blinded when he attempted to see the ground below.  The community has limited space and resources so everything is carefully monitored such as who will marry who and when or if they will be allowed to have children.  Morgan and her betrothed are very close and have no secrets from each other.  One day a young girl is found murdered on the train tracks and this makes for the first willful murder ever to take place in this city.  Naturally, the citizens get scared and are on high alert even as security is enhanced.  Then, Morgan sees the suspected culprit running free in the woods despite all accounts of his being in custody.  Is the government lying to the people?  If so, what exactly are they lying about and what can she do to find out the truth?

Futuristic stories are incredibly popular right now amongst young adults and this one will fit into that niche easily.  The story has similar aspects to books like Matched and Divergent but is different enough to encourage interest.  Morgan comes to find that much of what she believed her world to be is in fact a lie.  Her government, her teachers, and even her family have all kept secrets from her.  The end of the story is exciting and leaves an opening for a thrilling sequel.  The supporting characters all enhance the story as you see how each person responds to the world they live in and the rules imparted on them differently.   Recommended.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

emerald green

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# Of Pages:  447

RAC:  Yes

In the third novel of the Ruby Red Trilogy, Gwen is still fuming over her treatment by Gideon in the last book.  She feels betrayed and like she cannot trust anyone.  She is also convinced that there is more to the story of her ancestors, Lucy and Paul.  She does not believe they would simply steal the chronograph for their own gain.  She does not trust the Count, but has no way of knowing how to protect herself from anyone because she does not know who to trust.  Then, she discovers something hidden in her own house by her late grandfather and she uses it as a means for communicating with him back when he was still alive.  Can he help her to decipher the prophesy enough to know what her role in this is supposed to be and manage to keep everyone safe?

This trilogy has been engaging from the beginning, but there were always unanswered questions and this book puts many of those to rest.  The final resolution regarding the Count, Lucy and Paul, and even Gwen and Gideon are all interesting and exciting.  Gwen’s interactions with her grandfather are also enlightening concerning the overall story.  The book has a satisfying ending to the trilogy, but still leaves a little room for more in the future.  Recommended for fans of fantasy romances.

Legend by Marie Lu

legend

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  305

RAC Book:  Yes

In this futuristic story, Day is a rebel who hides in the shadows and pulls pranks on authorities.  He is the number one wanted criminal.  June is a girl living in the Republic whose brother is a soldier for a high ranking official.  She is considered a prodigy because she is the first and only person to earn a perfect score on the training test given to every ten-year-old in the Republic.  After an attempt to obtain medicine from a hospital leaves June’s brother murdered she is led to believe Day was the culprit responsible.  June goes undercover to find and apprehend the biggest criminal standing in the way of the Republic’s goals so she can avenge her brother.  Day ends up being much more than she bargained for, however, and she finds the more questions she answers the more that arise.  Whom can she trust in this government?  Can she believe anything she was told over her entire childhood?

This exciting story will interest readers who like books such as The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games.  The setting is reminiscent of Divergent, but focuses much more on the goals of the Republic and not the little sectors that make up the people.  The chapters alternate between Day and June so that you see each of the sides of this battle and why they see each other as the enemy.  Many secrets unravel quickly, but it’s obvious there are many more where that came from.  There is currently one sequel out and there will probably be more.

Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  377

RAC Book:  Yes

Tansy moves around a lot with her mother and grandfather because her mother is a horror author who needs to feel inspired by her surroundings.  This time they are headed to a small town in Texas where her grandfather grew up.  Her mother even rented out a house that is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a seventeen-year-old boy who committed suicide on the premises many years before.  Tansy does not get too wrapped up in these legends because she is used to it with her mother’s stories, but she does notice a few odd things at this new house.  Her suspicions are further heightened when she looks through the lens of her camera and sees a teenage boy staring back at her.  Can she find out what happened to him all those years ago?  Can she find acceptance in a town that never has newcomers?

Mystery readers will enjoy the intrigue of this ghost tale.  The way Tansy is able to interact with the ghost is very interesting and unique compared to other similar stories.  Some of the details will feel obvious to readers, but they will still find the delivery of the clues captivating.  Tansy’s feelings about moving and insecurities about starting a new school will resonate with other teenagers.  Overall, a very exciting mystery read.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  349

RAC Book:  Yes

Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena are back ten years after the last installment of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  Now they are all approaching the age of 30 and they have struggled to keep their friendship alive.  Tibby moved to Australia with Bryan, Bridget lives with Eric in San Francisco, Lena lives alone in New York and works as an art professor, and Carmen lives with her horrible fiance in New York where she works as an actress.  Tibby has especially fallen out of touch with her friends, which is why they are all so surprised when she invites them to Greece for a reunion.  When the three girls arrive, Tibby is not there to greet them.  By nightfall they know something is wrong and by morning their worst fears are confirmed.  The way each woman handles this tragedy is to run away from each other, which seems a bit surprising considering how long they have been friends.  Can they ever recover from their loss?  Can they ever find their way in this world without wandering aimlessly forever?

Most of this book centers on Bridget, Lena, and Carmen coping with Tibby’s apparent suicide.  During this time the three women rarely speak to each other and choose to throw themselves into various other activities.  It seems sad they have been a bit lost these last ten years and it took a tragedy to wake them up.  It’s difficult to take characters who became famous in young adult novels and make them realistic adults.  In many ways, these characters were still the same immature girls who traded pants.  The ending was satisfying, but the journey was a bit frustrating as the characters repeatedly made decisions that seemed unrealistic for thirty-year-olds who have been friends since birth.


Archives