Posts Tagged 'sisters'

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart

In this prequel to We Were Liars, Carrie narrates the story of the first summer on the Sinclair island after they lost their beloved sister, Rosemary. Carrie, Penny, and Bess, the three remaining Sinclair sisters, are all doing their best to cope with the loss of their baby sister and each doing it in their own way. Carrie seems to be struggling the most as she had to undergo painful jaw surgery during the school year that has led to a pill addiction now. She is very much looking forward to her cousin coming to join her for the summer, but when Yardley finally comes she is joined by her boyfriend and two other boys. That greatly changes things as Carrie has never before had a boyfriend of any kind. As they frolic on the small island, she begins to form a relationship with Pfeff, but every time she gets her hopes up he always manages to disappoint her until they reach a breaking point. Will she look back on this summer with affection or not? Will she come to regret some of the things said and done during that fateful summer? Will she ever make peace with losing her baby sister?

Fans of the original story will enjoy learning more about the famous Sinclair family and how things got to be so difficult. There are a lot of twists in the plot of this story and the writing style is very descriptive and rich, but sometimes can be a little hard for struggling readers. It is refreshing to meet the sisters at such a young age and learn about some of the things they struggled with before they became adults. There is definitely a lot of pressure on them to be perfect in every way to the outside world. The characters in this story will leave readers thinking about them long after the book is finished. Recommended.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Genre: Historical Mystery

In this fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Lizzie is desperate to work for her father’s law firm, but he has kept her to the side working small office jobs because he doesn’t think it’s proper for a young lady to aspire to become a lawyer. Meanwhile, the heir to his estate, a dour Mr. Collins, is working at the firm and frequently takes credit for Lizzie’s work as he seems to have very little work ethic himself. Lizzie’s mom would love to see one of their five daughters marry Mr. Collins so that they will not be turned out of their house when Lizzie’s dad eventually dies. Lizzie has made it clear she has no interest in Mr. Collins and finds him rather repulsive. When Lizzie learns that there has been a murder and a Mr. Bingley has been accused of the crime, she immediately feels this is her shot to prove to her father that she can be a valuable asset to the firm. She goes to the jail to meet Mr. Bingley, but is not there very long before a Mr. Darcy arrives to post bail for his client and good friend. Mr. Darcy is not amused that Lizzie is inserting herself into this case, but Mr. Bingley is desperate for anyone to help him out of this predicament. The man who was murdered was Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law and it was well known that the two were not getting on very well at the moment and that Mr. Bingley’s sister was planning to leave him. Lizzie decides she needs to prove her ability to solve a case by continuing to investigate and comes across a young man working as a runner named Mr. Wickham who seems very eager to help her. Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy has made it very clear that he doesn’t want her meddling in his case. Who can Lizzie trust to help her get to the truth? What secrets are the Bingley’s hiding? Can Lizzie every prove to her father that she is more valuable than Mr. Collins?

This fun retelling will interest anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. Fans of the original will have fun seeing how each character fits into this version. The mystery itself is very engaging and has some serious twists and turns leading up to its big finale. Mystery fans will not be disappointed by the resolution of the mystery. Lizzie’s character is true to her original nature, but pushes her to be even more forceful in her wish to find the truth for Mr. Bingley. There are several characters who do not play as big of a part as they did in the original, but that doesn’t detract from the interesting plot of the mystery. It was thoroughly entertaining throughout and it will be fun to see more in this series in the future.

My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel

Genre: Romance/Realistic fiction

Zurika Damani is nervously awaiting her college acceptance letters to see if she can go to school for music (her passion is the violin) or if her parents will force her to go into pre-law as they do not believe music can be a viable career. There is a huge music competition coming up that she very much wants to go to because several elite college scouts will be there, but it during her sister’s weeklong wedding celebration. In the Indian culture there are many events around a wedding and Zuri’s family has made it very clear they expect her to be present at each and every wedding event. She must also rehearse several choreographed dance numbers and it is no secret that everyone thinks she and her partner would make a wonderful couple down the road. When she finally meets Naveen she realizes that he is not only charming, but a very talented singer who is also planning to go to the music competition. Zuri loves her family and wants to make them proud, but she can’t deny her natural inclination to pursue music as a career. Can she find a way to go to the competition without her family knowing? Is there any way her family would support her pursuing music in college? Does she think there could be a future for her and Naveen?

This story nicely depicts an American Indian family trying to incorporate all of their traditions into a wedding. There are not a lot of books about the American Indian culture and this is a good book to help normalize how students view the Indian culture around them. In many ways, Zuri’s family is like any other American family, but it is easy to see how even between generations there is a difference in how wedding traditions are viewed, which is something many families can relate to. Zuri is a very sympathetic character because she wants to be supportive of her family whom she loves, but she desperately wants some of that support for herself and her academic pursuits as well. Many students, regardless of culture, will be able to identify with feeling like you are an outsider in your own family. The relationships between the sisters and cousins are well developed and it’s easy to feel connected to this family and their story. Recommended for those who enjoy romances or books celebrating other cultures.

Sense and Second Degree Murder by Tirzah Price

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery

Elinor Dashwood is greatly saddened when her father suddenly dies working at his desk one night. She has to break the news to her younger sisters, Marianne and Margaret, and their mother. To make matters worse, everything their father owned legally now belongs to his son from his first marriage, and his wife makes it very clear that they want them out of the house. With very little to their names, they must rely on the kindness of a distant relative who offers to rent them a tiny apartment in a bustling part of the city. Marianne, the middle sister, had previously worked with their father in his detective business and very much wants to keep it going, but is denied by her brother and his wife who now legally own the business and have chosen to close it. Before they move out of their home, Marianne notices that the teacup their father was drinking from the night he died contains an unusual substance. Elinor likes studying chemistry and immediately tries to find out what the substance is, but it does not appear to be a commonly known one. As they settle into their new life, they find that many of their old friends have forsaken them now that they are no longer a part of high society and they quickly learn who they can really rely on. Can they trust Edward Farrell, their brother’s brother-in-law, who seems to be eager to help the Dashwoods? Who is this mysterious man Mr. Willoughby who has begun to show a romantic interest in Marianne? Is it possible someone intentionally hurt their father and if so, why?

Fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this fun updated mystery version. All of the main elements are there from the original story, but the sisters seem more modern and savvy in their quest for truth and wisdom. The mystery itself holds up very well considering the characters are already set from the original version. Somehow the personalities of the characters remained in tact even as their role in the story changed to fit the mystery of how Mr. Dashwood died. There are many satisfying twists to the mystery and the resolution seemed fitting for the time period the story is set in. Highly recommended for Jane Austen fans and those looking for a fun historical fiction mystery.

Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets by Chelsea Ichaso

Genre: Mystery

Savannah’s sister, Piper, was in a mysterious hiking accident that left her in a coma. Everyone thought it was a tragic accident, but Savannah is taking it particularly hard since she always felt like she was in Piper’s shadow. Piper seemed to just excel at everything she did and often Savannah felt resentful, which feels really wrong now that there’s a good possibility she won’t wake up. In order to try and connect with her sister a little, Savannah takes up one of Piper’s activities, which was the winderness club. In fact, they give her Piper’s backpack filled with wilderness essentials and it’s there that she finds a note telling Piper that there will be a wilderness meeting at the same time and place where she had her tragic fall. However, everyone in the group assures Savannah that there was no such meeting. Was someone with Piper when she fell? Did someone lure her there on purpose? Can Savannah find out what really happened to her sister?

This mystery presents several different characters who all seem to be involved in the story in some way, which makes it fun for the reader to follow along and find out who really knows what happened to Piper. It’s also easy to understand why Savannah has such mixed feelings toward her sister as you see how everyone continues to treat her even now that Piper’s not around. The mystery itself is fun and the ending is satisfying. It’s a fun read for those looking for something quick and light.

The Project by Courtney Summers

Genre: Realistic Fiction

After a terrible accident kills her parents, Bea is willing to do anything to save her sister, Lo. When Lev Warren approaches her in the hospital he claims he can save Lo as long as Bea commits to his religious community, The Unity Project. Bea agrees, but doesn’t know exactly what that means until she’s expected to give up her sister and everything else she’s ever known and move to the Unity Project. Lo, meanwhile, grows up and believes the Unity Project is a cult who stole her sister. Every time she’s tried to reach out to her, she is blocked by members who claim Bea wants nothing to do with her. Now, as an adult, Lo works for a news publication and longs for the day she can write an article herself. When the opportunity presents itself to investigate the Unity Project she jumps at the chance to expose them, but is it what she thinks it is? Lo finds there are many surprises in store for her at the Unity Project, but can she get to the truth and not just what everyone wants her to see? Can Lo find a way to reunite with Bea or is it too late for them?

This book is for those looking for a more serious read. Bea and Lo both struggle with the loss of their parents and the fact that Lo almost died as well. It has changed the way they see the world, but in different ways. In trying to find truth, both have taken very different paths in life, but Lo very much wants to find a way to have a sister again and she’s willing to do almost anything to get it. The characters are very well developed and it’s easy for the reader to see how everyone came to make the decisions they did. This book has action, suspense, and so much more, but it does tackle some serious topics, such as death and abuse so anyone looking for a light read will want to pass on this one.

Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Genre: Mystery

Rachel Krall has a murder podcast that has gained her some notoriety, but she is used to being fairly anonymous which is why she’s so stunned when she starts receiving letters on her car, in her hotel room, and other places that no one should know about. The letters are from the sister of a girl, Jenny Stills, who died 25 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Officially, the death was ruled a drowning, but as Rachel starts investigating it does seem like the facts don’t add up. In the meantime, the reason Rachel is in this small town is to report on a rape trial going on that has divided the town. Everyone has an opinion about the two people involved in this case and feels like they should have a say in what happens. The boy is a promising swimmer and many believe that he shouldn’t have his reputation sullied by a girl they believe simply changed her mind. The girl’s parents, however, say she hasn’t been the same since that fateful day and they know it was indeed rape. Can Rachel report on this case in a way that portrays both sides equally and fairly while holding off the growing hostility of the people in the town? Can she get to the bottom of what happened to Jenny Still all those years ago and bring peace to Jenny’s sister?

This story is engaging from the beginning as both the ongoing trial and the mystery from the past have many twists and turns in them. The fact she runs a podcast is also interesting because more and more people have been enjoying crime podcasts lately. Rachel’s character seems fleshed out and you can definitely see how motivated she is to make her podcast relevant, but also factual. The eventual resolution is satisfying and doesn’t feel too rushed as the pieces start to come together. Fans of The Escape Room, The Woman in Cabin 10, and the Woman in the Window will enjoy this title.

The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings

Genre: Historical Fiction

Number of pages: 258

In 1851, identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter are struggling to get out of the difficult situation they found themselves in when their adoptive family cast them aside after 8 loving years and sent them to live with a family who treated them as slave labor. Despite many years of loyal work, they are not treated well and any money they earn outside the home is kept by the wife or spent at the local pub by the husband. Sophie has never understood why their mother’s sister refused to take them in when their mom died in childbirth. She has become quite fond of science and technology from working in a clock shop and she desperately wants to go to London where she hopes to become an inventor. Sophie writes to her aunt and her aunt replies that she can take one of them for one season in the hopes of helping her find a husband, but Sophie cannot leave Mariah behind so they go to London together and pretend to both be Sophie. Mariah’s interests are literature and art, which takes her in a different direction in London and both sisters end up meeting men who like them as individuals. Can they keep up the charade of both being Sophie? Will the men they like forgive them for not telling them the truth up front? Will their aunt ever find any affection for her only nieces?

This historical fiction story is full of adventure and romance. Both Sophie and Mariah desperately want to make their way in this exciting city, but they have grown up realizing they really only have each other they can depend on which makes them a little slow to trust people they meet. They are fortunate to meet many kind, generous people in their London adventures, but they always have the fear that it will be discovered they are both posing as Sophie and be cast out. The romances are both realistically built up over time and the two men are sufficiently different for two such different sisters. Recommended for historical fiction and romance fans.

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Genre: Romance

Number of Pages: 307

Dylan is a typical high school student in Alabama, except for the fact that her sister, Dusty, is a former Miss Alabama and recently found love with a Scottish Laird on a reality tv show called Prince in Disguise. Now, she has to give up her Christmas vacation to go to Scotland for her sister’s wedding, which will be filmed for an upcoming television event as a follow-up to the original show. Dylan feels like the reality film crew is setting her up to look bad as the comic relief in their show when no one comes to get her from the train station, she never receives an itinerary but it still chastized for being late to events, and even when they force her to attend a formal dinner in muddy running clothes. What she does not count on, however, is that there will be a funny, sweet young man there to make her feel visible at all times in a world where she thought everyone only saw her sister. As soon as she meets Jamie, she is instantly intrigued by him as he seems to truly like her just the way she is. As they spend more time together she thinks she could actually find her first boyfriend in a Scottish castle. Can she find a way to spend more time with Jamie without the cameras following her every move? Can she handle all the planned twists and turns the reality show producers throw at her? Could she find her first love in the last place she would have looked for it?

This delightful Christmas romance is fun for anyone looking to escape for a bit or for fans of Holiday TV movies. Dylan’s initial awkwardness fits with the build up of a southern girl in Scotland for the first time and readers will want to see what happens as she becomes more confident with Jamie. Many readers will pick up on some of the big reveals long before Dylan does, but that doesn’t take away from the charming nature of the story at all. Even Dylan’s relationship with her sister, Dusty, feels developed and real instead of the generic backdrop to Dylan and Jamie’s story. Recommended for romance fans looking for a Christmas story.

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.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  398

There is an island that is almost totally cut off from the rest of the world where a set of triplets are born every generation.  The queen immediately knows what power each of the girls will have and when they are a few years old they are separated so that they can hone their craft.  When they come of age they must compete in a bizarre set of rituals in which only the last one alive can become the next queen.  Katherine is a poisoner, but she while she has become adept at administering poisons she has not yet become immune to them herself.  Arsinoe, the naturalist, has not yet found her familiar, which is like her animal soul mate, but she has been very happy growing up alongside her best friend, Jules, who is a very talented naturalist.  Finally, Mirabella, the elementalist, is very gifted and can easily manipulate water and fire.  It is expected she will easily take the crown over her weaker sisters, but once the games begin everyone has a few surprises in store for the waiting spectators.  Who will end up with the crown?  Whom can the sisters really trust in this process?  Who will get hurt along the way?

This series has received a lot of attention from my students, but it did take me awhile to get into the story and the characters.  Once I did become immersed in the characters I not only wanted to finish the first one right away but wanted to read the second one as well.  It’s definitely a unique story that does not rely on plot details seen in other fantasy series.  There is still a lot that needs to be revealed about these characters, their motivations, and the ultimate outcome which will keep readers engaged for a long time to come.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fangirl

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of pages:  438

Cather does not like to go out drinking like most college freshmen she knows.  Instead, she likes to stay in and write fan fiction for a fantasy series she is obsessed with.  Meanwhile, her identical twin has tried very hard to distance herself from Cath so that they can start anew in college.  Cath slowly assimilates to college including getting used to her unusual roommate and her friendly male friend who seems to be in Cath’s room a lot.  There is a fair share of drama in Cath’s life (including a father who is struggling with his new empty nest), but the one thing that always balances things out is her love of writing, which is why she’s so excited for her fiction writing class.  Unfortunately, even that does not go exactly as planned…

Fans of John Green or any of Rainbow Rowell’s other books will become obsessed with these characters.  The story is interesting enough, but it’s the characters that make it hard to put this one down.  Cath is very relatable to anyone who’s ever been new to a place and trying to find your way.  She has trouble knowing who to confide in, who to trust, and who to run from.  Eventually she starts gaining more confidence in her new life and starts making proactive choices instead of reactive ones.  It’s a very compelling coming of age story that will leave readers wanting more.

Atlantia by Ally Condie

atlantia

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  298

RAC:  Yes

Rio and her twin, Bay, were born in the underwater town of Atlantia and it is now their chosen time to decide if they wish to stay below or go up to the surface for the rest of their lives.  People in the underwater city believe that life above ground is dangerous, labor intensive, and fairly short while residents of Atlantia are believed to have an easy life where most people live a very long time.  Unfortunately, their mother, Oceana, was recently found dead and many suspect foul play.  Rio has always dreamed of going above, but now that their mother is gone she has promised Bay she will stay with her down below.  All decisions are final in this ceremony and there is no going back and forth allowed.  Rio is shocked when Bay ends up leaving her and choosing to live above the water, but she is ushered away before Rio has a chance to ask her why.  She does have time to utter one word that alerts those near to her of what she truly is, which is a siren.  Her mother has trained her to keep that truth a secret for reasons unbeknownst to Rio.  Can Rio survive in the one place she has wanted to leave her entire life without her mother or sister?  Why would her sister choose to leave after making her promise they would stay together forever?  Is it possible to bridge the two societies together?

This novel is fresh and interesting right from the beginning.  It feels like yet another futuristic story, but the setting and characters quickly help you to forget all of that as you cannot help but get immersed in the story.  Rio has many plot details to figure out in order to find out the truth of her family and Atlantia itself.  While many great characters are introduced, it does take Rio awhile to discern whom she can and cannot trust which makes the journey more interesting for the reader.  It also appears that this is going to be a stand alone novel which is refreshing in a world where every book seems to have three sequels.  Recommended for students who enjoy fantasy.

The List by Vivian Siohban

thelist

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

333 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

2014-2015 Iowa High School Award Winner

Every year a list is posted the Monday before Homecoming listing the four prettiest and four ugliest girls, one for each grade respectively.  Each chapter follows one of the eight girls and how they cope with the existence of this list.  Danielle, the ugliest freshmen, must deal with the fallout of how her boyfriend handles the news that she was voted on this list.  Meanwhile, Abby, the prettiest freshmen faces possibly not being allowed to go to the dance at all due to grades.  The “ugliest” sophomore is actually a cute, but very mean girl who is deemed “ugliest” on the inside.  The “prettiest” sophomore girl is a girl who has been home-schooled for her entire life and is trying to find independence from her mom with great difficulty.  The prettiest junior, Bridget, feels pressured into an eating disorder in order to maintain her image while the ugliest junior reacts quite strongly and refuses to shower or change her clothes for the entire week after the list comes out.  The ugliest senior is the first ever to earn that particular honor for all four years of high school and she pretends she is totally fine with it.  The prettiest senior feels the pressure to follow in her sister’s footsteps who was the prettiest senior the year before and seemed to fall apart afterward.  Each chapter follows a different girl as she navigates through this very difficult week.

This book has earned many awards for good reason.  This book delves into many serious issues for high school girls including insecurity, the fear of being excluded, worrying about what others think, eating disorders, dating problems, academic trouble, lying, and problems at home.  No one on the list finds happiness no matter which side of the list she is on.  While the circumstances around the list may seem unbelievable, the issues surrounding it are completely believable and exist at every high school.  A great book to recommend to high school girls, especially ones who are having trouble adjusting.

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

fathomless

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  291

RAC:  Yes

Lo lives in the water as a mermaid type creature with her “sisters” and none of them remember where they came from before living in the water.  There is a myth that if they find a human to fall in love with them and then they kill that person they can take his or her soul and become human again.  They have all tried this, but it’s impossible for anyone to fall in love instantly so they end up murdering innocent people simply because they are so desperate to become human again.  Meanwhile, Celia lives with her two sisters on land and as triplets they have a unique connection.  One sister can see the future of someone by touching them, another can see the present, and Celia can see someone’s past.  This was always viewed as fairly useless, but when Celia meets Lo accidentally one day she realizes she could help her remember who she was before.  If that is possible could Lo become human again?

This book was recommended by a student who really enjoyed it, but it moved very slowly and the pieces of Lo’s past take a long time to reveal themselves.  The ending was a bit exciting, but far too fleeting and the ending is abrupt and uncertain.  It seems it is setting up for a sequel, but the story did not leave me wanting to learn more.  The premise behind this is interesting, but the plot just moves too slowly and not many students will stick with it all the way through.


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