Posts Tagged 'sisters'

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.

Winter White by Jen Calonita

Winter-White

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  356

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Belles, the secret about the true relationship of Isabelle to the Monroes is out and threatening to take down Bill Monroe’s campaign for Senator.  Multiple stories keep coming out about the Monroe’s and everyone is bothered by the fact that there seems to be a mole in their midst selling information to the highest bidder.  Meanwhile, Isabelle and Mirabelle are preparing to become debutantes at their cotillion.  This involves prep classes, dress shopping, and even a hazing ritual.  Isabelle does surprisingly well, but Mirabelle is struggling due to the fact that her former best friend, Savannah, has turned everyone against her and she feels all alone.  Can Mirabelle find a way to stand on her own without trying to please the most popular girls in school?  Can Isabelle survive cotillion training?  Will either girl let their father walk her into the cotillion after the way he lied to them?

This follow up is satisfying picking up right where the last one left off.  The characters are properly growing and developing and we are learning more about the periphery characters as well.  The cotillion preparation was actually fun and interesting as the girls struggle to make it to the big event.  Fans of the series will be eager to see more.

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn

Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  330

RAC:  Yes

The five Taylor sisters live with their mother in Spirit Vale where she works as a medium who speaks to dead people.  The older sisters, Mimi and Jane, have long doubted their mother’s clairvoyance abilities, but their younger sisters all seem to believe.  The twins even seem to have a special gift of their own.  When their fates all collide together on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, Jane becomes worried when her twin sisters show fear that something bad will befall the ship.  Can all of the sisters survive one of the world’s most famous disasters?

This story weaves true and false facts about the Titanic’s famous fall.  The introduction of the Taylor sisters adds a bit of intrigue as they explore the very popular trend of clairvoyance for the time.  Famous faces make appearances throughout the story and are fun for reader’s to identify.  The motivations of the five sisters are all clear and justified as they each try to find their own way in this world, but the ending is unexpected and not everyone makes it to New York.  Recommended to fans of historical fiction and the Titanic.

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.

My Ultimate Sister Disaster by Jane Mendle

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  198

RAC:  Yes

Franny feels like her life is too ordinary and that she has no special talents.  Her sister, Zooey, meanwhile is one of the best ballerinas at her elite ballet school and has just been offered the role of a lifetime playing Juliet in an upcoming production.  Franny secretly likes her newspaper editor and desperately wants to write a valuable article for the paper.  Things do not work out well for either sister when Zooey breaks her leg and is sidelined from the performance and Franny’s debut article is rejected by her crush.  The two are forced to spend more time together than they have in years and they learn that they have many misunderstandings regarding each other.  Can they find a way for them to co-exist without one of them feeling less than worthy?

This story sounds simple, but the characters draw the reader in.  Even readers who do not have siblings will be able to identify with that person that seems to have everything together while they do not.  Everyone has that person and this book really shows that no one has a perfect life and everyone thinks someone else has a better life than they do.  There is also a bit of romance and some lighthearted drama in the book that young high schoolers will enjoy.  Recommended for readers who enjoy Sarah Dessen novels.

Three Black Swans by Caroline B. Cooney

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  276

RAC Book:  Yes

Missy and Claire are cousins who are extremely close.  They have sleepovers every weekend and talk to each other constantly.  They also have a strong “family resemblance” that their parents are always trying to explain away.  Missy is two months younger and until recently was always smaller than Claire so she never let herself believe they might be more than cousins, but one day she realizes that the resemblance is too much to be ignored.  She convinces Claire to come on the morning announcements show at Missy’s school to pretend to be long lost identical twins. She tells Claire it will be an elaborate hoax, but she really believes it will force everyone to face the situation.  The problem is that when the video goes viral on the Internet another girl comes forward who looks just like them too.  Who is she and how did they get separated?

Fans of Caroline B. Cooney will enjoy this story as the lives of three young girls find themselves intertwined.  Many questions arise such as who are their real parents? Why have they been lied to this whole time?  Are they really sisters?  The three girls are entertaining and easy to identify with, but the three sets of parents are characterized well too and their motivations for questionable actions ring true.  The ending was satisfying and will leave readers wanting to read more titles by Cooney.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  400

RAC Book:  Yes

2010 Iowa High School Book Award

Jena and her four sisters use a secret portal to sneak into the woods to dance with the magical creatures every full moon.  When Jena’s father gets ill and is sent away to recover, she is left in charge and her cousin Cezar begins to take over.  Cezar believes that women are frail and need to be looked after by men.  As Jena struggles to take care of her sisters, their home, and her father’s business she always has her best friend, Gogu, by her side.  Gogu is a talking frog that only she can hear.  As Cezar becomes frantic trying to control the five sisters, Jena starts to worry that all is not well in the wildwoods either.  Can she protect her sisters and everyone else she cares about from a power hungry dictator?

This fantasy story begins a little slowly as the characters are introduced, but accelerates quickly as the family battles Cezar on a daily basis.  There are some twists and turns along the way, but a few are fairly easy to predict.  The end will leave readers wanting more.  Highly recommended for fantasy lovers.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Genre:  Mystery/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  384

RAC Book:  Yes

Flavia de Luce lives in England in the 1950s.  Her mother died when she was a baby and her father is a recluse in their country manor.  She has two older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia, who enjoy tormenting her.  Flavia loves to work in her own chemistry lab and is always asking questions, to the annoyance of her sisters.

One evening she is awakened when she hears someone arguing with her father in his study, but the gardener catches her listening at the door and sends her to bed.  In the morning, Flavia finds a dying man in their garden and calls the police.  Unfortunately, they arrest her father for the murder and Flavia is not completely sure of his innocence since this is the man who was arguing with her father the night before.  Nevertheless, Flavia decides to go after the truth and begins investigating herself.  Can she piece together the facts to find out what happened to the mysterious stranger from the garden?  Can she clear her father’s name?

This story is a fun mystery story with very colorful and interesting characters.  The tone of the book and style of the mystery  is reminiscent of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.  There are many details of the story that the reader needs to remember in order to crack the case, which is reminiscent of The Westing Game.  Finally, the main character is captivating, clever, and a strong female character, reminiscent of Down the Rabbit Hole.  The story has all of the ingredients to be a lasting mystery for this age level for many years to come.

Envy by Anna Godbersen

Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  405

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel to Rumors Elizabeth and Diana Holland are still reeling from the shocking murder of Elizabeth’s husband, Will, as well as the surprising wedding of Diana’s beloved Henry to Penelope.  Elizabeth refuses to be seen in public despite the urging of her mother who wants her to get back into society.  Diana is refusing to receive any correspondence from Henry as he tries to explain his behavior.  Eventually, Diana relents and believes his reasons for marrying Penelope, but quickly realizes that it is unlikely they will ever be together.  As hard as Henry pulls away from the marriage, Penelope finds ways to force him back in and eventually they must face off in order to see if the marriage will last.  Meanwhile, Lina must find a way to hold onto her newly acquired status and is surprised at what lengths she will go to in order to live in the same circles as the Holland sisters.  Finally, as Elizabeth deals with her unending sadness over losing Will she starts to wonder if there might not be another reason for her poor health.

This third installment of the Luxe series picks up where Rumors left off and reveals everyone’s motivations as they struggle to keep what they want in this elite Manhattan society.  The ending again packs a punch as two main characters make surprising choices.  Readers will look forward to the fourth installment when it will be revealed if any of these characters will actually get to be happy in this difficult society.

Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar

Genre:  Sports Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  246

RAC Book:  Yes

Krista and Charlie are two sisters who do not get along in any way.  Krista strives to be perfect and adored at all times, while Charlie seems determined to be a loner.  The story changes perspective between the two sisters which allows the reader to understand where both girls are coming from.  Krista has a lot of insecurities which she tries to compensate for by looking perfect on the outside.  Charlie feels her sister and everyone else in school failed to stand up for her in the past and does not have time for them now.

Everything begins to change when  a new soccer coach, Martie, decides to make girls soccer great again.  She recruits Charlie, a strong athlete, which annoys Krista because she feels like Charlie is taking the spotlight away from her for her senior year.  Charlie tries out purely to annoy Krista and has no intention of staying on the team, but finds she enjoys actually fitting in somewhere.

This book covers many issues like high school life, friendship, sports, and sisters.  Both sisters learn a lot through their time together on the soccer field and come to appreciate each other in new ways.  This change in their relationship is not easy, however, and they have to jump many hurdles in order to be able to play well together.  Of course there are also romantic moments in this teen story.  A good story for girls and athletes who enjoy this type of writing.


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