Posts Tagged 'trust'



The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

# of Pages:  403

2019 Iowa High School Award Winner

Canaan is meant to be a perfect city in which people live in peace and harmony without the distraction of technology, money, or competition.  Every twelve years the town breaks into chaos and then their memories are erased.  The only way they know who they are is by reading the book that is tied to them at all times.  Nadia did not forget her memories during the last forgetting and therefore knows some of the things people chose not to include in their books, including people, they hoped to forget.  She has no idea why she didn’t forget her memories, but it definitely didn’t make her life any easier since her mother and sister treat her like she doesn’t belong in their family.  Meanwhile, Nadia has begun slipping over the walls of the town in search of food, answers, and adventure.  She is caught by the glassmaker’s son and he demands she take him with her.  As they explore outside the walls they learn there are many things about how their town was set up that no one ever passed down, despite her suspicions that not everyone is losing their memories every twelve years.  Will anyone ever believe them about their discoveries?  Will it be enough to save them from this terrible fate of forgetting who you are every twelve years?

This story has a dystopian feel similar to The Giver, The Testing, and Matched.  It takes awhile to fully invest in Nadia and her quest to find answers about her town.  Once she begins finding answers the book’s pace picks up and takes off while many obstacles rise up to try and stop her from sharing the truth of their existence with others.  The main characters are well developed and everyone’s motivations and actions are adequately explained by the end.  Readers who enjoy these dystopian books will be curious for more, but it isn’t quite as engaging as some of the other titles in this genre.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction

# of Pages: 372

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2018-19

In 1845 Sammy, a Chinese American teenager flees her town after her father unexpectedly dies and she realizes there is no one else she can trust.  She’s hoping to chase down her father’s business partner who recently departed for California on the Oregan Trail.  She convinces Annamae, an African American slave to join her on the run. They disguise themselves as boys since the Oregan trail can be so dangerous with gangs and other threats.  Annamae is hoping to find her brother who was sold separately from her and she has not seen for many years.  Even as they befriend three young men on the trip and manage to avoid thieves, disease, and even wild animal attacks they know eventually they will have to go their separate ways and at this time they are the closest thing to family each of them has.  Can they find a way to survive the Oregan Trail?  Will they find what they are looking for?

This historical fiction book tackles an area that students have probably never seen before and that is what it would have been like to be on the Oregan trail at all, but also for those people who were labeled as minorities at the time.  How would that make life harder for them than everyone else?  How would they know who they could trust?  Sammy and Annamae have a really difficult road ahead of them, but they stick together and never give up which helps them to survive.  Even though it is a historical fiction book I think fans of survival stories would also enjoy this title.  The characters are multi-dimensional and well developed which helps the readers truly understand their motivations.  Recommended.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  287

Iowa High School Book Award 2018-19

Adam Spencer Ross is a high school student who wants to be there for everyone who needs him, but he has OCD and therefore some tasks can be difficult for him.  He goes to counseling one on one and in a group every week and this does seem to help him cope with his OCD symptoms.  He often finds himself worrying about his group members, his stepbrother who has anxiety, and his mother who is getting death threats to the point where he simply cannot think about his own symptoms which then get worse.  Meanwhile, a new girl joins their OCD group and he’s immediately drawn to her.  He worries it’s a bad idea to get involved with someone who also has OCD tendencies, but he can’t seem to help himself.  Robyn feels the same way and they begin a sweet romance, but soon all the stresses in his life begin to make it impossible to ignore that his OCD tendencies are making it almost impossible to get through the day and Robyn’s seem to be going away.  As much as he cares for Robyn he worries that his being near her as she improves might actually hurt her recovery.  Does he have the strength to let her go for both of their sakes?

Fans of Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars will love this romance between two unlikely teenagers.  The characters are all engaging and despite the superhero nicknames, each teen in his OCD group gains depth and personality throughout the story.  The topic of OCD is described accurately and can help readers understand how this condition truly affects teens their age and in different ways.  This book also shows that although people with OCD have a lot to deal with they are also very loyal to those they care about.  The book has several plot lines that all come together nicely and realistically in the end.  Once readers make the choice to try this one they won’t be disappointed.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  453

Iowa Award Winner 2018-19

From the author of the Lunar Chronicles series comes a story about the Queen of Hearts before she became the Queen of Hearts.  Catherine wants to open a bakery with her best friend and marry the new court jester, but her parents are insistent that she pursue the King who has shown great interest in her.  She does not want to disappoint them in any way, but she feels strongly about her desire to create pastries for a living and despite never having worked for a living she feels she could be successful at it.  Her best friend and maid is good with numbers and they hope to someday use Cath’s dowry to open their dream bakery.  Cath realizes she has had a privileged life, but also has never stopped dreaming and hopes she never has to.  When the new court jester comes to court she is instantly dazzled by his tricks and ability to show her amazing things she could never have imagined.  She hopes she has the courage to give up everything she has ever known in order to pursue her dreams, but she has no idea the many obstacles that lay before her.

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles series will enjoy this fun title.  Cath’s character is well developed and easy to identify with.  Jest is mysterious, magical, and brave in a way that makes it easy to see how Cath would become enamored with him.  The king, by contrast, is silly, weak, and refuses to deal with the new beast who has begun terrorizing the kingdom.  The world captures a lot of the magic from Alice and Wonderland but adds new modern twists as well.

Flashfall by Jenny Moyer

Genre:  Futuristic Fiction

# of Pages:  342

Iowa High School Award Winner 2018-19

Orion works digging in the treacherous mines of Outpost Five.  They are mining for cirium, which is the only thing that protects humans from the radiation poisoning due to the flash curtain that has sent most humans under the protection of the cirium protected city.  If Orion and her partner, Dram, can mine 400 grams of cirium they will earn their freedom into the protected city, but so far no one has ever lived long enough to do that.  Orion is special in that she can hear the cirium calling to her and she ends up finding a huge deposit that she knows will ensure her freedom, but there are forces trying to keep her from succeeding.  Then, newcomers come to Outpost Five and many of the things they tell Orion make her question everything she has ever known.  Who can she really trust and who, in fact, is out to make sure she fails in everything she tries?

Fans of Red Rising will like this title because it has an unusual setting and plenty of action.  The author does not shy away from killing off characters so it’s hard to predict who will live and who will die.  The struggles of Outpost Five are terrible and neverending, but without Orion none of the Outpost community would stand a chance at survival.  There are many surprise twists in the plot as they try to find out what the government is really up to and how they can go about changing the terrible fate they have been dealt.  Readers who want action/survival should definitely check this series out.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Genre:  Fantasy

Holly Chase was a wealthy, beautiful, egotistical daughter of a movie director who lived to judge others.  Therefore, it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise when she was visited on Christmas Eve by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.  Yet, Holly chose not to take this experience seriously and laughed it off as a joke despite the ghosts’ warnings that she would die soon if she didn’t change her ways.  Shortly after her disastrous Scrooge experience she is hit by a car and dies.  She wakes up in the office of the company who choose the “Scrooge” each year and she is now required to work here to prepare for each Christmas Eve, but then must also act the role of Christmas past.  She thinks she’ll be stuck in this existence forever until one year her Scrooge is a teenager just like her, and unfortunately, she can see the similarities between herself and her new Scrooge and for the first time she begins to feel bad about the kind of person she really was when she was alive.  Can she save him from the same fate even if she has to break a few rules?

Anyone looking for a fun Christmas read should check this one out.  Holly is brash, bratty, insensitive, and sympathetic all at once.  She’s trying to do better, but doesn’t really know how.  The supporting characters are all fun and colorful, but the focus is definitely on Holly and most of the other characters are not as developed.  The story itself is fun and the reader wants to root for Holly despite her difficult personality.  Recommended.

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.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  360

Five students are mysteriously sent to detention after they are caught with cell phones in class that they claim aren’t theirs.  Once they get to detention they see that they are from completely different circles in the school.  Bronwyn is an honor’s student who hopes to go to Yale.  Cooper is a pitcher who is being courted by several universities.  Addy is dating a jock and one of the more popular girls in school.  Nate is the school rebel and is rumored to be on probation for dealing drugs.  Finally, Simon is a bit of an outcast due to a blog he writes in which he always manages to reveal everyone’s worst secrets.  Shortly after the five of them get to detention there is a fender bender in the parking lot and their teacher rushes out to help.  While he’s out of the room, Simon gets himself a cup of water from the science lab station sink and collapses shortly after.  Nate frantically digs through Simon’s bag for his epi-pen but can’t find it.  Cooper runs to the nurse’s office but comes up empty there as well.  Helplessly, they all watch as the paramedics arrive and aren’t able to revive Simon who dies shortly after from anaphylactic shock.  As horrible as this is, it gets even worse when these four become the prime suspects in the police investigation when it is revealed that Simon was about to post life changing secrets about all four of them the next day on his blog.  Could one of them really have done it?  How will they ever survive the suspicions and accusations being thrown at them?

This book contains quite a few language and sexual references, but the story itself is very powerful and will draw teen readers in.  The ending will be satisfying as well as unexpected, but before they get to that all four of the suspects will have quite a few difficult days ahead of them as they are chased by reporters, questioned by police, and realize for the first time who they’re real friends are.  The reality of the life teens live now with social media and everyone always looking to reveal everyone’s innermost secrets for their own entertainment is unfortunately all too real, but this book shows how no matter how advanced technology gets teens still need friends and family they can count on, especially when things get tough.

The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages: 328

Megan Brown recently lost her brother in a horrific car accident and she’s struggling to cope with it.  Tyler was always there to protect her and still be the life of the party and she doesn’t know how their family will cope without them.  Shortly after his death the police announce he died of a heroin overdose and that he was planning to defer college, both of which come as a huge shock to her family as it seems they didn’t know him at all.  Meanwhile, Megan has also started noticing that when she touches objects that belonged to him she gets visions of memories of Tyler’s.  Is it possible that if she keeps touching Tyler’s things she can actually find out what happened to him?  Unfortunately, just as Megan discovers this power she realizes that some of the objects Tyler had on him when he died have gone missing which means someone came into their home to go through his things.  Is she getting in over her head?  Can she handle the truth if she uncovers it?

The premise of this story is interesting and the conclusion doesn’t disappoint.  It takes awhile for the pieces to begin coming together but the resolution is exciting.  Fans of mystery such as The Naturals and When will enjoy a mystery title about a character who has an unusual ability.  The backdrop of Abraham Lincoln gives the story an unusual twist that makes it more memorable and unique.

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  403

Anna was born into an elite Luminate British family, which means her family has access to magic, which is strictly restricted from anyone not in the Luminates.  There is an uprising building up to break the binding spell that restricts magic away from anyone considered unworthy and Anna is shocked to learn her own father is a sympathizer.  He believes the binding is in place merely to keep the wealthy in power and not to protect those who simply do not know how to use magic and could hurt themselves or someone else.  When Anna comes of age, however, her ceremony to practice magic goes poorly and she is believed to be barren, which means she’ll never really be accepted by the Luminates or those outside the Luminates.  One power she does seem to have is to break other people’s spells, which is why her family forbid her from coming to her sister’s coming out party.  She sneaks in anyway and accidentally ruins her sister’s coming out.  Partly as punishment, partly as protection from those who wish to study Anna’s unusual capability of breaking other people’s spells, she is sent away with her grandmother to Hungary.  Upon arrival, Anna meets some interesting people and begins to see that those who possess magical tendencies but at outside the Luminates are treated abominably in order to keep them in their place.  She begins to wonder if she should use her one power to break the binding so that magic would be available to anyone who wishes to use it.  Is she powerful enough?  Would it cause chaos and catastrophe like the Luminates predict?

Fans of fantasy stories will enjoy this title.  The truth about Anna’s condition eventually comes out, but it may confuse some younger readers.  The story meanders a bit when Anna first goes to Hungary, but once the new characters are properly introduced the story picks up again for a satisfying ending.  Recommended for students who have already found other fantasy series they enjoy.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Genre:  Mystery Thriller

# of Pages:  340

Lo suffered a terrible shock when someone broke into her home while she was asleep.  Luckily, she only suffered a bruised cheek before he left, but she’s very shaken up.  Unfortunately, she’s scheduled to go on an elite cruise the next day for her job as a travel journalist.  She considers this her big break and does not want to mess it up.  The first night on board the small, but elegant boat she meets a young woman in the cabin next to hers who loans her some mascara.  Later that night she hears a scream and a big splash as if someone was thrown overboard.  She immediately inquires, but not only does no one believe that someone was thrown overboard, but she learns there is no one staying in the cabin next to hers.  After demanding to meet the entire staff she realizes that no one fits that woman’s description.  She does not believe she made it all up, though, despite their efforts to blame her post traumatic stress and the alcohol she consumed.  Then, when she falls asleep during a required trip to the spa she wakes up to find the shower has been turned on to create a foggy bathroom where someone wrote “stop digging” in the mirror.  Can she really ignore that a crime happened right next to her?  Will she be next if she keeps “digging?”

This mystery was exciting and suspenseful, especially since Lo is basically on an island where no communication is working to reach any land and the only suspects must be on board with her.  She only met these people the previous evening and therefore has no idea who she can really trust.  Mystery fans will be intrigued and they won’t be disappointed with the ultimate resolution.

The Pledge Series by Kimberly Derting

Genre:  Futuristic

# of Pages:  323

First in a trilogy

Charlaina of “Charlie” lives in a society where every caste has its own language. Englaise is the universal language everyone speaks, but her family belongs to the serving class and they have a language.  The elites has a language as well.  If anyone is in the presence of someone speaking a language they do not know they are required by law to drop their eyes out of respect.  Charlie has been able to read, write, and understand all languages since she can remember and her parents are very fearful due to this ability.  If it were ever discovered she could understand all of these languages it could be considered treason and their queen has publicly hanged people for much less.  She has kept her secret hidden from even her best friends until one day she accidentally looks at someone in a dance club speaking a language she has never heard before.  He begins to suspect she is “the one” the queen is looking for and starts tracking her movements.  Can Charlie trust him?  Can she trust anyone?  Why is the queen looking desperately looking for the next female relative in her otherwise male dominated bloodline?

Fans of futuristic series such as Divergent, Cinder, and Red Queen will enjoy this trilogy.  The use of languages to represent status is a new detail in this story and makes it an unusual but interesting talent for Charlie to have.  The queen is every bit as evil as many of the villains of other futuristic stories, but her purpose for seeking Charlie out is very different than readers will have seen before.  Her friends, family, and allies make for interesting and well developed characters to help Charlie navigate her role in her country’s future.

Royal Chase by Sariah Wilson

royal-chase

Genre: Romance

# of Pages:  274

The second in the Montlake Romance series, Lemon is unexpectedly placed on a reality dating show similar to the bachelor after two other contestants are forced to resign and filming is about to start.  The “bachelor” is her PR client and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the show successful, even if it means pretending to be a contestant despite being recently engaged herself.  Throughout the filming of the series, Dante tries his hardest to woo Lemon into giving them a chance.  While Lemon is not entirely sure about her fiancee, Sterling, she also believes Dante is a womanizer who only wants her because he can’t have her.  As the competition goes on, however, things begin to intensify and Lemon isn’t sure what to do.  Does she give true love a chance with Dante even if he could break her heart?  Or, does she play it safe and return home to her fiancee who doesn’t seem to care very much that she’s been gone for weeks filming?

This is a fun romance series that romance readers will enjoy.  In particular, fans of The Selection would like it although there is not any rebellion action.  The stories feel modern and fresh while also incorporating all the romantic qualities that readers enjoy.  It would be best to read this in order, but each one is enjoyable on its own.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

emmy-and-oliver

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  343

Emmy and Oliver were best friends as young children because they lived next door to each other.  Then, one day Oliver’s dad kidnapped him after school and life was never the same for either of them.  Oliver moved around quite a bit with his father and was led to believe his mother did not want him anymore.  Emmy’s parents responded by becoming very overprotective and barely letting her out of their sight.  At the beginning of Emmy’s senior year she hears the news she has both wanted and dreaded:  Oliver has been found.  What will he be like?  Will he remember her?  Will they still be friends?  How will this change everything yet again?

This book was very enjoyable and properly explores the difficulties for both Emmy and Oliver surviving an ordeal like this.  Oliver’s emotional health is probably not discussed in as much length as would be realistic, but it is also told through Emmy’s perspective so she wouldn’t necessarily know everything he’s going through.  The events of the story eventually build to a head and are resolved very acceptably.  The story has an interesting concept, but does not rely on that and instead relies on the fulfilling development of the characters to truly carry the story.  Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this title.

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

zeroes

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  546

A group of teens who all have unexplained talents have found each other one by one and formed a group they call the Zeroes.  They all have different ideas for how to handle their bizarre powers, however.  Bellweather can take the energy of a group and focus it on one goal and he believes they should stick together and try to do important things with their powers.  Flicker is blind, but can see using other people’s eyes.  Scam has a mysterious voice that will say whatever it takes to get him what he wants and often has disastrous results.  Crash has the ability to crash electrical devices and because of that has struggled to find a place where her powers are anything but destructive.  Anonymous can disappear and be forgotten in any situation, which has led to a lonely life.  Finally, Mob can change the energy of a crowd to feel whatever she wants it to.  Scam had previously distanced himself from the rest of the zeroes when they had a disagreement, but it forced to call on them for help when a video of him using his voice goes viral and he is hauled in by cops for answers about a local bank robbery.  Can the zeroes come together to help one of their own or will the situation just get worse as they try to con their way out of it?  Will the situation bring them together or drive them further apart?

This has been on my reading list for awhile and it took a little bit to get into the characters, but eventually the story really takes off and readers enjoy a lot of adventure and action.  The talents of the characters take a lot of explaining as some are more complicated and require examples to fully understand.  All in all, fans of fantasy adventures such as the Michael Vey series or Blackout will enjoy the first in this series.


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