Accomplice by Valerie Sherrard
Devlin Mather was a charming high school star and Lexie Malton’s boyfriend but now he is a heroin addict and pestering her for money. Valerie Sherrard’s novel about an average teenager living in trying circumstances is gritty and effective.
Written in simple, unadorned prose, this book will appeal to young adult readers of realistic fiction. While the content is intended for a mature audience, the writing will not intimidate struggling readers. Suitable for the YA section of a K-8 library and for high schools.
Ashes, Ashes by JoTreggiari
Ashes, Ashes was an enjoyable read. It’s a teen ‘Year of the Flood’. The world has been torn by global warming and plague only a handful of people have survived. One of them is Lucy. She is surviving on her own living in the remains of Central Park. Her life is hard. She is dirty, hungry and tired. She has to be on the look out for vicious dogs, S’ans and the Sweepers. She has a tent, a backpack, a hunting knife, survival book and a yearbook from her last year at school. She is driven from her base camp by a tsunami and from there finds a band of survivors. Should she join them?
Lucy is an enjoyable character and I’m a sucker for the romantic triangle which proceeds when she arrives at the camp. The cover is a mis-representation of Lucy, who is a grittier, dirtier and more ragged heroine.
A number of pieces from the Ashes, Ashes puzzle get left on the floor as the story proceeds. Enough of them have been left there, that I finished the book hoping for a sequel.
Is this one worth reading? If you read quickly and don’t mind things feeling half-done when you’re finished, go for it. If you read slowly and want things to tie up when you are finished, try something else.
Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant
Betsy Wickwire has been part of the popular crowd with a popular boyfriend, popular best friend and all the advantages of being rich, smart and pretty. Her life takes a nasty turn when she finds her boyfriend and best friend have betrayed her. She feels her only choice is to run away and start again somewhere else so she starts to look for a way out. On e way she learns about friendship, loyalty and what’s important.
Vicki Grant’s story of love, friendship and self-discovery revisits some familiar tropes from romance literature but does it without feeling too trite or repetetive. She creates characters with strong personalities and takes them to realistic places and through recognizable emotional landscapes. An enjoyable read with an engaging plot suitable for readers in grades 6-12. Something to recommend to your fans of realistic fiction and romance.
Rating: very good
Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
Henry Whelp is the son of the Big Bad Wolf. He’s a good wolf living in trying circumstances. In and out of foster care his whole life, he is now in detention at St. Remus’s Home for Wayward Boys. Robert Paul Weston uses the cast of a variety of Grimm’s Fairy Tales to populate a story of magic gone wrong.
This modern take on the classic tales is a wild and entertaining adventure. Weston explores what it means to find happiness, to fulfill your destiny and to chart your own path. Well-written and thought provoking, this book will appeal to avid readers of fantasy. Excellent recreational reading for gr. 7-12.
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Maya Delaney is a teenager growing up in a secluded village on Vancouver Island. When her best friend dies in a freak swimming accident, she is left with some questions. The questions keep growing in the next year as she meets a sexy new student at her school and begins to have regular encounters with a cougar.
This book starts a new sci-fi\fantasy series for young adults. The beginning is a bit slow to take shape and the ending is completely unsatisfying. It’s main problem is that it seems to just be providing set up for the series so it has all kinds of information and questions but doesn’t allow for a satisfying contained plot line. Ideally, in a series book, the question which starts our protagonist on her hunt for truth should lead to two things, a partial answer and new questions. This book leaves out the partial answer for the initial question. I am interested in reading more from this author as she is exploring some mythological and cultural ground which is new to me and her characters are engaging but I hope the author does a better job of contained plot lines in the future books.
Recreational reading 7-12.
Held by Eddet Ravel
When Chloe decides to visit a secluded temple in Greece alone, she never imagines that her life will be completely changed. An unidentified man captures her and takes her hostage. After living the first several days in despair and fear, she slowly recovers and takes stock of her situation. Her captor is calm and watchful but never attempts to harm her. He is young and good-looking which surprises her. In her loneliness and fear, she reaches out to him as her sole companion.
Eddet Ravel explores the world of a hostage as she struggles to survive mentally, physically and emotionally. Written as part diary, part news article and part Facebook updates, this book will appeal to young adult readers interested in crime fiction and suspense, with a side of romance. Suitable for the YA section of a K-8 library and for high school.
Shot at Dawn by John Wilson
Allen McBride wants to follow in his neighbour’s footsteps and fight in the Great War. He has heard stories of heroism and courage, fun and freedom. When he arrives at the Front, things are not what he has been lead to believe. He needs to re-learn what bravery and loyalty mean and find his own way to survive.
John Wilson’s story of a soldier’s experiences during the First World War is richly-told and riveting. It captures the futility and pain of war and the humanness of the people struggling through it. A fine book for lovers of historical fiction and war history.
Rating: very good
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
Victor and Konrad are identical twin brothers. They are alike in physical appearance and love of one another but have different temperaments. Victor is passionate and determined. Konrad is calm and kind. Victor feels he is less lovable, less intelligent and less athletic. They do everything together – school, athletic pursuits, dramatic presentations. They have no secrets, so it seems. Konrad is suddenly taken ill and doctors are unable to help. Victor is determined to save him by whatever means are necessary. He is helped in his endeavor by his friend, Henry and step-sister, Elizabeth. Along the way, he realizes his love for Elizabeth is growing and mirrors the love his brother has for her. His love for his brother and his competition with him for Elizabeth’s affection divide his heart.
Kenneth Oppel writes a vivid tale of love, loss and temptation. His re-interpretation of Shelly’s Frankenstein is a gothic adventure perfect for young adult readers. Suitable for K-12 school libraries.
Tori by Design by Colleen Nelson
Tori can hardly believe her family is moving to New York for the year. Tori has dreams of becoming a fashion designer and knows that New York is the center for fashion. When her father, a primary school teacher, decides to take a sabbatical, she convinces him that a move to New York will be just the ticket. The reality of life in New York isn’t quite what she envisioned but things may just come together.
This realistic fiction offering is entertaining and will appeal to teenage girls who enjoy fashion and romance. Worth adding to the K-8 fiction for recreational reading.
Rating: very good
Undergrounders by David Skuy
Jonathan, called Mouse, has been living on the street since his mom died. He is scrapping by hawking change and stealing. He is on the lookout for food, money and a warm place for the night. One particularly cold Sunday, he finds a sportswear store door open to the alley and slips in to warm up. He can’t resist taking some equipment and he finds doors opening for him in a way they haven’t before. The question arises how can a street kid hope to play hockey?
David Skuy explores the world of a street kid as it collides with the world of a suburban hockey family. This realistic fiction story will appeal to your hockey fans. Suitable for grades 4-8, Skuy keeps the language pretty clean and the violence fairly tame to allow for younger readers to enjoy the action and suspense of this short novel.