The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

chosen one

The Chosen One  by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen year old Kyra lives with her family, including her father; her true mother, Mother Sarah; Mother Claire, her father’s first wife; Mother Victoria, his second wife; and her 20 siblings in the four corners area of the western United States. Her community, the Chosen Ones, lives isolated from the rest of the area and relies on themselves for support. Kyra has always been content with her life, even thought she secretly borrows books from the county library bookmobile she discovered on one of her walks in the desert.  When the Prophet, leader of the Chosen Ones, announces that Kyra is to be the seventh wife to her Uncle Hyrum, her father’s sixty year old brother, even her father and the family object. Unable to change the Prophet’s mind, the family resigns itself to his directive, but Kyra resolves to get away.

I found this book so riveting that I read it again as soon as I finished it the first time. The writing is absolutely true to Kyra’s character and the plot completely engrossed me. I can’t wait to read more books by this author!

Review by Mrs. Goldstein-Erickson

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How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

how to lead

 

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

This unusual story might be the perfect choice for a reader longing for non-stop action.  Although it’s a bit long at 431 pages, the plots twists will keep most readers glued to the pages.  Flick is a streetwise kid who abandoned his purebred New York family to live as a pickpocket on the streets of New York City.  Readers learn that the reason he ditched the military school his father dumped him at is because he knows his old man killed his little brother and consequently caused his mom to commit suicide.  He dreams of revenge and finally finds proof of the deed in the form of Lucien Mandel, the head of the prestigious Mandel Academy who promises him concrete proof of his brother’s murder if he’ll come to the academy and graduate.  The perverted part the the school’s curriculum is that they train the young people to become criminals, with classes like: Assassination Techniques and Waste Management: Polluting for Profit.  When Flick begins to see Mandel for the madman he truly is, the headmaster recruits Flick’s girlfriend into the academy, leading to much competition, confusion and misplaced alliances.

I found this book almost impossible to put down because each plot twist blended right into the next predicament.  Miller is a natural storyteller and has even included some clever appendices as the back, such as the school’s course catalog, a diagram of the school layout, and news articles about the book’s major players.  I would recommend this title to action fans, readers who enjoy Anthony Horowitz books and fans of horror stories.

kiki strike          eternal ones

 

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

burned

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Hopkins is known for taking on controversial topics: drug addiction, teen prostitutes teen mental illness and more.  This time she’s taking a close look at an abusive family, which happens to be Mormon and lives in Nevada.  Our protagonist is Pattyn Von Stratten, yes, she and all her sisters are named after military generals.  Clearly her father keeps hoping for a son.  He has an abusive  relationship with alcohol, that Pattyn calls his Johnnie WB (after Johnnie Walker Black, a type of whiskey.  The dad usually starts drinking on Friday afternoon after work, and continues throughout the weekend unless he loses his temper and beats on his wife.  Pattyn spends most of her time taking care of her six younger sisters and the house, since her mom has retired to the couch and daytime television.  Although Pattyn’s not allowed to date, she sneaks how with hot Justin from school.  Sadly, she eventually get’s caught and is sent to live for the summer with her Aunt Jeanette in a small town in rural Nevada.  Surprisingly, Aunt J turns out to be pretty nice, and there are no Mormon rules to follow and no babies to look after.  For Pattyn, it’s almost like a vacation.  Although she’s been sent there to “straighten up and fly right,” she learns how to be independent, how to be responsible and maybe she even learns how to be with a respectful boy who is definitely NOT Mormon.

I listened to this novel in verse on an audio CD, and felt it lost a little in the translation.  Ellen Hopkins’ free verse poetry creates various meanings depending on how you read it.  When its read, its more  like prose which does tell the story, but is not the same.  Nonetheless I would recommend this title to Ellen Hopkins fans and readers who like strong, emotional stories.  If you’ve liked her other books, this one will not disappoint.

impulse          identical          fallout

Click on the book titles for our reviews.

 

 

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

charm

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Told from the first person’s perspective, this story will haunt readers long after the last page.  It is told in two times, one by Win who is sixteen and at a remote boarding school.  He is very much a loner who is so afraid of his dark and violent thoughts that he thinks he might be a werewolf.  Win’s story is also told by Drew, his nine-year-old self, who is also angry boy who harbors a terrible secret that is eating away at his psyche.  Slowly the two narratives emerge as readers learn why Win/Drew is so hostile.  This is a disturbing book, and might not be for all readers.  Teens who appreciate thoughtful psychological mysteries will be drawn to Win, in spite of his own difficult and hostile personality.

Although this book is very dark, I think many teen readers will appreciate Kuehn’s skillful narrative, which will leave readers breathlessly wanting more until the final, horrifying truth is revealed.  I would recommend this book to fans of dark and realistic fiction.  It would be especially appreciated by Ellen Hopkins’ readers who are used to seeing the grittier side of life.
crank   glass          impulse          identical

Click on the book covers for our reviews of these titles.

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

blood

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

This last title in the Jazz Dent series will ultimately satisfy fans, but leave us wanting more at the same time.  Jazz has been stranded in New York City while trying to find his father, an escaped serial killer.  His girlfriend Connie has been tricked and taken hostage, but maybe not by Billie Dent but a co-conspirator.  Howie, Jazz’s best friend, is slowly bleeding to death in Jazz’s house in Lobo’s Nod.  And this is just the beginning of the book!  This lightening-paced conclusion will have readers staying up late, just to make sure Jazz makes it out alive…Some surprise guests show up in the story, but it would be too much of a spoiler to say who, just trust me that it’s worth the read.

I highly recommend this title to fans of the series.  If you haven’t read the earlier books yet, why not?  The books are perfect for fans of television and film psychological criminal shows like The BlackList and the  CSI shows.  The books are very graphic, so they are not for the faint-hearted.

i hunt killers          game

All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

all the truth

All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

Judith is an eighteen-year-old young woman living in a small town during what appears to be the mid-1800’s colonial times.  She and her best friend Lottie went missing four years ago, and Lottie turned up drowned in the river shortly thereafter.  But Judith was gone for two years, and returned with half her tongue cut out.  Her mother barely recognizes her presence, forbids her to speak, and works her like an indentured servant at their small farm.  No one really knows where Judith has been, and the whole town, including her own mother and brother, seem to assume the worst, as if she’s some sort of fallen woman.  She’s become mute, hiding the truth of where she’s been, but the readers slowly begin to learn her truth.  The story is told in the first person point of view, with Judith talking to her longtime crush, Lucas, in her mind.  He’s now engaged to the town beauty, but somehow Lucas’ dead presumed father played a role in her disappearance.

Writer Berry reveals the details of Judith’s lost two years slowly, unraveling her abduction and captivity bit by bit.  This becomes the story’s mystery, with Judith grimly sharing her truths as the story develops.  For me, what was most interesting about this title was Judith’s “voice” and personality.  It feels like she’s speaking directly to the readers, although she is rarely forthcoming about her own recent horror.  The chapters and short and choppy, like thoughts going through her subconscious, revealing her past, her family and her community like a jigsaw puzzle.

“Father loved this soil.  Mother was the only thing his loved more, and he loved her fiercely…I feel closest to my father when my arms are caked with the good brown earth.  And so I stay to help mother mother, as he would want me to.”  I liked this book, even though I wished it had moved a little more quickly.  I appreciated Julie Berry’s personalized storytelling style, but got a little frustrated with the slow pace.  I recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries and historical fiction.

 

Game by Barry Lyga

game

Game by Barry Lyga

This very anticipated sequel to last year’s I Hunt Killers is like a piece of birthday cake for fans of the first book.  It begins where the last book left off, but Lyga thinks kindly of his readers and weaves in some reminders of what happened previously.  In this book Jazz’s dad has escaped from prison and may be on the hunt again.  A New York City Detective asks the teen for help solving a similar type serial killing, and Jazz ends up in the middle of the insanity again, this time away from the small town of Lobo’s Nod.  New York City is something else for the small town kid, and even the cops are scared of the Hat-Dog killer with his gruesome disembowelments and signature cuttings on the victims.

I can’t say enough to recommend this to all teen readers.  The two books should be read in order, but since you won’t be able to put them down, it shouldn’t take long.  This are perfect for fans of mystery, suspense and true crime.

i hunt killers