This book is like a slug to the guts that stays with you for days.
I finished it in one sitting and it's still there, gnawing away at the back of my brain.
Jo is on his way to see his brother Ed, whom he hasn't seen for ten years.
Jo's got a good reason to finally see his brother. Ed is on death row for murdering a policeman. Ed swears he didn't do it, Jo just wants to finally see Ed and try to get some answers.
Jo and Ed's life was a rough one, their dad died when Jo was three, their mom is a drunk that's incapable of raising them. Even worse, she seems uninterested in raising them when she isn't drunk.
Together with their sister Angela, they are raised by their Aunt Karen, a Bible thumper with strict rules but not enough time or energy to punch in to raise three poor kids from the wrong side of town.
While Ed is visiting Jo, he becomes a regular at a greasy spoon where he meets Nell. Jo finds some solace in Nell, but as the clock ticks on Ed's sentence, Jo isn't sure he can face reality on his own.
Told in short, poetic burst like pumping heartbeats, Moonrise rages against a the fetid swamp that is the American justice system, specifically the death penalty. It's a story about forgiveness, hope, letting go and moving on. It will scoop out your guts, it will make you cry, it will compel you to put it into the hands of anyone who loves books because if they don't love it they have a burnt wasps nest for a heart.
Simon is the most hated person in school.
As the creator of a gossip app called "About That," he regularly posts school rumours that often expose people's mistakes or secrets.
When four students find themselves in detention for something they all deny doing, they aren't surprised to find Simon in there with them.
Then, the unthinkable happens, Simon dies in front of them and within minutes they are all suspects. Each student has a reason to want Simon dead.
Each student is holding a secret that might uncover the truth, and the creepiest thing? Simon's "About That" app continues to run after his death. Rumours and gossip continues to spread and as the police and news reporters swarm their lives, the students find themselves pushed to the breaking point.
One of Us is Lying is an addictive novel with classic "whodunit" plot points mixed in with a modern twists. Everyone is a suspect, everyone is lying to some degree. As the students' secrets get exposed, the plot thickens and even they start to second guess those closest to them.
I think the twist in this novel will have students guessing to the very end. We have a large contingency of students in my library that devour mysteries and good ones are hard to come by. One of Us is Lying is one of the good ones, check it out!
Tina tries hard not to exist.
As a thief in Sangui City, disappearing is part of her life's work. As a member of the notorious Goonda squad, she has to fulfil her role or be severely punished.
It wasn't always like this, Tina used to live with her mother and sister in the home of Mr. Greyhill, a wealthy businessman. When Tina's mother is found shot to death, her sister gets moved to a Catholic boarding school and Tina went on the run.
Convinced that Greyhill was responsible for her mother's death, Tina uses her connections with the criminal underworld to expose his crimes.
Nothing goes according to plan however when Tina tries to pull off a job at Greyhill's mansion and is confronted by his son.
Now it's a race against time as Tina tries to learn the truth behind her mother's murder. What she will find out will change her life forever.
City of Saints & Thieves combines mystery, action, (slight) romance and family drama wound into a tight story.
Fans of The Bourne Identity series and even Orphan Black are going to love this novel. It's sharp and fast with memorable characters. It has moments that breathe in your hands. I flew through it and I know the teens at my school library will absolutely love it.
When I was a kid I was obsessed with UFOs.
My dad witnessed the unexplained object streak across the sky at his home in Clark's Harbour Nova Scotia in 1967. It would be known as the Shag Harbour UFO incident because many locals claimed to have seen a craft crash into the ocean. Some told stories of thick orange foam covering the top of the water and Russian ships suddenly converging on the area.
Whatever it was, it was an experience shared by others and the stories remain to this day.
Encounters is all about a shared experience. Based on the Ruwa, Zimbabwe UFO incident when dozens of school children claimed to have seen silver discs land behind their school, Encounters follows the journey of six children that have their lives changed forever because of the alleged alien encounter.
The most fascinating UFO experiences that I have read about are the ones where the witnesses share some kind of collective unconscious aftermath - they have recurring nightmares that are eerily similar to each other, they daydream about the same thing and they often have an almost indescribable feeling of never being alone.
Wallace captures this experience perfectly. In Ruwa, the school children drew pictures of what they saw. The pictures that were drawn were almost identical to each other. In Encounters, The school children draw the same images and each have the itchy feeling that the creatures that they saw emerge from the ships were warning them about something.
For each of the six children, all suffering from turbulent home lives in some for or another, the warnings mean different things.
If you're fascinated with stories about people who've claimed to see UFOs, you simply can't ignore this book. Its tone is pitch perfect, a dream-like haze mingles with the boiling heat of the African sun, creating an eerie atmosphere that will stick in your guts for a long, long time.
Moonbeam is a teenager on the edge.
At 17, she's just survived a deadly invasion from the FBI & the ATF as they stormed her home - the Lord's Legion in Texas.
Now she finds herself in between the hospital and an interrogation room as the shrinks and the police try to piece together what exactly went on behind the barbed-wire fences of the strange religious compound in the desert.
What went on will send icy fingernails up your spine.
The Lord's Legion is commanded by Father John. Father John believes he is the new Prophet, the mouth of God. In his mind he must prepare his followers for the upcoming apocalypse. This includes training fourteen year olds how to shoot automatic rifles, marrying teenage girls and cracking down on the unbelievers within his "Family" with punishments so harsh they'd make Marsellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction proud.
The story rotates between Moonbeam's discussions with a psychologist and an FBI agent & her flashbacks from her time living with the Lord's Legion.
Hill acknowledges that he drew inspiration from the siege at Waco, Texas in the early '90s when over 80 people from the Branch Davidians died after a standoff with the authorities. Father John is David Koresh, Jim Jones, Alex Jones and almost a Manson-type character all rolled into one in my opinion. He never strays from the "True Path" yet abides by a separate set of rules for his own behaviour. He hands down punishments in a sadistic manner that belies his stoic appearance.
Growing up in Eastern Canada, I was obsessed with cults as a kid and early teen. There was a small group of religious militants that lived thirty minutes from me that attempted to build an ark to prepare for the end times. They never finished it and it laid stranded like a rotten wooden sea monster for years on the beach until waves of half-drunk teens destroyed it over the years.
After the Fire reminded me of them, how obsessed they must have been to get started on an endeavour like that. Hill's Legion is no different, led by Father John they blindly move towards an end that they know must come, because John says it will, end of argument.
Of course, there is a seed of dissention within the Legion, a little seed on the verge of being drowned in rhetoric and fear but it's there. If it survives is another thing, you'll have to read this startling thriller to find out!
Alex Petroski is on a mission. He and his best friend, Carl Sagan (his dog, not the actual astronomer) are headed to the biggest science and rocket festival around.
The problem is, Alex is only 11 and he's headed out on his own. His mom, according to Alex, is having one of her "quiet days" and didn't seem to mind that he left the house. Alex's older brother Ronnie lives in L.A. because he's a talent agent so he can't help either.
So, armed with a train ticket, Alex decides to head to New Mexico on his own. He's taking with him his prized possession, his Golden iPod because he's going to launch said iPod into space with the rocket that he built.
For ages he's been recording his voice into the iPod, explaining what Earth life is like so that when his iPod is picked up by aliens, they'll have a ton of information about Earth before they visit.
Along the way Alex meets a cast of characters that will eventually take him to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and back to Colorado. Alex's innocence is undercut but his inquisitiveness and general toughness as he learns things about life that no 11 year old should have to cope with.
Written primarily from Alex's perspective, we as the reader slowly become aware of Alex's situation. Although he's clever and tough, Alex can't quite come to terms with his home life.
Sweet and hard-hitting at the same time, I know fans of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and We Are All Made of Molecules will really sink their teeth into this story!
Zoe needs a change, and a change she is going to get.
She's seventeen & had a very rough year. Her father died while exploring a cave and her neighbours have vanished from their home.
When the mother of all blizzards hits her hometown and her mother is trapped in a grocery store, she sets off on her own to find her brother Jonah and their two dogs who've gotten lost in the woods.
After finding Jonah, things somehow get worse when a creep called Stan the Man appears, attacks Zoe & Jonah and attempts to kill their dogs.
They are saved by what Zoe thinks is an angel. A shirtless teenage boy who appears out of the blue and with a click of his fingers sends a river of fear flowing through Stand and in turn changes the colour of the snow around them.
The boy is called X. Well, that's what Zoe calls him at least, and he's no angel. In fact, he's from Hell. Except it's not called Hell, it's called the Lowlands and it turns out X is a bounty hunter, sent to capture evil souls that roam above ground. The rules of the Lowlands are strict, and although Zoe finds herself falling for X, she knows it's not meant to be.
Soon, she's swept up in X's world and the dangers that inhabit it. And it's not just her that's in danger, it's her entire family. The Edge of Everything is a great modern-fantasy romance with a twist that will be gobbled up with glee by both boys and girls and the high school I work at, and that's a great thing!
I recommend it to ages 14 and up!
"Guilt doesn't sleep, it eats."
I love that line and if there's one sentence that runs like an electrified rope through this novel, it's that one.
Carver Briggs is being eaten up inside because his three best friends, Mars, Eli & Blake were killed in a car accident at the same time that Carver was texting Mars, who happened to be driving.
Not only does Carver blame himself, the entire town except Eli's ex-girlfriend Jesmyn, seems too as well.
Carver seeks help through psychiatrist Dr. Mendez and with his help he's able to develop coping mechanisms when depression and panic attacks descend upon him like a cloud stuffed with hammers.
This is a story about loss, grief, self-hatred and of course guilt. Guilt that worms its way into your brain and bores you out until you are just a walking husk. An extra for the Walking Dead. Anyone that has experienced guilt of any level with find some level playing field with Carver.
The novels cuts back and forth between Carver's current status, which is dead-bone afraid of what his future holds, and his time with his three best friends. They are typical teenage boys who are silly, dumb yet thoughtful and kind to each other at the same time.
There is a lot of heart in this novel. It's a fantastic read that I will be pushing on the students at the school library I manage with a relentless fury. Check it out if you haven't already.
When Tess & Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with their aunt Evie, the last thing they expect to find is a magical castle tucked away behind a series of hedges.
But that's exactly what happens.
There are truly wonderful things to see at the castle, mazes, fish under the drawbridge, swans, a magical carousel and of course William, a boy that is about the same age as Tess.
William acts as a friend and guide as he unveils the magic behind the castle.
Throughout their adventures, William provides a constant warning: don't go near the hawthorn trees. When Max forget to heeds this advice, Tess finds herself on a mission that could have disastrous consequences.
The Castle in the MIst is fun, exciting read tailor made for fans of Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. I can't wait ot get this into the hands of our Year 7s at the school library I manage, they are going to devour it!
Prepare to never think of beetles the same way again.
When Darkus' dad vanishes out of thin air while working at the Natural History Museum, everyone is perplexed as to what happened.
Darkus is forced to move in with his loveable yet eccentric Uncle Max.
Darkus soon learns that Max's neighbours, Pickering & Humphrey, are not only maniacs that hate each other, they also have a massive beetle collection.
One of them, a rhinoceros beetle that Darkus names Baxter, displays amazingly smart behaviour. In fact, Darkus is able to train Baxter like a loyal pet, and together they set out to solve the mystery of the disappearing dad.
With a cast of madcap characters and really creepy villain, Beetle Boy is a great new book that our Year 7 & 8 students are going to love. Filled with action, comedy and suspense, Beetle Boy is a great read for fans of The Last Wild or of course Roald Dahl.