Sunnybrook High doesn’t have cheerleaders anymore. It wasn’t a hazing scandal or a lack of funding that ended the cheerleading program, though. It was the fact that Sunnybrook was trying to make it easier to move on from the tragic loss of five cheerleaders. The first two died in a car accident. The next two were brutally murdered. And then the final cheerleader died by suicide. Five years later, Monica is still struggling to come to terms with her sister’s death and to figure out what really happened. First of all, Monica is convinced that her sister never would have killed herself. She also finds it extremely troubling that the man who supposedly murdered two girls was killed as the police attempted to apprehend him. Her stepfather and his partner swore that they were acting in self-defense, but their story doesn’t quite add up when you consider the evidence at the scene.
When Monica discovers a stack of letters in her stepfather’s desk, it becomes very clear that whatever happaned isn’t actually over. The letters have been coming every year around the anniversary of the cheerleader tragedy, and they insinuate that all the deaths were somehow connected. There is also the fact that Monica found her sister’s old cellphone hidden in her stepfather’s desk. Why on earth would he have kept that?!? Monica decides that something must be up and she becomes determined to figure out what really happened. It’s pretty clear to her that *somebody* has to know something more, but she doesn’t know who they are or what they know. How far is she willing to go to find the truth? And why does she seem to be smack in the middle of whatever it is that happened?!?
Emilia had a particularly tough childhood… After surviving a horrific attack behind her elementary school, she was so traumatized that she actually stopped speaking for some time. In the aftermath of the attack, her father also left because he couldn’t deal. Now that she is in high school, she is frustrated that she still can’t quite get past the attack. She sometimes finds herself mentally trapped in the time of the attack and reliving it. Winters are especially bad, since that was when the attack took place. And attempts to be intimate with her boyfriend seem to be particularly triggering. To make matters worse, she just found out that the person who attacked her was *not* actually the person she identified and who went to jail. With the knowledge that she sent an innocent person to jail and that she will likely see him around town once he is released, Emilia isn’t sure how she will make it through this winter.
Though this story doesn’t deal with straight-up amnesia, fans of With Malice will likely enjoy the way this story also unfolds bit by bit to reveal how everything happened. If you’re looking for a book that will keep you guessing, and on the edge of your seat, you should definitely add this to your summer reading pile.
Although Sawyer’s family was both rich and well-known, and although they lived less than an hour away, Sawyer had no experience with high-society. Why? Because her mom was kicked out when she got pregnant during her “deb” season. All Sawyer knew of her family was what her mother told her — and that was only when her mom wasn’t busy running off with one man or another. During one of her mother’s sudden departures, Sawyer got a surprise visit from none other than her grandmother… Who came to give Sawyer the offer of a lifetime. In exchange for going to stay with her grandmother and participating in the debutante season, Sawyer would receive $500,000. The money sounded good, but the whole deb thing was less than appealing. And then Sawyer realized this would also afford her the opportunity to try and figure out who her father was.
Despite the appearances they put forth in public, she quickly found out that the debutantes were far from the meek and mild little ladies they pretended to be. They were vindictive, calculating, manipulative, and wild. And before she knew it, Sawyer found herself both making friends and discovering all sorts of secrets about their high-society families. This story goes back and forth in time, alternating between the debs’ landing in jail and how they got there. (Though the story is not the same, it had much the same feel as Paul Rudnick’s It’s All Your Fault.) High-paced action, lots of mystery, and humor that had me actually laughing out loud. I only wish it was coming out this summer because I think it would be a perfect beach read! (Sadly, it’s not due out until November 6th.)
I will never forget the moment when the twist in E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars made everything fall into place. My brain lit up, my eyes flew wide open, and I practically had to drag my jaw back up off the floor. So, when I realized that E. Lockhart had written another book with crazy twists and dark secrets, I just had to check it out. Somehow, though, I managed to miss the fact that the story was going to be told backwards. When I started listening to the audiobook, I literally thought my OverDrive app had malfunctioned and forgotten to play the parts in order. After all, most books don’t start with Chapter 18! After looking into it and confirming that it was, in fact, playing the parts in the correct order, I sat back to enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was!
I’ve said before that it’s rare for me to finish a book in a single sitting, or even in a single day… but to finish a nearly 7-hour-long audiobook in just over a day is quite a feat for this working mama! I had my headphones on at every opportunity as I found myself looking for solitary chores to complete — washing dishes, folding laundry, etc. I just had to figure out what exactly it was that Jule (using the name Imogen) was running from and how she ended up in a tropical paradise with money to burn. Beginning at the end of the story not only worked well for this thriller, but it even allowed for a completely shocking twist. I kid you not, I literally started the audiobook right over again and listened to the first few chapters to see what clues I may have missed! If you’re looking for a quick-paced thriller with a surprisingly charming villain, you have GOT to check this book out.
Oh. Em. Gee! I didn’t even know this book was out until I saw something about the second book coming out this July. Even though I am not a huge graphic novel reader, I try to push myself to read at least a couple a year so that I can stay in touch with what it out there for my library patrons who do prefer graphic novels. Since I am also a huge fan of Scott Westerfeld’s work, especially the Uglies series, I figured it was a good bet that I would enjoy this one. I am happy to report that reading this was a lot more fun than work! 😉 In fact, I read this entire book in only three sittings because it was so hard to put down.
In Poughkeepsie, NY, there has been a Spill. No one really seems to know what exactly happened. They just know that it is no longer safe inside the Spill Zone. Military personnel guard the perimeter and people don’t tend to go inside except government scientists in hazmat suits. There are all sorts of weird things happening. Animals morphing into strange creatures. Inanimate objects moving around despite a lack of wind. And, in the words of Addison Merrick, the dead have become “meat puppets.” Though she was not in town when the Spill happened, he little sister was. Because they are allowed to stay in their home, which is inside the Spill Zone, Addison has taken to exploring and taking pictures she can sell to support her sister. But, how long will it be before her explorations take her too far?!?
Speaking of Westerfeld’s Uglies series… Check this out! (#squeeeeeeee)
Jessie thought that she and Chris needed a break. Just for a week. Just to get a little perspective before graduation. Chris seemed to think they should get married right away, but she thought he was wrong. Why? Because Chris was being scouted for a full-ride baseball scholarship and could likely end up playing in the big leagues. She thought that she would just weigh him down, regardless of how often he told her that she would only make his life complete. And she was pretty sure her own college and career aspirations would not work out if she followed Chris off to college, since his school didn’t have the environmental conservation major she had her heart set on. Besides, she wasn’t really sure what she could truly offer him since she thought of her upbringing as “white trash” and was embarrassed to even bring him into her home, which was dangerously full of her mom’s hoarding piles.
When Chris disappeared, though, Jessie had to find the courage to speak out about the secrets Chris had been keeping and to dig deeper. She knew that Chris had been jumped a few weeks prior, by some other local baseball players who accused him of only getting a scholarship because he was black. Even though she told the police about how they had used hate speech while they attacked him, and that she was concerned that those same guys were involved in his disappearance (since he was running in that same area when he disappeared), the police seemed content to think he ran away. After all, those other guys came from good families and had an alibi for the night in question…
Every week, Chris had written Jessie a love letter. As she struggled to work through her emotions and to try and figure out what happened to Chris, she decided to write him a letter of her own — but she insisted that it was NOT a love letter. If he wanted a love letter, he would need to come back to her. This book would make a great conversation starter about racism, mental health, friendships/relationships, communication, and more.
Because I enjoyed Dashner’s Maze Runner series, and am not-so-patiently waiting for the theatrical release of Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline), I thought this seemed like an audiobook I should probably check out. I mean, what’s not to like about a fast-paced technological thriller, right?!? Much like in Ready Player One, a lot of this story took place in a virtual world. Rather than just using goggles and gloves to connect to that virtual world, though, the people in this story use “coffins” that provide their bodies with physical sensations to make it feel as if they are actually experiencing the sensations (both pleasure and pain) of the VirtNet.
Michael is a gamer who spends more of his time in the VirtNet than in actual reality. And, who can blame him? Most of his friends are people he has never met in real life, and his hacking skills mean that he can be better, faster, and stronger with only a few lines of code. Rumors begin to circulate about a “bad” hacker who is using his skills to trap people in the VirtNet against their will, which causes the victims to suffer brain damage and memory loss in real life. Shortly after meeting a girl who claimed to be a victim, Michael was contacted by someone from the government who asked him to use his hacking skills for good by tracking down the perpetrator. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah… Definitely not! If you want lots of action and adventure set in a high-tech virtual world, you’ll definitely want to read this one.