Tag Archives: Older Teen

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

 

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In the 1930’s, Germany was filled with unrest, poverty and uncertainty, where hatred marched in its city’s streets.  At seventeen, Gretchen Müller has grown up under the wing of the National Socialist (a.k.a. Nazi) Party, with very little inkling of the animosity and evil intent the Party had towards the Jewish Community.  When she was eight, her father became a martyr for the Party, when he died in place of his friend, Gretchen’s “Uncle” Dolf.

Gretchen was often invited on outings with Uncle Dolf and his family. Always treated with kindness and great care by him, Gretchen had believed he would always be there to protect her family. Until the night she watched her brother and his friend almost run over an old man and then proceeded to beat him.  When she threatened to go to Uncle Dolf with the information, she was told to stay out of the Party’s business or she would find herself in jeopardy of receiving the same treatment.

Then Daniel Cohen, a young Jewish reporter, came into her life informing her of his belief that her father’s death had not been a random shooting. He had, instead, been the intended victim. Gretchen had been taught to believe the Jewish people were at the root of all Germany’s problems. At first, she was uncertain whether or not to trust Daniel.

However, in the face of her growing distrust of the Nazis and the strong hold her brother had over the family, Gretchen made the decision to delve into her father’s death on her own. As she starts digging into the past, she comes face to face with the realization that her trust and belief in those she loves was full of smoke and mirrors.

Through Gretchen’s eyes, we see Uncle Dolf as a kindly father figure with a gentle voice who liked picnics art and fine music, cares greatly for his family and country, and wants to help Germany to become strong again.  But the country is in turmoil, its leaders looking for someone to blame. United in the search for answers, Daniel and Gretchen find themselves targeted as the enemy of their country and its people.

In Prisoner of Night and Fog, we are shown how Nazis manipulated the German people, driving them towards the inevitable horror of genocide and war.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

When Hell Freezes Over and the Devil’s Inside

We’re launching a new book discussion group here at Bon Air, beginning September 24 at 7 p.m.  Our selections will cater to ages 15-25 but slightly older adults are welcome.  The club will generally feature Older Teen and Adult Fiction with young adult characters ranging from 15 to 25-ish.

 

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In the spirit of new beginnings I decided to choose two books that I had not previously read.  September’s selection is Iced: A Dani O’Malley Novel.  This book is set firmly in the middle of the ongoing popular Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.  It is the first book told from the perspective of Dani O’Malley, a rather unusual 14 year old in a world gone mad.  If you haven’t read the series, don’t despair.  This book can be read as a stand-alone.

Bodacious fairies and dark evil things that go bump in the night have hemorrhaged over into our reality.  Unfortunately, pretty much all of them are monsters and they think humans are tasty morsels. But even in the midst of monsters and mayhem, relationships and people who “care” may just be the most dangerous thing around.

Dani’s number one prerogative is to keep the people of Dublin safe. Number two is to stay free.  Not-quite-human club owner Ryodan manages to blackmail Dani into helping him solve a mystery that threatens not only his business, but all of Dublin.  To that end he keeps her under his thumb.  Dani’s number one makes her want to help, but her number two makes her resistant and bitter.

Despite the despicable means by which their partnership is formed the two characters forge ahead to find out how and why something is freezing humans and evil creatures alike.  The frozen venues are barely approachable by supernatural ilk.   And for some reason, they keep exploding.

Dublin was already the seventh circle of Hell but now it’s frozen over.  Will our reluctant heroine save the day?  Only the book will tell.

Formats Available:  Audiobook, Book, eBook

 

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October’s selection is Horns by Joe Hill and we will meet on October 29 at 7 p.m.  I swear on my library card that I didn’t know this book had a movie being released on October 31st.  Just days after I picked this book, I was thumbing through my various “social” addictions…I mean appswhen I spotted a video box with Daniel Radcliffe’s face.

“Hmmm, wonder what that is?”   Imagine my surprise when I click the play button like a good little monkey and I’m treated to an early sneak preview of Horns!  “Yes! ” I mentally shouted, while I did a little spastic dance around the room.  Luckily the only witnesses were my family and they’re used to my strange silent outbursts.

My family waited patiently for me to explain.  When I told them that Daniel Ratcliff was playing the lead of a great philosophical horror story, my teens all began clamoring in protest, “You can’t do that to Harry Potter! That’s just wrong.”   I laughed, perhaps a little bit maniacally, and told them that Daniel Radcliffe could play any character he desired, even a devil!

WARNING!!!  This book will may make you squirm.

The beginning chapters of this story are dark and graphic.  The main character, Ig (Ignatius) Perrish, has been living in a town where everyone thinks he raped and murdered his high school sweetheart, Merrin.  He didn’t kill her.  He loved her so deeply, he is lost without her.

Unable to cope with the anniversary of Merrin’s death, Ig drinks himself into such a stupor that he can’t remember the previous evening when he awakens the next morning.  Of course, he knows almost immediately that he must have done something really, really bad.  The horns sprouting out of his head are dead giveaway.

Ig’s first reaction is to think he’s hallucinating, but his current girlfriend, quickly disabuses him of that notion when she affirms that she can see them.  As if that weren’t bad enough, she immediately begins to divulge her darkest urges and thoughts. Ig flees.  He moves from person to person looking for help or absolution, but each encounter just leaves him more sickened and shell-shocked.

Slowly Ig begins to realize that he can influence people.  He can’t make them do something they don’t want to do.  But if the urge is tucked away inside somewhere, Ig can coax it out.  When Ig finds out who truly killed Merrin he begins to actively used the horns and his new strange powers.

He wants justice and revenge, so he embraces the devil inside.  Does that make him evil?  You’ll have to decide for yourself, once you read the book.

Formats Available:  Audiobook, Book

Reviews by Angel, Bon Air Branch

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

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Nell is completely enamored with her older sister, Layla.  So much in fact that, when they were little girls, she called herself “Nellayla” because she felt that their bond was so close, they were like one soul.  During Nell’s freshman year of high school, she discovers that Layla is having an inappropriate relationship with a teacher.  This puts Nell in a serious bind. She wants to keep her sister’s secret, but she also feels like the situation Layla has gotten herself into is wrong.  Thrown unwittingly into her sister’s secret, what should she do?

When I read the synopsis of the book, I was hoping that it delivered a punch that would have me cursing in the air because I was so mad.  I didn’t find myself spewing vulgarity to the heavens but was entranced as I read, my eyes transfixed on my Kindle.  The story is told from Nell’s point of view.  Nell is a very inquisitive and responsible (to a point) teenager, who looks up to her older sister in a way that is borderline loving, hero worship with a touch of creepiness.

Her best friend Felix is her confidant.  He doesn’t sugar coat anything for her, mince words, or treat her like she is special.  Nell loves that about him.  I really liked how the author describes this friendship and was very surprised that this wasn’t one where the two of them eventually fall in love with each other.

Nell has so many things on her plate.  She is just beginning high school, she has a crush on a boy, she makes the soccer team and she is worried about the strange way her older sister is beginning to behave.  She is going through typical teenage emotions and the author mixes words so that you feel each one.

When Nell learns of Layla’s secret, it is purely by accident.  As rumors start to spread about her sister and a teacher who has a reputation of being with a different female student each year, Nell chalks it up as just being gossip.  But when she catches Layla in the act of video chatting with this teacher, Nell knows that nothing good can come of it and just how bad the situation can become.

The moral compass is stretched to the limit with this story and I really wish that the author wouldn’t have ended the book the way that she did.  Layla was involved in something that teenagers shouldn’t be aware of.  She was completely taken advantage of but she felt that it was love.  There could have been so much more that would have made this a five star book.

All in all, I really liked the book and would very much encourage people to read it, especially if you are the parent of a teenager.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

 

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards

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Ever heard your-self say, “I don’t remember what I did yesterday?”  Imagine waking to find that you have lost six months of your life and in the interim you have changed into someone you don’t even recognize.

It was May when Chloe drifted off to sleep in detention class but when she awoke it was November, snow falling outside the dark cafeteria window.  Her fingernails were caked with dirt, the knees of her jeans, too, were dirt packed.  Then he was there, behind her, asking why she had called him. Called him? Never in her right mind would she have called Adam Reed, the quintessential bad boy at school. Was this a nightmare or reality?

Chloe, formally an average student, was now at the top of her class, her boyfriend was Blake Tanner the most popular guy in the school and her best friend, the reason she had gotten detention, hated her. She had everything her parents ever wanted for her, grades that could get her into the best college, a boyfriend who was the catch of the school, friends that were from the best families in town and yet, something was definitely wrong.

When had she and Adam Reed had become more than just friends?  Why had a family that had lived here since the beginning moved away and why did Chloe care?  Even Adam and Blake seemed to have secrets between them that centered around her. Then, the psychiatrist she had gone to for answers turns up dead. Chloe had better find answers soon or she could very well be next.

The characters are brought to life with all their imperfections. Some you may want to hug, some you may want to cry for, some you may want to shake some sense into and some you just want to choke. There is intrigue and mystery, murder and mayhem, romance and friendship and a whole lot of questions. In the end, one of the most important questions is left up to the reader to decide for themselves. “How could this have happened in the first place?”  Get ready to curl up in a warm spot because Six Months Later could make your blood run cold.

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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What would you do if you woke up in the hospital, not knowing who you were, and also learning that your best friend went missing on the same day and hasn’t been found? Do you try and solve the mystery on your own or do you just give up?

When I first began reading Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I thought to myself that is seemed like I had read it before. The storyline seemed to be a little bit overused. But once I got past the first three chapters, I could tell that it was going to be nothing like I had ever read.

This book had mystery, intrigue, love and horror, all wrapped up into one crazy book. The main character, Samantha, known to her friends as Sam, wakes up in the hospital, not knowing who she is, where she was when they found her, and how she got to the hospital. She also finds out that her best friend, Cassie, is also missing. We learn that she has suffered some form of traumatic amnesia and she must learn who she is all over again. As she starts to talk to the people that were closest to her, including her twin brother Scott, she finds out that she was the queen bee of a group of mean girls who “ruled the school.”

As the story progresses, Sam begins to disassociate with her previous “friends” and begins the task of trying to mend some broken friendships, including that of Carson, whose father works for Samantha’s family and whom she learns used to be her best friend. Of course, she was an utter crazy person to him but he begins to see that maybe she has changed for the better.

As new facts begin to surface, Samantha begins to see that things were the way they were in her life because she was trying to be someone that she wasn’t.  Once she took her life in her own hands, the people around her begin to drastically change. All the while, she is trying to figure out what happened the night that she and Cassie disappeared and, more importantly, where in the heck was Cassie?

There are so many things in the book that make it exceptional. If I write too much, I would give the story away and then what would be the point of you reading it on your own? Let me just say this, you will be very shocked to find out the surprise twist. I would highly recommend this book to teenagers over the age of fifteen. The reasoning behind this is because there are some subject matter in the book that is very mature. I would almost say that it borders on being a New Adult book, but older teenagers would find it very intriguing.

I gave the book four stars and not five because the amnesia story has been done so many times. As a matter of fact, there was a book published recently with the same premise, girl has amnesia, finds out she is super rich and that she was a super-bitch. You know, been there, read that. I almost put it down and did not finish but I also wanted to see if it had any redeeming qualities and if it was like any of the others that I ever read and I’m glad I did. It completely blew my mind. I’m super glad that I didn’t judge this book by the storyline.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

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We all have those lists of books waiting for the day when we might actually be able to read them.  How this title stayed on my list for so long seems like a mystery.  Humor, romance, adventure – this novel has it all.  While marketed toward an older teen audience, this can easily be enjoyed by an adult reader.

Samhain, nicknamed Sam, floats through life.  He is happy to work in a gross fast food restaurant, happy to drop out of college, happy to be nothing special.  Until the day that Sam learns he is very special.  Gifted with an ability hidden from him at birth by his mother, Sam must quickly learn the ways of Necromancy.

His goofy, big mouth nature seems to continually land him in deeper trouble till it looks like there’s no hope.  Thankfully, he isn’t in it alone.  Armed with good friends and a pack of werewolves, Sam must find a way to accept his true nature and defeat a really, really bad dude.

If you think this title isn’t for you, you’re likely wrong.  It does have elements of fantasy and magic but it mostly centers on accepting who you are, growing up, and finding confidence.  Sam is a loveably sarcastic main character, the dialogue is well written, and the plot is well developed (though at times predicable). Music lovers will appreciate the chapter titles (which are all song lyrics).  Readers will find themselves eagerly turning pages to find out Sam’s triumphs and failures.

This all around light and feel good novel by Lish McBride is highly recommend.

Formats Available: Book

Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

Maddie is seventeen, and already has been given the descriptive nickname “Mad Dog Maddie” for her wild behavior. After too many wrong turns she finds herself in a teen rehabilitation center. Rehab isn’t for her – she does not want to be there, nor does she think her problems are comparable to the others she meets in rehab. Everything changes when she meets another rehab patient, Stewart. The time that had been dragging on so slowly in rehab is now happening so fast after meeting Stewart.

And then she gets to go home.

Maddie is a changed girl now, she’s actually trying to reel in her rage and desire to drink and party – but, no one is buying it, no matter how hard she tries, what grades she gets, or how nice she acts towards others. Though she is sincerely trying to turn her life around for the better everyone, including Stewart, classmates, and her family, suspect she’s going to slip back into her ways. So what about Stewart and his struggles? The more Maddie tries to turn to him for help the more distant he becomes.

Author Blake Nelson writes in a way that makes Maddie’s issues feel so real. Her struggle to reign in her anger and party girl behavior are heart breaking to read. As the reader you understand her sincerity, and yet you also understand why those around her are leery to forgive and forget her wild past. They can’t fully invest in Maddie again until she’s proved herself, and this isn’t anything she can turn around in a matter of months. She realizes she might be fighting her own reputation for years to come.

I would recommend Recovery Road to any young adult struggling to turn people’s opinions of themselves around. It isn’t easy, you might not be able to get everyone to forgive you, but you can come out the other side as the person you want to be – regardless of what anyone thinks about you.

-Lynette-