Hoping to get back home to his patients ahead of a snowstorm, Ben Payne charters a flight from Salt Lake to Denver and, on a whim, invites the bride-to-be that he met in the terminal, Ashley. She needs to get back home for her rehearsal dinner, and Ben can’t help think of Rachel and how special his own wedding was. They fly out with a chatty pilot and his little dog, only to learn mid-flight that the pilot never filed a flight plan, and the plane is only supposed to seat one passenger. Then, over the frozen mountain wilderness, the pilot has a heart attack. Although Ben and Ashley survive the crash, Ashley’s femur is broken, along with several of Ben’s ribs, and altitude sickness makes their predicament worse. With no one knowing where they are, Ben must use the few provisions they have to survive the snowstorm and drag Ashley down the mountain to safety. Throughout their weeks struggling in the wilderness, Ben composes letters to Rachel on his audio recorder, remembering their relationship and coming to terms with the horrible experience that brought it to an end–as well as the knowledge that, should they survive, his developing feelings for the soon-to-be-married Ashley must also end in heartache.
I really enjoyed this novel. The action of the survival-thriller plot neatly compliments the tragic love story told in flashback. Interestingly, though, it is the suspense of the love story–the desire to find out what happened to Rachel, who is implied at various points to be both dead and alive–that really kept me reading. I’m not sure I would enjoy the new film adaptation, which seems to focus solely on the survival plot. But I would recommend this novel to realistic fiction readers who like action-packed love stories. Although it is literary fiction, romance readers may also find this novel satisfying.
A bored giraffe asks a bored pelican to deliver a letter for him to the first animal he meets on the other side of the horizon. The first animal that Pelican meets is a mail seal who takes the letter to a penguin who is studying abroad on Whale Island. Thus an unusual friendship begins. Since Giraffe has never seen a penguin, he tries to imagine what Penguin might look like based on Penguin’s descriptions of himself. And eventually, the two friends will meet to see if their expectations were correct.
A simple yet thought provoking story with both humor and heart. This book is a quick read, but an enjoyable one. It will appeal most to elementary-aged readers.
Rosa Diaz doesn’t know why her mother, the best Appeasment Specialist any haunted library had ever seen, would want to move to a town with no ghosts. Well, she does know why, but she doesn’t like it. They shouldn’t be trying to escape the memory of her father’s death. They should be honoring him. And living in an unhaunted town is just creepy. But as Rosa explores her new town, she realizes that it isn’t the unhauntedness unsettling her. Ingot is definitely haunted, but in a strange way, and for some reason, none of the inhabitants seem to see or remember the hauntings. With the help of Jasper, a Renaissance Faire squire, Rosa sets out to discover what is haunting Ingot and why.
An enjoyable mystery with two engaging young heroes, this story has both humor and intrigue to keep even a reluctant reader engrossed–plus enough depth of character and theme to make it enjoyable for the perceptive reader as well. I’d recommend it to middle grade fans of mystery, fantasy, and non-scary ghost stories.
Rhiannon’s disappearance is still leaving its mark this summer. There’s an air of suspicion, especially around Darcy. It makes sense. Everyone’s always suspicious of the town “slut,” whatever that means. And Darcy does have a secret–one she’s keeping for someone else. But when someone nominates both Darcy and her cousin Nell for Bay Festival Princess, Darcy can’t help but wonder who is out to get her. Is it a joke meant to humiliate her? Does someone know Darcy’s secret? Or does it all come back to Rhiannon and the town’s darkest secret of all?
I thoroughly loved the voice of this novel. Darcy is an authentic, flawed character who really gripped me from the opening pages. And the suspenseful plot made it difficult to put down. I highly recommend this book to teen fans of realistic fiction and suspense.
Eden’s world didn’t completely fall apart on Zero Day when she and all of the other kids at her private school were rounded up by the Wolves and sent to prison camp. The final blow came when they gave her a vial of her father’s blood and teeth. That was the moment that every whisper of of her old life vanished. She was alone. But when Eden and three strangers take the opportunity to flee their island prison, Eden knows exactly where she is going. She will follow the course set out in her father’s old notebook and find Sanctuary Island–the place free from the tyranny of the Wolves. As long as he completed his life’s work before he was murdered, they will find safety there. Unfortunately, “safe” is not the right word to describe the island they discover, and the unknown threats the travelers must survive may be just as treacherous as the prison they left behind.
I wasn’t overwhelmed by this new dystopia. It took me a little while to get into it and then lost me again by the end. Alternating chapters tell large chunks of backstory and the protagonist’s feelings, which I found off-putting. But for readers who aren’t as turned off by explication as I am, the actual real-time plot had plenty of action and mystery which will likely hook many sci-fi fans. It may appeal to Maze Runner readers.
Andrew has felt dead inside for a long time. He couldn’t explain exactly why he smashed that kid in the face with a tennis racket when he was nine, and he can’t explain why he would rather be alone in the forest than talking to the new girl at his boarding school. But something about Jordan draws him out in a way that his other classmates have not. He finds himself at a party with Jordan and his former roommate, Lex, on the night of the full moon. Which is a bad idea because he is certain that tonight will be the night that he changes. He has known it would happen, ever since that summer in New Hampshire when his older brother, Keith, told him that the wolf lived inside all of them. As he waits for the change, memories of Keith and their sister, Siobhan, intertwine with Jordan and Lex’s attempts to break through his shell.
This book is intense. Suspenseful, horrifying, and beautifully written. Did I mention intense? Kuehn weaves hints of fantasy through the novel, enough to make a reader hope that maybe it is a fantasy. Maybe the wolf is real. All the while, the fantasy echoes heighten the horror of the real story and help the reader find herself in the mindset of a traumatized child. If you like dark realistic fiction, this book is excellent. But be forewarned: intense.
Nell Perkins’ world has never been perfectly normal. After all, “normal” people don’t tend to see those around them with animal heads lurking beneath their outer facade of humanity. Everyone seems to think Nell is crazy, except her mother, Rose. Rose treats Nell and her brothers like the most important and special people in the world and helps Nell keep a grip on reality. But when her mother is swallowed up by a giant skull shaped cloud and taken prisoner by the Dark Daughters, Nell knows for sure that she is not crazy. This is reality. And since she seems to be the only one who can see it, it will be up to her, her brothers, and the eccentric old man down the street to travel through the Dreamlands and rescue Rose from a world of nightmares.
This novel was enjoyable, but heavy on explication and light on character development. The subject matter of this book is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s work, but lacks the grounding in traditional folklore that makes the latter so compelling. I would recommend it to middle grade fantasy readers who like their stories a little dark, but aren’t too worried about thematic depth.