Appomattox County HS Library

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Paulette's Picks

Paulette's Picks

Ever wonder what I'm reading?  Here is my book blog - the good and the bad.  

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

loved this book! I'm a bit of a romance junkie and I love romances that have deep, meaningful characters. This book does not disappoint. West Ashby is dealing with his father slowly dying of colon cancer. He hasn't told any of his teammates and is trying to deal with it on his own, burying his sorrows with meaningless sex and football. Along comes Maggie who has her own issues as she hasn't spoken since witnessing her father kill her mother two years ago. West is instantly drawn to Maggie's mysteriousness and something about knowing she doesn't speak allows him to share what is happening with his dad. Imagine his surprise when she answers him. Thus develops their relationship where she only speaks to him and she helps him grieve. I felt the scenes dealing with his father's death were extremely well written and the relationship was well developed unlike some romances that are "instalove" and unrealistic. Can't wait for the next in the series.

Trust Me I'm Lying by Mary Sumner

The first book in the Trust Me series...

Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I love books set in the south with unique characters.  This story takes place in 1950s New Orleans.  Eighteen-year old Josie has been taking car of herself since she was twelve years old after being basically abandoned by her prostitute mother who works at the local brothel.  Unbeknownst to Josie the brothel as well as the local bookstore have become her surrogate family, making sure she's fed and has a roof over her head.  She dreams of escaping the French Quarter and going to Smith College. Then she becomes embroiled in the murder investigation of a successful businessman from Memphis.  Will she make it out of the Quarter?  This book is based on a real life madam Norma Wallace and her New Orleans brothel.  Interspersed with real life characters like Truman Capote and real life places this was a great read and made me want to find out more about the historical characters and places in the story. 

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Set in Boston at the turn of the century, socialite and shipping heiress Jo Montfort dreams of becoming a reporter and not just the light and fluffy variety.  But her world is shattered when her father is found dead from a gunshot wound. The question is was it suicide as everyone thinks or was he shot?  The facts don't add up and Jo begins a search for the truth, teaming up with fellow reporter Eddie.  She'll uncover a long lost mystery in a quest to solve her father's death.  I like the way Ms. Donnelly interwove elements from a past mystery into the mystery surrounding her father's death. 

Kill the  Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

I read this book after it received rave reviews for its hilarity from another librarian.  I was expecting to laugh out loud with the humor, but instead I found there were very few laughs to be had.  Here's the basic premise:  four fangirls from the New York/New Jersey area stay in the same hotel as their favorite boy band The Ruperts.  Through happenstance one of the band members ends up bound and gagged in their hotel room.  Then the question becomes what to do with him.  The main character, who adopts the names of famous 80s movies heroines like Samantha Baker, shares her angst in trying to do the right thing opposing the other three members of her fangirl group. There's lots of inner monologue regarding her dead father, but it's never really addressed in the context of the story.  There's also some pseudo-romance between her and her favorite Rupert which is also just kind of unresolved.  I didn't hate this book but I didn't love this book either.

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

This book was suggested to me as an alternative to Green's Killer Instinct.  I have to say I devoured this book.  I' m a huge fan of the Dexter television series so this was right up my alley. John Wayne Cleaver feels he has another person within him - named Mr. Monster - who is trying to emerge and he is destined to be a serial killer.  After all, he's been obsessed with them for ages - writing school reports on notorious killers and studying the bodies that come in to his mother's mortuary.  After a disturbing school assignment, his mother sends him to a psychologist and John Wayne develops strict rules that erect a wall between him and Mr. Monster.  Then a killer comes to town, disemboweling vicitms, taking organs and limbs.  John Wayne is fascinated and feels Mr. Monster stirring.  By chance he discovers the truth of the Clayton killer and begins to devise a way to kill the killer.  I don't want to divulge too much, but there's an unexpected twist.  

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

This book is reminiscent of Laybourne's previous series - Monument 14.  Laurel accepts her friend Viv's invitation aboard a luxury cruise where the revolutionary new sweetner Solu is being released.  It's marketed as a miraculous weight loss tool.  Laurel is happy with her body and decides not to partake.  Her friend Viv is always on a diet and eagerly takes her daily doses and sees amazing results.  Laurel starts to notice some side effects.  Passengers are loosing weight way too fast, quickly becoming addcted, and turning violent.  She joins forces with broadcaster and child movie star Tom who has chosen exercise over quick fixes.  What follows is their attempt to survive on a cruise ship with drug addicted violent passengers.  Plenty of gory descriptions and an interesting premise.  Maybe a sequel in the making as not all issues were resolved.  Give to fans of adventure and survival stories.

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

I'm not usually a fan of nonfiction, but I'm trying to broaden my horizons.  This book initially appealed to me because of its humorous nature.  Further, the narrator is from Harrisonburg, Virginia, and attended college at my alma mater - William and Mary.  The author seeks to answer the question as to why he's never had a girlfriend. He presents several case studies of relationships that never quite took off.  He then investigates by going back to the young ladies and asking them what really happened.  Oh and did I mention he's and amputee and paralympic skier due to cancer at the age of 9?  I found this book to be refreshing and quite charming.  The use of clever graphs, charts, and diagrams further add to its appeal.

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

This book will leave you wanting to go back a reread for clues.  Twins Julia and Ryan are separated and Ryan is hospitalized after shooting 10 of his classmates in the band room and turning the gun on himself.  Julia moves and changes her name in an attempt to start over.  Then Ryan escapes.  I don't want to give the story away except to say things aren't always what they seem and they author subtly embeds clues.  One of my favorite books this year.  Highly recommended for those who like stories of serial killers and sociopaths.  

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

I would describe this book as TFIOS meets Thirteen Reasons Why.  The book begins with the main character, Ryden, trying to finish high school, earn a soccer scholarship to Stanford, and be a single father to 6-month old Hope.  His girlfriend and the mother of his child died of cancer after becoming pregnant and stopping chemo.  Ryden blames himself for her death, but he discovers a hidden journal which leads to other hidden journals and as a result learns that everything was not as it seems.  There is also a new romance with a girl named Jodi, but that's the main focus of the story.  It's really about dealing with loss and moving on.  Highly recommended.  One of the best books I've read in a very long time.



Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

I have a confession - I've never read Sarah Dessen before.  I picked up this book after reading a preview in NetGalley's Book Buzz.  In this story Sydney is overshadowed by her brother Peyton, who is in jail after paralyzing a teenager in a drunk driving hit and run accident. Eclipsed by the rumors and gossip about her brother, she transfer from a private school to a public school.  It's there she meets the Chatham family.  They are so unlike her own family, whose obsession is everything Peyton, that she is immediately drawn to them.  Layla quickly becomes her best friend and she develops strong feelings for Mac, Layla's brother.  

I loved the first 3/4 of this book.  Characters were will written and believable.  The problem I had was in the ending.  It just seemed to quick.  I kept waiting for Sydney to take a stand against her mother and shout "Here I am, See Me".  She never really does.  Then Dessen basically tells the ending instead of having any dialogue or interaction in the story.  After such a great book it just felt rushed and unfufilling. I would give it 4 stars.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

You may know Carrie Ryan as the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy.  Here she takes a departure from the dystopian world of zombies to give us a tale of suspense.  The story begins with the dramatic rescue of Frances from the wreckage of the ship Persephone.  Unfortunately her friend Libby dies only moments before the rescue.  Frances is shocked to learn her shipboard romance Grey and his father are claiming the ship was taken down by a rogue wave.  She knows the truth - all passengers were systematically executed and the ship was set on fire.  Libby's father, devastated by his loss, convinces Frances to become Libby (they look alike) in order to protect her.  Four years later, she returns from a boarding school to seek the truth and her revenge on Grey and his father.  


This book has a vibe much like the television show Revenge.  My favorite part of the book was the struggle Frances/Libby had within herself as to who she really was - Frances or Libby.  I found the story to be quite unsurprising and contrived.  The "mystery" was very weak and the resolution didn't even excite me.  Her love interest, Grey, was uninspiring and the complete opposite of her strong character.  

Cold Fury by Goeglein

Mobsters, secret passages, family secrets, secret crushes....Sara Jane Rispoli comes home from the spring dance to find her family missing and her home a wreck.  She follows the cryptic clues left by her father and discovers a notebook full of secrets about "The Outfit", a secret underground criminal organization that's been around since Capone's days.  Following the rules left in the book, she starts to put the pieces together about what her father never told her in an attempt to locate her family.  Eagerly awaiting the second book.

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher

I've been a long time Crutcher fan, but some of his recent stuff has only been so-so.  Period 8 reverts back to his earlier style somewhat.  All of Crutcher's books feature a social problem within the context of a high school sports team.  Period 8 features a distance swimmer named Paulie.  Paulie is part of Period 8 - the class we all wish we had; the one where you can hang out at share with your friends what's really going on in your life.  When one of his classmates goes missing, Paulie and the students in Period 8 attempt to unravel the mystery.  As they get closer to finding the truth, their lives become endangered.  This book was a quick read, but the mystery was easy to figure out about halfway through.  The ending is also set up for a potential sequel.  I would recommend Whale Talk instead.  It has many of the same elements but much better written and better character development.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

This book has been getting a huge amount of press, so even though I'm not really a fan of alien invasion books, I thought I'd give it a try.  This book begins with the story being told in three different voices, eventually they all meld into the same story line.  The alien attack began in waves - the first was an EMP that knocked out everything electronic - cars, networks, radar, etc.  Second wave was a plague which some would be immune to and some would survive.  Third wave is drones hunting down survivors.  Fourth wave is human snipers which were created in the womb.  The fifth wave?  That's the question.  What comes next?  Cassie is on a quest to find her brother who went to a refugee camp.  She's the only surviving member of her family.  Ben is also a survivor thanks to the medical care of the refugee camp and is  now a soldier.  But everything is not as it seems and it's up to them to figure out the truth.  Will it be enough and will it be in time?

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

I've been a fan of Sarah Ockler since reading Twenty Boy Summer.  She writes thoughtful, well-developed characters which are the kinds of books I'm drawn to.  This story features a Latino family of four sisters who've all had their heart broken by the Vargas brothers.  They pledge to never become involved with them.  So of course, Jude, the youngest,  is drawn to Emilio Vargas who is restoring her father 1960 motorcycle.  The restoration of the motorcycle is Jude's way to hang on to her dad as he is rapidly deteriorating due to early onset dementia.  There are many story lines here - Emilio and Jude, Jude and her sisters, Jude and the loss of her father, her father's deterioration.  This was one of the best books of the summer and left me thinking long after I had finished reading.  Highly recommended.

Monument 14: Book 1 and 2 by Emmy Laybourne

I devoured the first book in this series.  This is a dystopian/disaster/survival novel in which and earthquake has caused a tsunami which wiped out the east coast.  In turn, a hailstorm has attacked the United States with damaging and deadly football sized hail.  Following the hailstorm, an earthquake hits Colorado causing a security break at NORAD and releasing biological warfare which affects blood types in different ways.  Amidst all this, the Monument 14 are struggling to survive.  Fourteen kids saved buy a savvy bus driver driving the bus directly into a Greenway Superstore.  They have to manage their resources, learn to care for themselves, and decide who to trust.  Lots of internal dynamics among the characters.  First book left a great ending and I couldn't wait to get the second. The second was a bit disappointing in that everything wrapped up in a nice neat package.  Second book's ending left room for a possible third book - or not.

Criminal by Terra McVoy

This is an urban fiction novel about a girl named Nikki who falls for a very bad boy named Dee.  Dee has shot a police officer and Nikki drove the car.  She's so wrapped up in him, she can't see how bad he is despite all the warnings from her friends.  Throughout the first third of this book, all I wanted to do was smack her because she was so stupid and being used.  When she finally turns on Dee after loosing the only person who matters more to her - Bird - it becomes more a story of self discovery as she is sent to prison.  For mature readers.

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

I thought this was going to be a "fluffy" book, but surprisingly it had more depth than I expected.  This novel is based on the Aristophanes Lysistrata in which wives withhold their affections in order to force their husbands to end a war.  In this version, the war is between the football and soccer teams.  Rather than use weapons, the players constantly prank each other, escalating more and more.  Tired of being second to her football boyfriend, Lissa bands the girlfriends of both teams together.  They agree to withhold their affections until the rivalry stops.  There are unexpected consequences and Lissa examines her relationships more closely to make some difficult decision.  I thought this book was great.  It was well-written with no contrived ending.   Lissa evolved throughout the story in a natural, unforced way.  Recommended.

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Imagine your son who has been missing since he was seven is miraculously returned to you nine years later and can't remember anything.  That's the premise of this story, only his brother Blake isn't buying it.  He doesn't believe it's really Ethan.  This is a psychological thriller in which you don't know the truth until the very end.  Recommended.  

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

A true gothic story with a femme fatale, mysterious stranger, and a ghost.  Amy Goodnight is part of an eccentric family of witches.  She's managed to block out her own supernatural gifts in favor of a more normal life.  She agrees to housesit her aunt's Texas home for the summer.  Suddenly she's experiencing things she hadn't before.  When an ancient body is found on her handsome neighbor's property she becomes involved in the mystery to figure out who he is, all the while butting heads with her ever practical neighbor Ben McCullough.  Recommended.

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is known for writing relevant fiction - things you might read about in the news like school shooting and abusive relationships.  In this story, she tackles sexting and all its consequences.  Ashleigh sends her college bound boyfriend Kaleb a sext in an attempt to hold his attention.  When the relationship ends, he forwards it to all his friends in retaliation for a prank committed by her friends.  Ashleigh is instantly labeled a slut and worse - she's arrested for child pornography.  The story is told through her community service sentence and in flashbacks.  We witness the emotional fallout and isolation Ashleigh endures.  This book is timely but not preachy.  I love the author's not in which she states "because no matter how naked we get, one bad decision does not an identity make." Recommended.

Altered by Jennifer Rush

Four genetically altered boys locked in your basement for experimentation.  This is how our story begins.  Anna helps her father care for these boys as part of the Branch, a secret organization.  When the Branch decides it's time for the boys to go, Sam, the leader, stages an escape.  Anna goes with them.  On the run, Anna discovers everything is not as it would seem and she is more connected to Sam than she ever imagined. Lots of action and a decent plot.  Possible sequel.  

Firecracker by David Iverson

Wealthy Astrid has been sentenced to a fate worse than death - public school.  Trained by her grandfather that "forgiveness is for those who are too weak to hold a grudge" she does what she wants and says what she wants without a care as to how she treats people.  She's determined to discover who betrayed her at Bristol, her private school.  Meanwhile a boy named Noah helps her navigate the world of public school.  This book had great wit and Astrid was endearing although a bit annoying.  I enjoyed her evolution throughout the book.  Recommended.

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