“The Red Kayak” by Priscilla Cummings


Red Kayak, by Priscilla Cummings, tells the story of three teenage boys dealing with life changes when a nearby property they previously considered their own is sold. This forces the main character and narrator, Brady Parks, and his two friends to be faced with learning to let go of nostalgic attachments and move on. However, when a kayaking accident occurs with a young boy, Ben, (whose family just moved into the teenagers’ old turf) that results in Ben’s death, new questions are raised. The three year old Ben, who nearly drowns when out on his family’s red kayak with his mother and shortly thereafter passes away, raises suspicions of foul play, especially when Brady takes notice of the strange timing of this event.

I initially chose to read this story after learning the premise of the book; that it was a bit of a coming of age story about how relationship change over time, but also with more serious, somber undertones. Once reading this book, I found myself very emerged in the story as Cummings did a magnificent job of creating compelling, three dimensional characters. Even when acting completely immorally, you as a reader find yourself relating to the humanity of the characters, a testament to the writing abilities of the author.

I would recommend this story to young teenagers and older preteens who will be able to understand the complexity of the decisions the characters make and analyze what drives them to follow through with their poor decision. The novel The Red Kayak had many themes and morals that it attempted to convey to the young people reading it, making it a very enriching book.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Lisa F.


“Famous Last Words” by Katie Alender


Willa and her mother have moved from Connecticut to California to live with her new stepfather, Jonathan, who is a movie director based in Los Angeles. While not excited to live in Los Angeles, Willa accepts the fact that it is the only way to move on from the death of her father. She regularly tries to contact his spirit using a method she found in an old book, but she does not receive any response. After she tries to contact her father’s spirit in her stepfather’s house, she starts seeing things that no one else can see. Her stepfather’s mansion was owned by Diana Del Mar, an actress who died in the house, and Willa assumes that the ghost of Diana is causing all of the strange occurrences that she is witnessing. At the same time, Los Angeles is being struck by the Hollywood Killer, a serial killer who kidnaps young girls and poses them in reenactments of famous movie scenes before murdering them. Willa meets a boy named Wyatt who is obsessed with the Hollywood Killer, and she believes that he is somehow connected to the case. When Willa’s friend Marnie goes missing and the paranormal activity in the house increases, Willa and Wyatt set out to get to the bottom of both mysteries.

Famous Last Words is a mixture of mystery and ghost story, Alender combines the characteristics of paranormal activity with a good old-fashioned murder mystery. Willa is a character who wants to connect with her father’s spirit and initially is afraid of the paranormal activity she appears to have unleashed upon herself, but by the end of the novel she accepts it and is less afraid of it. She is driven to solve the mystery of the Hollywood Killer, and the strange clues that she finds do not deter her from her search. Like a true mystery novel, the plot contains details that came together by the end of the novel to reveal the true identity of the murderer, while also containing elements that would only be found in Los Angeles such as private schools filled with children of rich parents and movie premiers. Teens should check out Famous Last Words if they like solving mysteries before reaching the end of the novel or if they just want to follow along on a new mystery.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Caylee P.

“The Cemetery Boys” by Heather Brewer


Stephen and his father move to Denver, Colorado, after his dad loses his job. They are forced to move in with his grandmother back in his dad’s tiny hometown of Spencer, Michigan. Stephen instantly feels out-of-place in this small Michigan town where everybody knows everybody until he meets twins Cara and Devon. He is instantly attracted to Cara and so Stephen joins Devon’s group of boys who hang out in the cemetery, known locally as the “Playground”, during the night. They tell Stephen local stories of the Winged Ones: large, black flying birds that supposedly cause Spencer to go through bad times if they are not appeased with a human sacrifice. Stephen does not take this myth seriously, but as the summer goes on he finds that Devon and the group seem to think the Winged Ones actually exist. Stephen begins to question the group’s actions and starts to wonder if it is his new friends that are causing all of the mysterious accidents that are happening in Spencer.

The Cemetery Boys is geared towards teens that prefer reading mystery novels. The prologue at the beginning of the book hooks the reader in, with the main character Stephen in peril, which makes the reader want to continue reading to find out more. Brewer also created a voice for Stephen that is generally sarcastic and curious while being skeptical of the existence of the Winged Ones. The small town history and description of Spencer makes it an interesting town and setting. However, Brewer could have possibly elaborated on the town’s back-story a little more, even though the current back-story provided would satisfy most readers. The mystery element of the novel kept building from the beginning to the end, and very few readers will see the plot twist that comes towards the end of the novel. The ending of the novel was more abstract and unique than other young adult books, which allows readers to interpret the ending in their own way. The Cemetery Boys is a book that should be checked out by teenage readers who like getting to the bottom of mysteries.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Caylee P.

“I am Princess X” by Cherie Priest

I am Princess X

In fifth grade, two girls named Libby and May created the character Princess X: a dark haired young girl who wears a pink puffy dress, red Chuck Taylors, and wields a purple katana sword. Both girls became best friends and created stories together with Princess X as the main character until Libby died when the girls were fourteen. The Princess X story collection was lost when Libby’s dad moved away, but three years later May finds a Princess X sticker stuck on a building window when she goes to visit her dad in Seattle. She finds that Princess X has her own webcomic, but the author of the webcomic is unknown. She recruits amateur hacker Patrick Hobbs to help her with her search. May becomes convinced that Libby is the author of the webcomic after seeing various allusions to her childhood with Libby. May and Patrick then go on the hunt to find Libby and to solve the mystery of her disappearance once and for all.

This book contains a mystery that uses a creative and modern method that teens can relate to. The Internet webcomic involving Princess X is like a treasure map, but May and Patrick have to interpret it to find who took Libby and where she is hiding. Throughout the book, there are brief segments of the webcomic so it makes the reader feel like they are reading it along with May and that feature adds a unique element to the novel. There were some moments where the book gets serious, especially towards the end, but it does not get as dark as some other teen mystery books. The general feel of the book is very hopeful, but the reader can still feel the urgency in the novel as the antagonist gets on May and Patrick’s tail in the second half of the book. Overall, any teen that enjoys reading mystery novels should check out Princess X.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Caylee P.

“Alive” by Chandler Baker

Alive by Chandler

Seventeen year old Stella Cross was diagnosed with a failing heart when she was just fifteen years old. After two years of waiting, she finally receives a heart transplant from an anonymous donor. Luckily, Stella’s body accepts the new heart, but every day after the transplant she feels extreme pain. This would seem normal, except the pain only occurs at 5:08 p.m. on a daily basis. Stella returns to school after her transplant surgery and she experiences horrifying hallucinations that involve harm coming to her family, friends, and even Stella herself. Soon after Stella returns to school, a new boy named Levi Zin arrives at Stella’s Seattle prep school. When Stella is around Levi, the pain she feels in her heart instantly disappears, but Levi starts becoming obsessed with Stella. She tries to pull away from being with Levi, but the only result is that Levi’s infatuation with her becomes stronger. Stella sets off to discover why only being around Levi can calm the side effects of her transplant while also trying to figure out why Levi is unnaturally obsessed with her at the same time.

This book is recommended for teens who are interested in mystery or horror novels. Readers should expect mild descriptions of situations involving blood, drowning, and danger. Stella and her friend Henry are obsessed with the scary and the supernatural, and they figure out that her heart is acting up because it is from another person’s body. Stella’s hallucinations are also somewhat gory or violent, as they usually involve terrible things happening to her or her family and friends. This book is also very suspenseful and will keep readers guessing throughout the novel. The plot is very original and it also has little pieces of action and love thrown in, but it is done in a way that does not take away from the suspenseful and mysterious mood that is set by Baker. The fast-paced action-filled ending, although a little confusing to understand immediately, is satisfying and wraps up the novel nicely. This 2015 release by Baker is definitely a must read for teens who prefer scary and suspenseful novels over other genres.

-Check out this book or put it on hold.

-Caylee P.

“Jackaby” by William Ritter


Described as a cross between Doctor Who and Sherlock, I could not pass over this book by first time author William Ritter. Indeed, the character of Jackaby is best described as a Sherlock Holmes specializing in cases related to the supernatural and occult.

At the opening of the novel, Abigail Rook is newly arrived in America and looking for an adventure. She soon ends up by the side of Jackaby, a self- proclaimed detective, aiding him as he investigates a bizarre series of murders. Abigail proves herself an asset to Jackaby for her ability to notice the ordinary details that would be overlooked by others. She also gets the adventure she has been searching for as she is confronted with the existence of magic, banshees, ghosts, trolls and a whole host of other supernatural creatures; some of them friendly, some dangerous.

While the mystery at the heart of Jackaby is somewhat predictable, the characters are what make this book so enjoyable. Abigail is independent, resourceful and adaptable. She is quick to piece together clues, and shows real strength when confronted by a world of the supernatural that she did not even know existed. Jackaby is somewhat of a mystery himself, but any fan of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy his rapid deductions and eccentric manner. I look forward to more of his past being revealed in the book’s sequel. Recommended for fans of mysteries and the supernatural.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Caitlin Connelly



“Unbreakable” by Kami Garcia, (The Legion #1)


Kennedy Waters is just a normal seventeen-year-old girl until a ghost tries to kill her. Luckily, she is saved by identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart. Not only do they save her, but they explain that her mother was part of a secret organization, now known as “The Legion”, that protects humanity from evil.

Kennedy joins them and two other members, Priest and Alara, as they try to find out who killed the previous members. It’s a race against time to figure out the various puzzles left by the previous group on their way to finding the one weapon that can destroy the demons forever.

Originally I picked this up because I enjoyed her book, Beautiful Creatures. It also helped that they claimed it was Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code. The twins reminded me somewhat of the Winchester brothers from Supernatural, without me being able to make obvious comparisons. I love Garcia’s writing style and I loved this book even more than her last series. I really can’t wait to see what comes next.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Natalie Martinez