Tag Archives: suspense

Peter and the Starcatchers – The next best thing to Harry Potter

peter-and-the-starcatchers-book-cover_350x525Title:  Peter and the Starcatchers

Author:  Dave Barry

Summary: Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magic star dust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.

Gut reaction: Amazing! The next best thing to Harry Potter.

Why: It does a great job of telling how everything came to be in Disney’s Peter Pan. It is very suspenseful and managed to keep my attention to the very end. It has everything one could ever want in a book, romance, suspense, fantasy, action, and humor. The style of writing used a lot of descriptions, but not too many to bore me.

Who would like this book: Peter Pan fans, children, and people who enjoyed the Harry Potter series.

–Catalina, University, Teen Blogger



We Were Liars: Wealthy Amnesiac Liar Seeks the Truth

wewereliarsTItle: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Six Word Review: Wealthy Amnesiac Liar Seeks The Truth

Summary: During the summer, Cady lives on a private island owned by her family. She is a Sinclair, a mantra drilled into all members of the family from the day they were born. Sinclairs have blond hair and square jaws, they are ambitious and driven, and most of all, they are normal. But they lie. Cady tries to be normal and fit in with her family, but her severe migraines that developed after a mysterious head trauma two summers ago make it difficult to remember exactly what happened. Whatever it was, she knows it was awful, but no one will tell her the truth. When the story takes place, she is 17 and her parents have finally allowed her to return to the island after keeping her away the previous summer. With the help of her two cousins and a family friend (a group she nicknames the “Liars”), she sets out to remember her past, however terrible the truth may be.

I liked the lyrical descriptions of the island and Cady’s eccentric family members.

I hated how sometimes the story would be written in straightforward, first person prose and then suddenly
with no explanation
it would be
like this
with punctuation…

I rate this book 6.5/10 stars, because the suspense kept me interested and I liked the unexpected twist but I really got annoyed by the random poetry thrown in.

I kept reading because there was a ton of suspense built up and I really wanted to see what dreadful thing had happened to Cady that she couldn’t remember.

Anything else? There is a surprise ending! The entire book basically builds up to the last few chapters. When I found out the truth, everything fell into place but I was still left with some unanswered questions. I liked that this book kept me guessing and really made me think.

— Gabriella, Ballard Teen Blogger

The Shadow of the Wind: captivatingly descriptive

TheShadowOfTheWindTitle: The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Summary: Daniel, a young boy growing up in post-war Barcelona, selects a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax when his father brings him to a place called the Cemetery of Forgotten books. Daniel reads the entire book in one night and is completely captivated. He searches for other books by the author, but discovers that someone has been systematically destroying all novels by the author Julián Carax. Daniel is sent on an adventure discovering the history of Carax. The novel becomes a story within a story as Daniel uncovers more and more about the life, love, and mystery of Julián Carax.

Six Word Review: Written beautifully, captivatingly descriptive, creative storyline.

I started reading because: I was looking for a longer novel that had historical elements.

I would give this book 10/10 stars because it’s a thrilling story with complex plots and fascinating characters.

I loved the way the author described things and constructed the story. I hated how complicated the plot was. I read it during the school year so I wasn’t able to read it in lengthy sittings and it sometimes weeks passed before I was able to pick it up again so I kept forgetting important details.

If Daniel was in a high school yearbook, he would be voted Most Likely To: Become A Private Investigator.

Anything else we should know? If history and english are two of your favorite subjects, this book is for you.

 ​–Regina, 17, West Seattle




Little Brother: Hackers vs. the government

Little-BrotherTitle: Little Brother

Author: Cory Doctorow

Summary: Marcus is a tech-savvy high school student in San Francisco who, one day, with his friends Darryl, Vanessa, and Jose, all leave school early to play an online game with real-life components. However, as they are playing, a terrorist attack occurs and explosions go off in the city. While they run to safety, they are taken by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for possibly having connections with the attack. After days of interrogation and questioning, all but Darryl are released. Marcus then sets out to “take revenge” against the DHS for the unfair and illegal treatment he and his friends suffered. He leads many other youth who also are outraged by the treatment, and the book then follows the “battle” between the DHS and Marcus’ group.

I started reading the book because: The idea and usage of technology appealed to me. In addition, the characters are all in high school, dealing with high school issues, so aspects of the book were very relatable. Also, there is a lot of action and dialogue throughout the book, which kept me interested and turning the page one after the other as the story progressed. The themes and motifs under fire in this book (freedom and rights) are also interesting to think about.

Six Word Recap: Hacker Group Faces Off Against DHS (Department of Homeland Security)

Overall, this is an action-packed and thrilling novel to read and enjoy. Technology, hacking, and more are all combined together into a wonderful book guaranteed to keep you captivated throughout the story. If you enjoyed reading this book, be sure to check out Doctorow’s book titled “Homeland”, the sequel to this book. Enjoy!

–Mathew, Lake City Teen Blogger


Phoenix Island – Fast paced and fun, but not incredible.

phoenixTitlePhoenix Island

AuthorJohn Dixon

Summary:  Carl is a sixteen-year-old orphan who has been moved to almost every state in the U.S. due to his willingness to fight bullies where others shy away. Given the choice between going to prison and going to a military style boot camp called “Phoenix Island” he chose the latter, but there may be much more to Phoenix Island than first meets the eye.

Gut Reaction:  Fast paced and fun, but not incredible.

Why:  This book is fast paced, and in general a fun book, but the plot line except for a couple of plot twists is pretty obvious. Despite this and the slow start, it is very easy to get caught up in the fast-paced plot of this book. My one other complaint about the book is that once you get past all of the subterfuge, all of the characters other than Carl and Octavia are all really the embodiments of a certain type of person and have very little depth, and even the two aforementioned are not terribly deep. Despite this, the book has a very fun writing style and will keep you interested throughout.

Who Would Like This Book:  Adolescent boys would enjoy this book (11+) and anyone who enjoys really fast paced story lines, and if you like sci-fi and action you should probably give it a chance.

–Samuel, Greenwood, Teen blogger


Spooky Books for Brave Readers

Like scary stuff? Or maybe you think you want to try it out? Here’s a few books to get you started!

hangmansdaughterThe Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch is the first I will recommend.  It’s scary, but not too scary.  Originally written in German, this book takes place in a small Bavarian town in the mid-1600s.  A boy, near death, is pulled from a river by local hangman Jakob Kuisl and is found to have the symbol of Venus on his back. The panicked people of the town are convinced that the murderer must be practicing witchcraft and that the town’s midwife is obviously to blame.  Kuisl is forced to arrest the midwife, whom he his sure is innocent, and only has a short amount of time before he will have to be the one to execute her unless proof of a different killer is found.  As Kuisl, his daughter, and the local physician’s son race against the clock to solve a murder mystery, they find that the true killers may be bewitched by a different type of dark magic: greed.

mistress of the art of death coverNext is Mistress of the Art of Death by Diana Norman (pen name Ariana Franklin).  This story is very similar to The Hangman’s Daughter but is much more suspenseful and violent (mature readers only, please!).  Adelia Aguilar, an Italian educated doctor who specializes in autopsies, is hired by the King of England to join a Jewish knight and a Muslim assistant to prove that a series of child murders in Medieval-era Cambridge are not the acts of the Jewish residents of the town.  Adelia faces challenge after challenge as a female doctor who must keep her tasks and theories under wraps.  As Adelia and her companions investigate the killings, they find that the King has a deeper connection to the deaths than just a threatened economy and that the murderer is highly aware of the investigation against him.

american elsewhere coverFinally, American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett.  This is completely and totally different from the other two books I have recommended as it is a thriller, but also definitely science fiction, and set in modern times.  In the small town of Wink, New Mexico, something strange is happening.  Having always been the perfect, suburban town just a little too far off the map, Wink does not draw much attention.  But now that Texas native Mona Bright has inherited her mother’s home (who committed suicide when Mona was a child) she finds that not everything is as it seems in Wink.  Using her detective skills, Mona starts to uncover the town’s secrets and realizes that something big is happening.  Soon.  And she is in the middle of it. Very well written and wonderfully suspenseful, American Elsewhere is a good read for any sci-fi fan who wants something just a little spookier.

Bonus title: If you’d like to take it a step further, another great sci-fi/thriller novel is The Taking by Dean Koontz.the taking cover

Brooke, 17, Magnolia


We Were Liars – Summer story with an agonizing twist

wewereliarsTitle:  We Were Liars

Author:  E. Lockhart

Summary:  Cadence Sinclair has a perfect family.  So perfect, in fact, that when something goes wrong, the unspoken rule is to smile and pretend it never happened.  Then one summer, during her annual stay with her aunts and cousins on her rich grandfather’s private island, Cadence has an accident that causes her to have serious amnesia.  She returns to the island two summers later, but nobody will tell her the circumstances of the incident on the doctor’s orders that it will be better for her to rediscover what happened by herself.  Cadence struggles to reconnect with her family and best friends – her cousins and love interest, Gat – while we as readers are slowly immersed into the complicated, not-so-perfect world of the Sinclairs and, as time goes on, the details of that fateful summer begin to return to Cadence’s mind.

I started reading it because it was recommended to me.

I kept reading because I enjoyed learning about the intricacies and strained relationships of the Sinclair family and I loved reading about the vivid descriptions of Cadence’s friendships with her cousins and the growth of her relationship with Gat. The writing style was also very interesting and unconventional with charming pockets of line breaks and poetic language.

If Cadence was in a yearbook, she would be voted:  “Best Friend.”

Six word summary:  Summer story with an agonizing twist.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes reading fun chick flicks and then UNEXPECTEDLY GETTING THEIR HEART TORN INTO TINY SHREDS BY TALONS OF PAIN.

–Hannah, 16, Greenwood