Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School

Our focus is on books middle school students might like to read and topics pertaining to books for these students, and we are giving recommendations. Teachers, librarians and middle school students are the contributors to this blog. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

Blood Tells All November 14, 2022

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Blood is important in Mare’s society. It tells who has the power, and who doesn’t. And Mare’s family, theydownload-14 don’t have the power, or the money or the standing in society. Because their blood is Red. Not Silver. The Silvers have special powers that can make people do things, or even control elements.  Mare tries hard to make up for the fact she knows she is a disappointment to her family. After all, she has no special skills. She basically steals things since no one has picked her to be an apprentice. And that means she’ll follow in her three older brothers’ footsteps and head off to war once she turns 18, which is coming up fast. Still, at least her younger sister has a skill and she will be able to save the family, or so Mare hopes.

But when Mare finds out that her best friend, who she thought was safe from heading to war, has lost his apprenticeship, she is desperate to find a way to save him. When a way presents itself, the cost is huge, but Mare still thinks it might be possible. The problem is, she has no idea just how much she will have to pay in the end.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is the first book in a series that is both Fantasy and Science Fiction. Mare is thrown into a world she is unprepared for, yet must find a way to fit in or die. Or perhaps it would just be easier to bring down the entire ruling family? As with most beginnings to series, there are lots of ways the story could go. If you like impossible odds, and lots of twists this would be a good book for you!

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Alone in the Woods October 10, 2022

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-7Beauty, as she used to be called when she was little, knows she doesn’t like life in town, even if her two sisters do. She struggles with the expectations of what life might and probably will be like for her. Basically, finding someone to marry, setting up a house and then having children. But, does she really want that? Or should she just accept that is what happens when you get older and grow up. Like how she used to be called Beauty, but now goes by Yeva, since that is a more proper name. Yeva still longs for those old days with her father when she would go hunting with him in the woods. But since her father became a respectable merchant and moved the family to the city, those days seems like such a distant memory for both of them.

When her father unexpectedly loses everything however, it appears the only avenue left to them is to return to the old hunting lodge and for her father to turn back to hunting. But he is much older now, and seems plagued by a mystery creature, or creatures that lurk in the woods. Yeva is concerned about her father, and when his dog comes back without him one night, she knows it is up to her to save him, or die trying. What she never expects is to find the creature that her father has been ranting about. And just what she will do to try to escape from him, once the creature has caught her.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is a great retelling of the old fairytale Beauty and the Beast. This one has some different angles to it from some of the other stories out there and it adds to it. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading retellings of classic tales with new spins on them.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Trapped in another Time August 22, 2022

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-3Abe has always had a “thing” for Mitzy, but has never been able to do more than just nod her way as he walks by her on his way home from school. Not that there is anything  waiting for him at home. Just the every day life of one of the many who blend in and go about their lives.

But today, for some reason, he decides to take a little detour and go into a store front shop. There he meets a woman who says she will tell him his fortune. Not that he thinks he has anything fortunate to look forward to, but what the heck. Only what she says surprised him, and even more so, when he goes to leave the shop, he blacks out, or thinks he does. When he comes to, he is in London of all places and not in his own time! In fact, it appears he has traveled back in time to the exact moment that the infamous Jack the Ripper first strikes! And perhaps most surprising of all, is that he finds out Mitzy has also been transported back in time. The question is, how do they get back? Both have been told something by the fortune teller, but neither of them has any idea how they can complete what she has said they need to.

Ripped Away by Shirley Reva Vernick is a quick, interesting read. While the book does center around the crimes of Jack the Ripper, both Abe and Mitzy are more concerned with how to get back to their “real” lives and not the ones they find themselves suddenly inhabiting. Instead of lingering on the gruesome murders committed, the book focuses on how a Jewish person was suspected of being responsible for the murders due to the pervasive prejudice against Jews. The fact that this prejudice played a role in the case with the Ripper will probably be new information for many readers. Ripped Away also gives an idea of just how limited the lives of people living in London during this period must have been and how the lives of younger people have changed.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


What to Believe? March 14, 2022

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

downloadLeora and her mother have just had to say goodbye to her father and husband forever. He has just died. Now they both wait for the moment when they can bring him home, after the Weighing of the Souls ceremony. They won’t bury him, they will instead bring home his “skin book.” Everyone, after they die, has their skin removed and bound into a book. This book will then stay with the family forever. After all, everyone’s story is on their skin. For every important event in a person’s life, in Leora’s world, people get tattoos. Everyone’s story is there for everyone to read, on their skin.

Leora is reaching the end of her schooling and she must decide what she wants to do with her life. For as long as she can remember, she has wanted to be an inker – the one who puts tattoos on people. But with her father’s passing, life seems to not be so simple anymore. And when something happens that appears to put her father’s soul in danger at the ceremony to come, Leora is beginning to wonder if there is really anyone she can trust.

Ink by Alice Broadway is a great fantasy book. The concept of keeping all your ancestors skin books is an interesting and original one, and for me gave the book a bit of a creepy factor, but it was also intriguing. Leora is just like everyone else – trying to see where she fits in her world and what she ultimately believes. This is the first book in a trilogy.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Feeling Alone June 7, 2021

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Aza has a power that not many people do anymore. She has full magic. That means she has more power and abilitydownload-2 than most everyone else – but with power comes a price. When she uses her full magic, she hurts, and so does the earth. Hundreds of years of casters using full magic has been destroying the earth, so full magic casters are against the law – or at least they aren’t supposed to use full magic because of the damage it causes.

Still, Aza doesn’t see a way to NOT use her magic. Her older sister, Shire, died using her full magic and when she died so did the major source of income for the family. Her parents are struggling to keep their tea shop going in Lotusland, and Aza knows it is only a short matter of time before the gang lord who controls their sector of the city comes asking for payment. Payment that Aza knows her family can’t come up with.

As Aza is searching for ways to help her family, she comes across a tournament where full magic casters are competing against each other for a major monetary prize. She realizes she has to try to win for her family’s sake, especially after she learns of a tie her older sister Shire had to the tournament. What she doesn’t know is if she can pay the the ultimate price the competition will have on her.

Caster by Elsie Chapman is reminiscent of quite a few books out there – Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent – to name a few, but if that is what you are looking for, and with magic to boot, check this book out. If you enjoy this book, Aza’s story continues in Spell Starter.


A Girl in Disguise November 23, 2020

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

downloadRain is an amazing Neshu fighter – but there is one problem. She is a girl, and girls aren’t allowed to fight for their kingdom. Only boys and men are allowed that privilege. Rain has lived with the knowledge that she is whole whereas her dear twin brother Storm, suffered from a fever they both had when they were just little children. Storm has never been the same. He seems stuck in a child like state, even though they are both now 17 years old. Their father is a master at teaching the style of fighting known as Neshu, but as much as he tries, Storm will never be the fighter that Rain has become.

Willow, Rain and Storm’s older sister, is eagerly waiting for her match for marriage. In their part of the kingdom, tradition dictates that the bride and groom don’t have any say in who they marry – only their parents – and they don’t even meet until a match has been made. But then word comes that the nomads are on the move and are threatening everything everyone holds dear, including their very lives. Every family must send a boy or man to help defend the lands of Ylanda. Their father says he will go with Storm to meet the demand of the kingdom. Rain knows though, that this will mean almost certain death for both her father and her brother. Storm can no way fight and be part of the army, and their father is older now and will try to protect Storm. Rain feels she has to do something.

Through her sister, Rain learns of a woman in the village who deals in dragon magic. Legend says that dragons once roamed the skies of Ylanda and even now, anything left from a dragon hold special power. Rain begins to have think she should run off to join the army and pretend to be Storm – a boy. Rain goes to the woman and asks for something that will help her from being discovered if she does go into the army. She knows if she is discovered, the penalty is death. She is hoping the powder she got from the woman that Rain takes each night will keep her secret safe. But the woman at the shop tells her she might to start having dreams about dragons.

Rain is able to make her way to the army, and she seems to be able to fool everyone. But as she takes the dragon powder, she does begin to dream of an ancient dragon, a dragon who begs Rain to set her free and help defeat the nomads. Rain has to decide if these visions and dreams are real, and if they are, can she make the ultimate sacrifice for her kingdom.

Stormrise by Jillian Boehme is a grand adventure story, with reimagined dragons, secrecy, and forbidden love. For anyone looking for a dragon tale, you are in luck!

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Unlimited Redos to Get it Right? July 6, 2020

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Think back to a time when something went wrong in your life. Maybe something big, downloadmaybe something small. If you had a chance to redo it, would you? And just how many times would you want to redo it, if the same result kept happening? How much would you change what you did or didn’t do each time?

Jack King is a senior in high school and has been in love with his best friend, Jillian, forever, or so it seems. So when they are on a college visit to the school they are both going to be attending the following fall, he isn’t looking to meet anyone, certainly not on the steps of a frat house. And certainly not someone as wonderful as Kate. Pretty quickly, Jack is all in on Kate, which is just as well, since Jillian has been dating his OTHER best friend Francisco for only a month longer than Jack has been in love with her.

Best case scenario, right? Now everyone is happy and in love! But then something totally unexpected happens. Kate breaks up with Jack and won’t tell him why, until he gets a phone call from her, saying she’s in the hospital. And later that same night, she dies. How can this be possible? Jack didn’t even know that Kate was sick! Unable to believe what he’s just heard on the phone from Kate’s mom telling him she has died, he runs out of his room and falls down the stairs, and into the past. That’s right. He finds himself on those same stairs at the college house, just about to meet Kate…again. How is this happening? Is he being given a chance to save her life? Or is it about more than just Kate?

Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds is a story about how we can all get caught up in that one thing, whatever it might be, and forget about all that has come before and what will be there after, when it ends. It is also about all those different paths we can take, and how it can be so hard to find that perfect one.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


A Terrible Switch June 22, 2020

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Growing up in Mirkwood with the perfect babby brother can be a pain. At least that is downloadwhat Mollie thinks. Yeah, he never cries, and he’s sweet and cute as a button, but sometimes a girl just gets tired of all the attention given to the little one. Mollie is that girl! One day when she is out weeding the garden, watching her little brother Thomas, she just wishes that he hadn’t even been born. After all, there is always so much work, and he certainly can’t help with any of it. Still, at least he is a good babby. No one can ever say he is a good and charming child though, because if they do, the Kinde Folke might come and take him and give them a horrible changeling in his place. Thomas has a charm from Granny Hedgepath, a beautiful necklace that Mollie wishes had been given to her instead of her little brother. After all, what’s a little boy going to do with a necklace anyway? But he is supposed to wear it at all times and it will protect him from the Kinde Folke. 

But this day, when Thomas pulls off his necklace and offers it to Mollie, she can’t resist. She puts it on herself. And makes the terrible mistake of saying out loud what a sweet babby he is. When Mollie wakes from a strange nap, the baby lying where Thomas should be is different. He is crying (which Thomas never does) and has strange yellow eyes, and looks sickly. Mollie is terrified that she has let a changeling take the place of Thomas. Granny Hedgepath confirms Mollie’s worst fears, a changeling has been substituted for Thomas!

Dadoe and Mam aren’t sure what to do. Dadoe wants to abandon the changeling, but Mam heeds Granny’s advice to be nice to the creature and maybe the Kinde Folke will be good to Thomas. All Mollie knows is that it is her fault. And she might be the only one who can go to the Dark Lands and find her babby brother and make her family whole again.

Guest by Mary Downing Hahn is an imaginative fantasy using Irish tales to dream up a world where you are never sure if it is the Kinde Folke of life that is making things hard.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Lightning and Umbrella = Magic? April 20, 2020

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Claire has a lot to think about. She wants one of the lead roles in the play at school, shedownload-4 wants her mom and dad to officially call it quits, and she would love to finally understand math! Plus, there is this guy at school, Eric, who she thinks is pretty awesome…if only he’d stop looking at Lucy, another girl at school, long enough to see her!

On her way to the store one stormy afternoon to pick up another weird food item her mom has been craving, she finds an abandoned umbrella in a garbage can. It seems okay and she certainly needs one with the rain/snow pouring down from the sky. On her way back home, as she’s thinking of all her problems with no solutions, she feels a bolt of something go straight through her! She assumes she was just struck by lightning! But everyone around her acts like nothing big just happened. Strange. She doesn’t feel hurt by what just happened, but she can’t shake the feeling that something did.

When she gets home, her mom is off the couch for the first time in months and is actually acting like a mom again. When Claire goes to work on her math that night, it finally seems to click. And when she gets to school the next day, that is when she gets the biggest surprise. As all the things that Claire has been thinking about seem to change virtually overnight, she begins to wonder if there wasn’t something magical about the umbrella. But she quickly realizes the old adage – be careful what you wish for, because it might just come true!

Struck by Deb Loughead is a really quick read about a girl who wonders is it real life or magic???

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Dragons and Witches March 2, 2020

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Alys has just been accused of being a witch. Of course, she knows she isn’t. She also knows she is being accused of witchcraft because their neighbor wants their land and Alys’ father has not agreed to sell it. After all, if their tinsmith shop is gone, how would her father make his living? However, when a man knocks on her door, saying he is  Inquisitor Atherton of Griswold, things go badly right away for Alys. The neighbor, Gower and his wife and daughter make outlandish claims against Alys, claims that she has no hope of disproving and when she is pronounced a witch, her father dies from a heart attack. Alys is bound and dragged to a spot high up on a hill away from the village. Because you see, her punishment will not be the standard burning at the stake. No, she will be tied to one and then forced to wait for the Dragon she is to be a sacrifice for.

Alys can’t believe how her life has changed in one swift day. She has lost her father, her home, her village and any friends she haddownload there. And it seems she is to be made a meal of by the end of the day for a Dragon no less. However, when the Dragon does come, he isn’t quite what Alys thought he would be.

Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde is a true fantasy and pure enjoyment from beginning to end. Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good read.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.