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!

Is it Chance or Destiny that Rules Your Life? January 20, 2020

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

It starts with a glass slipper and ends with a battle. Or a few battles actually! You knowdownload the story of Cinderella, of course, but do you know what happened after she left her ugly stepsisters and stepmother? What became of them?

Both Octavia and Isabelle, to please their mother, tried in vain to fit their large feet into the glass slipper the prince and the Grand Duke brought to their house. However, it was clear it would never work, unless they removed a bit of their foot. So, both Tavi and Isabelle make the sacrifice for their mother, although neither of them truly wants to marry the prince. For Isabelle, it is a matter of being worthy again. When she was a young girl, the world seemed a wonderful adventure waiting to happen. But one day she was called ugly by a man who came to see her stepfather, and from then on, all Isabelle could think of was how to become pretty. How to be the person that her mother wanted her to be and it appeared the world as well.

After Ella leaves to marry the prince, Isabelle and Tavi are resented by all in their small village and the only things that Isabelle every truly loved are gone. But one night as she visits the linden tree on her way from closing up the barn for the evening, she meets the fairy queen, Tanaquill. Tanaquill says that Isabelle summoned her, and she wants to know what is Isabelle’s true heart’s wish. Of course, she wants to be pretty. If she becomes pretty, all of her problems will be over. Tanaquill tells her to collect the three missing pieces of her heart and then the queen will grant her wish. The question is, what are the pieces she is missing?

What Isabelle doesn’t know is that she life is already being played with, by Fate and Chance. Both these immortals want to dictate or change, the map that has already been drawn of Isabelle’s life. She has no idea that Fate will stop at nothing to keep Isabelle’s life short and unfulfilled, whereas Chance seems to believe there is more in store for the young woman if only given a chance!

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly is a fabulous read with lots of twists and turns and just when you don’t see a way out, something surprises you. This author has always delighted me with her work, and this one is on par with her best. You will not be disappointed if you pick up this fairytale.

Highly recommended for 7th grade and up.


Back to the GRISHAVERSE! April 8, 2019

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrakbromiel @ 10:16 am
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King of Scars.jpg

Leigh Bardugo returns to her magical Grishaverse world in her latest book King of Scars. Fan-favorites Nikolai (aka Sturmhund and King of Scars), Genya (the First Tailor), and Zoya (the Little Witch and the General) are still fiercely loyal to one another and to Ravka as the Triumvirate. They will protect their country and its citizens using any means necessary, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as Ravka is surrounded by enemies. Shu mercenaries have been hired to take out the Triumvirate and kidnap Ravkan Grisha in order to further their twisted experiments with parem. Ketterdam merchants want the monetary debt owed to them from the Ravkan crown. And, as always, Fjerdan druskelle are on the hunt for Grisha, whom they view as abominations instead of as magical beings connected to the making at the center of the world. Meanwhile, Nina Zenik, still heartbroken over the events the occurred at the end of Crooked Kingdom, accepts a mission to infiltrate Fjerdan ranks as a spy. What she finds, however, is a horrible conspiracy involving the druskelle, parem, and the mysterious Springmaidens who are loyal followers of Diel. Lovers of Bardugo’s books will be immediately transported into her intense world full of adventure, magic, bravery, loyalty, and harrowing close calls. Readers who are new to the Grishaverse should begin with Shadow and Bone.


It’s a Game, But Who’s Playing? January 13, 2019

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 5:57 pm

For almost as long as Scarlett can remember, her father has been a beast. He is ruthless in his treatment of both Scarlett and her sister, Tella. After their mother disappeared years before, their father became intolerable. The girls have little to no freedom and spend their days trying to avoid their father. Scarlett has spent most of the years since her mother left dreaming of escaping to the fantastical world of Caraval. Rumor says that magical things can happen during the event of Caraval, created by the amazing Legend and all his performers. Scarlett has written a letter each year to Legend, in the hopes that he will invite them to his magical event. However, years have gone by, and Scarlett has given up all hope. The only way she thinks she can escape her father is to marry and she’s hoping she’ll be able to take her sister, Tella with her to live with her and her new husband.

download.jpgWith the wedding approaching rapidly, Scarlett gets news that she can hardly fathom. A letter arrives from Legend himself, inviting her to this years Caraval, on his special island, along with her sister and her fiance. Scarlett is floored. But she knows to leave will jeopardize her marriage, and her freedom through that marriage, if she goes to Caraval. Tella decides to take the matter out of Scarlet’s hands when she has Scarlett kidnapped from their father’s island and off on a boat, heading to Caraval.

Caraval turns out to be everything and nothing like Scarlett imagined. But when the game becomes serious quickly, and Scarlett realizes that Tella is to be the prize for the game, Scarlett finds herself spinning in a world she can’t tell up from down.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a book for those who love all the figurative language that can be packed into a book, and then some! The writing at times gets in the way of the story, but if you like a book that spends more time on imagery than on moving the story forward, this is the book for you.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


Reconstruction Reimagined! November 5, 2018

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 10:49 am

The war sort of came to an end, when both the Confederates and the Union decided it downloadwas more important to fight the UNdead (or shamblers they are popularly called) than each other. Of course, the country is still in a state of chaos and disorder, which means it is just right for new groups of politicians to rise. No longer are the Democrats or Republicans in power, but rather the Survivalists and the Egalitarians.

All this seems to be too lofty for Jane – she just wants to get back to her home, Rose Hill, where her mother and all her Aunties live. But Jane, along with all the other able bodied young Negros, have been sent to combat schools. It is believed that by training young black children in the art of fighting the shamblers, the whites will then be protected. Jane is a black child born to a white southern woman, a plantation owner no less. Jane was born just days before the shamblers began walking and killing in the United States, and while the Major – her mother’s husband – was off fighting for the Confederates. After the war, even though the enslaved were technically freed, not much seems to have changed.

Jane has been at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Maryland for three years now, and is learning all she needs to be an Attendant – someone trained to be a personal bodyguard for young white society girls. While she doesn’t really plan to become an Attendant, the skills she is learning she knows will help her back home at Rose Hill. However, as she gets closer to graduation, strange things begin happening. First, she hasn’t heard from her mother in year and she’s terribly worried something awful has happened at Rose Hill. Also, supposedly, most of the shamblers have been killed or driven away from the large cities, but Jane isn’t so sure this is actually true. One night when she and some other girls go to see a lecture, Jane sees something the makes her blood run cold. And it also brings her to the attention of the mayor of Baltimore, which in turn completely changes the trajectory of her life.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is a fabulous book, and I’m not into zombies! This book had me not wanting to put it down because of the originality of the premise as well as the awesome character of Jane. While some of the events and things are based in history, Ireland’s reimagined possible past makes this a stand out read. While the book is set in Reconstruction, many of the same issues are still relevant today.

Highly recommended read for 8th grade and up.


Make a Wish July 14, 2018

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 3:32 pm

downloadRed is old. In fact, he’s hundreds of years old. He’s seen a lot in his time. Well, as much as can be seen when you never move from one spot. Ever. He’s an oak tree, but a pretty special one. You see, years ago,  someone made a wish and wrote it on a piece of paper, tied it to one of Red’s branches and then, waited. Amazingly, the wish came true! And that is how the tradition started – with Red becoming the town’s wishtree. Each year on the first day of May, people come from all over to deliver their wishes – some for the year, some for right now, some for years in the future. And Red takes them all.

However, times are changing. Red’s deep roots are starting break up the sidewalks and get into the plumbing of the nearby houses. It looks like Red’s time as the wishtree might be coming to an end. Especially when something else happens to draw attention to the tree. Someone carves a word into the tree – LEAVE. Red has a feeling he knows who that word is directed toward. A little girl and her family, who have come from a long way away and are trying to make a new life, are different from others. The little girl, Samar, makes a wish one night, for a friend.

At that moment, Red and all his friends who live in him, decide that they will try to make this one last wish come true before Red’s time runs out.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is for anyone who has ever wondered “what if the trees could talk…and the animals…to us?” Or looked for a friend in an unconventional place. This is a heartwarming quick read about acceptance, tolerance and making new friends while keeping old ones.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Beauty and The Beast & Other Stories Book Review By 8th Grader Maddie May 9, 2018


Beauty & the Beast and Other Stories by Sarah Hines Stephens has three different stories about the same problem. In each of the stories, the princes have spells set upon them that they have to break to be human again.

Beauty as a child was very simply impressed by the littlest things. Her sisters, on the other hand, wanted everything handed to them. The merchant lost his money and the family was forced to move out of their mansion and into a little cabin. The merchant traveled out one night and didn’t make it home and was sure he would freeze before he got home. So he saw a mansion and decided what he saw was a weird creature . He asked the creature if he could stay the night. The creature would let him stay for something in return. The merchant will allow his daughter to marry the creature. Beauty didn’t like the giant but when he turned into a prince, she fell in love with him.

I think this book keeps you engaged and doesn’t stress you out over number of pages. I like the font of the words.


Frogkisser! April 24, 2018

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Humor — lpitrak @ 2:29 pm
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This book is perfect for any fantasy lover who is looking for something funny instead of dark! Anya is in a terrible situation. Since her father’s passing, she has been left with her evil stepmother– who has recently gotten remarried. So, she now has an evil stepmother AND an evil stepfather! On top of this, Anya has a super weird magical ability– she is able to break curses with a kiss. This might sound great, but she’s getting a little tired of kissing everyone in the kingdom who has been cursed and is now covered in gross pus-filled boils or who has been magically turned into animals (they don’t call her Frogkisser for no reason!).

But Anya is a princess and her duty to her people will always be more important to her than her own happiness. Now, though, her new evil stepfather has decided to claim the kingdom as his own. Her kingdom! Anya decides to leave on a quest to find a group of magical wizards who will free her kingdom for good. Along with a boy who has been turned into a newt and an amazing talking dog, Anya will prove that even the strangest abilities can give power to those who want to use them to do good.