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. Enjoy!

A Missing Mother February 19, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:58 am

For ten years, Sami has been haunted by the last memory she has of her mother. She said she would see Sami on Wednesday, but her mother never came back. Instead, Sami was found by herself, scared. But she doesn’t even recall that. All she knows is that her father is under suspicion for her disappearance. Every so often a post card arrives in the mail, appearing to be from Sami’s mother. Sami is frustrated and mad that her mother would just disappear and only send post cards once in a while. Yet her father has been faced with hostility from the community for years because of his possible involvement. In all the years though, Sami has believed her father had nothing to do with any foul play against her mother – even though they were divorced.

Now, however, Sami’s mother’s cold case file has taken a new turn. A body – possibly the body of a woman named Trina has been found. It turns out that Trina was once married to Sami’s father – a fact he never mentioned to her. Now, Sami begins to question her own father and if it would be possibly for him to be connected to not just one woman’s disappearance, but two.  Could it be that the man she’s been living with and loving for her whole life, is a killer?

Splinter by Sasha Dawn is a fast moving book that takes you on a ride! So many twists and turns happen in this book, it can be hard to keep them all straight! But because it moves along so quickly, you don’t feel too lost. This is a book that held my attention and that is saying a lot!

Recommended for mature 7th graders and up only because the text can get complicated at times.


Ghosts in the Graveyard… November 29, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 2:47 pm

It can be difficult moving to a new house and a new school. So Annie is worried when she starts school in September of 1918 that she might not make any friends right away. It turns out, she makes a friend too fast and that creates problems. After all, have you ever had someone want to be your friend and you don’t think you want to be theirs? A girl named Elsie immediately grabs Annie for herself and won’t let Annie go on the very first day. Annie doesn’t know quite what to think, only that the other girls in the class clearly don’t like Elsie and Elsie despises them right back.

When Elsie invites herself to Annie’s house the first night after school, Annie is horrified to realize that her new “friend” is very mean spirited, even without the other girls from school around. Elsie continues to dog her at school, and won’t let Annie have a moment free to chat with anyone until one week Elsie is sick and Annie is able to break free and forge new friendships. Much to Elsie’s dismay when she returns to school. When tragedy strikes, Annie feels shame in her role but it isn’t until one terrifying night in the graveyard that she realizes just how truly sorry Elsie will make her.

One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn is set during the horrible fall of 1918 when just as the Great War was ending, a terribly plague was racing around the world – the Spanish flu – which killed millions of people world wide, and took a huge toll on the United States as well.

This book is great for anyone who is a fan of ghost stories and of Mary Downing Hahn, who is true to form in this work.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Who Did IT? November 12, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 3:41 pm

Five teens that seem to have all had a prank pulled on them. One teacher that never allows phones in his class, finds phones on all of the kids- phones they say aren’t even theirs! Still, a rule is a rule, so they all get detention after school.

It is an unlikely bunch – the school drug dealer, the class valedictorian (or almost), the rising baseball star who will probably sign an MLB deal right out of high school, and the homecoming queen. Plus Simon. Simon is the interesting one. He, after all, knows all the dirt in the school. He knows stuff that no one else knows, and what makes it all crazy is that it is true. Simon publishes it all on a app that everyone has, so everyone knows all the secrets they shouldn’t.

No one understands why they are there. Until one of them isn’t. Simon has an allergic reaction and is rushed to the hospital…where he later dies. It turns out, someone must have slipped him some peanut oil – which he was deathly allergic to – with leathal consequences. Everyone in the room suddenly becomes a suspect.

And it turns out everyone had a motive because Simon was about to post a damaging message to his app that concerned all of the detention students. The question becomes, who did it, how and why?

Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper all find themselves placed under suspicion by the police and by their fellow students. Could one of them really have hated Simon so much that they killed him for it? As their lives begin to unravel with all that is revealed, it begins to look like there is no way to escape Simon, even after his death.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is a fast paced suspense book that will keep you hanging till the end. Make sure you have a nice long weekend to devote to this book, because once it gets going you won’t want to stop. Recommended for middle of the year 8th graders and up. Enjoy! I sure did!


A Letter from the Past October 18, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 1:52 pm

downloadON the anniversary of her father’s death, Claire likes to look at her father’s journal. This time though, she discovers a letter that was hidden in the binding of the book. Because it is written in Japanese – a language she doesn’t speak or write, but her father did – she isn’t sure what says. So she recruits her brothers and their friends to crack the code with her. What she doesn’t expect is to unearth a family secret – one that could very well put her and her family in harms way.

Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani takes readers on a ride through some Japanese customs and superstitions, as well as makes us all realize we might not know everything about the people we live with…that we think we do.

Recommended for 7th grade and up readers who are looking for an interesting mystery with a little romance thrown in for good measure.


Ghost children live here October 8, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — lpitrak @ 3:35 pm
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Coraline and her parents move into a giant mansion that has been separated into many different apartments,

 each containing a different family. There is only one apartment that is empty, and Coraline finds herself strangely curious to open the door to explore this place. The mice in the building pass along the message for her to NOT go through the door… but Coraline is home alone one day and cannot contain her urge to pass through. Beyond the door, Coraline finds an apartment that is much like the one she just left—it is layed out the same way, and there are even two parents known as Other Mother and Other Father. They are loving and pay attention to her, cook her amazing food, and show her tiny wonders such as dolls and books that come to life. Coraline is pretty thrilled when Other Mother invites her to stay permanently—until Other Mother tells her that in order to do so, Coraline will have to allow her to sew buttons over her eyes. Horrified by this, Coraline tries to run away, and discovers the trapped children who Other Mother turned into ghosts. Can Coraline free their souls, save her real parents from the wrath of Other Mother and Other Father, and make it out alive?



Can a monster hunter become a monster himself?

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the  one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me… and the one who cursed me.


These words open this strange and terrifying book by Rick Yancey. They are taken from the journal of Will Henry, an orphan and apprentice with an unusual specialty—Will is apprencticed to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man who has spent his life both studying and hunting horrifying different species of monsters that most humans aren’t even aware exist. When Will is approached by a strange grave robber who has stumbled upon

the remains of a young girl who died with the monster that was eating her still attached to her body, Will’s world is about to change forever. The dead monster is an Anthropophagus–a headless monster that feeds through a mouth in its chest. This one was a baby when it killed the girl; but there are more who are now full grown… and if the mostrumologists can’t kill them, nothing can.







Mystery Close to Home July 10, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 3:54 pm

She didn’t even really know him, at least not until she was asked to get him out of his downloadbasement laboratory in the school during a fire drill. That is when Mori meets Lock. Sherlock Holmes to be exact. His parents had a wicked sense of humor. Mori has enough at home to deal with, to not get too involved in Lock’s eccentric ways, but when he approaches her with a murder mystery, she is intrigued. After all, since her mom died, there certainly hasn’t been anything to get interested about there.

Things take a strange turn however, when Mori and Lock attend the memorial of the man who was killed, and Mori sees a picture of her own mother with a few other people and the deceased. What could her mother possibly have had in common with the man who was stabbed in the park? Mori doesn’t mention the picture to Lock, and instead begins to do some of her own investigating.

Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty takes place in England, but the writer appears to be American and at times it seems some of the English jargon is a bit jarring and out of place. As a reader, I struggled a bit with connecting to both Mori and Lock, and felt that sometimes things that should have been explained a bit more, or made more clear.

Overall, if you are looking for a fairly decent suspense book – the mystery isn’t that big of one since the reader and Mori figure it out pretty quickly who the murderer is – take a look at this title.

Recommended for 8th grade and up just because it tends to jump around a bit.