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!

Return to Salem February 3, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 11:58 am

Mather. That is Sam’s last name. Not a big deal in any city in the country, except for Salem Massachusetts. Because in Salem, during the witch trials, Sam’s ancestor played a large role in the hanging and deaths of many of the people living in Salem. And to this day, the name is not popular.

Sam had never been to Salem, even though her grandmother had lived there till she died. Sam’s father never wanted to go back to that place after Sam’s mom died. So Sam never knew or even met her grandmother. But now Sam finds herself not only in Salem but in the house that her dad grew up in, and the house her grandmother had owned when she died. However, the reason they are back isn’t a happy one. Sam’s dad is in a coma and has been for the last three months. For some reason he won’t wake up, but Vivian, Sam’s stepmother, says they have to move to Salem because the hospital bills in New York were way too high to keep their apartment and care for her father.

Right away, students in school have a problem with Sam, and a group called the 514rynizsl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Descendants (who are ancestors of people who were killed during the witch trials) make it very clear they want Sam gone, and are willing to do almost anything to make her go.

Things get more
complicated  when a spirit named Elijah shows up and begins demanding she also leave. However, Sam is trapped in more ways than one, and slowly she comes to the realization that not only her family has suffered, but all the Descendants as well. Could it be that they are all caught up in a curse? A curse that only Sam can solve and break?

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is an interesting look at how the past of a place can totally impact the present and what happens when old bad habits repeat and repeat. Can a cycle truly ever really be broken?

Recommended for 8th grade and up.



I Heart You, You Haunt Me – A Review by 8th Grader Tyra J. December 15, 2016

Filed under: graphic novel,Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — bhomel @ 1:12 pm

Image result for I heart you you haunt me

In I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder, Ava was really sad because her boyfriend, Jackson, died. She blames herself for daring him to jump off a cliff. When she goes to school, Ava is very sorrowful that teachers don’t let her do as much of the work. Her mom sometimes ask her friends to come over and maybe bring gifts just to try to get her out of the house. Jackson comes back as a ghost and gets her attention by making her cold or blowing the windows wide open. Jackson tells her she doesn’t want her to be sad about that day. Then the days proceed though that she grows tired of Jackson not wanting her to leave the house. Until the day Jessa pleaded that she wanted Ava to go to the party but the party was where everything had happened.  When Jessa leaves Ava by herself, Ava spots Lyric and ask for his phone so she can go home. But he offers her a ride home. When Ava realized that she is miserable that’s when Jackson comes around. When she noticed that she was miserable, she made a change and started hanging out with her friends.

I would rate this book 10 out of 10. The author didn’t tell you what happened to the boyfriend until the very end but at the start she always brought it up but never told what happen. I like the way the author described how Ava felt when Jackson comes into her room.


A Sweet Read December 5, 2016

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — bhomel @ 1:32 pm
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Image result for love and gelato

In the book Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch, Lina’s entire life changes! Her mom’s dying request was for Lina to go to Italy and live with the mysterious Howard. During her seventeen years of her life, Lina has never met Howard and she presumes he’s her long lost father. A new country and a new dad are a lot to take in!

Once in Italy, Lina meets Ren – who happens to be half Italian and half American. Lina and Ren become friends quickly and he agrees to show her the sites of Italy. Lina is given an old diary written by her mother. As she starts reading the diary, she discovers secrets about her mom! Lina and Ren trace her mom’s adventures from when she lived in Italy a short time before Lina was born. The secrets lead Lina to finding out more about her father and it’s a huge surprise!

Along the way, Lina finds a love interest in Italy to make her trip even sweeter than gelato! (Get it?!) Love and Gelato is a good read for people who like to read stories that have lots of ups and downs in life and romance fans. Lina’s life is full of adventures and that kept me reading – I had to find out what was going to happen to Lina, Howard, and Ren. The ending was great and I was very happy. I would love to read a sequel!


As She Was Drowning…She Heard A Voice November 11, 2016

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 9:18 am

Eighty years ago, Kahlen was traveling with her family on a plush steam liner on the ocean, when her ship began to sink. Not only that, but people were pulled by an unseen force into the water, happily! However, Kahlen, who heard the “call” to come to the Ocean, also began to fight the pull and begged to live. A beautiful woman heard her cries and asked her if she would be willing to serve the Ocean for 100 years in exchange for her life. She agreed.

What Kahlen didn’t realize was she was committing herself to the Ocean to be a killer for Her. The Ocean feeds off thimgrese deaths of humans, and if enough don’t die each year to sustain Her, her Sirens must call people to their deaths. Kahlen becomes Her most beloved siren. Kahlen loves the Ocean but at the same time despises what she is called to do – kill people. As the end of her sentence approaches, Kahlen finds herself spiraling into a depression she can’t seem to shake. And that is when she meets Akinli – a boy at a college she and the other sirens are living near.  While Kahlen can’t speak to anyone other than the sirens, Akinli doesn’t seem to mind and proceeds to charm Kahlen with his sweet spirit. She even agrees to go on a date with him. However, on the date, she realizes she feels too strongly for him, and knows there can be no future. Forcing herself to leave him is the hardest and most painful thing Kahlen has ever had to do. Until she is asked to take down an entire cruise ship by Her.

The Siren by Kiera Cass is a stand alone novel (which I thank her for!) and has a sweet romance that many will enjoy plus lots of lore about sirens – or at least the ones that Cass has created.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


It Wasn’t an Accident July 8, 2016

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 1:58 pm

Shocked from her casual life of privilege, Jo Montfort learns quickly when she finds out her father has died in an accident that her entire world can come crashing down. In the late 1800s in New York, the upper society prided itself on being discrete and young ladies doing what was expected of them. Writing for a newspaper and having thoughts for oneself were NOT what was expected OR accepted if you were a young woman. Your only goal in life was to marry and marry well.

Jo knows all of this, but can’t help feeling that she will be missing out on many things if imgres-1she just goes along with the accepted conventional wisdom and marries Bram, a friend of the family. It isn’t until she learns of her father’s death that she really begins to question everything in her life.

After her father’s funeral, Jo goes on an errand and overhears a newspaper reporter, by the name of Eddie, who insists that her father’s death was no accident. He says that Charles Montfort killed himself. At first, Jo can’t even wrap her mind around this idea, but it makes better sense than an accident with his gun. However as she begins to delve deeper in the mystery surrounding her father’s death and in turn his shipping business with Eddie’s help, she starts to wonder if she really wants to know the truth.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly is a fabulous historical fiction book with a nice dash of romance and mystery. The seedier side of New York is exposed and it will make girls very glad of the opportunities we have now, as opposed to the limited life lead just over 100 years ago.

Recommended for 8th graders.


When A Dare Could Kill You May 13, 2016

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 7:55 am

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 7.53.23 AMShe never turns down a dare, so why would she when her older brother Amos, dares her to enter the Denmark Military Academy or the DMA to those in the know call it? And Sam would know, because her family lives and breathes the military. Her dad went to the DMA and both her older brothers.

But here is the problem. The DMA has been an all boys school, until this year. When Sam and four other girls brave the all male tradition of the school and have been allowed to enroll. To make things even harder for Sam, her brother Jonathan is the cadet colonel. Which means he’s basically in charge of all the students. However, this doesn’t make things easier on Sam.

Not only does she have to do all the physical drills the same as the boys, she has to deal with all the hazing of the new class of students, and more, because there is a whole group of people, students and parents, that don’t want any girls at their school, including Sam.

As things get rougher and rougher for Sam, she realizes that it might get to the point where only her death will make things settle down at the DMA. Only a few close friends and her Drill Sergeant Stamm keep her sane, and safe, as best they can.

In the midst of all of this, Sam begins to develop feelings for her Drill, and is thrilled when it appears they are returned. Of course, no way can they let anyone know about it, or Sam and Drill will get kicked out of the DMA. Plus, she feels that the last dare she made with Amos has to stand, because Amos is dead.

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley is a fast paced, edge of your seat, what the heck is going to happen next kind of book, in between lots of military jargon. Really a great read.

Highly recommended for 8th graders and up.



Girl Behind the Dark Glasses March 15, 2016

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 10:09 am

Audrey’s family is off their rocker, all of them. Her older brother, Frank, can’t be moved fromimgres his computer long enough to even grunt a few words. Her younger brother Felix might have something wrong with him, or he’s just the most bizarre little kid. Their mother is always getting some weird new fad going about how they should be living and their father, well, he’s just trying to exist!

Of course, in reality, while Audrey’s family really is like that, Audrey is really the one struggling. Audrey was the target of some really awful bullying at her school. So awful that she now can’t even leave her house, other than for visits to her therapist, and needs to wear dark sunglasses at all time – even when in the house.

Audrey isn’t ready to interact with the world, and her family tries their hardest to support her. Her brother has a friend come over one day to play an online game, whose name is Linus. Audrey remembers Linus from a school play, and is amazed and terrified he’s in her house. After a very awkward beginning, Audrey finds Linus to be a perfect companion and he begins to help her move beyond the house.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella is the story of a young girl recovering from a traumatic experience and how her family deals with the ramifications. As a reader, you never learn the particulars of the bullying incident, which might bother some. Also, the book takes place in England so be ready for some different word usage.  Overall, a charming, some times laugh out loud, serious look at how a regular family can deal with trauma.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.