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!

Clockwork Prince September 19, 2014

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 2:36 pm
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Nimira feels stuck. She came to this new country to escape her old one where she had nothing but a broken father after the death of her mother. Her father, who used to be high up in rank within the structure of their society,  began losing all their money because of his sorrow.

Nimira however, has not found the great escape she was hoping for when she left her father and her old country behind. In fact, she struggles toimgres make ends meet as a young dancing and singing girl, commonly referred to as a trouser girl. Yet one night, a young, wealthy sorcerer comes to see her performance and asks her to come meet with him to discuss a business proposition. Nimira is hesitant at first, not sure she wants to become involved with sorcerers and the magic they can wield, but as she considers her circumstances, she realizes she needs to hear what this man, Hollin, has to say.

It turns out Hollin needs a singer to accompany his automaton – a clockwork man – who plays the piano. Hollin says he has hired other girls to sing, but they all ran away, saying the automaton was haunted. Intrigued, Nimira decides to take a chance and go to Hollin’s house to meet with the automaton. After just a little bit of time with this strange clockwork man, Nimira knows there is something living about this man, and she must do whatever it takes to help him.

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore gives us glimpses of what life would be like if fairies flew and sorcerers staffs really could have magic in them. This book gives you just the right amount of fantasy and romance as Nimira has to make hard choices that will ultimately impact the rest of her life.

Recommended for 7th graders and up who likes a bit of fantasy and romance.


When it Really Counts August 14, 2014

What do you do when you hurt your best friend? Diamond Willow is struggling to find herself as she grows up in the middle of Alaska, in the middle of her family, in middle of a crisis…a crisis of her own making.

Diamond Willow begs her parents to let her take the sled dogs on the 12 mile trek to her grandparents. It is a trip she’s done plenty of times with imgresher dad, and she thinks of all the reasons they will say no, and has a counter for each. However, when her mom and dad give her permission, she is pleasantly surprised. She takes off with three sled dogs, including their best dog, Roxy, and Diamond Willow’s true best friend. The trip to her grandparents is uneventful and she loves spending time with them. It is the return trip where things go wrong, so quickly. In the blink of an eye, Diamond Willow finds her best friend terribly injured and when her parents talk about making the ultimate and final decision for Roxy, Diamond Willow runs away with her to save her life.

All through Diamond Willow by Helen Frost, relatives of the characters are among them as spirit animals, helping their human relatives to make the better decisions and subtly guiding them. This element to the story lends a feel of fantasy but also a glimpse into the Native American culture of Diamond Willow’s family.

This quick novel in verse read will definitely appeal to animals lovers as well as those who feel a little lost even in a loving family. When Diamond Willow learns of a secret that has been in her family since she was born, it is a chance for her to connect with others in a way she never imagined possible.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


Bodies and Tweets, piling up! July 10, 2014

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 1:07 pm
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Thinking this new school will be her chance to break free of her old self, Brianna heads back to MacHale after winter break with mixed feelings. She thought going to the private arts boarding school would allow her to finally get out from under her mom’s thumb and get into acting. However, after the fall session, she isn’t sure anyone will take her seriously as an actress or even as a friend.

When she gets to her room for the beginning of the Winter session, she is surprised to find it full, of not only her roommate but some of the most influential upper classmen guys on campus. Including, Eric, the guy she’s been secretly crushing on since her arrival months ago. Eric is an amazing actor, and Brianna hopes her try out for Hamlet will land her a starring role, opposite Eric.

However, her hopes are quickly dashed when the old director dies, and a new teacher comes in. His style is very different and Brianna gets a role of being the play’s imgressocial media person. The new director wants her to tweet about the show and all the happenings. Very quickly though, the production is plagued by bad luck, and some cast members actual die! Brianna grows more paranoid as tweets from a mysterious person seem to predict these dire events. More and more of her classmates seem to think Brianna is the one behind these awful events.

Can Brianna figure out who is really behind the tweets and the murders before she finds herself caught in the murderer’s sights?

Followers by Anna Davies is a mystery that will leave you with some questions at the end, but if you want a mystery, grab this one for a quick read.


Mother Knows Best…or Does She? June 9, 2014

imgresGrowing up helping her mother run a porcelain doll shop in a coastal town in California might not be the most exciting life, but it is the only one Caymen knows. Now that she is starting her senior year of high school, she is having to make some decisions about her future. She knows her mother relies on her to help run the store, which always struggles to make enough money to keep them afloat. All her life, Caymen has heard the story of how a rich boy ran out on her mother, leaving her pregnant with Caymen and little else.

So when a rich boy comes in to pick out a doll for a relative, Caymen instantly recognizes his “type.” The type her mom has always said is no good. Quickly though, and without Caymen even realizing it, the rich kid, Xander, is working his way into Caymen’s life, and slowly, into her heart.

However, how can she talk to her mom about this “rich” kid who stands for everything her mother can’t?

Caymen looks for a way to keep her mom happy, herself, and at the same time begins to dream of a future that doesn’t include working full time in a doll shop. The question is, can she make that dream a reality, or does life always get in the way?

The Distance Between Us  by Kasie West is a great romance that shows how what you want and what your parent(s) might want can make for a pretty rough road to travel.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Can a boy and a girl truly be JUST friends? April 5, 2014

Title: Better Off Friends

imgres-1Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Genre: Realistic Fiction

After having read all of Elizabeth’s books including The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow, and Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, I was incredibly excited to read her latest Better Off Friends. Macallan and Levi become best friends instantly. Although Macallan is still dealing with the heartache of her mother’s death, she is slowly able to let Levi’s friendship in. Throughout their time in middle school, people are constantly asking them if they are dating, yet they haven’t even explored the idea.

As the two enter high school, they do begin to date other people, and even still they are constantly fielding questions about their relationship. The question is, will these two stay just friends, or will they become more than friends, like others have speculated?

Elizabeth creates a very realistic scenario that many high school and adults can attest to in having close friends of the opposite sex. As the story continues, Elizabeth goes an excellent job in intertwining perspectives of both Macallan and Levi throughout the story to enhance the overall text structure and perception for the reader.


Does Makeup Cover All? March 6, 2014

Lexi knows her life isn’t perfect. But that is how she has to present her little sister, Mackenzie, since her sister is in pageants. As in full glitz pageants, where the little kids wear tons of make-up, fake tans, and fake teeth! These pageants cost a ton of money, and Lexi has given up trying to talk her mom into moderation – even though it is impacting their lives in terms of money and lots of time.

imgresLexi’s bright spot is she gets to spend every weekend with the boy of her dreams…as he watches his girlfriend compete in pageants. So while she daydreams about Logan, she knows the fantasy will never become reality. Or will it? Lexi, with the encouragement of her two best friends, decides to do a little makeover on herself. The problem with that is, do people like her for who she is now on the outside, or who she is inside?

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg has some fun moments. Lexi finally speaks her mind with lots of authority at the end of the book, but it isn’t realist. Still, it is always fun to root for the underdog.

For students in grades 7 and up.


Some Secret Admirers Will Kill For You February 19, 2014

Things have been really bad for Sawyer Dodd. First, her parents get divorced and her mom moves across the country, then her father remarries and Sawyer’s new stepmom is pregnant and they all move to a new house, in the middle of a new subdivision where they happen to be the only ones living there. The only saving grace – the fact that Sawyer can keep going to her old high school. At least that seems to be the only good thing. Until her boyfriend, Kevin, is killed in a car accident. Everyone believes Sawyer is torn up over his death, but only she knows her relationship with Kevin had become toxic and abusive.

At least she thinks no one knows. Coming back to school after Kevin’s funeral, Sawyer finds a note in her locker, telling her “You’re Welcome” with an imgresarticle about Kevin’s death, clearly implying someone killed Kevin…for Sawyer. Now Sawyer isn’t sure what is going on. As others around her begin to get hurt and some die, Sawyer slowly begins to question her own sanity. Who is responsible for all of this? And can she stop the person before he or she strikes again?

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne will keep you turning the pages in this mystery thriller, trying to figure out who is ultimately responsible for all the death surrounding Sawyer.

Recommended for grades 8th and up.


Can you be Wicked and Just? January 23, 2014

Leaving everything behind that she loves, Cecily travels with her father to the countryside of Wales. Her father, a younger brother, has no hopes of inheriting the beautiful landimgres where Cecily has spent her life. With the promise of low taxes and land, her father is lured to the recently settled land of the Welsh. However, the Welsh in the late thirteenth century are chafing under the strict rules and taxes the newly settled English are forcing upon them.

Cecily isn’t happy. She wants to be in charge of her own house, but her father still looks at her as a little girl, and the woman in charge of their house, scoffs at her. Worst of all is the servant girl, Gwinny – as Cecily calls her – with her clear distain for the new English girl. Cecily has no idea that Gwenhwyfar’s family once held claim to some of the same land now occupied by the English.

Life isn’t easy for the Welsh, but as a famine begins to wear away at everyone, the differences between the Welsh and English are exacerbated. Cecily delights in abusing her power over one Welsh boy, not knowing he is actually Gwenhwyfar’s brother. Gwenhwyfar has a hard time seeing Cecily as anything more than a brat come to reek more havoc on her already stressful and harrowing existence.

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats is a detailed look at the lives of the haves and the have not’s during the late Middle Ages. At times the reader will wonder if these two girls will ever reach a common ground, and if so, at what cost?

Recommended for 8th grade and up due to the complicated vocabulary used to depict life at this time. A great read for anyone interested in historical fiction, especially set in the Middle Ages.


A Secret Society, or Something Else? December 20, 2013

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 12:34 pm
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It is hard to start at a new school. Always. But for Mickey, it has been really hard. His father was killed in a car accident, his mother hasn’t been able to cope with the death and has been doing drugs. As a result, she is in a rehab place and Mickey is forced to live with his Uncle Myron.

imgresSo life is pretty miserable for Mickey. The only bright spot has been another new student whose name is Ashley. Ashley and Mickey begin sort of dating, but suddenly, Ashley has disappeared. Just as disturbing, an old woman tells Mickey one day on his way to school that his father is still alive! Just hearing that as a possibility gets Mickey’s heart racing. Could it be true? And how would this old woman know anything about his father?

Nothing is making sense. So it is up to Mickey and some friends he makes along the way to try to piece together what happened to Ashley and if his father is still alive. Shelter by Harlan Coben is a mystery for mystery fans. But be prepared. Not all will be revealed, because –  of course –  this is the first book in a series.

For grades 7 and up.


If something is Gone, is it Lost? December 3, 2013

Essie’s life is hard, but it is all she knows. She would love to start her own hat making shop, but that would require way more money than she could probably save in ten years. She has the responsibility of raising her younger sister, Zelda, and keeping her brother, Saulie, out of trouble. Her father died when she was only ten and her mother, after giving birth to Zelda, has to go to work full time. Essie was left to raise little Zelda, whom she loved instantly. Their mother always feels Essie lets Zelda get away with too much, but Essie can’t refuse her little sister anything.

When Essie gets older, she goes to work for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, making shirts each day. There, she meets a woman named Harriet, who imgresappears to be lost. Essie is drawn to Harriet, who is a bit of a mystery. Why would someone who seems to come from money be working in a factory?

Lost by Jacqueline Davies is set in bustling New York City right around the turn of the century. Essie’s family is a typical working class family of the day, and the book portrays the struggles that each individual faced daily. Any history savvy reader will know the horrific events that befell the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and of course Essie and Harriet can’t escape this incident.

Lost is more about the relationships Essie forms with her family, a young man, and Harriet, than the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It shows how just because something or someone is gone, it doesn’t mean they are lost.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.