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!

Back to the GRISHAVERSE! April 8, 2019

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrakbromiel @ 10:16 am
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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.


In a World of Heroes, an Antihero is Very Welcome! August 30, 2016

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 12:01 pm
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Coming in October is the release of Goldenhand, Garth Nix’s chronological continuation of his beloved Old Kingdom series. In anticipation of this dive back into the intoxicating realms of magic, duty, and sacrifice, I would like to recommend my personal favorite of this series. Clariel is the only book in the Old Kingdom series which is not a continuation of the storyline, but rather a journey into the origins of elemental magic.

Clariel is set 600 years before Sabriel, and the Old Kingdom is very different from what it will come to be in the future. Due to generations of prosperity and relative safety from Free Magic creatures, members of the Charter have grown lax. King Orrikan shirks all royal duties, hiding in his palace, while the Abhorsen is rumored to fear his connection and rightful control over the realms of Death. Seventeen-year-old Clariel, who is capable and brave, is utterly uninterested in politics, material possessions, and the intricacies of the Charter. She lives for the wild solitude of the Great Forest. However, due to blood ties to both the King and the Abhorsen, many conspire to use her for their own purposes. Clariel as constantly torn between a sense of duty, a desire to forge her own path, and a raw “berserk” nature. In contrast, Free Magic entities are presented not as villains, but ethereal, elemental beings whose understanding of morality differs greatly from humans. Savvy readers will figure out what Clariel is to become long before the change occurs in the novel. However, this sensitive rendition gives readers a greater understanding as to how a strong force such as Clariel is ultimately drawn to the untamable power of Free Magic and necromancy.


Seemed like an Ordinary Day… December 9, 2014

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 12:58 pm
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When his mom was waiting for him after school, Ronan was a bit surprised. After all she didn’t usually pick him up but he was okay with her taking him to gymnastics class. However, once he got in the car, she didn’t head to where his gym was. That was when things went from normal to way past anything resembling normal.

As Ronan’s mom is speeding down the road, she mentions that Ronan’s dad has been kidnapped and she needs toimgres go find him. But before she can go find him, she needs to get Ronan to safety by sending him on a train to Washington, D.C. Ronan is just staring at her, trying to figure out what the deal is, and if she has completely lost her mind, when she begins zooming in and out of traffic. She claims people in red SUVs are after them and are trying to kill them. Ronan is speechless. What has happened to his down to earth mother and is his dad really missing?

Ronan’s mom takes him into a park to try to get away from the “bad guys” and does some things that Ronan can’t even believe he sees. She explains she’s part of an organization called the Blood Guard who are charged with protecting certain special people. But before he can learn more, she dumps him at the train station telling him he’ll meet someone there that will help him.

The Blood Guard by Carter Roy is as fast paced as you would expect. Full of action, sword fights, crazy guns and just plain old magic at times, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


She Must Kill Him To Save Everyone November 19, 2014

She was raised to be the hope for her kingdom and the revenge of her mother. All that was required would be her death. Nyx has knows since she was nine her life was not her own. Her kingdom of Arcadia has been cursed for over nine hundred years and it is up to her to be the one to break that curse. To do so, she only has to marry a monster and then find a way to kill him.

imgresOnce Nyx meets her demon lord husband, she is surprised by the contradictions in him. Ignifex, as he asks her to call him, can look so human, it disturbs Nyx. But then she meets, Shade, who is the shadow of Ignifex and seems to want to help Nyx in her quest to destroy the demon lord. If only Nyx can find what she needs to trace her sigils to break the curse. However, the house of the demon lord changes daily, with locked rooms and keys she needs to get in order to carry out her duty.

As time goes on, Nyx begins to realize that Ignifex might not be the monster she always thought. But what difference will that make, since her kingdom is still cursed and she is still the only one who can save everyone?

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is for anyone who loves the story of Beauty and the Beast, Blue Beard and mythology since this book has it all.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


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.


Ever Feel Like a Puppet on a String? December 2, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 3:17 pm
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imgresSo, this book, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, has a bit for everyone. A witch, orphan children, a con man, a kidnapping, dogs and magic.

First we meet the witch, who is in agony because of a stone, a fire opal to be exact. It is the source of most of her power but it has also been draining away her life for years. She decides that she must get rid of the stone, but she is unable to destroy it herself. The stone will burn her ultimately, but how can she get rid of it?

Parsefall and Lizzie Rose are two children who are living with a man named Grisini in London in 1860. He is a masterful puppeteer. Parsefall is very good with the puppets as well, and has been with Grisini ever since Grisini took him from the work house at a young age. Lizzie Rose has only been with the small group for a little over a year, ever since her parents died. While Grisini provides a roof over the orphans heads’ and some food from time to time, not much else is given to Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.

Enter Clara, a young girl who is tormented by the ghosts of her four dead siblings and by a mother who can’t let the dead siblings go long enough to be thankful for the one she still has left, and a father who is just trying to make the best of his life. Clara’s family is a wealthy one, and she begs for her 12th birthday for Grisini to bring his puppet show to her house.

It is this puppet show that puts into motion events that reach all the way up to the witch in her tower in Northern England.

Splendors and Glooms is a magnificent book, filled with intrigue, mystery, unscrupulous people and stand up ones. Just when you aren’t sure where it will take you, it all makes sense.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up. Fine for 6th graders, but should be a good reader.


Poison can be awesome ( If it is this book that is)! May 17, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — kbradley123 @ 10:42 am
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Sometimes you just need a book that is a little bit different. It might be a little quirk; a little dangerous perhaps? That is what I found in Poison by Bridget Zinn. I really enjoyed it and wished there was even more to this fun adventure!

Kyra is a Master Potioner at the age of 16.  She is also a wanted criminal. Kyra tried to kill the Princess Ariana but her arrow missed. The Princess also was her best friend until this dreadful incident. Now Kyra must find the princess before she destroys the kingdom or before Kyra gets arrested and thrown in the dungeon. Kyra’s only allies in this quest are wanderer Fred, his dog Langley, and a tracking teacup piglet that Fred names Rosie. Kyra had been having visions of the kingdom in ruins after the Princess’s marriage. Will Kyra be able to stop the destruction before it is too late?

This story is quirky and

not what you are expecting. The storyline takes lots of twisted and turns and the relationships of Kyra’s are explained quite nicely. There is also a lot of humor involved including chasing after a tracking piglet and underwear with a kitty on them. This story is never boring and always moving.

 If you liked fractured fairytales, or books by Vivian Vande Velde then you’ll feel right at home in this kingdom full of magic, poison, and intrigue.


A Gloomy book that might have a happy ending…. January 21, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — kbradley123 @ 11:49 am
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Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz is a book about magic, puppets and two orphans trying to survive in London in 1860.WARNING: It starts out as not a happy book. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are assistants to the great puppet master Grisini. He is not a nice man and does not treat them well. He also has a very shady past. When Clara, the sole surviving daughter of the rich doctor, disappear after her birthday puppet show,

all eyes turn to the three puppeteers. However, there is more to this tale then just kidnapping. Far away there is a dying witch who is trying to get rid of her curse before it is too late. When these two separate threads come together, there will be more than just magic, there will be death and destruction!

This book has gotten rave reviews but it is not the type of book that I would usually read. It sounds like a downer. However, it was so action packed and so different than other books I have read that I flew through it! The characters are well developed and the story is uniquely different. Although this book seemed a bit bleak, it has a huge heart that makes you care about the characters and the ending. I really enjoyed this book and loved the shifting perspectives that really created a memorable story!



Audio Books… Reading Books Without Reading! December 13, 2012

Filed under: Fantasy Books — kbradley123 @ 11:07 am
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I am a lover of audiobooks. I “read” them all the time while I am doing other things. You can also read the physical book while listening to the audiobook to give the words a voice. Audiobooks not only pronounce everything correctly ( especially those made

up words you aren’t quite sure about), they also give your favorite characters voices! They bring characters alive! It is different experience than just reading a book and highly recommend trying it at least once.

I just finished The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens on audiobook and loved it. This is a sequel to the Emerald Atlas and follows the adventures of three siblings on a search for magical books and their lost parents. There is tons of magical characters like elves, dragons and evil wizards set to destroy all regular humans. The book is action packed and sets the stage for the last book of the Books of Beginning series. Between the danger and the magic there is something here for every reader ( or listener)!