Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Keturah and Lord Death

Keturah and Lord Death
by Martine Leavitt
From the publisher:
"I will tell you a story of magic and love, of daring and death, and one to comfort your heart. It will be the truest story I have ever told. Now listen, and tell me if it is not so.

Keturah follows a legendary hart deep into the forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near--and learns then that death is a young lord, melancholy and stern. Renowned for her storytelling, Keturah is able to charm Lord Death with a story and gain a reprieve--but he grants her only a day, and within that day she must find true love. Martine Leavitt offers a spellbinding story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and romance."

This was a beautiful, haunting book, but for some reason it didn't reach out and grab me. I still have to go with Chime as my favorite in the beautiful, haunting category. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, it felt kind of forced and I wasn't really getting "true love" out of it. But it was a quick, entertaining read and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

Areas of concern:  A clean read.

Time Between Us

Time Between Us
by Tamara Ireland Stone
From the publisher:
"Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning, spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction."

I finished this 2 days ago and am not sure I remember it enough to really review it. That's probably a bad sign. I know that it has gotten rave reviews, and I know that I liked it, but it was in no way life-changing for me. One of the best things I remember about it is that it had a strong family unit with loving parents who were there and very protective. That is unfortunately not the norm for YA books. I quite liked the characters. I loved that Anna was obsessed with travel books and music, and that she was a good and loyal friend. The secondary characters were fun and important to the story. I think teenagers will really enjoy this book.

Areas of concern: I don't remember much cussing at all. There was one part where the teenage couple were spending the day together walking along the beach... and then it says something like, ".. and then we spent the night together". It is never mentioned again. There is a robbery where a character is held at knife-point, and a bad car accident which leaves a character in a coma.

Suggested Ages:
Booklist -  Grades 7-12
Publisher's Weekly -  Ages 12+

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Holders

The Holders
by Juliana Scott
From the publisher:
"17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he's done?"

This book sat on my NetGalley shelf for quite a while before I read it, and I'm ashamed to admit that it is because the cover didn't do too much for me. Well, that teaches me a lesson because this book was ... yes, I'm going to say it... awesome! I loved the characters, the plot and the setting (gorgeous Ireland!). The writing kept me glued to the page, and although I figured out some plot points, others were a delicious surprise. This was a unique YA paranormal romance book.

I loved the heroine, Becca, for many different reasons - her love for her little brother, her tough and cynical outlook on life, her snarkiness, her need to keep Alex at arm's length until she knows him better, her acceptance of Chloe's overzealous efforts to be friends, and her courage and desire to protect her loved ones. I thought Alex was almost as perfect as a Julianne Donaldson hero. He wasn't a crazed stalker, he didn't pressure Becca at all, he cared about her feelings and didn't try to prove her wrong when he didn't agree, and he took such good care of her little brother. Ryland was adorable, I even appreciated how he wanted to spend time with his new friends instead of his big sister, because it was so nice that he was turning into a normal boy instead of the freak he thought he was. Chloe was so endearing, I wanted to be her friend too. The dueling professors were hysterical, and it was nice to have a grandmotherly presence in Min. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Becca and her father plays out. I hope they can come together in the next book. The author definitely created interesting characters that you both believe in and like. 

I definitely recommend this one and have ordered 2 copies for my middle school library. Bring on book 2!

Areas of concern: There is quite a bit of cussing (no f-bombs) and some serious kissing in one part. There is some violence and a kidnapping.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Pawnby Aimee Carter
From the publisher:
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand."

This is the first of a new dystopian series by the author of The Goddess Test books, which are very popular in my middle school library (I have not read them). It is a pretty formulaic dystopian that ticks all the boxes with an evil government, oppressed people, and teenagers trying to change the world and stay alive. However, there were many original ideas throughout and twists that surprised me. I found the characters interesting, although some of their decisions were ludicrous. The MC was incredibly naive and trusting when she obviously shouldn't have been considering what the ruling family had done to her. There was plenty of action and excitement, and I think the dystopian YA crowd will eat this up. I enjoyed it and read it quickly. I was extremely happy not to have a love triangle, although I'm not sure that will hold true for the rest of the series, I could see something possibly happening with one of the other characters. Don't look for closure at the end.

Areas of concern:  There is a lot of violence and some of it was very disturbing and directed at important characters. At the beginning of the book the MC tried to solve her problems by turning to prostitution. Nothing happened, but it was quite uncomfortable to read. There was a little bit of cussing, but it was minimal. Some kissing.

Suggested Ages:
Kirkus Reviews:  Ages 12+

*I received this as an ARC from NetGalley. The book will be released on November 26, 2013.