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Book Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

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In this sequel to The Name of the Star, Rory is still recovering from a near-fatal stabbing, but she wants to help her friends Boo, Stephen, and Callum destroy ghosts. When they land a case, Rory throws herself into it–maybe a little too much. One thing leads to another, and then she’s in over her head. Again. This time, though, she doesn’t need saving–she needs to save her friends.

With a monumental ending that will leave you screaming in frustration and anger, this was a great second book that left me wanting and waiting for the next one. The mystery, sic-fi, and touches of romance and history makes the Shades of London series spellbinding. Recommended for 11 & up.

Reviewed by Marissa, grade 11

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Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

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“A” inhabits a new body every morning. When he wakes up, he could be in the body of a dancer, a wrestler, or a druggie. Gender doesn’t matter, though A is male. Age, however, always stays near his own, around 16. He tries to coast through lives affecting them as little as possible, but when he wakes up in the body of Justin and meets his girlfriend, Rhiannon, he becomes determined to stay near her, no matter what it takes. Can a love that changes form every day survive? 

This story bored me for the most part. The plot remained the same for much of the story. New body, new location, same need to see Rhiannon. She is uncomfortable because of the body switching; he aches to be with her. They fight, they make up. They are uncertain. This is an original thought, but a timeless and stagnant plot. 9 & up

Reviewed by Marissa, grade 11

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Book Review: The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

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The Steampunk Chronicles are back. This time, Finley, Griffen, Sam, Jack and Jasper must rescue Emily from the Machinist, who is determined to rise again using her mechanical talents. But Emily is no damsel in distress. She fights to free herself while her friends fight to find her. But will they be able to defeat the insane and dangerous Machinist a second time? And will he stay dead?

This novel explores and deepens all of the relationships in the previous books. Decisions are made and feelings announced, but can anything survive the crisis at hand? Another story of romance, friendship, and strength. 11&up.

Reviewed by Marissa, grade 11

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Book Review: Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

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In this fourth Body Finder novel, Violet is still dealing with carrying the imprint of the serial killer she was forced to kill. The haunting music follows her without cease, but bodies continue to call out to her. When she discovers a grisly murder on the way to the beach to meet her friends, they become involved, much to Violet’s dismay. Now, she has to chase a lunatic with a small cult of crackhead killers as well as protect her friends–and herself.

Her world, already different and dangerous, is now not what it seems either. Is there a darker agenda for the group she’s been forced into? What did Violet’s grandmother know that she didn’t share? If those questions and stresses weren’t enough, there’s always the confusing, charismatic, handsome Rafe to cause stress between Violet and her boyfriend Jay.

A twisting plot with action, romance, and suspense, this is a series that I would recommend to any fans of the slightly supernatural. Derting moves the story forward without sacrificing any of the past. Her talent for making the otherworldly seem completely reasonable and realistic is incredible. Age is 11 and up for gore.

Reviewed by Marissa, Grade 10

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Book Review: Solstice by PJ Hoover

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Piper lives in a world of intense heat, limited water, and dying earth. Global warming spiked 18 years ago, and all Piper remembers is cracked earth, heat bubbles, and the constant moving. New cities, new greenhouses to sustain her mother’s — and her — green thumb that is nearly magic, and always chased by the threat of her ‘terrorist father’. Finally 18, Piper is eager to escape her mother’s incredibly overprotective embrace. Never allowed to date, Piper takes a risk — or two — when two guys start to compete for her. But as always, nothing is what it seems, and Piper’s life may have been nothing but an extended lie. 

A brilliant and compelling creation that melds sci-fi, Greek mythology, and romance, I could not put down this book. Filled with more twists than the labyrinth of the Minotaur, P.J. Hoover creates a somehow realistic tale that is blatantly mythical. Highly recommended to any fans of mythology, provided that they’re 10 & up.

Reviewed by Marissa, Grade 10

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Book Review: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

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Enchanted is a book that has mixed all kinds of childhood fairy tales together. The main story line is a change-up of The Princess and the Frog. I liked this mix a lot — the only thing I didn’t like about it is that I don’t believe there is going to be a sequel. I also wish the girl on the cover was wearing a different dress, but I still rate the book 5 stars — I loved it! I’d recommend it for ages 11 and up.

Reviewed by Vanessa, grade 9

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Book Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

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Bitterblue has grown from a terrified young girl, hiding from her evil and twisted king father, to a queen with many aspirations to restore her kingdom. But King Leck’s magical lies still cloud the minds of some and his sadistic deeds have shattered the minds of others. With more strange things occurring daily, Bitterblue starts to wonder who she can trust, for it is up to her to right the wrongs of her father, even when it means risking her own life.

This was a wonderful addition to Fire and Graceling. It tied up formerly loose ends and answered the pressing question of what happened to Bitterblue. Kristin Cashore has once again created a masterpiece. She deftly combines old and new characters, and melds her two previous books seemlessly. Full of intrigue and action, this page-turner kept me wondering until the very end. I loved it and would rate it 5 of 5 stars.

– Reviewed by Marissa, grade 10

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Book Review: Outlaw by Stephen Davies

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Jake Knight is the privileged 15-year-old son of the British Ambassador to Burkina Faso. When he is suspended from his oppressive boarding school, he is excited for what he anticipates to be a vacation in the dry heat of Africa. Instead, he finds himself kidnapped by the most wanted outlaw/terrorist in Africa. He must tap into his wits and sense of adventure to save himself, his sister and his friends.

I loved the twists that defined this novel – it turned an obvious plot into a labyrinth that I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in. I’d rate it four stars — I liked it a lot. Jake’s wall-walking talent certainly caught my attention, but the lessons he and his sisters learned about assumptions, loyalty and right and wrong held me until the very last page. The characters were all strong and unique and extremely easy to fall in love with. While I think anybody 10 and up would be perfectly able to read this, an older reader would be able to fully appreciate the complex questions it poses about loyalty, government and wealth distribution. All in all, Outlaw is a thrilling read.

Reviewed by Marissa, grade 9

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Book Review: A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

When Ari learned she was the next in line to receive the ages-old curse of Medusa, she wanted to deny and ignore her tremendous powers. But with Violet held captive by Athena and the twisted games Athena is playing with all those Ari holds dear, including kind-of boyfriend Sebastian, Ari has no choice but to accept and implement her powers, even if it means losing herself.

Ari’s story went from gripping to binding. I couldn’t put it down until I had read every last page, and then I checked for more. With chilling descriptions and grotesque games, this is a novel for older readers. Ari faces a timeless dilemma of fear versus love that is made fresh by the Greek lore and the darkness of New 2. It’s a creative masterpiece with just the right combination of mystery, action, romance and heartbreak. With its relatable characters, this pair of books, Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil, will always be in my Top Ten.

Reviewed by Marissa, grade 9