Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone centers around Karou, blue haired, lanky, artist and wickedly awesome errand runner. In her sketchbook Karou draws monstrous characters like Brimstone, Kishmish, Issa and their adventures. Her friends and classmates think these stories and characters are brilliant except, what they don’t know because no one really knows anything about Karou, is that all those character are real.
Brimstone, the Wishmonger, raised her and trained her and now she runs errands for him around the world collecting teeth to exchange for wishes. While Karou is running her errands, frustrated that Brimstone never completely fills her in about why teeth in exchange for wishes, there’s danger mounting as black hand prints are found burned into doors all over the world. The same doors Karou uses as a portal to complete her errands. Whose hand prints are on the doors? Some claim they’ve seen shadows with wings, others claim the felt a feather grace their skin. In the middle of Morocco on an errand Karou finds herself face to face with exactly who’s been leaving those hand prints and who’s out to exact revenge on Brimstone, and once they’ve met neither of their worlds will ever be quite the same.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
You might think from the title that this a creepy monster story. It’s not. There’s some creepy parts and the monster looks creepy in the amazing illustrations throughout the book, but that’s not what the story is about. It’s about Conor, the monster, and a nightmare. Conor is awoken one night to a monster who just happens to also be the yew tree in his backyard calling his name. The monster informs him that he’s going to tell Conor three stories and then Conor must tell him a story, and this story must be the truth. The truth is the scary part of this story- the truth about what’s really going on with Conor’s mom, at school, with his family and friends. Can Conor face his real nightmare and tell the fourth story? Definitely worth reading to find out. Click here to find A Monster Calls at the Library.
Happyface by Stephen Emond
On the surface it seems like another Diary of a Wimpy Kid read-alike, but there’s a lot more to Happyface than that. There’s awesome doodles and pictures accompanying the story that help you really get to know the narrator and picture the other characters in the book. The story starts out typical enough, but the plot twists that come along the way are anything but typical and the book takes on some serious issues as it moves along. It’s really great piece of realistic fiction for older teens and it’s a great quick read to pick up and get pulled in right away.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson has assembled all the ingredients needed for a great thriller in her latest book, The Name of the Star. There’s Rory the likeable, amusing, relatable narrator and protagonist, who arrives to spend a semester at Wexford Boarding School in London from rural Louisana. There’s a dash of romance between Rory and one of the school’s prefects, Jerome. Then Johnson mixes in some great new friends, including Rory’s new roommate Jazza. Think of the romance and relatable friendship elements as frosting on a cake of suspenseful, nail-biting thrills.
Now to those suspenseful parts- the semester starts off pretty well for Rory except for an incident where she choked on her dinner and need the Heimlich maneuver, but then a body is found gruesomely murdered and then another: on the same days, at the same locations, and with the same methods used in the Jack the Ripper murders more than 100 years ago. The city of London is in the grips of “Rippermania” and Wexford is right in the middle of it. As the action rises, Rory finds herself as the only witness shortly before one of the murders was committed. Even though Jazza was right next to her she didn’t see the man who stopped Rory. Rory starts to think she might be losing her mind a bit, especially when her and Jazza get a new roommate, Boo, who really turns Rory’s world upside down and she suddenly finds herself right in the middle of the Ripper’s plans.
Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald
I really enjoyed Reel Life Starring Us and I think it had a lot of appeal. It’s narrated by two 8th graders, Dina and Chelsea. Dina has just moved from Berkshire, MA to Long Island, NY. At her old school she had lots of friends and never felt like an outcast, but at Rockford Hills Middle School it’s a different story, there are cliques, getting “chipped,” gossip, and more to deal with. Dina thinks she may have found a way to make new friends and be “popular” when she’s assigned to do a project with Chelsea the most popular girl in 8th grade. Through their video project together Chelsea and Dina find out about what’s really important in life when it comes to being a good friend and being true to yourself. It’s definitely not easy to do either all the time. The book touches on a lot of issues that a lot of people are going through now, like moving to a new school, having a parent who’s lost a job, making friends, crushes, and dealing with other the other things that come along with middle school.