Similar to the Harry Potter and Charlie Bone series’,  Ed Masessa’s Wandmaker series focuses on magical learning. Wandmaker’s Apprentice is the second novel in the series and picks up from the dramatic events of Wandmaker. In that first novel, Henry and his sister, Brianna, came to terms with their different abilities connected to wand making. In this world, hidden behind the scenes from ours, magical ability is harnessed through different wands for various purposes. For those in this magical world, “your wand is an extension of you” (99). After defeating the villainous Dai She, Henry and Brianna are taken in by Wand Master Coralis. CoralisRead More →

Death has a different impact on us all. Some drown in sorrow and others simply go numb. When Toby’s best friend Lucas dies, he blames himself for the accident that killed him. Toby’s form of grieving involves fulfilling a promise, though. Toby and Lucas had made The List, a collection of fun things that they wanted to do together before the end of summer, a sort of bucket list. The List includes things like going fishing, building a treehouse, and eating a worm. The last thing on The List is to “Hike the Appalachian Trail, from Velvet Rocks to Katahdin” (19). After Lucas dies, TobyRead More →

Some books are loud where others are quiet. There are positives to both books, but some stories are meant to be subtle. Jen Nails’ One Hundred Spaghetti Strings is one of those stories, quiet but impactful. The book follows Steffy Sandolini and her sister, Nina, as they go through some major changes. When Steffy was three, her mom was in a car accident so bad that ever since, she’s had to live at the Place. Steffy and Nina visit her every week, but still she has to be reintroduced to her daughters every time. Soon after their mom’s accident, their dad had a breakdown andRead More →

“Most people, it seemed, dreamt and fantasized about being able to fly like a bird” (86). For Quinn Cutler, her dreams have always been about the ocean. Since she was a child, she’s had a deep connection to the sea, specifically the water by her family’s summer home. They haven’t been there in years, though, not after Quinn almost drowned because she couldn’t stay away from the waves. Years later and Quinn has adjusted to living a normal life in the city. Well, as normal as it can be when your dad is running for Congress. While in the limelight, her family tries to remainRead More →

The Pages Between Us: In The Spotlight is the second novel by writing team Lindsay Leavitt and Robin Mellom about two best friends maneuvering through middle school. Piper and Olivia have been Best Friends for forever, but after getting different schedules at the start of middle school, they decided to start a shared journal to stay close. Now, a semester into school, they’ve got this letter-sharing journal down. The plan is to “drop off the notebook in our lockers and exchange it in the hallway between classes. Let’s document every step of the way for fun…These are our secrets. Our precious thoughts. Our ‘only myRead More →

The third and final installment of Gordon Korman’s Masterminds series packs a punch to conclude an epic trilogy. Masterminds: Payback begins right where Masterminds: Criminal Destiny left off. Amber, Malik, Tori, and Eli have been split up escaping from the “Purple People Eaters” chasing them. They’ve been on the run ever since they discovered that their entire lives were fake. They were raised as experiments in a town called Serenity. Living in a fake city where nothing goes wrong, the four pre-teens were actually clones of the most notorious and terrible criminals in the world, living science experiments for something called Project Osiris. “Basically, theRead More →

As Jing turns eleven, she realizes that the age is “like an age of breakthroughs – tea-drying for the first time, my first offering to the guardian, visiting a new city, getting a new hanfu…new adventure, new experiences” (30). What seems like an exciting new period of her life quickly turns into her greatest fear, though. Jing’s widowed Aunt Mei has led the family since the death of Jing’s mother, and because of low resources, she convinces Jing’s father that it is time for Jing to get married. Jing is spirited enough to fight back against the plan to sell her to a big cityRead More →

“Sometimes we hold on to guilt or grief because it’s the last thing we have that ties us to the person we miss” (329). Ethan Truitt’s been holding onto his grief and guilt every moment since he’s lost his best friend, Kacey. He feels responsible for what happened to her and his frustrations fill him with the urge to run, to find Kacey and feel whole again. After his third attempt at running, where his older brother Roddie catches him, Ethan’s parents decide to move the family from their home in Boston to Palm Knot, Georgia. The family moves in with Grandpa Ike, who isRead More →

As far as the world is concerned, Jonathan Grisby is a trouble-making delinquent, a criminal. As far as Jonathan is concerned, the world is right. After a mysterious incident leaves Jonathan riddled with guilt and pain, he is sent to Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys, “a dark place for dark youths” (2). Slabhenge is a building made of decaying, grey stone, sitting far from land in the foaming sea. The tall, jagged building has no land surrounding it, only a small dock where mail, supplies, and new criminal boys are delivered. When Jonathan first arrives, it’s clear that Slabhenge is not the “kind ofRead More →