The Ninth Life by Taylor B. Barton is a book about hope, family, grief, friendship, romance, and identity. But most of all, it is a book about fighting for love—that raw, untamed, and messy emotion—and a book about the monstrosity of being human, which is both horrible and beautiful. As Caesar’s feline life is coming to a close, a life bursting with endless amounts of love, he can’t imagine living without Ophelia Matherson and her dog Missy. His life as Ophelia’s cat was a full one; it had taught him kindness and brought him friendship. In that life, he loved a girl who loved himRead More →

Like a tower built from Jenga blocks, eleven-year-old Piper Trudeau’s former life in Cypress Point, Texas, all comes crashing down after a series of unfortunate events: her parents’ job hours cut, lost jobs, unexpected medical bills, car trouble, bills piling up, and eventually an eviction.  Now, she and her family are homeless and living in a shelter in Idaho—experiencing new places and new people and learning that a rough patch can seem like a “football field full of briars” (39). But this is only one plot thread in Stay by Bobbie Pyron, a novel targeted for middle grade readers that alternates between the story ofRead More →

Four Three Two One by Courtney Stevens recounts the story of four young adults, all unique in their idiosyncrasies as they board Charter Bus 21 in New York City on June 15 bound for Ellis Island: Chandler Clayton is allergic to sudden changes but artistic with a sketch pad or a chain saw and logs; Golden Jennings is eager to explore the world beyond the towering oaks and billowing blue grass of Kentucky with her vintage No. 3 Kodak; Rudy Guthrie is a talented soccer athlete and a writer who has just won a scholarship to Emerson College in Boston; and Caroline Ascott from a wealthyRead More →

“Hope is the thing with feathers-/that perches in the soul,” wrote Emily Dickinson, but ten-year-old Star Mackie isn’t so sure that’s true.  For Star, the main character in Robin Herrera’s inaugural novel Hope Is A Ferris Wheel, hope is a Ferris wheel, and loneliness is perching in her soul.  Star has an empty space in her heart and soul where her dad is supposed to be.  Neither her mom nor her sixteen- year-old sister Winter will talk about Dad, but he is in Star’s head, “making [her] hope for things like birthday cards and ice cream dates and whatever else fathers and daughters [do] together”Read More →

For a fast-paced, suspenseful, and engaging read, Nick Lake’s Hostage Three won’t disappoint.  That Lake was the Winner of the 2013 Printz Award is apparent in his writing style—which captivates with its pacing and imagery-richness. The book’s protagonist is seventeen-year-old Amy Fields fromLondon.  Struggling to deal with her mothers’ death and craving her father’s attention, Amy has taken acting out to a self-destructive level: swearing at teachers, taking drugs, insulting her parents, going to all-night parties, and intentionally failing her high school exit exams.  Hoping to block out the world or simply wishing to disappear, she is snarky, sullen, defiant, and without charming personality quirks.Read More →