By Shonna Slayton

51Yd7-zx29L._SX331_BO1204203200_Briar Rose considers herself just a normal spinner girl, like so many others working in the cotton mills in her small Vermont town. Her biggest concern is earning enough to care for her orphaned younger siblings and keep the family together.

But with a name like Briar Rose -- and with a friend called Henry Prince! -- she shouldn't be surprised when she finds herself surrounded by a real-life fairy tale. Unfortunately, Briar quickly discovers that living in a fairy tale is, well, no fairy tale.

"Spindle" by Shonna Slayton portrays what might happen if the fairy's curse from "Sleeping Beauty," rather than being destroyed, somehow survived for hundreds of years, attached to a magical spindle that finds its way to a young Irish-American girl in the early 20th century. When Briar accepts the spindle as a gift from a peddler, in order to help fix a broken frame in the mill, she unwittingly sets the curse in motion again. In Slayton's imaginative tale, Briar, her family, and her friends must work together to defeat a powerful and relentless evil that threatens not just Briar, but their whole community.
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By Tricia Springstubb

61oXNvj5CL._SX357_BO1204203200_"Just because you did one right thing, did it mean you were good?

"And if that was true, did doing one wrong thing mean you were bad?"

Twelve-year-old Nella Sabatini suddenly finds herself grappling with these and other hard questions in Tricia Springstubb's "Every Single Second."

Change is happening all around Nella, far too fast. Her Catholic school -- the school she's attended her entire life -- is closing. Nella and her former "secret sister," Angela, don't talk to each other anymore. And that's only the beginning. Nella is about to face a series of events and revelations that may shake her faith in everything she knows, loves, and believes in. Read More >
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By Iain Lawrence

41Qni1J65L._SX329_BO1204203200_(Review contains some spoilers.)

Twelve-year-old Chris never expected much more than a little family bonding time when his uncle Jack invited him for a sail along the Alaskan coast. Having lost his father the year before, he appreciates the chance to spend some time with his father's brother. He didn't expect Frank, an older boy sailing with them, who hates him on sight. And he never dreamed that an accident would strand him and Frank on a deserted shore with no way to call for help.

"The Skeleton Tree" by Iain Lawrence is an exciting adventure story for middle-schoolers, with two interesting young protagonists. As you'd expect, Chris and Frank have to learn to get along, at least to some extent, to find a way to survive. Read More >
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By Lauren Wolk

61UonXDCtXL._SX333_BO1204203200_(Note: This review contains some spoilers.)

"The year I turned twelve," Annabelle, the narrator of "Wolf Hollow," tells us, "I learned that what I said and what I did mattered."

Living in rural Pennsylvania in 1943, with the world at war, Annabelle is facing troubles of her own on the homefront. A new girl, Betty, has begun attending school with her, and it quickly becomes clear that she's a girl with serious problems. Her attacks on Annabelle, her brothers, and others aren't just silly pranks, they're dangerous.

And things get really bad when Betty and her boyfriend, Andy, blame a homeless veteran named Toby for throwing a rock that seriously injures one of their schoolmates. Annabelle and her family consider Toby a friend, and she's determined to find a way to clear his name. But the responsibility may just be too much for a 12-year-old girl to handle.
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By Billy Taylor

51Y1IWD0ytL._SX329_BO1204203200_In a lot of ways, Cam Smith is a model kid. He's putting himself through prep school, working hard, and getting excellent grades. His goal of getting into Princeton is so close he can taste it.

He also happens to be on the lam from his criminal family.

Cam's real name is Skip O'Rourke, and the only reason he made it to prep school is that he secretly took some money promised to him by his late grandfather -- money the rest of his family was convinced was rightfully theirs -- ran away from them, and cut all ties. Or tried to. Soon after the story begins, Skip's uncle and his mother catch up with him again, and they're determined to pull him right back into the life he left behind. Unless he can figure out how to use their own tactics against him, it's goodbye to Princeton, goodbye to his girlfriend, Claire, and goodbye to any hope of living a normal, crime-free life.
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By Jack Thorne, based on a story by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, & J. K. Rowling

51bY71UBtaL._SX329_BO1204203200_Last weekend's frenzy over the new Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," was much the same as previous Harry Potter frenzies. But the book itself is not exactly the same. For one thing, Harry Potter and his friends are all grown up now, with children of their own, and those children often take center stage. Literally. That's another major difference: This book is actually the script of a play that is currently running in London's West End.

The story centers on the difficult relationship between Harry and his son Albus, who feels uneasy and uncomfortable having the world's best-known wizard for a dad. The two can't seem to communicate, and things only get worse after Albus goes off to his parents' old school. At Hogwarts, Albus strikes up a friendship with Scorpius, the son of Harry's old antagonist Draco Malfoy. But this isn't enough to keep Albus from feeling increasingly out of place at school. When he decides he has to travel into the past to set right what he sees as one of Harry's mistakes, he and Scorpius accidentally set off an explosive chain of events that puts everyone they know and love in danger.
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By Lauren Gibaldi

51n2j4iOhlL._SX324_BO1204203200_Maude's photography teacher has given the class an assignment on "family," leaving Maude confused and flustered. Maude was adopted as a baby, and though the adoption was "semi-open," she'll never be able to meet her biological mother, who died giving birth to her. At an age (17) when she's trying to figure out exactly who she is and who she wants to become, Maude isn't sure what family really means for her.

But the project gives her an idea: She'll go visit her best friend, Treena, at Florida State University, the same school her birth mother, Claire, attended. Maude is looking forward to catching up with Treena and learning more about Claire. But neither goes as she expected -- Treena has already started to change during her short time at college, and the things that Maude learns about Claire paint a very different picture from the one she had imagined. Read More >
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By Malinda Lo

41KLV6Ll42L._SX331_BO1204203200_(Note: This article contains spoilers.)

On a high school debate team trip, Reese Holloway and David Li find their world thrown into chaos when flocks of birds start attacking airplanes, grounding their plane and causing widespread panic. Reese, David, and their teacher try to get home by car, but their teacher is shot in a carjacking, and then another bird strike causes them to crash their car.

Reese is in a coma for nearly a month, and when she wakes up, something has changed. Suddenly she and David have strange new abilities, including rapid healing and telepathy, and suddenly the U.S. government is very interested in both of them. And a strange girl shows up in Reese's life who just might know a lot more than she's telling.
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By J. B. Cheaney

51dGg8Hnj6L._SX338_BO1204203200_[Note: The reviewer has a professional relationship with the author. This review contains some spoilers.]

Twelve-year-old Isobel is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. It's 1918, and her father is serving as a medical officer in World War I. Before he left, he told Isobel she was "the responsible one," and that he trusted her to look after her rambunctious little sister, Sylvie, and help their mother. But all the responsbility and the worry are wearing Isobel down.

But when the family goes to visit her mother's sister in Hollywood, California, Isobel finds a distraction more absorbing and exciting than anything she could have dreamed of. Her step-cousin, Ranger, is obsessed with films and filmmaking, and he quickly conscripts Isobel and Sylvie to star in the amateur movie he's secretly making with his friend Sam. Isobel goes along under protest at first, but before long she's having so much fun, and making so many new discoveries, that she can barely remember what responsibility feels like.

Then a shattering letter comes from her father, and Isobel will need to rely on everything she's learned about strength, resourcefulness, and finding new ways to look at things.
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By Joanne Bischof

51htPiby5tL._SX318_BO1204203200_Eighteen-year-old Riley Kane leads a quiet life in a small, obscure town, and he's just fine with that. If he really wanted to, he could have the fame and fortune that go with being the son of a prominent athlete -- but he doesn't want to. After a rough childhood and adolescence, Riley has found faith, peace, and a decent job at a feed store, and he just wants to be left alone to savor them. But all that changes when he reconnects with Becca, a girl he knew long ago when they were children in Sunday school.

Becca's life couldn't be more different from Riley's -- she's a sweet, innocent girl from a large homeschooled family -- but it's not long before he's completely smitten. When she and her family suddenly have to leave town to be with Becca's father, who's been in a bad accident out in New Mexico, Riley is devastated.

But he soon figures out a way that he can see her again and take her family some much-needed supplies. All it will take is a big favor from his dad . . . whom Riley hasn't seen or spoken to in many years.
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By Rae Carson

Walk_on_Earth_a_Stranger(Note: This review contains spoilers.)

History, magic, and adventure come together in “Walk on Earth a Stranger,” the first installment in The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson. The novel opens in rural Georgia at the onset of the California gold rush in 1849 and introduces us to 15-year-old Leah Westfall. The pragmatic and resourceful daughter of gold prospectors, Leah has managed to become a skilled hunter and capable farmer, all while going to school. But a strong work ethic and uncommon maturity are not the only characteristics that set her apart. Leah possesses a secret power: Much like a water diviner, she is able to detect the presence of gold, whether it’s buried below her feet or in the pockets of those around her.

Leah’s parents instructed her never to tell anyone what she can do. While she understands the importance of such secrecy, the true gravity of her circumstances becomes tragically clear when her parents are murdered. When their killer then attempts to kidnap Leah, to take her to California and exploit her powers, she is forced to run for her life.
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By April Genevieve Tucholke

51BMtJdkf0L._SX326_BO1204203200_(Note: This review contains minor spoilers.)

"The first time I slept with Poppy, I cried," Midnight tells us in the first sentence of April Genevieve Tucholke's "Wink Poppy Midnight." That opening sets the tone for what's to come -- a story that many young readers seem to find wild, rebellious, and exciting, given its bestselling status, but that many adults are likely to see as a book about kids who are in way over their heads.

The book is named after its three main characters, who take turns narrating, providing us with very different views of what's going on. Midnight is a sensitive, imaginative boy who's desperately in love with Poppy, despite her cruel treatment of him and others. But when he and his father move out to the country, he sees it as his "first step to my freedom. My freedom from Poppy."
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