The Fourth Dimension

Eric Walters

Fifteen-year-old Emma has moved house with her ex-Marine mother and younger brother. It’s a brand-new condo building, which explains the semi-regular power outages, as workers complete the units around them. So Emma is not particularly concerned when the latest blackout hits just as they are preparing to leave town on a long weekend camping trip. Then the car won’t start, and their cellphones appear dead — and all the cars outside their building seem to be stalled in a long traffic jam …

In the midst of what appears to be a massive power outage, with their camping gear packed and ready, Emma and her family canoe over to the islands, just offshore, to wait it out. While they land on an isolated island, with a relatively hidden site, they are far from safe, as people become increasingly desperate to find food and shelter. As the days pass, and the power remains out, the threat of violence becomes all too real.

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Beastly

Alex Flinn

Kyle Kingsbury’s good looks and father’s riches got him far in life. He was just named as one of the prince nominees for the spring dance court when his classmate, Kendra Hilferty, brings attention to how disgusting it is that these competitions are based on a person’s attractiveness rather than more important qualities such as intelligence or bravery. Wanting to put her in her place, Kyle decides to humiliate her at the school dance. In return, she reveals to him her true identity as a witch and transforms Kyle into a creature with claws, fangs, and an excessive amount of hair. As a beast, Kyle must find true love in two years or remain this way forever.

Kyle is portrayed to be an unlikeable character at the beginning of the novel. Alex Flinn exaggerates the bad qualities associated with him to have this impact on the reader. His manipulative nature, conceitedness, and insensitivity are made clear through his actions and interactions with other characters in the story. After he is put under Kendra’s spell, we see a new side to him causing our perceptions of him to shift. For instance, Kyle becomes compassionate and sensitive to the issues of others. This teaches readers that everyone has the potential to change. This and the many other morals in this book, that mainly relate to love, make this a worthwhile read.

I associate a very nostalgic mood with parts of this book due to the many fairy tale references it includes. Often in the novel, there would be text threads between Kyle and other creatures that were considering transformations or were transformed. The screen name, SilentMaid, represented the Little Mermaid. This was done in a mature way that didn’t make you feel like you were reading a book targeted at a younger audience. These text threads also added a more interesting element to the book because it told the story in a creative way.

The short two years the beast was given to reverse the curse was a strategic way of implementing suspense into Alex Flinn’s novel. It gradually increases in intensity as Kyle’s deadline approaches. It makes you obsessively continue reading to anxiously see if Kyle can manage to change back to his former self. The ending of the novel relieves the readers stress and leaves them very satisfied because it doesn’t just resolve the problems of the main characters, but updates us on the supporting characters like Kyle’s blind tutor, Will. For these reasons, I found Beastly to be a stunning read. – Julia K.

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Before I Let Go

Marieke Nijkamp

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated—and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. In addition, they push Corey away as if she is a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets—chilling secrets. Piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

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Shadowsong

S. Jae-Jones

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King―who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws finally? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world―or the ones Liesl loves―is in her hands?

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The Warnings 

Margaret Buffie

Original title, The Guardian Circle

Rachel’s single father sends her off to live with a strange great aunt she has never met before while he travels across Canada for work. When she arrives in Toronto, Rachel’s strange visions and feelings become stronger and more ominous than ever before. They feel like warnings. Luckily, she meets a new friend who doesn’t think she is crazy and they set off to find out what they are, and what is happening? Is it ghosts? Magic? Or are the old people who live with her aunt playing tricks on Rachel?

The Warnings (original title, The Guardian Circle) is a great book for older children and teens. I would recommend it for grades 4-10. The Warnings is a wonderful ghost story with intrigue and a little bit of history in it. The story takes places in Toronto and Western Canada. This book was not predictable, I had no idea what was going to happen until the very end and there is a large cast of supporting characters who had a lot of involvement in the plot. This book is not part of a series. – Heather M.

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The Hazel Wood

Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. When Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. Now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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Blurryface

Twenty One Pilots

Blurryface by Twenty One Pilots is a striking, emotion-filled album like no other, taking you on a different journey throughout each of the 14 songs. Bringing together multiple genres – hip-hop, pop, electronic, and rock – during this musical voyage, each song with a new diverse sound from the other. With its 14 diverse songs regardless of what kind of music you’re into, this album has a song for everyone.

The album’s vocals produced by vocalist Tyler Joseph, with a voice unlike any other, place Twenty One Pilots as a highly recognizable sound to all. Through his voice, the raw emotion in the songs pours out to the listeners, all backed by distinctive drums, piano, and electronic beats. The drums further the band’s sound through nearly all their songs, adding a unique and catchy beat behind the lyrics with drummer Josh Dun’s display of expert drumming. Altogether, emitting music with a catchy tone, whether it be purely vocals, drums, electronic, piano, and often a mix of all.

Not only does the sound of the album itself resonate with listeners, the lyrics themselves ooze with emotion in songs such as “Goner”, “HeavyDirtySoul”, and “Stressed Out” and people can find ways to relate to them in some way. While other songs such as “Tear In Your Heart”, “Ride”, and “Lane Boy” will have you on your feet, singing along to the catchy, upbeat lyrics. It is an album that all teens can connect to, whether you’re going through tough times or having the best time of your life, providing true comfort and understanding. This album will have everyone dancing along, rocking out, crying, and connecting with each song. – Eve L.

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Tempests and Slaughter

Tamora Pierce

Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions.

Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. As Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day–soon–he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

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Masterminds: Criminal Destiny

Gordon Korman

Masterminds: Criminal Destiny is the long-awaited continuation of the cliffhanger in book one, Masterminds. In this second book of the Masterminds trilogy, we follow four kids, Eli, Malik, Tori, and Amber who are running from their peaceful town named Serenity.

 

These kids have uncovered that their true identities are clones of criminal masterminds, and that their entire lives have all been a scientific experiment. Now they have to travel and navigate through the states, find billionaire Tamara Dunleavy, and avoid the purple people eaters. These problems are a lot of for a few kids to handle, so when they are put in multiple fly-or-die situations, these 4 clones have to use their criminal abilities to help themselves.

 

They are attempting to expose the scientists behind project Osiris and get justice for themselves and the others back in Serenity. This is a thrilling book and is so interesting that you will not be able to put it down even for a second. Not only is this book entertaining, but it is also a thoughtful book. It makes you constantly wonder what you would do in a situation like this even if it were to be highly unlikely. Masterminds: Criminal Destiny is another great book by the fantastic author, Gordon Korman and fans will not be disappointed to continue reading this series. A wonderful series for grades 4-6. – Aquilin C.

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The Defiant

Lesley Livingston

Be brave, gladiatrix… And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you will earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon has been warned. Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters, find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for the Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors. The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.

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