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Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith

(Juvenile Fiction) 

When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human—and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world?

Rating: 7/10

Review: This book started off sooo good! Spooky town, creepy house, mystery, all the components of a fun read perfect for October. The only problem was that it lost me near the end. It felt like a lot was coming at you with characters randomly entering, curses, and a side plot that should have developed from the beginning. Overall I enjoyed it. The writing was wonderful descriptive and I would love to read more of his books! 

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All Together Now by Hope Larson  

 (YA Fiction) 

Middle-schooler Bina is having the best time playing in her new band with her friends, Darcy and Enzo. But both the band and her friendships begin to crumble when Darcy and Enzo start dating, effectively relegating Bina to third-wheel status.
To make matters worse, Bina's best friend, Austin, starts developing a crush on her . . . one she is not sure she reciprocates. Now Bina must follow her heart. Can she navigate its twists and turns before the lights come up and the music starts playing?

Rating: 4/10

Review: I really didn't enjoy this read. It was very predictable to me and I wanted the plot to be developed more. The graphics were great and I liked the characters it just need more. I've never read anything by her before so I will have to try again and read something else she has written. 

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K.Rowling Book #4 

 (Juvenile Fiction) 

This is the 4th or 5th time I've read this series! I love re-reading it in the fall 

Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

Rating: 10/10

Review: Harry Potter will ALWAYS be one of my favorite book series. J.K. Rowling has created such an imaginative world for kids and it just checks all the boxes. J.K. Rowling has created such an amazing world to run away to. I highly recommend this series and it would make a great family read aloud! 

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With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo 

 (YA Fiction) 

This was our October YA Book Club book 

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Rating: 10/10

Review: I just LOVE Elizabeth Acevedo! We read "The Poet X" last year for YA Book Club and we all loved it. Wonderful story! Teenage mother making her way through life. Her love of food and how it affects the people around her it was just overall a great read. Diverse character backgrounds, LGBTQ characters, and differing family dynamics. 

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Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson 

(Juvenile Fiction) 

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that--but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can't remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

Rating: 10/10

Review: If you want a good ugly cry this is your book! Written in verse, this beautiful story will almost surly win awards. A poetic tribute to a father/son relationship and the consequences of physical sports. This is a story for all. Reading it in the fall during football season just made it that much more impactful. 

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From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

(Juvenile Fiction) 

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge. But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

Rating: 7/10

Review: I really wanted to like this book more. I have read several juvenile/young adult books focusing on incarcerated parents. I felt like this one was a little rushed. It takes YEARS to free an innocent person from jail and I didn't feel like that was made clear in this story. I loved the characters and the family dynamic. I wish there had been a little more focus on the baking aspect. I feel like it was pushed to the side and it was meant to be one of the main plots. Overall if you want a happy spin on freeing an innocent prisoner this is the book for you. If your looking for more depth and a more realistic portrayal I would suggest other books. 

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The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge

Juvenile Fiction 

"If you go into the woods, Old Crony will get you."

Secrets, spies or maybe even a monster... What lies in the heart of the wood? Charlie, Dizzy and Johnny are determined to discover the truth, but when night falls without warning they find themselves trapped in a nightmare. Lost in the woods, strange dangers and impossible puzzles lurk in the shadows. As time plays tricks, can Charlie solve this mystery and find a way out of the woods? But what if this night never ends...?

Rating: 6/10

Review: This book went back and forth for me. I liked it, then not, then I did again. Overall it was very well written with likable characters. I would say it was sci-fi ish and it lost me a little in what the overall theme was meant to be. The concept of Time? Friendship? Alternate universes? It was a nice quick read and made me curious about the author so I will definitely look into his other books. 

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Recommended For You by Laura Silverman 

(YA Fiction) 

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.
When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan. Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.
But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

Rating: 8/10

Review: Perfect read for the holiday season. LGBTQ characters. Jewish protagonist living in the South (awesome!). Boy meets girl. Boy not impressed with Girls amazing book nerd super powers. Girl and Boy go head to head in store competition. You know; the way all great love stories begin! It was fun and quirky but still had tough topics thrown in. If you want a quick, light, holiday read then this is the book for you! 

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The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts 

(Juvenile Fiction) 

t’s not easy being a teenage witch. Seventh grader Abby Shepherd is just getting the hang of it when weird stuff starts happening all around her hometown of Willow Cove. Green slime bubbling to life in science class. Giant snakes slithering around the middle school gym. Her best friend suddenly keeping secrets and telling lies.
Things only begin to make sense when a stranger named Miss Winters reveals that Abby isn’t the only young witch in town—and that Willow Cove is home to a secret past that connects them all. Miss Winters, herself a witch, even offers to teach Abby and the others everything she knows about witchcraft. But as Abby learns more about Miss Winters’ past, she begins to suspect her new mentor is keeping secrets of her own. Can Abby trust her, or does Miss Winters have something wicked planned for the young witches of Willow Cove?

Rating: 4/10

Review: I really, really, really wanted to love this book. It caught my attention in the first chapter and then it lost it. I finished it but I really didn't want to. I was very disappointed when the main characters, who are supposed to be best friends, don't talk through the entire book! It would have been a great book if the author had fostered the relationship with the best friends instead of pulling them apart in the second chapter. 

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Tune It Out by Jamie Sumner 

(Juvenile Fiction) 

Lou Montgomery has the voice of an angel, or so her mother tells her and anyone else who will listen. But Lou can only hear the fear in her own voice. She’s never liked crowds or loud noises or even high fives; in fact, she’s terrified of them, which makes her pretty sure there’s something wrong with her.
When Lou crashes their pickup on a dark and snowy road, child services separate the mother-daughter duo. Now she has to start all over again at a fancy private school far away from anything she’s ever known. With help from an outgoing new friend, her aunt and uncle, and the school counselor, she begins to see things differently. A sensory processing disorder isn’t something to be ashamed of, and music might just be the thing that saves Lou—and maybe her mom, too.

Rating: 10/10

Review: I looooved this book! Mother/daughter relationship. Finding & accepting yourself. Such a beautiful portrayal of a girl discovering that your quirks, scars, and unseen trauma is what makes you but doesn't have to define you. You are in charge of yourself and how you see yourself is worth more than anything. 

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Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

(YA Fiction) 

Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To survive, they need allies. Strong ones. But as Lou becomes increasingly desperate to save those she loves, she turns to a darker side of magic that may cost Reid the one thing he can’t bear to lose. Bound to her always, his vows were clear: where Lou goes, he will go; and where she stays, he will stay.

Until death do they part. 

Rating: 9/10

Review: I won't write to much so I don't spoil anything. Loved it! This is the sequel to Serpent & Dove. Witches, the Church, Werewolves, magic, friendship, and love. What more could you want? Fans of Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series will enjoy this series. 

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Wishes and Wellingtons by Julie Berry

(Juvenile Fiction) 

Be careful what you wish for ...

Maeve Merritt chafes at the rigid rules at her London boarding school for "Upright Young Ladies." When punishment forces her to sort through the trash, she finds a sardine tin that houses a foul-tempered djinni with no intention of submitting to a schoolgirl as his master.

Soon an orphan boy from the charitable home next door, a mysterious tall man in ginger whiskers, a disgruntled school worker, and a take-no-prisoners business tycoon are in hot pursuit of Maeve and her magical discovery. It'll take all of her quick thinking and sass to set matters right. Maeve Merritt is one feisty heroine you won't soon forget.

Rating: 7/10

Review: I loved Julie Berry's YA book "Lovely War" so I was so excited to see she had written a new JFic! I didn't fall head over heals in love with this one though. I though it could have been shorter and it needed a little more punch to it. The writing itself was fine I just wanted a little more adventure and drama. 

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Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson 

(YA Fiction) 

When legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots Enchanted Jones at an audition, her dreams of being a famous singer take flight. Until Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night. Who killed Korey Fields?

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted’s dreams had turned into a nightmare. Because behind Korey’s charm and star power was a controlling dark side. Now he’s dead, the police are at the door, and all signs point to Enchanted.

Rating: 10/10

Review: I LOVED this book!! Beautifully written. Everyone needs to read this story. This is a wonderful story to read as a family for middle school and up. Rape, child abuse, abusive relationship, child predators, and growing up. If you are a father/mother/grandparent/guardian of a child/teenager you NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! You never think it will be your kid. Talk to your kids/teens. Listen to them. Ask about their friends. Show an interest in what they love. Talk to them! 

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All This Time by Mikki Daughtry & Rachael Lippincott

(YA Fiction)

Kyle and Kimberly have been the perfect couple all through high school, but when Kimberly breaks up with him on the night of their graduation party, Kyle’s entire world upends—literally. Their car crashes and when he awakes, he has a brain injury. Kimberly is dead. And no one in his life could possibly understand.
Until Marley. Marley is suffering from her own loss, a loss she thinks was her fault. And when their paths cross, Kyle sees in her all the unspoken things he’s feeling.
As Kyle and Marley work to heal each other’s wounds, their feelings for each other grow stronger. But Kyle can’t shake the sense that he’s headed for another crashing moment that will blow up his life as soon as he’s started to put it back together.

Rating: 6/10

Review: Soooo annoyed with this book!! It started off great. Then the last 100 pages it completely went off the rails. Ahhhhhh!! I was so mad. There are certain things you just don't do to your readers and this book did it. Such a big plot twist and not in a good way. 

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 

(Classic) 

This is what we read for our November YA Book Club! 

"Bah!" said Scrooge."Humbug!" With those famous words unfolds a tale that renews the joy and caring that are Christmas. Whether we read it aloud with our family and friends or open the pages on a chill winter evening to savor the story in solitiude. Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol is a very special holiday experience. It is the one book that every year will warm hour hearts with favorite memories of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future -- and will remind us with laughter and tears how the true Christmas spirit comes from giving with love.

Rating: 8/10

Review: This was my first Dickens novel! I really enjoyed it. However, this is one of those rare books that translates better to movie. It was a quick read and was very vivid in detail but I just wanted to watch the movie!  

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In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund

(YA Fiction) 

When a storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students—including Beth “Peacock” Picach, Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Sam “Mustard” Maestor, Finn Plum, and Scarlet Mistry—are left stranded on campus with their headmaster. Hours later, his body is found in the conservatory and it’s very clear his death was no accident. With this group of students who are all hiding something, nothing is as it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder. Fans of the CLUE board game and cult classic film will delight in Diana Peterfreund’s modern reimagining of the brand, its characters, and the dark, magnificent old mansion with secrets hidden within its walls.

Rating: 8/10

Review: Clue in a book! It was pretty good! Each chapter was narrated by a different character. It's actually a series and there are currently 2 out right now. It was kinda a light read to me. It was a nice book to escape into. 

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The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

(Juvenile Fiction) 

Twelve-year-old Claire Barton doesn't like the "flutter feeling" that fills her chest when she worries about the future, but she knows what she loves: the land that's been in her family for three generations; her best friend Maya; her family's horses, Sunny and Sam; and her older brother Andy. That's why, with Andy recently sent to rehab and her parents planning to sell the horses, Claire's world feels like it might flutter to pieces.
When Claire learns about equine therapy, she imagines a less lonely future that keeps her family together, brother and horses included. But, when she finds what seem to be mysterious wild horses in the woods behind her house, she realizes she has a bit more company than she bargained for. With this new secret -- and a little bit of luck -- Claire will discover the beauty of change, the power of family, and the strength within herself.

Rating: 7/10

Review: A sweet story with difficult themes. This would be a wonderful story to read as a family to discuss addiction. As someone who grew up an only child I really enjoyed reading about the sibling bond. Family dynamic stories are always a little harder to read because they are so real. I would recommend this story for understanding family addiction and the need to discuss the issues openly and being able to reach out for help and who to turn to when you need help. 

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Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston 

(YA Fiction) 

Cerys is safe in the Kingdom of Aloriya. Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden.

Cerys knows this all too well: When she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything.

As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions a small and irritating fox from the royal garden and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home.

But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive.

Rating: 7/10

Review: I liked this book but then not. In some places it kept me on the edge of my seat and in other places it felt drawn out. I loved the concept, the mystery, and the characters. I just thought with the length of the book it could have cut some things in order to add more to the mystery of the book. 

Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks 

(YA Fiction) 

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere has raised eyebrows for years as an unhappy Goth misfit from the trailer park. When she's convicted of her best friend Rose's brutal murder, she's designated a Class A--the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile.
To avoid prison, Signal signs on for a secret program for 18-and-under Class As and is whisked off to an abandoned sleep-away camp, where she and seven bunkmates will train as assassins. Yet even in the Teen Killers Club, Signal doesn't fit in. She's squeamish around blood. She's kind and empathetic. And her optimistic attitude is threatening to turn a group of ragtag maniacs into a team of close-knit friends.
Maybe that's because Signal's not really a killer. She was framed for Rose's murder and only joined the program to escape, track down Rose's real killer, and clear her name. But Signal never planned on the sinister technologies that keep the campers confined. She never planned on the mysterious man in the woods determined to pick them off one by one. And she certainly never planned on falling in love.
Signal's strategy is coming apart at the seams as the true killer prepares to strike again in Teen Killers.

Rating: 9/10

Review: I LOVED this book! So so so good! I just wanted it to be longer. This if the authors first book and it's new so now I am stuck waiting and hoping that she writes something else!! This book is filled with grey which, in my opinion, makes it close to perfect. Do we have to blatantly categorize people based on the crime they are accused of? What drives a person to kill? Can you be friends with a murderer? Could you fall in love with a murderer?! I could not put this book down. I read it in a day and I wish I hadn't so it would have lasted longer. Go read it!! 

The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams 

(YA Fiction) 


Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it's kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she's good at it. And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let's just say she owes some people a new tree. Enter Cassandra Heaven. She's Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria cooking. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme's babysitters club? The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra's mother left her: "Find the babysitters. Love, Mom." Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they're about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

Rating: 7/10

Review: I wanted to love this book so much and I did to a point. It was Buffy mixed with the Adventures of Babysitting. Suspense, romance, and family dynamics. But I felt lost in places. I felt like the author didn't develop certain characters like they needed to be. It also lagged in places; the momentum would be going great and then just stop. There is a sequel that came out recently and I can't decided if I want to read it or not. I don't think I'm as invested as I wanted to be.

Book Reviews 2020

Leeds Jane Culbreth Library 

8104 Parkway Dr. Leeds, AL. 35094

(205) 699-5962

Curbside Hours 

Monday-Thursday's10:00am-1:00pm & 2:00pm-5:00pm

Saturday's 10:00am-1:00pm

Appointments 

Monday-Thursday's 

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