Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty

51mm8vlj1dlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I was thrilled beyond belief when I found out that there was going to be a sequel to Robert Beatty’s middle grade novel Serafina and the Black Cloak. I had been impressed with Beatty’s debut last year, and I wanted to find out what was going to happen to our plucky protagonist next.

It should be noted that Serafina and the Twisted Staff reveals information about the first Serafina book and its infamous black cloak, including the identity of the person wearing the black cloak. This review will skirt around such spoilers.

Serafina and the Twisted Staff begins relatively soon after the events of the first book. Young Serafina struggles to find her place in the world; she is not wild enough to survive in the forest, but she feels too wild to live amongst the civilized folk at the grand Biltmore estate. Read more

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

41u7xy0kizlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Beware That Girl is a YA psychological thriller by Teresa Toten. Kate O’Brian is a girl with a past. When we first Kate, she’s living in a hovel, but preparing to start her senior year at Waverly, a Manhattan girl’s school. Kate is confident, and Kate has aspirations for greatness. Part of Kate’s plan involves befriending Olivia Sumner, a former “it girl” who is now only a fragile shell of what she used to be.

It seems clear that Kate plans to use Olivia to further her own agenda, but that’s not quite what’s happening at all. As Kate becomes comfortable moving in Olivia’s circle, there is a dangerous new staff member whose obsession with the girls might ruin everything Kate has worked so hard to achieve. Read more

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

41leocejialI found A Madness So Discreet on Goodreads, and then made a request for it through the library network. This young adult novel was written by Mindy McGinnis.

Grace Mae is a pregnant teenager. Perhaps if her story took place a century later, the plot may have been cute and quirky. But at the end of the 19th century, getting pregnant as a well-bred girl from a good home earns Grace a place in an asylum outside of Boston. It is a terrible place, where inmates are routinely abused. Grace is rescued by a doctor, and brought to another asylum in Ohio. This second asylum is an ethical treatment center, where patients are treated with dignity. Dr. Thornhollow thinks that Grace’s intuition is unparalleled, and thinks that she would make an excellent assistant. Thornhollow is a pioneer in the field of phrenology, and serves as a police consultant on murder cases. When Grace and Thornhill realize that there might be a serial killer in their midst, they become obsessed with catching him and bringing him to justice. Read more

Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

51jvrffsf3lI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sanctuary Bay is a YA novel by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz. I love boarding school stories, so I was excited about the opportunity to read Sanctuary Bay.

Sarah Merson is a teen in the foster care system in Ohio, but she receives a scholarship to the prestigious Sanctuary Bay Academy. She goes from a nomadic life of rotating foster homes to a lush boarding school on an island of the coast of Maine. It seems like a dream come true, even if she never applied for the scholarship in the first place. Read more

The Girl with the Glass Bird by Esme Kerr

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I found The Girl with the Glass Bird through my library network’s search engine. I’ve been on a boarding school kick lately, and so I have several books checked out from the library and in my reading queue from that genre.

The Girl with the Glass Bird is a middle grade novel by Esme Kerr. As the story begins, a young English girl named Edie has been sent to live with her cruel cousins after her beloved grandmother is sent to a nursing home. She hates her cousins, and they torment her mercilessly. When a distant relative offer to pay her tuition at a prestigious boarding school, she is grateful for the opportunity. Read more

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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I first heard about Luckiest Girl Alive a couple of months ago, and I requested it from the library network. Luckiest Girl Alive, the debut effort of Jessica Knoll, seems to be one of the most popular books of the summer because I waited for over a month for my copy to arrive.

As the story begins, we are introduced to Ani FaNelli, who writes sex articles for a fictional version of Cosmopolitan. She’s engaged to the handsome son of an American blueblood family, and everything should be perfect, but it’s not. Ani has a dark side to her personality that lurks so close to the surface; the possibility of her revealing her inner monologue seems like it could happen at any point. Read more

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I had started to hear wonderful things about Serafina and the Black Cloak, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read it. This middle grade novel was written by Robert Beatty.

Serafina lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate with her father, who works as a mechanic. No one knows they live there, and no one knows that Serafina even exists. She is supposed to stay hidden, but she cannot resist sneaking around at night. Serafina takes pride in her “role” as chief rat catcher, but one night, she sees something utterly terrifying in the vast basement of the estate. She sees a man in a black cloak chase down a little girl, and make her disappear. Read more

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

I am a big fan of many of Stephen King’s books. I prefer the ones that are not horror stories, like 11/22/63 and novellas like The Body and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. When Entertainment Weekly published an excerpt from King’s latest novel Finders Keepers, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. I placed a hold through the library network, but so did 186 other people. Luckily, I stopped at the library last Friday and found the book on the special 7 Day Checkout shelf. These books can only be checked out for a week, and they can’t be renewed. I had several books in my reading queue, but I bumped Finders Keepers to the top. Thanks to my children being distracted by the video game Splatoon, and a mini road trip to the Lacrosse Jamboree an hour away, I was able to finish Finders Keepers in a couple of days.

Finders Keepers opens in 1978, with reclusive author John Rothstein’s home being invaded by three masked bandits. They are not only after his money; Morris Bellamy, the ringleader, is convinced that the aged author has a vast collection of unpublished writings. The hunch is correct- they load the Moleskine notebooks into a trunk, and Bellamy shoots Rothstein before leaving.

Thirty-five years later, a teenager named Pete Saubers discovers the trunk with the notebooks and cash. They have gone untouched for all those years because Morris Bellamy has been in prison, but for a different crime than Rothstein’s murder. But then Bellamy is released, and he goes back to his home (that the Saubers family is now living in) and when he realizes that his treasures have been stolen, he is determined to recover what (in his mind) is rightfully his, no matter the cost. Read more