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League of Liars

What would you do if you had to adjudicate various criminal cases, but the convicts’ cases seemed complicated, shrouded in secrets and lies? What would you do if you were falsely accused of a crime, but you not only had no witnesses, but also evidence that went against your case? In Astrid Scholte’s novel League of Liars, the world that seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck lives in forbids the use of extradimensional magic – edem – and Cayder strives to convict and punish the edem-abusers at Vardean Prison. His apprenticeship there gets more difficult, however, when he is assigned to three teenagers and must acquit them of the crimes they seemed to have committed. These convicts themselves must also find a way to escape and prove themselves innocent by making a choice to tell the truth or a lie – both could get them locked up forever. With numerous plot twists and witty, brave characters, League of Liars had me gripped the whole time. My only complaint is that it moved a little bit too fast at the end and ended with a huge cliffhanger, and there was a bit of language. Overall, though, this book was exciting, gripping, and full of mystery and secrets. -Abby C

The Red Palace

The Red Palace was a great storyline that is based in a historical event in Korea. A murderer who is killing palace nurse women. It’s a book of mystery and a touch of romance. This was such a great read having the suspense and the adventure to find clues of the killer and I would definitely read it again. There was never a dull moment, but a build up every time a secret was being revealed. -Sophia DiFelici

A Secret Princess

In this modern twist of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Melissa de la Cruz and Margret Stohl create a clever, heart-warming adventure. This story guides readers through the story of the beloved characters Mary Lennox, Sara Crewe, and Cedric Errol, students at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School for Boys and Girls. Together, the friends must tackle many obstacles and hardships, such as deaths of loved ones, separation, starvation, mistreatment, and trust issues. I would recommend that readers read A Little Princess and The Secret Garden before reading this, or at least read a summary of each book in order to understand the characters and events. The book moved a bit slowly at the beginning, but with persistence, readers will enjoy the various escapades and plot twists. While the book is not high-thrill or full of suspense, readers will enjoy this heart-warming tale of friendship, bravery, and selflessness. Needless to say, there is action, drama, and problems that must be solved, but not as much as in many fantasy or adventure books. I enjoyed this book because the characters had to work through difficulties together, but not in the cheesy ‘my-fourth-grade-friends-and-I-solve-a-silly-mystery’ kind of story – rather in a realistic way where they get separated, have to think things through, and sometimes fight or don’t trust each other. The realistic aspect of it, though, may be upsetting to many readers – there are various deaths, and, in my opinion, a touching, yet tragic and heart-breaking ending. Overall, people who want a heart-warming yet heart-breaking novel with unexpected adventures and creative mashups from both original stories should read and hopefully enjoy this story. I would rate it an 8/10 for its slightly slow beginning, but amazing adventures and stirring themes and ending.  Abby C

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

This Chinese mythology based tale was so magical and fascinating. The author’s use of detail and suspense was wonderful! The daughter of the Moon Goddess, who’s mission is to help her mother, is hiding her true identity from the Celestial Royals. There is a lot of action, romance, and deceit throughout the adventure. I love all the characters and the mythology tales that were being told of these Chinese immortals. -Sophia DiFelici

I Must Betray Your

A past layered in mystery, a hope seemingly shattered, a secret concealed from friends and family, a defiant political opinion forced to be silenced, a world spiraling out of control – this is what Christian Florescu shoulders each day of his life. Suffering under the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu and his secret police, Christian and all of Romania struggle to keep themselves and their hope alive. In Ruta Sepetys’s impassioned and suspenseful historical novel I Must Betray You, seventeen-year-old Christian is approached by the secret police and given a choice, a chance, a ‘gift’ clearly implying a threat – if he spies on the American family that his mother works for and reports back to the police, the police will give him medicine for his sick grandfather and will waive any past offenses. With no other options, Christian warily accepts, tormented by the knowledge that he is a traitor to those he loves, even though he wishes and pretends otherwise. Defiance, despair, destruction – will Christian and his family be able to handle it all? The vivid imagery and descriptions and the likeable characters, whom I was rooting for the whole way through, made it particularly stand out. I had so much trouble putting down the book and it now sits among my all-time favorite reads. Stirring, thought-provoking, and engrossing, this tragic yet touching tale of a Romanian boy searching for hope and answers will intrigue readers immensely.  -Abby C

Spells for Lost Things

Emotion, excitement, enchantment – The Spell for Lost Things has it all. With unpredictable turns and heart-warming friendships, Jenna Evans Welch tells the story through the perspectives of two seventeen-year-old high schoolers, Willow Haverford and Mason Greer. Willow, having never felt true belonging or acceptance and yearning to explore what lies outside of California, plans to jump on a plane the moment she finishes high school to travel the world. But when her mother receives a letter that Willow’s great-aunt, Sage, has died, Willow is forced to accompany her mom to Salem, Massachusetts to sort out the family inheritance, specifically, Sage’s house. Meanwhile, Mason Greer, unable to live with his socially and mentally unstable mother, has been in the foster care system his whole life. But when he gets a new foster placement with his mom’s childhood best friend in Salem, his whole world changes – he meets Willow as his father is helping Willow’s mother sell the house, and together they must uncover Willow’s family secret – a curse affecting generation after generation. This book was so captivating – I literally could not put it down. The secretive pasts of multiple characters, the broken and sad relationships between family members, and intriguing plot had me hooked every chapter. This book was an amazing read, and I would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy quick, bittersweet novels. -Abby C

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