Rated by: Melissa Grey

On the cover of the book Rated, students in school uniforms sit in rows of desks
Rated

At Maplethorpe Academy, people are scrambling to keep their ratings high, otherwise you might drop out and get sent to who – knows – where. Plus, the higher your rating, and your parents’ and siblings ratings, are, the better value, society ranking, and luxuries you can get. The lower the points go, the harder you have to work to get them higher.

When an act (or two) of vandalism rocks the school, a chain reaction follows, leaving 6 students: Bex, Tamsin, Hana, Noah, Chase, and Javi,
At first glance, all of them have nothing in common, but as the mystery wears on, it seems like they have what they need together.

Bex, the smart one, and soon to be valedictorian, Noah, the photographer with an interesting past, Tamsin, the school witch, Hana, the Olympic skater, Chase, the baseball pitcher star, and Javi, the video gamer, all come together to solve the riddle of who is doing all this vandalism.

If they figure out who’s doing this, a bunch of secrets about Maplethorpe Academy will be spilled to them, but are they ready?

I recommend this book to everyone because it’s such a good book. I rate it a 9/10, partially because the point of view switches every chapter. It’s about an utopian society where everything is “perfect” and because I love those types of genres, I loved this book twice as much. Enjoy!

The Geography of Lost Things by: Jessica Brody

A book cover for The Geography of Lost Thongs shows a road with trees on either side
The Geography of Lost Things

Ali (that’s not her “real” name) Collins has a lot of things on her plate.

Her dad left her . . . twice . . . and just a little over a week ago, she found out he died.
Her father left her his most prized possessions, a 1968 Firebird convertible.

Ali has a few memories about that car, and she plans on selling it to a bidder over in Crescent City, CA. However, if she wants to get there, she’s got to drive on a stick shift. But she really wants to go there because the amount of money the buyer’s giving her is enough to save her childhood home from foreclosure.

Therefore, she asks her ex-boyfriend, Nico, if he can drive her up there. He agrees to drive her up there.

The trip goes off terribly, with multiple detours and the tension between her and her ex, Nico.
Along the way, Nico starts collecting objects from strangers, and Ali starts finding their worth, thinking they are brought to her for a reason.

Finally, all these objects, a few clues, and flashbacks, help find an unknown truth about her father, but will Ali be ready to hear it?

This is book is a solid 10/10, and way more, like a 100/10. It is beautifully written and the character development is subtle but it’s there. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It’s such a good book, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Enjoy!

The Queen of Nothing, by Holly Black

A cover for the book Queen of Nothing shows a crown in one corner and a snake in another
The Queen of Nothing

The Queen of Nothing, written by Holly Black, is the much-anticipated conclusion to The Folk of the Air trilogy. After the disappointing ending of The Wicked King, this book managed to turn my opinion of the whole series to a positive one. It picks up where the last book ended, with Jude attempting to adapt to live in the human world during her exile.

Throughout this book, one of my few problems was that I did not care about Vivi and Heather as I felt they didn’t add anything to the story. Their characters were fleshed-out well enough and they had cute moments, but their only contribution was as a caretaker for Oak and a connection to the human world. Similarly, I continued to have issues with Taryn, whose “redemption” arc was not satisfying. She killed Locke, but nothing else she did warranted a close bond between the sisters or reason to believe she changed. Overall, Taryn didn’t have much impact on the main plot other than creating emotional pain for Jude in the first two books until she was forgiven and cast into the shadows in the third book.

Cardan was a wonderful character to the end. It was enjoyable to read about a character with reason to be cruel and slowly see the real him by the end of the trilogy. His character arc was refreshing and made sense. Both Jude and Cardan struggled with emotional traumas and it took them time to open up to one another and realize they weren’t all that different, which helped them heal. Black managed to create a scenario that genuinely made me worry that Cardan might not survive, and the way he was brought back didn’t anger me as most death-to-living scenarios do. The ending of the book had been prophesized from Cardan’s birth and it played out in a way that caught both the reader and characters off guard.

Jude’s dilemma with deciding what to do with the new Cardan-snake and realizing that she would rather not have Cardan than have him as a snake with full control over him was poignant and a selfless decision that I wasn’t quite sure she would make. I also liked how Jude grew in confidence over the series and finally stopped annoying me with every decision she made. Despite liking her, I still felt that when she, a human, became Queen of Faerie, if I were a faerie I would have been upset about a human ruling over my kingdom. Knowing that Cardan would rule with her, later on, helped resolve my pity for the people of Faerie.

I do wish that the epilogue had ended with Jude and Cardan in Faerie, but I still enjoyed the cute pizza scene; it just felt out of place in the story. This series was unique from the setting to the plot to the take on faeries that have been oversaturated in the young adult fantasy genre. Despite not enjoying the second book, the third book tied up loose ends and gave me a better outlook over the trilogy.

  The Queen of Nothing earns 10/10 dragons, for its perfect, emotional ending and unique world.

The Elementals – Book 1 – How It All Started

Group of students talking
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Chapter 13 – Worried Friends

Back at the school, Inferno, Marina, and Thunder were fretting over their friends. They were back at school the next day, and the skeleton attack was the buzz all over the place. But Inferno, Marina, and Thunder were more worried about Earth, Hickory, and Blaze than another attack.

“Ohhhh what if they got caught?” Marina said, nervously fidgeting in her chair.

Thunder put a steady hand on her shoulder. “I’m sure they’re fine. You saw how Earth fended off the skeletons. Besides, they’re on a moving train, what could possibly get them?” he reassured Marina.

“What about the conductor?” Inferno inputted. “And Hickory’s leg is damaged, isn’t it? My bet is they’re already dead. Might as well start planning a funeral,” she added grimly.

Marina gave her a look. “Don’t say things like that! Do you want your friends to be dead?” she snapped.

“Well, no, but still. Anything could’ve happened,” Inferno replied.

Marina sighed. “I guess you’re right,” she said solemnly. Inferno smirked, proud of making Marina agree with her.

“See? Maybe if Earth doesn’t come back, I can be in charge,” she suggested with a bit of demand in her voice.

“Who said Earth was in charge? She’s just the bravest out of the six of us, admit it,” Thunder said.

Inferno faked a look of hurt. “I thought I was the bravest!”

“And I thought you and Earth were best friends,” Marina added.

“We- we are!” Inferno said quickly.

“Then why are you talking about her like you aren’t?” Marina questioned.

“I’m not, it’s just that, with her gone, I mean, she is brave and all, b-but I just thought that I was the bravest, and I should totally be leader, because, well, because I should, and, um, I’m qualified for it!”

“‘Qualified for it’?” Thunder scoffed. “You’re just being selfish and you want all the glory for yourself.”

“Guys!” Marina cried. “Stop fighting! We need to stick together! There’s only six of us, and probably thousands of skeletons. We can’t risk losing any more of us.”

“Well said, Marina, well said,” Thunder said, clapping lightly.

“Okay, everyone. Pull out your textbooks and open them to page 23, the section on early humans,” their teacher said. The students unwillingly pulled out their textbooks and began reading.

Thunder slipped a note onto Marina’s book while she was reading. Cheer up, it said, They’re fine. Besides, I’m here for you. – T :). Marina read the note and smiled. She looked at Thunder and mouthed “Thank You”. Thunder nodded in response. As long as they were together, everything was going to be fine.

 

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by: Stacy McAnulty

Cover of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

*This is a book from the middle school list of Battle of the Books!* (2019-2020)

Lucille (Lucy) is a special girl. When she was struck by lightning when she was five years old, she became a math genius. Lucy has many interesting facts about her, like she can memorize about the 100 first digits of pi. She also can’t sit down until she’s done it thrice. She’s been homeschooled ever since the accident; online courses and college credits are all she does at home. She’s lived at home with her grandmother, and her uncle is in the army so he’s not really home a lot. Lucy thinks she knows all, but she isn’t expecting one more twist of events …

Lucy’s 12 years old now and her grandma has decided on a little something. She thinks Lucy is ready for middle school! She’s decided on a challenge for her to accomplish: read one book that’s not math related, join one activity, make one friend, and stay there for at least one year. All these ones!

Lucy hates middle school even before she goes there, but it’ll be a clean slate for her since nobody knows her little secret. She’s still dreading it, and before she knows it, she’s got to go. Will she survive the horrible place of middle school and accomplish the goals her grandmother has set for her? Or will she sink and fail?

I rate this book a 8/10 because I felt like too many parts were a little bit boring. The plot wasn’t bad, but this genre wasn’t really my type. However, for the readers who like realistic fiction with a twist, this one tops the cherry to the pie! Enjoy this hilarious book full of acceptance and friendship while navigating the confusing halls of … MIDDLE SCHOOL!

The Elementals – Book 1 – How It All Started

Train tracks over water
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Chapter 12 – Long Way Down

Earth didn’t sleep good that night. The train was too rickety, the boys snored too loud, and she kept having visions of her friends they left behind being taken. It was all too much. She just laid there in the dark, green eyes wide open, thinking of what to do. Then another vision came. In it, Inferno turned evil, double-crossed the rest of the team, and there was another land. Earth didn’t think much of it. It’s just a dream, she thought.

To take her mind off all the things she’d seen last night, she prepared survival kits for herself and the boys.

“Looks like someone was up all night,” Hickory said, eyeing all of Earth’s work.

Earth chuckled. “Yeah, I couldn’t sleep, I kept having these weird dreams.” she cracked open a bottle of water. “Want any?” she shook the bottle lightly.

“Yeah, actually. Thanks.” Earth handed him a bottle. “So what were these dreams about?”

“Oh, nothing, I’m sure they don’t -“

“Earth had weird dreams last night?” Blaze interrupted, sitting up from his sleep. “Ooo, I’ll take one,” he said to the water. Earth tossed him one.

“Kind of ironic that a fire element wants water,” Hickory joked.

“Hey, a guy’s gotta live,” Blaze responded, taking a sip of the water.

“Guys, get back on track,” Earth snapped. “We have to get off this thing and back home. Grab your bags, we’re going.”

“Wait, like, now?” Hickory asked, surprised.

“Yes, now. Who knows how far away we are. Alright, come on.” she threw open the side door of the train car.

The train was on a bridge. Earth peered over the edge.

“There’s no land in sight, only water beneath us,” she observed. “Give me a crate.” Blaze handed her a crate. Using just her hands, she dismantled it and refashioned it as a raft. Then she threw it out the door.

“Wh-what did you just do?” Hickory asked, stuttering in shock.

“I just dropped our floatation device into the river we’re going to jump into,” Earth explained.

“J-jump? I can’t even w-walk!”

“Why don’t you just try? I think my powers enhanced my already strong reiki. Oh, wow, that’s a long way down…”

“Don’t say that!” Hickory scolded, carefully standing up on his good leg, holding onto a crate for support. He gently placed the hurt leg on the ground and put some pressure onto it. He winced, then put more pressure on it until he was standing up straight. “H-hey! I think-” he took a step “-it’s all healed!” he took another step, then another, and another, until he was next to Earth at the door of the train car.

Earth looked at him. “Didn’t I say it would be?”

“Yes,” Hickory said, giving her a quick hug. “Thank you.”

“Alright, you two. Let’s go,” Blaze interrupted, joining them.

“On three. One… two… three!” Earth yelled, jumping at three. The boys followed her. They held onto their survival bags as they fell.

Step Sister

When the sunrises and the darkness falls,

I stride through the lonely  halls,

Every old grimy portrait, picture, and photograph stares at my empty soul,

For I without freedom am not whole,

I was mean so I deserve this horrible life,

Full of sadness and strife,

I am the step sister of our beautiful queen,

And like I said before “I was mean”,

Queen Cinderella is her name,

If I leave my home I’ll be shadowed by her fame,

So I’m locked up in my house,

Taking care of my family and a nice mouse,

I could have lived with my step sister happy and elated,

I apologized and my bad reputation has faded,

But I fear,

My family will not make it if I leave here,

And there is no going back and changing what I did,

I’ve been ashamed of myself since I was a kid,

So with that I reach my mothers door,

I enter with a rusty tea set, which I put on the floor,

I walk to my mother and rub her cold feet,

She sighs like she always does when she remembers her defeat,

When Cinderella is not around,

I step in with out a sound.

My story is coming to an end,

My advice is what I lend,

Be kind and don’t make my mistake

Or your future is at stake.