Posted in book review

Spring Reads – Action & Suspense to Give Your Brain a Break

Here are some fun books that you definitely should add to your spring reading list. Unless you don’t like great stories, likeable characters, fun plot twists, and lots of action. In that case, you probably should skip these.


The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Elizabeth Grey might be female, rather delicate looking, and just a tad insecure but she’s also one of the best witch hunters out there. If you’re smart, you might not want to turn your back on her. On the other hand, if you have her loyalty you can be sure that she has your back. The question, in this plot-twisting magical thriller, is who should Elizabeth give her loyalty to? The good guys–who might be the bad guys? Or the bad guys–who might be the good guys?

I don’t want to give too much away here but I can say The Witch Hunter delivers. With a fast-moving story line, believable characters, chase scenes, lots of magic, a little bit of romance and some credible suspense, how can you go wrong? Plus, even though it’s a series (The King Slayer is coming in June), the ending is satisfying with the promise of more to come–no dreadful cliffhanger leaving you swinging in the wind. And, can I just say thank you for a normal name for the main character?

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Solara Brooks (you see what I’m saying?) is heading just about as far away as one can get–to the outer galaxy, in fact. Unfortunately, she has a little problem–no money. And another little problem–a criminal record. But she does have a job waiting if she can just get transport in exchange for work. Well, as you can imagine, she does get transport. The only problem is her new boss, Doran Spaulding, has never liked her and is planning on making her life miserable. The trip takes an interesting turn, however, when Doran threatens to drop her off in the middle of the journey with no resources. Suddenly, a miserable but necessary space flight turns into a dangerous road trip through the galaxies and Solara finds herself part of a starship crew that may or may not also be on the run. Lots of plot twists combined with space pirates and other dangers make this a fun SciFi read and, hopefully, the start of a new series.

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

Lady Truthful Newington (fortunately known to her friends as “Newt”) is about to celebrate her 18th birthday and be introduced to London society. Naturally, she’s excited, especially because she finally will see the amazing and magical Newington Emerald, a family treasure that she will inherit when she turns 25. Her birthday dinner goes a bit awry, however, when the Emerald gets stolen and her father becomes ill. Not one to sit around and wait, Newt decides that she needs to take matters into her own hands to get the Emerald back. Needless to say, events do not go quite as she plans and she gets herself into a series of magical mishaps that just seem to get worse by the day. Fortunately, there are several cute guys involved, not to mention subterfuge and sorcery. This is a magical romp of a story that is perfect for spring reading. Enjoy it with tea and crumpets on the side.

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Georgiana likes science and she’s curious, two personality quirks that just are not acceptable in London society in Regency England. After she accidentally burns down the stables, Georgiana is banished to Stranje House where girls go to be disciplined into acceptable behavior. After only an hour in the house, Georgiana realizes she needs to escape. But her curiosity soon gets the best of her. Is Stranje House what it’s supposed to be? If so, then why are there secret passages and, apparently, secret meetings going on? And what about her fellow inmates/students who seem to have even more unusual “personality quirks” than Georgiana has? You’ll  have to read it to find out, but you’ll definitely enjoy this fast-paced genre-bending historical fiction/suspense/paranormal/gothic novel.

All of these books feature strong female leads supported by a well-developed cast of characters, both male and female. Combine that with fast-moving plots and quirky characters and you have some fun reading–perfect for students who want to take a break from tests and research papers in the spring.

Submitted by Ms. Bing

Find all of these books and more in the BEHS Library!

Posted in book review

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

books-3Sometimes you just gotta do something different. That’s not exactly what Zoe was thinking when she first met Digby or when she next met Digby, or even when she tried to hide from Digby but, apparently, that’s what life was thinking. Or maybe life was just in the mood for a big practical joke–with Zoe right in the middle of it. Or maybe it wasn’t life at all–maybe it was all Digby.

Zoe’s life has been in a bit of upheaval. Her parents recently divorced, she and her mom moved, and she’s in a new school for junior year. So, when she uncharacteristically cuts school one day, you can’t really blame her. Unfortunately, that landed her in detention where she met Philip Digby, the somewhat quirky, a little bit odd, somewhat cute, a little bit of a big pain classmate, who seems destined to drag her into trouble. Before she knows it, Zoe is investigating a missing persons cold case along with a slew of other unusual happenings around town. There are explosives involved, more cutting class, some lying that she’s really sorry about, and what appears to be a very strange goings on at the neighbor’s house. There’s a lot of mystery, a lot of funny situations (if by funny, you mean embarrassing), and more suspense than you would think.

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly is a nice mash-up of Ferris Bueller meets the Scooby-Doo gang (without the dog and the ghosts). A good, fun mystery with characters you will love.

Genre: Mystery

Submitted by: Ms. Bing

5 stars!

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Find Trouble is a Friend of Mine in the BEHS Library


Posted in book review

Fantasy Picks … What the Book Club Read Last Month

So many excellent books in the fantasy genre lately! Here are some of the top fantasy picks the BEHS Library Book Club read last month. Curiously, several have characters who are thieves. Perhaps not so curiously, none involve football players so football fans who were lured in by the Fantasy Picks title, sorry about that … but stick around to learn about some fun books to read!

A few of the fantasy novels the Book Club read in December. See short reviews of four of the titles below.

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab – Four separate but coexisting Londons, four different levels of magic. Two people left who can travel between the worlds and one street thief who accidentally gets caught up in the political intrigue between the worlds. When Kell, one of the few who can travel between the different versions of the city, is tricked into bringing a dangerous artifact across the border, a chain reaction of disasters embroils him and street thief Lila Bard in what could be the end of all four worlds. A fast-moving fun read that reveals secrets and character twists as the plot unfolds.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Set in the gritty underworld of Ketterdam, where both magic and thieves prosper, Six of Crows is the somewhat dark story of a dangerous, definitely illegal, and virtually impossible quest to kidnap a chemist from an unassailable fortress. This is not a noble quest, the prize is a huge pot of money. Kaz, a mysterious young con artist, assembles his ragtag band of brilliant loners into a Ocean’s Eleven-ish type band of anti-heroes who have what it takes to survive on their own and, hopefully, beat impossible odds. Fully realized characters who play against each other, plenty of action, and detailed world building make this a good read.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand – What’s not to like when you mashup steampunk, fantasy and dystopia with a twist on The Nutcracker? Clara Stole, the genteel daughter of the mayor, leads a prim and proper life while secretly being trained in self-defense. On one fateful Christmas Eve she finds out why she’s been training all these years after her home is brutally attacked, her father kidnapped, a statue comes alive and a doorway to another world is revealed. Follow Clara and Nicholas on their wild adventure to save her family and the kingdom.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – A fantasy/dystopian crossover with a lot of action and plot twists. In a world where people with silver blood and magical abilities rule, life is brutally hard for the ungifted red-blooded humans. While trying to survive in this dystopian world, 17-year old pickpocket Mare inadvertently finds herself embroiled in deception, rebellion, the queen’s court, and possible love interests with two different guys. So many twists and turns, trials and trust issues make Red Queen a fun read.

Posted in book review

Dystopian Fiction – What the BEHS Book Club Read Last Month


Every month, the BEHS Library Book Club picks a different genre to read then we share the ones we like best. November was all about dystopian novels. Here are some of the favorites:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, a fantasy/dystopian novel that gets rave reviews here. After her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover at the empire’s military academy in exchange for help from rebel Scholars. There she meets a soldier named Elias, and they soon realize that their fates not only are intertwined but could affect the future of the Empire itself.

402057_mBoneshaker by Cherie Priest, a steampunk zombie-infested dystopian novel with airships. Do I really need to say more? I’m checking this one out today!

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan mixes science fiction with dystopia. Stranded in Honolulu after a worldwide electronics failure, Leilani and her father must make their way home to Hilo amid escalating perils, including her severe epilepsy.

The Sky so Heavy by Claire Zorn, a gripping post-apocalyptic novel reviewed here earlier. After a nuclear bomb explodes, teens separated from their parents set off on a road trip to find help, books-2learning quite a bit along the way.

The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey is an unusual zombie dystopian novel, well worth the read. Melanie–smart, caring, curious, “alive”–has spent her life in a cage, only allowed out while strapped to a wheel chair. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Melanie, the facility she’s in and life in a post-zombie America where the good guys aren’t necessarily good and the zombies just might have something to teach us all.

So many dystopians to choose from–post apocalyptic, science fiction, paranormal, mash-ups of all sorts, or straight up dictatorships… What’s your favorite dystopian novel?

Posted in book review

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alendar

booksDelia and her family have moved into a new house in Pennsylvania that the locals call Hysteria Hall. Very quickly, Delia learns one of the dark secrets of the Hall and realizes that her family is in grave danger. She has to find a way to save her sister, parents, and perhaps herself.

This book was really good. It showed how people who have passed may still linger on in ways that are not visible to us. I was not expecting the twist that came a little bit into the book. It was shocking but a clever way to continue the story. If you like reading about ghosts but don’t want to be scared, I would recommend this book to you.

Submitted by: Cathy D.

Genre: Horror

4 Stars!



Find The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall in the BEHS Catalog

Posted in book review

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

booksThe Fire Sermon is a great dystopian novel about what happens after all technology burns up in a nuclear apocalypse. It takes place years after the earth has been all but destroyed and the human gene pool has gone a bit wacky. For some reason, only twins are born — one twin is perfect (the Alpha) while the other twin is “deformed” in some way (the Omega). The connection between the twins (if one dies so does the other) is really cool and kind of freaky. You could just be walking around one day and drop dead because your twin got kicked in the head by a horse.

When Zach, an Alpha with a lot of ambition and power, turns on his twin Cass, an Omega whose “deformity” is a psychic ability, she finds herself on the run with an unexpected stranger. And she never expected to end up where she does. The twist that came at the end was unexpected and a little shocking. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

Submitted by Cathy D.

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 4 stars star_yellowstar_yellowstar_yellowstar_yellow


Check Out The Fire Sermon in the BEHS Catalog!