Children of Refuge by Margaret Peterson Haddix

refuge-for-websiteSimon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017

In Fredtown, where he lived for the first twelve years of his life, Edwy was the rebel, the one who wanted to turn the rules on their heads, the one who thought the Freds weren’t giving the kids of Fredtown the whole story. But in his real home with his true parents, there are just as many secrets, and things are so different, it’s even hard to figure out how to rebel. What’s clear is that something big and very, very bad happened before Edwy was born. Edwy decides to find out what it was and enlists the help of Rosi, the other oldest kid from Fredtown, but before he knows it, Edwy is whisked away to the city of Refuge, leaving his promise of watching out for Rosi unfulfilled.

In Refuge the rules have changed once again, and no one seems to have answers for Edwy. At first, life in Refuge seems easy, but over time Edwy’s promise to watch over Rosi weighs on him – she’s still back in the town with her parents. When Edwy gets news of what is happening to Rosi, he knows he will have to use his wits and enlist the help of strangers to save her and to solve the mysteries of his new home.

The second book in the series, Children of Refuge continues the story of the return of the children from Fredtown through Edwy’s point of view. The compelling questions and characters keep coming as readers journey with Edwy and learn even more about his world.

Margaret Patterson Haddix continues the series masterfully, switching viewpoints for this second novel from Rosi to Edwy and enlarging our knowledge of the world. Haddix’s characters are fully developed and engaging. Edwy’s growth through the novel as he solves problems and adjusts to his new life is satisfying and real. I read through books one and two very quickly, engrossed in the story. I will be waiting on pins and needles for the next book in the series.

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

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Exile

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016

There are many rules in Fredtown, and sometimes it’s hard for Rosi to follow them. It seems like Edwy, the other twelve-year-old in Fredtown, doesn’t even try. But Rosi knows the rules are meant to ensure that everyone gets along and lives respectfully together. In fact, life in Fredtown with her Fred-parents is pretty great, except for the fact that it’s not her real town or her real parents. Rosi has known this all her life; nevertheless, she’s shocked when she learns that all the kids in Fredtown are going home to the real parents they left when they were newborns.

Rosi has a million questions. Why have they been raised in Fredtown since they were tiny babies? If she does have real parents in another town, why haven’t they come to get her before now? If the town her parents live in is too dangerous for kids like Rosi and her brother, why are the kids being sent back there now? Rosi takes very seriously her responsibility to help the younger kids through the trip. But as soon as they leave Fredtown, Rosi begins to question all she’s ever been taught by the Freds and everything she thought she knew. Nothing in Fredtown has prepared her for her real parents or life in the town she should call home.

Grippingly written, Margaret Patterson Haddix’s Children of Exile takes readers through a dark adventure which asks big questions. Readers will be swept up not only by Rosi, her brother BoBo, Edwy, and the other children of exile, but also by questions of respect, justice, judgment, and duty as they follow Rosi through the discoveries and trials of her new life.

The first book in a series, Children of Exile’s compelling characters and soul-searching dilemmas will appeal to middle grade readers. They’ll love Rosi’s spunk and independence and hate the injustice of decisions that are made for her and for the other children. Children of Exile provides great fodder for debates about the right course of action in a situation in which humanity’s continuing existence is at risk.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Friday’s post will review the second book in the series, Children of Refuge.

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

perfectFeiwel & Friends, 2017.

Seventeen-year-old Celestine’s life turned on its head when she was branded flawed by the morality court. Now everyone can see that she is not perfect, that she does not meet the standard to which everyone in society is held. But Celestine still doesn’t think that what she did was wrong. As she told Judge Crevan, the impulse that sent her to morality court was simply based on compassion and logic, and she refuses to apologize for that. However, when the judge loses his temper and does something unthinkable and Celestine’s words to the court are taken up by his political rival, Celestine is suddenly caught up in a heated war between two political rivals and two very different parts of society. Celestine will have to use strength she didn’t know she had and the help of friends, both new and old, to use the evidence she has for good.

Frequent readers of this blog will know that I intensely dislike stories with a moral, anything blatant and I’m likely to throw the book across the room. On the other hand, I’m a firm believer in learning from stories. A good story pulls you in and teaches you something about life: how you want to live yours, what (or whom) you want to avoid, how it might be to live in another time or place or body. On the surface Perfect is a dystopian novel that is very similar to others found on the library shelves, and yet there are lessons here—lessons that seem different from other dystopian novels I’ve read in the last few years—lessons of compassion and decency. They struck a real chord with me perhaps because they are timeless lessons, but lessons that may seem particularly important today in the United States.

This young adult novel includes politics, ethics, romance, and a fast-paced, high-stakes plot.

I received an electronic review copy of Perfect courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Want to Read Wednesday

I review a fair number of books, aiming for one middle grade or young adult book review a week. I also read reviews others write and keep my Goodreads Want to Read list well populated. I’m always interested in the books that are getting some buzz, even if I don’t have the time to read them just yet, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of the books that make it onto my Want to Read list each week.

Here’s my list for this past week:


Five Elements: The Emerald Tablet by Dan Jolley

Magic is good. I’d love to read a new middle grade book that portrays elemental magic well. Plus, a great new series is reading for today and for the future, too.

The tip off came from: Ugh, I’ve lost track of this one…will update if I find it.



Grudging: Birth of Saints Book One by Michelle Hauck

This is an adult historical fantasy. Witches, chivalry, medieval world… might certainly appeal to young adult readers and it’s another series.

The tip off came from: A writing contest on Michelle’s page:


one-for-sorrow One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

A ghost story set during the influenza epidemic of 1918. My grandfather nearly died in boot camp of the Spanish influenza and his condition after left him ineligeable to serve in the military, so I’m curious. Plus ghosts!

The tip off came from:



Scythe by Neal Shusterman

The review got me on this one: reluctant reader eating it up, important and complex moral questions, compelling main characters. Young Adult. Plus, series!

The tip-off came from: The Winged Pen Blog


march-against-fearThe March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

Important from a historical perspective and relevant to today. Definitely looking forward to cracking this one open and deepening my understanding of the relationship between the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power movement. Young Adult.

The tip-off came from: Teen Librarian Toolbox

Which books caught your attention this week? Leave a comment below.

Want to connect on Goodreads? Sarah Monsma on Goodreads