My review of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board by Zoe Aarsen

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“McKenna Brady thinks her junior year of high school is going to be the best ever when she’s welcomed into the elite group of popular girls at Weeping Willow High School led by blond, gorgeous Olivia Richmond. Prior to junior year, McKenna was known in her small town as the girl whose twin sister died in a tragic house fire, and she’s overjoyed at the prospect of redefining her identity. She has a date to the Homecoming dance with Olivia’s handsome older brother, and a good chance of being elected to student council. For the first time since McKenna’s parents divorced, things are looking up.
But everything changes the night of Olivia’s Sweet Sixteen sleepover birthday party. Violet, the shy, mysterious new girl in town, suggests that the girls play a scary game called Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, during which Violet makes up elaborate stories about the future ways in which beautiful Olivia, brassy Candace, and athletic Mischa will die. The game unsettles McKenna because she’s already escaped death once in her life, but she doesn’t want to ruin her friends’ fun. It’s only a game, she reminds herself.
But it doesn’t seem like a harmless game a week later when Olivia dies unexpectedly in a violent car crash, exactly as Violet predicted. And something begins haunting McKenna’s bedroom at night, leaving her clues that all seem to point to Violet. McKenna enlists the help of her cute next-door neighbor Trey in finding out exactly what kind of curse Violet has put on all of the popular girls in the junior class. As Violet rises to popularity and seemingly steps into the life Olivia left unfinished, McKenna and Trey know they only have a limited amount of time to bring an end to Violet’s game before more lives are lost. “

At first I was kind of annoyed with how shallow the main character, McKenna, could be and she mentions quite a few times that they were “the prettiest girls in school”, but she stops doing that once the story moves along. I really got into the story and the mystery surrounding Violet. Is she evil? I wanted to know how she knew all of this stuff about everyone since she’s new.

I could picture everything that McKenna and her friends were going through in my mind. The author is really good at descriptions. After talking to a friendly priest, McKenna and Trey come up with a plan to stop Violet and save her friends. The last third of the book really picks up the pace and is full of action. My heart was racing! I was happy for them because I thought everything was over. Then I read the epilogue. Nice twist. I need to get the next book in the series.

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Review of This Totally Bites! by Ruth Ames

I bought this book at a thrift shop solely based on the fact that it’s about vampires. I’m a sucker for vampire stuff, no pun intended. Thankfully, this was a good book. It’s from a series for “middle grade” readers, but it can be read by older readers without seeming too “young.”

The book’s main character is Emma-Rose Paley, a 7th grader from New York who likes dark, gloomy things. When her great aunt Margo visits from Romania/Transylvania to help her mother with a “Creatures of the Night” museum exhibit, she notices how much they look alike and how much they have in common (wearing black, disliking garlic and daylight, etc). One night, she sneaks into the guest bedroom and catches Margo morphing from a bat to a human. This prompts her to research her family, which is how she becomes convinced that Margo is a vampire and so is she.

The book realistically handles the ups and downs of middle school life. From having an argument with her best friend to having her first crush and figuring out more about herself, the author handles it well. I think this book is perfect for younger readers who like spooky stuff that isn’t terrifying.