Saturday, September 26, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This sequel to The Hunger Games doesn't disappoint readers of the first book! Katniss is living in luxury after her win but is haunted by nightmares of her time in the Games. She and Peeta are trying to get on with their lives at home but Katniss is visited by President Snow who tells her that she has sparked revolts in several of the districts because of her defiance that led to having two winners in the last Games. The president threatens Katniss, and everyone she cares about, if she is not able to put on a good enough show to convince the districts that all is well. Although Katniss makes a good effort it is not enough to quiet the rebellions that are stirring throughout the country and with the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Games, she finds herself in a place she never thought she'd see again.

The Fledging of Az Gabrielson by Jay Amory

Az is considered a freak by the other people in the sky cities because he was born without wings. He has adjusted to walking while everyone around him can fly. Although they have existed above the clouds for generations because of pollution on the ground, the cities still receive many necessary supplies from the ground through service elevators. One day Az is approached by a man from the Secret Sanctum and told that the supplies from the ground have been dwindling. Because Az is in a unique position to handle life on foot below the clouds, he is sent down to the surface to investigate what is happening. When he arrives Az is surprised to find that the Groundlings, whom he had been told were extinct, are still thriving on the Earth's surface but are tired of working hard to send all their natural resources to the sky cities. Some of the humans worship the "Ascended Ones" in the sky, but many others are planning a revolt and looking for a way to bring down the cities once and for all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock

Benevolence lives a carefree life with her parents until her mother is killed and her father disappears on an outing one day. With so many of the royal family gone, Ben is summoned to the castle by the queen to begin her lessons in how to be a proper princess. But Ben has no interest in learning dancing, etiquette, embroidery, and conversation. And she especially is not interested in eating like a bird in order to attract the son of her country's sworn enemies. Ben finds herself punished by the queen and locked in tower where she discovers her family's heritage - the ability to perform magic. Princess Ben is a funny adventure that includes many traditional fairy tales.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Nick and his brother Alan have been on the run from evil Magicians their entire lives. Their mother is a magician herself who left the worst group of them taking something the magicians want very badly. But Mum's time with the magicians has left her with mental problems so it is up to Nick and Alan to take care of her even though she can't stand the sight of Nick and screams if he comes near her. When a girl from school shows up asking for help with a demon mark on her brother Alan offers to help because of his crush on her. Nick has never had any sympathy for anyone other than his brother but he is drawn into helping when Alan gives the girl his talisman and ends up with demon marks of his own. Now Nick has to turn the tables and go after the magicians in order to save his brother's life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Alanna and her twin brother Thom are leaving their home to be trained in their future professions. Their father is sending Thom to learn to be a knight and Alanna to learn womanly things at a convent. But Thom wants to learn to be a sorcerer and Alanna has always been better at fighting than most boys. So Alanna cuts her hair and goes to the castle as Alan, a page training to be a knight. She finds her new path harder than she ever imagined but slowly she begins to excel in her training. She also discovers that in addition to her fighting skills she has some magical ones. Her healing ability is especially useful when the prince is close to death. Alanna saves him but now she has become a target for the powerful sorcerer who cast the spell in the first place.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Midnight for Charlie Bone

Charlie lives with his mother and overbearing aunts. While looking at some photographs he discovers that he can hear the thoughts and conversations that were taking place when the photo was taken. His aunts are thrilled to learn that he has finally developed some magical abilities since he is a descendent of the Red King. They demand that he begin attending a local boarding school for rich and magical children where Charlie is immediately caught up in a search for a missing girl. If you have read all of the Harry Potter books and are looking for a new series, give Charlie Bone a try!

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Parents are only allowed to have two children and Luke is the third child in his family. Since he is illegal he has had to live all of his life in hiding, mostly in the attic, or face arrest by the Population Police. Luke is convinced that he is the only third child in the world but one day he sees a girl's face looking out the window of a neighbor's house after the rest of the family has left for the day. Luke is determined to talk to this possible other hidden child and when he finally finds a way to meet with her he learns that the government is controlling lives in many ways in addition to the limits on children.

The Young Man and the Sea by W.R. Philbrick

Skiff's mother left him three directions before she died - think smart, speak true, and never give up. Skiff is trying to live up to her expectations but finds himself acting alone since his father is deep in grief. When their boat is damaged beyond use by the rich bully in town Skiff doesn't see any way to dig out of the problems he has. But when Skiff sees a man selling a giant tuna in town for a huge sum of money he decides that he will catch a fish at least that big to solve his problems. Since their main boat is out of service Skiff will have to get the big fish using just his ten foot boat and a harpoon made by his father. He sails before dawn one day to a spot 30 miles out into the ocean to wait for his dream fish. But when problem after problem threaten his dream, he thinks that he has probably ignored his mother's rule of thinking smart and it might even cost him his life.

Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer

Jenna is back in this sequel to Rules of the Road. After stopping a takeover of Gladstone shoes in the first book Jenna is back to working at the shoe store at the beginning of a new school year. She has a crush on a boy who is as dedicated to his job at the donut shop as she is to her life in shoes. She is also trying to train young thief Tanner how to be a great shoe salesman. Unfortunately, Mrs. Gladstone's greedy son is back trying to ruin the company with his embezzelment but Jenna and Mrs. Gladstone team up again to try to defeat him for a second time.

Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer

At 16 Jenna has had to be very responsible. She takes care of her younger sister now that her parents are divorced and her mother works the night shift. Her beloved grandmother has Alzheimer's disease and cannot be the support for Jenna she once was. Jenna works for a shoe store and excels at her job. When the president of the shoe chain asks Jenna to drive her to Texas Jenna jumps at the chance to be away from home and to use her brand new driver's license. On the way to Texas she learns that even rich Mrs. Gladstone has problems of her own. At the moment, she is traveling across country to try to stop a takeover of her company by her greedy, evil son. Jenna finds herself enjoying Mrs. Gladstone and ends up playing an important part in the meeting with the shoe store executives.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Miri lives in a small village on Mount Eskel and assumes that she will work in the local quarry like most people in town. But the girls on the mountain are surprised to learn that the prince of their country will choose his wife from their village. Every eligible girl in the village is sent down the mountain to attend a school to prepare them for life as a princess. The girls are completely cut off from their lives and families by a strict teacher and heavy snow. Some of the girls are working hard to be chosen by the prince while others, like Miri, are discovering themselves and their own abilities for the first time.

Peeled by Joan Bauer

Hildy is a reporter for her school newspaper in a small town. Life in town becomes disturbed when it seems that a ghost is haunting the old Ludlow place. People in town are scared and rumors are started by Pen, the editor of the town newspaper. Pen continues to publish scary stories that stir up the townspeople. Hildy and her staff try to publish the truth of what is happening but when Pen complains the principal shuts them down and they have to publish secretly. Hildy receives help from a restaurant owner who has experienced censorship in her home country. Hildy and her staff work against time to uncover the mystery of the haunted house.

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

Leela is the spoiled daughter of rich parents in India in the 1940s. According to the custom of the time she is already married although she does not live with her husband. She will soon join her husband's family in a customary celebration. But before she gets to enjoy this celebration her husband dies from a snake bite. Although she has never enjoyed any of the privileges of marriage she now finds herself a widow and must live accordingly. The rules of widowhood in India at that time state that she cannot wear jewelry or bright colors, she can never marry again, and she must spend one year inside her house. With the help of a tutor who comes to the house Leela begins to learn more about her country and finds hope for her future in the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi.

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

In 1941 in India girls didn't usually have much choice about their futures. Most girls enter an arranged marriage and spend their lives serving their husbands. But Vidya's father is a doctor who has encouraged his daughter to go to college and make her own life. India is in turmoil as they try to gain their independence from England. Vidya's father supports the cause of independence and has been working secretly to help injured protestors. When he and Vidya are caught in a protest she leaves the car and runs into the crowd to join them. Her father, trying to catch her, is beaten by the police and suffers extensive brain damage. Since he is now unable to support the family they have no choice but to move in with her grandfather and other relatives who have a much more traditional view of what Vidya should be doing with her life. Her only salvation from the hard work she is directed to do by her mean aunts is when she is allowed to go upstairs to the library in the house and read. She becomes more involved in the politics in her country while forming a relationship with a young man who also uses the library and encourages Vidya to develop her intelligence.

Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck

Blossom Culp lives on the wrong side of the tracks in her town in 1913. In order to impress and scare some people at school Blossom tells them that she can see the past and future even though she can't. But her lies eerily come true when she goes into a trance and finds herself on board the Titanic as it is sinking. When she comes back to herself she is soaked in saltwater. Now she is suddenly being approached by ghosts and experiencing visions on a regular basis when all she wants is to go back to being just like everyone else.

Squashed by Joan Bauer

Ellie is growing a pumpkin that she hopes will win the top prize at the fair. She just needs for her pumpkin to gain 200 more pounds while she herself is hoping to lose 20. She's also hoping to win the attentions of Wes, a new boy at school. But in the meantime she has to keep her pumpkin safe from an early frost and sabotage from the previous squash record-holder.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay gets a box of audiotapes in the mail from Hannah, a girl who has recently commited suicide. The note with the tapes says that each side tells the story of a person who is partially responsible for Hannah's suicide and that if you have received the tapes, you are one of the reasons why. Clay had a crush on Hannah and thought that he had always treated her well so he is worried about what he might have done to contribute to her death. Clay starts listening to Hannah telling her own story of torment, learning secrets about many of his classmates and teachers along the way.

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

In the third book of the Uglies series Tally has transformed herself into a Special and is now an enforcer working for the powers that be in Pretty City. Tally and her friend Shay have had operations that make them lethal with super-fast reflexes, sharpened teeth and other built in defensives. Together they are working to stamp out The Smoke and their ideas once and for all. They also try to stay "icy" at all times by cutting themselves to stay hyper aware of their lives. But even though they are working for the government they have very little allegiance to anyone and soon discover that they might be working for the wrong side.

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

In this sequel to Uglies, Tally finds herself living in New Pretty City after her operation that made her pretty. She spends her days attending parties and doing things that make her feel "bubbly". But during one night on the town she is approached by someone who tells her that before her operation she agreed to be a guinea pig for for The Smoke - a settlement in the wilderness working against the mandatory operations. Doctors in The Smoke believe that the effects of the operation can be reversed with their new cure and before she left them Tally agreed to try the pills after she had her operation. Tally doesn't remember offering to help them nor does she remember her boyfriend from her time in the woods and she is now dating Zane. But she finds herself convinced that she did offer to help and agrees to try the experimental pills, as long as Zane can try them as well. Tally becomes an even bigger target for the Specials as she works against the life everyone has always known.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

In the future everyone has an operation at age 16 to make them pretty so that no one will be left out. Tally is almost 16 and can't wait for her operation. A few weeks before her birthday she meets Shay who tells her about a place in the woods where people live as they used to without special treatment and operations. When Shay chooses to go there she leaves directions in case Tally changes her mind. Tally just wants to have her operation but she finds herself being held captive by the police in town who want Tally to lead them to the renegade camp. If she refuses to help, she will never be allowed to have her operation so Tally has no choice but to help. Even though she fully intends to turn in Shay and everyone she finds, when Tally gets to the camp she discovers that everything she has ever believed might be wrong.

Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Holmes

Cadence's father is in the mental hospital, again. Cadence is not sure what problems her father has but when she finds a post office box number in his things she starts writing letters to this unknown friend of her father's hoping he will provide some insight. She sees herself as Rapunzel - alone and locked in a tower waiting for answers. But when her letters to the post office box are not answered she has to try to find reasons for the problems in her life by herself.

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Like her father Sabriel has the power to send the Dead back into death, rather than having them roam the earth killing the living. Their main tools are a series of bells that, when rung correctly, have the power to send the death to lasting peace. The land of rampant magic is separated from the human world by a wall and Sabriel has been going to a boarding school on the human side of the wall. But when she is visited by a magical creature who brings her father's bells and his sword she knows that something has happened to her dad and that she must travel into Death to find him and bring him back. First she has to find his body on the magical side of the wall, a place she has never visited. While there she discovers that a restless and powerful spirit is working to find a way to defeat Sabriel's father and come back to life once and for all.