Thursday, December 30, 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Evie has had the unique ability to see the paranormal creature lurking behind a human face as long as she can remember. Since the age of eight she has lived with and worked for the IPCA spotting vampires, werewolves, hags, fairies, and other unusual creatures. When she catches Lend in the IPCA headquarters no one is sure what he is but Evie can see that he is her age and very attractive behind his glamour. Lend is there investigating a creature who has been killing paranormals around the world even though they are usually immortal. Evie wants to spend as much time as possible with Lend but she still has her job to do, an evil fairy to avoid who wants to take her heart, and a paranormal killer to catch who might look exactly like her.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

In Cassia's world everything is perfect and orderly. The Society serves you exactly the right amount of food, monitors how much you exercise, controls how you spend your free time, helps you die at exactly 80, and Matches you with your perfect mate at age 17. Cassia is thrilled to find that her Match is her childhood friend Xander but while looking at the chip about him provided by the Society she finds that another boy's face is on the chip. Like Xander, the other boy is someone she has known her life, Ky. Visited by an Official of the Society, Cassia is reassured that Ky's face was a mistake since he is an Abberation who cannot be matched to anyone. Cassia's thoughts are further disturbed when her grandfather, on his last day of life, shows her two poems that are not on the approved list of 100 poems that he has been hiding all his life. When Cassia and Ky end up at the same summer recreational activity they grow closer and she wonders if everything she has ever learned might be wrong. But how can it be wrong when everything is designed to be perfect?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki

Timothy has been having horrible nightmares about his brother who is in a coma from his time serving in the Army. He is accidentally paired with Abigail for a field trip to the museum and while there, both of them see some unexplainable things. When Timothy's best friend Stuart claims that he has seen a monster at the bottom of the pool, then ends up in the hospital from an attack, Timothy knows that something very real is haunting all of them. With Abigail's help he begins investigating an ancient curse that seems to have come back to get several people Timothy and Abigail know.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Nick is picked on at his private school because he is poor and his mother is an exotic dancer. Things go from bad to worse when he agrees to help some friends with a "job" only to have them try to kill him. Nick is rescued by Kyrian and is sucked into a world of vampires, demons and werewolves. Life gets even stranger when members of the school football team become zombies and begin eating others at school but they seem to be particularly interested in Nick. Surrounded by all sorts of preternatural creatures Nick has to learn to fight them with the help of his new friends. What he doesn't know is that he is also helping to determine his own fate as either a demon or a force for good.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Catherine wants to have the normal life of any twelve year old but her autistic brother David makes that difficult. He requires nearly all of her parents' attention and embarasses her in front of people at school. Catherine hopes that she can make a friend when her new neighbors move in but first she has to keep David away from the family. Her life is further complicated when she begins a friendship with Jason, a boy who can only communicate through picture cards. She gets along well with Jason but she knows that her new friend will never understand why she would spend time with someone in a wheelchair. A school dance threatens to bring both of Catherine's worlds together but she is determined to keep them apart.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Contender by Robert Lipsyte

Alfred is on the edge. He is a high school dropout working a low-paying job at the local grocery store. He's trying to hold onto his friendship with James but when James joins a local group of thugs to rob the grocery store Alfred is more alone than ever. Threatened by the gang leader, Alfred decides to start boxing at a nearby gym. He dreams of being a champion but the owner of the gym tells him that first he has to work on being a contender. Alfred wants a better life but does he have what it takes to take the harder path to success?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams

Ingrid is a great soccer player, has a busy family, is not so good at algebra, and wants to get the lead role in the production of Alice in Wonderland. While coming home from soccer practice one day she gets lost and ends up at Cracked-up Katie's house. Ingrid finds that Katie is not as crazy as everyone thinks and the two are getting along fine until she mentions the local theater group. Katie's face changes and she forces Ingrid out the door. Later that night Katie is murdered and Ingrid realizes that she has left her cleats, labeled with her name, in Katie's house. After breaking in to retrieve her cleats Ingrid finds some clues that make her certain the police have the wrong men in prison for Katie's murder. But by now she's in too deep. Ingrid keeps investigating the murder unaware that the actual killer is closer than she thinks.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jenkins

Nina Jenkins was fanged at age 15 and is still living at home with her mother 30 years later. She belongs to a support group for reformed vampires who do not attack people and survive on guinea pigs they raise themselves. Nina believes her life is unglamorous but everything turns upside down when they discover that one of their group has been killed and that all of them might be next. The vampires turn their energies into tracking down the killer and for the first time in her undead life, Nina will be leaving home on an adventure that leads to possible romance, danger and werewolves.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

When they were young Scarlett and Rose managed to survive an attack by a werewolf that killed their grandmother. Although she survived, Scarlett wears the scars of that battle and a patch to cover her missing eye. Since then the sisters have dedicated themselves to baiting and killing the Fenris who prey on young women. When their friend and hunting partner Silas returns to town the girls expect to make short work of the wolves. They soon discover that the wolves are more interested in a boy who is a potential werewolf than in the girls. The group of hunters decides to move to a nearby city and try to identify the potential in order to lure more of the wolves out of hiding. But their efforts are frustrated as they try to figure out what makes a man a potential Fenris and one of the sisters finds herself falling in love with Silas.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

Both of Theo's parents are lawyers and Theo himself knows so much about the law that he is often asked to help out his friends at school with their legal issues. Right now the entire town is interested in the trial of a man accused of killing his wife. Theo wants to watch the entire trial but his parents refuse to let him miss school. But Theo's interest in the case is taken to a whole new level when he hears from a friend about a witness to the crime who is unknown by any of the lawyers in the case. In order to protect this witness Theo has promised not to tell anyone what he knows but he also knows he can't just let a killer go free.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

If you think you know the story of Hansel and Gretel you are probably mistaken. The original stories told by the brothers Grimm were violent, dark - and AWESOME! This book takes many original fairy tales and weaves them together with added parts from the author. After being beheaded by their parents (but then magically healed) Hansel and Gretel decide to leave home to find a nicer family. But along the way they encounter increasingly bad parents and some awful characters including a witch, a dragon and even the devil himself. The brother and sister continue their search but begin to realize that it might be up to them to save themselves rather than relying on any adult to do so. This is a wonderful, unique story full of both danger and humor.

Wired by Sigmund Brouwer

Keegan is a championship skier. While on a timed downhill run Keegan sees a wire stretched across his path. He knows that if he doesn't do something fast he will be sliced in half when he hits the wire. After narrowly avoiding his death Keegan works to remove the wire before someone else comes down the mountain. When a girl shows up she offers Keegan some help on determining who left the wire but Keegan is disturbed when he sees her helping someone steal snowboards. Could his new girlfriend be the person who also tried to kill him?

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

Eva Nine is tired of living in her underground Sanctuary with Muthr, her robot caretaker. Anxious to learn more about the real world she is suddently thrust into it when the Sanctuary is attacked by a hunter. Eva finds herself tied in a tree, waiting to be eaten by the hunter, with many other unusual creatures who are nothing like what she has learned about from Muthr. With help from a blue creature named Rovee and Otto, a huge, gentle creature, Eva escapes and goes on the run trying to find the other humans who are supposed to be around. But instead she finds more unusual creatures and discovers that she might not be in the world she has always learned about. She might even have lost the only mother she has ever known.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

Ben has been an only child his entire life. But when he turns 13 his parents bring home a baby chimpanzee named Zan. Ben's parents are scientists who plan to teach Zan sign language to see if he is able to communicate with humans. They tell Ben that Zan is now part of the family and Ben feels like Zan is his younger brother. Inspired by his parents, Ben decides to start "Project Jennifer" to try to get the girl of his dreams at school. Both experiments seem to be working - before long Zan knows 66 words and is starting to form sentences and Jennifer kisses Ben at a party. But as Zan grows older he starts exhibiting more chimp-like behavior and it might not be possible for the family to keep him. Ben is heartbroken at the prospect of losing his little brother and even more upset by the fact that his father doesn't seem to care at all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rival by Sara Wealer

Kathryn and Brooke seem to be opposites. Kathryn is petite, quiet, has only one good friend, and dresses in homemade clothing. Brooke is the most popular girl at school, a fashion plate and has brothers who describe her as an Amazon. But despite their differences the two girls share the same passion for singing and a desire to win a local contest that provides a stepping stone to a professional career. For a short while they were best of friends but for the last year they have been sworn enemies but no one except Kathryn and Brooke know what has happened to break up their friendship.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Haven has dreamt about Ethan all of her life. Her nasty, controlling grandmother has convinced Haven that something is wrong with her so she has tried to suppress her dreams for several years. But her dreams have returned and are beginning to cause her to black out. When Haven sees billionaire Iain Morrow on TV she is certain that he is the reincarnation of Ethan. She also learns that her father believed that Haven was having visions of a past life and had begun to correspond with the Ouroboros Society, a group that supports those who believe they are remembering previous lives. With the support of her best friend Beau, Haven decides to travel to New York to try to meet Iain. When he recognizes Haven as well it seems that the soulmates will finally be able to spend a lifetime together but others have different plans for them.

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

Kid and her friends live in a world where schools have failed and have been replaced by social networking and games at the malls. Students work their way up the levels hoping to become "branded" by corporate sponsors. Hanging out with her friends one day Kid witnesses a dummy being thrown over a high railing in a fake suicide scene staged by a group protesting the constant surveillance of all the teens. Only Kid is disturbed and interested enough to investigate who might be responsible for the protest. Her interest attracts the attention of both the Unidentified and some of the sponsors who think Kid might just lead them to the next big thing.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

Ethan has been experiencing haunting dreams featuring a beautiful girl he's never met - until she moves into his small town to live with her reclusive uncle. Ethan and Lena are drawn together by their shared dreams as well as by their odd relatives who are trying to keep them as far apart as possible. The more time Ethan spends with Lena the more he becomes aware of her special powers and abilities until she finally reveals that she comes from a family of Casters. What's more, she is living under the shadow of a centuries old curse that will determine her ultimate fate on her 16 birthday, just 152 days away and counting...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ghostopolis by Doug Tennapel

Garth is surprised when he is accidently transported into the ghost world by ghost hunter Frank. Garth finds a world divided into skeletons, mummies and other dead creatures. Garth meets his grandfather in Ghostopolis and the two travel throughout the world but soon find themselves attracting the attention of the evil ruler of the afterlife who believes Garth is instrumental in helping him become the leader of both worlds - living and dead.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Gregor's father has been missing for two years and Gregor has decided he will never allow himself to be excited about anything ever again. While trying to keep up with his baby sister Boots one day they both fall through a hole in the wall of the laundry room and end up miles underground in the Underland, a world populated by huge talking bats, roaches and rats. Gregor and Boots are taken in by the people of Underland but soon embark on a quest to find their father and fulfill a cryptic prophecy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Elle is a loner which is good because her mother has a new boyfriend so she has moved Elle out of the way into an apartment across town even though she is only 15. Elle is unhappy with her mother and forced to make friends at a new school. What's more, her new cat is terrified of her and constantly hides under the bed. Elle's new neighbor and friend is Frank who is older and caring. Elle develops a crush on him and is disappointed to find out that he has a girlfriend who also lives next door. But Elle is even more distressed when her new friends at school tell her that they suspect Frank has another secret he is keeping.

Dread Locks by Neal Shusterman

Parker has always been given so much that he is bored with everything he has. But Parker's life gets more exciting when Tara moves in next door. Tara is beautiful and mysterious and seems unafraid of anything. She always wears sunglasses and has curly hair that seems to move all on its own. Immediately she becomes one of the most popular girls in school but she has a special relationship with Parker. Tara forms new friendships with one student after another, working her way through the school. But Parker notices that after Tara has befriended someone he or she changes in many ways. Most strangely, Tara's friends begin drinking gallons of milk and eating dirt. Obviously, there is more to Tara than meets the eye and Parker needs to find out what that may be...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Duckling Ugly by Neal Shusterman

Cara is so ugly she breaks mirrors just by looking into them. Naturally she is an outcast at school but she has adjusted to her status for the most part. She is puzzled when she receives a letter that says "find the answers". Cara spends a great deal of time trying to solve this mystery without much luck. When the most popular boy at school asks her to go to the Homecoming dance with him she is not surprised to find out that he has an ulterior motive. But despite her anticipation she is humiliated by what happens at the dance and decides to run away. She ends up discovering the meaning of her mysterious letter and finding something even more magical when she arrives at the city of De Leon.

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson

Siblings Wisty and Whit have been living a typical teen life completely uninterested in the new government which calls itself the "New Order". But their lives are turned upside down in an instant when the new government breaks into their house and arrests them for practicing witchcraft. With only seconds before they are taken away, their parents insist on giving them an old drumstick and a blank book. Although Wisty and Whit have never practiced magic, they find some very strange things happening around them in prison and they begin to wonder if their parents have been preparing them for their destinies after all.

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

Billi has been trained all her life to fight creatures who haunt the earth such as vampires, ghouls and fallen angels. Her father is the leader of the Knights Templar and Billi is destined to follow in his footsteps, even if she doesn't want to. Longing for a normal life she meets Michael and agrees to go on a date with him. But during the course of the date she finds that Michael is not who or what he seems to be and Billi has brought danger right to her own doorstep. She will have to learn to trust her father and rely on the help of her childhood friend Kay who has recently returned from his training by the Knights.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

You Don't Even Know Me by Sharon Flake

This is a book of short stories and poems about boys, some funny, some serious. Tow-Kaye is getting married at 16 to the love of his life but he is terrified and wondering if it's too late to back out. James is keeping a diary about the death of his twin brother and horrible secret that led to his death. La'Ron writes a letter to his uncle confessing that he has been infected with HIV. And Tyler discusses the terrible burden of being so good with the ladies that you can't choose just one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Kat has learned to be a thief her entire life and she is good at it but she has left that world to try to have a normal life at a boarding school. Her plans fall apart though when her father is accused of stealing five extremely valuable paintings from a wealthy, but evil, man. If Kat doesn't return the paintings to the man within two weeks her father will be killed. With the help of her friend Hale, Kat begins to assemble a team of thieves and con artists to help her locate the paintings and get them back. With the odds already against them, they find that it's worse than they thought when they discover that the paintings have been placed inside one of the most secure museums in the world.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

After being rescued from the Quarter Quell Hunger Games Katniss finds herself recovering in District 13 while Peeta is being held captive by President Snow. Katniss is approached by the rebel leader and asked to be the Mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion. With nothing more to lose she agrees and joins the battle against the Capitol. This exciting finale to the Hunger Games trilogy finally answers the questions about President Snow, the battle for control of Panem, and who Katniss will choose - Gale or Peeta.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Everwild by Neal Shusterman

This sequel to Everlost continues the adventures of Allie and Nick as they work their way through their afterlife. Allie is on the run with Mikey who used to be the monster McGill. Mikey and Allie have a good relationship until she meets another group of skinjackers and begins to spend more time with their leader, Milos. As Mikey gets more jealous he starts spying on them in their human bodies until he witnesses something he can't forgive. Meanwhile, Nick has become the Chocolate Ogre and acquired the use of an Everlost train and a ripper who can reach into the human world and remove anything she wants. He is trying to save the souls in Everlost before they meet Mary Hightower who will keep them wrapped up pointless routines until the end of time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

Only children under the age of 16 survived the illness. Now all the adults who are still alive are zombies and the children have to fight to stay alive. When a group of survivors meet a boy who claims to have come from somewhere safe they decide to travel across London to Buckingham Palace. But in order to get there they will have to fight their way through roaming bands of grown-ups. In this nightmarish world they find that there are even worse things outside the walls of their fortress.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Journals of Rupert Giles by Nancy Holder

Based on the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" this book tells the stories of three of Buffy's birthdays, all of which resulted in catastrophe. Her watcher, Giles, talks about her 18th birthday when she was tested by the Watcher's Council and nearly killed. Her 19th and 20th birthdays weren't much better with a confrontation with an indestructible god and and run in with "the Collective".

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Schwa was Here by Neal Shusterman

Calvin Schwa has an unusual ability - he is basically invisible to everyone. When Antsy meets The Schwa he decides to perform a series of experiments to discover just how much The Schwa can do undetected. All is going well and The Schwa and Antsy even start making some money on the bets they are taking when they are caught by mean Mr. Crawley. He threatens to have their fathers fired unless they come work for him by walking his 14 dogs every day for 12 weeks. Shortly after they get to work, Mr. Crawley's granddaughter comes to visit and both boys develop crushes on Lexie - a blind girl who is the first person to ever "see" The Schwa. Things get more complicated for each boy individually and together as they fight things out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shadow Club Rising by Neal Shusterman

AFter the tragic events at the end of The Shadow Club, Jared has quit the track team and is trying to get his life back on track. But when new boy Alec comes to school he quickly makes lots of friends but also lots of enemies. Soon, Alec becomes the target of a series of nasty pranks and despite all his hard work, Jared is the prime suspect. The only way to clear his name is to find the real culprit but he soon finds out that someone has restarted the Shadow Club and has decided to get revenge on any number of people in school.

The Shadow Club by neal Shusterman

Jared has been the second fastest runner on the track team his entire life. His best friend Cheryl has always been second to her cousin in acting and singing. Fed up with never being first they form The Shadow Club with the other five students at school who are also accustomed to coming in second. Their goal is to play pranks on their rivals but in order to divert suspicion they each perform a prank for someone else in the group. At first the pranks are funny and the members of the club are delighted with the ways in which they have gotten revenge on their rivals. But after the first round of pranks things start to go out of control. A new series of pranks start but the recipients are getting hurt and Jared is getting in trouble because everyone thinks he is behind the injuries. He knows that the only way to get out of trouble is to find out who is really behind the dangerous pranks before someone is permanently injured.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Red Rider's Hood by Neal Shusterman

When Red gets to his grandmother's house he finds her locked in the basement and Wolves gang leader Cedric in her place waiting to steal the money Red is bringing her. Red's grandmother tells Red that Cedric is part of a group of werewolves who had supposedly been eliminated by her and Red's grandfather many years before. With a full moon approaching, Red goes to Cedric and tells him he wants to join the gang and be turned into a werewolf so that he can gather inside information. But as Red spends more time with the gang he begins to feel at home with them and feels torn in his loyalty. Does he want to help his grandmother kill all the werewolves or does he want to join the group and acquire power permanently?

Speeding Bullet by Neal Shusterman

While waiting for the subway one day Nick saves a young girl who falls on the tracks. After his heroic act he notices that every time he flips a coin it comes up "heads" and Nick becomes convinced that he is destined to rescue people in trouble. As Nick rescues more people from harrowing situations his reputation grows, including a rumor that he can heal others just by touching them. Nick's parents and his girlfriend are not happy about his new fame and they believe he is putting himself in dangerous situations for no reason. And when Nick discovers a secret his girlfriend has been keeping from him, he begins to question his destiny as well but by then it might be too late to save someone important to him.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Everlost by Neal Shusterman

Teens Nick and Allie are in a car accident that kills both of them. When they wake up they find themselves stuck on Earth in the ghostly world of Everlost. Allie is determined to find her way home and back to life so the two new friends begin walking. But Everlost is full of dangers. When Afterlights - as the ghosts are called - walk in areas that are not part of the dead world they can sink into the ground and end up at the center of the Earth. Some of the citizens of Everlost have formed gangs that harass other Afterlights. And there are rumors of a terrible monster called The McGill. When Allie and Nick arrive in New York City and find safety at the site of the destroyed twin towers they are happy to stay there. But Allie begins to wonder if their new home run by Mary Hightower is actually another type of trap for the lost souls.

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Gladiator fighting has become big business in the United States and Lyn is the daughter of a professional gladiator wife. Her mother has married seven gladiators but when her last husband is killed in the arena she cannot marry again because of the strict bylaws governing the community. The Gladiator Sports Association threatens to take away everything Lyn, her mother and her younger brother Thad have unless Lyn agrees to marry the man who killed her latest father. Although they could continue to live in luxury Lyn has always hoped for a life outside of the arena. She is faced with little choice until she comes up with a plan to free herself and her brother forever - she offers to fight her suitor in the arena to the death.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel

Ariel is 13 and Namingfest is in just a few days. At the festival Ariel and her best friend Zeke will be able to take tests to determine their future professions as well as their last names. Zeke is definitely going to be a tree-singer just like his father and already has a maple tree he talks to. But Ariel isn't sure what she wants to do with herself. Just before the big day the two friends find a dart covered in symbols in Zeke's maple. And shortly after that two strangers arrive in town looking for the dart. Since Ariel is the one who found it they offer to take her along with them to deliver the dart to the man who sent them. But when Ariel's mother refuses to send her the men kidnap her anyway. Ariel isn't sure what she could possibly have that would interest these men but she begins to wonder about her true destiny and the secret message on the dart.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Three years ago Sophie learned that she was a witch but since she lives with her human mother she hasn't had many opportunities to learn what that means. After incorrectly using her magic one time too often she is sentenced to Hex Hall where she will learn about being a witch with other witches, warlocks, fairies, and shapeshifters. Sophie's roommate Jenna is the only vampire at the school. Already an outcast for being a monster, Jenna encounters even more problems when several witches are attacked and found with puncture holes in their necks. Sophie is convinced that Jenna couldn't possibly be to blame but any other suggestion seems equally impossible.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Zach is 18 and an alcoholic now in rehab. He's not sure exactly what happened that ended up with him in rehab and that's part of the problem. Zach doesn't like remembering many things in his life but he's working on that with the help of his counselor and his roommate Rafael. Zach is also trying to find a way to keep his monsters at bay so that he can move on in his life. This is an amazing story of survival, addiction, sadness, and hope.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Miles Between by Mary Pearson

Destiny hates October 19 and when she encounters a stranger on the campus of her boarding school she asks for just one fair day where everything works out right. Minutes later she finds a running car with $2000 in the glove box and decides that she needs to take a road trip. Since she can't drive she has to get new student Seth to be her driver and in a weird series of coincidences, Aiden and Mira are free to come along as well. As the day progresses the friends share secrets they have never told anyone else and more and more amazing things that can't be explained keep happening to them. Destiny might even be able to open up about what has happened to cause her hatred of this day.

Operation Yes by Sara Holmes

Bo is the son of the commander of an Air Force base in North Carolina and struggles with keeping out of trouble at school. His sixth grade teacher is Miss Loupe and she quickly captures the attention of the students by setting aside a portion of the room for an improv theater stage. Bo is a natural actor and he finds himself paying attention and doing well in school for the first time ever. When his cousin Gari has to come live with them after her mom is deployed, Bo doesn't want her to intrude on his classroom. Gari is distracted with her own problems, mostly by trying to find a way to make her mom come back home. But Bo and Gari bond together to help Miss Loupe when her brother goes missing in Afghanistan and she loses her spark. With other students they come up with a plan to help their teacher and injured soldiers at the same time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Several years ago Lindsey was the child star of a television show but now she lives with her dad in a small town in Illinois. She has hidden herself away because she has been able to hear anything that is said about her by anyone anywhere in the world since the age of 11. For some reason the home she lives in now shields her from all the voices in her head so she rarely steps foot outside. But that changes when she is kidnapped by two boys who want to save her from what they believe is a bad life. She comes back home but now faces a whole new set of problems from the boys and their friend Roz who wonder why she acts so strange outside of her house and how she's living alone since her father died several weeks before. Lindsey has to find a way to protect her secret and get rid of all the people prying into her business.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

The weirdest guy in school, Dwight, shows up one day with an origami finger puppet of Yoda. Although Dwight is a loser who never seems to have very smart ideas of his own, Yoda seems to have an uncanny ability to answer questions accurately. Tommy is recording various encounters with origami Yoda trying to determine if he actually is magical while his friend Harvey makes his own comments to prove that he's not. Tommy has to decide quickly if origami Yoda is wise because he has a question of his own to ask and if the answer is right, it will change his life.

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Reese is in a juvenile detention center called Progress after stealing prescription pads from a doctor. He has been selected to participate in a program where he gets to work outside off the center at a nursing home because he is smart and has been behaving in the prison. While at the nursing home he is assigned to help out Mr. Hooft who doesn't like or trust Reese at first. But eventually he shares his stories of his time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp which seem very similar to what Reese is dealing with at Progress. Although Reese is trying to keep clean and earn an early release he keeps finding himself in situations where he ends up fighting people. The guards at Progress tell him he has a simple choice to make but when you come from Reese's neighborhood and are dealing with the things he sees in jail, the choices are not as simple as it would seem.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

Madison is part of the popular group at school but unlike the rest of her friends she is nice to others. When an unknown blogger from school starts to write about how mean everyone is to her and how she wishes they were dead, suddenly the most popular kids begin disappearing. No one knows where they are or what has happened to them but Maddy is receiving e-mails and notes warning her that she could be next. She wants to talk to someone about what's happening, especially Tyler who is new at school and very cute. But the more she tries to talk to Tyler the more she begins to wonder if she can trust him at all or if he might be behind the series of kidnappings.

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

Modo was found by Mr. Socrates when he was just a baby and has been training to become an "agent" ever since. Modo's natural appearance is deformed with a hunchback but he has the amazing ability to alter his appearance to look like anyone he wants for up to five hours at a time. When he finally gets to leave the house where he has been training Mr. Socrates dumps him on the streets on London to fend for himself and within a few months he is making a living as a detective. He finds himself in hot water however when he takes on a case that almost ends up in his death due to the mysterious Young Explorer's Society. Modo and the beautiful Octavia investigate the disappearances of orphans and Prince Albert, the zombies who are killing members of parliment, and the strange metal creature that is being made by Dr. Hyde and his friends.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Helpin

Penny used to live in New York City with her parents but since they've been having problems she and her mother have moved to a small town and opened a cupcake store. Penny hopes to be in town just a short while and her hopes intensify when she accidentally covers the most popular girl in town with cupcakes and becomes a huge outcast. On the first day of school she finds her locker filled with $75 worth of pennies and other tricks, designed to make her life miserable, follow. Penny is comforted by her new friend Tally and by an extremely good looking boy she keeps running into on the beach. If only she knew why she keeps seeing him with the mean girls when she's at school.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tentacles by Roland Smith

Grace and Marty embark on a new adventure with their uncle Travis, this time to capture a giant squid while also waiting for the dinosaur eggs from the Congo to hatch. Unfortunately, they are still being tracked by Noah Blackwood who is determined to get the dinosaurs and kidnap his granddaughter, Grace. As they start on their journey they know that Blackwood will stop at nothing to get what he wants but they don't know just how close that danger is or how soon they will have to fight for their lives.

Ghostgirl: Homecoming by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte has graduated from Dead Ed and is working with her friends at a call center where she is supposed to help troubled teens with their problems. The only issue is that her phone never rings. Charlotte is comforted by her new friend and roommate Maddy but her other friends begin to question Maddy's intentions as she leads Charlotte astray. Meanwhile, Charlotte's living friend Scarlet is trying to find a way to cross over to get help for her sister who has fallen into a coma.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

While far away from home hunting one day Samuel sees smoke from the small community in the woods where he lives with his parents. When he returns he finds that all the homes have been burned and most of the people living there killed by British soldiers during the Revolutionary war. Being an expert in tracking Samuel can tell that his parents are still alive but are not prisoners of the Redcoats so he begins following to rescue his folks. Along the way he encounters many people both good and bad as well as several heroes working to help the Patriots in whatever quiet way they can. The stories we hear of the Revolutionary War usually involve big battles and famous historical figures but the reality was that average men fought this war at a great cost to themselves.

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Franny's life is full of problems. Her teacher has stopped calling on her in class for some reason. Her former best friend Margie is making fun of her and has become close with another girl instead. Her great uncle seems to be losing his mind and embarasses the family on a daily basis by reliving his war days. Her older sister Jo Ellen seems to have moved out and is working with a secret group. And on top of all that, everyone is living with daily fear about nuclear war and the possibility of attack on the United States now that there are warheads in Cuba. In addition to telling Franny's story, this book is full of pictures, songs and speeches from the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis which really make you feel the fear of that time in history.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood

Penelope has managed to get a job as a governess at the fabulous Ashton house but is surprised when she arrives and no one will tell her about the children she will be teaching. When she hears howling from the barn she discovers three wild children who were discovered in the woods when Mr. Ashton was hunting. Penelope has a soft spot in her heart for animals and is not daunted by the challenge of raising the three children. She is dismayed by the attitude of the Ashtons, however. Mrs. Ashton wants nothing to do with the children regardless of how much they learn or how civilized they become. And Mr. Ashton is an avid hunter who seems to have something frightening in mind...

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Tennyson is unhappy when his sister Bronte begins dating the boy everyone calls "Bruiser". Determined to break up their relationship he goes to Bruiser's house only to find him comforting his younger brother after the death of their pet bull. The two boys become friends and Bronte's relationship with Bruiser deepens. But Tennyson begins to notice something odd about Bruiser - whenever anyone close to Bruiser is injured, he takes on their injuries. The danger is that as Bruiser becomes more entwined in their world and with their friends, the many injuries he absorbs will threaten his life once and for all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong

Vonlai and his family live in Laos under communist rule until the night they escape across the river into Thailand. Vonlai's parents have moved the family in hopes of living a better life away from the communist oppressors but instead they find themselves in a refugee camp waiting for someone to sponsor them so they can leave. Life in the camp is very hard. Each family is given a handful of rice and part of a chicken to eat per week. The refugees are barely alive and the guards in the camp take advantage of them, especially the teen girls. As their time in the camp drags on Vonlai finds it harder to stay hopeful. He begins to worry that they will never leave the camp and his dreams of being an architect will never come true.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman

Jacob has lived in foster homes his entire life but he had finally found a father in Mr. Fielding. Right before Mr. Fielding died in a car accident he told Jacob "you are indestructable" and his words seem to have come true. Now it seems that Jacob can't be hurt by anything at all. What's more, he has the ability to pass on the power to others which he does by accident, writing it on the cast of a new pretty girl at school. Ophelia and Jacob's best friend Miles work with him to test the limits of the power and eventually start using it to try to save people who might otherwise die. But Jacob senses that Ophelia's interest in the power is going beyond helping others and that something dark might be creeping into their world.

The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

Mason has never met his father and lives with his mother who struggles with alcohol and mood swings. He knows that his mother cannot afford to send him to college but when he mentions applying for a scholarship from the huge scientific corporation for whom she works, his mother adamently refuses to sign the application. While visiting her at the nursing home where she works one night he is taken with a beautiful girl who supposedly has brain damage. But when he plays a tape of his father reading aloud The Runaway Bunny, she suddenly wakes up and begs him to help her escape from the center. Mason and his friend help her get away but find themselves pursued by many people who are determined to return her to the Gardener...

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

15 year old Sig is alone in his cabin north of the Arctic Circle with the body of his dead father. Sig is waiting for his sister and stepmother to come back with help when a large, aggressive man comes to the house and refuses to leave. This man, Mr. Wolff, tells Sig that his father had made a deal with him years before and now Mr. Wolff has come to collect the gold he claims he is owed. Sig knows nothing about hidden gold or any deals his father might have made but he knows that Wolff will not be leaving without some money. The only hope Sig has of coming out of this situation alive is the old revolver his father has hidden in their pantry. But he will have to find a way to get to it as well as hope he remembers how to fire it after only practicing with it one time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

That's Life, Samara Brooks by Daniel Ehrenhaft

In order to meet new people at school Samara starts a Blackjack group at lunch. When she gets in trouble for gambling she proposes a scientific experiment to clear her name. Samara's proposition is that the school use its electron microscope to compare her DNA to that of the class president. Samara suggests that if their DNA is the same, they ought to be treated the same - either both are cleared or both get in trouble. The principal, eager to use his fancy microscope, agrees to the experiment and gets to work with the science teacher. But to everyone's surprise, Samara's DNA has some unusual eye-shaped parts to it and several people are questioning if she is even human.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Goodbye Season by Marian Hale

In 1918 Mercy longs for a more adventuresome life than her mother is living. Mercy is sure that she will never be stuck in the endless chores of taking care of children and cleaning a house. Times are hard for the family and Mercy gets her first chance to leave home when she is hired out to a family so that her family has one less mouth to feed. But when a worldwide epidemic of flu sweeps across the United States, Mercy finds herself all alone in the world. She finally finds a job taking care of Cora Wilder's house and children but is concerned by Mrs. Wilder's unsettling behavior. Mercy finds herself wondering about a 15 year old mystery as well as about her feelings for Daniel, the oldest son in the house.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

Tanya can see fairies and they are not happy about it. The fairies have tormented her throughout her life but she can't tell anyone for fear of being thought crazy. As a result, she has been labeled as a troublemaker and attention seeker. Tired of her antics, Tanya's mother sends her to live with her grandmother in a huge, dilapidated country estate. Her grandmother has always been stern with Tanya and she knows that she is unwanted there so she spends most of her time with Fabian, the son of the caretaker. Tanya is surprised when she finds a book about fairies in an unused room. With the help of the book, Fabian, an unexpected guest hiding in the house, and an old woman who lives in the woods, Tanya learns much more about her second sight and how to handle the fairies. But her exploration also draws her deeper into the fairy world and a 50 year old mystery of a missing girl.

Epitaph Road by David Patneaude

In 2067 a deadly virus swept through the world and killed 97% of all men on Earth. With women now in all the positions of power in the world things have changed dramatically. Among other things, continents have united and everyone is at peace and the environment is slowly recovering from years of abuse. Thirty years later the government ensures that men are still no more than 5% of the world population in order to keep everything progressing. Blake's mother is a powerful member of the government and he overhears her talking about something that will threaten his father who lives in a secluded community. Blake and his two friends decide to go warn Blake's father of the new outbreak of the virus but they are followed closely by government officials who don't want the truth of what they've done revealed to the world.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Half World by Hiromi Goto

Long, long ago there was a time of Three Realms: the Realm of Flesh, the Realm of Spirit, and Half World between the two. The three realms each had their own purpose and everything was in balance. But somehow the realms became disconnected and life in each has deteriorated with Half World becoming a place of nightmares. Melanie's parents are from Half World but her mother managed to escape with Melanie and raise her in the Realm of Flesh. But when Melanie turns 14 her mother has to return to Half World to fulfill a bargain she made. With the help of a wise neighbor Melanie also ventures into Half World to save her mother and restore balance to the three realms.

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman

After surviving a bus accident when he was little Blake has always been cautious, especially about rides at amusement parks. His younger brother Quinn, however, is reckless in every way. While the brothers and their two friends are at a park Blake wins one of the carnival games and is given a ticket to a secret amusement park by a beautiful girl named Cassandra. Blake has no intention of going but later that night Quinn falls ill and Blake sees spinning carnival lights in his eyes and knows where he has gone. Blake has no choice but to follow along to try to save Quinn. But this park is like no other. If Blake doesn't get through seven rides before dawn he can never leave the park. And although the rides look like others you've seen, once aboard they change into your worst nightmare. Just surviving the night is going to take all the strength Blake has.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eyes of Kid Midas by Neal Shusterman

While on a camping trip with his class Kevin accepts a challenge to climb to the top of a nearby mountain. When he arrives at dawn with his best friend and the two class bullies trailing behind he finds a pair of sunglasses at the summit. Putting them on, Kevin discovers that the glasses are his exact prescription. But even more amazing is that everything he wishes for appears instantly when he is wearing the glasses. At first Kevin and his friend Josh are excited by the possibilities of all the things they can get with the glasses. But soon Kevin feels like he has to be wearing the glasses just to feel normal. And what's more, he finds out that his wishes can't be reversed. Josh begins to fear that Kevin is becoming power-hungry and that his words are fundamentally changing the world. For example, when Kevin says jokingly that two plus two equals three, everyone now believes that's the truth. Josh has to find a way to put things right but he's not sure if it's possible to save the world AND his best friend.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin

Theo has lived his entire life in just three rooms and is kept completely unaware of the outside world by his guardian, Dr. Saint. According to Dr. Saint, Theo has a contagious disease that will make him extremely dangerous to anyone he touches so he wears long gloves at all times. But on a rare trip outside to the cemetary on his birthday Theo finds a gift addressed to him on a tombstone. The gift tells him to go out to the garden the next evening and when he does, Theo is carried off by a garghoul. Theo learns that he actually is the heir of the legendary Candle Man who could melt people just by touching them. But he also learns that Dr. Saint is not the caring guardian he has made himself out to be.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeve

Fever has been raised within the society of engineers and has been taught that there is no benefit to having emotions. When she is called away to assist an anthropologist she discovers that she has memories of the life of a former leader of London who has an unexpected connection to her. Unfortunately, this connection makes her a target for a man who has sworn to exterminate all people like Fever and he won't let anyone get in his way.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

Stephen is working hard to prove to himself that he is definitely not gay. He has checked a book out of the library filled with strategies such as "start hanging out with the guys" and "begin intensive dating". He also follows the suggestion to wear a rubber band around his wrist and snap it whenever he has a thought about something he doesn't want. Despite his best efforts Stephen begins to suspect that he actually is gay and has to begin the process of coming out to his family and friends as well as discovering if he is the only gay teen in his community.

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz has lived in a series of foster homes his entire life. He seems to have a talent for breaking things which tends to annoy his foster parents. But on 13th birthday a man shows up claiming to be Alcatraz's real grandfather. Grandpa Smedry reveals that Alcatraz is part of a family with a long history of fighting against the evil librarians who are working to control all of the world. Furthermore, he tells Alcatraz that his ability to break things is actually his talent which will be very helpful in defeating the librarians. Alcatraz is armed only with his eyeglasses and a pack of very small dinosaurs as he heads off to fight the librarians.

Epic by Conor Kostic

In Erik's world people work hard all day and there is no violence. All disputes are settled in the worldwide strategy videogame Epic. Success in Epic translates into success in the real world. Young people who hope to go to college have to acquire enough points in Epic to earn that right. Erik has been working to defeat a red dragon in order to earn his place in school but his character has been killed numerous times. Frustrated with his lack of progress he decides to make his new avatar completely different from every one he's had before. Rather than investing all his money in armor and weapons he decides to play as a girl and puts all his start up points into beauty. As he works through Epic he finds that the characters all relate to him very differently than before and even offer him treasure and items he never had before. As Cindella he is finally able to defeat the dragon but in doing so he discovers that Epic hides a much deeper secret than he had ever imagined.

Canned by Alex Shearer

Fergal likes to collect things and most recently he has become fascinated by unlabeled cans. As Fergal's collection of cans grows his mother begins to lose her patience and tells him that he is not allowed to have more than 50 cans at any time. In order to acquire new cans Fergal has to open some of the ones he already has. When he finally breaks down and opens one of his collection he is stunned to find an earring - and nothing else - inside. Intrigued, he returns to the store only to meet Charlotte who also has a can with an earring. As Fergal and Charlotte open more of their cans they discover more gruesome things and realize that they have to find the source of the cans to help whomever is putting these items in the cans.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Eli's father is a billionaire who is obsessed with nuclear war. He has told his family for years that they will be safe if war breaks out because he has built a huge underground compound for them. One day, the family runs for safety into the compound but Eli's twin brother and his grandmother don't make it and are left outside. Now it is six years later and Eli still misses his brother. Worse than that though is that the family is starting to run out of food with another nine years underground until it will be safe enough for them to leave the compound. Eli's dad has some unusual ideas about how the family will be able to survive for the remainder of their time in the compound...

Elephant Run by Roland Smith

During World War II Nick's mother decides that London is too dangerous for Nick so she sends him to live with his father in Burma where she thinks he will be safe. Nick's father owns a plantation in Burma which is farmed by local people and elephants. Shortly after he arrives, however, the plantation is taken over by Japanese soldiers and Nick's father is taken away to a prisoner of war camp. Nick is held captive at the plantation along with Mya, a local girl who has an amazing way with the elephants. Although they are told they are safe at there with the Japanese, Nick and Mya know they have to find a way to escape for their own safety and to find Nick's dad before something happens to him.

Monks in Space by David Jones

Bart is a young apprentice working about a spaceship with an order of monks who make equisite pottery fired directly by the sun as they fly nearby it. The monks have been in space for several years and are looking forward to a trip back to Earth for some rest as soon as they complete their last batch of pottery. But as they prepare to return home they discover that there is not enough fuel to allow them to break out of the Sun's orbit. Without that fuel they will pass so close to the sun that everyone in the ship will die of the heat unless they can think of a way to save themselves before the point of no return.

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Sam and his brother Stick have lived their entire lives in the shadow of their father who works tirelessly for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King. They are well-versed in nonviolent protests as a way of gaining equality. But after several years of these protests Stick is starting to feel that the ways of the Black Panther party might be more effective. Sam is torn between his older brother and his father and when he witnesses a friend being beat for no reason he feels even more confused about the right path for equal rights. It takes a terrible tragedy for Sam to really realize what he needs to do to honor both his father and his brother and the choices they have made.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One of the Survivors by Susan Shaw

Joey and his friend Maureen are the only two survivors after a fire at school killed everyone else in their classroom. Even though they are lucky to be alive they are haunted by their luck as well as by the fact that everyone believes they are somehow guilty of causing the fire in the first place. Joey has started keeping a journal to try to deal with his fear and other feelings while he works out how he can possibly face returning to school in the fall.

My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie by David Lubar

Nathan is part of the unpopular group at school. As the book begins he is embarassed three times in the same day. Once when a popular girl pretends to invite him to her party just to laugh at him, once when he is the slowest runner in gym class, and once more when he can't beat even the "easy" level on a video game. Wishing that he didn't have to feel the hurt of embarassment anymore he goes along with classmate Abigail to try out an experimental potion called Hurt be Gone. But instead of the one drop he is supposed to try, Nathan is accidentally covered with the liquid and begins turning into a zombie. The upside is that he doesn't feel any physical pain anymore. The downside is that parts of his body sometimes fall off. If Abigal can't find the cure for Nathan before he is completely dead he will never be able to come back to his real life.

Signal by Cynthia DeFelice

Owen has just moved to a new town with his workaholic father. Since it's the beginning of summer he faces several lonely months until he can meet some new friends. But while on a run with his dog he meets Campion, a girl his age living alone in an abandoned house. She tells him that she is only staying there for a few days until her parents return for her. Campion claims that she is from another planet and was accidentally left behind by her family. But on the night of the full moon, just four days from now, they will see the signal she is preparing for them and will return to pick her up. As she gets to know Owen better she invites him to come along as well and he is faced with a big decision.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Shadow Project by Herbie Brennan

When Danny breaks into a house he finds more than he bargained for. Danny was just planning to find a few things to sell but instead he stumbles into a top secret government facility working on a new way to spy on terrorists. Teens are hooked up to machines that help them to leave their bodies and go anywhere in the world in spirit form to locate terrorists. While they are in their "second body" they are invisible and undetectable to the bad guys - or so they thought. But on the day Danny breaks in the organization discovers that operative Opal has somehow been captured and can't return to her real body. Without meaning to Danny has indicated that he is especially attuned to this spirit world and he is quickly drafted to join the Shadow Project and help save Opal.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson

Alex Van Helsing was thrown out of his last school for fighting. Now he is at a boarding school in Switzerland and is plagued by the same prickly feelings on the back of his neck around certain people that led to his last fight. All his life Alex's father has told him that things like vampires and werewolves do not exist. But while out one night he runs into a girl with the whitest skin and sharpest fangs he has ever seen and Alex manages to kill her to save his life. Although he is still in denial about what he has seen, Alex finds he is not all that surprised when one of his teachers tells him about a secret organization dedicated to fighting vampires and other creatures. They are not surprised that Alex seems to sense the creatures since he is a relative of the original Van Helsing who killed Dracula. Alex isn't sure why his father has deliberately kept their family legacy from him but he has no choice about getting involved when two of his friends are taken by Icemaker, a centuries old poet vampire.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

They Never Came Back by Caroline Cooney

When she was 10 Murielle's parents stole millions of dollars from their clients and left the country. Although Murielle was supposed to go with them she was left behind and ended up in foster care. Now 15 she has changed her name and is living her life as Cathy when her cousin Tommy recognizes her at summer school. Suddenly she is the center of attention again and is being pursued by the FBI agent who has been trying to use her to locate her parents and bring them back to the United States for trial. Murielle/Cathy is torn between her love for her parents and her desire to help out the people they hurt, including her.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine and her two younger sisters go to Oakland, California to visit their mother who abandoned them when the youngest sister was only a few weeks old. They arrive expecting a warm welcome from the mother they barely know but Cecile tells them the visit wasn't her idea, bans them from ever entering the kitchen, takes all the money they brought for trips to Disney, and refuses to cook them anything. Instead, she sends them out each morning to the breakfast and education classes from the Black Panthers while she works on her poetry. At first Delphine is sure that they will be leaving Cecile any day but while they save up enough money to make the phone call home they find some new friends and new ways to deal with their uninvolved mother.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams

Sadie and her family move to Utah after her mother's death in childbirth a few years before. Sadie's stepmom is now pregnant and Sadie is worried that she will have problems as well. After moving into their new home Sadie, her sister Zuzu, and their new neighbor Bella discover a small room in the attic with the words "Palace Beautiful" written over the door. Inside, they find a journal written by a girl their age in 1918. Enchanted by the journal they take turns reading the entries which become increasingly tragic and seem to mimic some events in their own lives.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The author of The Lightning Thief is back with a whole new series and a whole new set of gods and goddesses! Siblings Carter and Sadie Kane have lived apart since the death of their mother several years before. But during a visit to London their father takes them both to the British Museum where he performs a ceremony that releases five Egyptian gods and blasts the Rosetta Stone into dust. With their father gone and the police questioning Carter and Sadie they are taken out of the country by their uncle and immersed in a world of mythology and magic. Just like his other books, this series is full of action and adventure.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle

In 1851 author Fredrika Bremer visited Cuba for the first time and wrote about the slavery that was still practiced there. In particular, she was moved by the plight of her translator, Cecilia. Cecilia was 14, married to a boy she hardly knew, pregnant, and a slave with no hope of buying her own freedom. Margarita Engle has taken the writings of Bremer and made a story of three women dealing with slavery in Cuba in their own way. One of the voices is Fredrika's who is enchanted by the island but unable to understand the ugliness of slavery. One is Cecilia who finds her world being opened up by Fredrika's visit. Cecilia worries about her unborn child and wishes there was a way to buy freedom for the baby so that it will grow up free. The third voice in the story is Elena who is the daughter of Cecilia's owner. Although she is "free", Elena finds herself with very few options for her future since she is a girl.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake

Maleeka has been teased all her life because of her high grades, homemade clothes and dark skin. In order to fit in she has joined the group of the most popular, and meanest, girl in school. When Miss Saunders takes over their English class Maleeka doesn't want anything to do with her. Miss Saunders is short, fat and has a white patch on her face and Maleeka feels sure that the teacher will be even more of an outcast than she is. But for some reason Miss Saunders feels perfectly at home in her own skin and encourages Maleeka to accept herself too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Melody is 11 and billiant but she has not been able to say a word her entire life. Melody has cerebral palsy which prevents her from talking to others. Luckily for her, her family and neighbor never gave up on her and recognized her intelligence. Unfortunately, the students in her school are not as understanding. But now, with the help of her new computer that allows her to talk, Melody is finally able to show everyone how smart she is. With lots of help studying from her family Melody is working to join the school's academic quiz bowl team against all odds.

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Shawn is brilliant and has a photographic memory. Unfortunately, he also has cerebral palsy and has no control over any muscle in his body so he is unable to communicate with the outside world. Doctors, teachers and his family all assume that he has the intelligence of a baby only four months old. The strain of caring for Shawn caused his parents to divorce when he was young. After writing a poem about Shawn and their lives Shawn's father won the Pulitzer Prize and now is a famous author. Shawn is relatively happy with his life even though he can't communicate to anyone that he understands everything happening around him. Recently though Shawn has become worried for his safety because whenever he is alone with his father, his dad talks about killing Shawn to "put him out of his misery". With no way to let anyone know that he can think and feel and no way to defend himself, Shawn is stuck with whatever decision his father makes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jade Green by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Judith is an orphan who has had the good luck to be taken in by her uncle. She is happy that she has a place to stay but is puzzled when her uncle sends word that she cannot bring along anything green. Judith gets rid of everything she owns that is green except for a picture frame given to her by her mother. After arriving at her new home she hears that a poor girl with no home named Jade Green lived at the house a few years before but committed suicide. Within days of arriving Judith begins to notice strange happenings. Things that she was sure she had stored away are left out. On the stairs to the attic she finds a bloodstain where Jade died. Then, a few days later, she finds a glove on the stairs. Eventually she even sees Jade's dead hand crawling around the house. Meanwhile, Judith is being threatened by her cousin who is worried that she will take all of his inheritance. Trapped between her mean cousin and the ghost of Jade Green, Judith fears that she is losing her sanity.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge

In 1965 in our country black men and women in the south were not able to vote. Although all adults were legally entitled to vote, the governor of Alabama helped enforce tests and fees for black voters that were not applied to white voters. Any African-American adult who wanted to register to vote also had to have someone vouch that they were a "good Negro" before they were even allowed to take the required tests. Outraged at the inequality blacks in Alabama began staging nonviolent protests with the help of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although the protests were remarkable all by themselves, what made these different from others was that many of the protesters were children and teens who could march and not jeopardize their family income by losing jobs. Marching for Freedom describes the many nonviolent protests and marches that were met with beatings and prison. And yet as the movement grew more and more people came to help defeat the unfair practices. A great description - with lots of amazing pictures - of a time in our country's history that is not as far in the past as you would think.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Payback by Rosemary Hayes

This book is based on the true story of Halima, an obediant Muslim girl from Pakistan. When Halima was about 11 years old her father moved the entire family to London. After spending years in western society and learning English, Halima has dreams for her future including becoming a politician. When she starts college Halima also meets a nice man she thinks she could love. Even better, he is from a good Muslim family and she feels certain that her father will approve of the match and arrange the marriage between them. But all of her plans are shattered when she learns that her father has promised her as a wife to a man living in Saudi Arabia. When Halima was just 8 her father had some problems back in Pakistan. In order to solve his problems he had to ask for help from another man and in exchange for his help he promised to give Halima to the man's son as a wife. Since honor is an important part of her culture and even more important to her father, Halima knows that there is no way out of this marriage unless she leaves all of her family behind permanently. But even then there is the danger of her father or the other man sending someone to kidnap her to make her comply.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Borderline by Allan Stratton

Sami has felt left out most of his life since he is Muslim. His only good friends are Andy and Marty but after a problem at school his father moved him to a private academy where he knows no one. Worse, the biggest bully in school is one of the principal's favorite students so he gets away with tormenting Sami constantly. Sami's relationship with his father is also rocky since his dad is very strict. When his dad proposes they take a long weekend together in Canada Sami is willing to give it a try but his father cancels at the last minute and goes on his own. Suspicious and hurt, Sami does some investigating and finds out that his father was lying about his plans. Sami believes that his dad might be having an affair but he finds out that things are much worse than that when the FBI breaks into his house and arrests his father for international terrorism. Despite his problems with his dad Sami can't imagine that he is a terrorist and decides that he is the only one who can clear his father's name.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Finn lives in Incarceron which is a prison unlike any other. Incarceron was set up to be a paradise for those living there. There are no cells but no one comes in and no one ever leaves. Although there is a warden, Incarceron itself takes care of any problems in the prison since it is capable of thinking and acting. When animals or people die their biological matter is recycled to make new creatures. But over the years Incarceron has become filled with gangs and violence and a legend has begun about a prisoner who found a way out of the jail. Finn has dreams and visions and he believes that he lived a life outside of Incarceron even though he can't remember that time. Because of his visions he is trying to escape the prison. His best opportunity comes when he finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with Claudia who lives in the real world. Claudia is the daughter of the warden and is engaged, against her will, to the next king of the country. With her tutor she is determined to find something to save her from her fate. After breaking into her father's study one day she discovers a desk that opens when she says the password "Incarceron". She finds her own crystal key and believes that Finn may just be the young prince who supposedly died in a horse-riding accident. Both Finn's and Claudia's destinies rest with them being able to break Finn out of Incarceron.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bystander by James Preller

Eric is the new kid in 7th grade when he meets Griffin. He can tell right away that Griff is someone you want to have like you - or else. Griff has a way of stirring up trouble but never being directly involved in it. Eric is bothered by the way Griff and his other friends pick on the other kids at school but he figures that it's better to be part of the group rather than one of the targets. And besides, he's not doing anything to the kids himself, is he? But as time goes on and Eric witnesses more and more of Griff's bullying he begins to wonder if a bystander is just as guilty as the bully.

Alive in the Killing Fields by Nawuth Keat

When he was just nine author Nawuth Keat saw most of his family murdered by the Khmer Rouge, a group of vicious thugs who were allowed to do whatever they wanted to the people of Cambodia under dictator Pol Pot. After surviving the attack Nawuth and his remaining family tried to just stay alive for several years until they could find a way to escape the horrors. Nawuth tells the true story of his life for several years under the thumb of the Khmer Rouge. He managed to survive shootings, starvation, intestinal disease, abuse, and the deaths of other members of his family. Even after making it across the border into a Thai refugee camp Nawuth finds that his life is not safe. This is a true story of survival.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd walks with a limp ever since a tree fell on his leg. Since he's disabled in this way he is at a disadvantage in his Viking village. Feeling dissatisfied with his stepfather and stepsiblings, Odd decides to go back to the cabin where he lived with his parents. He is surprised when a fox appears at his door and makes it obvious that Odd is supposed to follow him. The fox leads Odd to a huge bear who has his paw stuck in a honey tree. Odd helps him escape and the bear, fox and an eagle follow him home and into his small cabin. While dozing, Odd hears the three animals talking and discovers that they are actually Norse gods who have been changed into animal form by a Frost Giant. The three gods want to return home and retake their kingdom but first they have to find a rainbow bridge. Odd decides to help them on their journey and is certain that he can be helpful in defeating the huge Frost Giant.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Caitlin struggles to get along at school and to make sense of the world because she has Asperger's syndrome. Because of this she has a hard time communicating with people, expressing her emotions and making friends. One person who could always help her was her older brother Devon. But now Devon is dead, killed in a school shooting. Caitlin is searching for a way to find closure about her brother's death while her father is struggling with his own grief.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Malice by Chris Wooding

Malice is the name of a comic book with a scary reputation. The stories in Malice are all about kids who are trapped in a nightmarish world of horrors. The reputation is that the kids in the stories are real people who have gone missing after asking for Tall Jake to take them away. When Luke disappears after performing the ceremony calling Tall Jake, his friends Seth and Kady decide to track down their own copy of Malice to find him. Seth enters the world of Malice while Kady tracks down the people in England who are behind the comic. Both discover a world much more terrifying than they had ever imagined.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith

Alex and his friend Toby are robbing a house when a group of sinister men in black arrive, kill Toby, and frame Alex for his murder. Found guilty of murder Alex is sent to Furnace, an inescapable underground prison for boys and teens. The boys in Furnace are forced to do hard labor chipping rocks or preparing the meals out of rotten, disgusting bits of animals. They are guarded by the men in black and the warden's dogs - huge, powerful creatures without any skin. As horrible as all that is, the worst part of Furnace comes at night when the faceless men in gas masks drug prisoners and take them away never to be seen again. Although Furnace is buried deep underground and surrounded by rock Alex is determined to find a way to escape, or die trying. He knows that to stay will eventually lead to his death anyway.

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

In 1914 Ernest Shackleton and his crew were determined to be the first people to cross Antarctica. They set out with high hopes but before too long they were caught in the loose packed ice around the continent. Unable to sail out of the ice their ship, the Endurance, was stuck for months until it was finally crushed and sunk. Without shelter or any way to communicate with the outside world the men of the Endurance had to find a way to survive in the harshest environment on Earth and get to solid ground before the ice melted and they all died. This book is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told, and it's all true!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Wreckers by Iain Lawrence

John is on his first sea voyage with his father when their ship wrecks on some rocks known as "The Tombstones". John barely survives the wreck and is thrilled when he sees some men coming down the beach towards him. But his excitement turns to horror when he sees the men drown one of the other survivors on purpose. John runs away while the men are not looking and ends up being taken in by Simon Mawgan and his niece Mary. Although Simon claims to be helping John he does several things that make John wary of him. Among others, he beats his mute brother, he yells at John about a supposed secret cargo on board their ship, and John is sure that Simon is responsible for the lights that lured their ship onto the Tombstones. While trying to figure out what is happening with Simon, John is also working with Mary to try to find his father and escape the island before both of them are killed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Give up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Cass has been an outsider at her school ever since her former best friend spread a bunch of rumors about her. But for the last couple of years everyone has left Cass alone due to her uncanny ability to get the dirt, and reveal it, about anyone. Cass's secret is that she has been able to see and talk to ghosts since the death of her older sister who is still hanging around her house. With the help of the ghosts in school Cass hears all the juiciest secrets and uses them to scare people into leaving her alone. She has just found out something huge about her former friend and can't wait to use it for revenge. But her plans are slightly derailed when Tim, the vice president of the student body, comes to her for help. He has guessed how she gets her information and wants her help in contacting his dead mother.

Snap by Carol Snow

Instead of taking a cruise around Hawaii, Madison is dragged along with her parents to a run down motel in Sandyland. The motel is located several blocks from the beach so Madison has plenty of time to see town as she walks to and from. Her parents seem depressed and argue with Madison about getting even a new bathing suit. But Madison decides to ignore that and focus on her photography while she's stuck in Sandyland. After accidentally breaking her camera she takes it to Psychic Photography for repair where she meets local odd girl Delilah and her friend Duncan. But the real mystery starts when Madison gets her camera back and finds an old woman in one of her beach pictures - a woman she knows wasn't there when she took the picture. Things get weirder still when the old woman dies shortly afterwards and another person shows up in a different picture. Madison's not sure what's happening with her camera or her family.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

Will is deaf and has spent his entire school career at a school for deaf students. But due to some arguments there he decides to try and attend the local public school. Since he is deaf and overweight he soon discovers that he's not going to be very popular but he can adjust to that. He keeps notes on all his classmates in his journal writing down whatever he learns about them from his excellent lip-reading. He also becomes friends with Devon, a geeky boy who knows enough sign language to communicate with Will. On a field trip to a local mine the most popular boy in school falls to his death while the lights are off. Will and Devon learn that the death is actually a murder and they decide to solve the crime, Hardy Boys style.

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Liam is only 12 but he looks like he's 30. Thanks to his hormones he is unusually tall for his age. Plus, he has begun to sprout facial hair. He uses this to his advantage, trying out things like taking a car for a test drive. But he really hits the jackpot when he qualifies to take his "daughter" to a new amusement park in China that will have the best rides ever. Liam gets his friend Florida to go along posing as his daughter. When they arrive at the park they discover that the new ride is a spaceship that will actually go into space with the children. When the director of the program reveals that one of the dads will get to go along with the children Liam works hard to make sure that he is the one chosen. But on their trip something goes wrong...

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

Oliver is a 12 year old evil genius who has used his intelligence to become the (secret) third richest person on the world. He has an adult who acts as the billionaire but follows all of Oliver's orders. In order to keep all of his evil plans hidden Oliver pretends to be an imbecile at home and at school and his disguise is working well. At school he is surrounded by a team of bodyguards disguised as students. If anyone dares to pick on Oliver he gives a secret command and the bully is immediately immobilized by a dart gun. All Oliver has to do is continue to lay low until he turns 18 and can take all the credit for his money and plans. But when he is nominated for class president, as a joke, he can't resist the opportunity to humiliate his dad who still brags of his time in student government. Now Oliver has to find a way to eliminate the competition and win the election, whatever it takes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Z. Rex by Stephen Cole

Adam is stuck in an apartment in New Mexico when he really longs to be back home in Scotland. His father is a computer engineer working on a brand new type of virtual reality and tracking down the funding for his project. Adam's dad leaves for what he claims will be just two days but nine days later he hasn't come back yet and Adam receives a warning text telling him to find a friend in Scotland and stay away from the police. Within minutes his apartment is surrounded by sinister looking men but they are all scared away by an invisible tyrannosaurus rex! The dinosaur, Zed, is much more than a living fossil. He can talk and fly and he has survived electrocution from the men outside the apartment. Zed Adam and takes him on a cross continent flight to Scotland to find the men responsible for injuring him. Scared at first, Adam comes to realize that Zed can reason and is not dangerous to someone who hasn't hurt him. But what will happen when he finds those that have, including Adam's father?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Candor by Pam Bachorz

The children in the town of Candor are perfect. They study all the time, they respect their parents, and they would never think of trying any drugs or acting up in any way. The town's founder makes sure that the teens are perfect, that's part of how he sells million dollar homes to the parents who settle there. Oscar is the son of the town's founder and he knows that the music that is always playing is the reason for the perfect behavior. The music has subliminal messages in it that brainwash the teens into becoming robotic children. But Oscar also knows how to make his own messages and has been helping teens escape the town. Usually, this is all business to him but when he meets new girl Nia he finds himself caring about her more than he should. Oscar wants to help Nia escape to save her but he also wants to keep her in town to be with him. But Nia's bad behavior is attracting attention that could end Oscar's rebellion once and for all.

A Family Secret by Eric Heuvel

Jeroen is searching in his grandmother's attic for used items to sell when he comes across an old scrapbook with information about his grandmother's family during World War II as well as a police officer's hat. Curious about what he has found he asks his grandmother to explain and she begins her story of her life in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. Jeroen's grandmother, Helena, was best friends with Esther. Esther and her family were Jewish who had managed to escape from Germany into the Netherlands and thought they would be safe. But as the Germans take over the country they bring their reign of terror to the Jews there too. Even Helena's father who is a Dutch police officer begins working with the Nazis. And when Esther's family is taken to the concentration camps it is Helena's father who has to decide what to do with Esther.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer

In this sequel to The Sea of Trolls we finally learn why Lucy is concerned only about herself. Lucy is a changeling - a troll baby that was stolen by Jack's parents. Jack discovers that his real sister is likely living with goblins now. Lucy disappears as a result of an exorcism gone wrong so Jack goes to the Land of the Silver Apples to get both of his sisters.

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

Jack is learning to become a bard - a village leader who tells stories and performs magic. As a part of his apprenticeship he gets to live with the bard which works out well for him since his father spends all his time doting on Jack's younger sister Lucy. But when Viking berserkers come through the village they kidnap Jack and Lucy. Jack is able to save their lives with his magic and even becomes friends with Olaf One-Brown and a young girl who wants to become a warrior. When the Vikings arrive in their own land Jack meets Queen Frith who is half Troll. Like his father, she is immediately devoted to Lucy and treats her like a daughter. Jack continues to tell stories to save his life but one of his stories accidentally undoes a spell that Frith has cast which puts Jack's life in danger once again.

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

After Jack is hit by a car his widower father sends him to New York to see a doctor. The doctor just takes a picture of Jack and then sends him on his way. With some extra time on his hands Jack decides to spend some time wandering around the train station where he meets Euri. She takes him to the underground section of the station where he sees an underworld of ghosts. Jack learns that he can spend three days in the underworld before he becomes a ghost himself. In the meantime he can do whatever Euri does as long as he is holding her hand. So Jack starts on a quest to try to find his dead mother and bring her back to the land of the living vefore his time runs out.

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

Yann works with a magician at the time of the French Revolution. One night they are hired for a private performance at the house of an aristocrat who is in lots of debt. Yann meets Sido, the 12 year old daughter of the aristocrat. She reveals that her father wants her to marry Count Kalliovski in order to end his money problems. During the course of the evening Yann's mentor is murdered during his act by the Count who has now set his sites on Yann. Yann and Sido work together to save themselves from the evil Count and staying safe during a dangerous time in history.

Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vande Velde

Raquel was hit by a car and has died before this book even begins. The chapters of the book are told by people who knew Raquel who are now remembering what they knew of her. Some of the people affected by her death knew her well but others were people who couldn't be bothered to talk to her when she was alive. Although Raquel wasn't a complete outcast she was also not very popular and very few people know who she really was. As all the characters remember her in different ways we find out many details about her life that might indicate her accident might not have been so accidental after all.

The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle

Genna and Dan's father disappeared several years before after suffering a mental illness. Everyone assumes that he is dead and now their mother is showing symptoms of the same illness. Now their Uncle Banris is pressuring their mother to marry him but Genna and Dan don't trust him and suspect that he has ulterior motives. Their town is bordered by a forest that has the nightlings in it. The nightlings are elf-like creatures who demand gifts each year to keep the peace with the humans. Genna decides to go ask Letrin, the king of the nightlings, to help them find their father. Once there they learn that Uncle Banris has already talked to the nightlings and plans to murder their entire family once he marries their mother. Letrin agrees to help them - as long as they do something for him first. So Genna and Dan set off on a quest with a young nightling girl and a talking cat.

The Sky Inside by Clare Dunkle

Martin lives with his parents and younger sister in the future in a city covered by a dome. The people living there are content to live their lives making no decisions and having no options about their futures. When Martin gets an A.I. dog for his birthday he is unhappy at first but he soon discovers that his dog has abilities he shouldn't have. For instance, his dog is capable of changing his form into any other item and he can access forbidden areas of the dome. Martin's sister Cassie is a genetically engineered child from a group called the "Wonder Babies". Now that they are school age it is clear that the Wonder Babies are brilliant - smarter than any adult in the world - and they are worrying the government because of their abilities. When a man comes to the dome claiming that he is taking the Wonder Babies to a better place Martin is skeptical and worried about his sister. With the help of his dog he decides to brave the world outside the dome to find Cassie.

What They Found: Love on 145th Street by Walter Dean Myers

The neighborhood beauty salon is the center of activity for these short stories which are all set in Harlem. Although some stories are funny and some are serious they all concern the residents of 145th street and show people who are "poor and black". A young boy wishes he had a way to support his girlfriend and their baby. A girl with big plans for her future ends up dating a gangster who surprises her with how nice he is to the handicapped kids she works with. A boy who wants to make something of himself finds that it is difficult for him to make any progress without a gun or drugs. These are just a few of the many great stories by a master storyteller.

Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman

Antsy and Gunnar are given a project to work on together for school. As they become friends Gunnar reveals that his doctor has told him he only has a few months left to live. Antsy wants to help Gunnar in some way so he offers to donate one month of his own life to Gunnar. Gunnar is touched by the gesture and so are many people at school. Soon, everyone is approaching Antsy to ask him about drawing up contracts for their own donations to Gunnar. Meanwhile, Antsy is beginning to think he might have a chance with Gunnar's older, beautiful sister Kjersten as they begin spending more time together. But as time goes on and Antsy learns more about Gunnar he begins to doubt his friend's story and becomes more uneasy about all the people at school who are obsessed with Gunnar's story.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Brothers Prosper and Boniface have to live with a mean aunt and uncle after their parents' deaths. When they learn that their aunt wants to separate them and just keep young, cute Boniface they run away to Venice. Once there they are living on the streets until they meet a group of orphans who live in an abandoned theater. The orphans are taken care of by another boy named Scipio, the Thief Lord, who steals things of great value and sells them to provide for all of them. The brothers learn that their aunt has tracked them to Venice and has hired a private investigator to locate them. So with the help of their new family they plan a way to carry out the biggest theft ever and throw the detective off their trail.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Downsiders by Neal Shusterman

Talon lives in the Downside - the world located underneath New York City. According to Downsider history they have always lived there, safe from the burning rays of the sun that harm the unlucky topsiders. But despite warnings to stay away from the Topside Talon finds himself drawn to some things there, especially Lindsey who has just moved in with her father. Lindsey is drawn to Talon as well and is determined to teach him more about what he is missing on the Topside. But Talon and the rest of the Downsiders might not have any choice about leaving their world left when some digging equipment accidentally breaks through a wall and part of their home is discovered. Now they are faced with a hard decision about their future.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Num8ers by Rachel Ward

Jem sees numbers in the eyes of everyone she meets. After her mother's death, Jem realizes that a person's number is actually the date that person will die. Ever since then Jem has kept to herself trying to avoid the death dates all around her. When she meets Spider at school she is shocked to see that his number is only a few months away. Despite his impending death they become friends, both getting into trouble at school for different reasons. During an afternoon trip to the London Eye Jem notices that everyone waiting in line for the ride has the same number - that day's date. She knows that some catastrophe is going to happen to the people at the London Eye so she grabs Spider's hand and runs away. Minutes later a bomb explodes killing dozens of people. Within hours the police are looking for two teens - a tall black boy and short white girl who were seen running away from the scene of the terrorist attack. Jem and Spider have to run for their lives, even though Spider only has about a week left in his.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

Steven has a totally normal life for an 8th grader. He's in the All Star band because he's a great drummer, he has a crush on the hottest girl in school, and he has a little brother who sometimes drives him crazy. But his life is turned upside down when his brother Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia. Almost overnight his mother quits her job to take care of Jeffrey and they are spending weeks in treatment in another city. His father shuts down as a parent and Steven is left to fend for himself. At first, he's not doing a very good job of that. But with some help from his best friend and a caring school counselor he begins to get himself together. He follows the advice of the counselor who tells him to stop focusing on what he can't change and instead, think about the things he can. With this advice, Steven is poised to become the best big brother, and musician, ever.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Iris, Messenger by Sara Deming

Iris has the weirdest teachers and is always getting in trouble with them. Her mother is a health food nut who works for a tofu company and her father lives with his new wife far away and sends her the worst presents ever. On Iris's birthday she expects to receive the usual bunch of awful gifts but is pleasantly surprised when she gets a copy of Bullfinch's Mythology. And in the margins of the book she finds notes written specifically to her with hints on how to find the Greek god Poseidon. She also receives a rainbow-colored shawl that allows her to transport to any spot she likes. Determined to find out who has sent her these gifts and why, Iris travels around town meeting all the gods who are alive and well. She also hears lots of the original stories from mythology told by the gods themselves and finds a way to help her mom who has been fired from her job.

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Kelley is 17 and living in New York City trying to become an actress. She gets her big break when she is given the lead role in a Shakespeare play. But while practicing her lines in Central Park one night she hears a commotion and finds a horse drowning in a pond. She rescues the horse and then is stunned to find the horse in her bathtub when she gets to her apartment on the third floor. Meanwhile, Sonny is a changeling - a human who was stolen as a baby by faeries and raised as one of their own. He has been selected by the Winter King to be part of the Janus who guard a crack between the faerie and human worlds. For nine nights near Halloween the crack opens enough that fae creatures can escape into the human world. When Sonny runs into Kelley he realizes that she is more than she seems although he's not sure what, exactly, she is. But when he discovers that she is keeping a kelpie in her bathtub and that her roommate is an escaped faerie from hundreds of years before, he begins to suspect that Kelley might be much more powerful than either of them had ever imagined.

Night Fires by George Edward Stanley

Woodrow and his mother have just moved into the town of Lawton, Oklahoma. They have returned to Woodrow's father's home after he was killed in a car accident. Woodrow's mother is still mourning and spends much of her time in her bedroom. So Woodrow keeps himself busy with his next door neighbor, Senator Crawford. Senator Crawford fills a void left by the death of his father and Woodrow soon begins to think of the Senator as a father. Likewise, the Senator's son died a few years before and now the Senator feels like Woodrow is taking his place. But as the relationship between Woodrow and the Senator grows, his mother makes it clear that she does not like the Senator and worries about his influence on Woodrow. Woodrow is not concerned at all, until the night he secretly witnesses the beating of a black boy and realizes that the Senator is the head of the local Ku Klux Klan. Woodrow wants to believe that his new "father" is a good man but the more he learns about the Klan and what they are doing in town, the harder time he has believing that.

Little Audrey by Ruth White

Set in a coal mining town in 1948, Little Audrey is the story of the author's childhood but told from the perspective of her older sister Audrey. Audrey's mother has had problems ever since the death of one of her children several years before. Now she often has spells where she lives in her own world, drifting about in the real world. The girls' father is an abusive drunk who uses most of his pay for alcohol. The family is barely surviving until something happens that changes their lives forever.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Jamie is an army brat who has heard all her life about how great the military is from her Colonel father. When her older brother decides to skip college and go to fight in Vietnam instead Jamie is thrilled that T.J. will get to live what they have always dreamed about. So she is very surprised when it seems that her father is trying to talk T.J. out of enlisting. And she is even more surprised when T.J. starts sending her film to develop full of pictures that paint a completely different picture of the war than she has always imagined.