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.