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.