editing disabled

Authors A - B
Abe, Shana
The Sweetest Dark
Eleanor is an orphan living in London in the early 1900s. She's a little unusual. She hears beautiful, haunting music all around her and there's a voice that speaks to her, silent to all but her. They consumed her and she kept them secret until the day she didn't. On that day, she was committed to a hospital until she learned to lie very well. Upon her release, she finds herself on the way to an exclusive boarding school for girls as a charity case. It's not an easy existence but she's learned to be tough. Out in the beautiful country side, Lora discovers that her songs and voice are back but different, more intense. She is drawn to two boys; Jesse is the beautiful grounds keeper whose song seems to pull on her and Armand is the wealthy and haughty aristocrat who has more than a few secrets of his own. Both boys vie for her attentions. One sings for her the other holds her future. Soon, however, the outside world invades, threatening all they have and in smoke and gold hides their salvation.

Shana Abe weaves a haunting tale of self-discovery and romance in her upcoming book, The Sweetest Dark. The story is set in 1915 England amid the eminent threat of war, which creates a feeling of immediacy. The backstory of Jesse is a bit cloudy and the random letters to someone named Rue were a distraction from the story, especially since they were never really explained. Still the love triangle and the backdrop of war (with Germany, of course, but also between the wealthy girls and Eleanor) created delicious tension. The climax was heroic and tragic but ended the story with a satisfactory conclusion. Fans of fantastical beings and waiting for true love will devour this story!
Adlington, L. J.
The Diary of Pelly D
Toni V is a teenager working on a demolition crew bringing down the old plaza so a new facility can be built. When his drill hits an old watering can with a small book wrapped in brown paper, his simple life of following Rules and Regs is turned upside down. The book is a diary telling the story of a teenaged girl who seems like a typical a rich, self-centered snob but as he reads further he begins to realize that disturbing, frightening things are happening in her world. Genetics are everything and if you have the wrong genes, it could mean the loss of everything.
This story takes you into a future that is certainly possible and very frightening. Adlington give us a new spin on discrimination, segregation, and racism based on genetics. The more you read the more frustrated you get at what's happening to the citizens of City Five. You are given a glimpse into what the Jews in Nazi Germany, or the Japanese in the internment camps must have gone through. This would be an excellent book for discussion groups! It will raise the students ire at the unfairness of it all and would be a great segue into a civil rights unit.

Aguirre, Ann
They live underground because it's the only safe place left. Or so they've always been told. Deuce has just been named a Huntress, something she's wanted and worked for her whole life. Her job is to go out into the tunnels and hunt for food and other items that might prove valuable to her people. It wouldn't be such a bad way to make a living if it weren't for one minor thing...she is not just a hunter; she is also prey for the Freaks that also inhabit the tunnels. They are monsters that scavenge flesh, dead or alive. Deuce is assigned her first partner and the choice couldn't be worse. Fade was not born in the Enclave. He came from "outside" and has never really fit in. He looks at things very differently and soon, Deuce begins to wonder about some of the rules and explanations given by the elders. When the two of them discover that the Freaks are capable of skilled hunting and strategy, the elders refuse to believe them then someone sets them up for a fall and fall they do. Their punishment is to be banished from the Enclave and to fend for themselves in the tunnels. Fade and Deuce are strong, cunning and determined to survive no matter what, which is a good thing since things are about to get much, much worse.

Alexander, Lloyd
The Rope Trick
Magic tricks, illusions, and dancing pigs are all a part of Lidi's life. She is Princess Lidi and her Magical Mystifications travel the country side putting on shows for local townsfolk. She is an acceptional magician, a natural. But there is one trick that she desperately wanted to learn - the rope trick. There was only one person who knew the secret, a great magician, Ferramondo. She and Jericho went from place to place seeking this elusive magician so that Lidi could learn this trick for she thought it would make their fortune. Along the way, they meet young Daniella who has the power to prophesy and Julian, a fugitive from the law. At each town, they meet someone who knows of Ferramondo and they learn bits and pieces about him but none has ever witnessed the rope trick. When Daniella is kidnapped by a greedy man who wants to use her powers for his own gain, Lidi must abandon her dreams of finally learning the rope trick. When she gives up the one purpose in her life for something more important, she finds her true power and a life she could never have imagined.
Alexander is still one of the greatest and most prolific fantasy writers. He writes with humor and emotion and this story is no exception. His characters, even though set in another time, struggle with the same issues as young people of today do. Each chapter, each tidbit of information about the rope trick, draws the reader in and on toward the rather surprising but satisfying ending. I would highly recommend this book to those who love fantasy or historical fiction.

Almond, David
Kit’s Wilderness
This is a very dark and dramatic novel about the struggles of a young boy in a new town. Kit’s family moved to Stoneygate to care for his grandfather. Most of the men from the town worked in the now closed coal- mines. Kit is befriended by a strange young man named John Askew and is asked to be a part of his small gang. The group spends several hours playing a game they call Death in which the players select the next person to “die”. He/she is left alone in the dark mine shaft “In Stoneygate there was a wilderness. It was an empty space between the houses and the river, where the ancient pit, the mine, had been." What each person experiences in that dark place is a secret but only John and Kit truly understand each other and what lies in the deep places.
Kit uncovers much of his past through conversations with his grandfather who tells him stories of the coal-mining days. He comes to understand his present through his friendship with John Askew who’s own troubled life contributes to some of the darker experiences both boys endure. In the end, there is change for all of the characters and change is often a good thing.

Amory, Jay
The Fledging of Az Gabrielson
There are two races of people. The Airborn live above the clouds where it is always sunny and beautiful. With an 8 foot span of their beautiful wings, getting around up there is not difficult for most of them. The Groundlings live on the down below on the earth where it is always cloudy, gray and rainy. There are many dangers lurking and getting around for them can be life-threatening. Az is an Airborn but one who has never fit in. He was born with no wings. He struggles with his winglessness until the day he is selected for a special assignment. Something is stirring down below. The Airborn have taken the Groundlings for granted so long that no one knows if they even still exist. When the massive automated elevators begin to arrive with no supplies, upon which the whole Airborn society depends, someone has to go down and discover the cause. Az is the perfect candidate, because of his resemblance to the Groundlings. Upon his arrival, Az finds a nearly incomprehensible society. They seem to worship the Airborn and try to live their lives in such a way that , when they die, they will deserve to Ascend and become an Airborn. There is a group of people, however, who have begun to question this belief and they are becoming increasingly restless. Az will soon have to fight for his life and the life of a young Groundling girl who helps him.

There are definitely religious overtones throughout this book. Some of which made me a little uncomfortable, as a conservative Christian. However, it was a really good story showing how being different doesn't mean being useless and that standing up for what is right is always the best course of action. Overall, I found this a very good story and would recommend it to any fantasy fan.

Anderson, Jodi Lynn
Tiger Lily
Tiger Lily is a fierce and brave girl who doesn't need anyone. She is the best hunter in her village, which doesn't endear her to the boys. She is fearless and curious...not a great combination! On Neverland Island, there is much to fear. Mermaids inhabit the lagoon with their beautiful eyes and razor sharp teeth. Pirates in search of a treasure greater than gold will kill on sight. Most feared of all, though, are the Lost Boys and their ruthless leader Peter Pan. When Peter and Tiger Lily meet, it's like two rocks clashing together. It changes both of them from what they were into something else. But Tiger Lily has a secret that will destroy all they have together and it's a secret that she can't keep forever. When betrayal comes, Tiger Lily does the unthinkable and that act will drive an ocean between them.

Best-selling author, Jodi Lynn Anderson has created fantastic retelling of Peter Pan!!! Hers is definitely NOT the sweet Disney tale. It is dark and gritty and masterfully wrought! The mystical Neverland Island setting is the perfect backdrop for the multidimensional and complicated life created for Tiger Lily. The joys and tragedies, betrayal's and love discovered weave a beautiful and terrible story that is not to be missed. Fantasy fans and those who appreciate fearless female characters are the target audience for this amazing book.

Anderson, Laurie Halse
Preacher's kids - PK's- are usually either really, really good or really, really bad. Kate Malone manages, somehow, to be both. Good Kate is who you see on the outside; she is sweet, helpful, and kind, the women in her church think "why can't all teenagers by like her?". Bad Kate lives on the inside and is disrespectful, disagreeable and even prays with her eyes open and her head unbowed. The two Kates manage to coexist because each is kept in her place with the science of organization and exercise, running to be precise. Her life runs like clockwork until little pieces of the clock begin to break. Her neighbors' house burns down and her father, being a Good Man of God, invites them to stay and Kate is forced to share her room with her archenemy, Teri. As time continues to march on, Kate is waiting to hear from MIT, the only college she's applied to. She runs, she goes to school, she helps out around the house, she is numb. Just when it seems like things could not possibly get worse, something happens that sends her world reeling completely off its axis. Now Kate is left to pick up the pieces and decide which direction is least painful.
Laurie Halse Anderson is an accomplished young adult storyteller. She captures the reality of the teenage years with accuracy, compassion and wit. Her characters are so well drawn that you can't help but feel for them. The chapters are titled with chemistry terms along with their meaning, each of which relate in some way what's going on at the time. I highly recommend this on for high school aged teens!

Anderson, Laurie Halse
8 & up
The Freshman Year, also known as the year of all things new and scary. Each time your books are “accidentally” knocked out of your hands or you are given the wrong directions to your next class or any of a number of humiliations reminds you of your status. For Melinda multiply all of these factors by one hundred because she did the "wrong" thing in the eyes of the “right” people. She called the police because things got out of hand at a party celebrating the end of the summer and now no one talks to her, not even the friends she’s known for ages. But she can’t tell anyone what really happened at that party so she just avoids IT, completely. She stops speaking, her grades take a nosedive, and all she wants to do is escape IT. But IT won’t stay away and eventually, she will have to face what happened if she wants to move on with her life.
In a powerful and painful story of the most insidious kind of violation, Laurie Halse Anderson has delivered characters that are, at the same time, tragic and heroic. She is one of the great young adult authors of our time. She creates characters and story-lines that are extremely relative to today’s teens without peppering every page with curse words or explicit sexual content. I think that every girl should read this book before graduating high school. It would also be an excellent pairing with Chris Lynch's Inexcusable, which is a similar story told from the opposite character's point of view. It is also a book that all boys should read before they graduate from high school.

Anderson, Laurie Halse
9 & up
The senior prom is the highlight of the year...at least for most students. Ashley Hannigan, however, is not one of them.She's something of a non-conformist, much to her mother's dismay. Ashley's best friend, Nat, is totally into the hype of the prom. She's even the head of the prom committee. As it usually does, tragedy strikes when and where you least expect it.The faculty adviser is arrested for "misappropriating" the prom funds and the whole event is in jeopardy of being canceled. Nat kicks into high gear, roping Ashley into the melee, to her dismay and her mother's delight. With the help of eccentric characters, most of whom belong to Ashley's family, the girls manage to create a spectacular event out of absolutely nothing and learn more about themselves than they ever imagined.
Anderson's latest installment to the chick lit genre is sure to please most of her die-hard fans, of which I am one. However,this story fell somewhat flat for me.She kept talking about Ashley being a "normal" kid but I was unsure of what her definition of "normal" was.

Anderson, M. T.
"We went to the Moon to have fun, but the Moon turned out to completely suck", so says Titus. The teens of the future have computer chips for brains, literally. They no longer have to read or write, or even think for themselves. School is trademarked by private companies who have taken over the education system and teach "real world" classes designed to create superior employees. They don't even sit down to watch television because television is part of the feed and they get it all the time. The feed is filtered through the government and the private companies so no one is really aware of the reality that their world is falling apart and the lesions everyone is getting on their skin is due to pollution that is all around them. When Titus and his friends are hacked at a night club, their feeds are turned off, temporarily, and they begin to realize how dependent upon it they have become. When their lines are repaired, most of his friends go back to the way things were but for Titus and Violet, a girl he meets on the moon, life is drastically changed. They decide to fight the feed and not allow it to categorize them. They begin to order strange things from stores then not purchase them. They ask off-beat questions and make odd remarks to teachers and department store clerks. It's fun, at first, but when Violet realizes that her feed is permanently damaged and their fight against it is hindering her repairs, things become desperate.
M. T. Anderson is an excellent writer but this book was a disappointment. The futuristic teens have their own slang terms like "unit" for "dude" but for some reason, they also use curse words that today's teens use. They seem to be anachronisms as well as unnecessary and vulgar. I think that Anderson's use of them is intended to show that the teens are not particularly bright and, therefore, their vocabulary is limited to poor grammar and ugly words. I highly recommend Anderson's other books but this one should be handled carefully.

Anderson, M. T.
The Game of Sunken Places
It was a strange, old fashioned invitation that the boys receive. Stranger still is their arrival at the mansion of Gregory's uncle, Max. Brian and Gregory are instructed to change for dinner but not into any of the clothes they brought with them. Instead, Uncle Max has them wear clothing from the Victorian era, complete with starched white collars and knickerbockers. The strangeness does not stop there. Soon they are drawn into a bazaar game where trolls are real and answers to riddles can either save your life or take it. They don't know what the rules are or that the stakes are life and death or even who their opponents are. The boys must use all their wits and a good deal of humor to get through the sometimes traumatic events in the game, the conclusion of which catches both of them by surprise.
M.T. has redeemed himself to me with this delightful fantasy adventure! Where Feed was dark and confusing, this one is full of humor and wit. It's definitely a page-turner and, just as the boys are caught off guard by the ending, so too will you be. I certainly didn't see it coming! Sometimes the way that Brian and Gregory accept things that happen to them defies logic. For instance, what teenaged boy would wear knickerbockers without argument? Still, it's well worth the read!

Anderson, M. T.
Landscape With Invisible Hand
Adam is an aspiring artists with fantastic talend and dreams of making it big when the vuvv invaded. Was it really an invasion though? The vuvv offered free advanced technology and the cure for every diseasy on earth. As it turns out, yes, it was. There are few jobs, now, because vuvv tech has replaced human workers and completely decimated the Earth's environment in the process and those miraculous cures are impossibly expensive. Adam make some creative sacrifices to help his family endure the impossible hardships but, soon enough, he will have to decide how far he's willing to go and what's he's willing to surrender for their survival.

Angleberger, Tom
Fake Mustache
This is the mostly true story of two boys, the U.S. Presidency, a teen cowgirl and a magnificent mustache. An odd combination, to be sure but here's how it goes...Lenny and Casper are best friends who live in a very small town called Hairsprinkle. The day before Halloween, they head to Sven's Fair Price Store to look for costumes. Casper has something specific in mind. He wants the Heidelberg Handlebar Number Seven mustache for the bargain price of $129.99. The following morning, Lenny's parents are watching Good Morning, Hairsprinkle and the feature story is about a daring bank robbery where the thief stole a million dollars! The police even have video and when he sees it, Lenny realizes that it's his friend Casper with the fake mustache on but no one except him realizes it! Every day there's another robbery then, one fateful day, a man rides into town to buy the largest, most lucrative business around. His name? Fako Mustacho a.k.a. Casper! It's obvious to Lenny that something dreadful has happened to Casper and he's the only one who isn't fooled by his mustache; that is until he meets Jodie O'Rodeo, a former child star who is originally from Hairsprinkle. Together they go into battle against Fako and try to save Casper, the town, the country, yes, even the whole world!

From the author of Origami Yoda comes another improbable, silly tale that's sure to capture the attention of middle school readers. The story is told from Lenny's and Jodie's point of view. The two speak directly to the reader as they relate what really happened during those dark but wacky days. It's just the kind of story that will keep reluctant readers turning the pages. Middle school girls will appreciate the fact that Jodie is a pretty tough gal who does her own stunts! There are black & white illustrations sprinkled throughout that add to the hilarity. There are a few spots where suspending belief is a little difficult but probably not for the average middle school student. Fans of Origami Yoda will love it!

Arbuthnott, Gill
The Keepers' Tattoo
Dreams are always strange and sometimes terrifying. Nyssa has dreams of a place she's never been and of a deathly white man she's never met. For years, she's thought they were just dreams but recently, she begins to wonder if they aren't something more. Sometimes, when she's dreaming, she feels like she's seeing things through someone else's eyes. When dangerous men come to her village searching for her, things she never knew about herself are revealed. She is part of a clan called the Keepers. They are a legendary people who supposedly both saved and destroyed the Archipelago when Shadowmen invaded hundreds of years ago. The Keepers were scattered and their traditions became just rumors, stories told around fires. But now, Nyssa knows they are real and she is one of them; one of the most important. On her head was tattooed part of a verse used to vanquish the Shadowmen. The other part was tattooed on her twin brother, who was killed 10 years earlier when Alaric and his new Shadowmen attacked their settlement. Now, Nyssa and her uncle are on the run on a seemly hopeless quest to find out if the words have the power of legend and to keep that power from falling into Alaric's hands. With the help of her uncle, a young singer and a mysterious boy who will not speak, Nyssa will have to find the strength to fight the White Wolf for her life and her people.

Atwood, Margaret
The Penelopiad
Have you ever wondered what the classical stories we've all heard would change if told from the female perspective? Penelope, Odysseus' faithful wife tells her version of events and it's quite different from Homer's. She speaks of her success at managing Odysseus' estates and affairs but also how she kept would-be suitors at bay. She explains what lead up to the hanging of the 12 maids and how horrible she felt about it. And all of it comes from Penelope as she walks through the afterlife, reliving her mistakes and triumphs.
This was a confusing story. The afterlife angle made the telling difficult because there was much extraneous information about it thrown in. The purpose of the interrupting chapters of songs or poems was unclear. Atwood started out trying to answer the age-old mysteries that the Odyssey left but, for me, it only created more.

Augarde, Steve
The Various
Do you believe in fairies, wood sprites, flying horses? No? Well neither did Midge until she stumbled upon an injured winged horse in the pig barn at her uncle's farm. She soon learned that he was a one of many tribes of "little people" living in the mysterious wood behind the house. It was dense with brambles and thickets, and they thought, well protected from Gorji (human) invaders. But when Midge learns that her uncle is trying to sell the land to a developer who would plow down the forest, the tribes must face the possibility of losing their homes and having to find a new place to live. In the ensuing adventure, Midge's life is threatened and then saved by an unlikely hero, the tribes learn more about each other than they've ever known (or wanted to know) before, and it all ends happily ever after, as all good fairy tales do.
This imaginative and engaging tale is very well written with well-developed characters and plots. The descriptions of the Various are just vague enough to pique curiosity. The "moral" of the story is well-cloaked and simple...be open minded about people who are different from you because you might find something rather beautiful in them.

Crispin the Cross of Lead
He has no name, no real place in society, and his mother has just died. "Asta's son" has gone unnoticed through his 13 years of life until he is wrongly accused of theft and then murder. The kindly priest of the village knows a bit more about him and his history. He gives Asta's son a small leather pouch that belonged to his mother and a promise to meet his that night at the church to explain some things about his father, who supposedly died during the plague. Before that meeting, the priest is killed and the boy must escape the village to survive. Inside the pouch is a cross of lead with writing on it. The boy cannot read so he does not know what it says. During his journey he is taken in by Bear, a man named for his size and strength. Together they face foes at each town as they draw nearer to understanding the reason Crispin, as he is now called, is being hunted.
Avi adds a Newbery medal to his many Honor books with Crispin Cross of Lead. His most excellent research of the time period is seen in his attention to detail. It is an action-packed story leading the reader through the perils of this young boy as he becomes a man. I enjoyed the book but was a bit put off by the abrupt and not entirely believable ending. It is, nevertheless, highly recommended.

Ayers, Katherine
Macaroni Boy
Historical, Mystery
Depression pretty well describes it all; people, jobs, neighborhoods…everything and everyone is depressed in 1933. Mike Costa feels the same way. At school, a bully has singled him out and calls him Macaroni boy or Rat boy and tries to beat him up every chance he gets. At home, his beloved Grandpap suddenly seems old an weak; he forgets things, even who Mike is and, worse, he’s getting physically sick but refuses to go to the doctor. Hobos have turned up dead and the rats in the city seem to be dying in droves. Through some careful deduction and watchfulness, Mike and his friend Joseph, begin to wonder if all of these things are connected somehow and that Andy Simms, the bully, may the key to the mystery.
This story has a lot going on but Ayers manages to make everything flow quite well. Mike is a likeable character who, though bullied, is not a wimp. He stands up for himself when he needs to. She gives us a glimpse into the life and making of a bully so that we understand that they are not born that way...they are created by their circumstances. The mystery keeps suspense and interest building. It's a great read!

Baccalario, P.D.
Ring of Fire
When something strange happens once, it's coincidence . When it repeats...4 times, it's something more. It's December 29, Rome, Italy and 4 children find themselves thrown together when their family's reservations at a small hotel are mixed up. In the process of introducing themselves, they discover that they were all born on February 29 of the same year. Late that first evening, they go out into the city to explore. Suddenly, a man runs toward them in a panic, mumbling the number 29 and saying that "They" are coming to kill him. He begs the children to take his briefcase and guard it until he can come back for it. But, the next morning is a news article about that same man's gruesome murder. Elettra, Harvey, Mistral and Sheng open the briefcase hoping to find answers but only end up with more questions. The clues inside lead them all over Rome in search of the elusive and powerful Ring of Fire. In pursuit, is a shadowy, dangerous man who is also searching for the ancient object and has no qualms about killing anyone who gets in his way. It is up to these brave kids to put the clues together before those close to them are harmed.

The adventure continues and things get weirder for Elettra, Harvey, Mistral and Sheng in Star of Stone, as they travel to New York to find the latest clues and try to solve the mystery of the Century.

Bacigalupi, Paolo
The Drowned Cities
It is the distant future and the world order has shifted. Much of the land has been decimated. The United States is no longer a safe place. Mahlia and Mouse are survivors who have found refuge in an outlying village deep in the jungle where they are taken in by Dr. Mafouse, a healer. Mahalia's hand was chopped off by The Army of God, one of the many factions fighting for control, but she manages to make herself useful to the doctor. Out on food patrol one day they find a creature they have only heard of...a creature engineered from many species and designed to kill. It is wounded but still managed to take Mouse hostage, forcing Mahlia to return with medicines to heal it. Her mission, however, is interrupted by the ruthless soldiers hunting the creature. This sets in motion an impossible situation...seek safety and freedom or risk everything to save a friend.

Bacigalupi's companion to his award winning Ship Breaker reveals the price of loyalty and survival and the true ugliness of war. Set in darkness and filth, the characters must slug their way through armies, genetically engineered animals and cities that are literally falling apart. This post-apocalyptic America is barely recognizable and the many of the characters are amalgamations of the worst of humanity. Interestingly, it's the monster who demonstrates the true meaning of loyalty. Because of the incessant darkness, the intended audience skews older, 10th grade, at least. Reading it is a bit like not being able to turn away from a train wreck...you are fascinated and repulsed at the same time. Fans of dystopias will flock to this one.

Balliett, Blue
The Calder Game
Calder Pillay, named for famed artist Alexander Calder, is as unusual as his name. He loves numbers and takes comfort in his pentaminoes that stay in his pockets at all times. When Calder travels with his father to England, they discover an Alexander Calder sculpture in a most unexpected place. The townsfolk of the small village of Woodstock seem to resent the art piece but Calder is drawn to it. But things are definitely not as they appear and when both Calders disappear on the same night, suddenly the stakes are higher than anyone can imagine.

This is a great who dunit, much like Balliett's Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3! Calder and his friends are unique and their relationship is interesting and intricate. The art and artist Calder are almost characters, themselves. While what actually happened to Calder is a bit anti-climactic, it was still a facinating look into the minds and souls of those who see the world differently.

Balliett, Blue
The Danger Box
Zoomy, weird name, right? He's a bit of an odd boy, actually. He is legally blind but that doesn't mean he can't see...he just doesn't see things the way that the rest of us do. One night change blows through the door like a whirlwind, leaving destruction and new opportunities in its wake. The whirlwind is Buckeye, Zoomy's long lost father and he leaves a mysterious box behind. Inside is an old, old notebook with faded writing. Zoomy, an avid notebook writer, is instantly interested and takes the book up to his room where he can bring it right up to his nose and read it. The words written there send him on a quest where he makes his very first friend. Enter Lorrol, the Firecracker of a girl who helps Zoomy with his research. What happens next is nothing short of amazing!!!

Blue Balliett is a mastery mystery maker! This story is a mystery within a mystery. Each issue of the Gas Gazette ends with the words, "Who am I". It doesn't take long to feel your finger itch to get on the computer to try and answer that question. The characters are completely unique without calling attention to them. The way she describes people, colors, feelings make them so real you expect to be able to open your eyes and see or feel them in front of you. This would actually be a great read-aloud because of the pictures her words paint! Fans of her other books will devour this one, as well!!!
Bajoria, Paul
The Printer's Devil
Historical, Mystery
London is a dangerous place to live, full of notorious criminals and all in a day's work for Mog, who prints the wanted posters that may help capture them. When an unexpected meeting with a recently escaped convict entangles Mog in a dangerous scheme that has many of the most dangerous trying to kill each other, Mog must rely on his wit and cleverness. A ship from India, a stolen camel, and strange messages draw Mog deeper into the plot and the discovery that the past has many intimate secrets just waiting to be revealed.
Bajoria takes us on a magical, mysterious ride through the streets of 19th century London. His characters are very well drawn and completely believable, even the ones who make brief appearances. The plot is complex but intriguing and Mog's real identity is an interesting twist.

Bajoria, Paul
The God of Mischief
Historical, Mystery
When we left Mog and her newly found twin brother Nick, they were off to a distant cousin of their mother's, Sir Septimus Cloy. For two orphans who'd lived on the streets of London, living on an estate in a manor house with their own rooms and lots of space to run around in would be heavenly. Not so, however. They are left in the care of a malicious servent named Bonefinger. Nick and Mog soon realize that there is much more to this distant cousin than meets the eye and after several "accidents", the twins wonder if they weren't safer living in the streets of London.
Bajoria continues his story of the long-lost twins and their mysterious past in this thrilling sequel to Printer's Devil. This story moves along very quickly and is deliciously suspenseful. The mystery that Bajoria has woven around the family serves to draw the reader in and not let go until the very last page, and even then, you will find yourself wondering what else he has planned for this adventurous pair.

Barnhill, Kelly
Iron Hearted Violet
Violet is not like the storybook princesses who have thick tresses of smooth waving hair, porcelain skin and doe eyes. Her hair refuses to be tamed, her face is slightly lopsided and her eyes are mismatched in both size and color. Still, her people loved her very much because she's clever, compassionate and a fantastic storyteller! One day, she and Demetrius, her only friend, find themselves in a little used part of the castle. There they find a library full of dusty tomes. One book in particular catches their eye. Demetrius senses something not quite right about it but Violet sees a story she's never heard before about a god long forgotten; a god that will change everything.

Every child knows the power of a story, especially in the hands of a great storyteller. Barnhill captures that power in a unique tale, sort of a story within a story. The cast of characters are interesting and likeable. Violet is an unlikely heroin who makes mistakes but recognizes and learns from them. The narrator, Royal Storyteller Cassius, has a tale of his own to tell. Courage, loyalty, honesty and truth are all lessons woven expertly into each part of the story and they transform each of the characters as well as the entire kingdom. The only distractions are the black and white drawings which depict Violet as a Manga-like girl with normal proportions. Fans of high fantasy are sure to enjoy this tale!

Barrett, Tracy
On Etruscan Time
Fantasy, Contemporary
Hector is in Italy but not on holiday. He's stuck there with his mom who is working on an archaeological dig. At first, he's bored stiff but then one of the workers, Ettore, invites Hector to dig along side him. As he learns how to dig in a safe place, away from the main trenches, he discovers a small stone with an eye painted on it. He shows it to Ettore who determines that it's not Etruscan so Hector can keep it. The stone is no ordinary stone, however. Hector soon begins having nightmares about an Etruscan boy named Arath, who is in big trouble and asking for his help. When the dreams come even when he's awake, Hector begins to wonder about his sanity and whether what he's seeing and hearing is real.
Objects from history bearing the gift of time travel is not a new theme but it's repeated because it's an interesting one and so little is known about the Etruscans that it make them a perfect subject. This book doesn't work particularly well, however. The events are too contrived to be believable and the climax of the story comes too quickly and is resolved too neatly (only a page or two of excitement). For more believable time travel books try The Grave by James Heneghan or King of Shadows by Susan Cooper.

Bauer, Joan
Hope was here
Food is Hope’s life-blood. She and her aunt Addie, an amazing diner cook, travel around the United States working at different diners. Hope’s waitress’ skills have been honed to near perfection but she longs for some permanence in her life. In this latest move from the exciting city of New York to a rural diner in Wisconsin is the most difficult of all. This small town is full of characters, just as most small towns are. Hope’s occupation has made her adept at reading people. One character her instincts say to trust is G. T. Stoop who owns the diner in which she works. He decides to run for mayor in spite of the fact that he has leukemia. Hope and her aunt become embroiled in the local politics and the corruption that has been the status quo.
Bauer has written a realistic story of a girl’s desire to belong somewhere and to someone. The characters are very real and most humorous and the situations are believable. Written in first person and somewhat journal style, which makes the story even more believable. Highly recommended.

Granny the Pag
Grandmothers bake cookies, wear soft, flowered dresses, and call you names like “darling” or “sweetheart”. Not Cat’s granny! She rides a Harley Davidson, wears leather, and worst of all, she smokes like a chimney. Cat came to live with the Pag at the age of six because her mother and father couldn’t take care of her and be actors too. Now, at twelve, Cat’s life with the Pag is threatened. Her parents suddenly want her to live with them but she absolutely does not, especially after spending only a week with them. Other people, like her school headmaster, seem determined to separate her from the only stable home she’s ever known. Cat is equally determined to fight. She believes that children should have the right to choose with whom they want to live and she hires a solicitor to help her in her quest. Through it all, Cat realizes that she is more like the Pag than she thought and that is a good thing.
This is an excellent, contemporary fiction story about growing up and stronger through the trials that life brings along. The characters are well defined, even the peripheral ones. The reader is drawn into the fray and feels all of the emotions that the characters do. The story is set in England and so is the dialog but it’s not so English as to be confusing. I highly recommend this one.
Subjects covered: broken families, grandparents as guardians, bullying

Beaufrand, Mary Jane
The River
The Santiam River, a constant voice...sometimes angry, sometimes joyful, sometimes full of sorrow. Ronnie is used to city noises, cars honking, sirens echoing among the buildings. When her father is fed up with his high-powered defense attorney position, he moves the family to a small, rural town in Oregon. She is nearly paralyzed with loneliness. Running becomes her only escape, the river a constant companion until the morning she meets Karen, a young neighbor who loves exploring and drags Ronnie along with her. On a rainy morning, she's out on her usual route when she makes a grizzly discovery; Karen is lying in the mud on the bank of the river and something in Ronnie snaps. She is determined to find the truth about what happened to Karen but that truth may turn out to be darker than she is ready for.

The River is an engrossing tale of loss, obsession, and murder. The darkly haunting setting is well suited and the characters are wholly believable. The Santiam River, with it's many moods, is almost, itself, a character. The mystery unfolds slowly but with an intensity that compels you to keep reading until the riveting climax. Readers who liked Dead Girls Don't Write Letters or Acceleration will devour this one.
Beck, Ian


Victorian London, with its thick fog shrouding the city, is a dark and exhilarating place. Gas lights flicker, casting eerie shadows on stone facades. Horses clomp along cobbled streets. There is a hint, a specter of darkness and evil that lurks just around the corner. Being there seems both real and surreal to Caleb. His father is one of the creators of Pastworld: London, the greatest theme park ever conceived! Visitors are only allowed passage if they are dressed in authentic costumes. No modern 2048 technology is allowed. Eve is a native, a lifelong resident of Pastworld who has no idea that she's living in a theme park or of her true identity until the day her guardian is murdered by the frightening Fantom, an evil inspired by the past and a creation of the future. His connection to both Eve and Caleb is as horrifying as it is bizarre.

Beck has woven a thriller from threads of past and future fears. The mystery and sense of foreboding driving the story forward. It is something of a story within a story and, as such, does get a little confusing but the intense curiosity that the scant clues dropped here and there will keep the pages turning until the final, if a bit disappointing ending. The setting is almost its own character and is sufficiently sinister. An excellent addition to any library's horror section.

Bell, Hilary
Fantasy, Adventure
Farsala is in danger. The Hrum are on its borders, ready for Farsala to become the 29th country they've conquered. Three young people find themselves inextricably linked to Farsala's fate. Soraya is the spoiled daughter of the army's high commander. She has been chosen for sacrifice to the djinn, who will in turn keep Farsala safe. Jiaan is the peasant born half-brother who is assigned to steal her away from this fate and deliver her to safety in the mountains. Kavi is a peddler and con-man who is roped into service by the high commander to bring him news of his daughter but who has no love for the rulers who do more damage to their subjects than anything else. Though the three have different paths to follow, but each, in his or her own way, will contribute to the fate of their kingdom.
Bell's intricately woven tale of intrigue and betrayal draws you in and won't let you go until the very end and even then you wonder what's coming next. She's represented each side in such a way that the reader isn't sure who's the bad guy, which is a good technique to keep people reading! I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy a good intrigue and adventure and keep a look out for the rest of the books in the trilogy.

Bell, Hilary
Trickster's Girl [#trickstersgirl]]
Do you believe in magic? Legendary creatures from stories coming to life? No? Well, neither did Kelsa. In fact, Kelsa didn't believe in much of anything any more. Her father just died from a particularly aggressive form of cancer that should have been curable, with all the medical advances in the 2090s! He got sick not long after a trip to study the blight that is killing trees, a plague that creeps ever forward, seemingly unstoppable. One day, however, everything changes. She meets Raven, a beautiful boy who claims to be the trickster spirit of Native American lore. It's unbelievable, really, until she watches him shape-shift from human to raven, feathers and all! Now, she's on a quest not just to stop the plague but to save the earth. There are those against her, those of Raven's race who believe that humans have had enough chances to be good stewards of the planet and should be eradicated. Kelsa couldn't save her father; she's committed to doing what she can to save her world.

Bell delivers a relevant story about the human decimation of the planet. She's pretty heavy handed with the message and there are lots of stereotyped characters (Raven hearkens back to the crying Indian). Still, Kelsa is a sympathetic character who wants to do the right thing. Readers will find themselves rooting for her at every turn and they may even learn a thing or two about what we need to do to keep from destroying our planet. For a similar, more boy-centric story, see David Klass' Firestorm.

Billingsley, Franny
The Folkkeeper
The folk are spirits, sometimes mean and nasty, sometimes docile but always in need of a Keeper. Corinna is an orphan who was dumped on the doorstep as a baby. She knew nothing of her past or her family but she did know that she wanted to be a Folk Keeper. This was not an easy task since only boys were allowed to be Keepers. One day, she cut off her hair and put on boys clothes and became a boy, Corin. She worked her way into the position of Folk Keeper and was very good at it. She felt completely at home in the dark, dank cave where she fed and tended the Folk. Her secret, however, was not hers alone. On one strange day, her world changed forever and she found that someone in the world knew her secret. Lord Merton bid her come to Cliffend to be the Keeper there.
It is a mystical, strange place where Corin finds herself faced where new powers and truths are revealed. Her future is in this wild place but she will have to make some difficult choices about that future to find what she’s never really had before…happiness and a sense of belonging.
Billingsley is an excellent story teller who draws the reader into her web immediately. She keeps you guessing about the Folk and the many characters. She does not, however, sacrifice character development for mystery. Each character is well drawn and realistic with distinctive personalities. This is a wonderful coming of age story wrapped in fantasy, mystery and adventure.

Black, Holly
White Cat
Human touch, it can comfort, congratulate, bruise...curse. Curse workers are humans who, with the mere touch of an hand, can change you. Some can work your emotions, others your memory or your luck. Laws have been passed against curse working and all of them must wear gloves to prevent inadvertent curses. Cassel's family is full of workers. His mother can make you love or hate or hand over your fortune to her. His grandfather is a death worker and can kill you with a brush of a finger. Both of his brothers have luck and physical curses and work for a local crime family, as enforcers. What's Cassel's curse? Nothing. He was born into a powerful family with no power at all. He can work a pretty good con, though, and is the bookie at his exclusive private high school. He is also a murderer. Lila was his best friend and all Cassel remembers is standing over her with blood soaked hands clutching a knife. His brothers covered for him and got rid of the body but there's nothing they can do about his guilt and the dreams he's having. The dreams are the same, there's a white cat who wants him to do something. One of these dreams lands him on the roof of his dorm. He is sent home because of insurance liability. Once he's home, the dreams intensify and the cat speaks to him...in Lila's voice. She says that he's the only one who can break the curse on her. If creepy dreams weren't enough, Cassel notices some inconsistencies in his brothers' behavior. There are secrets behind their eyes and, somehow, he's right in the middle of it. As an expert in the con, Cassel begins to pick at the strands of the web that has been woven around him. The truth about himself may just be the most shocking.

Holly Black has once again woven a fascinating, magical story with characters who will draw you along side them as they wend their way along. Part thriller, part fantasy, the story involves organized crime and magic that can be used for good or evil and the politics that inevitably entangle all of it. If I were a betting woman, I lay pretty good odds that this book will join Holly's others at the top of the teen book charts in very short order. I think that Cassel would take those odd.

Cassel's story continues in Red Glove and Black Heart. Don't miss a single minute of excitement, because, in the end, good and bad are fluid ideals.

Blackwood, Gary
Second Sight
Washington, in the days during the Civil War, is an interesting place. The theater is very important to society in that it offers distraction from the war tearing the nation apart. Joseph and his father have developed a mind reading act and perform regularly. Even President Lincoln and his wife have seen their act. It's all just an act, of course; one which they have to practice every day for hours on end. All is going well, until Joseph meets Cassandra, a young fearful girl who actually does have second sight and can see the future. Her visions terrify her and she confides in Joseph that she is afraid that something horrible is about to happen to President Lincoln. Very quickly, Joseph and Cassandra realize how difficult it will be to convince people that what she sees is real. It is up to them to interpret the visions and save Lincoln's life.
Gary Blackwood uses an interesting technique to tell his story. He is a narrator who is guiding the reader through the story and explains how we, as readers, can jump around the story any way we want and have certain advantages over the characters. Amazingly, this narration does not get in the way of the story. At some points, it's actually helpful to have someone there to explain what's going on a little further. The ending came as a pleasant surprise and could lead to some really interesting discussions, especially for older students.

Blackwood, Gary
The year of the hangman
Creighton Brown is a spoiled, wild young Englishman. He stays out drinking with his mates, plays cards and loses money. His father was killed in the war with the colonies and his mother has had just about enough so his shenanigans. She has him abducted, put aboard a ship and sent to his uncle in America. Once there, he finds his uncle less than welcoming but America more civilized than he’d heard. Strange circumstances bring him into the home of Benjamin Franklin where he helps publish the local newspaper. He learns, fairly quickly, that his countrymen are not the civilized soldiers that he’d thought and his sympathies begin to shift toward his newfound friends. But he still has his uncle to deal with. He wants Creighton to spy on Franklin and his supporters like Raymond Burr, Benedict Arnold and other infamous characters. Which side he will support is the decision he must make.
In this alternate history novel, Gary Blackwood introduces us to people who are very familiar to us from our history lessons but he puts them in different circumstances to see how they would react. Interlacing fictional characters interacting with these well known ones makes for an interesting story. At the end of the book, Blackwood writes an authors note to help readers differentiate between the real history and the fictional one. Its interesting to see which “fictional” characters are based upon real people! I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who’s a history buff.

Block, Francesca Lia
9 & up
In a powerful but tragic story of love, Francesca Block draws you into a world of secrets revealed too late and the ultimate forbidden love. Marina and Lex, close in age and even closer emotionally, are brother and sister. He is protective to the extreme and she wants his approval on every aspect of her life. In one night, their love for one another is realized during an illicit encounter and their world is blown apart. Marina blocks out her feelings but when Lex commits suicide, she must face what happened and the consequences that follow.
It is not immediately obvious that the brief and intensely emotional chapters are written from different character’s perspectives and that the italicized portions are actually Lex’s thoughts. This will make for confusing reading for most. However, those who are Francesca Block fans will find it an interesting departure from the magical realism she is most known for but will still appreciate her lyrical prose style.

Bloor, Thomas
The memory prison
Things are certainly strange in the town of Pridebridge. It had all started 13 years earlier when the Tower Library had been open to the public and Maddie and her granddad visited it often and were there on the day it closed. That was also the day that granddad disappeared and Maddie became afraid to go outside. Thirteen years later she was still a prisoner of the scary things that had happened on that day; things she was too afraid to remember. Her brother, Keith, was her eyes and ears until the day he was “selected” to become an assistant librarian in the Tower Library which now only lent books to scholars and researchers. Maddie soon realizes that there’s much more to the Tower Library and its head librarian, Mr. Lexeter and that whole town is in trouble. But in order to find out exactly what was going on, she would have to leave her house for the first time in 13 years.
It is never fully explained why Maddie locked herself in her house for 13 years or why her mother is so strange. None of the characters is very well developed but the style of writing is definitely British. It is a short book with an excellent idea but it falls short of being really interesting.

Bloor, Edward
Tangerine, a citrus fruit grown in Florida, is also the name of a town in Florida. Paul Fisher is a 7th grader who “sees” a move from one school to another as a new beginning for him. Paul is legally blind as the result of looking directly into an eclipse…at least that’s the story he’s been told and must wear very strong glasses. His father is very wrapped up in his older brother’s football career and hardly notices that Paul is an excellent goalie in soccer. His dreams to play for his new school are almost dashed when his mother fills out a disability for vision impairment, which makes him ineligible to play. When a sinkhole forms and swallows the field and several mobile units, he is given permission to go to another school nearby. Tangerine Middle School is a tough place but Paul is determined to get on the soccer team, one of the toughest gangs in school.
There are many story lines in this book and sometimes, Paul a 7th grader acts much more mature than the average child his age. The book is laid out in journal form. This format serves very well to get the reader into Paul’s head though some of the dialog in the chapters/days I’m not sure that a journal writer would include. But Bloor weaves together these stories with sensitivity and clarity. The various conflicts, which occur, are wrapped up, for the most part, realistically. Paul’s parents initial reaction to the “accident” that damaged his eyes and is the fulcrum around which the story revolves, is a bit irresponsible but they do realize their mistake and must deal with the consequences of it.

Bo, Ben
Contemporary Fiction
Everyone needs to escape their lives sometimes. Jonah needs it more than most. His father is a drunk and abusive, his mother is dead, and he's starting to think he's going crazy. Jonah's escape is a lonely stretch of beach called Skullcrack. Its name is well deserved because, unless you are an expert surfer and know the cove like the back of your hand, you will end up with your skull in pieces on the ocean floor. When he gives himself up to the waves, nothing else matters. He is seeing things though, and that matters. A girl appears to him, calling. A strange man called the Bone Man comes to stay and he opens up mysteries Jonah didn't even know existed. He needs to find the girl who is haunting him and Bone Man shows him the way. It is dangerous and warnings glare in Jonah's mind but there is something inside driving him...to what, is the question that he is beginning to dread.
Ben Bo has written an darkly intense story that keeps you turning the pages. The characters, for the most part, are well developed and strong enough to draw the reader into their story. It has an older feel to it, though, so I'd recommend it for 7th or 8th grade students.

Bodeen, S. A.

The Gardner

"Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow..." nothing like the garden in this not-so-distant-future story. The only thing that Mason has of his father is a tape of him reading a child's story. He carries it around like a family photograph. One day he plays it for a group of catatonic teenagers in a nursing home and one of them wakes up! She is frightened of someone she calls the Gardner. Mason starts to leave before he gets into trouble but the girl follows him. Now, they are both on the run and as the girl begins to get her memory back the horror of who and what she is comes into focus just as it is soon apparent that she will die if she is not returned to the very place that created her.

The Gardner gives new meaning to the word "sustainability". Bodeen crafts and taught thriller with twists and turns that, while predictable, are no less shocking. The central characters are interesting and evoke strong emotion from the reader. The message of population explosion and the future of humanity is ever-present but not overly preachy. For fans of science fiction, this story of genetic engineering run amok will definitely satisfy!

Bow, Erin
Plain Kate
What would you do to survive? Kate is a master carver. A distinction rare for one so young. Her creations are so beautiful, almost magical, that some in her village call her witch-blade. It is a dangerous time to be associated with witches. They are routinely burned or drowned for mere suspicion. When her father dies, she has no money to pay the guild fee, which would allow her to practice her art for pay. A stranger comes into town one day with a bizarre request...he wants her shadow. In return, he will give her a chance at freedom and a new life. With no other options, she makes her bargain. It isn't until much later that she finds out who he is and what he wants to do with her shadow. Somehow, she must stop him but it will take the greatest sacrifice off all.

In her first novel, Erin Bow has created a mystical and creepy atmosphere for her characters. Her deft characterization moves the story along from horror to horror. At times, heart-wrenching, the story is definitely a page turner. The historical setting should appeal to those interested in the Salem Witch trials.

Bowditch, Eden Unger
The Atomic Weight of Secrets
Five extraordinarily brilliant children find themselves in very strange circumstances the day that men in odd black costumes take them away. There is no explanation from the men or, even more strangely, from their parents. The children are transported to Dayton, Ohio and told that their parents will be very busy working in laboratories...however, they do not see them again. Each child has been working on a personal project, a machine that, by itself, won't amount to much. One day, they realize that they are not free to leave, that the men in black are guarding them, they put their individual parts together to make an extraordinary machine, an invention that will change the world! The only problem is that someone wants it, desperately, and will do anything to obtain it. Now the children must depend on their wits to save themselves and their parents.

This is a weighty book with lots going on. Historical characters make appearances, the men in black don't seem to speak English very well, the nannies and the teacher seem a little too complicit and the mystery behind where the parents are is a great deal for the reader to organize! The only thing that keeps things from running amok are the characters. The children are, indeed, amazing. Each has quirks that make them wholly believable and likeable, even the ultra-spoiled Faye! Give this to readers who enjoyed Miss Peregrin's home for Peculiar Children or The Incorrigible Children of Ashton place.

Bowler, Tim
8 & up
Kit and his parents are taking one final sailing trip on their much-loved boat when things go terribly wrong. A strange fog creeps over the sea, the compasses are swirling madly, even their watches have stopped but worst of all are the eerie cries that come over the water. Suddenly, Kit spies a small carved boat floating in the choppy sea. When he reaches down to get it, he is horrified to see that it is clutched in the hand of a dead man who looks strangely like him. This is only the beginning of trouble. The boat smashes into a rock and limps to the beach of a seemingly deserted island. Once ashore, the family discovers that there are inhabitants who instantly and intensely hate Kit. They are given until morning to fix their boat but before morning, life as they know it will change for the worse and suddenly, Kit is fighting for his life and the lives of his parents.
This was an intense thriller of a book! Despite some holes that were left in the story, I couldn't put it down and the creep factor was way up. I just wish I could have found out a bit more about Kit's resemblance to the dead man. If you're into creepy stories, this is a good one but don't let the number of pages bother you...you won't even notice until you've run out of them.

Bowler, Tim
Contemporary fiction
From across the pond comes a story of a boy trying to make sense of the devastating loss of his father and the gift he gave him. Luke is a musician or, as his piano teacher suggests, he is music. His hands are made for the keys, made for climbing, and lately, made for mischief. Trying to fill the void left when his father dies of cancer, he gets involved with Skin and his gang. As an initiation, they want him to break into Mrs. Little's house and steal valuables. Instead of finding treasures, however, Luke discovers a secret that changes the course of his life and those around him forever.
From the first page, this novel draws you in and hangs on to you until the end. You empathize with Luke and his struggles and you just want him to be okay. All of the characters are fully developed and the storyline is mostly believable. The ending is a bit cheesy but, sometimes, cheesy is a good thing.

Bradbury, Jennifer
It's 1815 and the most exciting thing that a debutante has to look forward to is dress fittings and her coming out party. For Agnes Wilkins, it just isn't enough. She would rather be traveling on the back of a camel and exploring just about anywhere else in the wide world. Still, her new neighbor and most eligible bachelor, Mr. Showalter, has invited her and her family to a party. He has special entertainment planned...the unwrapping of an Egyptian mummy! Agnes is in the first group to begin the process. Anything she and the others find, is theirs to keep. She steels her nerves and begins cutting and is soon rewarded with a small, iron jackal's head. Her discovery is overshadowed by the squeal of someone finding a gold cuff. Agnes does something she's never even considered before...she secrets the little object away in her bodice after it is discovered that the mummy before them is the wrong one and everyone is asked to return whatever they found. This one small action will bring adventure, danger and her destiny all wrapped up with a dash of romance.

What a delightful story! Bradbury pairs a bright, inquisitive debutante with danger and adventure quite successfully. Here is a girl who an stand on her own two feet and can mostly take care of herself! The secondary characters are well-wrought and believable. The backdrop of Napolean's threats against Great Britain and his obsession with Egyptology lend mystery to the atmospheric setting. Interesting tidbits of information about the times are sprinkled throughout, like the pen name of Agnes' favorite author is A Lady...a.k.a. Jane Austen. For those readers who enjoy a good historical fiction with a strong female lead, this is the book for you!

Brashares, Ann
The sisterhood of the traveling pants
Four girls, best friends since before birth are about to experience the magic of the Pants. It is the first summer that they will be apart. Three are going away and one is stuck at home alone. Enter the Pants, ordinary jeans, actually, bought at a second hand store on a whim by Carmen. As she’s packing for her trip, each of the girls, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget tries on the pants. Amazingly, they fit each of the very diverse body-types and actually make each girl feel wonderfully different. They are deemed magical. As the Pants travel with each girl, she discovers a little bit more about herself, some of it good and some not so good. In the end, they come full circle and the girls realize that they have something special, not just in the pants, but in each other’s hearts.
This is, perhaps, one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. I’d love for every girl to read it. There are some rather adult situations and occasional objectionable language but not enough to detract from the story. The girls are very real as are their situations. They handle them just as any average teenaged girl would. There is trust and loyalty between these girls that parents would wish for their children to find. I would recommend this book to anyone!

Brennan, Herbie
The Shadow Project
Danny is a young thief with very special talents. When he stumbles into the wrong place at the wrong time, he is caught then recruited for a very secret project involving astral projection...the ability to remove oneself from one's physical body and travel around, invisibly;' a handy talent for spies! When Opal, one of the Shadow Project members and the daughter of it's founder, Danny is offered the deal of a lifetime...join up and find Opal or go straight to jail. It's an offer he can't pass up and one that changes his life forever. You see, he is a natural, which means that he can leave his own body without the aid of the special machines that the others need. As the team gets deeper into the mission, they realize that there's much more to the project and it's enemy than meets the eye.

The second mission for the Shadow Project is far more daunting and introduces another new member. Fuschia has the ability to see the future, though she hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet. She and Danny are paired for this second mission, which involves a failed research project of the CIA's and the prevention of The Doomsday Box from being created. In the early 40s, the CIA began researching the possibility of time travel. It doesn't work then, but it is later resurrected later with terrifying success. An agent travels back to the Medieval period and brings back samples of the Black Plague. The problem is that the project was shut down rather quickly and the portal sealed before the agent returned. Fail safe alarms were set, in case anything came back through the portal but all was quiet for the next 30 years. Then the alarm is tripped and the Shadow Project team is brought in because of it's ability to send their projection safely into the portal. What they don't know is that the agent was successful in bringing back the plague and that they are about to release the most deadly disease known to man. Now, their mission is to travel back in time to the 1960, find the not-yet rogue agent and convince him NOT to do something nearly 20 years in the future! Surviving this mission will take all their power and then some.

Brennan joins the host of authors writing teen spy novels. What makes his unique are the special powers that the teenagers have. It's also what makes the story just slightly unbelievable. Still, it's an exciting story and fans of the genre will find lots to enjoy in these books!

Brennan, Sara Reese
Demon's Lexicon
Demons, magic and the Goblin Market are all real and all dangerous. Nick and his brother Alan have been running from them all their lives. Magicians killed their father and drove their mum mad. Magicians get their power from the demons they call up. Olivia, the boys' mom, was once a part of the most powerful magician's circle but escaped, taking with her a charm of power. The magicians will stop at nothing to get it back. Danger intensifies when a beautiful girl and her young brother come to them for help. Jamie has been demon marked and it is a certain death sentence. Now the demons have a beacon leading them straight to Nick and Alan and when Alan is marked as well, Nick's desperation to save him drives him to do something insane. The only way to save both boys is to kill one of the magicians they have worked so hard to hide from for so long. Finding themselves trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick begins to wonder if Alan is keeping thing from him about their past. Things that could get them killed. As the magicians begin to close in, Nick's life begins to unravel and the truth that Alan has been hiding may destroy not only their family but the world as well.

This was a nail-biting page turner! There were twists and unexpected turns everywhere but the characters and plot did not suffer; indeed, they became even more intense. As the final secret is revealed, the age old argument between nature vs. nurture comes into play. Readers who like suspense and horror will lose themselves in this book...just don't look under the bed or in the closet or in your head (Metallica, anyone?)

Demon's Covenant (sequel) is more of the same only a little more confusing and a tiny bit long-winded but still a pretty good read and a must read, if you've read Demon's Lexicon. After all, you can't just leave the characters hanging!!!
Brittany, L.
Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times
The art of espionage has been practiced for as long as humans have desired power. Nathan Fox is a young actor working in Will Shakespeare's acting company when he is approached by the English spymaster, extraordinaire, Sir Francis Walsingham. Walsingham has eyes and ears all over the world and takes his job of protecting Queen Elizabeth very seriously. Life in the theater has taught Nathan much about disguises and trickery. His natural abilities with tumbling and his youth serve him well as he undergoes relentless weapons training. When he is deemed ready, Nathan, his sister Marie and friend John are sent to Venice to meet General Othello and his wife Desdemona. Nathan's days an an innocent boy close as he witnesses murder, betrayal and the horrors of war. He recounts his story to friend and playwright Will Shakespeare and we all know what he does with it.

This is an excellent historical fiction adventure. There is enough action to keep all but the most reluctant reader engaged. Because this particular time of William Shakespeare is largely undocumented, Brittany has plenty of elbow room to play. Some parts of the story seem forced but, for the most part, this was a great story, especially for boys.

*The Plucker
8 & up
What happens to toys when a child gets tired of them? In Thomas' room, they are banished to Underbed, a dark, forgotten place full of sorrow...and it's exactly where Jack (in-the-box) finds himself. He is angry and hurt, remembering all the good times that he and Thomas had but when a malicious, horrible spirit gets loose and comes after Thomas through his toys, Jack steps up to fight. With the help of Mabel, one versed in Holy scripture and hoodoo, and some of the other toys they set out to do battle to save the boy they all love.
This has to be one of the most terrifying stories I've ever read! Stephen King would be jealous. The author, Brom, plays on all of the fears that are left over from our childhood...the monsters under the bed, dolls coming to life, terrors in the closet. Just to seal the terrifying deal, his art work is deliciously, scary-beautiful. When I say don't read this at night, I am quite serious!!! If you don't heed my warning, nightmares are headed your way...but then some folks pay big bucks to have their wits scared out of them.

Brooks, Bruce
Alice’s parents were in the throes of divorce. She assumed that she’d go to live with her father as she’s always done in tough times. But, instead, she is sent to live with her mother and new stepfather. Her mother drinks too much and the stepfather doesn’t seem to like her much. When bronchitis forces a hospital stay, an idea forms in Alice’s head. If she stays sick, she’ll have to stay in the hospital and away from her family. In order to accomplish this, she goes on a hunger strike and refuses to eat. It seems to be a perfect solution until the hallucinations start and eventually take over. The doctor warns her that she may go into a coma and even die. Rex, a boy who has a terminal disease, has befriended her and through his sarcastic humor, she begins to see her life differently and even begin to cope with it.
Brooks is a master at telling stories with intriguing twists and dealing with sensitive subjects with sensitivity and humor. This is a well-written story. The characters are completely developed and his writing truly draws in the reader. While the story does not have a Hollywood happy ending, it is satisfying that change is coming for the family.

Brooks, Kevin
9th & up
Contemporary Fiction
What is it about being different that brings on fear in people? Whatever it is, Caitlin comes face to face with its ugliness. Lucas is a young, handsome drifter whose simple movement whispers secrets to the breezes that nudge at Caitlin's soul. She finds the mystery and self assurance of him irresistible. Her connection with him, however, puts her in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between him and the turning tides of the town's general distrust of strangers. Things begin to spin violently out of control when a girl accuses Lucas of attacking her and, later, ends up badly beaten. Could Lucas have done these things? Has Caitlin put her trust in an uncontrollably violent boy?
Lucas is a tightly written, powerful tale of rumor, mistrust, and mob mentality. Brooks grabs a-hold of you at the very beginning and doesn't let you go until you collide with the tragic ending. You hear Caitlin's voice telling you the story and you can almost hear the release of her pain, confusion and anger as the story flows out of her. The characters are believable, though they seem a bit more mature than your average 15-19 year old young people. I highly recommend Lucas to students in ninth grade or higher. It would be a great book to discuss the out-of-control nature of gossip.

Brooks, Kevin
*Martyn Pig
8th & up
Contemporary Fiction
Can you imagine going through life with "Pig" as your last name? The abuse from classmates is endless. If that isn't enough to make life miserable, Martyn's mother left long ago and his father is a miserable, sadistic drunk. Martyn cleans up his father's messes and keeps his own life under control...that is until the day freedom comes in a package of death. In a drunken rage, Mr. Pig lunges at his son but he falls, head first, into the brick fireplace. Martyn just stands there, knowing his father is dead, knowing that he should call the police, knowing that he should do a lot of things but he doesn't until it's too late. He comes up with a brilliant plan and it seems to go off without a hitch and he thinks that his problems are over but one last twisted turn of events sends his life catapulting in a very different direction.
This is one of those stories where there is no winner, not really. The characters are very human and very real. They are flawed or funny, or disturbing but, somehow, you just can't help but be sympathetic toward Martyn and his bad luck and worse choices. This is definitely a book for older students.

Brooks, Martha
Bone Dance
8th & up
Contemporary Fiction
Two young people are brought together by the living and the dead, by good and bad that sometimes "get all bunched up together." Both have close-knit families that surround them with love and both have lost a parent to death.
Alexandra has lived with her mother, grandfather and aunt since her father took off just after she was born. He would, occasionally, send her letters on her birthday that would send her hopes soaring but soon to crash down again because he just wasn't coming home. When the news comes that he has died, she is devastated to know that she'll never meet him but also shocked to learn that he has left her a bit of money and some prairie land that had been in the LaFreniere family for generations.
Lonny LaFreniere was adopted by his stepfather when his mother married Pops and they developed a relationship as close as blood. When he was 12, he and his friend found a bone that had been dug up by an animal from an Indian burial mound. They were curious about what else was buried there so they began to dig. As they dug, Lonny could feel the spirits of the ancestors waking and the boys immediately covered the hole they'd dug. That very night, Lonny's mother had a heart attack and died, leaving Lonny to carry the guilt that somehow his actions had caused her death. Lonny and Alex are both haunted and guided through their journeys as they intertwine, by the spirits of their loved ones who want to release them from the bonds of death so they can learn to live.
Brooks explores the Native American belief that all things are connected and bound together in this beautifully written coming-of-age story. The characters are wonderfully defined. They are both complicated and very simple at the same time. Even if you don't know much about the Native American beliefs, the contacts with the spirits of Alex's grandfather and Lonny's mother are achingly believable. I highly recommend this one!

Brown, Jennifer

Hate List

Hate lists, everybody has one, whether on paper or in your head, of things you hate...maybe even people too. Valerie and her boyfriend Nick have a really long list. Girls who parade around with their ponytails swishing calling her Sister Death because of all the black she wears. Jocks who constantly push Nick around and drop chewed gum in his mashed potatoes. It's just a notebook with words and names but on one tragic morning in May, it becomes a death list. Nick opens fire, targeting people from the list. Christie, the girl who'd just destroyed Val's mp3 player on the bus, is first. Val is just behind Nick and hears a bang and sees a river of blood pouring out onto the floor of the Commons. Time slows down and Val realizes, with horror, what Nick has just done. She kneels by Christie trying to stop the blood then she runs, understanding that she might be the only one who can stop the shooting. She rushes to follow Nick. He rounds on another victim, Jessica. Suddenly, she is between Nick and Jessica, yelling for him to stop. There's pain in her leg and Val goes down and remembers nothing more. Nick is gone, killing himself after shooting her. Many others are killed or injured. It's all too horrible to comprehend but not as bad as what comes next. Valerie has to return to the school where it all happened to complete her senior year.

Bullying is a common story thread in young adult novels today. It's a part of daily life for many students. This story is an extreme one and, thankfully, doesn't happen that often. Brown handles the subject with sensitivity but also in a terrifyingly real way. This book will get kids talking. Should they feel sorry for Nick and Valerie for what they went through. Are they victims, as well? This kind of story cannot end happily but it can end hopefully, which this one does. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It would b e an excellent book for a book club or lit circle to use.

Browne, N.M.
Political intrigue, an underdog, heroes, greed; this book has it all. In a network of caves where the rebels live a spider-like existence, the Combers live away from the violence of Above. Rej, a young Comber, meets a dying Abover in the caves. When he comes back with medical supplies he finds the man murdered and swears to avenge his death, risking his life and home in the process. He goes Above and meets Donna, a beautiful woman trapped in the repetitive life of a scribe. They discover that they share a common dream, literally. In their dreams they are dragons, beautiful and powerful, flying free in crystal-clear skies. But there is danger in dreams. The cruel ruler, Arkel, has found a way to use those dreams as a weapon of destruction. It is up to Rej and Donna to save their world and themselves from their own dreams.
Browne has written an action-packed fantasy that will keep you turning the pages. His characters are well written but I would have liked some more background on Donna and her mother. Some of it was explained but it left me with more questions. In spite of this, I really enjoyed the story as will most fantasy lovers.

Browne, N. M.
The Story of Stone
Nela wants nothing more than to follow in her father's footsteps and be a Findsman, archaeologists who seek to unlock the secrets of their people's past. On a journey to a forbidding, devastated land, Nela uncovers a mysterious black stone. She begins to have visions when she holds the stone. Bits and pieces of lives lived long ago emerge. She realizes that the stone may be the key to unlocking the mysterious history of the place and her people. Her need to "see" what the stone will tell her leads to a decision that will change her life and the land around her.
This was one of those books that I just couldn't put down for fear of missing something! The two storyline that seem completely unconnected at the beginning, draw closer together as the whole tale unfolds. Through the past/present telling, we find that connections between them are profound and inescapable as they are in our own reality. The lesson? What is lost in the past can be regained and used to make a better future.

Bruchac, Joseph
Skeleton man
Molly’s parents have disappeared and left her to wonder why. From nowhere, a long lost uncle shows up to claim her. She’s never heard of or met this uncle and is immediately suspicious. He is a strange looking character and his behavior is equally strange. Each night, he locks her in her room. He always has lots of food for her to eat but she only pretends to eat it. She is afraid of him but can’t get anyone to believe that something’s wrong. When she finally does tell someone about him locking her in, they do investigate but her uncle takes the old door off and replaces it with a new one that has no lock on it so the authorities think she’s making it up. When they are gone, he simply and silently changes the door back. Molly begins to have nightmarish dreams involving a Native American story her father told her about an uncle who was to lazy to find his own food so he ends up eating his own flesh and that of his family’s. In the dream, Molly is given clues to the mystery by a rabbit. Her parents have always told her to pay attention to her dreams. As her uncle’s behavior becomes more menacing, Molly realizes that she has to do something to save herself and possibly her parents, who she believes are still alive and being held captive.
The story is a mixture of fantasy and reality; dreams and nightmares. It is told in first person, which works well and conveys the sense of urgency and confusion that Molly feels. It is quite a well-written story involving Native American ways and stories but does not moralize them.

Bryant, Jen
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro
The line between love and obsession is a razor's edge...one misstep and your life is in tatters. Ryan Sweeny is the next in a long, regimented line of military men. He is a junior at the prestigious Valley Forge Military Academy. With his 3.8 gpa and strict work ethic, he is destined for greatness at West Point. Enter the sultry gypsy singer Carmen. She is unlike anything Ryan has ever seen and he is immediately smitten, especially when she writes a song about him. At first, it's just flirting, soft touches, quick smiles and sweet words. Carmen is like a wild thing, though, she is passionate but craves freedom. The moment a boy clamps down and tries to own her, she bolts. Ryan can't help himself. He's in love and he wants her for himself so he peruses with the same vigor he once dedicated to his studies. Things change; grades plummet, discipline lags and suddenly Ryan's future is on the line...one misstep and he will be torn to shreds.

This retelling of the opera Carmen resonates with emotionally charged characters and situations. Carmen is the drug and Ryan is the addict and the fixation happens very, very quickly. His rigid, military upbringing and the relationship, or lack thereof, with his father foreshadows his downfall. Carmen is not completely innocent, however, with her flirtation and innate sensuality. As the book ends, there is hope for all the characters, though their paths are very different from the ones on which they started.

Buckley, Michael
The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-tale Detectives
Fantasy, Mystery
In fairy-tales, the story always ends with "and they all lived happily ever after" but that's not the way that Sabring and Daphne Grimm's lives seem to be heading. Their parents mysteriously disappeared and the girls are sent to live with a grandmother they were told was dead. At Granny Relda's house, their lives only get weirder. They are told that they are descended from the Brothers Grimm, whose tales turn out to actually be true histories of magical happenings. They find out that they are responsible for keeping the Everafters in check and to investigate any strange occurrences, though in a place where magic is as common as sneezing, strange is a relative term. The girls are thrust into their first case when a giant kidnaps their grandmother and threatens to destroy their new hometown.
Buckley takes us on a wild, roller-coaster ride through all the fairy-tales we knew growing up. The characters are quite believable, though much is left unspoken for future installments. Seeing the fairy-tale citizens in a different light makes for interesting reading and the black and white drawings are enchanting.

Buckley, Michael
The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects
Fantasy, Mystery
What could be worse than having a giant on the rampage through town? A monster killing teachers at the elementary school, that's what! The Grimm sisters discover the cocooned body of the least favorite teacher in school hanging from the ceiling in his room. The clues left are strange; a black bird feather, the cocooned body, signs of a struggle. Who could have done this and why? And why are all the kids in school so tired? Why did the Everafters want to cover everything up? The answers to these questions draw the Grimm family deeper into the web of mystery and will ultimately force one of them to come fact-to-face with her own inner demons.
This second mystery story is a very well-done sequel to Fairy Tale Detectives and leaves you just as hanging at the end. Fairy tales offer an endless supply of material about which to write, so I look forward to many other mysteries to solve. I just hope that the author doesn't keep the girls the same age forever. It's one of my pet peeves with young adult series books.

Bunce, Elizabeth
A Curse Dark as Gold
Fantasy, Fairy tale Retelling
What would you do to save your family from ruin? Anything, you say? You'd better think twice about that. When Charlotte Miller's beloved woolen mill nears bankruptcy, she is "rescued" by a mysterious man who spins skein after skein of precious golden thread. Woven in gold and blood, secrets from the past begin to surface and Charlotte's family, her friends and her true love begin to unravel and she must make some decisions that could prove dangerous for all of them.
This is an excellent retelling of Rumplestiltskin. Bunce's characters are extremely well drawn and believable. The creepy quality of the setting and the mystical elements are enough to make your skin prickle. Fantasy fans will thoroughly enjoy this one!

Bunce, Elizabeth
Star Crossed
On the run from her latest caper, Digger hides and waits for her partner, Teagan, so they can deliver the package and get paid. Soon, however, she realizes that he's not coming...ever, and now she has to get out of the city. An odd opportunity presents itself when a group of nobs (wealthy nobles) out on a boat ride rescue her. Digger is very adept at slight of hand and now of story. She creates a new persona; she is Celyn, daughter of a jeweler, recently escaped from a convent to which she was sent unwillingly. When the group arrives at their home, she is absorbed into the household as a ladies maid for Merista. Soon Celyn finds herself dragged along as Meri's parents embark on a journey to a new home high in the mountains. Though she is now surrounded by comfort and friends, the thief in her cannot be stilled. She only takes small things, a mirror, a hair clip, but when she attempts to take a stone from a Daul, a long-time friend of Meri's father, she is caught and blackmailed into spying on her hosts. The job vexes her because she has come to like this quirky family and feels particularly protective of Meri, whose magic flows across her skin like tiny sparks. Possessing magic is a killing offense and suddenly both Digger and Celyn feel overwhelmed. Secrets abound in the castle. Everyone seems to be harboring them, making the whole situation like tinderbox that the merest spark will ignite. Celyn will have to decide whose side she's really on and even then, her own family secret might be the undoing of everything.

Bunce proves her storytelling abilities with her sophomore book. Just as she did with A Curse as Dark as Gold, Star Crossed is full of political intrigue, clever plots, evil-doers who are really just flawed people who've been hurt and blinded by their pain. Digger is a strong, self-sufficient young woman who doesn't have to wait for anyone to save her. Merista, while not quite as independent, still turns out to be a courageous girl and a pivotal character in the final showdown of the story. Even the secondary characters are fully realized and believable, if occasionally predictable. This part of the story was wrapped up neatly but leaving more than enough strings to pick up Digger's story in upcoming installments. Fans of fantasy and of adventurous girl characters will thoroughly enjoy Star Crossed and be left to wait on pins and needles for Liar's Moon, expected out in November 2011.

Liar's Moon is the sequel to Star Crossed and is also an excellent tale! Digger, aka Celyn, is back in the city, though not as a spy...yet. Durrel Decath, one of the nobs who saved her life and helped her escape, is now in terrible trouble. He has been accused of his wife's murder. There is evidence against him and a witness but Celyn knows better. He could not have murdered anyone and her new mission is to find out who did. Her investigation puts her squarely in the middle of the political unrest that has been building against the king. On top of all that, her brother wants her to come work for him identifying Sarist for the Inquisition. With help from some unexpected quarters, Digger will succeed but not before the uncovers the ultimate betrayal.

Bunting, Eve
Fantasy, Horror
Kyle was heading home from the art gallery feeling on top of the world because he’d just sold one of his paintings for $100! He stopped to help an older woman who’d had a flat tire. He knew the dangers of talking to strangers but she looked harmless enough…until she stuck him with a needle and everything went black. He wakes feeling seriously ill, vomiting and dizzy. There are 3 other kids there, ranging in age from 4 to 17 and a dog. There’s something very strange, though, only Kyle can’t quite put his finger on it. Then the ceiling of his prison was lifted off and the giant face of Mrs. Shepherd appeared as she looked down at them, as if they were….dolls! Mrs. Shepherd, an insane woman who called them her Lambkins and who had shrunk them down to doll size and put them in a dollhouse had kidnapped the five of them and planned on keeping them indefinitely! Kyle felt the need to do something but the others had already tried everything that is until he found a small rock left behind by John, the Lambkin who had been killed, and a plan began to take shape.
The characters were well developed and the situations fairly believable. Tanya’s going with Mrs. Shepherd was logical. Kyle and Mac stopping to help a harmless looking woman was also plausible. Mrs. Shepherd, however, could have used a bit more attention to make her more of a presence. The back-story was also not fully developed. Mr. Shepherd, though dead, was obviously a large part of why Mrs. Shepherd was insane but it was only hinted at, not fully explained. The premise is original and sufficiently creepy but the story wrapped up too quickly and the ending too pat and unfulfilling. There were too many questions left unanswered like what happened to Mrs. Shepherd? How did the shrinking serum work? What happened to it? I would like to have “seen” the police officers’ faces when they saw the 4 shrunken down kids and dog! Leaving some questions alone for the reader to answer is fine but this story just didn’t feel complete.
Adam is an aspiring artist with fantastic talent when the vuvv invaded. Was it really an invasion, though? The vuvv offered free advanced technology and the cure for every disease on Earth. As it turns out, yes, it was. There are very few jobs because vuvv tech has replaced human workers and completely decimated the Earth’s environment in the process. Those miraculous cures are impossibly expensive. Adam makes some creative sacrifices to help his family endure the impossible hardships but soon enough, he must decide how far he’s willing to go and what he’s willing to surrender for their survival.