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Cadnum, Michael
Zachary is on the edge. One move, either way, and he will fall…into what, is anyone’s guess. School is a violent, ugly place. His English teacher accuses him of cheating on the one paper he actually enjoyed writing. It was the last straw and Zachary quit school. One day, an incident that starts out amusing, ends with gunfire. Zachary beats a hasty retreat before things go from bad to worse. He falls, clutching at anything that would help him survive. His hand closes around the cold steel of a gun. He slips it into his pocket and continues running. Several months later, Zachary’s life begins to come apart at the seams. His father is shot in a car jacking attempt and the man who did it gets off because there were no reliable witnesses to the crime and his father can’t remember the incident. Zachary’s world continues to spin out of control. He tries to bury himself in his work, his girlfriend or the garden his mom and he planted but he can’t block out the visions of his father lying in the hospital bed with tubes and wires everywhere, knowing that he won’t ever be able to walk or even move his body from the neck down. He knows he has the power to do something about the tragedy but will he do it?

Cadnum has written an excellent, suspenseful story of how tragedy changes your life so drastically and the way you choose to handle it can be equally tragic. The characters are well defined and the reader is drawn into their stories. Occasionally, the author switches from memories to present time abruptly, which causes temporary confusion but he catches you up quickly.

Cadnum, Michael
Steven has talent. He is an excellent boxer and has aspirations to earn real money doing it. He has a problem with his temper and he uses illegal moves in the ring, which will get him disqualified if he isn’t careful. He has another problem…his best friend Raymond has a new acquaintance who is real trouble. Chad is fascinating in the same way that is a hooded cobra weaving before it strikes. Before long, Steven is drawn into the seductive, dangerous dance. He needs money to enter a fight in a neighboring town. He can’t ask his father because he has little extra and his mother doesn’t agree with his sport of choice. Chad offers a way but is it worth the risk? Steve is faced with a tough decision and time is running out.

Michael Cadnum is one of the great contemporary fiction authors we have today. The characters in his books deal with issues that today’s teens confront on a daily basis. Without being preachy or heavy-handed, Cadnum brings the conflicts to resolution in a way that will satisfy even the most jaded teen reader. He creates a safe environment for teens to experience the darker side of adolescence and to learn ways to handle their lives.

Cadnum, Michael
Forbidden Forest
We begin with Little John's descent into thievery and the reason he became a true outlaw. He and his master, a ferryman and thief, take on a small group of travelers with heavy purses and accompanied by a knight. The master picks the pockets of the gentlemen. When it is discovered, the knight exacts swift justice, intending to kill the man. John steps in to protect him and kills the knight instead. He runs in to the forest and finds protection from the woods themselves and the unseen creature who live there. He is taken in by a nobleman outlaw who is cold and demanding. When John refuses to swear his fealty, he must take to the roads again. He is now pursued by the law and outlaw alike. Soon, however, he finds his way to Robin Hood's merry band where he finds a home and a family.
This adventure was fast paced and interesting, offering some different insights into what kind of man both John and Robin were. Fans of Robin Hood legends will recognize characters and events but be intrigued with the new bits and the tone of the story. Cadnum is an excellent writer of historical novels as he is of contemporary fiction. I highly recommend this story to adventure lovers as well as Robin Hood fans.

Cadnum, Michael

Peril on the Sea

Sherwin is an aspiring author aboard a merchant ship writing the biography of its captain when disaster strikes. A fire destroys the ship and sends her crew to the watery deep, save for Sherman. Clinging to a barrel, Sherman prays for salvation which comes from the notorious English pirate Captain Brandon Fletcher. Captain Fletcher decides to employ Sherman's skills as a writer to pen his biography so Sherman goes from one ship, one adventure, to another, potentially more dangerous one. Along the way, Sherman meets the lovely Katharine, a damsel in financial distress with an audacious plan. She and her father hire Captain Fletcher to steal back their ship, which was hijacked by a greedy lord, bent on destroying her family. Enter the Spanish Armada and all bets are off!

Cadnum, usually and excellent storyteller, seemed a bit off with this one. While sea adventures are usually exciting and dramatic, the action here just misses the mark. The details seem rushed and the characters very one dimensional and uninteresting. There are too many story lines for any one to be well done. The cover is awesome, though promising more than the book actually delivers.

Caletti, Deb
The Secret Life of Prince Charming
When your heart gets broken, you lash out...at him, at yourself, at life. You become jaded and your sentences all seem to start with "All men are !@#$. It's all Quinn has ever heard from her mother, her aunt and even her grandmother. Quinn is a very sensible girl, perhaps because of the miles of caution tape that has always surrounded her. She's the one who makes good choices, dates good (if boring) boys, dependable. Then, the good boy dumps her and she begins to wonder if her mother/aunt/grandmother aren't right. Added to the strange mix is her recent reconnection with her father. He's larger than life, charismatic, charming. He is also arrogant, selfish and a liar. When she finds objects in his house that have the names of different women written on them, things that he claimed he'd collected from his travels, she begins to wonder about them and she does something totally out of character, something decidedly not dependable. She decides to embark on a quest to return all of the things to their rightful owners. With her half-sister, younger sister and a boy on his way to a gig, Quinn may have just bitten off more than she can chew.

What a great story! With a cast of quirky, lovable , damaged characters, Deb Caletti delves into the intricacies of family, relationships, and most difficult of all, love. There are laugh-out-loud, moments, angry encounters but they are all wrapped up in a healing embrace. The only negative parts are the random letters from the women featured in the book. There's not introduction or explanation...they just appear. Still, fans of ANY TITLE by Sara Dessen or Laurie Halse Anderson will devour this book! I highly recommend it...it's high-quality chick lit!

Calonita, Jen
Sleepaway Girls

Have you ever been a third wheel? Sam was not looking forward to being one when her best friend Mal started dating just before the summer started. So, she made a bold move and applied to be a counselor in training at a camp in upstate New York. She is excited and nervous, since she's never been to camp before. The first day is an auspicious one...she meets some friends and makes an enemy. Ashley is the camp alpha female. She's in all the camp videos and advertising materials. She's supermodel beautiful and her father runs the camp. Still, when the other kids find out that Sam was in a popular national commercial, Ashley immediately turns nasty. To make matters even more complicated, there are two boys vying for her attention; Hunter is the uber-hot flirt who singles Sam out right away; the other is Cole, a handsome boy who is easy to be around and laugh with. It doesn't take long for Sam to figure out which one is the good guy but getting him is another matter entirely, especially when Ashely sees the wrong thing at the wrong time.

There are pranks, food fights, consequences, and a whole lot of growing up in this excellent contemporary story. Fans of quality chick lit will be standing line to read it! The characters and their issues are mostly believable...thought it is a bit of a stretch believing that Sam fit into a group that has been attending the same camp for many years together so quickly. Still, you find yourself rooting for her and her friends and are very satisfied with the ending, which is not all tied up in a pretty pink bow.

Cameron, Sharon
The Dark Unwinding
Katherine Tulman is not a lucky young woman. Her parents are both dead and she is forced to live under the thumb of her Aunt whose only interest is her young, spoiled son. The family fortunes seem to be dwindling and she is sent to his estate with the express instructions to have him committed to an asylum. Upon her arrival, things are definitely strange. The house is a mess. The servants are openly hostile; and Uncle Tulman, well, he's something else, altogether! In his workshop are wonderful machines and toys that defy modern engineering rules. There is a dragon that, when pushed over, regains it's level no matter what direction it falls. There are amazing automatons that not only look like their model but move with an uncanny fluidity. In short, Uncle Tully is a genius inventor but has his own quirky, child-like rules to which everyone must adhere lest he have a fit. It isn't long before Katherine falls under his endearing thrall and wants, more than anything, to save this brilliant man and the village that has grown up around him. There are forces trying to use his genius for their own nefarious purposes and danger seems to seep through the very stones. Katherine must use all her wits and some rather unlikely accomplices to uncover the villain before it's too late.

What a deliciously thrilling tale! Cameron weaves mystery, suspense, danger and a healthy dose of creepiness into her Victorian tale. While not truly a steampunk story, there are certainly elements of it. Uncle Tully's inventions, quite often, used clockwork principles and the workshop would be the dream of any steampunk machinist worth his or her goggles. Cameron throws in just a hint of forbidden romance, for good measure. Even the ending is neatly screwed together without seeming too contrived.

Carey, Benedict
The Unknowns
Small towns are most known for one thing...nothing, absolutely nothing exciting ever happens. Adjacent is a small island that, coincidentally, is adjacent to a nuclear power plant. There are beat-up trailers, run-down storefronts and an odd assortment of people. But that all changes in July, when people start disappearing. Something bad was coming, you could feel it in the heavy, humid air. Who's going to rescue a no-count place like Adjacent? The police? The FBI? No, in fact, 11-year-old Lady Di Smith and Tom Jones will. The discovered clues that lead them on a dangerous quest through tunnels, under trash heaps being pursued by all manner of ruffians trying to stop them figuring out the truth.

Okay all you math geeks out there...this is the book for you! What Eric Berlin did with Winston Breen and code-breaking, Carey does with Di and Tom and mathematical equations. The Absolute value of this story lies in quirky characterizations, Boundary value problems, Intersected with the convergence of mathematical equations all leading to a pretty good who dun it. If you don't like math, well, too bad because it's the only way to solve for X.

Carmody, Isobelle
Night Gate
A gate is a passage way through something to somewhere. The gate that looms in front of Rage and her animal friends stands amidst a wild wall of brambles, a flawless arch leading ...to the voice that calls her to enter, claiming that she can find a way to waken her very ill mother. When she pushes through, everything is transformed. Her pets become people or almost people and they can talk to her! The sneering, beckoning voice belongs to a firecat but what that is, exactly, is a mystery as is everything else around her. As the little group begins to make its way into this strange, new world, they discover that all is not well. Young girls are required to go into the city to be banded, magical beings and witches are not tolerated and magic seems to be dying. The plot thickens when they find themselves in the city and uncover the mystery of who the firecat really is and why the wizard who created this world disappeared.
High adventure and high fantasy collide in this first book of a promising trilogy. Almost everyone has come across something in a bush or hedge that seems mysterious and sets the imagination running or we wish that our best 4 legged friend could really talk to us. This story unlocks one such doorway and lets us in to share in the adventure. The characters are wholly believable, even the human animal ones. I, for one, became very attached to Goaty and Billy and I felt the pain the Bear endured and the difficulty she had allowing herself to care. My only complaint was that the cover left much to be desired and my fantasy fans are going to have trouble with that (I must admit, I did as well).

Carmody, Isobelle
Winter Door
The adventure continues. The Bramble Gate has been closed forever but, Billy Thunder is back to being a dog again and her mother has still not recovered from her accident, in spite of the healing magic Rage had risked everything for. To make matters worse Logan, the school bully, seems to have Rage in his sites. One night, Firecat appears to her in her dreams warning that the Wizard needs her. Each night afterward, Rage finds that she can travel to Valley in her dreams. There, the people are suffering the same kind of unnatural winter that she is in her world. Will Rage be willing to take on another challenge after all she lost in Valley?
Like the first one, this story is a page-turner! Carmody has a lot of balls in the air but, as with a master juggler, she doesn’t drop any. Her characters are beautifully detailed and their individual struggles are wholly believable. There seems to be an interesting triangle forming between Rage, Billy Thunder and Logan. I look forward to the final book in the trilogy!

Carson, Rae
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Elisa has been sheltered her entire life. She is the youngest of her parents daughters but, strangely, she's the first to marry and she finds herself hoping that her husband to be will be ugly. She is overweight, very insecure and feels completely incapable of taking up the mantle of Queen in her new country. She does, however, have one thing in her favor...she is the chosen one, the one person chosen by God to bear the Godstone. As an infant, a brilliant shaft of light beamed down upon her and left her with a gleaming, powerful jewel in her bellybutton. As it turns out, her new husband is not the only one seeking her and her stone. Not long after she arrives, she is kidnapped by a desperate people; a people she comes to love and respect. They look to her for guidance and strength and she must rise to their expectations. There is another group that seeks her. Hey want to take her Godstone and use it to defeat their enemies which include her new husband's kingdom as well as her adopted one. Elisa must find the strength within herself to fight her enemies and survive the most devastating loss of all...the death of her beloved.

Rae Carson has crafted an engaging tale, full of adventure, danger and fallible characters! Finally, we have a princess who's not slim, athletic or traditionally beautiful! This one is downright fat, shy and fearful but, just beneath the surface we soon find a strong young woman who is smart and well educated in the art of war. The secondary characters are charismatic and the setting vividly described. As Elisa's divergent paths unfold, she grows into herself and discovers what we would all like to believe about ourselves...that, faced with terrifying conflict, we would act heroically and with compassion. Fans of stories with strong female characters should definitely read this one, though I still say that killing off that one person was TOTALLY UNNECESSARY!!!
Cary, Kate
John Shaw returns from the war a scarred man, physically and emotionally. He has recurring nightmares about his commander, Quincy Harker, a brutal, ferocious officer and warrior. As he heals, he discounts the nightmares as just that but when Harker turns up and begins courting his sister, John is forced to face his fears and find out the truth about who Harker really is and save his sister from a fate worse than death.
The premise of the story is very interesting. What a fearless, terrifying warrior a vampire would make! There were several inconsistencies with the story. How did Harker deal with daytime battles and the general running of a company on the frontlines? According to vampire legend, they cannot go out in daylight. Once John figures out who Harker is, he fights tooth and nail to stop him. This character does not gel with how John turns out in the end. Additionally, Harker's character is so brutal through most of the that it's just not believable that he would end up as he did, either. Other problems include the tenuous connection to Dracula and the re-appearance of characters thought dead, and so on. There are other outstanding vampire stories out there that are more satisfying than this one. Any of the Amelia Atwater-Rhodes titles, The Silver Kiss by Annette Klause, Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan tell a better story and have more believable characters.

Cast, P.C.
Can you imagine a world where vampyres are not only real but accepted by humans, or most of them, anyway? Well, for Zoey Redbird, the reality hits home quite unexpectedly. There are some humans who are marked and their lives change forever. When you are marked, you begin your training to become a vampyre...or, if your body rejects the change, die. Zoey has never really fit in anywhere so when she is marked, she wonders if she might finally find a place to belong. But it is not to be...even in a place where freaks abound, Zoey is different. Her mark comes from the goddess Nix and means that she is more powerful than others her age. This makes her some formidible enemies. On the upside, she also makes a few really good friends who will stick by her no matter what. It's the "no matter what", however, that may mean something really horrible.

This vampire series is definitely NOT for younger audiences. There are some pretty graphic descriptions of adult situations that anyone younger than 14 should wait to read!!!! The thing that amazes me is that the books were written by a mother/daughter team...there is no way I would ever talk to my mother about this stuff, much less write about it!!! Anyway, for older readers it's a fun, if predictable, romp through the lives of teenage vampires-in-training with a nice dose of suspense, to boot. The series continues with Betrayed and Chosen and Untamed.

Cashore, Kristin
Most of the time, when people use the word "grace" it's a good thing. There are some, however, who are Graced with skills so powerful that they are feared and exploited. Katsa is one who is Graced with the unimaginable power to kill and to do so with ease. She is the niece of Randa, King of the Middluns and is his strong-armed lackey. She hurts people because they offended the king, somehow. She hates her job and herself for doing it. To try to off-set the horrible way she feels about what Randa has her do, she starts The Council, an organization that rescues those who've been hurt or imprisoned at the whim of a king. On one such rescue mission she meets Po, who is graced with combat skills. Katsa has no idea how this young man with the silver and gold eyes will turn her neat, orderly life up-side down and it starts with friendship, something she's never experienced before. Through this relationship, she learns new truths about herself and her grace. Together, she and Po learn that there is a Graced one in one of the kingdoms that has the power to destroy all they hold dear by merely speaking a word.
This is a most excellent book from first-time author Kristin Cashore. There is a little bit of everything...great fight scenes, intrigue galore, and more than a hint of romance. I cannot say enough good things about this book. Any who enjoys fantasy stories will want to read this!

Castle, Jennifer
The Beginning of After
Every story has a beginning and an end, a before and an after. For Laurel, her life is split in two; before the accident that takes away her entire family and after. Before, she and her best friend think about boys, the prom and college; After, they struggle with the grief that is nearly a physical presence between them. Before, David Kaufman, whose father was the driver of the car and only survivor, was just the intriguing bad boy next door. After, he is the dive-bomber who drops into and out of her life, leaving questions, confusion and his dog behind for her to deal with. Before, there were her mother, father and little brother. After, there are empty rooms and words left unsaid. As Laurel struggles through the after, trying not to forget the before, she finds herself drawn to David but unable to understand his running away from their new reality and the father who is beginning to awaken. Before was happy and wonderful. After is full of pain and loss but her parents before gives Laurel the strength to survive and even flourish.

This is a heart-wrenching story of love and loss and healing. The story is thought-provoking and well crafted, with characters so real and honest that a box of tissues is a necessity while reading. The teen voices are authentic and the secondary characters are fully developed. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson should definitely pick this one up and watch out for more by this talented author! I really wasn't kidding about needing the box of tissues!

Chadda, Sarwat
Devil's Kiss
The Knights Templar were created to protect Christian pilgrims and they traveled to Jerusalem. They fell out of favor when rumors of secret rituals and initiations caused distrust with the Pope. They died out centuries ago. Or at least that's what the history books says. Billi knows differently. She was raised by her father, a Knight Templar, to fight and kill the dark things that live just outside mortal sight. It is a horrible existence. Billi just wants to be normal, to fit in. She didn't choose this life but soon, she will have to make the most difficult choice and sacrifice that she will ever have to make. You see, the prophesy says that she will kill the one she loves in order to save the children.

Angels and Demons has nothing on this book. The reluctant heroine, fallen angels, even Satan himself all serve to keep you turning pages. It doesn't end happily but then with all that evil running amok a sunny, sweet tale would be completely unbelievable. It might not be a good idea to read this on in the dark, alone.

J. B. Cheaney
True Prince
Kit has become the finest boy actor in all of London. His female character portrayals have people flocking to see him. Who he is off-stage is what gets him in trouble. There is no love lost between him and his direct competition, Richard Mallory but when Richard realizes that Kit's "friends" are behind a series of Robin Hood-like crimes, he decides to help him. Richard risks his own life to find out what Kit is up to and why he has such animosity toward a new, young recruit named Davy. He and Kit are together the day that Davy ends up murdered, which makes the stakes in this game even higher. How far is Richard willing to go to save Kit?
Cheaney builds on her earlier novel, The Playmaker, in this companion piece. There are quite a lot of Shakespearean references, which may throw those who are not familiar with his plays. I found myself skimming the parts that detailed what was going on in the plays. It might, however, be a good introduction to Shakespeare if read as a classroom novel. I did enjoy the story and the undercurrent of suspense and mystery kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what happened. The resolution was rewarding and very imaginative.

Chima, Cinda Williams
The Warrior Heir
Trinity is a your average small town located in Ohio. Jack has always been an average teenager, with the exception of the heart surgery that saved his life as an infant and the medication he must take as a result. One day, as he's focused on tryouts for varsity soccer, he forgets to take his meds. Suddenly, he feels something shift inside of him. He's stronger, more confident than he's ever been but then he loses control and blasts a fellow player across the field. Little does he know that this one incident will change his life forever. Soon he finds himself the bearer of a terrible legacy. He is part of a magical society that has existed since the beginning of time and it's rules are deadly. He is a warrior, a pawn in the Game between two warring factions, The Red and White Roses. The Game is a fight to the death; the winner controls the Weir. Now Jack must fight for his life and maybe for something even bigger.

This story has everything; an epic battle between good and evil, characters who is both an unwilling hero, and boy in love plus lots of magic all rolled into the first book in a trilogy. If you're anything like me, you'll not be able to put this book down until the last sword has clanged to the ground! Fortunately for the author, the rest of the series is equally riviting (Wizard Heir and Dragon Heir), which is unfortunate for those of us who find that it's 2 am and we have to be at work by 7 but just can't put the book down!

Chima, Cinda W.
The Seven Realms series
Han Alister grew up on the streets and up in the hills with the Clans. It was a rough life but he's a tough and determined kid. That determination eventually got him Street Lord status and the silver cuffs he'd worn as long as he could remember, earned him his street name, Cuffs. Cuffs and his friend Fire Dancer, a fellow Clansman, were out riding one afternoon when they ran afoul of a group of young, arrogant wizards. The encounter ends with Han in possession of a powerful amulet and a nasty enemy in the form of Micah Bayar. While Cuffs has his own problems, Raisa, the young Princess Heir, has issues of her own. Her mother has been swayed by Gavan Bayar to betroth his son, Micah to her daughter, Raisa. A union between a queen and a wizard is expressly forbidden in an ancient document that was drawn up after an horrific battle between wizards and everyone else. Raisa is not amenable to the union for reasons beyond tradition. She doesn't trust Micah or his father so she decides to escape. Cuffs and Raisa's (known to Cuffs as Rebecca) paths cross and diverge a number of times, each one drawing them closer to each other. The both end up at Oden's Ford, a school that teaches wizards and warriors how to use their gifts. Han, it turns out, is a wizard and Raisa is learning to be a warrior, a skill she hopes will help her when it's her turn to rule her beloved country.

Book 1: The Demon King
Book 2: The Exiled Queen
Book 3: The Gray Wolf Throne

Cinda is a consummate storyteller! Her Warrior Her trilogy was nothing short of amazing. Her characters are so real and believable that the reader is drawn in and carried along for a roller coaster ride of emotion, danger and adventure! The fantasy worlds she creates are exciting, highly detailed and atmospheric, especially the Seven Realms series. Fans of Harry Potter, fantasy or adventure should definitely read any of Chima's books!!!

Clare, Cassandra
Clockwork Angel
The mysterious and terrifying Dark Sisters take her to their home and teach her to use her abilities; abilities she didn't even know she had. Tessa can shape-shift into anyone, at will. Once her training is complete, she learns that the Magister, a powerful and dangerous man wants to claim her power for himself and will stop at nothing to get her. With the help of a beautiful but caustic boy, she finds a safe haven with the Shadowhunters, warriors who do battle with creatures Tessa didn't even know existed before. There it is confirmed for her that she is very different, not quite human but even the Shadowhunters cannot identify exactly what she is. They do, however, realize that they can help each other. Tessa can use her power to help them in their battle against demons and they, in turn, can help her find her brother. Unfortunately, people are not always as they seem and Tessa soon finds herself caught between two beautiful boys, both with dark secrets that confuse and excite her.

It's not often that authors can write sequels and keep the momentum going through to the end. Cassandra Clare is definitely in a very exclusive group of master storytellers along with Juliet Marillier, J.R.R. Tolkien, Cinda Williams Chima, Robin McKinley and very few others. Clockwork Angel is the beginning of a prequel trilogy to her Immortal Instruments trilogy, which was beyond excellent!!! From the prologue, the story grabs hold and doesn't let go until the infuriating cliffhanger of an ending. Her characters are well drawn and wholly believable. While there are definite similarities between them and the ones from the Immortal Instruments, they fit with the story and leave you wanting to know more about them. The mysterious Will has a mouth and wit that rivals Jace's and both boys have secrets they are unwilling to share with anyone. Tessa and Clary have the same dogged determination to take care of themselves, even though they are woefully unequipped. Both girls also are not what or who they thought they were, a secret identity hidden from them by those wishing to protect them. These similarities aside, the characters in Clockwork Angel are their own people with their own follies and foibles and in the hands of a master storyteller, they will be cleverly revealed in the coming books so stay tuned!

Clockwork Prince is the next installment and the story just keeps getting better! Will has been under a curse for many years and he has been searching for the demon who placed the curse. Jem is getting weaker but his bond with Tessa is growing stronger. What happens between them will surprise everyone. The Magister is still very much in the picture and has cast a pall over the Shadowhunters. His actions have called into question Charlotte's running of the Institute and Benedict Lightwood is poised to take over but he has his own secrets that might just destroy him! Full of intrigue, romance and betrayal, Clockwork Prince more than lives up to expectation! If you've not already discovered these wonderful characters, you don't know what you are missing!

Clare, Cassandra
Lady Midnight
When last we saw Julian, Emma and the passel of children (Julian's younger siblings), they had lost more in a few days than most people do in a life time. They were healing but that didn't end the problems for the valiant young people. Julian had a full plate. He was basically running the Institute and raising his siblings since his older brother and sister were taken from him. Still, they had allies; people they trusted to help. Unfortunately, there are few people whose betrayals hurt more than those we trust the most. When the worst happens, they land roughly on their feet and must begin to pick up the pieces of their lives...again.

Lord of Shadows
With the pieces of their lives scattered, Julian's older brother Mark has returned to them, but he's a bit at sea as to his role in a family that has grown up without him. With mounting pressure to find The Black Volume and what is causing the influx of sea demon attacks, Julian and Emma have to keep things together but keep themselves apart to keep their secret. Keeping secrets is what Julian is best at, making him calculating and sometimes vicious when there are threats against his family. Not everything is peaceful outside of Los Angeles either. A battle is brewing within the Shadowhunter community which threatens to tear apart their ancient bonds. The family is called to account for the nefarious activities of their institute when suddenly a dagger flashes and finds its mark. Blood flows and one life hangs in the balance.

Clark, Judith
Wolf on the Fold
Kenny, a 14-year-old boy who's just lost his dad, is now the man of the family. He is faced with the responsibility of finding work, which means quitting school. As he sets out on a cold morning, his mother sends him off with a warning "Be careful going through the flatlands." As he approaches the area, he stops to defrost his hands and what happens next will stay with him the rest of his life and will shape the man he becomes.
So starts a series of stories that revolve around Kenny's life as a child, a young man, a father and a grandfather during a 70 year span of time. Each character is unique and has his or her own story of pain and trial but the thread that binds them together is Kenny and his family.
Clark's collection of stories is a bit difficult to follow. The characters and stories are very disjointed which makes for bumpy reading. It is a short book and very easy to read, however, so those students who want something quick to read, will like it.

Clement-Davies, David
The Telling Pool
A dark prophesy, a blind blacksmith who seems to know things he shouldn't and a war in far-away lands fill Rhodri's mind with mystery and the desire see the world. When his father is called away to fight with King Richard in Jerusalem, Rhodri is disappointed that he can't go. One afternoon Rhodri and Menalor, his falcon, are out hunting and stumble upon a hermit guarding a great secret. The Telling Pool is a magical pool of water that allows only certain people to see things to come. What Rhodri sees there changes his life and sends him on a dangerous quest to save his father and break a curse that has trapped people in stone for centuries.
Clement-Davies weaves a wonderful tale involving King Arthur and all the legends that surround him but with an unlikely hero who is much like Arthur himself. All the elements of a classic quest are here and the characters are wholly believable. Some of the situations that Rhodri gets himself into and out of stretch even the best imagination but it was an entertaining ride through ancient England. As a Christian, I was uncomfortable with how strongly the pagan beliefs were presented and how the Christian faith was described as "a story". This is fairly typical with many fantasy novels set in this time period but this one was a bit more aggressive with it. Still, it was a good story.

Clements, Andrew
Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School: We the Children
Something weird is going on. It's not that Ben is going to be late to homeroom...that's fairly typical. It's that the crotchety school janitor has entrusted him with a secret; a secret that fits, for now, neatly in his pocket. Mr. Keane fell while cleaning the floors and injured his leg. When Ben stopped to help him, Mr. Keane told him a story about the school, it's founder and that something sinister is behind the town's decision to tear down the old school and build a 30 million dollar theme park. The secret is a large, gold coin covered in old-fashioned script: "First and always my school belongs to the children DEFEND IT Duncan Oakes 1783" Mr. Keane is taken away in an ambulance but the next day, the announcement comes that he has died...of a broken leg! That's not all, his replacement seems to be skulking about spying on Ben. Could he know about the gold coin and what it says? Why would he be interested in that? Ben enlists the help of his friend Jill and the more they seek answers, the more it seems like someone really doesn't want them found. And what did Duncan Oakes mean about the school belonging to the children? With all these questions swirling around them, Ben and Jill have their work cut out for them. But, how far are is the town and the developers willing to go to keep the theme park deal from falling through?

This is a great little mystery series for middle school students. Andrew Clements is adept at writing for this age group. His characters are well drawn and believable. The situations he puts them in are realistic. As with most books that are first in a series, the ending is something of a cliff-hanger but the story is so engaging that you'll want to come back for more, anyway!

Clements, Andrew
Things Not Seen
Have you ever felt invisible...like no one really sees you? What if you awoke one morning and found that you were physically invisible. You look into the mirror and know that you should see yourself with serious bed-head or sleep-droopy eyes but you don't see anything. You can't tell anyone because once they believed you were telling the truth, you'd become some scientific experiment and the news event in every newspaper, magazine and television show. You'd be a freak. Just ask Bobby Phillips how it feels. He knows because it happened to him.
He feels cooped up and angry about what's happening to him so he decides to go outside for a while. He ends up at the library where he bumps into Alicia, literally. She doesn't react at all to being bumped into by no body and Bobby realizes that she's blind. He decides to speak to her and ends up telling her about his "condition." She becomes his confidant, his idea sounding board, his friend. She also ends up holding the key to help him see truly see himself.

Coats, J Anderson
The Wicked and the Just
Cecily has grown up at Edgeley Hall. It was a life of privilege with her father as Lord of the manor. She spent her days with best friends Alice and Agnes stitching fine linens and gossiping about eligible bachelors. This cushy life all comes crashing down when her uncle Roger returns from the Crusades and reclaims his holding. He is the elder brother, after all. Now, she and her father are moving to the wilds of Wales, Caernarvon, where he will help the King control savage Welshmen. Upon arrival, Cecily discovers that it might not be so easy to become the lady of this house. She can't even seem to control Gwinny, the house maid who is full of rage at losing everything to the English. And she's not the only one! As tensions in the town and the hills surrounding it mounts, Gwinny and Cecily will soon find themselves in very different roles...both trying to survive and not be broken by their circumstances.

Never have I met a more contentious and unlikable character as Cecily! She is spoiled beyond belief, complaining and crying at nearly every turn. Even when she does something good and hope that she might be growing a conscience blooms, she turns right around and follows with something reprehensible. Gwinny, while full to over-flowing with rage, comes across as the more thought-provoking character. The author's use of terminology from the middle ages can be a bit off-putting, but as the story continues the rhythm and flow of the narrative makes the language easier to pick up. The research Coats did adds to the rich and often barbaric setting. Recommend this to fans of Avi's Beyond the Western Sea or On Viney's Mountain by Joan Donaldson.

Coburn, Ann
Ellie and her younger brother Danny are very close, for siblings. They spend their free time making up stories about a girl named Argent and her world filled with dragons, shape-shifters and magic. For them, the stories pass the time but, when Danny disappears, years later, the story and its characters take on a much greater meaning. At the same time, the world Danny and Ellie imagined is a real place and Argent is going through her own troubles. A baby dragon was stolen just as it hatched and the mother is furious. She tries to attack Argent’s village so they send an emissary to the Duke to request an army to kill her. Argent sets off on a desperate mission to save both the baby dragon and his mother. Both girls are searching. Both girls must be stronger than they ever thought they could be. Ellie and Argent must save those they love from destruction.

Colfer, Eoin
Conor Broekart’s birth was most unusual. His mother was in a hot air balloon at the Paris World’s Fair when the excitement of a sniper’s bullet piercing the fabric brought on labor a month early. You might think that after such an exciting entry into the world, ordinary life might be rather boring. Thankfully for Conor, his life is anything but. He and his family live on the sovereign Saltee Islands, off the Irish coast. His best friend is the princess; his playground is a scientific laboratory where he studies fencing, history but, most importantly, the science of flight. Things are not all quiet in this seemingly idyllic place, however. There is a plot afoot and when Conor witnesses the murder of the king and his royal advisor, he is accused of the evil deed and sent to serve his time mining diamonds on the prison island of Little Saltee. His only hope is to escape and the only way to escape is to sprout wings and fly off the island…and he plans to do just that.
Only a master storyteller can move from his comfort zone genre of fantasy to historical fiction and still tell a great tale! Eoin Colfer is just such a master. Airman has touch of the fantastical but wholly realistic. This is a wonderful, exciting, nerve-wracking, adventure!

Collins, Suzanne
Gregor the Overlander
Deep under the streets of New York is another world. A world of darkness, danger, and giant creatures; cockroaches so big that a 2-year-old can ride them like horses; rats large enough to kill a human; bats that carry humans into battle and all of the creatures speak to one another! This is the world into which Gregor and his little sister have fallen via the airshaft in their laundry room. They are brought to Regalia, the human city in the Underland. They believe that he is their champion, according to an ancient prophesy, who will tilt the balance in the coming war with the rats. All he wants to do is get his sister, Boots, and himself back home in one piece. This begins the adventures of Gregor which continue in Gregor and the Prophesy of Bane in which Gregor's character, strength and integrity are challenged in every way possible.
Suzanne Collins uses a deft had in dealing with the perennial struggle between good and evil in these first two books in her series. From the beginning, she hooks the reader with the well-told legends that New York sits atop a maze of underground tunnels and shafts and that monsters really do live there. Her characters are fairly well-rounded, though more detail about Henry and Luxa would have made the revealing of betrayal make more sense. Still, this is a great story, particularly for boys and reluctant readers. The action is non-stop. The series continues in the following sequence of titles, all of which are equally exciting! Gregor and the Prophesy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret.

Collins, Suzanne
The Hunger Games
In a future not so distant from now, a shining city arises out of the ruins of what used to be North America. The Capitol, surrounded by 12 districts, has total control of its people. The one time the districts dared to rise up, they were crushed. Now, each year, two tributes, a boy and a girl, are chosen from each district to compete in the Hunger Games. Imagine the Roman coliseum where gladiators, Christians, ro enemies of the state battle each other to the death, for the entertainment of the people. Now imagine the reality show Survivor, where contestants complete physical tasks, form alliances and try not to get voted off the island. Combine them and mulitply the worst aspects of each by 10 and you have the Hunger Games. There can be only one winner. Tributes ranges in age from 12 to 18. The older you are, the higher your chances of getting chosen. When the time comes, Katniss awaits the announcement with the rest of district 12. Her little sister Prim's name is in the lottery for the first time but since she only has one entry, her chances of being chosen are very slim, so when her name is echos across the town square, Katniss is shocked and immediately volunteers to take her place. So begins her quest to survive.

This was an awesome book!!!! I was hooked from page 1 and was unable to put the book down until the last page, which, I might add, was the most frustrating page of all!!! You know when you're watching the last episode of the season of your favorite television show and you know the cliffhanger is coming but you're so wrapped up in all of it that you actually shout out loud when the black screen appears flashing the dreaded words "To Be Continued". Well, that's what the last page did to me. Now, I have to wait A YEAR for the next book. Ah well, such is the life of a reader. Suzanne Collins ROCKS!!!

Condie, Ally
Cassia stands before the screen that will tell her who she will be matched to for marriage. She is excited and nervous. What if she doesn't like him? What if he doesn't like her? What if... The Society wouldn't let that happen. They are matched according to specific traits. The Society controls who you marry, where you work and even when you die. They have eradicated most deadly diseases like cancer by matching and "breeding" it out of existence. Cassie needen't have worried. Her match is someone she knows, has known all her life. It's her best friend Xander! They are both very excited until the next morning when Cassia looks at her data chip expecting to see Xander's face and information. Instead, she seen the face of another boy, another boy she knows well. Almost immediately, the face disappears and is replace with an error message. She is approached by and Official who explains that a glitch occurred, a mistake! Those almost never happen but this one throws a wrench into Cassia's neatly ordered life. It is a mistake that will change everything and everyone because it exposes chinks in the Society's armor of rules and regulations.

Matched is an outstanding science fiction tale about the controlled perfection and the messiness of love. The people are quite stilted, as one would expect. I am reminded of the movie Demolition Man, Hunger Games and Skinned. The teen characters are doing more than coming of age. They are questioning authority, the order of things and pulling their families along with them. The Cassia's parents are the main adult characters and they are fully fleshed out and their back story give them depth. The ending was just a but dissatisfying. Many questions are left unanswered and the fate of some of the characters are left up in the air. There is plenty of room for a sequel, which would hopefully resolve all the frayed edges!

Constable, Kate
Waterless Sea
Calwyn's story continues as she and her friends embark on a dangerous but necessary mission to rescue chanters in the very corrupt land of Merithuros. Chanters found in this empire are captured and imprisoned in the Black Palace but their search begins at the Palace of Cobwebs. Rescuing the children have earth-shattering effects on the empire and Calwyn discovers that she is able to Sing other chantments, bringing her closer to being that which she dreads, the Singer of All Songs. As she struggles to bring peace to the land, the cost is more devastating than anyone can imagine and not even her love, Darrow, can help her now.
It's always nice when a sequel lives up to the original, as this one does. This said, it would be advisable to re-read Singer of All Songs again before embarking on this book's quest. The characters are fairly well rounded though some situations they find themselves in seem a bit contrived. The ending is guaranteed to cause the same kind of groan you get when your favorite television show ends in a cliffhanger and the dreaded words "To Be Continued" flash on the screen.

Cooney, Caroline
Goddess of Yesterday
In the days when gods and goddesses ruled and the fate of the people was in their unpredictable hands, Anaxandra’s life seems idyllic. She is the favored child of her father, the pirate-chieftain on their small island. Soon, however, her fate became mingled with Menelaus, his infamous wife Helen, the traitorous Paris and the legendary cities of Troy and Sparta. She witnesses the cruelty of men, Helen, and war; she experiences kindness from kings and the love of a man. She learns that the worship of gods and goddesses is a risky thing, at best and deadly, at worst. She comes through it all with a stronger sense of who she is and that truth truly does set you free.
Cooney is one of the great tellers of contemporary stories but in this novel, she proves that she is a storyteller of all times. This book has the suspenseful feeling that keeps the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next. The characters are particularly well drawn and believable. The reader comes away amazed at the cruelty of Helen and Paris; feeling very sorry for Menelaus; hoping for happiness in the end for Anaxandra.

Cooper, Ilene
I’ll see you in my dreams
Dreams are usually vague, confused visions which fade upon waking. Not so for Karen. Her dreams are startlingly vivid and, often, terrifying because her dreams come true. When she was a young girl, she dreamed of the car accident that killed her father. For a while after that, the dreams stopped. Then she begins dreaming about a handsome boy she’s never met before and on the first day of school, he appears at her bus stop. After some time, it seems as though he likes her so she chalks the dreams up to girlish fantasy. But then the dreams leave Karen with a feeling of dread for the boy, Mark. Soon she begins to dream of Mark’s younger brother, Brian and the dreadful feelings intensify. Brian is in danger but she’s afraid that no one, least of all the handsome and popular Mark, will believe her.
In spite of the unfortunate title, this is a well-crafted suspenseful story with a hint of teenage romance. The characters are believable and well defined. This could be classified as fantasy, depending upon whether one believes in paranormal activity such as premonitions. Parts of the story are too contrived such as the grandmother’s sudden appearance after a long absence and her immediate understanding of her granddaughter’s dreams. The last line of the book was amazingly corny and will cause more than one person to roll her eyes but all in all, the story was satisfying.

Cooper, Susan
Green Boy
White sandy beaches that stretch for miles, clear blue-green water full of marine life; it’s an almost magical island called Long Pond Cay in the Bahamas and is home to twelve-year-old Trey and his seven-year-old brother Lou. Lou cannot speak at all so Trey takes care of him. Each day they take their small dinghy out to a remote part of the island to explore and just be quiet. One day their idyllic life changes forever. They stand in the surf at just the right time, between high and low tide when an amazing city rises from the sea! They find themselves in a future that is frightening and ugly. Nature is being systematically destroyed but there is an underground movement working to save the environment and, strangely enough, Lou is the key to saving that world.
Cooper is one of the definitive fantasy writers of our time but this story falls a bit short of her earlier work. The story preaches the evils of progress and environmental protection. While these are worthy topics, young adults don’t appreciate moralizing.

Cooper, Susan


The tales of two children and two times intertwine as both struggling with change and loss. Sam is a young boy kidnapped and pressed into service aboard the HMS Victory under Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805. Molly is an English girl who has been uprooted from her beloved England to move with her mother and her new husband to the United States in 2006.

Sam, a farm boy who's never been further than a few miles from his home finds himself in the Royal Navy. It's an exciting life but frought with danger. Gradually, though, he learns to be a sailor and, eventually, a powder monkey delivering black powder which the cannons need to fire. He is totally devoted to Admiral Lord Nelson and is there when the great man is killed in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Molly misses her old life in England desperately. Her stepfather and stepbrother are kind to her yet she still feels disconnected and lonely. On a family trip, Molly stumbles across an old book store and finds an old book about Admiral Lord Nelson that holds a secret. As she reads, it's as if she is seeing the world through Sam's eyes. Her mother takes her back to England in hopes that a short visit will help her mood. Help does come but from an unusual source, the day that she and her grandfather tour the HMS Victory, which is now a floating museum.

This historical fiction is, occasionaly, hard to follow. The time periods are separated into chapters but I still had difficulty discerning why Molly and Sam were connected at all. Still, it was a great story and the details about Sam's world and life aboard a Royal Navy ship were exciting.

Cooper, Ilene
Sam I Am
Sam is your average 12-year-old with your average pre-teen problems with girls, best friends and school. That is until the family dog knocks down the Hanukah bush, a.k.a. Christmas tree. This seemingly minor accident has a ripple effect that no one could have predicted and wrought a change in the family’s long-held traditions and beliefs. His mother is devastated at the loss of her precious Christmas ornaments, many of which she’d been collecting since childhood. His father has never been religious and would be satisfied if he remembered to light the Hanukah candles and order take-away for Christmas dinner. To make matters worse, Sam’s parents invite their mothers to share Christmas/Hanukah eve with the family. Not such a great idea, as it turns out. Both mothers have their own ideas about holidays and traditions and. All of these confusing feelings and beliefs were brought to a head when Sam is assigned a research project on the Holocaust. As he talks to different people who were alive when World War II was being fought, his questions about faith grow. He turns to his parents, his older sister, his grandmothers, his friends for help him understand. Finally, he begins to talk to God but the only problem is that God doesn’t talk back, at least not in the way that Sam wants Him to. Eventually, his family faces their differences in belief and realizes that, by not dealing with it, they have created a huge rift in their lives. The story ends with the decision to give the children a taste of both faiths and they can decide which to follow.
Both the Christian and Jewish faiths are represented very well and the confusion that many children who are in such mixed families must face. The story is hopeful and the characters are wholly believable and very well drawn, even the grandmothers, who are very minor characters. The car accident seemed a bit contrived but was still handled deftly.

Cordova, Zoraida
The Vicious Deep
Tristan is your average everyday hound dog, and by that I mean he catches and releases girls very easily...all except one. Layla is his best and oldest friend and the one girl who won't be caught...she knows him too well. They are both on the school swim team and work as lifeguards at the beach. The day everything changed started out perfectly normal. Tristan was scanning the water for trouble and wondering what Layla and Maddie were whispering about...him probably and it wasn't good. Suddenly, a shiver rocked his body and he saw an enormous wave approaching. The lifeguards all along the shore screamed warnings to run for higher ground. Tristan is about to do just that when he sees a pale girl flailing in the surf and his training kicks in. He dives for her just as the monster wave breaks. He disappears into the sea and is missing for three days. When the sea finally spits him back out, he remembers nothing of the missing time but wakes nightly with terrifying nightmares about a shark-shaped mermaid with a mouth full of deadly-sharp teeth. Layla, who knows him best, sees changes in Tristan but he can't explain what is happening to his body...his vision, ,hearing, even his sense of smell have sharpened to freaky-dog levels and he is even more drawn to the sea than before. What he doesn't know yet is that he is not exactly what he seems to be and there are forces in the world that want to use him and his newly found power in a battle that has been raging since ancient times.

So, the next new thing in YA lit? Mermaids, of course. In this case, though, it's a merman in the form of one very beautiful boy who was raised unaware of who he really is. References to the ancient myths about Poseidon link Tristan to the god of the sea...so, in addition to all those teenage angst issues, he's also a prince fighting for his grandfather's throne! The story is edgy, scintillating and definitely written for older teens, as there is a preponderance of sexual references. There is the requisite unrequited love and quest to be completed. Tristan acquires great wisdom and is often an equally great bone-head, an interesting combination, to be sure. It's a great beach book...unless you are afraid of a few merrow...

Cormier, Robert
*The rag and bone shop
“A seven-year-old girl is brutally murdered. A twelve-year-old boy named Jason was the last person to see her alive-except, of course, for the killer. Unless Jason is the killer.”
The police are being pressured from all directions to find the perpetrator of such a horrible crime so they bring in Trent, a detective particularly adept at getting suspects to confess. He is highly trained to read body language, voice inflection, and other visual clues to determine guilt. His first impressions of Jason are that he is innocent of the crime but personal problems in his own life begin to make him doubt himself so he keeps pushing. The police are not looking for another suspect as their entire focus is on Jason. Jason thinks he is helping with the investigation since he was the last person to see the girl alive but he is no match for the verbal and emotional skills that are Trent’s hallmark. He confesses to the crime but is he actually guilty of it?
This is a dark novel about human depravity and Cormier captures the intensity of it only too well. It is a startling and unsettling story, not for the faint of heart. The focus is mostly on the interaction between Jason and Trent but there are some pretty powerful moral and ethical dilemmas, which would offer some interesting debate topics. I would suggest that this be a book that is read as a group so that there is opportunity for discussion.

Couloumbis, Audrey
The Misadventures of Maude March
As orphans, Maude and her younger sister Sallie, aren’t the best specimens. They are outspoken and independent, as they were raised to be by Aunt Ruthie. When she is gunned down in the streets, “accidentally” by Joe Harden, a popular character in the dime novels that Sallie loves to read. The girls fall on tough times. As a result, they run away from the preacher’s family when they try to marry Maude off to a much older man. On their journey, circumstances occur (stealing a horse, a bank robbery, murder for starters) that are beyond the girls’ control and suddenly, they are living the same kind of life that Sallie is used to only reading about in her “dimers” (rhymes with "timers"). They are outlaws, or more specifically, Maude is the outlaw and the quickly realize that newspapers are not the most reliable way to receive news, as they are the ones who are making her into a dreaded outlaw, blaming her for crimes she was not even that a particular state to commit. The narrator, irrepressible Sallie, leads the reader through an amazing, rowdy romp through the old West. Though the ending is a little too neatly wrapped up, it was still an edge-of-your seat page-turner of a story!
Author Audrey Couloumbis has outdone herself with this rollicking story of the way the West was won and lost. The story starts a little slowly but when you read the first sentence of the second chapter, “Aunt Ruthie died there on the boardwalk in front of the mercantile and our lives changed overnight”, you’ll be hooked. This is a great adventure for girls who love that genre and an excellent historical fiction, to boot!

Coyne, Susan
In the Kingdom of the Fairies
How do you inspire creativity and imagination in children? It can all start with something as simple as a casually dropped hint of magical possibility. That's how it started with a young Susan Coyne when she asked her father about the mysterious fireplace hearth she found in the brambles between her house and the elderly couple next door. He told her that was where an elf used to live. She was captivated and began to visit the hearth everyday and leave little gifts...a small flower or wild strawberries and each night they would disappear. One gray misty morning a letter was left on the hearth address to her and "Not to be opened by any but Susan Coyne." She was so excited that she showed it to everyone who would stand still long enough. Mr. Moir, the elderly man next door, took the most interest. Each time Susan got a letter, she would take it to him and they would talk about it while they were gardening. It was a magical summer for her and one that influenced the rest of her life!
This is one of the best biographies I have ever read! What amazing and wonderful grown-ups were in Ms. Coyne's life and how lucky she is! She is now an actress and this is the story of how she came to make a career out of using her imagination.

Creech, Sharon
Ruby Holler
The "trouble twins" are Dallas and Florida Carter, so named because of the travel flyers on which they were lying inside of a Carter's box. The Trepids, who run the orphanage, were not child-friendly. They dpn't like noise or movement or crying, or broken things or just about anything that Dallas and Florida do. Foster family after foster family bring them back very soon after taking them in. The twins had decided that their only way out was to escape on the night train and go somewhere. Enter Sairy and Tiller, an older couple who's children were grown and gone. They are very different indeed. When the children break something, they don't get beaten. When they do something wrong, they don't get thrown "down in a spidery basement" or a whuppin, nor do Sairy and Tiller take them back to the orphanage. It is a very different way of doing things in Florida's and Dallas' minds!! As they help to prepare for trips the old couple want to take, they learn much about themselves and about belonging somewhere and even about love.
Creech is a master storyteller who draws in the reader from the very beginning and doesn't let go until the last words are written. She introduces you to children we've all met and can relate to. Each of the characters is well developed and interesting. She does throw a small wrench into the story by suggesting possible parentage of the twins then she just drops it without a satisfactory explanation but that is a VERY minor distraction. Readers will be so enthralled with watching what the kids are going to do next and how they are all going to get out of jams that they'll hardly notice it. I highly recommend this one!

Crewe, Megan
The Way We Fall
Virus...an innocuous word until it isn't. Island life has always been wonderful for Kaelyn and her family. Her father, a microbioloist, moved them back after a short time in Toronto. She missed her friends, her family, but most of all, she missed her best friends Leo. Now, though, Leo's gone to school in New York and she didn't say good bye. There were many things left unsaid. Kaelyn writes to him daily in her journal, trying to work out what happened. Soon, however, she has much more dire things to tell him. People are getting sick. Not just sick but crazy, as well. That's how it starts. A little itch, a cough then all your inhibitions seem to disappear and mania sets in, a few days later, you are dead. When things like this happen, you expect help from the government but what they do is only to help themselves. They quarantine the island. Food and supplies are dropped in sporadically and the islanders are left to fend for themselves. Eventually, even those deliveries stop. As systems all over the island begin to break down, desperation sets in and Kaelyn joins forces with an unlikely ally and, amazingly enough, even finds a bit of romance. When the virus begins taking those she loves most, her spirit takes a beating but she just can't give up because the alternative is unthinkable.

What a terrifying story! Crewe captures the fear that people in such a situation would most certainly feel. Her characters are well-drawn and believable. The action is fast and furious at times, almost to the point of rushing the story. A couple of characters, like Kaelyn's brother Drew, could have been more interesting and his unexplained disappearance is unresolved. The ending was a bit off, as well. It just ended with Kaelyn sighting the ferry coming into port with, none other than Leo on the front of it. I also had trouble with the whole format being journal-like. It's a technique that works for some stories but this one would be been better told some other way. The reader never forms a connection with this Leo since he's already gone with the story start and the explanation as to why is murky. Still, because it's such an exciting story and Crewe knows how to keep those pages turning, it would be a good addition to most libraries...sort of a pseudo-dystopian story played out in the current day and time.

Crilley, Paul
The Invisible Order: Rise of the Darklings
It is Victorian London and 12-year-old Emily Snow is alone save for her younger brother William. Both parents disappeared under mysterious circumstances and Emily has been doing odd jobs to feed them both to try to keep them out of the work house. One morning, as she tries to get to work early for an extra shilling, she witnesses a terrible battle between creatures that aren't supposed to exist. One of the creatures, a piskie, is hurt and asks for her help and her life is immediately turned upside down. A war is brewing between the Seelie and Unseelie courts and the Invisible order, a group of humans whose goal is to wipe all the fey from existence. When her hand is forced, Emily must choose a side but all of them are lying to her and she doesn't know who to trust. The Seelie Court's queen is trying to destroy the human race and enslave the survivors. The Unseelie Court wants to send the evil queen and her court back to their own realm and the Invisible order has their own agenda. In the heat of battle, Emily, William and their friend Jack make a decision that will change the course of the world but for better or worse remains to be seen.

There are no surprised in this fairy story but it's really a tale about a young girl left to her own devices, forced to grow up long before she should have to and the choices she must make to survive. The characters are not fully fleshed out. There's some sort of history between Emily and Jack but the story seems to open in the middle of it. Emily is a very important character but there is little or no foreshadowing announcing that fact. Still, for fans of fantasy, it's a pretty good romp and names like Merlin, King Arthur and Oberon will help readers connect to the story.

Cross, Gillian
Where I Belong
Life in modern day Somalia is brutal. A walk to the market might mean death at the hands of bandits or rogue boys with guns. Geri, the nickname her little brother Mahmoud gave her, is the beautiful eldest daughter of a nomadic family. For them, life is the most difficult with bandits and thieves all around. Geri's father decides that her best chance and the family's best chance at survival is for her to live in London. Soon, she is placed in the home of Abdi whose father mysteriously disappeared in Somalia years before. Geri has a new name, Khadija, a new family and a new home. One very strange day, Khadija and Abdi, her "brother", are out walking when they are approached by a woman with her face and hair covered. Even though she recognizes the covering, Khadija knows that this woman is not Muslim. She is actually Sandy Dexter, the most famous fashion designer in the world. Sandy is quite taken by Khadija's dark beauty and the way she moves her body as she walks. Soon, Khadija has yet another name, Qarsoon, the Hidden One, and the new face of Sandy's latest collection. She and Abdi are sworn to secrecy about her Khadija's identity and about Sandy's new plan. Just as things are settling down, an urgent message comes...Mahmoud has been kidnapped and the bandits are asking for $10,000 ransom! Now, more than ever, she needs someone she can trust and who can help her.

Gillian Cross has been writing suspenseful stories for young adults for years and has perfected her teen voice with books like Tightrope, Behind the Dark Curtain and many more. Her latest offering is a thriller involving a part of the world where real nightmares and tragedy occur daily. There's nothing new about her young characters but they are engaging and believable. The juxtaposition of the savage kidnapping and the glitz and glam of the fashion industry makes for interesting reading. Sandy Dexter comes across as a self-centered and sometimes obsessed person, which her teenaged daughter points out in the heat of an argument. The resulting idea that is sparked bring about the most unrealistic part of the story. Dexter decides to go to Somalia and unveil her collection from there via a life stream during Fashion Week in London. In spite of the impossible stupidity of this venture, it certainly does heighten the tension of the kidnapping. The revelation of who the kidnappers are is something of a surprise though, the savvy reader will have picked up on a few subtle clues along the way. It's a great book to give to girls who like a little intensity with their chick lit.

Cross, Kady
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne
Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined out a plan to kill Queen Victoria during the Jubilee.

In fine steampunk form, Kady Cross embraces all things mechanically Victorian. Her characters are intriguing, each with a secret buried just beneath the surface; some innocuous like unrequited love, others more deadly. Finley, herself, has an interesting past of which even she is unaware.

Crowley, Bridget
Feast of Fools
The life of a chorister seems like it would be an easy one but such is not the case for young John, crippled by a horrible accident that killed his father. He is brutalized by a bully and beaten for things he did not do. The only bright spot is his friendship with Hugh, another chorister. When one of the canons is murdered and Hugh disappears, everyone thinks the worst. Everyone except John. As he seeks to discover the truth, he finds himself embroiled in sinister forces at work in and around the Cathedral.
Crowley uses a deft hand to tell this chilling tale. Her characters are well-rounded and the plot twists believable and the tension palpable. A sophisticated reader might be disappointed not to have some more detail of John's back ground and how he came to be in his situation but most young adult readers will root for John and admire his bravery. This is an excellent title to add to any historical fiction collection.

Crowley, Cath
Words in Deep Blue

No matter how you deal with it, losing someone hurts. It leaves a them-shaped hole in your soul. In the book Words in Deep Blue, Rachel has pushed her grief deep inside. So deep, in fact, that she feels almost nothing at all. She has finished school, for now, and has moved back to where she grew up; back to where the boy who was her best friend and secret crush (who broke her heart) lives. No one there, save her aunt, knows about her brother's death. They do know that something has changed the once-carefree girl into a quiet, sometimes cruel person. Her one refuge is the bookshop where she works but it is also a curse because "The Boy", also known as Henry, works there, as well. As they work together, they find a comfortable rhythm. Her job is to catalog the stories in the Letter Library. It is the heart and soul of the bookstore where people have left notes to others, known and unknown, inside of books. His job is to help his slowly disintegrating family decide whether to sell their beloved bookshop or not. Together, they reveal themselves to each other and help heal the hurt that each one caused.

Cath Crowley's poignant love story is powerful and sweet, painful and healing. The characters move through their own lives like feathers on the wind, coming to rest at odd places but always picking up bits and pieces along the way. Her "Letter Library" is a brilliant creation; one that every bookstore and library needs.

Cypess, Leah
"She knew he was a prince as soon as she saw him." It was not that Isabel remembered him. She remembered nothing before he came riding his kingly horse into her wood. When he held out the bracelet, she submitted, holding out her wrist and it was fastened. It felt like a cuff, imprisonment and, in a way, it was. She is the Shifter, a creature whose sole responsibility is to protect her king and this young king needs her desperately. Her ability to change her form from human to animal to the very mist that gathered in her forest made her a lethal weapon. Upon her return to the castle, memories begin to trickle in and she realizes that all is not as it seems, most especially her prince but none of that matters. She is the Shifter and she has no choice but to protect him. Or does she? When a terrible truth is revealed, Isabel will betray the one person she is sworn to defend.

This unique fantasy story is full of mystery, intrigue, and a really surprising ending! It's rare when a story pulls a rabbit out of it's hat that is completely unexpected. For the most part, the story keeps its momentum, only bogging down once or twice when a new character is revealed. Still, this newbie brings with him a very interesting problem, which pushes the story through the slow bits. Fantasy fans, this is a must read!


Dashner, James
The Maze Runner
"Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. 'My name is Thomas', he thought." And that is all he can remember, the rest is completely blank. The doors to the lift open and there is nothing but darkness. Thomas panics; he beings to scream then, he is confronted with a group of boys. They don't know much more about why they are all there than he does. What they do know is that the place is called the Glade and that every morning huge doors open to a maze and the runners disappear into them for the day and return at night, well before the doors close, locking out terrifying creatures that live there and prey on the boys if they are caught out. Once a month a new boy arrives, like clockwork. Now, Thomas is the newbie. Everything is strange to Thomas but also, weirdly, familiar. Twenty-four hours after his arrival, something changes. The lift delivers someone else, someone totally unexpected; a girl and she has a message..."She's the last one. Ever." Her arrival triggers something in Thomas. He begins to have strange feelings, like he's seen her before. It also seems to signal major changes in the Glade. Supplies, which have always come weekly, have stopped. Later, the doors, which have always kept them safe, stopped closing at night. It becomes clear that the need to solve the maze's puzzles need to kick into high gear but can the Gladers learn to trust Thomas and the girl Teresa enough to save them because they are the only ones who can.

This tightly written psychological thriller demands to be read. Dashner's vivid descriptions of the Glade and its inhabitants engage the reader immediately. The unfairness of Thomas' treatment and the situation that all the boys find themselves in is palpable. It doesn't take long to realize that the Glade is a well-contrived place and that something else is going on but this realization only spurs you on to find out the details and Dashner, like any good storyteller, manages to provide unexpected twists and turns that also keep the momentum pushing onward to the cliff-hanger of an ending. My advice? Make sure you nails are strong enough to hold on to that cliff because the next book will be a while in coming! If you like this kind of psycho-thriller, read William Sleator's House of Stairs. It has a similar concept...you'll see what I mean if you read both. It makes me wonder about the authors, whether they had some twisted experience at some point????

Davies, Jocelyn
A Beautiful Dark
Two boys, complete opposites, like light and dark, both vying for Skye's attention. It's a first for her and she's not entirely comfortable with it especially since their first meeting was such an auspicious one. It was her 17th birthday party and they got into a fight. As she and the other party goers watched, a rumbling began. At first, it seemed like an earthquake but, in actuality, the boiler in the basement exploded! The strangeness just gets stranger and she seems to be the focus of it. There's a secret swirling around her and it has to do with her parents. Slowly, realization dawns and Skye's whole life turns upside down. The boys motives are suspicious, her own past shrouded in mystery and now a new danger comes to town, threatening everyone she loves. Skye is faced with a choice of which she and everyone else involved is afraid!

The entertaining paranormal tale has all the bells and whistles; an inhumanly beautiful boy (or two), a girl who's not sure who she is anymore, warring factions, and friends whose lives depend on the outcome of the conflict. Even the cover is lovely and slightly suggestive. Still, for readers who are fans of paranormal romance and adventure, it's a great read. The characters are interesting and fairly believable and the present day setting provides a familiar reference point. The title, while intriguing, is not referenced at all until the very last line of the story, which is a little strange. The ending leaves a wide-open door for future installments but it also is a good ending, if there aren't more stories to come. Overall, would be a satisfying addition to most libraries.

Davies, Stephen
Jake is like many wealthy, private school boys...bored and looking for adventure. When he gets caught, again, for breaking one of the many rules of his boarding school, he gets his wish in more ways than he bargained for. His father is the Ambassador to Burkina Faso, a small African country. Jake joins his parents and younger sister, Kas, there. One evening, the family attends a banquet where the place settings are made from solid gold and the desert features edible gold leaves. Kas is a socially minded young girl who gets upset at the extravagance when just outside the walls of the embassy there is such screaming poverty. She leaves the the dinner in a huff with Jacob trailing behind. They aren't gone long when two men jump them and hustle them into a waiting van. Rescue does come but not from the expected party. A young man touted by government officials and police alike as a terrorist, is Yakubba Sor and the person who risked his life to save them but for what purpose? The longer they are "kidnapped" the more they realize that nothing is as it seems and that Africa, while an amazingly beautiful place is also a place of great danger and not just from the outlaws!

Davies has written s sharp, modern story of age-old problems and mixed it up with technology, adventure and intriguing characters. He has first-hand knowledge of what he writes. He lived in that area, himself, growing up and is familiar with the workings of the government and the people who live under it. The true hero of the story is Yakubba Sor, the outlaw who is a little bit Robin Hood, a little bit Gandhi and a little bit James Bond. The government and police hate him because they are corrupt and untrustworthy. The people love him because he is fighting for them with his cunning and charismatic personality. There are certainly parts of the story that beg disbelief but the action and the subtle fight against social injustice (well, subtle might not be the word to use for Kas, the very outspoken teen girl) are sure to keep the pages turning. Recommend this to your reluctant boy readers who enjoyed the Alex Rider or Conspiracy 365 series.

Davis, Heather
Never Cry Wolf

Lately, Shelby has made some pretty bad boy choices. So, technically, the Porsche was not borrowed and the late-for-curfew kiss...well, who could blame her, he was the hottest senior boy in school and a full moon, to boot! Her new stepmother freaks out and convinces her father to send her to "brat" camp. Still, things aren't so bad, at least not when Austin Bridges III steps onto the bus. He's the British son of a rock star! Soon, however, Shelby begins to wonder if her bad-boy choice-making has kicked into high gear. He has a secret; one that he asks Shelby to help keep. Full moons and boys in need are just too much to resist and the situation is a hairy one, no matter how you look at it.

In spite of the really cheesy title, this was a pretty entertaining read! Romance, werewolf lore, and trouble abound. The characters are not particularly deep and the requisite dead parent to set up the conflict has been done but Shelby's a scrappy gal, determined to help someone in more trouble than she is. The camp director is a pretty cool adult but the relationship between Shelby, her father and stepmother leaves a bit to be desired. Still, fans of Twilight (Team Jake, specifically) and Shiver will enjoy this quick read.
De Lint, Charles
Little (Grrl) Lost
T.J. is miserable in her new house. She misses her best friend, the farm and, most of all, her horse, Red. She has always had a difficult time making friends so a new school just makes things worse. She is moping in her room one day when she hears a scratching noise in the walls. She assumes that it's mice until the unimaginable happens. She turns toward the sound, which is now less like scratching and squeeking and more like walking and talking. Down near the floor, a section of the baseboard opens up like a door and through it walks a girl no more than six inches tall! And she's angry, yelling at other voices coming from inside the wall. Elizabeth has had it with her "'rents" rules and regulations and she's running away...and right into the kind of trouble her parents rules and regulations are supposed to prevent. Bigs, as humans are called, are a Little's worst enemy. They are not to be trusted, and certainly not be befriended. Elizabeth doensn't care and T.J. just wants a friend. The two embark on a quest to find other Littles; Littles who can fly!
De Lint is a master storyteller and has the whole teen-angst thing down to a tee. The characters are fairly well drawn and the situations don't stretch the believability factor too much. There are bits, however, that seem a bit too contrived and other parts left unexplained. Still, this is a satisfying read, especially for fantasy fans.

Dean, Claire
There is power and magic in all things...plants, earth and even people. Baba has always known and understood that and she taught her granddaughters well. Polly understands but Bree is a troubled and reckless girl who crashes into the boundaries until she is broken. One autumn night she runs away, leaving Polly a strange, dream-like message. Polly, who sees light and color around all living things, trusts the woods to protect Bree, but is left to pick up the pieces of her shattered family. With help from her Baba and a few unlikely allies, she fights against dispair and forces that would take the woods away forever. But whether her battle can be won or not depends upon things that seem to be beyond her control. Polly will have to be stronger than she's ever been and hold fast to her belief in the magic all around her.

This is an inventive fantasy story with elements of environmental awareness, coming of age and seeing beyond the perceptions of others. Fans of fantasy tales and those who routinely root for the underdog will enjoy this book in spite of some weaknesses in plot and characterization.

Deedy, Carmen Agra
The Cheshire Cheese Cat
While I’m not a great fan of those stories where animals are the characters (Redwall, The Tale of Despereaux, etc.), I just read the latest offing from the consummate storyteller, Carmen Agra Deedy, called The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale and it was wonderful! She and fellow author Randall Wright, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, begin, “He was the best of Toms. He was the worst of toms.”

Skilly lead the rough and tumble life of a street cat. With ears scarred and tail permanently bent from a lost battle with a door, he stalks the streets of London in search of his favorite fare and it’s not what you might think! On that fateful afternoon, he finds himself faced with Pinch, truly the worst street cat around. Pinch warns him off of his new haunt, the Cheshire Cheese Inn, a place sure to be run over with mice. Skilly saunters off, feigning disinterest but circles back around and finds a way into the inn and into heaven! It’s warm, it’s cozy, it’s full to overflowing with mice…and CHEESE! This is Skilly’s dreadful secret. He is not at all interested in mice. His true love is cheese. Upon meeting a most unusual mouse, Pip, the two strike a rather odd bargain. Skilly will make like a great mouser and seem to clear the inn of mice but really, he’ll catch and release them. In return, the mice will keep him fed in cheese, glorious cheese! It all works out swimmingly until the day the Adele, the cook’s assistant and notorious mouse-hater, brings in a cruel looking ginger cat named Pinch! Now, Skilly’s comfy arrangement is in dire jeopardy and he will do almost anything to protect it, even the unthinkable.

What a delightful romp through Dickensian England with occasional appearances of the man himself, as he is a regular at the Cheshire Cheese Inn with many of his writing contemporaries who also make cameo appearances. In fact, you will be most surprised to find out from where Dickens’ most famous opening lines came. The animals in this book are extraordinary and there’s a lot going on. You will learn about the 6 ravens of The Tower of London and how they came to be there as well as many words in the English language that befuddle the average cat but are good words to know. The authors have included a glossary, in case some of the human readers are also befuddled. Barry Moser’s lovely ink drawings appear at just the right moment and are so expressive! An interesting aside, The Cheshire Cheese Inn is an actual place and is known far and wide for its exceptional cheeses. Fans and non-fans alike will enjoy this delightful animal story!

Derting, Kimberly
The Body Finder
She has always been able to sense them, smell and taste them even. It was like the sensation of a taste exploding in the back of her throat; something dead, killed violently. At first it was just animals killed by a predator. She'd find them and insist that they be buried properly then they would be quite and she would be at peace again. One day, however, it wasn't an animal Violet found in the woods. It was a teenage girl and Violet was only 8-years-old. No one but her family and her very best friend Jay knew about this gift she inherited from her grandmother. Jay never questioned, he was just always there and comforted her. They are teenagers now and things have changed a bit. Jay was no longer the gangly boy she grew up with. He was tall, muscular and very handsome, as evidenced by all the girls who now hung around him all the time. Violet wasn't sure how to handle the new feelings that were blossoming inside of her. At the end-of-summer party at the lake, she and Jay were riding a jet ski when that feeling hit her like a cold wave. She followed it and there, floating in the water was the bloated body of a young girl who died violently. A few weeks later, another body turns up and there's no doubt that a serial killer is on the loose. Violet is terrified but when a girl from her school, a girl she knew, disappears she decides she can't just sit by and do nothing. This decision not only brings about a major change in her relationship with Jay but it also brings her onto the radar of the killer. Will she be his next victim?

This is a tightly woven thriller with a bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. The teen characters are well drawn and believable and the adults in the book are fully formed and involved...for once, the main character has two parents who are totally there for her! The revelation of the murderer is a little contrived and convenient but that won't really take much away from the suspense of the chase. This would be good to recommend to students who liked Graham McNamee's Acceleration or any of Gail Giles books.

Dessen, Sarah
Along for the Ride
Riding bikes, food fights, prom, making friends, having a boyfriend...all of these things are rites of passage for your average teenager. But average is one thing that Auden has never been. Since early childhood, she has been a little grown-up...trying to be the steady one, never rocking the boat, making excellent grades all to please her demanding parents. Then the arguing between her parents escalates and the divorce goes through. Now, she's graduated from high school, her father's has remarried and is having another baby and Auden realizes that she's never done any of the things that other teenagers, including her free spirited older brother, have done. In a moment of spontaneity, she decides to pack her things and spend the summer at the beach where her father and his new wife, Heidi, and their baby live. It's a decision that changes everything.

I just love Sarah Dessen and this is my new favorite of her books!!! All the usual suspects are here...the dysfunctional family, the enigmatic boy, but it's a story that is more hopeful and lighthearted than some of her other titles. Her characters are so real that they could have walked out of any high school in the US. Their situations, struggles, and personalities are spot on. If you're a Dessen fan, then you must read this. If you've never heard of her, this would be an excellent introduction! Loved it, Loved it, Loved it!!!!
Dessen, Sarah
This Lullaby
Six weeks is all it takes for Remy to dump a guy. The first flush of romance lasts for about 2 weeks; the relationship then moves into the movie/dinner dates and sitting together at lunch, which lasts 3 weeks; during the third week, things cool considerably and Remy gears up for "the speech" in which she tells the guy that it's over; finally, she tries to let him down gently and moves on to the next one. It's become one of many rules for her life, rules she's learned by observing her mother's life. Her mother, who has been married and divorced 4 times, is heading for marriage number 5. In the midst of planning wedding 5, Remy meets Dexter and her rules suddenly don't seem to be working for her. He is her polar opposite; messy, chaotic, impetuous and worst of all, a musician who believes in true love. Her rules keep her safe but, perhaps her problem with Dexter is that he is giving her a glimpse of what the love songs he sings are all about and it scares her silly.
Dessen is a master storyteller for young adults. She writes completely believable characters whose voices are true and the story draws you in and holds you until you reach the realistic but satisfying end. I recommend this book for those in 8th grade or higher.

Dessen, Sarah
The Truth About Forever
Summer stretches ahead of Macy and she's not very excited about it. Jason, her boyfriend, is away at Brain camp and she is working in his stead at the library's information desk where she is not particularly welcome. Her evenings are taken up with SAT drills and the time in between, she avoids grieving the loss of her beloved father who died very suddenly. Her summer takes an unexpected turn, one day, when she decides to moonlight with an unorthodox, wacky catering company called Wish. She doesn't know it yet, but her life will be changed dramatically and forever.
Dessen is one of the most adept young adult authors writing today. She explores painful subjects with gentle humor and compassion. Her characters are always believable and what they feel is so real and raw, that it touches something deep inside of you that has been long forgotten or suppressed. She allows readers a safe and unobtrusive way to explore their own pain, while watching the hopeful progress of her characters. I highly recommend just about anything she writes.

Deuker, Carl
Payback Time
Mitch wants nothing more than to be a journalist when he grows up. He has been on the school newspaper since middle school and now he's a senior and hopes to be editor. That honor, however, goes to pretty, popular Alyssa. Worse still, she assigns him to be sports reporter! Sports!! He wants to do real news stories but Alyssa explains that the students really only read the sports stories. There is a silver lining, though, he will work with the local newspaper reporter and have his stories published in that newspaper, which will look great on his college apps. So, sports reporting it is. From the start, Mitch's reporter antennae is buzzing. Something is amiss on the team. The star player is still Horst Diamond and he's still as conceited as ever but there's a new guy on the team, Angel, who might just be even better. The thing is, Coach McNulty doesn't play him. Even stranger, he won't allow Mitch and his photographer, Kimi, to interview or take pictures of him. During the games, Angel has lightening speed and Hulk Hogan strength. Many times, the team's wins are because of his plays. But, the local paper's articles never include anything about him. What secrets are swirling around Angel? What does McNulty have to do with it? As Mitch and Kimi dig deeper, trouble is brewing and their words and pictures might just cost more than they bargained for.

Deuker delivers another excellent sports thriller with Payback Time. He is adept at creating characters that are authentic and intriguing. Each of them has struggles. Mitch has struggled with his weight all of his life. His parents don't help, as they own a pastry shop and bring their work home most days. Kimi is a popular girl but with VERY strict parents. Angel, the focus of their investigation, is shrouded in shadow. It would have been good to know more about his background but not knowing doesn't hurt the story. The climax, where Mitch gets to be the hero, is a little bit of a stretch but it's still very satisfying that the good guys win. One warning...if you are not a football fan, large chunks of this story will bore you. Mitch is a sports reporter and Deuker is a sports fan so there's a lot of play-by-play action of each football game. Boys should love this one!

Deuker, Carl
When the going gets tough, Chance starts running. The only thing he feels is his heart beating, his feet pounding, and the wind rushing through his hair. His father is an alcoholic, his mother left them, he is a senior with no plan. He runs a lot. It's his running that gets him noticed, but not by a college recruiter. A fat man approaches him with a deal. Run everyday (he does already), stop to stretch by the rocks on the beach (he does that too) and pick up any packages he finds there and put them in a locker and ask no questions. On some level, he knows that this "job" is not on the up and up but his dad just lost his job...again and their moorage fees for the dilapidated boat they live on are months overdue and they do need to eat. When the fat man's car goes over a cliff, mysteriously, Chance knows that he's going to have to stop running and find a way out before it's too late.
Deuker, again, weaves a desperate story of a boy whose name belies his reality. Chance makes you wonder how many kids just like him we see in a day and what can be done to give them a hand up and out of the desperate situations. While the ending is a little dramatic and pat, it is still a satisfying, suspenseful read, though I would have liked a little more information on what was really going on behind the scenes and what really happened to the guy who got Chance into it in the first place.

Devlin, Ivy
Low Red Moon
Something horrible has happened. Avery is found covered in her parent's blood but remembers nothing about what happened except the flash of silver she keeps seeing in her dreams. School is a refuge now...a place where there's no time to think. She's a fairly new student there because she's always been home schooled by her eccentric parents. They lived deep in the woods surrounding town in a small house built by her father. Her mother had made a living making preserves. It was an idyllic life until they were brutally murdered. The week after the funeral, a new boy comes to whom Avery finds herself inexplicably drawn. His eyes are silver-blue. He is beautiful, mysterious and possibly dangerous. As the two barrel headlong into a heady romance, secrets are revealed; secrets that could destroy them all.

Ivy Devlin has definitely been influenced by the recent rash of paranormal romance novels, Twilight in particular. This is what might have happened had Bella chosen Jacob instead of Edward. The story is entirely predictable and the teens are pulled right from the stock romance character pool. Some of the mysteries that were introduced were not solved but a sequel seems unlikely. Still, Devlin does a pretty good job keeping the suspenseful, creepy atmosphere pulled tightly around the story until the somewhat surprising ending. Readers who are into paranormal romance, this is a good one to recommend.

Dionne, Erin

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet

In the "official" parenting handbook there must be an entire section dedicated to "Ways to Embarrass Your Children". Your parents did it to you, their parents did it to them, and so on. Hamlet Kennedy's parents started early...at birth, actually. You see, Hamlet is a girl named after an insane man who sees ghosts and talks to himself! As if that wasn't bad enough, her little sister, Desdemona, is an off-the-charts genius and will be starting 8th grade with her. If you haven't guessed it yet, Hamlet's parents are Shakespearean scholars, which wouldn't be so bad if they wouldn't bring their work home with them...they dress in full Elizabethan costumes. I'll bet you didn't think it could possibly get worse, did you? You'd be wrong. Hamlet's 8th grade English and history classes are doing a joint project on, you guessed it, Shakespeare! For a girl who just wants to be a normal, blend-in kind of kid, sometimes life is tragically unique.

This coming-of-age tale is full of humor, groan-out-loud embarrassment and just a twist of romance, the kind only found in middle school! Hamlet's frustration with her parents and uber genius sister wars with her love for them. All of the characters are well drawn and believable, even the secondary ones like Hamlet's crush, who only plays a very minor role. It's a delightful story and one that will have you thanking your parents for naming you something normal (or reasonably so). Fans of chick lit will love this one!

DiTerlizzi, Tony
The Search for WondLa
Deep underground Eva Nine lived with MUTHR, a robot who had raised her as long as she could remember. They lived mostly happily, spending their days training for various events like Eva's first trip above ground. Their idyllic, if somewhat boring, lives were shattered the day that Basteel the hunter broke in and destroyed Sanctuary sending Eva into a world that no amount of training could have prepared her for. The moment she stepped foot outside, she encountered creatures and plants her Omnipod, a sort of hand-held computer, could not identify. They spoke a language she could not understand. When she was captured by Basteel, she was tied upside down next to another creature. Somehow the creature managed to get across the idea of how to escape and, together they did, taking with them another captive creature as big as an elephant but that could fly! Rovender, her escapee companion, gave her a small orb that helped her to communicate with him. With it she learned that she was the only one of her kind that Rovender had ever seen and Eva became determined to find out what happened to her people and how she became the very last one. Her quest will take her all around the strange planet where she will encounter creatures willing to help and others who want only to have her for their collection of rare beings. All she has by way of a guide is a picture she found of a girl, a man and a robot, and the word "WondLa".

DiTerlizzi's epic imagination brings yet another fantastical tale of far away places and amazing creatures. While the premise is not original...taking a classic story and reworking it...the end product is completely unique. His strong characterization and vividly descriptive alien landscapes serve to draw the reader in to the engaging tale. He even manages to make a robot seem almost human! The story bogs down in places but the amazing illustrations and not knowing what will happen next keep the pages turning. Fans of alien stories (fitting in in an ill-fitting environment) will truly enjoy this title and will wait expectantly for the next installment, especially after the rather abrupt cliffhanger.

Eva Nine's adventure continues in A Hero for Wondla . Eva's journey take her to places she's only dreamed of...a city with other humans. But, it's not at all what she imagined or was taught by Muthr. There are secrets, dangerous and deadly, hiding amongst the unsuspecting population. As her adventure unfolds, she finds family and discovers who she really is. Rovender helps her navigate this new reality as they must escape the city to save the world.

Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee
The Conch Bearer
Life is full of choices. Those choices construct the paths your life will take. Anand meets an old man and he chooses to be kind to him. The old man turns out to be a very important mystic on a journey to return a great thing of power to it's rightful place. The Conch was stolen by an evil man who infiltrated the Brotherhood. The old man sees in Anand a special power and he enlists his as an assistant. Along the way, they pick up a wayward girl, Nisha, who both helps and hinders their task. The evil one senses the conch and gives chase through the streets and countryside of India. The children must learn to use their wits and not rely on magic to fight the evil and return the conch. Anand and Nisha learn much about themselves and each other, though the greatest tests come just when their journey seems to be at its end.
Divakaruni gives readers a lovely glimpse into her country and it's traditions, which she has woven into the fabric of this fantasy. The characters are authentic to their ages, though Anand's constant mistakes get a bit frustrating. This said, you do get a real sense of growth from both Anand and Nisha, in the end, and you feel Anand's struggle to make a final decision that will alter the path of his life with no looking back.

Doherty, P.C.
In the early 1300s, Hugh Corbett is a most loyal and trustworthy envoy for King Edward I. One of his many tasks is to investigate crimes against the king. Lord Scrope is a not-so-loyal subject. He has a priceless artifact that he acquired during the crusades and has broken his promise to return it to the king. Worse still, and unknown to Corbett or the king, he also has items stolen during a brazen heist from the king's own hoard! Corbett is charged with the task of bringing back the artifact or Lord Scrope to stand trial. When Corbett arrives, he realizes that there's far more going on in this small hamlet than just thievery. A mysterious and dangerous archer has begin to murder people on the streets. He calls himself Nightshade and is the Medieval equivalent of a sniper. As the body count rises, Corbett finds more secrets long buried and reluctant to be unearthed. He must bring order to this place before he will be able to do the King's bidding.

This is an adult mystery but fairly well suited for older teens. Doherty's Hugh Corbett is an interesting character. He is truly in love with his wife in a time when marriages are usually arranged and not particularly happy. He has very strong religious connections yet is open-minded about the cult that settled nearby. He is bright and thinks out of the box, which is an absolute necessity when solving a mystery. There are parts of the story that are include more detail than most teenagers want but it doesn't really take away from the story and might actually teach them something on the sly. For mystery buffs, this series is a good choice.

On Viney's Mountain

Viney is a headstrong, independent 16-year-old girl living in the Tennessee mountains. She loves her life just the way it is. She spends her day doing the thing she loves the most, weaving. Her feet dance across the treadles to a rhythm that is like lifeblood to her. But, change is a-coming. Strangers have invaded her beautiful mountain home, bringing changes that will scar the land and change the people, including Viney, forever. While Viney rails against the newcomers from England, her older sister Lizzy is thrilled. Her goal in life is to marry a wealthy man and live in comfort for the rest of her days. Marriage is about the last thing on Viney's mind but the influx of eligible young men does provide her with one thing...a way to get her family off her case about marriage. Two, in particular catch her eye. Charlie and Seamus are different from the other settlers and, as the three get to know one another, things begin to go awry. Soon Viney doesn't know if she's deceiving herself or those around her.

Donaldson crafts an engrossing tale as Viney's life unfolds. From the accurate dialect to the descriptions of life in Appalachia, Viney's story will draw you in. Each chapter begins with a quote from people like Thomas Hughes, the founder of the actual village on which the book is based and Emma Bell Miles, a woman who lived in a similar area and wrote several books about living in the area. The characters are multidimensional and interesting and the tension between the mountain folk and the settlers is wholly believable. The sweet romance that develops between Viney and Charlie is engaging. Female fans of historical fiction should definitely pick this one up.

Donnelly, Jennifer
A Northern Light

It is July 12, 1906 and the body of Grace Brown was found floating in Big Moose Lake. The day before, Grace gave Mattie a packet of love letters and asked her to burn them. When Grace’s body is discovered, she decides not to destroy them but reads them instead. From those letters, a dark mystery unfolds; one that Mattie was not prepared for.
She was working at the hotel for the summer to earn extra money…money that could either take her out of her backwoods home to college or save her father’s farm and tie her to the village and a husband forever. She desperately wants to be a writer and has been encouraged by her teacher who turns out to be a famous female poet who’s in hiding from her overbearing husband. She has so many different feelings swarming around in her heart, which makes her decision that much more difficult. Will she marry her long-time crush, Royal or follow her dreams and go to New York and college?
Donnelly has written a good story weaving a factual event into a fictional story. There are many characters and situations that affect the main characters but they are all well developed and the reader gets a sense of exactly what it’s like to be a part of the small community as well as what the dead woman’s life must have been like. The romance between Mattie and Royal got a bit too serious for a middle school student but I’d recommend it to ninth graders and up. Donnelly includes a very informative author’s note and bibliography about the murder of Grace Brown, which tells which parts of the story are true and how she came upon the details of the story.

Donnelly, Jennifer
Andi is a girl walking a tightrope between sanity and desolation. Her father has left, her mother can't cope and her brother, Trueman, is dead and all of it is her fault. As the end of her senior year approaches, it is not at all clear that Andi will graduate and she's really beyond caring. Her father steps in and forces her hand by hospitalizing her mother and whisking her off to Paris for her winter holiday. Her scientist father, an expert in DNA analysis, is there to test a heart believed to be that of Louis-Charles, the son of Marie Antoinette and King Louis. Andi's assignment is to write her outline and introduction for her senior term paper on Amande Malherbeau, her favorite musician and inspiration to many modern bands. Andi's only outlet for her pain is music. She loses herself in it and when her father's colleague lets her play an instrument from the 1700s, she is in heaven. Inside the case, Andi finds a beautiful journal written by Alexandrine Paradis, a girl who was cast in the tragic role of care giver for the prince and the revolution that doomed him. Louis-Charles and Trueman were the same age when they died so she feels an instant connection to this girl who lived two centuries ago. Her words become an obsession and then they become terrifyingly real. Andi suddenly finds that she wants to live but it might already be too late.

Jennifer Donnelly is a masterful storyteller. Even when this story takes a major detour that didn't really add anything to the plot, she muscled her way through it and ended the tragic tale with hope for healing. It's her strong characterization that supports the sometimes wild twists and turns. Andi's pain is almost palpable and when she talks about her music, you can almost hear the dissonant chords. Revolution is haunting and beautifully written and fans of Donnelly's earlier work or those readers who like Sarah Dessen would enjoy this story.

Dunkle, Clare
Close Kin
Emily is no longer a child, though you'd never know that by watching her. She is a fun-loving girl who rarely takes anything seriously. When Seylin, her friend since childhood, proposes to her (in a rather backward way), she doesn't take him seriously. Distraught, Seylin leaves his home with the goblins to search for elves, to whom he is related. When Emily finally realizes Seylin's intentions were serious, it's too late. She sets out, determined to find him and, as the two draw closer, they set in motion the collision of two worlds whose prejudices against each other awaken stronger than ever.
Part two of The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy is a bit less satisfying than the first and third. I didn't identify with the characters as much. Emily seems immature and flighty, my least favorite kind of person. I did enjoy reading more about the elves history with the goblins. I do find it fascinating that Dunkel has managed to make a most unlikable, ugly creature as the goblin almost likable! It's transferable to the real world in that we often distrust, fear or flat out hate those who are ugly or strange looking.

Dunkle, Clare
The Hollow Kingdom
Goblins, elves, dwarves are all fantastical creatures, not actually real ones, right? So Kate had always believed but now she wasn't so sure. She and her younger sister Emily had come to live at the family estate, Hallow Hill, after the death of their parents. Their guardian was a stuffy, arrogant man who let them know that they were actually not part of the family. Their grandmother, the heir to the estate, was adopted into the family and inherited because the natural daughter and heir had died, mysteriously, in her early teens. There was a sinister presence that followed them everywhere. One evening Kate and Emily became lost while taking a walk. A cloaked and hooded man appeared and offered to take them home on his horse. Something about him screamed warnings deep inside of Kate and she refused the ride. If she thought that was the last she's see of the shadowy man, she was terrifyingly mistaken. Soon she found out her true history and her destiny is forever changed.
What a delicious fantasy story! With whispers of Beauty and the Beast, you are drawn into a twisted love story. Mysteries are hinted at and eventually resolved, with a young woman as the hero of the tale. This is a great read for any fantasy fan.

Dunkle, Clare
In the Coils of the Snake
Men are all the same. They fight, argue, claim to know what's best, regardless of whether they are human, goblin, or elf. Miranda has been raised by the Marak, the Goblin King, to be a Goblin King's wife. Goblins have been the only kind people in her young life. Her mother loathed her and taunted her own daughter mercilessly until she left to live the rest of her life in the goblin caves. One fateful day, her life is turned upside down. An elf comes to make a bargain with the new goblin King, Catspaw. He offers an elf bride in exchange for the goblins to leave his small band alone. One moment she is looking forward to being the goblin queen the next she feels discarded. In misery she runs away and right into the elf who takes her in and saves her from herself. Both elf and goblin "know" what is best for Miranda and disregard her own feelings and thoughts. The elf, Nir, is not what he seems to be, however, but no one, not even himself can guess his true identity and it will change things between the two races for all time.
This is an exciting and satisfying conclusion to an excellent trilogy. Dunkel knows well how to draw her readers into the story and not let go until the very end. She even managed to keep this reader in half-moon light for most of the story... not an easy thing to do! She will make you think differently about goblins and elves and even human men.

Dunkle, Clare
The House of Dead Maids
Have you ever wondered how men like Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights fame got to be the way they are? Tabby Akroyd might just have the answer. Tabby is a young girl taken from an orphanage to be a maid at Seldom House. The house is large, dark and sinister. It seems as though the very walls are watching her. That first night Tabby finds out why...there are ghosts haunting the old house! She first encounters young Izzy, a maid like herself. The girls touch is icy, her eyes black holes. She is terrifying but not the only one. Tabby's young charge arrives a few days later and is incorrigible. He is arrogant, unruly and nearly impossible to befriend, much to Tabby's chagrin. He is meant to be the master of the house but what that means is far more dark and dangerous than either child knows. The more Tabby tries to uncover the truth, the more horrifying discoveries she makes. Escape is imperative but might also be impossible.

This atmospheric tale attempts to introduce Heathcliff as a child and why he drives away all who care for him. Dunkle's skill with storytelling is evident when the goosebumps begin to rise almost from the first page of this first-person narrative. It falls a little short of the truly creepy cover and the interesting premise. The mysterious adult characters a not fully fleshed out and are occasionally confusing in the way that they interact with the children. The reason for all the deaths is also not adequately explained. It probably would help to have a working knowledge of Wuthering Heights, as well. Still, if you want to be creeped out on a dark and dreary night, curl up with this book and you might just need to leave the light on.

Durkee, Sarah
The Fruit Bowl Project
Have you ever met a superstar? How about being related to one? Ms. Vallis, cousin is married to Nick Thompson, musician extraordinaire and the students in her 8th grade writer's workshop are about to meet him! He is coming to talk about writing. His secret? When he's writing lyrics, he imagines a bowl of fruit and how he's going to paint it...but with words rather than colors. It's a concept that grabs the imagination of the students, some immediately others grudgingly. His challenge to the kids is to paint their own bowl of fruit. There are no restrictions and very few rules. With the students, he comes up with the "fruit", seemingly ordinary events that each of them must turn into something interesting. In two weeks time, he will return to see what they have come up with.
What a great way to fire kids imaginations! It's too bad that we don't all have a Nick Thompson to inspire us but this slim volume is a good substitute. Using various forms of writing the kids personalities and what they are dealing with come through with a laser-clarity young minds often display. Durkee must have multiple personalities locked up inside of her to be all the different characters for whom she writes the stories! I highly recommend this book to anyone teaching English in grades 6 and up.

Durrant, Lynda
"Jonathan, have you been playing in the woods again? Come sit by the fire, you must be cold. Jonathan, I mean now! The Indians will get you." Echohawk has only vague memories and nightmares of the day he was taken by the Mohigan Indians. He was given to Glickihigan and his wife because their son had died. He knew only of the Mohigan way of life; hunting, fishing, storytelling. One day, his father told Echohawk and his little brother that they would be going away from the tribe for a time, just as he had done when he was young. They would be going to a school for Indian children to learn the ways and language of the white man. They would be staying with the school master and his wife while they went to school. Echohawk was amazed at how quickly he learned the language. One night, while they were supposed to be sleeping, Echohawk and his brother overheard one of many arguments between their guardians. Echohawk heard his name and began listening closely. They were talking about rescuing him and taking him to Boston with them. Echohawk was confused but knew that he and Bamaineo would have to run away and return to their camp to wait for their father's return. He didn't understand why he needed rescuing or why his nightmares were getting more frequent and even began disturbing him during the day.
Durrant has written a well crafted story about being different and of self-discovery. Her characters are complex and very realistic. It was obviously, well researched. I would highly recommend this book to Historical fiction fans in 6 grade and up.