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Haddix, Margaret P.
Claim to Fame
Lindsay Scott, child star, has dropped off the face of the earth. Once on top of the entertainment world, she is now living in a very small town in Illinois. "Living" might be a stretch, though. "Hiding" would be the better term. She is hiding from her talent, her gift or, according to her, a curse. You see, every time she steps out of her house, she can hear everything anyone in the world is saying about her. In China, they love and hate her. In England, they think she's awesome and horrible. The only place she's safe is her own home, where it's quiet, a dead zone. All that is shattered when her father dies of a heart attack and, shortly thereafter, she is kidnapped by a couple of local boys who think they're rescuing her. Suddenly, Lindsay is forced to face truths she never imagined. She's not the only one who hears voices and it's hereditary. Questions swirl around in her head, almost blocking out the voices. Did her father hear things? Where was her mother and did she have the same ability? But she's only 16-years-old; what can she do?

What a disappointing book! It started out with a really interesting if frightening principle (I mean, who would want to hear EVERYTHING people say about you???) but was wrapped up way too quickly and the out-of-the-blue appearance of her grandfather was just too much of a stretch. This would be a great book to have kids re-write the ending. It's difficult to tell if this is the start of a new series or not.

Haddix, Margaret P.
Double Identity
Science Fiction
Bethany's parents have always been a bit odd. They are older than most of her friend's parents and they are extremely over-protective. For the most part, though, it's nothing that Bethany can't handle, besides, her 13th birthday is approaching and when she's a teenager, maybe they'll lighten up. Not so. In fact, they seem to go over the edge. Her mother cries all the time and her father won't let her out of his sight. One morning, he hurries them into their car, as though they are going on a family trip. When they reach a small house in a small town, her father gets her luggage out of the car. He introduces her to an aunt she never knew existed then he and her mother leave her there with no explanation. She has so many questions and her aunt has some answers but they only bring up more questions. Bethany's nightmare has begun and all she can do is hold on an hope for a light at the end of the tunnel.
Once again Margaret Peterson Haddix has crafted another thriller, sure to please her fans. While parts of the story are very predictable, Haddix manages to keep the suspense taut and the action moving. Her characters are fairly well developed, though the ending is a bit too neatly done. Sci-fi fans will really enjoy this one.

Haddix, Margaret P.
Found (The Missing: bk. 1)
"You are one of the missing." "Beware! They're coming back to get you." Ominous words, to be sure. Jonah doesn't know exactly what they mean when he and his new friend Chip begin getting letters containing these messages. Both boys are adopted but that's not the same as being missing, right? Jonah and Chip aren't so sure, any more. The boys soon find themselves thrust headlong into a mystery that involves the FBI, a smuggling operation and a plane that appeared out of nowhere some 13 years ago containing 36 infants. Were they two of the 36? If so, where did they come from? Who are the "they" that are coming back to get them and why? The kids want answers but at what cost will they come?

Margaret Petersen Haddix has created yet another electrifying story in Found. From the magically appearing plane in the first chapter to startling and clever revelations in the last, you fall for it, hook, line and sinker! The only negative is that the CLIFF HANGER leaves you hanging by the skin of your teeth! Of course, this is the sole purpose of cliff hangers but it's still REALLY HARD to wait!

Haddix, Margaret P.
Takeoffs and landings
Science Fiction
This is the story of a family dealing with the deep sorrow of loss. The mother, Joan, lost her husband and partner; the 5 children lost their father. In the time that followed, Joan became a well-respected public speaker and traveled quite a lot. No one spoke of the death so the children did not really understand what happened or why their mother traveled so much. One summer, when the oldest two, Lori and Chuck, were 14 and 15 their mother took them on one of her speaking tours for 2 weeks. The story is broken down into chapters titled Lori or Chuck as they tell their inner most thoughts. Insight from mom comes in the form of sections called “what Joan Lawson wanted to say during her speech...”
Lori is resentful and angry with just with everyone but especially her mother and brother Chuck. The problems are complex and Lori struggles to understand why she reacts the way she does and with the way she’d like to behave toward her mom and brother.
Chuck is a slow thinker and is teased mercilessly at school. He thinks that he is really stupid and everything that his mom, sister, schoolmates and grandfather do seems to support that, at least the way Chuck sees it.
When the trip begins to reveal the painful secrets that each one has been holding on to since the death of the father, healing begins. None of them is sure how things will be when they get home but change has begun and no one wants to go back to the way it used to be.

Haddix, Margaret P.
Science Fiction
You are born, you grow old and you die. That’s nature’s way, right? Well, Melly and Anny Beth discover otherwise. The two women were old and ready to die but when they are selected to participate in Project Turnabout, their lives change forever. After the injection of an experimental drug in the year 2000, they begin to grow younger. There is a way to stop the process but no one who has had the second injection has survived. What happens when they get too young? Infancy? Death? No one really knows. No one has lived that long. All of the other participants are dead either from the first or second injection or suicide.
Now, in 2085, they are teenagers living on their own. As with many teenagers, they are rebellious. They have chosen to live away from the facility that tries to monitor them. They have decided to defy them further by setting out on a journey to rediscover their past before it is completely wiped from their memory, as they get younger. No one from their past is left alive but the places and feelings are still there. Through their journey, they find a place to belong, at least for a while and, more importantly, they find someone who understands their situation and will care for them when they get too young to do so.
Haddix is an excellent storyteller. She makes the unbelievable believable. Her characters, Melly and Anny Beth, have depth and charm as they struggle through unknown territory. Extraneous characters are also drawn with great skill and care. The ending leaves you sufficiently curious about the future of the girls but satisfied with the story.

Hahn, Mary Downing
Deep and Dark and Dangerous
Something bad happened a long time ago; something that's been kept secret. When Ali finds an old picture of her mother and her aunt at their cabin in Maine, she realizes that there's another girl who's been torn away leaving only her arm and a few strands of hair in the picture. When she asks her mother about it, she goes pale claiming that there wasn't anyone else in that picture. Ali presses her and one of her infamous headaches comes on and she leaves Ali wondering. Aunt Dulcie's reaction is similar. Both women are hiding something. That summer, Ali accompanies her aunt and 5-year-old cousin Emma up to that cabin so that Dulcie can paint for an art show. At first, everything is wonderful. Ali and Emma play on the beach and swim in the cold water. Then one morning it all changes with the appearance of Sissy, a very unlikable little girl who draws Emma in almost immediately. Emma begins to behave rudely, just like Sissy. She does whatever she pleases, just like Sissy. But there's something very strange about Sissy. No one in the neighborhood seems to know who she is. Even more strange are the rumors Ali hears about her mother and aunt. She becomes convinced that everything is somehow connected. As things get more out of control and frightening, Ali realizes that she has to expose whatever secrets are hidden in the deep, dark and dangerous waters just beyond the cottage.

Mary Downing Hahn is a master of suspense. She knows just how to make your skin crawl and send shivers up your spine! It isn't too difficult to figure out who Sissy is and what happened to her but the devil is in the details. Readers who enjoy spine-tingling mysteries will want to pick up this page turner!

Hahn, Mary Downing
Mister Death's Blue-eyed Girls
It's the last day of school and everyone is looking forward to a summer full of parties, swimming and sun bathing. One young man isn't going to any parties. No one notices him, he is nearly invisible, unless they want to say something cruel; he is Mister Death and he has been watching, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. They think they're perfect, these two blue-eyed girls. Soon, they'll know his wrath...he and his rifle will bring the town to its knees.

Mary Downing Hahn takes a dramatic break from her middle grade mystery writing to delve into an incident that happened to her when she was a teenager. Told from the different perspectives of the main characters creates tension, moving the story along. The devastation felt by those who knew the girls well is palpable. The pop-culture references to the 50's will go over most student's heads but might make a few of the curious enough to do a little research! The only negative is the ending, which is abrupt and fifty years after that fateful summer. The author's note at the end denotes which parts of the story are fictional but the raw emotion of that day, long ago, still resonates in Hahn's words.

Hale, Shannon
The Goose Girl
6 & up
Ani, short for Anidori-Kildara Talianna Isiliee, is the Crown Princess of Kildenree. As a child, she is under the watchful eye of her aunt, who tells her magical stories and teaches her to speak to and understand birds. Her aunt's teachings are discovered and she is sent away because Ani's mother does not approve of her "gift". Ani is then forced to learn how to be a princess. She is very uncomfortable in the court and does not fare well in conversations with anyone except for her faithful lady-in-waiting, Selia. One day, Ani is summoned to appear before the court and it is announced that she is to marry the prince from neighboring Bayern, to head off a war with the larger country. She is devastated and relieved, at the same time. Her small party sets out on it's long, grueling journey across the mountains. But all is not well. There are betrayers in the group, including one closest to Ani. She escapes the attack but becomes hopelessly lost in the forest. She happens upon a small village and is eventually given a position as goose keeper to the king. Her survival depends upon her blending in so she learns the accent, covers her fair locks and becomes an expert goose girl but she knows that one day she will have to face her enemies in order to save herself and her kingdom.
Goose Girl is yet another adaptation of a fairy tale but one that is extremely well done. The additions to the story make it more intriguing, like the fact that Ani can speak and understand birds and, eventually, other animals. Interestingly, Hale sticks fairly close to the original story set down by the Grimm brothers. I highly recommend this story to anyone who wants for more storytelling!

Hale, Shannon
Enna Burning
6 & up
A fire burns within her. It wants to get out and burn freely. But there is danger in that; it could take control and burn away her life. It happened to her brother on the battlefield. She must not make the same mistake as he. Enna makes the decision to use her power to fight for Bayern when a larger country invades. She burns their camps, their weapons tents but she stops at burning people until the day she nearly gets caught. The horror of what she did haunts her but killing is what happens in war. As she uses it, Enna feels the powerful force within her getting stronger but she doesn't know what to do about it. She is afraid that her brother's fate is her own.
Shannon Hale has written an exquisite companion novel to Goose Girl. Her characters are fallible, lovable, complicated and wholly believable. Even though the ending is a bit contrived, it is a very satisfying fantasy. I highly recommend this one.

Hale, Shannon
River Secrets
6 & up
Fantasy, Adventure
Razo is not your typical soldier. He’s short and something of a clown, but not particularly skilled with swords or any other weaponry, for that matter. When his captain chooses him to accompany an elite group of soldiers protecting the ambassador into Tira, he’s sure it’s out of pity. But, he is the one who discovers the first body, burned beyond recognition. Once in Tira, a long-standing enemy of Bayern, Razo is the only one able to blend in and become friendly with the natives. It is a dangerous time for Bayern and someone is trying desperately to destroy peace negotiations and start a war. Razo must recognize his own unique talents and learn to use them in order to get the soldiers and his friends home in one piece.
Shannon Hale is a master storyteller. She weaves words into beautiful stories as a great artist paints on canvas. She also manages to create stories that connect to earlier ones but that can stand on their own, as well.

Hale, Shannon
8 & up
Romance, Realistic
Jane is 32, single, and in love...with Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice fame. The men she meets in real life just don't measure up. She is forced to admit and deal with her addiction when her aunt bequeaths her an all-expenses paid trip to Pembroke Park, a British resort where the guest are completely immersed in the Austen era...they speak it, dress it, and behave it. There is, of course, a Darcyesque character and Jane finds herself torn between his stiff perfection and a forbidden affair with the lowly gardener.
Hale's foray into realistic fiction/romance is quite a good one. While the story is eminently predictable, it is also quite an enjoyable read. Girls who are fans of romance stories will enjoy this one! It's also quite clean, which is great for younger romance fans.

Halam, Ann
Dr. Franklin's Island
7th - 8th
Science fiction
The day started interestingly enough. They all met at the airport ready to go on an adventure with the Planet Savers organization. Once on the airplane, however, things went from interesting to terrifying as the plane plummeted into the ocean. Miranda, Semi, and Arnie are the only survivors. They find themselves on a tropical and seemingly deserted island. Soon, however, they discover that their haven is actually an island of horrors. They are captured by Dr. Franklin, a "scientist" who's way past insane. In their cages, they are subjected to his mad and painful genetic experiments. Before long, they is no resemblance to the humans they once were. Their entire focus becomes survival and escape.
While the premise of this story is very like a teenaged version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, this story is not as well written. It is very predictable and outlandish, even for a science fiction story. There were some interesting plot twists and readers who are into transmutation and genetic experimentation might enjoy the book, but I wouldn't recommend it for general readers.

Hanley, Victoria
The Light of the Oracle
Bryn is the lighthearted and sometimes flighty daughter of a stone cutter. As she chases a fluff of thistledown, she runs into the path of a horse whose rider narrowly avoids trampling her. As he calms the startled girl, he sees something unusual in her spirit. He whisks her away from her family to become a handmaiden in the Temple of the Oracle, a place of wonder, magic... and danger, as Bryn quickly finds out. Her natural gifting and modest upbringing quickly make her a target for cruelty from the wealthy priestesses-in-training but her power is far more powerful than even the Master Priest realized when he found her. It is a power that will threaten the evil that has infected the Temple and will destroy the world if it is allowed to grow. Bryn and her friends must learn to trust themselves and harness their power in order to save their kingdom.
This is the companion novel to Hanley's Seer and the Sword and Healer's Keep, both exceptional fantasy novels.

Hart, Alison
Gabriel's Horses
Historical Fiction
Horses are wild and free, which is just how Gabriel wants to be. He has a way with horses, as does his father, but they are slaves living in Kentucky during the Civil War, so their talents are not fully realized. Mister Giles, the man who owns Gabriel, his father and mother, is a racing man. He employs the best jockey around, who teaches Gabriel everything he knows about jockeying. The horse racing, however, brings some unwanted attention in the form of Confederate raiders in desperate need of horses. How far is Gabriel willing to go to save the horses from certain death on the battlefield? Hart’s portrayal of the people and struggles encountered during the Civil War are engaging and believable. The action and drama keep the pages turning to see what happens next. The addition of historical facts about the time period and events mentioned in the book serve to deepen the reader’s experience and there is an excellent bibliography included. There are even a few grainy photographs, which always add a little something extra to a story. It’s an excellent start to an expected trilogy.

Hartnett, Sonya
Plum is on the cusp of adolescence and is determined to find the strength to be like a butterfly and shed her lumpy, bumpy old self and become a confident, beautiful young woman. Along the way to her transformation, there is help and hindrance. Her glamorous neighbor Maureen will help her see herself in a different light. She speaks positivity into Plum's life, something she is in short supply of at home. The two become fast friends but Maureen has a secret; one that, when revealed, will rock Plums life to the core.

I usually love Sonya's work. The imagery she uses almost always brings her stories to life. This time, however, this book seeks to be too mysterious and comes out sounding contrived and pretentious. The problems with Plum's family are disturbing. Her brothers smoke pot regularly and are distant, one of them sharing a secret with Maureen, the older neighbor. The parents are not particularly well drawn and there's definitely something wrong between them that is never really explored. And the ending...is just plain disturbing! The references to the 70s will also confuse many of today's youth.

Hartnett, Sonya
What the Birds See
7th - 8th
Contemporary fiction
Adrian is a fearful boy. He is afraid of quicksand, shopping centers, spontaneous combustion, and sea monsters. His greatest fear, though, is the fear of being left behind. Fear seems to run in his family. He lives with his grandmother who worries that she's too old to raise him and his uncle who lives with his own fears and never goes out. His own mother couldn't take care of him and his father couldn't be burdened. Adrian is a solitary lonely child, but that all changes when a family, with three children, move in across the street. Nicole, the eldest, is brash and fearless. She says exactly what's on her mind. Adrian is amazed and perplexed by her behavior most of the time but it's what keeps him coming to visit her. Things come to a head in Adrian's house when he overhears his grandmother, aunt and uncle talking about him. He thinks they are going to get rid of him, send him to live in a home and he is beyond terrified. He decides to take action. He goes outside to think and plan when Nicole joins him. She talks of the three missing children and she claims to know where they are. She and Adrian set off to find them but all does not go as planned and tragedy strikes.
This was a gripping story with many undercurrents and questions left unanswered. Are Nicole, her younger sister and brother the missing children? What actually happens to her and Adrian? Often open-ended stories drive me mad, and this one is no different. I'm one of those who likes to have the ending wrapped up. If you don't mind loose endings, then this is a great book. Another maddeningly opened ended book is Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman, but that one has wonderful discussion points.

Hartinger, Brent
Grant and Humble
8 & up
Contemporary, Suspense
Two boys who couldn't be more different from each other, share a common problem. Harlan is a popular, good looking boy who is always the center of attention. Manny is a geek and the lighting coordinator for his high school's theater. They are both experiencing unexplainable, seemingly psychic visions. Harlan's in the form of premonitions that come on without warning and leave him sweating and terrified. Manny doesn't like to sleep because he has horrific nightmares that leave him worn-out and scared silly. Both sets of parents seem to be hiding something from them and it doesn't take long for the boys to figure out that their horrors are connected to their parents, in some way.
I defy you to wrap your head around this story! Hartinger is a master at building suspense until you can hardly stand it. The cover is incredibly eerie but the title leave a bit to be desired...especially when you get to the Twilight Zone-ish ending!!! Two days later and I'm still trying to figure it out. Perhaps that explains the strange tick I've developed ;)

Hartry, Nancy

Watching Jimmy
Carolyn and Jimmy are best friends. They live next door to each other and Jimmy's mom watches Carolyn while her mother works odd hours. Most days are spent playing with other children in the neighborhood but Thursdays are different. That's when Uncle Ted makes his weekly visit. Uncle Ted has a very cool car and the kids love to pretend to drive it but Ted gets really angry when they do. One day, Uncle Ted decides to teach Jimmy a lesson that he'll never forget. There are no witnesses, Ted has made sure of that. But, he doesn't see Carolyn slip into a tree. She sees what happens and is terrified. Now, Jimmy is brain-damaged and Carolyn is determined to keep Jimmy safe. When Uncle Ted threatens to take Aunt Jean's home from her and Jimmy, Carolyn realizes that she must find the courage to tell the truth of what she saw.

This was a disturbing story that takes place in 1958. The women are strong and Carolyn is a enterprising heroine. All of the characters are well drawn and believable. Uncle Ted's anger nearly jumps off the page. The mystery behind his anger is revealed but is a little soap-opera dramatic but it certainly explains a lot. There's a lot of fodder for discussion in this book and it's length would make it an excellent in-class novel.

Hausman, Gerald
Tom Cringle: Battle on the high seas
“I, Tom Cringle, two days before my thirteenth birthday, have mad the decision of my life: to go to sea.” With that declaration, Tom waited until he was old enough, aged fifteen, and signed aboard the Bream as a midshipman in the English navy. They set sail for Jamaica on the look out for pirates while the War of 1812 rages elsewhere. He is assigned to keep the ship’s log, a job he takes very seriously. From the first day, Tom finds more adventure than he bargained for. He experiences his first major battle with a mysterious ship that appears out of the mist; he is rescued from a shipwreck by his faithful dog; survives and earthquake, and is kidnapped by a pirate who ends up being more than he seems to be. Tom becomes a man on the high seas, learning about loyalty, trust, what it means to be a true friend.
Hausman has written an excellent adventure novel sure to grab even the most reluctant reader! Written in journal style, the story flows like the sea, at once angry and thrashing then calm as glass. The story is lent credence because it is based on another novel written in 1833 as well as extensive research with authentic logbooks kept during the shipping heyday. I highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good adventure or historical fiction story!

Healey, Karen
Guardian of the Dead
After a year of heartache and worry for her mother, as she struggled but beat cancer, Ellie is ready to be just like every other student at her boarding school. Hanging out with best friend Kevin, day-dreaming about cute, mysterious boys and studying are her only worries. One day she runs into Mark, THE mystery boy and he is more startled than she is. He asks, "Do you know what you are?" then turns and walks quickly away. Things get even more strange and scary as stories of a serial killer who not only kills his victims but takes their eyes, get closer to home. Soon, Ellie's life spirals downward from weird to horrifying as an eerily beautiful woman sets her sights on Kevin who begins acting possessed, a crazy man accosts her, shoving a Bible into her hands saying that she will need to if she wants to save her soul and Mark reveals a dark secret that sends Ellie plummeting into the middle of a harrowing battle for immortality. Those she can trust are few and far between and, in the end, the fate of the world rests squarely on her shoulders.

At first, this book had many similarities to Twilight's star-crossed lovers for comfort but when the story diverges from it, things really get interesting. Ellie is one of a growing number of heroines who don't fit the pretty, petite and helpless stereotypes. She's a substantial girl who has a black belt in one of the martial arts and isn't afraid to use it. The story plays out in a stream-of-consciousness from Ellie. Secondary characters are very well drawn. The mythology is different, as well. The setting is the island nation of New Zealand and the its native mythology provides the atmospheric backdrop. For readers not from that part of the world, it's a fascinating look into another culture. Similarities to Twilight aside, this is a great suspense/horror/fantasy story.

Healey, Karen
The Shattering
Summerton is an idyllic, seaside village that has escaped the ravages of the economic down-turn. The summers are mild and dry and the tourists continue to visit, even though its main attraction was destroyed in an earthquake a few years earlier. Keri and Janna are both desperate to get out of the small-town setting to a place where they can spread their wings and be themselves. Sione is a tourist that Janna hooked up with once while trying to get to his older brother. All three teens have one terrible thing in common...their older brothers all committed suicide. They cannot accept what the police and their families have. None of the boys left notes or displayed the typical signs of depression or anxiety seen in suicidal people. The only thing that makes sense is murder. Only how did the murderer manage to get the boys to do it and who would do such a thing? Sione is something of a computer geek and has discovered a strange pattern...a boy who is the oldest child and a teenager has killed himself every year for the last 2 decades! Other similarities in the suicides convince Keri that they are on to something. As they begin to investigate, the trail leads to people they know well and have trusted their whole lives but also to some hard-to-believe possibilities. Soon, however, they realize that someone they know is the next target and they have to move fast in order to save him.

This supernatural thriller will attract readers who liked Acceleration by Graham McNamee, or anything by Gail Giles. The characters seem to be a little predictable but they are engaging, nonetheless. The magical element is a bit difficult to swallow and libraries in very conservative areas might have trouble with the ready acceptance of the Wiccan religion. Still, the premise is interesting and the suspense, spine-tingling. Teen fans of the genre will enjoy it.

Hearn, Julie
Hazel Louise Mull-Dare lives a life of privilege. Her doting father and disinterested mother provide an excellent education, a fine home and the latest fashions. She and her classmates at the Kensington School for the Daughters of Gentlemen, however, are very bored and wish fervently that something exciting would happen. Several things happen in quick succession that will change Hazel's life forever. First is a bold new classmate from America. Gloria is like nothing the girls have ever seen before. She is brash and fearless, neither trait is Ladylike or Proper. But, she's exciting. Next is the horrifying events of June 4, 1913 at the Epsom Derby. Hazel and her father are at the track when a young woman steps out onto the track, directly in front of the king's horse decrying the injustice of denying women the right to vote. Her death, days later, galvanize the women's movement. Hazel is captivated and, with a little coaxing from Gloria, she takes up the cause. Her first taste of rebellion, however, is bittersweet. In a matter of weeks, her father goes off the deep end because of all the money he's lost on horse races, she is betrayed by someone she foolishly trusted, and she is banished from London to the Caribbean, where her family owns a sugar plantation. There are secrets and mysteries here and Hazel will discover just what kind of woman she is.

This was a terrific historical fiction story, full of twists and turns, some of which were expected, others a surprise. It is a stand-alone companion to Hearn's earlier novel, Ivy, which caught me by surprise. It is always interesting to watch characters evolve and to see them at a crossroads deciding which way to go. Hazel, while spoiled and naive, is still tenderhearted and kind. The secondary characters are believable and provide interesting counterpoint to all that Hazel is going through. Fans of historical fiction will thoroughly enjoy this one.

Hearn, Julie
Ivy is one of many waifs living in the slums of Victorian London. She is declared useless by her father at birth because she's not a boy who can work. Living amid scoundrels and ruffians, she is a flame-haired child with lovely but strange eyes and a sweet, trusting demeanor. Ivy is and extraordinary girl; more than beautiful, she has a way of drawing people in. Oscar Frosdick, an aspiring artist in the Pre-Raphaelite style, is so captivated that he insists she become his model. But behind those flaming locks and mysterious eyes, hides a secret past, dark and dangerous. When jealousy leads to betrayal, Ivy must break the chains of addiction and apathy if she is to survive.

There were a lot of story threads in this historical novel. Too many for the average reader to keep hold of. Some of the treads were just left hanging. Others, while resolved, were unsatisfactory. There is a lot of potential in the characters and the persistent reader will end up enjoying the story but it would be a difficult sell to most.

Hearn, Julie
Sign of the Raven
Down in the basement there is a gap. Not your typical gap in the floor boards or in the wall but a gap through time. On the other side, a voice calls him, asking for help. When he steps through, he discovers a fairy child, a gorilla woman, a bendy man and other "freaks" of nature. They live in constant fear of living their lives in freak shows and of dying and the horror of having their bodies dissected by "doctors" in the name of science.
The characters are very interesting and fairly well-developed but the story, itself, is rather confusing in many spots. The transition back and forth between the centuries is perplexing. It seems as though the author is trying to make it seem like it's a time-stream and you have to jump at just the right moment but you're not quite sure. She uses various fonts to illustrate flashbacks and inner thoughts of some of the characters but there are too many of them and the shifts between them are awkward. In spite of all this, it would be an interesting read for those die-hard fantasy fans.

Hemingway, Amanda
The Greenstone Grail
Fantasy, Adventure
Desperately she runs. They are following but she can't see them. Clutching her baby, she reaches a house and knocks on the door. A man opens it and quickly invites her in...he knows they're there. In the small village of Thornyhill, Bartlemy and Annie raise Nathan in safety and comfort but now, something has found them again. Nathan begins to have vivid dreams...more vivid than anyone knows. A man he dreams about saving from drowning, turns up on a beach near by. In another dream, he is sunburned and wakes to find his skin red a blistered. As his dreams intensify, he becomes focused on a Thorn family relic that seems to have more to do with the strange goings on than anything. Nathan is caught up in something as important as it is unbelievable. He must figure out what all the signs mean and his purpose in them, even if it means delving deeper into his dreamscapes that frighten yet draw him in as well.
In this thrilling first of a trilogy, Hemingway grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the very end. The suspense is palpable though the other world about which Nathan dreams is not quite as well developed. The characters are wholly believable and the ending promises more excitement to come. This is a must-read for any fantasy fan!

Henderson, Jason
Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising
What's in a name? A pain in the neck, that's what...especially if your name is Van Helsing. Alex has heard it all before; Monster slayer, vampire hunter, but none of that is real. "That doesn't happen" is his father's automatic response. The problems is, he's lying. That does indeed happen at Alex's new school near Lake Geneva. Alex has been getting these strange buzzing sensations lately and he doesn't understand them. Late one night he escapes his cramped dorm room to take a walk around campus. That buzzing feeling begins and he hears a scream. Instinct kicks in and he dashes toward the sound. When he bursts through the trees, he sees a girl with unearthly white skin holding captive a grown man and...sucking his blood! A part of his brain just can't accept what he's seeing but the buzzing forces him to focus. She's real and now she's after him. That's not all he has to worry about. Turns out that his school is not the only educational establishment around. Not too far away and buried deep beneath the earth is an evil and ancient school for vampires which is headed by the most dangerous vampire of all. Icemaker was once human, a very famous human but now all he wants is total vampire domination and the only things standing in his way are Alex Van Helsing and the Polidorium, a group of agents committed to ridding the world of vampires.

Fans of vampires will not want to miss this one! The vamps in Henderson's book, however, are not the mild mannered creatures that have recently made millions of girls desirous of a fangy boyfriend. These are the vampires of nightmares and Alex is the kind of hero we all want to know is out there! There's nothing particularly shocking or new here but the entertainment and action factor are excellent. This book is definitely geared toward boys but female fans of action heroes will also enjoy it.

Henderson, Jason
Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead [#voiceundead]]
It's only been a month since Alex comes into his own power and finds out who his family really is...the infamous Van Helsing clan who slays vampires! Finding out all of the nightmares and stories he'd always thought were fictional were actually real and even more terrifying is just the beginning for him. Now, he is training with the elite fighting force, the Polidorium so that when the next attack comes, he will be ready. And it does come, sooner than anyone could imagine. Elle, the vamp he most recently defeated, is back and she's on a mission...to kill him! This time, however, there seems to be something much larger going, something involving a voice that is said to be irresistible. What do the vamps want with someone like him and what does it have to do with the girls school just down the road? Alex and his friends are in the thick of it and must figure out what's really happening before it happens because, knowing the vampires, it's going to be bloody awful!

Jason Henderson is back with another action-packed story especially for the boys! There are nasty worms, pretty girls and boats...what more could a teen boy want? The story is uncomplicated and excellent for those reluctant readers. Recommend this to readers who enjoyed Darren Shan's series.

Henry, April
Girl, Stolen
Cheyenne is very sick. She has pneumonia and is sleeping the the back seat of her stepmother's car while her prescription is being filled. As she dozes, the car door slams and it starts to move...they are heading home, Cheyenne thinks until she realizes that something is different. Her stepmother doesn't drive fast or jerky! Then she hears a swear come from the driver. It's a male voice, "Who the hell are you?" Griffin has no time to think. He has to figure out what to do next, what to tell his father about the girl in the back seat of the car he's just stolen! Roy is not a nice man...he's going to freak when he sees the girl, maybe worse. Roy doesn't like surprises unless they're the kind that bring in money. Griffin knows that Cheyenne's family has money but when they see the news that evening and find out that she's the daughter of Nike's president, things change. This now becomes a kidnapping for money and the stakes for both Cheyenne and Griffin are high and very, very dangerous. The pneumonia is the least of her problems because, even if she could manage to escape, how would she able to find her way to safety...she's blind.

April Henry delivers a high-intensity thriller for young adults. Cheyenne is an engaging character, strong, even with her challenges. She doesn't just sit there and wait to be rescued. Griffin is a boy caught up in the evil of his father but is a good guy in spite of his upbringing. The suspense is taut and well-paced, keeping the pages turning to see what happens next. The ending is satisfying and hopeful, for both teens. Recommend this to fans of Caroline Cooney and Willo Davis Roberts.

Henry, April
The Night She Disappeared
It's just a normal night. A call comes in...Drew takes a delivery order for three meat pizzas. The caller asks for the girl who drives a mini cooper, Gabie, but it's Kayla who's on duty; it's Kayla who takes the delivery and never returns; it's Kayla who is missing and presumed dead. Gabie is convinced that she's still alive, even after Kayla's family has a memorial service. It's like she can feel Kayla out there somewhere...she enlists Drew's help to find her. The police are convinced that the person who took her was someone she knew. It was a start but Kayla was pretty popular so the suspect list is long. Was it her ex-boyfriend? What about the tweeker who drives a truck similar to one seen in the area? Was it a customer? At every turn, Gabie and Drew come up empty handed. If Kayla is still alive, Gabie fears she won't be for long. Then, will he come after her?

April Henry is the author of many mystery and suspense stories for both adults and young adults. This tightly-woven tale is vividly descriptive and dark. Henry tells the story through different characters who impact the story; Drew, Gabie, the diver searching for Kayla's body, and Kayla, herself. These striking voices carry the tension forward, building to the final electrifying climax. Fans of suspense and mystery will be on the edge of their seats reading this story!

Hesse, Karen
Phoenix Rising
6th - 9th
Contemporary Fiction
Nyle lives with her grandmother on a sheep farm in Vermont when the greatest tragedy of her young life strikes. She's already survived her mother's cancer and death, her father's abandonment, and her granddad's death. She's not sure if she can survive another loss. One night, there is a horrible accident at the Cookshire nuclear power plant. Suddenly, there are protective masks, evacuations, contaminated food, mistrust and, worst of all, refugees. Nyle and Gran survive the initial accident because the fallout blow away from their farm but Gran decides to take in a mother and her 15-year-old son, Ezra. They were at ground zero when the accident happened. The father was killed by radiation poisoning because he worked at the plant. Ezra became gravely ill because he'd gone out to try to find and help his dad. Ezra is close to death when he arrives. Gran puts them both in the back room...the dying room. It is a very difficult place for Nyle to go. She resents Gran for taking these people in because she is afraid to get close to someone who will die in that room. Eventually, Nyle does go in and begins reading to Ezra, though she is sure that he can't hear her. Slowly, slowly, he begins to get better and the two become close. Ezra helps Nyle deal with the dying room and all that's happened there and Nyle helps Ezra survive and overcome his intense fear of the outside world.
Hesse has written a tightly woven tale that will keep you turning the pages. The voices of the characters are wholly believable and heart-wrenching in their truth. She has given a voice to a topic I've never seen covered in a fiction story before and has done it with intense compassion and honesty. I highly recommend this one!

Hiaasen, Carl
6th - 9th
Contemporary Fiction
Being the new kid at school is never an easy thing. For Roy, it was old hat. He was used to trying to be invisible and avoid trouble but, in Florida, trouble found him. It came in the form of the school bully, Dana Matherson, who made the bus ride to school miserable. But it was because of Dana that he spotted the running boy, who instantly sparked his curiosity. He began to search for this mysterious boy who seemed to be his own age but didn't go to school or even wear shoes, for that matter. As Roy investigates the mystery, he makes an unlikely new friend and is introduced to the Burrowing Owl, an endangered species and protected by law. Trouble visited once again when Roy became involved with trying to save the owl's habitat from destruction when a large pancake chain tries to build a new restaurant, which would destroy the nests and kill the baby owls. How far is Roy willing to go for these tiny birds?
This is an excellent story, full of hilarious situations and dialog. The characters are detailed and the issues well defined. Students will identify and sympathize with Roy, root for Dana to lose, want to know more about Mullet Fingers and cheer for Beatrice. What an wonderful first young adult book for this well known adult fiction writer. Because of the way Hiaasen has written some of the dialog, it would be a great read-aloud for someone who enjoys doing different voices!

Higgins, F. E.
The Black Book of Secrets
Ludlow is on the run for his life and his teeth. His parents, in their quest for gin money, had arranged for Ludlow's teeth to be pulled. His fortunes change when he hops onto the back of the carriage of Mr. Jeremiah Ratchet and is driven to a small village where he meets Joe Zabbidou, Pawnbroker. Joe gives him a job as his assistant. Each night, village folk come to Joe to trade the secrets kept deep and dark. Each confession is scribed in The Black Book of Secrets and each confessor leaves Joe's shop lighter in spirit and heavier in purse. It is a mysterious way of life and one not without danger. Most of the townsfolk are deeply in debt to Ratchet. When they start to pay him off, his sources of income begin to dwindle. He begins to plot against Joe, planting the seeds of doubt amongst the villagers. Human nature, being what it is, they fall prey to the suspicions and turn against Joe and Ludlow.
This is a fantastic ride through history and the darkness of human nature. The setting is sufficiently dark and the characters are engaging and believable. As the climax approaches, the tension is almost palpable. The author includes historical notes at the end explaining that some of the practices found in the story actually happened...creepy!

Higgins, F. E.
The Bone Magician
It is a dark and fowl city in which Pin lives. His mother is dead and his father has gone missing after being accused of killing Pin's uncle. Pin, himself, works for an undertaker watching dead bodies to be sure they stay dead. One fateful night Pin is working when he is suddenly overcome by an attacker. When he begins to come around, he witnesses an astonishing and impossible sight...the body he'd been sure was dead sitting up and saying good-by to her grieving fiance! These aren't the only strange goings on in the town of Urbs Umida and Pin soon finds himself smack in the middle of them all and perhaps even the next victim of the Silver Apple Killer whose victims are tossed into the smelly river with a silver-painted apple in their pockets. Will Pin be able to clear his father's name and uncover the person responsible for so many deaths?

Higgins writes another clever story wrapped in mystery and tied round with suspense! It's all enough to give rise to the hairs on the back of your neck. While some of the mysteries are solved satisfactorily, others are left, opening the door for more adventures to come. Higgins calls this book a paraquel to the Black Book of Secrets and, yes, I had to look that word up. Basically, it means that this story and that one take place at the same time and have some threads that weave together. Fans of Black Book will recognize characters and settings while thoroughly enjoying meeting new ones.

Higgins, Jack
Sharp Shot
Jade and Rich Chance, are twins who are thrilled to be spending a normal evening at home with absolutely nothing exciting going on. You see, their father is John Chance, a spy for MI6, and "normal" for them is a relative term. The evening of normalcy is shattered, however, when a man from John's former special forces team comes crashing into their lives. Unsure of what to do but recognizing the man from a photo, the twins take off with McCain, followed by a shower of bullets. The man, however, is not what he seems and very soon one of them will be a hostage held captive in the Middle East. The kidnapping is a diversion for an evil master plan that will throw a small Middle Eastern country into chaos and destroy the carefully cultivated relationship between its king and the U.S. and UK. The twins and their father will have to use all their wits to defeat the terrorists, find and disarm the nuclear bomb they've stolen and manage to survive it all.

Jack Higgins and Justin Richards present another great adventure for the Chance twins. With all the action, guns, and explosions expected in James Bond type books, this one will not disappoint. The story is peopled with stock characters but the action keeps you from noticing or being overly concerned with it. There's a really cool chase scene...on a roller coaster!!! Talk about heart-pounding action! Recommend this to reluctant boy readers who are into the Alex Rider stories.

Hightman, Jason
The Saint of Dragons
Dragons have evolved with the rest of the creatures on the earth. They are still vile, magical creatures that seek only to destroy humanity but they can now hide amongst us, appearing human in our eyes. Only one family stands between them and the destruction of the world as we know it...and there are only two members left. One has fought long and hard against the dragonmen, the other knows nothing of his heritage. Simon St. George is only 14 when a madman comes claiming to be his father and ranting about dragons and magic. In a VERY short time he learns who he is, what his family has done for centuries and what he must now do.
Jason Hightman obviously did his homework on dragon lore. He has written a terrific fantasy adventure that is sure to keep you turning the pages. The characters are, for the most part, fully developed, though some of the situations they get into push the bounds of believability, even for a fantasy story. Even so, this is a great read for anyone who likes a good adventure. A warning to Ann McCaffrey fans, these dragons are not Pernese!

Hill, C. J.
anchor/ slayersSlayers
7 & up

Yes, dragons are real, very, terrifyingly real, and they are out for blood.

Tori is a typical teenager; well, maybe not totally typical. Her father is in the running to be the next President of the United States! Summer stretches before her, and she talked her parents into letting her go to dragon camp to feed the obsession with the mythical creatures she's had all of her life. They all think it's a history camp where she will learn about Medieval history. They couldn't be more wrong.

After only a day or two at camp, Tori's world is rocked by the revelation that dragons are real, and she was born to slay them along with the rest of the advanced campers. Obviously, she has great difficulty adjusting to the news, but she has little time to digest the information because her new-found powers have revealed the existence of two dragon eggs in the possession of their enemy. Overdrake is a dragon lord and is descended from a line of knights that bonded themselves to dragons to control them for nefarious purposes. Worse yet, they are close to hatching! Training kicks into overdrive but distractions abound because, well, they are teenagers and very good looking ones!

Tori and her friends must find a way to learn to work together to defeat not only the dragons but a traitor they know nothing about...yet.

Hobbs, Will
Crossing the Wire
Life is very difficult for the Flores family. Fifteen-year-old Victor has been trying to eke out an existence on his family farm ever since his father died. When the devastating news comes that corn prices will not sustain them any more, Victor decides to chance a dangerous trek to the border and try to cross into the United States. He has no money to pay a coyote, men who smuggle human cargo into the U.S., so he must use other means to get in. He jumps train cars, hikes high into the mountains and tries hiding in the toolbox of a pickup truck. Finally, he runs into his old friend Rico, who has also run away to America and the two of them manage to get across the border where they work in fields picking fruits and vegetables. It’s backbreaking work but the pay is a fortune, compared to what they can make at home in Mexico. Through their ordeals, the boys find out who they are and where they belong.
Hobbs is a consummate storyteller and in this story of struggle and triumph he successfully deals with both sides of a complex issue facing our nation today. His characterizations are believable and his portrayal of border problems and those who lost their lives trying to find a better life are vivid and unforgettable. No matter what side of the immigration debate you are on, you are sure to gain insight into this very timely concern.

Hoffman, Mary
Stravaganza: City of Masks
Cancer is a horrible disease. It exhausts the body, mind and spirit of it's victims. Lucien knows from personal experience. One day his father give him a rather mysterious gift...a beautiful handmade Italian journal. It intrigues Lucien as he falls asleep clutching it. When he wakes, his world is completely different. He finds himself in a place very much like Venice, Italy called Bellezza. He is taken in by Rodolpho who tells him that he's not dreaming but he's a Stravagante and capable of traveling between his home in present-day England, where he lies dying, and Bellezza where he is healthy and life is exciting. There will come a time, however, when he will be forced to live in one world or the other and the choice may not be his to make.

This was a really great fantasy tale. The realities that Hoffman creates in both of Lucien's worlds are compelling. The characters in both are interesting and bring depth to the story. There are only a few spots that are a bit too neat to be fully believed but fans of fantasy will enjoy the whirlwind adventure anyway. The series continues and just gets better and better in these wonderful sequels: City of Stars, City of Flowers, City of Secrets and City of Ships.

Hoffman, Mary
Gabriele, only nineteen-years-old, sets off to make his fortune in Florence as a stonemason. He is a strapping, handsome young man and is persuaded by his brother to pose for a statue that will soon become the most famous statue ever carved. Gabriele's brother is the sculptor and artist Michelangelo. Posing for him opens other doors and not just those of artists. His good looks attract the attentions of several women...one forbidden and secret, another comfortable and fun, and a third restricted to looks of admiration. The city offers not only passion and art but danger and intrigue, as well. Politics of the day divide Florence into factions supporting opposing leaders and soon, Gabriele is caught up in a scheme to spy on the supporters of the di Medici. When violence breaks loose, there is death and destruction all around and Gabriele's life changes in ways he could not imagine and he is forced to leave his beloved city and the brother he'd come to respect.

Mary Hoffman brings to life one of the most beautiful and famous works of art ever created. Many have often wondered about the young man who posed for David. The 1500s was a time full to bursting with artists whose works live on today as classics. Names like Donatelo, Lipi, Botticelli, and Raphael float in and out of conversations and da Vinci, himself, makes an appearance with his entourage of young men. Hoffman obviously did a great deal of research for this book but there was a lot of emphasis on the politics of the time, which may confuse the average middle school reader. While the novel's wording and font size make it seem like a middle school title, the many affairs Gabriele had make it inappropriate for younger readers, regardless of the fact that the sex was not graphically described. The first person narrative style didn't work particularly well. The story was Gabriele's but his narrative made him seem narcissistic and dull, as though he was worth nothing without his looks. Overall, it was a disappointing story of a fascinating character.

Hoffman, Barbara
Following fake man
Homer is the good child, always obedient, always where he was supposed to be and when he's supposed to be there. He’s never had an adventure in his life…"too much chicken inside"…but that was all about to change. This place felt different. It made him feel different. He was sure that he’d been here before. His mother revealed a new fact to him…he had been here when he was a baby, when his father was still alive! On his first outing alone, he met Roger who was trying to solve a mystery…the fake man. He was an old man who was not really old. He wore a disguise and always watched everyone around him. Suddenly, Homer was more involved than anyone expected, suddenly it wasn’t just a game. Homer was no longer a chicken. He followed the fake man to an island where he discovered the truth about his past; a truth that his mother had kept from him out of her own pain. Eventually, Homer and his mom, face their pain and healing begins.
This was an excellent, well-told story about a family hiding behind loss. It’s a story of discovery and how dangerous hiding can be. The characters and plot are believable and interesting. The mystery is intriguing and keeps the reader turning the pages trying to figure out just how dangerous this adventure is going to be.

Holt, Kimberly Willis
Keeper of the Night
7th & Up
Contemporary Fiction
Isabel's mother died and now the memory of her hangs about the house like a ghost. You can't quite see her but you feel the effects of her presence. There is truth that is being held captive in the house and the hearts of those who live there. Tata sleeps curled on the floor where mama was found. Olivia cannon sleep through the night without wetting the bed or having nightmares waking her. Frank carves his rage and hurt into the walls of his room and the soft flesh of his arms. Isabel is left to try to pick up the pieces of her family's broken heart, but how can she do that when she can hardly see through her own veil of pain?
This is another well-crafted, heart wrenching story from Kimberly Willis Holt. The chapters are very short, titled as through they were journal entries that flow easily and almost rhythmically. The reader feels the urgency and the ache of the characters as they move toward the painful truth. As the story ends, you are left with the hope that healing will come to this broken family. I highly recommend this one.

Holt, Kimberly Willis
The Water Seeker
Amos Kincaid was born to difficulty. His mother died giving birth to him. His father was a trapper and had a mysterious gift that kept money flowing in, if trapping was bad. Jake Kincaid had the ability to find water with only a stick and his intuition. Instead of a gift, however, Jake saw it as a curse and hoped that his son would not inherit it. A trapper's life is no way to raise an infant so Jake delivered his son Amos to Gil, Jake's younger brother, and his wife Rebecca. They had no children of their own so accepted Amos readily. Each year, Jake would come back and spend several weeks with his son so he wouldn't forget who he was. Amos grew into a boy with many talents. He could draw with such detail that the images seemed to come to life. He could also find water, just as his father had. This he kept a secret, though, because he didn't see it as the curse that his father did. Tragedy seemed to follow Amos. Rebecca caught the pox from the Indians she nursed and died. Gil was unable to handle her passing and drew deep into himself. The following year when Jake came home, he decided that he would take Amos with him and his new wife, Blue Owl, a Shoshone Indian. His new life was full of adventure and tragedy as he and his family traveled on a wagon train west. Each passing year, Amos' talents grew and strengthened but still he kept one of them secret until the day he needed it most.

This story follows Amos from the time he's born until he is a grown man of 17. Kimberly draws beautiful word pictures of the setting, the lives of those we follow in the story, with such precision, if you close your eyes, you can almost see them all. The hardships of the mid 1800s are brutally portrayed but the resilience of Amos, Jake, Daisy, Blue Owl and the rest is amazing but wholly believable. People were made of sterner stuff back then. It's a little slow going, at times but true fans of historical fiction will end up loving this book.

Hoffman, Alice
Green Angel
8th & up
Magic realism
Green is the color of life; the color of the grass and Green is her name. She can make the green things in her garden grow with a word or a touch and she is one "who preferred roses and asparagus to people." Her sister, Aurora is the moonlight. She dances and laughs, and chases after frogs. She is all joy and wildness. They live in a mountain village with their parents. Each week they would go to the city that was golden in the daylight and silver by night to sell their produce. The city is one place, besides her garden, that Green feels comfortable. No one seems to care that her hair is a mess or that she is too tall and has dirty fingernails. On one particular day, Green had to stay behind to tend the garden because Aurora was too young to be left alone and her father had to go help with the heavy lifting. She is angry and refuses to be consoled by kind words and the promise of a special gift. Green is thinking black thoughts when the sky begins to burn and ashes and embers fall from the sky. The city is burning, and with it, her family. Her grief is overwhelming and she turns to marking herself with ink and pin, just to practice not feeling anything. She sews thorns into her clothing, nails stick out from her boots, and ashes have clouded her eyes. She has become Ash, moving through her life slowly and methodically, trying not to care. How will she ever learn to feel real emotion again and will she ever return to Green?
What a powerful and achingly beautiful story of death and rebirth! Alice Hoffman weaves her words as beautifully as Green's rose vines climb their arbors. We are drawn through the story of the tragic fire and, though we don't know the cause, the effects are obvious and heart-wrenching. Each character, whether main or minor, human or beast is believable in rage or grief or sorrow. I highly recommend this one to readers in 8th grade or higher. Because of the prose format of the book and the subject matter, it just feels like an older story.

Hoffman, Alice
In a time when there is much unrest amongst her people, Estrella deMadrigal thought she knew who her friends were, who her family was and, more importantly, who she was. But, there is a secret that has been wrapped around her like a cocoon, protecting her from the coldness of truth, but only the truth can bring about the changes that must come. Like the butterfly that emerges from the cocoon, Estrella becomes someone wholly different; someone that she ever could have imagined and the spark that starts the transformation? A kiss. A kiss from her beloved, whom she is forbidden to even touch because she is a Marranos, a Jew who refused to convert to Christianity. It is violence and betrayal that shakes her to the core of her being. She must now embark on a cruel and difficult path but one that will bring light into the future.

Hoffman, Mary
Troubadour: a tale of love and a tale of war
Darkness and danger but adventure, as well, await Elinor when she makes a decision that will completely change her life. When her father arranges for 14-year-old Elinor to marry a man in his 50s, she makes her escape with a band of troubadours, traveling musicians. At first, it is exciting to a high-born girl who has not traveled more than a few miles from her home. She is disguised as a boy and enjoys performing before the appreciative audiences. But all is not well in France. The Pope has declared war on the heretics that abide in the south of France. His crusaders sweep mercilessly through the southern countryside destroying everything in their path. Troubadours are under suspicion of spying so the life that Elinor has chosen is one fraught with danger. As they travel the blood stained roads, the hope of finding peace seems impossible.

Mary Hoffman is a consummate storyteller. Much like she did in the Stravaganza series, she weaves historical facts, images and people into this fictional story with a deft hand, creating a beautiful tapestry of love, and war, hope and rage. Included at the end, is an excellent historical note, explaining the factual events and outcomes. In addition, Ms. Hoffman provides a list of characters and two glossaries. Fans of historical fiction must add this book to their lists!
Holt, Kimberly
Dancing in Cadillac light
In the summer of 1968, Jaynelle Lambert’s life is topsy-turvy. The dirt road in front of her house is being paved for the first time, Grandpap is moving into her room which means she has to share a room with her younger, prissy sister Racine, and she’s been given a mission…to watch out for Grandpap who is getting forgetful in his old age. Each day she follows him to be sure he doesn’t do anything crazy. The day she followed him all the way into the next town changed everyone’s life forever. That day he bought a 1962 emerald green Cadillac convertible!!! In that Cadillac, they cruise the town, stopping at different folk’s houses bringing in their mail and sitting for a spell. Even though everyone in the family and many in town think Grandpap has gone crazy, Jaynelle knows better. He’s just eccentric. He touches the people’s lives in town with his kindness and willingness to just listen. It was his example that changes the way Jaynelle sees the world around her.
This is an excellent story of growing up and the lessons life that loved ones can teach you along the way. Holt’s characters are believable and the dialog from the time period flows well. This would be an excellent read-aloud book, especially for those who are good with accents.

Hooper, Mary
Contemporary fiction
Ever heard the saying "Two's company but three's a crowd?" Amy has become all too aware of how it feels to be the third. There used to be 4 of them, two and two, but then one moved away and Amy found herself the odd one out. She is very lonely and begins to spend more and more time on the computer hopping from chat room to chat room. She is becoming what she dreads most...a loner, a loser. Enter Zed, and exciting and handsome boy who seems truly interested in Amy. They enter into an online relationship that is moving rather quickly to a f2f, face to face meeting. Amy's parents are alarmists, an Amy's opinion. They only see the negative; but is she only seeing the positive? Is he really the boy he says he is or are her parents right?
In spite of its predictability, this is one story that can't be told too often these days! The Internet offers many things, some good, some bad and some truly ugly. The story is told as Amy records her story for the police, so you know that something bad happened but the story draws you in anyway. The author is British and some of the dialog shows it but most kids will not be stumped by it, especially with the popularity of other British novelists like Louise Rennison. This would be a good discussion book for middle school classes.

Hopkins, Ellen
Quiet, sweet daughter, excellent grades, good friends...all of these describe Kristina. Unbeknown to her, lurked a darker, not so nice girl named Bree. Bree rears her audacious head one summer when Kristina talks her mom into letting her visit her father, an unknown entity since the divorce. On the first day, a tanned, golden eyed boy, gorgeous beyond belief, is lounging on the balcony of her father's seedy apartment complex. Bree rears her head, just a little, sending Thoughts into Kristina's consciousness. A couple of days later, Adam speaks to her and Bree comes alive, once more, accepting Kristina's first cigarette. It's not such a great leap to pot then harder stuff. Her father does it, why shouldn't she? Where Kristina is shy and reserved, Bree is brash and sensuous. Soon, Bree completely takes over and introduces the good girl to The Monster, heroin. As the monster takes hold, Bree becomes more insatiable. When the summer is over, both Bree and Kristina are heartbroken to leave Adam and the monster. Back home, she becomes Kristina again but Bree is not so easily put away; neither is the monster. When it rears its ugly head again, no amount of cajoling will put it back and Kristina is on a headlong, crash course to disaster.

This was the most difficult book I've ever read. Intense doesn't even begin to describe witnessing someone's descent into addiction and the spare verse just heightened the experience. The characters are dark but realistic and how quickly Kristina became addicted to heroin was shocking but horrifyingly true. The ending leaves you wondering about the impact on all the lives the monster touches. If you have or know a teen who is currently on drugs, this might not be a great book for them to read. Teens caught up in it would only relate to the feelings of the high and not respond to the dangers. However, it would be a great book to have younger teens read and discuss because what happens to this girl is horrible. It is definitely not a book for the faint of heart or for anyone under the age of 15 or so. Of course, having said that, a seventh grade girl has been after me for a year to read this book.

Horowitz, Anthony
It was an accident...no seatbelt, they said. So why were there bullet holes sprayed across the windshield? Alex discovers the anomalies and is nearly killed for his effort. The danger, however, doesn't stop there. He begins his own investigation and finds himself caught in a web of terrorists who killed his uncle and now want him dead. MI6, Britain's secret service, has given him gadgets and gizmos that will help in his mission but he has to find the courage and wits to be successful. Failure is not an option...the lives of school children in all of England are at stake.
What a fantastic mystery, adventure! Boys will be sure to devour this first Alex Rider mystery as well as all those that follow. This is quality stuff and very reader-friendly. If you are looking for books for reluctant readers, regardless of their gender, any of the Alex Rider books would be great choices.

Horowitz, Anthony
Eagle Strike
Another in the series of Alex Rider adventures, Eagle Strike is sure to please! Alex, the 14-year-old, unwilling MI6 agent, is on vacation in the south of France with friends when the house they are letting is blown up. Alex is convinced that it has something to do with his old nemesis Yassen Gregorovich, who he spots on the beach. With all of the spy training he's received, he just can't let it go and soon finds himself embroiled in a plot of murderous proportions and he must, once again, save the world!
Anthony Horowitz has a great sense of what teens like to read and an amazing talent to keep the action and excitement going, page after page. Anyone who enjoys a good thriller, James Bond gadgets or just a great page-turner should pick up any of the Alex Rider books, though if you've not read them before, it would be best to start with the first one so you can get the background on how a 14-year-old came to be a spy.

Horowitz, Anthony
Groosham Grange
Nothing David ever did was good enough for his parents. His grade were not straight As; he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps (or rather wheel chair tracks); worst of all...he'd been expelled from school! Then, miraculously, a pamphlet appears in the mail slot advertising a boarding school that seemed to be just what his parents need. Groosham Grange. Even the name sounds ominous to David but, as he has no choice in the matter, off he goes anyway. As the name suggests, this is not an ordinary school. First, students sign their names in a black book with their own blood as ink. The teachers aren't --- quite human. His English teacher, for instance, seems to be held together with bandages...very mummy-like and the French teacher is very hairy and is absent when the moon is full. Meals are an exercise in gastro-horrors and you don't even want to know what they use as a soccer ball! And David thought he hated his old school!

Anthony Horowitz has a new series; Good, right? Well, this book is not for the faint of heart or the conservative Christian, for that matter. All things dark and dangerous are contained (barely) in these pages; vampires and werewolves and evil things, oh my! Horowitz has gone to the dark side, I think. He's still a great story teller, though, so if your stomach is strong enough and your parents don't mind, go ahead and try this one...just don't call me complaining of nightmares!!!! I did warn you.

Howard, A. G.
Alyssa's family is cursed. It started with Alice Liddell...yes, that Alice. When Alice's female descendents come of age, they begin to hear voices...crickets, rabbits critters of all sorts begin to speak to them and it invariably drives them mad. Alison, Alyssa's own mother, sliced her hands to ribbons when she saw a 5-year-old Alyssa talking to a beautiful blue butterfly...to be fair, Alison was aiming for the butterfly. Alison is now in a mental hospital. Alyssa has her own problems, besides being bugged by bugs. She has had another voice in her head since she was a child and he's back. He tells her that there's a way to break the curse and get her mother back but she must go down the rabbit hole. She accidentally brings along Jeb, her good friend and secret crush since they were children. Wonderland is a place full of strange creatures and powerful magic. Morpheus is the voice Alyssa has heard all her life and she trusts him...but he is not exactly what he seems and neither, as she soon finds, is she. Alyssa and Jeb will have to navigate the intrigue and dark schemes to not only break the curse but to survive!

Howe, James
The Misfits
Contemporary fiction
Loser, fairy, geek, beanpole, whale-tale, wimp... Do you know how it feels to be called one of these names? An old saying goes "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." Those who say that have never been called names. The problem is that once you've heard them enough, you start to believe them. Bobby, Addie, Skeezie and Joe want to put a stop to the name-calling in their middle school. They form a third party to run in the student council elections called the No-Name party. They decide that it doesn't matter that the election is really just a popularity contest. They only want their voices heard, no matter what the outcome. In the process, they discover that being heard and understood is much more important than winning.

This book should be required reading for all middle school students and teachers!!! It brings to light the problems of verbal bullying with humor and sensitivity. It matters little that the characters are unusually mature for seventh graders. The message is loud and clear but without being too preachy. An awesome book!!!!!

Howe, James
The Watcher
Contemporary fiction
She is a lonely sentinel as she sits and watches everything that happens. She believes herself invisible to those she observes. She writes, but no one know about what. Evan calls her the watcher and thinks she sits in judgment of him; Callie just thinks she's strange to not want to play on the beach; Chris tries to reach out to her but none of them know the real truth about her.
James Howe captures the desperate loneliness and fear experienced by victims of abuse in this story in prose. The story that Margaret tells gives the reader brief, enigmatic glimpses into her true life. There is "the beast", the singing doll with the key, the prince and the angel. Their true identities are revealed as the story progresses. It is a sad book but ends on a hopeful note. I really liked this book, even though it's subject matter is rather depressing.

Hughes, Dean

Missing in Action

World War II has been raging for some time. Jay's father is MIA but Jay is convinced that he's a war hero and that he survived the sinking of his ship in the Pacific. He and his mother are struggling to make ends meet so they have moved back to her parent's home in a small town in Utah. Jay is nervous because of his dark skin; he looks very much like his father who is 1/2 Navajo. The first few days he watches the town boys play baseball, a game he loves. When they ask him to join them, the begins to wonder if things might be okay. His grandfather asks him to help out around the farm but Jay is not at all sure about working with a "Jap". Ken lives in the internment camp just outside of town and Jay has heard all of the rumors about them. But it doesn't take long to realize that all those stereotypes are not truth, just at all the things that people say about Indians aren't true. Even more interesting is the Ken is an excellent ball player and teaches Jay all kinds of moves and skills during their lunch breaks. It's a pleasant bubble that Jay has built around himself but bubbles are very fragile and the pins to pop it come from all directions at once and Jay will have to learn who to trust and how to deal with memories if he is to move on.

This was an excellent story that takes on the treatment and stereotyping of people in a realistic but gentle way. Baseball is the backdrop that keeps the story from being too heavy. The lessons are revealed slowly and with grace and wit. The characters are so well wrought that there is an instant connection with them, even the secondary ones. Fans of great story telling should not miss this one!

Hughes, Mark Peter
I Am the Wallpaper
Contemporary Fiction
No matter how pretty the wallpaper is, it's still just background that no one usually notices. Have you ever felt that way? Floey has been wallpaper for most of her life, so she can sympathize. Her older sister is the flamboyant one who attracts all the attention so when she suddenly gets married, Floey decides that it's her time to come off the wall. She begins by starting a new diary where she records her thoughts and ideas about her new self, which include her understanding of Zen philosophy and newly found love of Haiku poetry. Her plans are nearly thwarted when her mother invites her young cousins (9 and 10, respectively) to stay with them for a few weeks. The new Floey seems to be working out really well, but not with the people she wants. The younger crowd, 10 and 11 year old boys in particular, are constantly hanging around her, ogling her and she doesn't understand why until the discovers floeysnewlife.com and her whole life is an open book, literally. How this 13-year-old will keep her new life from spinning out of control will leave you laughing even as it reminds you of your, sometimes painful, youth.
First-time novelist Mark Hughes has crafted an engrossing account of the life of the average 13-year-old girl, even though he's a boy! That in itself is amazing. His characters are well-rounded and believable, though Floey really seems older than her 13 years. There are some laugh-out-loud bits and some painfully embarrassing ones as well. There are many discussion points in this book, particularly privacy issues online. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys chick books or for teachers looking for a good class discussion book.

Hausman, Glen
Touch of the clown
Contemporary Fiction
Barbara Stanwyck and Olivia de Havilland are movie stars from a time long gone. They are also the names of two girls who are the victims of movie-buff parents. With names like that, life should be grand for these two girls but with the death of their mother and Olivia's disability, life is anything but grand.
They live with their father and grandmother, both of whom are alcoholics and depressed beyond belief. Everything falls on Barbara. She cleans up when her sister has an accident. She feeds her and takes care of the house and tries desperately to hold onto the memories of better times when mom was alive. One sunny afternoon, the girls have escaped the smoky, alcoholic house to play in the park. On their way home, Olivia is struck by a man on a bicycle. He is unlike anyone they have ever seen before. Cosmo turns out to be a clown. He offers to get Barbara in the clown workshop he’s conducting. As Barbara gets more involved with the workshop, tensions at home escalate. When she and Livvy get separated, she arrives home to a furious and drunk father who beats her for losing her younger sister. She runs to the only place she feels safe, with Cosmo. When she gets to his house, she finds him extremely ill. He gets her as well as himself to the hospital (he has AIDS) and calls the police.
This is a sensitive story of pain and healing through drama. The homosexuality and AIDS issues are not the main focus though they are dealt with matter-of-factly. Some of the characters are not particularly well developed and others are not wholly believable but it is a good story which, while ending on a rather sad note, also offers hope.

Ibbotson, Eva
Journey to the River Sea
Maia has grown accustomed to living at the school since her parents died. She has good friends and an excellent education. She is most distressed to learn that relatives have been located and that they live in Brazil along the Amazon River. Like most people in the early 1900's, she thought that place was nothing but jungle, savages, crocodiles and flesh-eating fish. Things seems to get worse when she is put into a carriage with Miss Minton, a very severe-looking woman who will be traveling with her and will be governess for her and her twin cousins. She is an only child and young enough to be excited about the possibility of having sisters to play with. She imagines the family as bright and cheerful and the country, beautiful and wild. It isn't long before she discovers how wrong her imaginings are. The Carters are rubber planters who are determined to make their surroundings conform to English standards. The twins are greedy, hateful and unwilling to accept Maia into their world. Maia does find friends in the inhospitable surroundings. Clovis, a young actor in a traveling company and Finn, the son of a famous naturalist. In spite of the difficulties, Maia and Miss Minton have developed a close relationship and they manage to venture out into their surroundings. The experiences that Maia has in the Amazon are priceless and life-changing. She has finally found a place to belong.
In spite the initial similarities between this book and Frances Hodson Burnett's A Little Princess, Ibbotson creates an amazing story of a young girl and the adventure her life becomes. The characters are well-formed and draw the reader into the story. Even though some of the events are a bit predictable, you still find yourself turning the pages to see what happens. Ibbotson has written an excellent adventure story with a female protagonist in an age when women were only expected to be seen and not heard and girls are expected to learn how to be proper ladies when they grow up. I highly recommend this action-packed tale.

Jaffe, Michele
Jane is a beautiful, sweet and somewhat naive teenager. Her best friends, Langley and Kate, are the powerhouses of the group. Where they lead, she is sure to follow. Her boyfriend, David, is gorgeous and a seemingly sensitive young man. Basically, Jane's life is perfect...until the day she wakes in the hospital, broken and bruised from a hit and run accident. That night is a blur. She remembers being at the party but nothing is really clear. Unable to move due to, hopefully, temporary paralysis, Jane has nothing to do but think and try to remember. Images and memories from her past begin to surface; some pleasant and others very disturbing. Slowly, as she begins to heal physically, she realizes that what happened was not an accident! Someone had purposefully tried to run her down, kill her! Worst of all, the culprit was someone close to her and that someone is still trying to finish the job.

The premise of Rosebush is an intriguing one and thrillers are very popular amongst teen readers. Jaffe does a fairly good job keeping the suspense up and the pages turning but the final revelation falls a bit flat and readers are left with a "Where did that come from?" moment. The flashbacks don't really work particularly well, especially the ones about her summer camp experiences. These memories were the most creepy and seemed like they would play a major role in the story but, as the story ends, the threads are left hanging loose, unresolved. Still, teens who enjoy thrillers should try this one. There are some fantastic moments where the creep factor is off the charts!

James, Nick
Skyship Academy: Pearl wars
Pearls...they fall from the sky from who knows where but they are the life-giving source of power for both Surface dwellers and the Skyships. Skyship academy is, ostensibly, a boarding school but, in actuality, it's a training academy for covert mission to the surface to collect pearls. The Unified party controls the surface and is about as corrupt as a government can get. Jesse is on his first pearl trade on the surface. It's supposed to be an easy mission...meet up with the Fringe traders, make the exchange, goods for a pearl, then go home. Nothing goes according to plan. Jesse wanders off and finds himself on the roof of a building facing Cassius, a young surface operative. Cassius is stronger and has had more training. He ends up dangling Jesse over the edge of the 12 story building by his feet. Suddenly, a blast of energy explodes between them and Jesse falls the the ground. Cassius is blown backward into the side of the building. Miraculously, both boys survive and walk away with minor scratches, or so it seems. Back in their respective places, neither boy feels normal and the changes in their bodies only escalate. They realize that they are somehow connected and are desperate to figure out what happened to them and how to fix it. Their search for answers changes everything and threatens to destroy all they know and love.

Nick James definitely had adolescent boys in mind when he wrote this book. The characters are flawed but believable, even likable. Most will connect with Jesse. He is the most like the typical 13-year-old boy. Cassius is a fairly typical bully. Both boys are not what they seem and have been raised by two completely different types of people. The secondary characters are not fully fleshed out but serve to propel the storyline along at a pretty good clip. There are explosions, pretty girls, fast vehicles, fighting...what more could a boy (or girl who likes action books) want? I highly recommend this for reluctant readers and boys of all ages!
Janeczko, Paul
World's Afire
“Come one, come all to The Big Top and see clowns juggling, tigers performing, high-wire acts to amaze and delight you; Come to the Greatest Show On Earth!!!” And many did. Mothers brought their children to take their minds off of fathers overseas at war. Injured soldiers came to forget their pain for a moment. Everyone came for the cotton candy, sodas, and candy apples. Amid the delighted screams of joy, came a different sound; a terrifying sound; the sound of flames devouring everything in the whisper of a moment.
Paul B. Janeczko is a prolific poet, his words stirring memories of childhood, celebrations, and emotion. In this poignant book, he writes of the tragic circus fire of July of 1944 in Hartford, Connecticut. Written as if they were interviews, the chapters represent the perspective of people who were there and the pain and horror each saw. The slim volume tells the entire story and would be a good choice for reluctant and advanced readers alike.

Jenkins, A.M.
Night Road
Cole has been walking the earth for more than a century, he subsists on the blood of others, he turns to dust in the sun but don't dare call him a vampire. He and those like him are hemovores. In his long life, he's earned the reputation of being smart, astute and uber responsible. When a close friend accidentally turns a young man, Cole is called on to help train him. Gordo is eighteen, as well, but is having trouble cutting ties to his old life. Most importantly, his girlfriend, who he nearly killed when he turned and had to feed for the first time. Cole has particular empathy for Gordo's experience as he made a similar mistake which ended in a horrible tragedy. Cole is determined to get Gordo through his transition but, no matter how carefully you plan or how much control you've developed over the years, the best laid plans often go awry and accidents do still happen.

This was an interesting take on the traditional vampire story. Cole is stoic in the extreme but the other two major characters are more realistic. Gordo is your typical teenager and Sandor is the kind, caring, nurturing sort that everyone needs. There were some confusing characters that strayed into the story and didn't really add anything to the plot but it was still an interesting read for those of us who enjoy vampire, er, heme stories.

Jocelyn, Marthe
Would You
It's summer and Natalie is free to join her wacky group of friends to do...well nothing! Some of the nothing they do is to find pools in backyards to swim in...that don't belong to any of them. Nat's sister, Claire, is heading off to college in the fall and she is very excited about it...Nat, not so much. She and Claire have shared a room and a host of sisterly secrets since she was born. With Claire gone, who will she complain to? Who will share her clothes? Who will she talk to about her first kiss? That night, Claire had decided to break up with her boyfriend, Joe, because she was going away in the fall and wanted freedom. That night, Natalie passed flashing lights on the road. That night, she came home to tragedy and everything changed. The horror that was now Natalie's life was going to the hospital to sit with the lump that was now Claire and trying to keep it together for her parents, who were train wrecks. Would Claire ever wake up? Would she ever be Claire again?

Jocelyn's heart wrenching story of loss is not a good book to read in public. You need tissues and a private place to weep. Natalie's friends don't always know what to say but are there for her anyway. The grief of the parents is realistic and devastating. The game that Nat and her friends play, "Would you rather..." takes on a whole new meaning, especially when the "Would you rather..." is finished with "be in a coma". This is a rare story about a family that is complete with both parents happily married and the children well adjusted. While there is not a happy ending, there is a definite sense of hope for the future.
Johnson, Angela
The First Part Last
You never think it's going to happen to you. It always happens to someone else...until you become that someone else. Bobby city boy who, on his 16th birthday, gets news that changes everything. Nia, his girlfriend, is pregnant. Bobby wants to do what's right, so instead of hanging with his friends, he's off to doctor's appointments and family planning clinics. The decision is made to give the baby up for adoption but then, as Nia gives birth, life goes hurtling into another direction completely.
Angela Johnson has, once again, managed to capture a life so on paper so powerfully that your heart aches as you read. She delves into pregnancy from the boy's point of view as he goes from being a boy to having to learn what it takes to be a man in a very short time. This slim book would be well used to start discussions on the topic of pregnancy. I was also impressed to see that even though the story takes place in an urban setting, the use of curse words was kept to a minimum. I highly recommend this one!

Johnson, Jaleigh
The Mark of the Dragonfly
Piper is a young scrapper living in a poor town miles away from civilization. She and the rest of the townspeople make a living by scavenging treasures and trinket that fall from the sky during the strange meteor showers that occur regularly. She has a rare gift for fixing machines and other mechanical bits that she finds. One day, the meteor shower brings a strange visitor who changes the course of her life. A caravan is destroyed when a meteor strikes it. A girl is the only one left alive, or so it seems. She remembers nothing about how she got there or even who she is. One thing is for sure, though, she is valuable to someone. She bears the mark of the Dragonfly, a tattoo that means she is under the protection of King Aron, himself. If she can get the girl back to him, it will mean a reward that could change her life forever. The girls journey will reveal much more than either of them are expecting and the people who come into their lives will bring danger, magic and, perhaps, a home.
Jaleigh Johnson is a newcomer to writing and her first book is full of extraordinary characters. It's a little bit steampunk (which I LOVE) and a little bit fantasy (beastly) and a whole lot of adventure. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a spine-tingling reading experience with just a touch of young love.

Jonell, Lynn
The Secret of Zoom
High on a hill at the edge of a forest lives a young girl who wants a friend. Not a difficult desire for most children. For Christina, however, there are the barbed wire, electrified fences, thick forest and the sign that reads "Trespassers Will Be Boiled" as obstacles. You might think she's a prisoner but, no, her father is just really, really protective. Her only experience with other children are the school students and the orphans she watches through her telescope. One sunny day one of the orphans breaks away from the group and suggests that somewhere hidden in her house is a secret tunnel. Suddenly, her world is a lot less safe but a lot more exciting. When Christina helps Taft escape, they embark on an adventure of discovery that will amaze even the most powerful imagination.

This zany, wacky romp of a tale will appeal to fans of Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl. There is darkness covered with giddy adventure; wacky inventions and imagination. This would be a great story for young reluctant readers.

Jones, Carrie
Zara is in the desperate throes of grief. Her beloved step-dad, the only father she's ever known, has died and she doesn't know how to go on without him. Her mother, worried about her, sends her off to frigid Maine to live with her step-grandmother. Her father grew up here and Zara feels him everywhere. She has also noticed a man following her...the same man she'd seen just outside her window the day of her father's funeral. Coincidence? Not when she sees the glittery trail of golden dust he leaves behind and when he calls out for her to come to him. With the help of some new and, as it turns out, mysterious friends, Zara must discover the truth, a task for which she may not be completely ready.

Carrie Jones freshman novel is wrought with typical teen fare...romance, suspense, mythical creatures and requires the considerable suspension of disbelief. It's a good story, in spite of the predictability and the speedy acceptance of all that is magical. Fans of supernatural romances will enjoy this. It's a light, suspensefully fluffy read.

Jones, Frewin
The Faerie Path
6 & up
Fantasy, Adventure
Life is just starting to get good for Anita. She won the lead role in the school play, Romeo and Juliet. The new and very cute boy in school was playing Romeo. Best of all, however, was that Evan seemed to really like her and not just because she was playing Juliet! But not all is as it seems. On her 16th birthday, Evan took her boating. Suddenly, a dark shadow eclipsed the sun and Evan lost control of the boat. The next thing that Anita knew, she was in the hospital and Evan was unconscious. Days later, a handsome man appeared in Anita’s room asking her to come to him. She followed and found herself in the world of Faerie.
This is not great literature. The dialog is a bit stilted, especially when in Faerie and they are speaking Olde English. When not in Faerie, the dialog is full of “teenisms”, even so, for true fantasy fans, the story will draw them in pretty quickly. What girl wouldn’t want to wake up in a world where she was a faerie princess, beautiful daughter of King Oberon and Queen Tatiana?

Jordan, Sheryll
The hunting of the last dragon
6 & up
Fantasy, Adventure
Jude is an unlikely hero. He is afraid of "nightmares and the dark, of bogeymen and fiends..." Many of these fears he brings upon himself until the day his nightmares became real. He has gone to a fair in a nearby village where he is chosen from the crowd to participate in a demonstration by one of the fair's performers. He is asked to stand perfectly still while Tybolt gives him a haircut...with his sword. Afterward, he is called brave, which surprises him very much. "Scared stiff" is his reply. As he returns home, he finds nothing left of his village except ashes. He is devastated and spends many days wandering aimlessly burning his hands and feet from walking on the still-hot ground. His life takes a surprising turn when the same performers he’d met at the fair days before take him in. He is charged with caring for one of the "freaks" in the show. She is a tiny maid from China. The two develop a tentative friendship and, when Tybolt's son tries to attack her, they escape. Their journey takes them to further adventure and danger, as they confront the last surviving dragon and try to end it's reign of destruction.
This story takes place in the 1300's when they speak in old English, however, it's use is not consistent and there are several words that are used often enough to become annoying (mayhap). The story is told as if the teller (Jude) were speaking to the writer and all the words he speaks are in the story. This makes for some confusion as subplots are introduced via these conversational parts.

Jordan, Sophie
Jacinda is not like other girls. She is even different among her own kind, the draki, descendants of dragons whose strongest defense and greatest secret is that they can assume human form. She is a fire breather and the pride wants to pair her with Cassian, the son of the current leader, so they can breed more like her. Jacinda is an independent even defiant girl and wants the freedom to do what she wants when she wants. When she breaks the pride's cardinal rule and flies during the day, she is very nearly captured by hunters who have decimated her people. But one of them, handsome Will, saves her. But why? What does he really want? Her actions will bring a harsh punishment so her mother packs her and her younger sister up and moves them to a remote desert, hoping that the atmosphere and the fact that she won't be able to manifest will kill the dragon inside of her, as her mother did years ago. Things don't go as planned, however. Instead of finding safety they find Will and the draki inside of Jacinda strains toward him, putting her right in the path of Will's dragon-hunter family. But why? What is it about Will that draws her? She had better figure it out before the hunters find out who or what she is!

Jordan has created a tightly woven fantasy about some of the most fascinating creatures in the imaginary world...Dragons! The mythology she's created is fairly unique; dragons being able to transform into humans and vice versa. The idea of being stuck between a rock and a hard place makes for interesting reading. On the one hand, Jacinda can turn into a dragon that can fly and breathe fire! On the other, there are far more lethal weapons at the disposal of humans, which makes them higher on the food chain. The idea of one race trying to drive another into extinction is not a new one but, in the case of dragons vs. humans, it's certainly more entertaining. The ending of the story is a definite cliff-hanger! Fans of fantastical beasts should not miss this one!

Joyce, William
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King
In the far reaches of the frozen tundra, Nicholas St. North is a wily adventurer best known for his derring-do and his all-out quest for treasure. He is a dashing and brave hooligan whose band of thieves are loyal to a fault. One night a strange dream visits North and he wakes to his own raucous laughter then packs up his band and heads to a small village that has been besieged by an evil that has long been held captive. Pitch, now free, has waged war on Santoff Claussen and it's wizard, Ombric for helping to imprison him. His Fearlings prey on children, stealing their dreams and replacing them with nightmares. North's cunning and skill with weaponry will be put to the test as will the goodness that has been buried deep inside. With the help of some very interesting characters, North and Ombric battle against an enemy who is full of rage and nearly as clever as they are. It's a dangerous combination and one that will be difficult to defeat.

So you think you know all of the legends about Santa Clause? Well, it turns out, you don't. In his new series, The Guardians, William Joyce reintroduces us to familiar characters who are not just benevolent holiday icons but master warriors and wizards dedicated to fighting evil! The next book in the series is titled E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs and the Earth's Core. The creativity and imagination of Joyce is truly astounding! I would love to be inside of his mind and see how these stories are born! Laura Geringer's old-fashioned illustrations add to the mystique of the stories. I highly recommend this to any fantasy fan and those who want a different take on our beloved holiday characters!